Opening your heart to someone – really opening it – doesn’t mean everything will always be sweetness and light, although there are moments (many moments) when the love is pure and gentle.
Opening your heart means a willingness to accept the dark sides of another, just as you have your own. You may still draw your sword against those painful shadows, and try to bring them into the open to minimize their power, but you don’t shut down your feelings just because the loved one has dingy edges.
“Opening your heart” has a ring of joyful noise and harps and rainbows. Actually, in real life anyway, it’s a messy business that can include tears and anger. In fact, I believe it must… because until you face the harshnesses inherent in all of us, how can you truly, unconditionally love another?
In return for such acceptance, the joy is magnified and the power of that love strengthened.
So what got me going on this topic?
A little thing but it turned into – for me – another in a series of reinforcements of how connected my late husband and I were, and still are.
Many know I had a 2006 Pontiac GTO. Six speed, 400 horse, black with red leather interior. I loved that car. LOVED it.
And Johnny loved me in that car… in many respects, it exemplified the feral side of me, and why “Wild Thing” by The Troggs was on our wedding album.
I miss that car. I miss us in that car, and I miss Johnny’s Jeep Wrangler with the hard top off, with him in his bush jacket with a cigarette hanging out of his mouth.
A few minutes ago, I researched 2006 GTOs and found that there are some available. Not the black with red interior I’d had, although there are several red on reds, black on blacks, and even orange (no, thank you).
As I briefly pondered saving up the twenty-plus grand so I could once again someday have a replacement for the car I adored (she didn’t just announce her entrance; she growled to let you know she had arrived), a sudden sense of joy and amusement filled my heart and soul.
Johnny was getting a kick out of me and that car once again.
And I know this because our connection continues even now, a connection that may not have been possible if I had not truly accepted parts of John that perhaps should have been unacceptable. I’m not talking forgiveness, because to me that implies condescension. But rather, understanding and accepting – albeit with sadness – the aspects of John that he hated in himself.
In any event, that moment of connection with my husband is typical of one that happens every now and then. And I’m grateful.


In memory of my beloved husband John Kelly Snyder… 20 Sept 1956 – 21 Oct 2016.

My Johnny was a true warrior, fighting demons no one else could see.  I thought he was the strongest man in the world, and perhaps he was, but tragically, the demons got the better of him in this life.

The name of this project is in no way intended to be reflective of, or piggy back off, Wounded Warriors which serves those military personnel wounded after September 11, 20o1.  Like too many others, John was a warrior long before then.

Fair winds and following seas, Husband.


We now have a group on Facebook to help find resources, support and ideas for getting The Grief Warrior Project off the ground.  You can find us there at

Follow us on Twitter!  @WarriorProjME.

Help support The Grief Warrior Project by making purchases from Heritage Collectibles, Books & Maps.  All profits (after expenses) go to helping us help others.  You can find Heritage Collectibles at, on Facebook (both a group and a page) and on Twitter (HeritageGifts).  Some of Heritage Collectibles’ inventory is on consignment at the offices of Heritage Health Services, 124 Canal Street in Lewiston.


Despite decades of disbelief, I have come to realize that our loved ones are able to communicate with us through the life/death barrier.  My Johnny has proved this in ways that I can’t attribute to my own mind making things up… there have been complex coincidences and synchronicities, extraordinary happenings, and messages through others who could not possibly have any knowledge of the information they’ve passed on.  Truly mind-blowing stuff.  I don’t yet have a coherent sense of what I believe about life after death, but I know my husband loved me with everything he had, and that he still does.  Our wedding vows were “to death and beyond” and that has proved true for both of us.

I can’t tell you how it all works, or how you can get through to your own loved one, but if you’re interested, I can tell you of my experiences and my thoughts on this.

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