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Six Women on Losing their Husbands to Action Sports

Emily Coombs finds strength in the Doug Coombs Foundation she started that helps low-income children ski, play soccer, and climb. She says, "You have to leave this earth knowing that you did something to make it better." Her husband, Doug, died in a skiing accident when their son (pictured) was just two years old. Emily Coombs photo. 

These are stories of anguish, yes. But, more than that, they're stories of resilience, stories that'll touch you to the core. 

The theme of Mountain Outlaw's Summer 2016 magazine is "in the wake," which looks into the lives of six women whose husbands perished at the hands of action sports, highlighting, "In a breath, a sliver of time, lives can change." 

Shane McConkey's widow, Sherry, and their daughter, Ayla celebrate him at his Eagle memorial at Squaw Valley on Father's Day. Ayla doesn't remember Shane, but she says goodnight to him nightly. Sherry McConkey photo

The article dives into what we all wonder: what do spouses do once their lives are shattered, once the noise–the noise of all the adventures, all the thrills, all the joys–is silenced. What lies beyond? 

RELATED: Erik Roner Dies in Skydiving Accident in Lake Tahoe

The authors, Megan Michelson and Brigid Mander, express that while the greater mountain community grieves for athletes who have perished, like Alex Lowe, Doug Coombs, Shane McConkey, Rob Ranieri, Luke Lynch and Erik Roner, it's important to focus on the women and children who remain. 

Annika worried about her husband's risky lifestyle, but she never said no, claiming, "If he's not the man he wants to be, he's not going to be the father or husband he wants to be." Annika Roner photo. 

From Annika Roner, whose husband died less than a year ago in a skydiving accident, to Jennifer Lowe-Anker, whose husband, Alex Lowe, perished seventeen years ago, we learn how six widows in different stages of grieving cope, and how they're moving forward, their lives forever changed. 

Kathy Lynch, the widow of Luke Lynch, a highly skilled alpinist who died in the Tetons in May of 2015, puts everything into perspective when she says: "I used to complain, but what did I have to complain about? Nothing. When I get nervous about something now, I think: I sat my kids down and told them that their dad died. How hard could this be, compared to that?" 

If I could prescribe reading, this article would be included. The stories are moving, grounding, and humbling. You can read all six here.

About The Author

I wish this article was about spouses, not the “women left behind”. It perpetuates the idea that the man is the fearless participant while the woman is on the sidelines.

    Good point. and a seventh with Rory Bushfield