Blue-Saunders/Saunders Family

Ajai’s husband and Anise’s father, John, died in 2015. In addition to grieving for John, the two have suffered a number of secondary losses that were brought on by his death. Anise has struggled with the sudden move to a new home as a result of their change in financial circumstances and Ajai has been disappointed by the response of her faith community.

AJAI: Throughout my life, I have lost my father, my mother, my brother, my sister and my granddaughter. When my husband died in 2015, that took the life out of me, and that really showed me, oh, this grief is something that can carry you and be a part of your life a long time. John's death was like, half of me leaving. The covenant partner that I shared 23 years with hopes and dreams and plans and all those things was gone, and I did not realize how different that was from the other griefs that I experienced. The grief I have with John was so deep and so unnerving, it wrapped my life. Now you're left by yourself with your daughter, and how do we live, what do we do and how do we make this happen and work?

ANISE: I just wish that he was still here. 2015 was too soon for him to leave, I was sad a lot, my heart was broken.

AJAI: I really miss John's physical presence. I miss his hugs. I miss him being around. I experienced a complete void in my existence almost, because we had the kind of relationship that I worked full time, he was retired he stayed at home, and did a lot of things at home and so he wasn't there to do those things and so, I then had to try to find work that suited me, having flexible hours and being available for Anise.

ANISE: I don't look at pictures of him, I did a long time ago but, it’s not the same.

AJAI: As a person of faith, I went to the Bible to discover God's word. And one thing He said was, I will always take care of widows and orphans. So I expected, people to come by to bring casseroles to call on us, and that didn't happen. So I realize that people who I was counting on, weren't going to be there. And it is not because they didn't care, they couldn't carry the weight for me.They couldn't carry this burden for me. They didn't understand what happened why I changed, and the person that I was before, I will never be again.

ANISE: I was mad at God. I didn't want my dad to leave, I didn't want my dad to go. So I always have to tell myself, have faith cause it's gonna get better, when it isn't getting better, but I have to tell myself it is.

AJAI: I know that there are people who would want to know why someone like me, after three or four years of having lost my husband, hasn't gotten over it. Why would I even do this interview, since it's been so long ago. I thought this was important, so that people would understand grief and they would understand that it never goes away.You learn to live with the grief. The grief experience becomes softer to you. But you don't ever, get over it.

Ajai Blue-Saunders silhouetted in front of a church service with stylized purple and blue lighting in the background
An old photo of Ajai Blue-Saunders and her husband John rests on a table near a book titled, A Widow's Journey
Anise Saunders sits at her kitchen table drawing with a box full of Sharpie markers next to her.

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