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Julie Selby – Wife of Captain Miles Selby, CD

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Julie's Story

When my husband Capt Miles Selby was suddenly killed on duty in a training accident on Dec 10, 2004, my greatest immediate need was to talk with other military widows. Not only would they understand what I was going through, and answer my questions about this sudden overwhelming experience, but sharing our common experiences helped me to cope with the immediate tasks at hand, and deal with every new step ahead of me as I was forced to reinvent my life. 

Everything about my life was suddenly dramatically changed. I was no longer a wife, and none of the life plans we had together were ever going to happen. I was no longer a military family member either, and needed to cope with moving out of our military housing and out of province. Therefore, I had also lost my job as I knew it, friends, home ‒ the sum of our life together. Each new obstacle seemed so much less insurmountable once I had the chance to share it with another widow who had made the same steps just before me. And more importantly, all of the unknown feelings I was clouded by felt so much more normal once I shared them with an understanding ear. I received encouragement and reassurance that my experiences and feelings were normal under the circumstances. Such a load was taken off my stress level whenever I heard that someone else had done, thought, or felt the exact same things. Yes, my friends and family were there for me, absolutely and lovingly. But it wasn't what I needed. I didn't need sympathy, but rather someone who understood, and who could help me wade through things no one else could imagine. 

During this process, in dealing with the worst parts of my grief, I needed to hear first-hand examples of other widows who were also finding ways to regain control of their lives, and find hope for happiness in a future life, without it meaning that their loved one was cast aside or left in the past in order to accomplish it. They were moving on without moving away from the love they still held firmly in their hearts. And I needed to hear how. Suggestions that I needed to put all of that life behind me and start fresh were the last thing I needed to hear. And the best encouragement I could receive was to have another widow listen to my worries about that. They were all there for me in a way that no one else could ever be. 

Recognizing that this peer-griever connection was my most important need at the time, and realizing that it was what helped me the most, is what gave me the passion to find a way to help others ahead of me in the same way that I had been helped. When the opportunity came up in May 2006 to participate in a focus group to look at the possibility of developing a new program for connecting grieving military families, I jumped at the chance to join. From that first meeting until the present time, 10 years later, with this group called HOPE, I have had incredible experiences with so many amazing volunteers who inspire me. They remind me that in spite of the worst circumstances imaginable, we can all choose to have hope and move through our lives in a meaningful, strong, happy way that would make our lost loved ones so proud. They also remind me that by giving from the centre of our own resilience, we can share a spring of encouragement and inspiration with others who are just beginning their journey. In the end, all it truly takes is your ear and your heart. 

I am so thankful for this program, for Sophie Richard who has guided us with care, all along the way, and for my amazing peer colleagues who constantly encourage me by their strong example. My life is fuller, happier, and healthier because of them all. My wish and prayer for any bereaved military family member is that they will encounter HOPE and feel the same incredible support through their own journey.  

Julie Selby – Wife of Captain Miles Selby, CD