September 2009 Issue Vol 1, Issue 3


I Did Not Know 

What To Say  


Creating the I Did Not Know What To Say website has been an amazing journey.  Over the last several months I have met many spirited individuals that have turned their grief into a new life purpose.
I am honored this month to feature an article from Taryn Davis, Founder of the American Widow Project.  As you will see from her article, she is an amazing young woman that has demonstrated great courage and compassion and has turned her grief into a mission to assist other military widows.  I am deeply grateful for the sacrifice that Taryn and her husband Michael have made for our country. 
Each month we will be featuring a new article giving you a different perspective on how to assist your friends and family through the grieving process.  Please feel free to pass our newsletter on to anyone that may benefit from our articles and inspirational messages.
Have a suggestion or a story to share?  We would love to hear from you.
With Love & Gratitude,
In This Issue
Featured Article - Operation: Heaven
Tips - How to Support a Military Widow
Inspiration - Granny's 90th Birthday
About Us
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Featured Article of the Month
Operation: Heaven
Writings & Tips for those who know someone who has lost their hero in the military.
by Taryn Davis - Founder/President, The American Widow Project

FlagA wedding ring, picture, or gift; there are so many material things that symbolize love and friendship, and that which is most important to us. I frequently look at the engagement ring Michael placed on my finger. I told him to pick something out that when he looked at it, it would remind him of me. I now look at it knowing that I am looking at a physical symbol of his dedication. A stone that is set in a cathedral setting that glitters in the sun, but not as much as the glitter in Michael's eyes as he slid it on my finger. 

It is one of the few things that I think physically epitomize moments that changed my life. The next item on that list would not come in a burgundy box with a bow but in a triangle shape with stars. It would not be placed on my finger by the man of my dreams but handed to me by a stranger in white gloves. 

It was June 1, 2007, and I sat on a folding white chair as a Brigadier General handed me what in a way, initiated me into military widowhood.....a folded United States flag.
At the age of 21, I not only found myself a widow, but a military widow. I was used to him being gone due to the fifteen month deployments, only speaking to him every other week, and I had overall been accustomed to him not being there physically. It was for those reasons and more that I think it made it even more difficult to accept my new reality.

As time passed and his unit returned home to their families, it set in that the title of military widow would be one in which I would form to fit my life, and in the past two years that has and continues to happen.

Through Michael's sacrifice I have learned the true definition of pride, passion, and eternal love.  I have found pride in my title as his widow, as it signifies his sacrifice for this great Country.  I have found passion in working with and being among a league of extraordinary survivors and gatekeepers of the Nation's most amazing legacies.

And above all, I have learned that no matter how, where or why we lost our spouses, the love we share with them is eternal and shall carry us through the darkest of moments, and make us soar when we find the sun again.

"Although no sculptured marble should rise to their memory, nor engraved stone bear record of their deeds, yet will their remembrance be as lasting as the land they honored. " ~ Daniel Webster
For Loved Ones Who Are Wondering How to Support a Military Widow:
Just like anyone who is grieving, time and compassion is the key to healing. 
Do not set a time for your friends to be "better". This is a life long process that is full of many ups and downs.  Surf with your grieving friend to be there when they catch a wave and help them when it crashes on the beach.

Compassion is not simply an action or word, but something that must be felt by those who are receiving it.  In the case of a military death, it is abrupt, violent and in most cases affecting those young in age. Saying things like "I could never be as strong as you" or "I don't know how you do it" or "At least you are young" in no way translates to making those in pain feel better.  Show compassion by recounting great memories, admitting that you do not know what they are feeling, and let them create their own journey in this new life they are in.

Losing a spouse in the military encompasses multiple losses.
For many military widows and widowers the military was a lifestyle and huge part of their life. After their spouse is killed, many feel as if that part died as well.  Integrating back into civilian life after such a loss can be hard and painful.  If you are in the military community, show that the camaraderie is still there through helping mow the lawn or picking up groceries.

Overall, recognize the sacrifice their spouse made for their country and that they made as the backbone of the family in this time of war.
About Taryn Davis
Taryn Davis, 22, was living the "normal" life; she had married her soul mate, was about to graduate college,and had her future with him to look forward to. That was until May 21, 2007. Her husband had been killed by multiple roadside bombs just an hour and a half after they last spoke. Feeling lost and alone in the new world she had been thrown into, she began traveling around the country to hear other women's stories of love, tragedy... and overall survival. In hearing their accounts, she hoped to learn more about the title that had been given to her....that of a military widow.

What began as her own personal journey, has expanded into a non-profit organization, a documentary film, and a growing website. She has grasped on and embraced her new life with all the enthusiasm and passion she had when Michael was still alive. Inspired solely off the willpower and strength of the women "in her shoes" she has found that true love is eternal, that the lessons and things her husband said and did still run through her veins, and mostly....she is not alone.

Taryn Davis - Founder/President
The American Widow Project - A 501(c) 3 Non Profit Organization
Proud Military Widow of Cpl. Michael Davis &

"The legacy of heroes is the memory of a great name and the inheritance of a great example." ~ Benjamin Disraeli
This Month's Inspiration
grannys90thGranny's 90th Birthday
This September we celebrated my grandmother's 90th Birthday at the Minnesota State Fair. 
My grandma is the icon of my Aunt Pat's business Granny's Kitchen Fudge Puppies.  At the MN State Fair she is known as "Granny".  She reminds everyone of their grandma or the grandma they wish they had.  To my grandma Dolly, working with Granny's Kitchen each summer has been one of the great joys in her life.  After losing three daughters, Granny's Kitchen gave her a life purpose and a reason to keep going. 
As you can see from the picture, my grandmother is a good sport and has a fun goofy side to her.  She is an amazing woman that we all love very deeply.  Losing my mother when I was 25 was difficult but having my grandmother around for all these years has eased some of the pain.  She is not perfect but she is perfectly wonderful to me.  Please join me in wishing her a very Happy 90th Birthday.
About I Did Not Know What To & Lori Pederson
LoriLori Pederson created I Did Not Know What To Say in April 2009 as a platform to inspire and provide resources to people that wanted to help their friends and family through the grieving process. 
Lori's expertise comes from those experiences that only life can provide.  Over the past twenty years, Lori has lost many family members, including her mother to ovarian cancer, as well as many friends, colleagues and pets.  She is no stranger to loss and the grieving process.
Throughout her life she has been blessed with many friends and relatives that were there for her as she experienced these great losses. She understands that although people want to help, they often don't know where to start.  I Did Not Know What To was created out of Lori's desire to assist people find the words when they don't know what to say or do.
You can learn more about Lori and her organization by visiting, reading her personal Blog or contacting her at:
Lori Pederson
(703) 660-8522
Each week we will be adding new inspirational stories and resources to our website and blog.   Help us reach our goal of providing inspiration and insight to the world by sharing your story or resource with our online community.  We would love to hear from you! 
Please email us your inspirational stories, letters/cards that have reached your heart, a favorite quote, an unforgettable adventure, a thoughtful gift idea, a book that touched your life, or a suggestion for our website or newsletter to
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I Did Not Know What To Say is a website designed to inspire and provide you with tools to assist a love one through the grieving process.
With Love & Gratitude, 
Founder, I Did Not Know What To Say

 Copyright 2009' I Didn't Know What To Say(TM) & Lori Pederson.  All Rights Reserved.