Ep #202: Navigating Grief and Widowhood: A Widows Unfiltered Interview with Jess Peurakoski

The Widowed Mom Podcast Krista St-Germain | Widows Like Us: An Interview with Jess Peurakoski

As widowed moms at different stages of grief and widowhood, we never have enough stories that show us we aren’t alone in our experience.

That’s why I’m so grateful for people like my Mom Goes On client, Jess Peurakoski, who is willing to invest in herself and do hard, uncomfortable, and scary things.

Tune in this week to hear Jess’s widowhood journey, her experience of being in our community, and what her life looks like now as she continues to navigate her grief.

Listen to the Full Episode:


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 the early days of widowhood were like for Jess.
  • The issues she hoped the Mom Goes On program would help her work through.
  • Jess’s reservations about coming into a group, and how she navigated them.


Featured on the Show:

  • Interested in small-group coaching? Click here for details and next steps.
  • Join my free Facebook group, The Widowed Mom Podcast Community.
  • Follow me on Instagram!
  • If you are a Life Coach School certified coach, I’m working on an Advanced Certification in Grief and Post-Traumatic Growth Coaching just for you. If this sounds like something you would love, email us to let us know you want in on the interest list to be notified when it launches!
  • I send out several pick-me-up emails each week including announcements and details for free live coaching sessions. Enter your email in the pop-up on my home page to sign up.
  • If you’re looking for an easy way to remember the most important memories you shared with your person, you need Memories that Matter, a digital journal with 100 prompts for making documenting your memories simple.


Full Episode Transcript:

Welcome to The Widowed Mom Podcast, episode 202, Widows Unfiltered: An Interview with Jess Peurakoski.

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 intro for the third time because I keep crying. So I’m going to try not to cry this time. Here’s the thing. I have these interviews and then I record the intro later. So I just did this interview with Jess and it’s just really humbling to me and I’m really, really grateful that I have a job where I get to help women when they are in a terribly low point in their lives. And I get to give them tools that they can use to help themselves and that they can use to help their children and that they can use long after we’re done coaching together.

And even though I’m doing this work all day long there’s something about hearing about it from someone else and then sitting back and reflecting on it. And I just still kind of have to pinch myself sometimes that this is what I get to do. And I still wouldn’t have asked that Hugo die so that I get to do it. I still wish that the accident hadn’t happened, but since it did, here we are. And I’m really grateful to my past self for what I did after he died and what I have created since he died and how I help other women since he died.

And I’m really grateful to people like Jess who are willing to invest in themselves and do scary hard things because they want to be the best parent that they can be. And even when it’s not easy and it requires time and effort and discomfort, they’re willing to do it and to show up for themselves. So I will stop rambling. The good news is that I didn’t cry this time. I hope you enjoy my interview with Jess.

Krista: Alright, welcome, Jess, to the podcast, I’m glad to have you.

Jess: Yeah, happy to be here, thank you.

Krista: Yeah. We were talking before I pressed record and I was just saying that I don’t think we ever get enough stories, at least for me. And it’s interesting too that we were also talking before we started that you just turned 40 because the age I was when Hugo died. I just remember thinking, nobody in my world relates to this. So I love that you’re willing to come and tell your story so other people can hear it and feel less alone, so thank you for that.

Jess: Yes, you’re welcome.

Krista: Okay. Let me have you introduce yourself first. So tell us a little bit about you, how you came to this whole widowed experience, anything, anything you want to know.

Jess: Yeah. So I’m Jess Peurakoski, just turned 40. I’ve got two young boys, they just turned six and eight. And yeah, my wife, Sarah passed away, November of 2021 completely unexpected. She started having, she complained of a headache one night, Thursday night, which was unusual for her to get headaches, but complained of a headache. And then a couple of hours later, started throwing up and we’re like, “Oh man, you’ve got the stomach bug that’s going around, that stinks.” 

And so she just kind of continued to routinely every couple of hours in the bathroom, vomiting, just didn’t feel well. So through the next day, she stayed home from work. I got the boys off to school, I went to work. And checked on her, “How you doing?” And she’d be like, “I feel like I got hit by a Mack Truck. I can’t eat anything, nothing stays down.” And so it was that whole day just in the bathroom, vomiting to the point where nothing would come out but still going through the motions.

And then by Saturday morning still feeling that way and really lethargic and took her to the Emergency Room. And it wasn’t until we got into the car that she kind of started talking a little funny, it wasn’t quite making sense, but we get to the ER and she walked in with me, walk her in, I supported her, sat down, checked her in. And they came out to have her sign some papers and she just wasn’t really coherent. And so they called the cold stroke, took her back right away, tried asking her questions, kind of got back around from me.

