Welcome to The Widowed Mom Podcast, episode 62, Awkward Conversations About His Death
Welcome the The Widowed Mom Podcast, the only podcast that offers a proven process to help you work through your grief, to grow, evolve, and create a future you can truly look forward to. Here’s your host, Master Certified Life Coach, grief expert, widow, and mom, Krista St-Germain.
Hey there. Welcome to another episode of the podcast. So I wonder, how many times have you been out in public, seen someone you know, and avoided them on purpose because you just didn’t want to deal with the awkward conversation you knew was about to happen?
Or maybe you’re like me and you avoided leaving the house or attending the social event because you just knew people were going to ask you how you were really doing, or offer you a “he’s in a better place now,” or “you’ll find another good one soon” platitude, and you just didn’t want to deal with it.
If that sounds familiar, this episode is for you. Before we jump into it though, I want to read a listener shout-out to those of you who have submitted reviews or have rated the podcast. I so appreciate you. Reviews are really what make the podcast discoverable, and so I just appreciate everybody who submits one, plus frankly, they just make my day. Every time I get one it just makes me smile so I really appreciate it.
So this rating or review actually is from Kathryn Royle and Kathryn gave five stars and wrote, “Coach St-Germain gives advice that forces you to flex your mental and emotional muscles in a way that you weren’t taught to do before. She conditions you to a new understanding of yourself and those around you. She brings resolution to emotional turmoil, calm to a mental storm, and comfort to your broken heart. She is the real deal. I listen to her podcast every day and always gain new perspective and direction.”
Thank you, Kathryn. I really appreciate that. Okay, so before we jump in, also just kind of want to give you the update on my world. I do record these podcasts, as you know, just a little bit in advance, but I told you last episode I was going to take the boyfriend and the children to the mountains and we did.
We went and it was a lovely trip. And I just made room for all of it. I made room for myself to feel uncomfortable and sad in certain places, but also, I made room for myself to feel joy and happiness. And sometimes it’s so easy to judge ourselves. We judge ourselves for a negative emotion, we judge ourselves for a positive emotion, and we just end up creating suffering on top of pain and it’s all so unnecessary.
So, using the skills that I have learned since Hugo died, this trip was far more enjoyable than it could have been. Interestingly enough on the way back home, we, as always when I go to the mountains, drive by the site where Hugo’s accident happened along the interstate because it’s a major interstate that’s on the way from where I live in Kansas to my parents’ cabin in Colorado.
And usually, when I drive by the site of the accident, it happens at about 80 miles an hour. And so, my thoughts leading up to the accident site always vary. Sometimes I barely even notice it. On the way out to Colorado this year, I didn’t even notice it actually. I was so busy talking and driving that it just came and went, and I didn’t even notice it.
But on the way back, lo and behold, the traffic gods decided that there should be construction about four miles ahead of that part of the highway. And I was not prepared for my reaction, I will be honest with you. It’s been almost four years since Hugo died, coming up on August 1st.
Actually, by the time this podcast episode airs, it will have been just a couple of days ago. But coming up on four years and my goodness, when I noticed that traffic had slowed to a crawl and when I noticed how close we were to that particular exit, I could feel my heart rate increasing.
I could just feel the dread in my body. And it was kind of unexpected. By the time we got to the actual part of the highway that the traffic had ended and speed had resumed to normal so we ended up going by that part of the highway at normal highway speeds, but it gave me a realization that I still have some work left to do, and that’s okay. There’s no shame in that.
The boyfriend was very supportive. I told him what was going on. Kids were kind of busy on their devices, as they usually are, so I don’t even think they noticed. Plus, we’ve never really had the conversation about what part on the highway the accident happened anyway.
But the boyfriend was super nice about it and very supportive. And got through it, interestingly enough though was what happened the next day, which was that when I tried to get back to work, I noticed myself having quite a lot of overwhelm and I kind of thought that it was just overwhelm about the work that I was about to do and having been gone a little bit and just having bitten off quite a lot on my schedule for that week.
And so, I did a little self-coaching, which is what I teach all my clients to do. I did a thought download, I dumped out all the thoughts from my brain, and really what I had immediate access to was thoughts about business. This is too much; you won’t be able to get it all done. All those kinds of thoughts that create overwhelm.
And so, I decided to do a little tapping. I’ve talked about tapping on the podcast somewhat, but I’m a big fan of tapping or EFT, emotional freedom technique. And I love the tapping solution app. So, I went to that app and I pulled up the exercise on overwhelm and started.
And what I noticed as I tapped was that when I really allowed myself to answer the question of what was really going on, what was really the cause of all this overwhelm, but I quickly realized was that it was thoughts about the accident that were still there.
So as I allowed myself to let what was bothering me come to the surface and gave myself permission to feel the feelings associated with it, what came to me were actually the mile marker sign and the street exit sign and images from that day.
