Utah Widows Who Share Resilience Host New KSL Podcast

Nov 12, 2020, 7:07 PM | Updated: 7:57 pm

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – This year has tried us to our core, leaving many Utahns feeling emotionally and physically depleted.

Two Utah widows who have experienced the depths of anguish have also discovered the gift of resilience together, and they’re taking to the airwaves to help us dig deep and endure.

A Friendship Forged By Grief

In her bright, stylishly-decorated home in Layton, Michelle Scharf, smoothed down Jennie Taylor’s hair in preparation for a television interview. They have each other’s back.

“Like pancake syrup in my hair,” joked Taylor, who lives in North Ogden with her seven children.

They know that a friend loves you through the good in life.

“We’re kind of kindred spirits. I don’t know if that’s good or bad yet, the jury’s still out,” said Taylor, laughing.

They agree that a good friend also loves you through bad times.

“If I’m a puddle on the floor for too long, she’s going to kind of smack me a little bit,” Taylor said.

“Or, I’ll just come sweep up the Cheerios,” Scharf responded.

“Oh, there’s way too many Cheerios,” Taylor said.

Theirs is a friendship forged from unbearable grief.

“I can’t fall apart. My kids matter too much,” Taylor said.

Two years ago, her husband, Major Brent Taylor, was killed in action in Afghanistan. “There were two army officers at my door in their full dress uniform and my knees and my stomach just hit the floor,” Taylor said. “Half of me died that day, and it’s not the left half or the right half. It’s half of every cell in my body. And yet I still have Brent with me on that other half.”

Brent Taylor served in the Utah National Guard and was the mayor of North Ogden. Three months before his death, Scharf’s husband, John Scharf, died from prostate cancer.

“I started having to face my fears of being alone, of not having my best person,” Scharf said.

They didn’t know each other when their husbands were alive, but they connected on Facebook.

When John died, Brent took an American flag and John’s picture to a mountain peak in Afghanistan to honor him. He took a photo and messaged the photo to Michelle.

She opened the message as she was preparing for John’s memorial service and feeling extremely overwhelmed.

“I was like, ‘This man,'” said Scharf, wiping tears. Taylor put her arm around her and said, “We’ll cry together.'”

That act of kindness gave Scharf the strength she needed that day, and in the days and weeks to come. “I just thought, ‘I can do this,’” she said. A friendship formed.

Hosting A KSL Podcast

Taylor and Scharf sit in the KSL podcast studio with headphones on and microphones poised in front of them. “I’m Jennie Taylor, and I’m Michelle Scharf. We’re so excited to have you joining with us,” said Taylor. They’re hosting a KSL podcast.

“I was born for this,” said Taylor, laughing. The podcast is about grief and lessons learned after a loss. In each episode, they will share how they began picking up the pieces. “Some people never find love, and I feel like I found my soulmate,” said Scharf. “I had 32 years with him.”

Taylor said, “My greatest resilience is both my husband and my children. My husband, who gave his life for me, my children, who have lost their father so he could serve our county. When I feel really overwhelmed and think, ‘Ugh, I just can’t do this by myself, I can kind of feel Brent whispering my ear, ‘Honey, you’re not doing this by yourself.’”

Scharf said practicing mindfulness has helped her heal. She realized her children and grandchildren needed her as well and started living in the moment. “Staying in the day, not really focusing on how long tomorrow’s going to be,” she said.

Their podcast, “Relentlessly Resilient,” also features everyday people overcoming loss.

“What was really hard for me after the one-year mark was the one year plus one day,” Taylor said.

They focus on breaking down walls and celebrating growth.

“I remember a time when it was difficult, it was like this. But I learned X, Y and Z, and this is how I started moving forward,” Scharf said. “We all experience hard things and we call that grief, but in America and our culture here in Utah, we don’t talk about grief.”

“Nobody gets out of life without a tidal wave or two or 10, in your life, and so rather than feel like, ‘Oh I’ve got to stay drowning,’ what we want to do is let this communication, these conversations, help people to be better swimmers,” Taylor added. “Tell me your story, I’ll tell you my story, look at how we overlap and connect, and how we can lift one another up.” Opening up the darkest parts, to allow light inside.

The podcast is available now. You can subscribe to Relentlessly Resilient for free on KSLPodcasts.com or wherever you get your podcasts.

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Utah Widows Who Share Resilience Host New KSL Podcast