Holding a photo of my dead husband as I gave birth

When our daughter, Tatiana, was born, my 29-year-old husband cried tears of joy. Then he pleaded with me to make another baby right away.

“I’m worried about having two little ones so close together,” I told Erik. “How will that be fair to Tatiana?”

“We got this, Hyla. Really. And they’ll be built in playmates.”

So, since Erik and I had finally reached the point in our marriage in which the simple fling of the middle finger could end most arguments, I agreed.

On Easter Sunday, 2003, I was seven months pregnant with our second daughter. Our girls would be nineteen months apart. And, as I watched Erik kiss all over Tatiana’s round cheeks, I knew that I had made the right decision.

Then, just when he got up to make the coffee, Tatiana and I watched in horror as Erik slid down the kitchen counter and died.

Just like that.

One minute we were laughing and thirty-five minutes later, I was being asked which of his organs I was willing to give away.

I wanted to know why. Why did this happen?

Why, two months later, was I holding a picture of my dead husband while giving birth to our second baby?

But I began realising that it wasn’t about the why. It was about the what. What would I do with my pain so that I could make meaning of my tragedy?

That’s when I knew I had to share my story to give hope to others.

For the past ten years, I have been advocating for widows, women, defibrillators in schools, and a treatment for Brugada Syndrome—the sudden death cardiac condition both of our daughters, unfortunately, inherited from Erik.


And now, I am reaching out for help to reach 100% of my Kickstarter funding goal so that I can publish my forthcoming memoir, Drop Dead Life: A Pregnant Widow’s Heartfelt and Often Comic Journey about Death, Birth, and Rebirth.  

This is more than a story about widowhood. Drop Dead Life dives deep into the worlds of online dating, hereditary depression, finding humor, parenting, afterlife connection, and the belief that each of us—regardless of our circumstances—can create the love and happiness we desire.

Please take a minute to check out the rewards I have created in exchange for your generous contributions. Your desire to contribute and share my Kickstarter campaign will allow me give hope to people all over the world

Hyla Molander is a writer, photographer, mother of four, widow, and wife. Currently, Hyla spends the majority of her child-free hours writing her memoir, Drop Dead Life: A Pregnant Widow’s Heartfelt and often Comic Journey through Death, Birth, and Rebirth.


This post originally appeared on The Good Men Project. Other great reads from The Good Men Project include:

You Can’t Have Too Many Dads…Or Mums: The Importance of Chosen Family

Examining Media’s Socialisation of Gender Roles

Are Men or Women Better at Teaching Boys?