Welcome to The Widowed Mom Podcast, episode 193, CPR Scenes and Other Such Reminders.
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. I’m going to talk about a little bit of a heavier subject perhaps than most but it’s kind of timely and I think it’s important. It recently came up inside of my Mom Goes On coaching program. And I figured if it was coming up there and we’d never talked about it here that maybe it was a conversation you would benefit from hearing.
So before I get into that, a quick little update on my world. I had mentioned we were going to Las Vegas. Went, all was well, a little flight drama but nothing big. And nothing really big in terms of agreed triggers for me there either. I know I’ve talked about that on the podcast before.
But one of the last major grief grenades I had was actually on the first trip that the boyfriend and I took to Las Vegas where of all cars we ended up taking in our Uber from the airport to the hotel was a silver Toyota Camry which was the car that I was in when we had the accident that ultimately resulted in the death of my husband. So I’m going to tell you, anyway nothing like that this time, but very similar in fact to what I want to talk about today.
And the last thing before we get into that episode is it’s already the end of the month. And I record these episodes a little bit early so I’m not really sure at this point if there’s going to be any space left in our February cohort for Mom Goes On. But regardless I really want to encourage you to apply for a spot just so you can get the free training that I did because it walks you right through the three-step framework that we use inside of the program. And I would love for you to see that. I think it will benefit you tremendously. And I’m just really proud of that training.
So you can go to coachingwithkrista.com/lovelife and you can register for that training. And if your application is accepted we will send it to you for free. And if you want to join Mom Goes On and there’s no space left in February then the sooner you act the faster we can hold your spot for March.
So okay, so here’s what brought this up for me this past week and made me decide to do this podcast episode. So inside of my Mom Goes On coaching program in our online community we have a space that it’s just for peer support meaning I don’t usually get in there and coach in that space. It’s just a space for members of the group who want to have conversations with each other because conversations with your friends are very different than coaching conversations.
When it’s a coaching conversation my assumption is that we’re wanting to shift or change something. And so I’m going to be coaching with that in mind. When we’re just talking to our friends sometimes what we want is empathy and we want understanding. We’re not really looking for a change, we just want to have a conversation about something that we’ve gone through. And so someone posted in that group about what had happened recently and maybe you saw it on TV as well.
There was a football game between the Buffalo Bills and the Cincinnati Bengals and one of the Bills’ players, Damar Hamlin right after a play, suffered a cardiac arrest on the field. And for quite some time they did CPR and gave him oxygen and everyone was crowded around the field kind of trying to protect him from being seen and it was very emotional. And he ended up going to the hospital and he was in critical care. And miraculously, in my opinion, he’s not out of the hospital and has made an amazing recovery thus far.
But one of the members of Mom Goes On brought this up and wanted to talk about it because she was surprised at how triggering it felt to her. Now, she had dealt with her own husband’s passing after a somewhat similar event which involved a heart issue and CPR that didn’t work. And so you can imagine why it brought this up for her.
But the reason I wanted to bring it up, is because I want to make sure that if you are having other such reminders, be it a CPR scene or something from an accident or something from the hospital or anything that is taking you back to what happened with your person’s passing. That if that happens you aren’t judging yourself for it, you aren’t trying to solve it by changing your thoughts. And you don’t think there’s anything that you’ve done wrong because that’s happening to you.
Now, I also want to say what I’m talking about in this episode is not intended to provide any sort of diagnosis. It’s also not designed to provide any sort of – what’s the opposite of that, un-diagnosis? I’m not saying or suggesting that you do or don’t have any sort of diagnosis. If you are concerned I encourage you to consult a licensed mental health care professional who is trained to diagnose posttraumatic stress disorder and the like.
This is coming from my experience as someone who has been through something traumatic, specifically the death of my spouse and who has had hundreds of coaching conversations with other women who have experienced similar traumas. Now, also I even just hesitate sometimes because trauma is such a stigmatized word. It’s so popular and so overused right now. And so we’re just going to hold that term very gently. But it is important to remember that trauma is not something that is the same for everyone.
