Ep #253: Prioritizing Pleasure as a Widow

The Widowed Mom Podcast Krista St-Germain | Prioritizing Pleasure as a Widow

What is your relationship with pleasure?

My guess is that you don’t truly believe your pleasure is a priority, but grief is a phenomenal opportunity for you to reassess where and how you can have a better quality of life.

Join me this week to hear how most of us don’t prioritize pleasure, why pleasure is especially important in grief, and what you can do to create more pleasure and joy in your life.

Listen to the Full Episode:

It’s been long on my mind to make Mom Goes On more inclusive and accessible. That’s why I’m introducing a scholarship program aimed at encouraging diversity within our community. If you identify as a widow and feel marginalized or underrepresented, we know it can make loving life after loss more complicated. To find out more, apply for Mom Goes On, then email us here for more information on the scholarship program! 

What You’ll Learn from this Episode:

  • How pleasure is especially valuable in grief.
  • Why most of us don’t prioritize enough pleasure in our lives.
  • What you can do to prioritize more pleasure as a widow.


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  • Watch the podcast on YouTube!
  • Email us here to share your thoughts on how we can help you if you’re in early grief!


Full Episode Transcript:

Welcome to The Widowed Mom Podcast, episode 253, Prioritizing Pleasure as a Widow.

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 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. Before we talk about prioritizing pleasure, I would love to get your opinion on something. I’m thinking of creating a program for widows in early grief. Mom Goes On does a great job of helping women who are stuck in the grief plateau, who are wanting to love life again, and they’re back to functioning and they’re going through the motions but they don’t feel great. But I’ve been thinking about doing something that’s really powerful for widows in earlier grief.

So if you are already in Mom Goes On or have done Mom Goes On and you have some thoughts about what would have helped you, for sure you can just message me inside of our online community. If you are not in Mom Goes On and you have some thoughts about what would help you if you are in early grief, what you would like to see in a grief program for early acute grief. Then email us, support@coachingwithkrista.com I would love to hear your opinions.

And what’s coming to me is, because Mom Goes On has very much a cognitive focus. We do a lot of thinking about our thinking. We do a lot of challenging the way that we think about ourselves and the way that we think about our lives. That’s not great for early grief because in early grief things are a hot mess. Our hormones are off. We’re not sleeping. Our widow fog can be intense. We’re not in a position to think about our thinking and do some of that intense work.

But maybe it’s stuff that you’ve learned from the podcast that you wish were in a program. Maybe it’s skills that you learned about how to allow feelings to pass through. Maybe it’s nervous system support that you allowed. But what is it that would have helped you in early grief that you would love to see in a high end experience for women who are in early grief? Let me know, would you? I would really appreciate that.

Let’s talk about pleasure and prioritizing pleasure especially in grief as a widow. I have been making more of a conscious effort to pursue pleasure in my own life. By pleasure, I mean things that are for the sole purpose of because they feel good, not for other people, not for a sense of accomplishment, not for a gold star, not to create anything. But just to do things that feel good to me. And so by that I’m talking about things like playing more music. And right now I have my diffuser on in my office with an essential oil that I like.

And I’m spending as much time as I can in my screened in porch, if I can work outside from there, I am. Some random things like holding Patricia, the stuffed sloth in my lap when I want to, because it feels good. Which I realize, it might sound completely ridiculous to somebody who has no desire to hold a stuffed animal. Having more blankets around me.

I absolutely love ginger. And so a couple of weeks ago I looked up a recipe for ginger shots and I’ve started making them. Maybe there’s some health benefits to that. I don’t know. I don’t care. But I like them. They taste good to me. Things that bring pleasure and here’s why. And then we’re going to talk about how much pleasure you have in your life, why most of us don’t have enough pleasure and what we can do about it. But here’s why it’s on my mind.

For the longest time after Hugo died, and to a large extent before he died. I have measured my success as a human, as a woman, mostly around what I got done, what I produced, how far down the to-do list I got. Could I handle things by myself? When I have felt proud and satisfied, it’s very often been because I produced something and then I let myself feel good about that. But fast forward to a whole lot of producing, a whole lot of creating, a whole lot of what I would tell you is success for me.

Creating a business that I wanted to create and the money that I wanted to make and living in this house that I want to live in and even having the relationship that I want to have. The quantifiable qualitative kinds of creations, if you will, have really only gotten me so far. Have really shown me that while I love much of that. It doesn’t really matter if the quality of life isn’t great as you’re doing it. It doesn’t really matter if you don’t feel good in the doing.

It’s cliche, but I kind of do love that quote, ‘we’re human beings, not human doings’. And so I’ve been exploring more and more the idea that pleasure is important, maybe even the point of life, but definitely important doing things that just feel good. So that’s what I’m talking about. And I believe this matters, generally speaking, that pleasure is always valuable. But I also believe it’s especially valuable in grief.

I think grief is a phenomenal opportunity to really allow ourselves to ask ourselves what we want and how we can take better care of ourselves, how we can have a better quality of life. I think that losing your person can be, if we want, a great opportunity into a chapter of life where we don’t just go through the motions anymore, where we stop and we check and see why are we doing what we’re doing.

Because if you’re like me, even after Hugo died, in many ways, I was doing a lot of check the box, check the box, check the box, do the thing, do the thing, do the thing, measuring success by what I got done. And this can be an opportunity for us to stop and reassess the way that we measure success. To reconnect with ourselves, with what we value, with what matters, to adjust the way that we’re living. So that the quality of our life experience feels good.

This is part of post traumatic growth. This is an opportunity for post traumatic growth. And just because we do this and we add more pleasure to our lives, doesn’t mean we’re saying that anything was wrong with the way we were doing it before. But it is an opportunity to check in and ask ourselves, am I doing things that feel good to me? Because maybe I’m accomplishing and achieving and I did all the things that they told me I was supposed to do and yet I’m not getting a lot of pleasure. Maybe that’s you. So if that’s you, let’s talk about why we aren’t prioritizing it.

And it makes a lot of sense to me when we think about how we’re socialized. As women were socialized to prioritize other people’s wellbeing and pleasure as a part of wellbeing. I mean we’re socialized to prioritize their pleasure, their wellbeing, to put other people first, not ourselves. We are not taught to prioritize our pleasure.

Think about where you got this message and what message you received around pleasure. Chances are high you were told explicitly, and maybe implicitly, both, that pleasure was frivolous, a nice to have, maybe even selfish. And that really what you should be focusing on is making sure everybody else is taken care of, everybody else is comfortable, keep the peace. Make sure everybody else has a good time. You’re later, kids are first, partners first. You’re somehow later or never. I don’t know. Feels more like never.

So we’re not prioritizing pleasure because we haven’t been taught to believe that it matters, that our pleasure matters, that our pleasure is important. So of course, if we don’t believe it’s important, we’re not going to prioritize it which also then means if we want to prioritize it, we’re going to have to choose to believe that it matters, that it’s important. And maybe even if you wanted, to believe that pleasure is the point. So that’s what pleasure is. We’re not prioritizing it because we weren’t taught to. What is your relationship with pleasure? How can you tell?

Here’s a couple of questions you can ask yourself. Where am I prioritizing pleasure in a given day, in a given week? Think about that right now. Where am I prioritizing pleasure in a given day or a given week? How often is pleasure something I prioritize? I mean really, truly if I go back and I ask myself these questions before fairly recently, I don’t think the answer would be very often. What about you?

When I think about pleasure, what feelings or thoughts come up? Do you notice resistance? Do you notice indifference? Do you notice anticipation? Do you notice some judgment? What comes up? And how often do I feel proud of myself because of something I did for myself or because it felt good? Because if you’re like what I think a lot of women are like, that’s not what we do. We go to bed and we think about what we got done and what we didn’t do and who we helped or who we didn’t help and how we parented or how we didn’t parent.

That’s how we’re going through our little play by play of the day. We’re measuring our success based on what we got done and what we did for others. And where is the point where we measure our success based on what we did for ourselves and did we feel good in the doing? What a switch that would be. This is something I just want to offer you. And then I want to consider, if we believed that pleasure was a priority, really truly, it was important to us, we decided to believe that, what would we start doing differently?

It might not be ginger shots for you. It might not be holding a stuffed sloth in your lap while you work. It might not be time in a screened in porch. What is it for you? Is it time in the sun? It doesn’t even matter what it is. What is it for you? For me, comfy blankets, more music, things I love, things that feel good to me. What is it for you? We’ve got to figure that out. Ask yourself this. What would a day designed for my pleasure look like? If you had a whole day and all you did was something designed for your pleasure, what would that be? What would you do? What would you not do?

Not that you have to do it all, but there’s so much value in just letting yourself go there in your mind to uncover what might feel good to you. Another simple pleasure for me is going outside and tinkering around in my flowerpots. Yes, other people might benefit from it too, because my yard looks good and people can see my yard, whatever. But it’s fun for me to go out and play with the plants. It’s fun for me to go off and pick off the dead geraniums. It doesn’t have to be big.

It is, I get great pleasure out of looking out of my office window and seeing birds in the bird bath. Positioning my office window and putting a bird bath near it, I have a bird feeder and a bird bath. Putting those things near my window is pleasure for me. It doesn’t have to be big stuff. And then once you kind of get a flavor of the things that a pleasureful day could be like, what are some small changes that you could make that incorporate more pleasure into your everyday life? What are some little things you could do?

And then the last question I want to leave you with is, do I have a support system that encourages me to prioritize pleasure and joy? And if not, it’s okay if you don’t, it doesn’t mean anything about you if you don’t. I’m not trying to give you opportunities here to be mean to yourself. But if you don’t have a support system that encourages you to prioritize pleasure and joy, what if you gave yourself that, how could you get more of that? How could you create more pleasure and joy by changing the support system to include people who value that?

If the people around you don’t value it, it’s like swimming upstream. The people around you value it and encourage you to lean into more pleasure for you, it gets easier. So I just want to offer that you consider that too. I think pleasure is important. I think it’s important normally without grief. I think it’s especially important with grief. And I think there’s room for both. We can allow all of the emotions of grief, and also create space for pleasure. I think it matters more than it’s ever mattered.

I think it’s a crying shame that we aren’t taught straight out of the womb that our pleasure matters as women, because it really does. And we are the ones that are in charge of the quality of our lives and in charge of the amount of pleasure that we let ourselves have. And we don’t change that until we decide to believe that it’s important. And we don’t change that until we decide to stop measuring our success based only on what we produce or get done or how we help others.

I want to offer to you that we can measure our success based on how much pleasure we feel. But that is maybe a radical act but something we can do for ourselves. So that’s what I have for you this week. Remember, I love you. You’ve got this. Take care and I’ll see you next time. 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.

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About your coach

I created a new life using small, manageable steps and techniques that made sense. The changes I experienced were so profound I became a Master Certified Life Coach and created a group coaching program for widows like us called Mom Goes On. It’s now my mission to show widowed moms exactly how to do what I’ve done and create a future they can look forward to.

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