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May 27th, 2011
07:46 PM ET

CNN Heroes: Connecting a new generation of military widows

Spring Lake, North Carolina (CNN) - Taryn Davis says she felt lost and isolated after burying her husband, a 22-year-old Army corporal killed in Iraq four years ago.

While she struggled with her grief, it seemed that those around her found it easier to move on with their lives. Other military wives avoided her as though she represented their deepest fears. Family and friends insisted that her youth should provide solace.

"After the funeral, I felt ostracized," Davis said. "Everybody liked to write off my grief due to my young age. They liked to say: 'Well, at least you're young. You'll get remarried.' "

The topic of her husband - even the mention of his name, Michael - became taboo. She also struggled with survivor guilt that kept her from seeking happiness and embracing laughter.

"It's hard to laugh and it's hard to smile after a spouse is killed," said Davis, 25. "In a way, you feel bad, because you're like, 'He should be here and have the ability to smile and laugh.' ... In another way, I think once people see you laugh or smile, they're like: 'Oh, she's over him. Great.' "

After her husband's death, the military provided a death gratuity and assisted her with funeral arrangements. She also received recommendations for survivor support groups.

Davis researched several of the groups over the Internet but didn't see anyone her age. She was also intimidated by the size of the gatherings - sometimes hundreds of people at a time. She attended some grief groups near her home in Buda, Texas, but the widows she met there were over 65 years old and not tied to the military.

Read more about Davis here.

Filed under: CNN Heroes
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