It’s highly subjective. It’s so different for every person. So I don’t want to suggest that something is absolutely traumatic for one person and is therefore absolutely traumatic for all people or that something isn’t traumatic for anyone. Trauma is just highly subjective so keep that in mind as well.
Okay, so here’s what I want to offer. If you notice that something happens in your environment and suddenly you don’t feel the way you normally feel, your heart is racing, your breath is quickening. You may feel panicky or anxious. It’s hard for you to think straight, you feel perhaps flooded with emotion. You feel maybe paralyzed or stuck or even numb. If that is happening to you what I want to offer is that you’ve done nothing wrong.
Now, for me personally, there are many aspects of Hugo’s accident that I’d later had to do some work on. And the tool that worked for me was tapping and by that I mean whenever I would see a car on the side of the road where someone was changing a tire, especially on a busy highway my body would go straight back to the accident. When I saw sirens, it’s cliché but it felt like my heart would skip a beat. When I would come upon CPR scenes in movies or TV shows because I watched them do CPR for so long on Hugo in the hospital.
When, gosh, even I would see a Durango which is the car that Hugo drove, or a Camry which is the car that I drove and both of those cars were in the accident, either one of those things. My body just responded as though I were back there at the accident or back there in the hospital. It made no intellectual sense that I was unsafe in those moments. I knew, the intellectual part of my brain very well understood that if I was watching a CPR scene on a television show that in that moment in my living room, I was not in physical danger.
So it didn’t intellectually make any sense but my body wasn’t responding as though I was safe. My body was responding as though I was in danger. And if that happens to you, again you’ve done nothing wrong. That is what can happen when we have been through something that creates a traumatic impact in our body. And when you hear me say that your thoughts cause your feelings that is not what I am talking about. We don’t resolve that kind of response in the body simply by changing our thoughts because that kind of response in the body is not caused by our thoughts.
It is not within our conscious control. It’s the result of a traumatic experience and our body and our nervous system are responding to something in the present that isn’t a threat to us as though it is a threat to us. Now, so (a) you’re normal if this is happening. You’ve done nothing wrong. And by normal I mean this is not uncommon but (b) you also can seek help for this. Now, this is not what I do as a coach, it’s far beyond the bounds of what I do as a coach.
However, there is help available for it and there are practitioners who are completely devoted to helping people resolve or lessen the impacts of traumatic experiences in their lives. So the tools that I am most familiar with and have heard the most successful stories about are EMDR and tapping Emotional Freedom Technique. Tapping, Emotional Freedom Technique is the one that I used for myself and some of it I did alone. Some of it I did with a practitioner.
I highly recommend a book called EFT for PTSD and it’s by Dawson Church. I think it does a great job of giving a kind of a beginner intro to trauma into what’s happening in the body. And also to Emotional Freedom Technique tapping and how it works and some really good techniques.
However, it would be my recommendation that if you can find someone who is trained in EMDR or in tapping and does this every day for a living to help you. So that you can essentially reconsolidate that memory. Instead of your body feeling unsafe when something happens that reminds you of that day or that place or that thing. You can actually feel neutral about it and that is possible. I don’t know if I have mentioned it on the podcast but one of the reasons I love tapping is because it’s actually approved by the Veterans Administration as a treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder.
And as I’m sure you know, veterans have way more PTSD than the average member of society because of when they’ve been to very traumatic things in war, it makes sense. So it’s nothing you’ve done wrong. You’re not going to solve it with your thinking and there is help available. I really want you to hear that. And what I’m talking about, I call this episode CPR Scenes and Other Such Reminders. Other such reminders don’t have to be logical. They can just be things that for whatever reason take you back to that place.
So maybe it’s the smell of something, can literally be a smell, can be something that you hear in your environment. It can even be a taste. I had a longtime friend of mine, I won’t go into what happened but something happened to her that we could all agree was awful and the taste of blood was a part of that. And so it took her a long time to even realize there was something she could do about it. But every time, if she would bite her lip or floss and get a little bit of blood in her mouth, it was really hard on her because her body went back to a place where she was unsafe.
And it makes sense knowing what we know now but when I had this conversation with her it was probably, gosh, 25 years ago, definitely didn’t know that then. And she was just kind of figuring it out too and thankfully she had a good therapist that was helping her. But it can be any sort of sensory experience in your environment that takes you back to a moment where something was happening that was maybe related to your spouse’s death. Or it could be something completely unrelated from your past that was also still traumatic in nature.
It could be driving by the hospital where they died. It could be driving by the scene of an accident. It could be maybe they passed away from cancer and you see a story about something about cancer on television. It doesn’t have to seem logical that it would make you feel upset or unsafe and that’s okay because it’s not the logical part of your brain that’s creating that feeling. It’s lots of things that are happening in your body. So you can intellectually know that you’re safe and yet your body might respond as though you’re in danger.
The other thing I wanted to bring up is that what I noticed in the group was then some judgment. And because many of the women in the group have lost their spouse after CPR was performed and they didn’t make it they notice themselves feeling really mixed emotions, feeling happy for Damar Hamlin that he did make it. And also jealous because why did Damar make it and their person didn’t? And the discussion was also about how that’s not the first time that’s happened for a few of them where it’s happened in other times. And then they feel guilty because they judge themselves.
And what I want to offer to you is compassion, compassion, compassion. Doesn’t it make total sense that if you lost your person and you saw somebody else who went through something similar and they didn’t lose their person, doesn’t it make sense that you might have mixed emotions about that? Doesn’t it make sense that you might be a little jealous, or envious about that or maybe even angry? Because it makes sense to me. So please do not shame yourself for that. Please do not tell yourself that you’re a bad person.
Remind yourself that you are a human who has been through some stuff and have your own back here because it breaks my heart when I see us unnecessarily beating up on ourselves, being mean to ourselves. Not extending compassion to ourselves. You are not a bad person. There is nothing wrong with you. You’ve done nothing wrong. It is totally logical. It’s totally logical to have mixed emotions when something like that happens and it doesn’t make you a bad person.
So that’s what I wanted to talk about today. And again, no diagnosis here. If this something, if there’s something that keeps happening to you or is happening in a way that is really impacting your quality of life and you can kind of see the connection, or maybe you can’t, but you can kind of see the connection between how you lost your person or something from your past, you intellectually know that when it’s happening you’re actually safe even though you don’t feel like you are, your body is responding as though you aren’t.
I just want to encourage you to be your own advocate. I want to encourage you to take that as something that you can seek help for. I’m not the right person for that, that’s not what I do inside of my Mom Goes On coaching program. I do offer tapping as a part of that. But this type of tapping I’m talking about you want to hire somebody who can actually slowly go through this in a way, and it can be done in a way that’s tearless by the way. It doesn’t have to be retraumatizing in nature.
But we’re talking about wanting to slow it all the way down and get you back to a place where it was before whatever it was that happened, happened. And you’re emotionally neutral and then slowly go through the event, tapping it down until the emotional intensity is no longer taking over. And that’s not something we do in a one-hour group call.
That’s something that, I mean you can make progress but I really want to encourage you to consider working with someone who knows what they’re doing and really can devote the proper amount of time to helping you. So that you come out on the other side and you can watch that CPR scene and not feel like you need to run away or not feel frozen or not have your heart rate skyrocket. So that you can have that memory, you can see whatever it is that right now when you see it, just makes your whole body tighten up. You can breathe as it happens.
And we’re not going to try to solve that by changing your thinking because our thinking isn’t what’s causing it. Alright, step off the soapbox. Whatever is going on for you I love you and you’ve got this. Take care and I’ll see you next week, 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 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 you deserve. Go to coachingwithkrista.com and click work with me for details and the next steps. I can’t wait to meet you.