And so, once I allowed myself to do that, then I experienced relief. Then I was able to process what was really going on for me, which didn’t have as much to do with my business as it did with stuff that just needed to be processed. So, I tell you this not because I want to be a downer. If your partner just died or died recently and you’re thinking, oh dear lord, it’s going to be four years and I’m still going to be having these moments, I don’t tell you that to fill you with dread.
I tell you this because I want you to know that it’s okay when things like this happen. Even if you’re decades out and things like this are still happening, you can still support yourself through it. You can still figure out the tools and strategies that you need to deal with it. You don’t have to sit back and worry about it or fret about it or judge yourself for it.
And so, take heart if you have something like this going on, but also, take responsibility. If you need more tools, if things like this are happening to you and you still have some little triggers that are unexpected and you need some tools, then reach out for them.
It’s one of the things that I teach my members is how to self-coach, how to use tapping and emotional freedom technique, but there are also lots of other ways that these issues can be addressed. So, I just want to give you a little swift kick in the pants. If it’s something that’s bothering you, don’t settle for it. Get the help that you need, whether that’s from me or someone else. And be kind to yourself, even when things like this catch you off guard as they did me. It’s okay. It’s okay.
Alright, let’s talk about awkward conversations about his death because I know this is something that all widows have experienced at some point and probably will experience again. So, let’s talk it through. So here’s what I want you to know.
First, no one has the power to make you feel awkward. And I really want you to hear me on that. No one has the power to make you feel awkward. Now, if you feel awkward, that does not mean you have done anything wrong. That does not mean there is anything wrong with you.
If you feel awkward, it’s simply because you are having thoughts that create the feeling of awkward for you. The sentences in your mind are making you feel uncomfortable. You’re having thoughts, they show up in your mind, you believe them, and that’s what makes us feel uncomfortable.
Nothing has gone wrong here if you feel awkward. It’s just the same old concept that I’m teaching you all the time on this podcast that thoughts cause feelings. The sentences in our mind that we have about what is happening in the world are what create our emotional experience of it.
But something someone else does or something someone else says does not universally have the power to make us feel awkward. And we know this because someone might say something to me and someone might say the exact same words to another person and both of us, me and the other person, might have completely different experiences of it.
We might have completely different reactions to it. We might feel completely differently about what that person said. How is this possible? It’s possible because when someone says something to me and someone says the exact same thing to someone else, we both have different thoughts about it.
If that weren’t true, then everybody would feel exactly the same way about something someone says. Take for instance what’s happening right now with COVID and masks. Some people say wear a mask and then some people feel angry when they hear that. They believe that their rights are being violated and they feel threatened. They feel defensive.
Meanwhile, other people hear the words wear a mask and their thought about wearing a mask is absolutely, I’m in, we should all wear masks. And so, they have a different emotional experience of those same words. So it’s not the words, “Wear a mask,” that make someone feel anything. It’s our interpretation. It’s what we make those words mean. It’s the story we tell ourselves about those words.
So if you encounter someone and you have a conversation with them and in your mind, you interpret that conversation as awkward, the story you have to tell yourself about it is that it’s uncomfortable and that you want to get away or you wish this person hadn’t talked to you, then you will feel awkward, then you will feel uncomfortable.
So it’s the sentences in our brain that make us feel uncomfortable. Not the other person. Now why does this matter? It matters because I want you to feel empowered. I want you to stop feeling like a victim to people or situations. I want you to be able to move more freely through your world.
I don’t want you to dread that one person at work approaching you or worse yet, not know how to exit the conversation gracefully. I don’t want you to stay in your house, assuming that it’s safe to go out for COVID reasons, but I don’t want you to stay in your house and avoid social interactions because you’re afraid that other people will make you feel awkward.
Now, many times since Hugo died, I have felt awkward. And unfortunately, in the beginning, I didn’t know that other people couldn’t make me feel awkward. And so, there were certain people and certain conversations that I genuinely dreaded having.
And then when I did have them, it kind of made me show up inauthentically. Well actually, I made myself show up inauthentically. In my effort to avoid the awkwardness, I pretended to be stronger than I felt. I told the person what I thought they wanted to hear, just so they would go away. I acted like everything was cool. I didn’t really show that person who I really was.
Now, you don’t have to show anybody what you’re really thinking and feeling. You can hold your cards close. You can decide who you want to be really honest with and who you don’t. There’s nothing wrong with that decision. But do it from a place of feeling empowered. Don’t do it because you feel like there are certain people that you have to avoid. Don’t do it because there are certain people that you think can create awkwardness for you. They can’t. I promise you.
The second thing I want you to know is that emotions aren’t contagious. So if someone else is feeling awkward, you can’t catch it and vice versa. Now, you might be very perceptive, and you might pick up on how other people feel. You might have that kind of emotional radar where you can just kind of tell what’s going on with somebody. You might perceive that they’re feeling really awkward around you.
