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My Experience On Saying I Do After Saying Goodbye To A Parent

Updated: Apr 21, 2019

Today is Husband Appreciation Day and I’ve been asked numerous times,“How did you get married without your mom?” My response, “My husband’s love and a lot of praying.” To say I’m appreciative of him is an understatement because he is my biggest blessing. It’s true, your spouse can either bring out the worst or best in you. Thankfully, mine is the latter.

If you’re feeling uneasy, nervous, sad, or lost because your parent can’t physically be here for your special day, this post is for you. Furthermore, this post will be helpful for anyone who has a role in your life because death affects us all.

Mike O'Quinn  site seeing in Chicago
Fun times in Chicago

Never Say What You Won’t Do

My mother taught me so much and I shared in my first blog what I learned after losing her. She would always tell me never say what you won’t do. When I was going through the wedding process, I finally understood what she meant because never in a million years did I think I’d be getting married without her.

The Beginning

Mike and I met in 2004 at Morehouse College. I attended Georgia State University but had friends from high school at Morehouse. One night we were all hanging out and since everyone else was talking, we introduced ourselves and made small talk. We eventually ran into each other multiple times and finally exchanged Instant Messenger (IM) screen names. I know I just took it all the way back! Who remembers IM? Our friendship developed over IM plus, I needed help in my math classes and thankfully he was good in it.

A Mother’s Love

My mother told me years before he proposed that Mike was the one. She said it’s something special about him and you need to be patient because he’s going to marry you. My mama was always team Mike. She would call me and say, “Make sure you bring my future son-in-law to the house because I’m cooking dinner. I’d ask, “What about me?” Her response, “Oh you can come too.” I smile now just thinking about those days and knowing he’ll be able to tell our future children about her.

Husband and Mother-In-Law smiling headed to the 2008 inauguration of President Obama
Mike and my mom headed to the 2008 inauguration of President Obama

The Proposal

Mike proposed 3 months after my mother passed in Las Vegas in front of the Bellagio Fountains. I honestly was shocked and didn’t expect it. I thought we were going out of town because it was simply rough for me every single day. I was going to work, coming home, and wishing my mother was here. I was at the point in my life where I really didn’t care about getting married because I missed her and still do.

Safiyyah and Michael O'Quinn engagement photos
2016 Engagement Photos

Safiyyah and Michael O'Quinn engagement photos

The Vows

For better or for worse, till death do us part. These are the most infamous words recited in millions of people’s vows. On September 30, 2017, I said I do to Michael O’Quinn Jr at my childhood home and recited those same vows. They took on an entirely new meaning because we had already been through some of our roughest days together having to bury my mother two days before my birthday.

Safiyyah and Michael O'Quinn exchanging wedding vows

The Wedding

Death has a different effect on people, but the commonality is each person will change. Before losing my mother, I remember sharing my wedding day with Mike. The key word was “my” wedding day because I was selfish and spoiled. It was less about the ceremony and more about the elements of the wedding. The dress, hair, shoes, cake, invites – those tangible things.

Our wedding was the exact opposite of what I dreamt of. It was classic, minimalist, and chic. It was centered around our growing love and those who loved us. I told Mike people who had a backseat at my mother’s funeral couldn’t have a front seat at our wedding and that set the tone for the invite list.

Lake house wedding venue

Wedding cake created by Unforgettables in Atlanta, GA

Safiyyah and Michael O'Quinn bridesmaids and maid-of-honor

 Safiyyah and Michael O'Quinn groomsmen photo

I am beyond appreciative of Mike for allowing me to grieve and not rushing the process. I would call him dress shopping just lost because nothing looked or felt right. He would always say don’t rush it; you’re going to find the perfect dress. It takes a special person to marry someone with a broken heart and vow to get through it with you.

Safiyyah and Michael O'Quinn first wedding dance

Lessons Learned

Do what’s best for you two.This is your wedding and your happiness is all that matters. If you want to omit certain parts of the wedding, do it. I can’t stress enough how important it is to stay true to yourself. Don’t let anyone talk you into doing something or bring someone to the ceremony that you two don't want attending. You want to look back at your wedding photos and recall happy memories.

Don’t compare your wedding to others. You’re in a totally different situation and what someone else did doesn’t matter. The decisions you’re having to make most people can’t fathom right now. You’re having to decide how and if you’re going to honor your parent. This is a very tough decision because you also want to do it right. Don’t rush, take your time, and focus on you two.

Communicate. Don’t assume your spouse knows how you are feeling. Remember, they are going through this with you and its new for the both of you. Articulate your thoughts because you have 1 million things going on. Your spouse is going to be your biggest supporter.

Enjoy the process.Honestly, the process is going to bring happiness and sorrow. It’s truly going to be bittersweet. Focus on the commitment you’re making before God, compromise, and be open to growing together. This is real life and joining as one is beautiful but requires work.

Did you find some great advice in this post? How would you handle this situation? Let me know in the comments plus be sure to subscribe to the blog.

Much love,



Thanks for sharing such a powerful testimony. I pray that GOD continues to bless your marriage.

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