After walking down the aisle and vowing to stay together ‘til death do us part, no one can fathom what that really looks like once the unthinkable happens. Recent newlywed Jon’a Joiner shares her courageous story of navigating the devastating loss of her spouse, and her experience in rediscovering herself and opening her heart again. She dives into what her continuous path towards healing has looked like so far and her advice for others who share a similar story.
Bride: Jon’a Joiner
Groom: Quentin Tyler
Wedding Date: February 2023
Wedding Location: Riviera Maya, Mexico
Place of Residence: The couple will reside in the East Lansing, MI area
Honeymoon Destination: Riviera Maya, Mexico
While on the journey to healing after experiencing loss did you desire to find love again?
I did. Initially though I was just trying to figure out my life as a working mom with a new baby who suddenly became widowed and now the ONLY parent. Grieving, traumatized and gripped by anxiety, I buried myself in work and projects trying not to sit still for too long or feel pain.
Eventually that became unsustainable and I began to feel like I was drowning. Which was my wake up call to begin my healing journey. The priority wasn’t finding love again, it was finding myself and learning how to live again.
When you decided to start dating again, what was that experience like? Which emotions came up?
It was admittedly cringey at first. The dating world had changed drastically since I was last single and I felt out of place in most social settings. Mentally, I still felt like a wife, so dating initially was pretty awkward. I knew what my non-negotiables were but I wasn’t super clear on what I envisioned for my life after loss, let alone in a partner.
One of my mentors in ministry suggested that I envision the life that I wanted without limitations, and to write it down and be specific. Family, relationships, home, career, health, finances, and spirituality. This allowed me to dream again, focus my prayers, be more intentional, and manifest the life (including partner) that I desired.
Were there moments when you received advice/comments that were particularly hurtful or that you did not find helpful?
Of course. People had opinions about everything: how I should grieve, how long I should grieve, when I should start dating, how I should raise my child, etc. People tend to have lots of opinions about things they’ve never experienced or gone through.
How soon after dating your now husband did you have a conversation about your loss? Was it a difficult conversation to have?
No, it wasn’t. I have been pretty transparent about my widow and healing journey and knew that the person for me had to be spiritually grounded and emotionally mature enough to meet me where I was. I didn’t want to waste time or energy on anyone that couldn’t hold space for me in that way. We discussed my loss in one of our initial conversations.
In what ways does your husband support your healing?
My husband is amazing. He helps me make time for myself and proactively thinks of ways to grant me more brain space, which is important to me to be my best self. Therapy is a priority for both of us and we recognize that we are responsible for our own healing. I began candle making as part of my healing journey. He encouraged me to think bigger, now that hobby is a luxury candle line.
Did getting engaged and married again bring up any unexpected emotions?
Of course. Loving again after loss is complex, but also extremely beautiful. There are plenty of fears, anxieties, and what ifs that can surface after experiencing loss. But I’ve learned to lean into the joy, to open the door for it and invite it in. This is a significant mental shift, but a necessary one to move from survival mode to an abundance and growth mindset.
What things did you do or implement into your life that you feel has helped you the most in your journey with grief?
My faith, therapy, and a strong support system. I also found solace in working out. It’s become a great stress reliever for me. I also create healthy boundaries, increased self discipline, maniacally protect my peace, treat my body as a temple, build relationships with licensed mental health professionals, hired a personal trainer and an executive coach, cut ties with things, places, and people that no longer add value, or that serve as a roadblock to my renewed sense of purpose.
In addition, I dived into things that feel restorative to my spirit. That included journaling, candle making and building community with women who are unapologetic about no longer accepting survival mode as the only way to exist after experiencing a storm.
What would you say to the woman who has gone through loss who desires to find love again?
It’s important that you love yourself first and do the work to heal and grow. Assess every area of your life and determine what it is you need to be your best self.
For those who may be afraid to love again after loss…
- Forgive yourself on days when all you can do is make it through the day. Your body has been through something traumatic and it’s going to take time to find a new normal. Give yourself grace.
- The pain of grief doesn’t disappear, but it will not always be as intense. Remember that the grief process is cyclical, not linear.
- The joy will return to your life, but there may still be times that you cry. That’s OK. Joy and sorrow are not mutually exclusive.
Jon’a Joiner Tyler is a wife, mom, corporate DEI leader, wellness advocate, and owner of the luxury candle line Delon Candles.
Connect with her on IG @drinkfirstthenpour.
By Associate Editor, Candice Davie
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