A young widow created a Tik Tok for Father’s Day to inspire other young widows who may be struggling with grief and on their healing journey. Christiana Neazer, 31, didn’t expect for the video to go viral and gain more than 7 million views and 1 million likes.
Her message: Happiness after loss is possible.
Christiana and her husband, Michael Neazer, battled infertility for five years. Christiana was diagnosed with polycystic ovary syndrome at age 24, a condition that caused the ovaries to produce an abnormal amount of male sex hormones.
For five years, the couple tried one natural remedy after the other to boost their fertility. Nothing seemed to work.
“It was completely draining me emotionally, physically, psychologically and spiritually,” Neazer, who lives in California, told TODAY Parents. “I was praying and crying almost every day because I wanted to be pregnant so bad. I couldn’t wait for my moment.”
That moment seemed impossible.
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In June of 2020, Neazer went to a fertility doctor and was prescribed medication to help her get pregnant. Soon after that visit, Michael tested positive for Covid-19 and became sick. Neazer also contracted the virus, but while she recovered, her husband was admitted to the hospital. She worried every day for him and in her anxiety, she never got around to taking the medication her fertility doctor prescribed.
One day Neazer was having extreme cramps and intense menstrual symptoms, but her period never came. She took a pregnancy test and expected to see a negative result — but a plus sign appeared.
“Since I was so obsessed with becoming pregnant for so long, I had a stack of ovulation tests and I had a bunch of pregnancy tests,” Neazer said. “I remember I was on the phone with a friend and I walked upstairs, went to the bathroom and said ‘Let’s do this.’ It was clockwork to me because I did it so often.”
She was ecstatic when she found out that her due date was also her sixth wedding anniversary.
She couldn’t wait to lift Michael's spirits with the news. Since he was in the intensive care unit, she texted him, and he thought it was a prank. The two celebrated the news from a distance but Michael’s condition continued to worsen. Neazer's heart would sink every time she received a phone call.
Michael passed away in July of 2020.
“I was pregnant and depressed and I wasn’t excited about having a baby anymore,” she said. “I was struggling just to survive through it. If I hadn’t been pregnant, I’m pretty sure I would have harmed myself. If you just keep holding on, you learn you’re here for a reason.”
Seven months later, she also lost her father to Covid-19 and she worried more than ever that her daughter wouldn’t have a father figure in her life.
“You have to keep walking forward and I know it’s extremely hard,” she said. “Choosing to live was my biggest fight.”
Neazer had finished nursing school during her pregnancy and was sure she'd never find love again.
Then she met Andrae Reid.
Acquaintances at first, the two built a friendship. Reid, 30, would frequently check in on her and make sure she was healthy while she was grieving the loss of her husband.
Shiloh was born in March 2021. Concerned for Neazer and the baby, Reid kept checking in on them through voice memos and frequent text messages.
When she began to become interested in Reid in a romantic way, all she felt was guilt. She didn’t think she had the right to be happy again.
In August of last year, Neazer and Reid made it official and have been together ever since.
Neazer, who was also raised by her stepdad, said the whole process of grief and growth felt like a full circle.
Tiana Paopao, 32, Neazer's best friend, helped her create the viral video. “She’s always pushed me to share my story and just step out of the box and be vulnerable and to reach out to others,” Neazer said.
Paopao said Neazer deserves this fairy-tale ending. “She’s been through so much,” Paopao told TODAY Parents. “She honored her vows until death and I believe Michael is happy someone found her and loves her and Shiloh the way that Andrae does.”
Neazer wants all young widows to know: “We have to live life and we have to embrace who comes into our life. Healing is a continuous journey. You don’t reach it and then it’s over.”
This story first appeared on TODAY.com. More from TODAY: