Welcome to The Widowed Mom Podcast, episode 40, Listener Q&A.
Welcome to 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 actually look forward to. Here’s your host, certified life coach, grief expert, widow, and mom, Krista St-Germain.
Hey there, beautiful. So, today on the podcast, I decided to go to you, the listeners, and answer some of the questions that you have emailed me. I’ll probably do future episodes like this, depending on the response I get. So, if you have a question you’d like me to answer, just email it to email@example.com and I’ll consider your question for an upcoming episode.
So, a couple of thigs before we jump in. One, a little listener shoutout. And this listener, I’m not exactly sure what their name is. Username is CLCCO896. The title of the review that she submitted is Wish I’d Found This Podcast Sooner.
And she wrote, “I’ve been a widowed mom for a little more than two years and just found this wonderful podcast. After listening to the first several episodes, I’m hooked. The insights provided by Krista are spot on and have already helped me navigate my grief journey. Thank you.”
Thank you, I really appreciate your review and I’m so glad to know that it’s helpful. It’ always weird just recording this into a microphone into my office at home and I have, like, no concept of who listens or if it matters; I don’t know. So, I really appreciate when I get your feedback. And it also just helps make the podcast more discoverable, which is amazing.
The other thing I wanted to let you know is that we are changing the name of my closed Facebook Group because it was causing some confusion. So, if you have been in that group, it was formerly called the Mom Goes On Facebook group. Mom Goes On is also the name, however, of my paid group coaching program. And so, there was just a little bit of confusion where people were in the free Facebook group and thought that meant they were in my paid program.
And so, to prevent that confusion, we are changing the name of the free Facebook group to The Widowed Mom Podcast Community. And that’s just a little bit more representative of what we’re doing anyway. Of course, when I started the Facebook group, the podcast didn’t exist. And now that it does, we’re going to use that Facebook group to continue to give widowed moms a chance to talk to one another, to be heard, be understood, give and receive advice, which they are doing on the regular. It’s a very loving and supportive community. But also, we’ll talk a little bit more about episodes of the podcast and it’ll be a great place to kind of take that work to a deeper level for those who are interested.
So, it’s a free resource for podcast listeners. You can go there to Facebook and just search The Widowed Mom Podcast Community and you will find it. I pop in and out. I also provide daily prompts in the group to help you with your grief journey. And I usually go live about once a week.
Of course, it’s nothing like the coaching and attention that I give the members of my paid program, but I recognize that not everyone will want to pay to work with me or have the financial means to do so. And so, the Facebook group is one more way that I can make an impact and help other widowed moms, which is so important to me.
So, if you’re not in that Facebook group, I want to invite you. Come on in. You just have to answer a couple of questions to prove that you’re not a robot or some sort of a creepy dude and that you actually are a widow, and you’re welcome in that group. So, again, go to Facebook and The Widowed Mom Podcast Community, search for that, and you will find us, and I will see you inside.
Alright, so for this episode, I’ve chosen some of the more common questions I receive from widowed moms. And they’re also issues that often show up in my coaching sessions with clients. And as I answer the questions, I’m also going to answer what I think are the questions behind the question, and sometimes even challenge the premise of the question entirely.
So, I’ve chosen four questions and I’ll just answer them one at a time. And then, if you like this style of episode, let me know and we’ll do it again, alright?
So, the first question I got from a listener was, “Will I ever feel whole again? And if so, when?” Such an interesting question, “Will I ever feel whole again, if so when?”
So, what I want to offer first is that whole isn’t as much a feeling as it is a thought. And remember, I’ve taught on this podcast – if this isn’t your first episode, you already know this – that it is our thoughts that create our feelings, our emotions. And so, if you believe the thought, “I’m whole,” then you will feel certain that you are.
Whatever prevents you from believing this thought, which will, of course, be more thoughts, is what you will need to work on if you want to believe that you’re whole. And a belief like, “I’m whole,” doesn’t exist outside of us. There’s no external measure for whether or not we see ourselves as whole.
It doesn’t really matter what other people think or what they tell us or what we experience in the course of a day. Nothing outside of us can positively or negatively affirm that we are or aren’t whole. The idea behind, “I’m whole,” is that it’s really just a decision that we’ve made. It’s a belief that we choose and can choose at any point in time.
And a belief, of course, is just a thought that we’ve thought long enough that we don’t have to work at thinking it anymore. It becomes our default. It’s just now a belief. It’s something we don’t question. And you have permission to believe that you’re whole, even though your partner died. And you can choose to believe that you’re whole no matter what your marital status is, right?
It’s not something you have to believe. You can believe that you’re not whole. And many people do. But beliefs are always our choice. And so, it’s entirely your option to believe now that you’re whole. Nothing else has to change for you to believe that other than you need to make a decision to do it. You don’t need permission. You don’t need evidence. You don’t need another relationship. You don’t need a therapist or a coach to tell you that you’re whole.
And the moment you choose to believe that you’re whole. The way you feel will change because that’s how it works. Thoughts cause feelings. So, that’s what this listener is asking, “When will I ever feel whole again?” Really, what she probably doesn’t understand is that she’s in charge of how she feels.
She’s in charge of how she thinks and she’s looking to something outside of her to be able to believe what she wants to believe so she can feel how she wants to feel instead of knowing that’s he is so much more powerful than she currently believes and that she has the ability to choose her thoughts and therefore create her feelings. So, listener, you have permission to believe that you are whole now, just as you are, alright.
Okay, moving onto the next question. This listener asked, “How do I balance the job of being both a mom and a dad to my kids?” And holy cow, do I see this one a lot. And here’s my answer; you don’t. And furthermore, why are you telling yourself that you should? Because you are the mom, not the dad. You were never the dad. Your kids don’t need you to be their dad. Honestly, that would be weird. You aren’t him. You could never be him. And even if you were trying to be him, I give you permission to stop. Not that you need my permission.
If you’re looking for strong male role models, that’s a different question. Male role models can be found in a variety of places if we look. We can find them in religious groups or school counselors or sports teams or big brothers, big sisters, uncles, grandfather, etcetera. But no one will replace your children’s father, least of all you as your children’s mother.
So, if you are telling yourself this, and of course, I’m talking to all the listeners, not just the one that submitted this question, please set yourself free from this burdening thought that you should somehow defy the laws of the universe and be both parents because it’s making you feel terrible and asking you to do the impossible and impairing your ability to show up as the best mom you can be, which is really the only role that you ever need to concern yourself with filling.
So, don’t try to be mom and dad. Just be the best mom. You are the best mom for those children. How do we know? Because you are the mom for those children.
Okay, question number three, “How do I not feel overwhelmed with doing everything and making all decisions on my own?” So good, right? I remember, and I still fall into overwhelm sometimes without knowing it. But what we have to understand before we can really answer this question is that overwhelm is an emotion. And just like all the other emotions, it’s not caused by the to-do list. It’s not caused by the decisions.
Overwhelm is caused by our thoughts about the to-do list. We feel overwhelmed when we think thoughts like, “I’ll never be able to do it all,” or, “This is too much,” or, “I won’t be able to handle it,” or, “I’ll never get it all done.
It’s those sentences in our mind that cause us to feel overwhelmed. They are literally the source of the overwhelm. So, if you’re currently feeling overwhelmed, you might not like hearing this because you might be thinking that what I’m telling you is that if you’re feeling overwhelmed, it’s your fault or that you’ve done something wrong. That is not what I’m saying at all.
Every human brain thinks tens of thousands of thoughts every day. And those tens of thousands of thoughts are what create our human emotional experience, right? It’s vast. It’s varied.
And when any human, not just you but any human thinks a thought like, “I’ll never get it all done, it’s too much. I might make the wrong decision. I can’t handle it,” then that human is going to feel overwhelmed.
So, you’ve not done anything wrong. You just have a sentence in your mind that’s creating overwhelm, and right now, it doesn’t feel like a sentence. It feels real to you.
Think about a time when your to-do list was long and you didn’t feel overwhelmed. Or think about a time when you had a decision to make but you didn’t feel overwhelmed about that decision. Maybe you felt excited or motivated or determined or focused or hopeful.
There’s lots of possibilities. The reason you were feeling differently then seems like it might be because, you know, maybe your husband was alive. Maybe you’re thought was, “I have somebody to make this decision with me,” or, “He’s got my back” or, “Together we can do this,” right?
But it really wasn’t because your husband was there. It was because, in that moment, you were thinking differently about your to-do list. And that’s why you are feeling differently about it. you were thinking differently about the decisions that you were contemplating. And that’s why your emotional experience of them wasn’t one of overwhelm.
So, again, it’s not that you’re doing anything wrong. This is not a moral issue. And it’s not that you should be shaming or blaming yourself if you’re feeling overwhelmed. I tell you this so that you can feel empowered because once you understand what’s creating overwhelm, then you have the ability to change it.
And what’s creating it is always just a sentence in our mind. So, when we learn to change the sentence and we speak differently to ourselves about the items we’ve decided to do and the decisions we’re making, then we create a different emotional experience for ourselves. And yes, you really are that powerful. And overwhelm is simply something you don’t have to settle for.
And here’s the last question for this episode. This listener asked, “Will I never feel safe and secure with a new husband? The fear of a repeat experience won’t allow me to feel totally secure with my current husband.” And I think what the listener is really asking is, how will I ever feel safe and secure with my new husband if he could also die?
And it makes sense that she doesn’t want to feel loss again. And maybe you can relate to this too. Most of us don’t enjoy grief, even if we’re a ninja at feeling feelings, we don’t particularly enjoy the negative ones. So, what I think this listener is saying is that she’s currently unable to feel secure because she’s afraid that she could lose her new husband too.
But here’s the thing; with great love comes great loss. And if we want to feel the high highs, we have to be willing to experience the low lows. It’s just a matter of choice. And impermanence is part of our human experience. We can put ourselves in a bubble and we can create a life that’s more of a flat line, emotionally speaking, it’s just kind of average, it’s not amazing but it’s not risky either. We can play it safe if we want to.
It kind of reminds me of this quote from the movie Parenthood with Steve Martin. I don’t know if you saw it. It’s maybe late 80s. It’s the quote from the adorable little grandma who has memory issues and she tells a random story to Steve Martin’s character and I found it quite profound, so much so that I looked it up so that I could get it right.
She says, “Grandpa took me on a rollercoaster; up, down, up, down. Oh, what a ride. I always wanted to go again. It was just interesting to me that a ride could make me so frightened, so scared, so sick, so excited, and so thrilled all together. Some didn’t like it. they went on the merry-go-round. But that just goes around. Nothing. I like the roller coaster. You get more out of it.”
And I always loved that speech because it so accurately captures the choice that we have as widows and humans, really, on the planet. We can choose to get on the rollercoaster if we want, or we can choose to play it safe and stick with the merry-go-round. We are the authors of our lives. Either choice is valid.
But if we choose the rollercoaster, we have to be ready for the ups and downs. And so, of course, for this listener, putting herself in a new relationship, a new marriage in fact, means that she could lose it for a variety of reasons. Good things don’t last forever, and neither do bad things.
So, a huge part of living a self-confident, intentional, mind-blowing life is a willingness, a choice to feel all of the emotions, not just the pretty ones. This is why, in my coaching program, we work on a new relationship with emotions first. It’s the very first thing we do because it’s true that the worst thing that can ever happen to us is an emotion, is a feeling.
And if we have this skill of allowing emotions, of cleanly processing them, then we don’t have to live our lives in fear of them happening and we’re more willing to take chances and to put ourselves in the ring and to take risks, you know, to start the new career, ask for the promotion, or get in the relationship.
Whatever it is that might cause us to feel fear, to feel rejection, to feel shame, we’re willing because now, all of a sudden, we have the skills that we need and we can stop playing small.
So, listener, decide on purpose that you’re willing to feel all of the feelings, not just the good ones. Show up in the relationship in a way that has you being authentic and engaged and all in. Don’t play small in the relationship. Don’t hide for risk of getting hurt. Ultimately, you’re just going to experience disappointment right now. You’re trying to protect yourself from disappointment in the long run and you just end up creating it in the present.
So, the last thing I want to offer you – and this is all of you, not just this one listener – if you’re going to make up stories about the future, which by the way, we all do every day, if you’re going to make up stories about the future, why not make up good ones instead of stories that create worry and fear and doubt?
Why not tell yourself that your future is going to be amazing instead of awful? Who really even knows? We have no idea what our futures hold for us. And since we’re telling ourselves this story, let’s just make it a good one. Our brains are good for that.
Alright, that’s what I have to offer you today. If you like this kind of episode, let me know. If you have questions that you want me to cover in future episodes like this, I’d love to do it. I think listener Q&A is fun and I’m happy to answer your questions.
And the last thing I want to tell you too is, if we haven’t talked on the phone or if you haven’t requested a call from me, what are you waiting for? This is the goodness that I love to do with widowed moms; help them figure out the answers to all of the questions that are holding them back because there is no reason that your life can’t be magical, that it can’t be amazing.
And it might be really hard for you to imagine that right now, depending on where you are and what your thoughts are about your husband’s death. But I promise you, there are no limits except the ones that exist in your mind. And if you want someone to help guide you through the process of truly loving your life again and not settling for average, then that’s what I do. And it would be my honor and my privilege to talk with you and see if coaching is a good fit for you.
So, if that’s something that interests you, you can go to coachingwithkrista.com, click on the request a consultation button. You’ll fill out a quick little application and we’ll take it from there, alright. That’s what I have for you this week. I hope you have an amazing week. And remember, I love you and you’ve got this. Take care, see you next week. Bye-bye.
Ready to start building a future you can actually look forward to? Get a free copy of Krista’s Love Your Life Again Game Plan, and learn her three-step process so you can stop feeling stuck and start creating your next great chapter. No matter what you’ve been through, your past does not have to define what’s possible in your future.
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