Joanne Steen, MS, NCC


Resilience means having the doggedness to persevere the backbone to get up again when life has knocked you down and the guts and gumption to not let adversity win


Joanne Steen is an engaging, motivational speaker on reinvesting in life after the loss of a loved one. With humor and warmth she speaks about making her peace with the death of her Navy husband and chronicles her transition from military wife to widow to woman of her own right.

Steen is an author, instructor and speaker on grief, loss and resilience. She is a board-certified counselor, Gold Star widow, and the founder of Grief Solutions, a training and education company on grief and loss.

My Backstory

I once had it all. A happy marriage to a handsome Navy pilot, an exciting engineering career, and a new home with a sunny bedroom that begged for a crib. But fate intervened one Friday afternoon. By the end of that god-awful day, I was a military widow. It was not an identity I sought or a lifestyle I chose.

Life does go on; it just goes on differently. Over time I changed careers, fell in- and out- of love, and after September 11 and the looming threat of war co-authored the book I longed for when my own husband was killed in the line of duty.  Military Widow: A Survival Guide (Naval Institute Press, 2006) was published at the height of the Iraq War.

While speaking at a military conference, a Gold Star mother asked when I was going to write a book for the parents of fallen service members. And so I did. We Regret to Inform You: A Survival Guide for Gold Star Parents and Those who Support Them will be released on Memorial Day 2019.

Fate wasn’t done with me. A chance encounter at the Post Office reconnected me with a pilot who once served with my late husband. Romance was in the air and we later married on an unusually snowy day in Norfolk, Va.

My husband Tom has the distinction of being in both my weddings.  First as an usher and later as the groom. Friends call us their favorite “repurposed” couple.

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