And they took her down to get a CT immediately and I was sitting in that trauma room and they wheeled her back in. And he said, “She’s got a massive brain bleed.” And so she had suffered a hemorrhagic stroke and at that point, they did an emergency craniotomy and I mean at that point the neurologist had said, “If she makes it through the surgery she would need 24 hour care.” And so it was just the bottom dropping out. I mean I could not figure out, she literally just walked in here with me, she walked to the car, she was just talking to me, how does she have this massive brain bleed?

So then it was just here in the hospital for nine days, because I made the decision. I knew that we had had a conversation of organ donation. So it was sitting in the hospital going through all that process but knowing that that was all the time we had left was that time in the hospital.

Krista: So from normal and healthy to…

Jess: So she was healthy, yeah, healthy, and for me it was hard because you know the things you hear about stroke, face paralysis, numbness, anything like that. I mean it was, she complained of a headache and was throwing up. And to walk in the ER and 20 minutes later find out that she’s just got this brain bleed and nothing can be done was, yeah, unreal.

Krista: Yeah. And I assume there was no health issues that you had been watching or even aware of?

Jess: No. Yeah, she was completely healthy, had no issues, nothing at all. Had just had her yearly check-up and everything was good. So just came out of nowhere. I have no idea why or how it happened, but yeah.

Krista: Yeah. And how long were you together?

Jess: We were together for 11 years, married for six because we weren’t allowed to get married until the law passed in 2015, so, 2016, yeah, 11 years.

Krista: Okay. So not that anybody ever likes really remembering it, but I just think there’s value in talking about it. Those early days, what was that like for you? What do you remember?

Jess: I think the biggest thing that I remember is coming home from the hospital after she had finally passed. And my boys were in school, I had made sure to keep them in school to try to keep things as normal for them as possible at that time. And coming home and standing in the living room and saying, “Wow, this is what it feels like to be numb.” I had heard people say they felt numb before and it was like just, it was like I was just living someone else’s life, not like, just not this world. And it was hard.

I mean it was a blur. I didn’t want to get out of bed. I didn’t want to do anything, but I had a four and a six year old who still needed to have someone there for them, so it was, I mean they were, I have told people, they were the light in my darkness. They were the reason why I would try to put one foot in front of the other because they still had to live.

Krista: Yeah. But it’s like watching a weird movie.

Jess: Yeah, an out of body experience, completely. And definitely not even knowing that it’s real yet, feeling like, okay, at any time, I can wake up now.

Krista: And she’ll be back, yeah. I wonder, I always come up with the random questions on the fly. I just noticed lately some women in Mom Goes On kind of judging themselves harshly for how they responded in those early hours and days. Was there any of that for you or were you pretty supportive to yourself?

Jess: I don’t remember really judging myself early on, honestly because I think there was just so much that had to be done and so much care for the boys that it was just this is what I have to do. I think that if it weren’t for the boys being there and at the age they were where they weren’t as independent, I know that I would have not gotten out of bed. And so I think then I would have had a lot of judgment there.

Krista: Yeah. And it’s interesting how our body tries to protect us from all of the intense emotion. And it’s so different for each person. So it sounds like for you it was numbness. That’s kind of how it felt to me too, is I was able to go through the motions and get things done and have the conversations that I needed to have, but just all the while feeling like this can’t possibly be actually my life. I mean just everybody’s responses are different. I guess what I wish more people knew is that it’s okay to respond however you respond and that you’re doing the best you can.

And sometimes it might not be the way you expect that you would respond but that doesn’t mean it’s wrong. That doesn’t mean it’s anything to feel badly about or be ashamed of. And I’ve just noticed some women lately in conversations that I’m having, that are just really beating the crap out of themselves for how they think they should have handled it, like there’s a right way or something, yeah. Before Sarah died, what did you know about grief? Did you know much?

Jess: Not really. I mean I had had a grandmother, my nana, who passed away when I was in middle school. And that was really hard for me, I was really close to her. I remember not speaking for quite a while but I didn’t have, especially as an adult, I didn’t really have anything that would compare to this intensity except for imagining what it might be like. Having that fear that something might happen and what that would feel like. But definitely did not have anything comparable, anything close to this at all.

Krista: Where did you go first for resources or support?

Jess: Sarah’s family was actually very supportive, her mom had been a widowed mom herself way back when she had had three kids. And so it was amazing that here she lost her daughter yet was still there to tell me, “I remember feeling A, B, or C.” And also Sarah’s sister had lost one of her kids shortly after she was born and so she was so familiar with that intense grief. And so that was huge for me, but I wrote, I’ve never been a huge writer but I wrote to just get a lot of the emotions out.

I skied, it was wintertime here. So I would get the boys to school to daycare, I didn’t work at that time. And I just made myself go out and ski so that I could just have some way to try and get emotions out.

Krista: Was skiing a time of kind of escaping in a healthy way? Or was skiing a time where you could actually think about it, feel it, what was that for you?

Jess: It was both. It was both. It was a way to escape and then it was just a way to, yeah, help just feel and yeah.

Krista: Yeah. And there’s so much value in both.

Jess: Yeah. And just feeling something other than, because it was strenuous and I pushed hard. And so feeling something different, it was just like I can feel something different right now like a way to step away.

Krista: I talked about it on the podcast before but I always think it’s worth saying over and over and over, really truly I’m a fan of the dual process theory of grief, which the main idea behind it is there’s two buckets of activities. There’s grief related activities and then there’s non-grief related activities. And oscillation is really healthy in healing, is intentionally thinking about your loss and feeling the feelings and dealing with it, but also really, really valuable is intentionally not thinking about it and doing other things.

For you that sounds like skiing fit that. And I wish more people bought into that because they seem to give themselves all or nothing, I’ve got to think about it all the time and do nothing else. If I do something else I’m doing it wrong or I’m ignoring my grief or I’m denying it or some such nonsense. As opposed to, no, we can think about it and then also we need some healthy distraction, it’s really valuable for different reasons so yeah.

Jess: Yeah, 100%, yeah.

Krista: I remember you said that you listened to a ton of podcast episodes. How did you find the podcast?

Jess: Yeah. I honestly can’t remember exactly what I searched for, but I just got to a point, it was about eight months in where I had gotten past those really intense beginning parts of it. And I just knew that I needed something. And therapy just didn’t fit for me. I’m a pretty private person. Therapy just wasn’t feeling like what I needed, but I needed something. And I was pretty much at the bottom, needed to do something. And it wasn’t even for me, it was for my boys. I knew they had lost one mom, they had lost part of another and they deserve the best of me.

And in order to give them the best of me, I need to do this, navigate this the best way that I can. So I searched, I don’t even know what I searched and your podcast came up.

Krista: Were you a podcast listener before?

Jess: No.

Krista: No, okay.

Jess: No. Yeah, I was trying to think about that, how did I ever stumble upon it? I don’t even know, but I did, and so I listened. And that what I would end up doing then is when I would go for a ski sometimes is, I would listen while I was skiing. And everything just resonated for, made sense, this is exactly what I’m feeling or this makes sense. And I just realized that I needed to take it a step further and put some time in so that I can be the best I can be for the boys.

Krista: You must not have listened for too long before you came to Mom Goes On because if Sarah died in November, and you said you started listening to the podcast eight months later ish, and then you were in our August group, so yeah, must have happened quite quickly.

Jess: Yeah. So I don’t even know which one I started listening to, but it resonated and so then I started with number one and then, yeah, if I was doing something and could have my headphones in, I would just go to the next one, go to the next one, I just kept, yeah, kept listening.

Krista: What were some of the main issues or changes that you really hoped you could use the program to work through?

Jess: At that point I was just very robotic, everything, I felt overwhelmed with having to just be the solo parent now. And I did not feel like the same person I was. I kept saying, “They lost, the boys lost both their moms.” I’m not who I was, so I just wanted to try to get back to me the best that I could. And I know that I will never be the same person that I was but I wanted to get as close to that as I could. And just some of the stuff that you were saying in your podcast about feelings and emotions.

And you would talk about, in our program we kind of take it a step further. And so I was like, “I think I need that step further to just be able to work through this and not carry the negative with me.” I knew that I couldn’t carry all the negative with me.

Krista: Yeah, it’s heavy. I think there’s so much value in listening to the podcast, of course. And also there is something really, really different about hearing it and applying it. It’s like this kind of passive exercise when you’re hearing it and it’s valuable. But then actually asking yourself questions and answering them and looking at where you get stuck and thinking about what you want to create and writing that stuff down. Just a whole different level of value in my mind.

Jess: Yeah. And knowing, listening to it and then whatever the podcast might be and knowing that there was another level to that and wanting to know what it was. And knowing I need that, I need to know what’s beyond this, what I just listened to for the past 30 minutes.

Krista: Yeah, totally. When you said, you’re a pretty private person, how did you navigate that, what was that like? And did you have reservations about coming into a group?

Jess: I did, yes, I did, definitely. It honestly just came down to almost this is my one shot. You know what I mean? I wasn’t wanting to be here. So it was like I need to suck it up and do this. Again, it wasn’t about me at that time, it was this is what the boys need. So I had big reservations, yes, but I had to do it.

Krista: Did you have to pump yourself up to ask for coaching? Because from my end, recalling coaching you, it never felt like you did but I never know what’s going on, on the other side. Did it require a lot of…

Jess: Yes, it did, yeah. It was like I would be sweating beforehand.

Krista: Yeah?

Jess: Yeah. But at the same time, logically I knew that’s what I needed. I knew that it was good, the benefits outweighed the panic and anxiety of.

Krista: Yeah. It actually wasn’t going to kill you even though part of your body responds.

Jess: Yeah. But that whole being in the hot seat is definitely those emotions with it, the vulnerability is there but worth it.

Krista: Yeah, I’m glad. I’m glad that’s true for you. I still find that to be the case for me sometimes when I’m getting coached in a group environment but way less now. I think it’s probably because I don’t have so many judgments about the craziness that goes on in my brain. I’ve just realized all of that is just part of being human. And so I’m not showing somebody something that’s awful. I’m just showing something that’s human and getting some support around it.

So thinking about you in the early days, because I always imagine women are listening that are maybe earlier in their grief than you are. Knowing what you know now, what would you tell yourself looking back? How would you support yourself in terms of advice you would give yourself looking back?

Jess: I think just giving myself grace to that where I was at, at that moment was okay, whether it was because I was breaking down from the heartache or I struggled a lot with handling the boys. And I always felt like I was a patient person beforehand and just felt on edge all the time and so impatient. And so I would spiral because I would snap and then I would judge myself and feel so guilty, they just lost their mom and here I am.

And so I think just a big thing is just grace, I mean it’s a hard horrible thing to go through and recognizing that I was doing the best that I could at that moment with what I had. I mean you can’t prepare for it, so yeah. And I had people that were able to say, “We want to offer whatever we can. We want to be here, take the boys, be here with you and the boys in whatever mindset you’re in.” And that was huge for me, that if you just want to watch a movie and not talk at all, that’s fine.

We don’t expect you to, if we come over and have a playdate with the boys, that was huge. And that is, and I think that women that come into that would be one thing I’d say if you can find those people that are like, “It’s okay, we’re just here, we don’t need to talk. You don’t need to talk.”

Krista: We’re not trying to fix you or make you [crosstalk].

Jess: Yeah. But just being a presence, just being a presence, a body in a room, was huge. Huge.

Krista: For sure, yeah. I love what you said too about the spiral of snapping and then judging yourself and then spiraling and just to be able to stop that with the judgment. We don’t even have to stop it. I think most people think, well, the only way I can feel better is if I stop snapping, if I suddenly become super patient. And yeah, maybe we can do some work on that but the first step is can we just be kind to ourselves and compassionate after we snap instead of turning it into I’m a terrible parent and a spiral, yeah.

So what else shifted for you? I also remember you saying or I think it’s something you wrote, about feeling like the color had been taken and wanting it to be more than shades of gray, do you remember saying that?

Jess: No, I do, I used to, I would say that I felt like life was looking at your cell phone screen with it always on dim. It’s daytime yet your screen’s always at its lowest and so you can’t quite see everything. I think the biggest, a big huge shift for me, I was really stuck on the fact that Sarah was the best thing that ever happened to me. And I can’t have a better life because having a better life means that she wasn’t getting something from me and she didn’t deserve that. And so I was really, really stuck on that.

And I was able to make the shift of reaching out to her was the best decision that I ever made. And it doesn’t change the story. It doesn’t change anything. But I gave the power to myself that I made that decision to reach out to her and look what came out of it. And it just seems like semantics but just that different change in perspective was huge for me.

Krista: Yeah, I love that, yeah, good.

Jess: Yeah. No, I was going to say that. And with the boys, I had a lot of overwhelm and just feeling like come home and do the same thing and the routine of it and just hating it. And this is my life and feeling like things weren’t fair and this is not how it’s supposed to be. And I remember coaching through that and you were like, “It’s a choice. You don’t have to do the homework with the boys.” And I was like, “Yeah, but if I don’t do it then they’re getting penalized because they’re going to school without their work done.”

And you said, “I’m not telling you, you don’t have to, but it’s recognizing that it’s a choice. You don’t have to, but you are.” And that was huge for me that I was a lot of I have to do this, I have to do that. I have to make them dinner. I have to get their stuff ready, I have to. And I didn’t. I didn’t have to. That was a huge thing for me that it was a choice. I was choosing to do those things and so that was very empowering as well and a big mind shift for me.

