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Taya Kyle, Widow of ‘American Sniper’ Chris Kyle, Opens Up About Faith, Finding Joy After Loss & Honoring Our Heroes On Memorial Day

“When I find myself filled with anxiety, I remind myself that God wants me to feel hope”

It’s been eleven years since Taya Kyle lost her husband, U.S. Navy Seal and “American Sniper” Chris Kyle. But as she looks back on her journey, wrought with deep grief and uncertainty, she’s finally able to see the silver lining sparkling through the suffering and greet past memories and future possibilities with pure joy. This Memorial Day, the mother, author, speaker and activist shares how faith and love led her back to bliss.

Taya and Chris Kyle on their wedding day in 2002
Taya and Chris Kyle on their wedding day in 2002Taya Kyle

On a warm Texas evening, Taya Kyle and her two children, Colton and McKenna, clean up from dinner together, laughter lighting their kitchen in a symphony of soapsuds and smiles. For many, it may well seem like a commonplace moment, like so many others being played out in other homes.

But for the widowed mom, whose husband, “American Sniper” Chris Kyle, died suddenly in 2013 after being shot by a troubled veteran at a shooting range, it represents a journey back to joy.

“My kids are such a blessing,” Taya shared with Woman’s World as happy chatter fills the air.

Colton is now 19-years-old and graduated from high school last year. He’s taking a gap year by assuming stewardship of the American Sniper brand, which sells hats and apparel bearing the American Sniper logo.

McKenna, who is graduating high school this month, is 18-years-old and is considering a career in psychology to one day become a counselor at the foundation.

“We have so much fun laughing and being together, and now we have healed enough that we can even talk about Chris,” Taya says of the kids. “We don’t avoid it, and we do it without being sad. We can look back at the wonderful, fun times we shared as a family with joy in our hearts.”

Loving memories of Chris (shown here with McKenna and Colton), help Taya through tough days
Loving memories of Chris (shown here with McKenna and Colton), help Taya through tough daysTaya Kyle

The fact that she can now look back with peace and move forward with hope brings a smile to the 49-year-old’s face. After all, Taya admits, at one time, such milestones seemed impossible. “Grief does interesting things,” she says. “After we lost Chris, the pain was always there. I thought sadness had to be my lot in life, but finally, I reached a point where I said, ‘No. No, it doesn’t.’”

In that moment, Taya made the decision to focus on healing and piecing the shattered pieces of her spirit back together — it’s been a hard-fought battle that she’s still winning day by day. “I’m finally truly happy and feel alive again,” she says with a smile. “I’m giving it all to God and trusting the beautiful things this life still has to offer — while keeping Chris forever in my heart.”

And this Memorial Day, Taya is proud to say she’ll be celebrating Chris’ life and sacrifice with love and joy. “I’ll be thinking about and praying for all of the men and women who have served and died,” she shares. “But I’m also going to fill the day with happiness too. Because that’s what every warrior fights for: our freedom and our joy.”

MUST-READ: Grieving Sister Finds Hope And Healing On Memorial Day: “Honoring Others Truly Brings Joy To My Heart!”

Here, Taya shares tips for cultivating peace and a fortitude of spirit that makes anything possible.

Schedule in some “recovery” time

“I always had this idea that being successful means never stopping,” Taya shares. “But now I realize how important it is to have recovery time. You have to have periods to refuel, to go take a nap or take up stretching exercises — anything that helps you shut it all out. Don’t feel bad about it, own it! Tell people you need your space and to honor your time, and you’ll come back feeling three times more energized and productive.”

Lean on your furry best friends

“I believe that animals are one of the best avenues to healing,” Taya says. “Personally, I’ve found such therapy in horses. When I was having a hard time, my horse could sense it and would lay his head against me. Just that steady breathing brought me so much comfort. And, of course, my dog is so cuddly and sweet. Their love and acceptance brings peace!”

Taya’s dog, Norman, brings her endless comfort
Taya’s dog, Norman, brings her endless comfortTaya Kyle

Hard days will pass

“The other day I was looking at photos of Chris,” Taya recalls. “They were too painful to look at before, but I found myself wanting to go through them. Suddenly, I felt his presence all around me, and I did this ugly cry. But I’ve come to see hard days like that as part of the healing process. For instance, another afternoon I was driving and saying to myself, ‘I love my life!’ Remember, the hard days do pass — and you’ll be back on track, loving life again before you know it.”

Find healing in serving others

“When I founded the Taya and Chris Kyle Foundation ( in memory of Chris, my goal was to help other veterans and first responders, but I quickly learned that helping them was also healing me,” Taya says. “Even the smallest things, like saying, ‘I’m praying for you,’ make a difference. By serving others, we shift the focus from our pain and use it to heal and make the world a better place.”

In memory of her husband, Chris (right), Taya started the Taya and Chris Kyle Foundation
In memory of her husband, Chris (right), Taya started the Taya and Chris Kyle FoundationTaya Kyle

MUST-READ: One Couple Is Honoring Our Heroes By Renovating and Building Homes For Veterans

Carve out small pockets of joy

“I’m an all-in person who doesn’t have a lot of patience,” Taya chuckles. “So I never thought I’d love doing jigsaw puzzles! But lately, I always have one out on the table, and it really helps me de-stress. It also brings my kids to the table, and we talk
as we work on it. It makes me so happy!”

Let God be your soft place to fall

“When I find myself filled with anxiety or hurt, I remind myself that God wants me to feel joy,” Taya says. “I’ve found that if I let those emotions go and rely on Him for peace, everything’s easier. No matter what, remember God has got you, and with Him, you’re stronger than you think!”

For more of Taya’s story, pick up her book American Spirit

Inspired by her own journey of loss and spiritual growth, American Spirit (on sale now at and wherever books are sold) chronicles both Taya’s incredible story and the stories of everyday Americans who have traveled down life’s most difficult paths—from grief, illness and beyond. With more than 30 tales of resilience and faith, Taya explores the purpose in our pain and the powerful spirit that bonds us all together and heals our hearts.

American Spirit book cover
Taya Kyle

For more comforting stories about love shown to Veterans and Military families, keep reading…

The Hero Pups Program Is Giving Our Country’s Heroes a New ‘Leash’ On Life — Here’s How

One Woman Provides Service Dogs For Veterans: “They Help Save Lives!”

“It’s a Way To Give Veterans the Thanks They Deserve,” says Teen Who Builds Memorial

A Volunteer and Military Vet Find ‘Furever’ Homes for Heroic Canine Veterans

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