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Evolved Mommy | April 26, 2015

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How to be a friend to a young widow

To friends of Julee: How to be a friend to a young widow

| On 09, Oct 2012

Those of you who are local Arkansans reading my blog have certainly heard of the tragic loss of local TV anchor Matt Turner. He was in a car accident and leaves behind a wife Julee and 10-month-old baby girl.

Matt, Julee and Preslee Turner

Matt, Julee and baby Preslee

If you’ve been around long enough you also know that in 2006 I lost my first husband. The circumstances are different, but a lot of the feelings are similar.

In fact, losing Marshall is part of what kicked off my blogging habit. I just did it somewhere else. See his CaringBridge page here:

Marshall Johnson

Marshall Johnson, II

Today would’ve been our wedding anniversary, which may be why I am so affected by the Turner story even though I did not know Matt and do not know his wife Julee.

Stephanie Funk and Marshall Johnson

Our wedding day October 9th, 2004

I wanted to post this tomorrow so that I could get past the day, but to honor Matt a lot of bloggers are observing a “day of blogging silence” tomorrow. So you won’t hear from me here.

Gratefully, I have been blessed with Steve (or Evolved Daddy to some), who is just so unbelievably supportive, caring and well-adjusted to this whole thing. I want you to know that I do not dwell on the past, but I do acknowledge it.

Marshall was a powerful/meaningful/special/huge part of my life. Really, there are no one word to describe the impact. He was loved. And is missed.

The days, weeks and months immediately following his death are a blur, but I want to share with you some of the things that meant the most to me.

How to be a friend to a young widow

  • Talk about her husband (or his wife if the roles are reversed). I know you don’t want to cause pain, but even if you aren’t talking about him I can guarantee she is thinking about him and it would mean the world to her to know that you care enough to talk, listen or share a story.
  • Let her ramble
  • Send her cards. Send one every day if you feel so lead. Write something on paper, invest in a stamp and mail it. Going to the mailbox every day and seeing notes and cards (and some pictures) touched my heart.
  • If you want to cry, cry. Do not try to be strong for her.
  • If you want to laugh, laugh.
  • Feed her. She will forget to eat, but keep it healthy if possible. There’s no comfort in losing your husband and gaining 15 lbs. There are plenty of healthy-ish comfort foods on Pinterest.
  • Call her. Even if she doesn’t answer just knowing you called matters.
  • 5, 10, 15 years from now when life has gone on this will still be a huge part of her life. If she ever wants to talk about it let her. Even if she’s remarried. Yes, it can be weird and awkward. That’s okay.
  • Pray for her. She will feel it.
  • If she doesn’t want to leave the house for a few days don’t force it. She will eventually.


Silent Auction for Julee

On Monday a lot of bloggers will be participating in a special blog silent auction to benefit Julee and Preslee. Read the details on Life {Sweet} Life

The power of friendship and social media is mind blowing.

Here are just a few of the other ways you can help and support the Turners:

Jenna’s Journey

Kelly’s Korner 

If you think this post could help someone else please share it freely. Thanks for being here.



  1. Hey Steph,

    Thanks for sharing this. I went to a memorial today of my dear dear friend Jenny Tremble. Two and half years ago she was given 50 days to live. She and her husband, Mike, and her children lived every moment to the absolute fullest. I don’t think it is coincidence I read your advice right now. I am going to do my best to take care of him, like you suggest.

    Love you, girl.


  2. Stephanie, I had no idea about your first husband. I hate that you had to go through that. I think sometimes though God allows us to go through things so we can help others who face similar situations, & you are obviously doing that. I think your advice was spot on. Thanks for sharing.

  3. I thought of you when I heard about Matt’s passing and what a blessed source of strength you could be for her. I wish you and Julee knew each other. She is a sweetheart and so are you. I love how you said that you do not dwell on the past, but you do acknowledge it. We should all honor our past and the people who brought us to where we are now. Everyone plays an important part. You are a woman definitely worthy of respect and thank you for this insight into your journey.

  4. This really touched me, my friend. Thank you for sharing this for so many of who want to do the right thing and don’t always know how. My heart hurts for you and for Julee, but swells thinking of all the ways she will be lifted up, the wonderful life you have today and the way you honor Marshall and Steve (he’s neat! Glad I met him for a moment).

    In some small way, I just relate – the caliber of real and bloggy friends who have been good to me lately blows my mind. Life is good.

    Cheers to you and your gift for knowing when and how to tell the right story.

  5. AGREE. As a young widow, this is spot on. Maybe we also need to do a post on what to say and what NOT to say. And, maybe, we need a new word – I HATE widow. I am not 70+. I am taller than 4’11”. I do not dress in black from head to toe. for some reason, when I hear widow I picture a tiny Greek or Italian old lady wearing a veiled hat and bad orthopedic shoes!

    • Evolved Mommy

      Oh the things well-meaning (usually much older) women said to me. And yes… there HAS to be a better word than “widow”. Amen to that!

  6. Oh, Stephanie. This is a beautiful post and your words will undoubtably touch and inspire many, including sweet Julee. I didn’t know about the loss of your husband and am so very sorry that you had to endure such pain. You’re an amazing person and stronger than I even knew. Thanks for sharing this post today. Hugs to you.

    • Evolved Mommy

      Thanks Jenny! Let’s get together for coffee sometime soon.

  7. Seriously one of the best Evolved Mommy posts ever. Thank you for your insight! Incredibly touching and wise.

    • Evolved Mommy

      Thank you! I will not cry again. Will. Not.

  8. What a thoughtful piece…my thoughts are with you on this anniversary and also with the Turner family.

    • Evolved Mommy

      Just that you read this post means a lot to me.

  9. Stephanie, That’s powerful advice. Thanks for the help and reminder. My prayers for you as well as Julee and Preslee.

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