Author Kathy Heaney Shares Secret to Happiness After Tragedy Strikes

If you’re happy and you know it – share the secret!

A reader of my blog wrote me a touching email to share her experience of finding happiness again after suffering a tragic loss.

Kathy Heaney shares life lessons learned through the tragic loss of her husband.

Kathy Heaney shares life lessons learned through the tragic loss of her husband.

Kathy Heaney, author of the soon-to-be published novel, Destiny Calls, lost her husband, David, after a six-year long battle with bone marrow cancer. Her husband ran every day and was in fantastic shape, so his illness came as a total shock.

When David’s kidneys shut down as a result of the cancer, they opted for home dialysis treatments. Although he tried to continue teaching through his illness, he was forced to go on long-term disability twice. When David was off in the summer, he used to drive other cancer patients to their chemo/radiation appointments when he was feeling well enough.

Meanwhile, he tried to keep things as “normal” as possible for their two daughters.

“There were some blessings,” Kathy wrote. “He was a workaholic and was forced to stay home a lot. He got to know his girls really well. We got to talk about EVERYTHING before he passed. We left NOTHING unsaid. We planned a couple of vacations where we made lovely memories (a tricky thing to do with the dialysis, but we managed, and my parents funded two trips to Hawaii, a great gift, we certainly couldn’t have afforded this). I even helped him write a letter to family and friends to be read after his passing – this helped my youngest daughter tremendously. Through this time we both discovered how strong we were.”

A doctor told Kathy that only two to three percent of marriages make it through an illness this serious. “Really?” Kathy asked. “How do you leave your best friend to face such a terrifying situation? I certainly couldn’t. I knew he would do the same for me if our positions were reversed.”

David died when he was 49, and this summer marks the 11th year of his passing. “I still miss him with all my heart,” Kathy said. “He was the one who made me promise to publish my books that I wrote for our daughters. This summer I’ll have the first book in my hands.”

So what’s Kathy’s secret to happiness? “If you truly want to know what happiness is – take it from me – its health.”

Kathy's dog she recently adopted.

Kathy’s dog she recently adopted.

After her husband’s death, Kathy realized the importance of living a healthier lifestyle and made some changes. She changed careers and work no longer consumes her life. Kathy is currently semi-retired even though that meant taking a huge pay cut. Slowing down and taking more time for herself, Kathy is exploring activities that help her connect with other people including ballroom dancing and even joined a ukulele band. She adopted a dog. And of course, her creative writing is a wonderful outlet and “the icing on the cake.” You can check out Kathy’s Facebook page for the release date of her new book, Destiny Calls.

What’s your secret to happiness? If you’re so inclined, feel free to share your thoughts in the comments below.






Julie A. Gorges is the author of two young adult novels, Just Call Me Goody Two Shoes and Time to Cast Away and co-author of Residential Steel Design and Construction published by McGraw Hill. In addition, hundreds of her articles and short stories have been published in national and regional magazines, and she received three journalism awards from the Washington Newspaper Publishers Association while working as a newspaper reporter. Julie currently lives in southern California with her husband, Scott, and has two grown children and three grandchildren.

You may also like...

3 Responses

  1. Jackie says:

    My heart goes out to Kathy, I lost my fiance when we were both 26 and I did the same. My priorities changed and I resigned from work and traveled the world – just 6 months after his death I started to sail around the world on a 10 metre boat. This led me to become a professional skipper and teacher and I am still traveling the world . . . 18 years later . . . I too am publishing a book about that journey – but more focused on finding me after losing someone so special – and dealing head on with a male dominated boating world to become a successful international skipper. I wish you well Kathy.

    • juliegorges says:

      I am so inspired by the stories I hear from people like you and Kathy that have faced tragedies and were able to move forward with their lives in powerful ways. Thanks for sharing your experience and best of luck with your book. It sounds fascinating and inspiring!

  1. October 13, 2014

    […] her experience of finding happiness again after suffering a tragic loss. I’m not surprised that Sharing Secrets to Happiness was one of my most popular articles. This was an inspiring and touching story that I’m sure […]

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

%d bloggers like this: