Florida Woman Twice Widowed Before 50 Uses Grief to 'Help People Not Feel Alone'

Through her grief, Andrea Lott Haney has begun helping other grievers. She also educates people on how to help loved ones who are grieving.

Andrea Lott Haney from Florida has lived through losing not one, but two husbands. It’s left her with unimaginable grief that she's chosen to channel into helping others, she tells Inside Edition Digital.

She and her first love, Gary, were together for 10 years. She believed they had a lifetime more to live together. That changed on March 15, 2010.

They spent that day shopping, eating and hanging out. At the night’s end, the pair settled in and put on their favorite television show, “House," Andrea says. 

“I heard Gary doze off during a commercial,” she says. “When the (show) came back on, I was like, ‘Hey, babe. Wake up. It's back on.’ And he didn't wake up.”

She shook him, but got no response. After calling 911, she began CPR. First responders rushed Gary to the hospital. He couldn’t be revived. 

The cause of death was cardiac arrest, Andrea says. 

“We just don't know fully what caused it. He was fit and active and didn't have any chest pain, or other symptoms that day, or anything that slowed him down," she says. 

His sudden death left her with awful anxiety.

“The person you love most in the world can just not be there one day,” she tearfully says. “And just knowing that you can go from being perfectly happy to just having nothing. Having it all taken away from you in an instant and having to live with that every day of my life has been terrible.”

Before Gary died, he and Andrea discussed death many times. 

“He talked a lot about wanting me to date someday when something happened to him,” she says. “He was very adamant about having non-morbid conversations about death. Still the whole idea to me while he was alive was just absolutely excruciating. But when he died, I remembered what he told me.”

While grieving, a childhood friend named Brian stepped in to help. Andrea and Brian had been friends since they were 11 years old. Although they were best friends for over a decade, they never dated. 

“I did have a crush on him a little bit,” Andrea says of when they were younger. “But I was boy crazy. I had crushes on a lot of boys. But he never gave me any sign that he was interested at all.”

Over time, Andrea and Brian's feelings began to change they slowly entered into a relationship. They married in September 2012.

“Life was very different than it was with Gary, because people are not replaceable,” she says. “I feel so honored and so blessed that I now had Brian, who never wanted to replace Gary. Instead, he helped us honor his memory and his legacy.

“My life with Brian was so beautiful and so different," she continues. "We laughed every single day. Our relationship was so fun every single day.”

Throughout her second marriage, Andrea still grieved her first one. 

“When I did start to have feelings for Brian, those feelings were real. It wasn't just turning to him out of loneliness,” she says. “I wasn't lonely. I had plenty of friends. I was lonely specifically for the person I was missing. But Gary is not replaceable."

She also worried constantly about Brian’s health and thought about the what-ifs. 

In 2022, the pair attended her sister’s wedding. That weekend, Brian didn’t feel well. 

“He was tired, run-down,” she says. “He took Pepto-Bismol and Advil and powered through. But by the time we got back to Florida, he still wasn't feeling 100%.”

Andrea made Brian an appointment for a check-up. Over the next few months, they went to the doctor several times, but medical professionals couldn’t find anything wrong with Brian. 

“I was like, ‘We're not effing around with this at the time,’ because of my anxiety. I knew in my gut that it was something more serious. Brian thought I was just being usual anxiety Andrea," she says. 

Based on his symptoms, Andrea had a hunch that something was wrong with his pancreas. She was correct. 

“He ended up getting his stage four pancreatic cancer diagnosis on Aug. 5, 2022," she says. "He died nine weeks later on Oct. 9, 2022."

The grief Andrea experienced was unimaginable, she says. 

“I had a pretty active imagination, and even I could not imagine the way it hit would me and how bad it was,” Andrea says. “It's worse than any pain you can describe. There's just not language for it.

“Having the sudden grief and not being able to imagine how bad it's going to be when it happens is one thing," she continues. "Seeing it coming and not being able to do anything about it, and knowing how bad it is – Honestly, I very much wished not to live. And a part of me still feels that way.”

Andrea continues to grieve both husbands and says losing Brian complicated her grief over Gary. 

“It does not make your grief go away to find new love again or to find a new partner,” she says. “On top of the grieving, we also had a lot of shock and a lot of terror and anxiety that followed us forever. It's still to this day. Now I've got two dead husbands and nothing but time.”

But through her grief, she also begun helping other grievers and educates people on how to help loved ones who are grieving. 

Andrea shares her grief journey on social media. She said it helps her to connect with others like her. She uses her platform to post tips about death and grieving.

“My purpose is to help others," she says. "Help people not feel alone.”

She also raises awareness for Pancreatic Cancer with a movement called “Tip Big For Brian.”

“It is a fundraiser for the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network,” she says. “I can make sure nobody ever forgets Brian Haney, his generosity, his kindness, his smile. And I can help fight that disease that killed him.”

Andrea says she isn’t thinking about dating. Honoring her husbands’ memories and helping others is enough for now.

“Happiness is not really a life goal right now,” she says. “I have moments of joy where I can enjoy life, but an overarching happiness with a capital H is just not in the cards for me right now. Instead, I have to make my own reason to get up in the morning every day. And that has become my purpose with a capital P.

“I think that if the right person comes along, and somebody is that special, and willing to accept somebody like me who has so much grief and love in my heart for two other men. If that person comes along, OK, great," she says. "Am I seeking it out? No, no, not really.”

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