But just because you can perceive it, just because you think they are feeling awkward does not mean their awkwardness can rub off on you. And this is important. And here’s why people do what they do. People don’t know that emotions aren’t contagious. They don’t know that thoughts cause feelings. They think that what you do causes their feelings.
And if they perceive that you are sad, even if you’re not, but they perceive you to be sad, then they might think that they need to fix that. They need to change your emotional state. Because if you’re sad, then they’re sad, and they don’t want to be sad.
So, they try to change us so they can feel better. Most of them mean very well, but they just don’t know that feelings aren’t contagious. They don’t know that feelings aren’t problems, and they don’t know that one individual’s thoughts cause that individual’s feelings, so they aren’t contagious.
So they will say things to try to make us feel better. “Oh, don’t worry, you’re young, you’ll find another one, he’s in a better place now, you’re so strong.” They say all these well-meaning clichés and platitudes because they’re trying to make us feel better because they think it will make them feel better unconsciously.
And we do this too. We all do this. We’ve grown up in a culture that tells us that things outside of us cause our feelings. So we’re always trying to change the things outside of us because we think that if we do, we’ll feel better. Doesn’t work.
So what does this mean for you? No one has to make you feel awkward. Emotions aren’t contagious. What this means for you is just because other people feel awkward around you doesn’t mean you have to feel awkward around them. Once you are aware of the fact that their feelings don’t actually have any power over you, then you can show up powerfully for yourself.
You can stop worrying so much. You can stop avoiding people who you don’t want to avoid. You can feel however you choose to feel, no matter how they feel. So if they’re feeling awkward or uncomfortable, you don’t have to. You can still feel grounded or calm or loving or peaceful. You get to decide how you want to feel and you get to choose thoughts that create that emotional experience for you.
And the other person’s awkwardness is no longer your problem. You didn’t cause it and you can’t change it. And you can show up as you, unfiltered, no people pleasing, no faking it, no trying to show them what you think they want to see so that they will feel better.
You can just be who you are and let them be who they are and then, the connections that you have in this world with other people will be so much more authentic because you aren’t trying to avoid the awkward. You don’t turn into a chameleon. You don’t tell them what they want to hear, which isn’t actually what’s true for you. And you don’t worry about them feeling awkward because you didn’t create it.
So, I want you to think about how you can apply this to the people who you often feel awkward around. Is it your mother-in-law? Is it your step kids? Is it people at work? Who is it? Who are you feeling awkward around? And what are you actually thinking that’s making you feel awkward?
That’s your role in it. If you’re feeling awkward, it’s caused by sentences in your brain. This is the best news. This is not about blaming you. It’s not that you’ve done anything wrong because you’re feeling awkward. But if awkward is caused by something you are thinking, then the other person doesn’t need to change.
You don’t have to avoid the conversation to not feel awkward. You just have to think differently about the conversation. So, when someone asks that question, “How are you really doing?” Or, “What really happened? I want to know.” Or, “Tell me the truth,” or whatever it is in the past that puts that gut-punch in your stomach of here comes the awkward, whatever that is, when they ask that question, you think about it differently.
You think about it in a way that serves you. You think about it in a way that keeps you emotionally where you want to be. And that will change everything. And then you don’t have to worry about these conversations anymore. You can just get out there and live.
It’s hard enough anyway. I don’t want you to be a chameleon. I want you to be you. I want you to feel good in your shoes, grounded, comfortable, confident in who you are. And if other people choose to feel awkward, it’s okay. We can love them. We know what it’s like to feel awkward. We don’t have to make them feel any differently. We can’t.
We can just let them feel awkward as we tell them our truth. We can just let them have their own response, their own thoughts, their own feelings about whatever it is that’s going on in our life. And we can show up authentically and not second-guess ourselves and not worry about it and not put on the filter and not share partial truths or worse yet, be dishonest. We can just be us.
Because you’re wonderful just the way that you are. You’re wonderful. And some people might make themselves feel awkward about your story. They might make themselves feel awkward when they talk to you about your husband’s death or how you’re doing. That’s not on you.
Okay, that’s what I have for you this week. If you’re feeling awkward, you’re thinking something that’s making you feel awkward. If they’re feeling awkward, they are thinking something that is making them feel awkward. And we can love them even if they feel awkward, and we don’t have to feel their awkwardness. It is not contagious. We can’t catch it. No one is that powerful that they get to choose our emotional state.
Alright, I love you. I hope you have an amazing week. I’ll see you next time. You got this. Take care. Bye-bye.
If you like what you’ve been hearing on this podcast and want to create a future you can truly get excited about, even after the loss of your spouse, I invite you to join my Mom Goes On coaching program. It’s small group coaching just for widowed moms like you where I’ll help you figure out what’s holding you back and give you the tools and support you need so you can move forward with confidence.
Please don’t settle for a new normal that’s less than what you deserve. Go to coachingwithkrista.com and click Work With Me for details and next steps. I can’t wait to meet you.