Ep #249: Uncommon Widowhood

The Widowed Mom Podcast Krista St-Germain | Uncommon Widowhood

The common widowhood experience often ranges from a lack of enthusiasm about life and going through the motions to apathy and waiting for the afterlife.

What I haven’t observed very often in my world is what I see as the potential for an uncommon widowhood experience, and I’m walking you through it today.

If you want to start viewing grief as an opportunity to deeply connect with what you want and value, join me as I unlock the possibilities for your uncommon widowhood experience.

Listen to the Full Episode:

Join me on Tuesday, March 5th 2024 at 3:30 Central for a live Grief Plateau Masterclass! Find out more and register by clicking here. 
If you want to create a future you can truly get excited about even after the loss of your spouse, I invite you to apply for Mom Goes On.


What You’ll Learn from this Episode:

  • What uncommon widowhood means to me.
  • Examples of what uncommon widowhood could look like for you.
  • How to create an uncommon widowhood experience that is curated, intentional, and purposeful to you.


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Full Episode Transcript:

Welcome to The Widowed Mom Podcast, episode 249, Uncommon Widowhood.

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 recording this one a little bit early. If you’re listening to it on the day it releases, that would be March 4th. And it’s actually early February right now, a couple of things going on, one, I just had an hour long conversation with my daughter, which is really exciting to talk to her and see what’s going on in her world. I’m going to go see her between now and the time this podcast episode airs in Costa Rica where she is staying for at least the next few months and go hang out with her and let her show me around and see what she loves about Costa Rica. So that’s happening.

And then also we had a very fun, and I use fun in the most sarcastic way possible, leak in the basement last week, which I might do an entire podcast episode on. Because it is so relevant to grief in that it was the teeniest, tiniest seeming little leak that caused so much damage, so much damage.

Thank goodness, since the child who was living in that basement bathroom moved out and got married in December, no one’s really been down there using that bathroom. So, thank goodness, my youngest was down there. Happened to be recording a YouTube video and went in and used the bathroom and noticed and called me and said, “Hey, mom, I think we’ve got a problem in this basement bathroom. There’s a stain and the paint’s peeling.” And anyway, got it fixed. It was wow, could have been so much worse, but also so much water from such a tiny little hole.

Isn’t that what grief is like? You think that it’s not going to impact every area of your life. You do not realize how sometimes it seems like the damage isn’t that much. But then when you actually start getting curious and investigating and you see this corner is wet and that corner is wet and there’s damage over here and there’s attention needed over here. And it’s just all of a sudden it’s this thing that from the outside didn’t look like at all what you found it to be.

Anyway, that was our experience. Now we’ve got to get the drywall guy in and carpet repaired and we’ll get that done. And then also the other thing that’s making me super happy right now is the Chiefs play in the Super Bowl this weekend. And I’m not a huge football fan, but I do live in Kansas and so we do tend to be Chiefs fans around here and it’s been fun. I’ve also really been enjoying this whole Taylor Swift, Travis Kelce thing. And Todd’s youngest hates it. It is like fingernails on a chalkboard for him whenever he sees Taylor on video, on TV.

And so I bought this shirt and it says Go Taylor’s Boyfriend, number 87, which is Travis Kelce’s number. And I’m super excited to wear this on Sunday and just give him the hardest time. I know he’s just going to roll his eyes and it’s going to be fun. These are the kinds of things that make me happy. So the shirt should be here any time soon. I got it on Etsy.

Anyway, alright, let’s talk about uncommon widowhood. That’s what you came to hear about, not all the things happening in my world. I really want to talk about uncommon widowhood because I think so often we’re just settling. And I don’t mean this as an insult to any of us. I just mean we don’t necessarily have people around us who are setting big examples of what’s possible for widows. And what we’re seeing in TV and in movies and in the women that we know isn’t necessarily reflective of what’s possible for us. And I never want us to set our sights low.

I always want us to set our sights high. So in this episode, I’m going to define what I mean by uncommon widowhood and give you some examples of what I think it could look like for you. And then at the end, I have four questions that I really want to encourage you to spend time with after you listen to this episode. Just think about them, because I think that they will help you come up with your own ideas about what uncommon widowhood could be like for you.

And then also I will tell you this feeds very well into the Grief Plateau Masterclass that is about to happen. So if you’re listening to this on Monday, March 4th, when it comes out, there is still time to register for the Grief Plateau Masterclass, which will happen on Tuesday, March 5th from 3:30 to 5:00pm Central. Also, I imagine, that’s to see it live, I imagine after it’s done we’ll probably record it and make the recording available too, just in case you’re listening to it well past that date.

But coachingwithkrista.com/griefplateau is the place to go and learn more and sign up if there’s still time. If you have any questions about that, you can always email us support@coachingwithkrista.com.

So uncommon widowhood, what do I mean? Think about the average widow experience that comes to mind. Just when you think about widows, what do you think of? What is the common widow experience that comes to your mind? And maybe it comes to your mind because of widows you’ve known. Maybe it comes to your mind because of TV shows you’ve watched or movies, widows in movies. Maybe it’s forefront to you because you’re in a church and there’s a widow group there. Maybe you’ve tried online widow spaces, and that’s what comes to your mind is what you experienced there.

But what I think of when I think of the average widow experience is kind of a wah, wah. It’s not necessarily terrible. It’s not a doomsday life, but it’s also just not amazing. And sometimes in online spaces, what it looks like is a lot of complaining, it looks like a lot of my life is going to be terrible from here on out and I’m just trying to tolerate it. It doesn’t look like a lot of excitement or big goals or meaning making or enthusiasm. It can just be kind of going through the motions and sometimes it’s even worse than that.

Sometimes you see, and maybe this is just me because I am more active on social media and lots of widows follow me and I am exposed to this on a daily basis, so maybe I’m a little bit biased here. But so often what I also see is, literally people are just waiting to die sometimes. That was the one and only love of my life. Life will never be really good until I see them. I’ll see you in heaven. And they’re just kind of counting down the days and they’re not really even attempting to thrive. Maybe they don’t know it’s possible.

Maybe they think it would be somehow disrespectful to the person that they loved. I don’t know but there can be this apathy that just says, my life is over, so I’ll just wait for this one to end, and then it’ll all be better in the afterlife, all kinds of widow experiences out there. But what I don’t see a lot of is what I want to offer to you as the potential for an uncommon widowhood experience. And what I’m talking about by that is an experience that says grief is the door. Grief is an opportunity.

Grief is my chance or another chance because I think there are many, to figure out what matters to me. So to deeply get in touch with what I value, what I want, who I am, who I want to be, what I want to create, the mark I want to leave, the difference I want to make. It’s freedom, uncommon widowhood to me is freedom to do life your way, to do it in a way that you want to do it.

Because sometimes this is true for me, sometimes we’ve just been so busy living life and going through the motions. And doing the things that are habitual or were expected of us, or were part of maintaining the life that we had created that we really aren’t doing it with a lot of intention and purpose anymore. And sometimes what we’re doing is just living out the social conditioning that we were given, the religious conditioning that we were given. This is what you’re supposed to do when you’re a grown up and we just do those things.

And we don’t really realize that maybe it’s not as much of what we want as it could be. And then what happens is that something big like your person dying, shakes you up and wakes you up. And if we want it, it can be an opportunity where we say, “If life is this short, if life is this precious, am I being who I want to be? What else do I want in my life? Am I living according to the values that I know I have? Do I know what my values are?” And those kinds of things.

And it can be a way where we kind of give a middle finger, if you will, to what society expects of us. And we get back in the driver’s seat and we stop going through autopilot and we actually start creating a very intentional, purposeful life that is highly aligned with who we want to be, how we want to be, what we value and what matters to us. That is uncommon. That is uncommon. But that opportunity exists for all of us.

When I talk about this grief plateau experience, which is the masterclass I’m about to do tomorrow. And you’ve heard me talk about it on the podcast before too. You know this is what many of us are stuck in, this grief plateau. That’s the phrase that I came up with that describes that weird place where it’s not as awful as it once was. The roller-coaster is not as intense as it once was. We’re back to functioning. We look like we’re doing okay from the outside, but on the inside, we don’t feel great. We don’t feel amazing. We don’t feel excited, truly, genuinely excited about what’s coming.

We’re kind of, I guess I’ll get through another grief groundhog’s day. I don’t really love it, but it is what it is, so I guess I’ll just make the best of it. That’s what a lot of us are stuck with. And to me, uncommon widowhood means saying no to that, recognizing that post traumatic growth is possible for all of us, all of us. For me, that was a career change. That was a greater appreciation for life. That was a willingness to live life more boldly, more honestly, more authentically, to put myself out there in ways that I never had before.

It was looking around and going, “Do I love my job? I don’t think I do. Is this the way I want to spend my days? I don’t think it is. Is this the life I really want to lead? Not really.” Not that I didn’t love my life with Hugo, I did. I did. Not that I wanted him to die. I didn’t, but he did. And then as for all of us, we get to decide, okay, if this happened, what do I want to learn from it? What do I want to make of it? Who do I want to be given that it did happen? That’s possible for all of us.

Now, if you’re in Mom Goes On, I think your experience of what widowhood could look like is highly biased as well. It’s probably biased like mine is towards the negative because of what you saw out there in the wild world of widowhood, which might have been what inspired you to come in Mom Goes On in the first place. But then also, when you get in there and you see all the women around you who really have made profound, sometimes very visible, sometimes not very visible changes.

Sometimes it’s very much the uncommon widowhood experience that we create, this idea of a life more aligned with our values is not hugely noticeable to people on the outside because it’s a rather internal experience. Sometimes it looks really big. Sometimes it involves, I started this new non-profit, I totally made a career change. I moved halfway across the country or world. I got out of that relationship that wasn’t healthy for me. I started traveling. I started enjoying spending time the way I wanted to spend my time instead of the way everybody else expected me to spend my time.

Sometimes it does look significant from the outside, but not always. But all of that is possible and all of that is uncommon widowhood. What I would love for you is a life that is not on autopilot, meaning it’s curated, it’s intentional, it’s on purpose. It is you living into what matters to you, creating more of what matters to you. It doesn’t mean happy all the time. It doesn’t mean no ‘negative emotion’. It means a full, rich human life that is lived to the max in a way that matters to you. That’s what I want for you. That’s uncommon widowhood.

But what most of us are experiencing, which is surviving but not thriving, the wah, wah, that’s the common widowhood experience. And that’s what I don’t want any of us to settle for. So here are the questions I have for you that I want you to ask yourself. I’ve got four of them. Really think about these questions.

If you were free to create what you wanted next, what might you create? If you were free to create what you wanted next, what might you create? Do you know? Have you allowed yourself to consider this? And listen, I’m going to give you these questions. I don’t want you to put pressure on yourself for exact answers to show up. I just kind of want you to marinate in them. You can write down what comes to you if you want. But it’s not about getting to a particular answer or even getting an answer.

It’s about starting to stir up the possibility and get the juices flowing. And starting to let yourself be willing to contemplate something that is more than your day-to-day, that is more of what you want, that maybe you haven’t allowed yourself to contemplate before. But it’s not about coming up with exact answers. So that’s question one. If you were free to create what you wanted next, what might you even create?

Question two. If you could be the fullest expression of your values, what could that look like? And the reason I ask this question is because I think so often we get hung up in the how. We get hung up in, well, what career am I supposed to do next? Where am I supposed to live next? How am I supposed to do this next chapter of life? And that’s not always the most useful question to be asking. Can we pull ourselves back to what is it that we value? If you know that you value connection with other humans. You can live into that value in a million different ways.

It’s not about, well, I have to be in this career, I have to live in this place or I have to be in this role or wear this hat. It is, I can create and live into that value that I have in a million different ways. So what would I like to try next? What would feel good to me? So that’s question two, if you could be the fullest expression of your values, what could that look like? Not that we have to express our values fully, by the way, we don’t. I just want you to consider what could that look like? If love is a value of yours, what would it look like to express that even more?

Question number three. Now that you know that life is short and precious, and maybe you knew it before, but now you really know it, what are some things that you absolutely want to do, to have or to create that you haven’t yet? Now that you know that life is short and precious, what are some things that you absolutely want to do, have or create that you haven’t yet? Let your brain go wild with that.

And then a follow on question and this is my fourth one. Who do you want to be that you haven’t been yet or what do you want to be that you haven’t been yet?

Alright, so I’m going to go back through them. Maybe you’re taking notes. If you were free to create what you wanted next, what might you create? If you could be the fullest expression of your values, what would that look like? And now that you know life is short and precious, what are some things that you absolutely know you want to do, have or create that you haven’t yet? And then who do you want to be that you haven’t yet been?

Let your brain noodle on these questions. Let yourself marinate in these, spend some time with these questions. These questions can unlock the door to what you envision for uncommon widowhood for you. It’s not like it’s some sort of formulaic thing that’s the same for everyone, it’s not, and it shouldn’t be. We don’t want it to be. We want it to be exactly the opposite of that, in my opinion.

We want it to be an experience where you stop and say, “Okay, here’s what I’ve learned so far. Here’s what I want to make of the experiences that I’ve been through so far. Here’s what I know I value. Here’s what’s important to me. Here’s what I want to create more of, do more of, be more of, have more of, experience more of. This is the on purpose life of freedom that I want for myself.” And it might really go against what you were taught to want. And it might really go against what other people want for you but that’s okay. That’s freedom. That’s uncommon widowhood.

That is permission to do life the way that you want to do life. And that’s going to look different for all of us and that is a beautiful thing. That is a beautiful thing. Okay, you are welcome to come to the Grief Plateau Masterclass if that speaks to you, coachingwithkrista.com/griefplateau. And really consider what could uncommon widowhood look like for you? It is possible, but first we’ve got to let ourselves dream about it. 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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