Krista: I love that, yeah. Why not be honest with ourselves, instead of telling ourselves we have to do it, be honest with ourselves and claim that we’re choosing to do it. And take the credit for that amazing choice that we’re making, feels completely different than being the victim of all the amazing things we’re choosing to do. Because truthfully you could just leave them on the street.

Jess: Right, yeah, exactly, I didn’t have to feel that negative.

Krista: You weren’t.

Jess: They could have eaten whatever they could reach, whatever was at their height, grab off the counter.

Krista: Yeah, good luck. Good luck to you. Yeah, what was it you were saying before? I had a thought and it escaped me. You were talking about not looking forward to the monotony of it too, which I also think is really common. And I have noticed that it’s a place where we seem to judge ourselves. We tell ourselves we’re supposed to look forward to it or that we shouldn’t be dreading it or shouldn’t be not looking forward to it. And I think it’s such an act of kindness when we can just give ourselves permission to feel how we feel.

It’s totally okay to dread it, not look forward to it, not love it. Why is that not okay? The crap comes when we’re like, and you shouldn’t. But in that moment you do, what if we just allowed ourselves to feel how we felt without telling ourselves we’re wrong?

Jess: Right, yeah, no judging, yeah.

Krista: Yeah, because who said it’s supposed to be amazing all the time?

Jess: Yeah, because it’s not.

Krista: It’s not, and that’s with one parent, two parents, some drama, no drama. I mean that’s just being a parent and being a human. It’s just not always something that we love, it’s 50/50 for most of us anyway. Yeah. Anything else you want other people to know?

Jess: I just can’t say enough about your program and what you’re doing in general. I mean for me coming into it, it was like, “Okay, month one, we’re going to work on feelings.” I’m like, “Oh God, shut the binder, feelings for a whole month.” That’s not happening, no. I had times during the six months where I wished that the stuff that I had worked on and learned I had known when Sarah was here because I would have been able to help her in situations. I wish I had known this a long time ago, some of the stuff with feelings and thoughts as objects.

And being able to put them down and set them aside. I mean I joined in August and so November was a year. And I can confidently say that that first deathaversary and then after that is thanksgiving, two weeks after that is my son’s birthday, two weeks after that is Christmas, two weeks. It’s just until February with Sarah’s birthday and my birthday, would have been a completely different experience.

Krista: What do you think changed about it, how was it different than you think it otherwise would have been?

Jess: I think I didn’t judge myself. I allowed the feelings. I knew that going into it, it’s going to be a hard day. I’m going to feel x, y and z and it’s okay. And I’m going to let that happen. That was big.

Krista: How do you think you would have approached it before? Would it have been, there’s a right way to do it and a wrong way to do it?

Jess: No, I think it just would have been a lot more overwhelming. I think I would have not allowed whatever surface to surface like it did. I think I would have had some judgment of myself, however it was that I would have reacted I would have judged myself. And I should be doing this or I shouldn’t be doing this. And I was just able to, whatever came up, whatever feelings, whatever emotions, that was okay and I was, yeah.

And it’s been very helpful with my boys, a lot of what I’ve learned, being able to apply it with them and feel like I’m giving them a leg up because they’re not going to learn this stuff about feelings and emotions when they’re 38, they’re going to get it now. And so that’s applicable, not just because I lost the love of my life, but it’s just applicable to my life in general.

Krista: Yeah. And it does seem that a lot of people are surprised about that and I wonder why that is. Do you kind of imagine it’s just going to be grief and sadness? Or maybe I guess in your words, instead of trying to ask you the right question, in your words, what’s different about it than maybe what you expected it to be?

Jess: I don’t even know if I can answer that. I mean I guess that not knowing what I learned with all the feelings and emotions, I didn’t know what I didn’t know really. So this is for widowed moms so I figured that, well, this is going to help me get to where I need to be but I didn’t necessarily realize that it’s helpful in so many different areas of life.

Krista: Did you think it’s going to be just be grief, parenthood?

Jess: Yeah.

Krista: And then you see applications and like, no, actually it’s so much more than that?

Jess: Yeah.

Krista: Yeah. I love it. I was curious to know, how are your boys doing? And you don’t have to share anything more than what you want.

Jess: They’re doing good. I’m kind of jealous because at that age kids are selfish, they’re very self-centered. They’re about them, which is for something like this is I think a blessing because they can compartmentalize. They’re not thinking about, mom died every minute of every day like I am. It comes in spurts but then they’re just back in their world and they’re with their friends and then in their routine. So I’m thankful for that, at their age, that they are just able to, if I kept them in school and whatever, but they’re doing well.

I’m curious to see as they get older and have more of a deeper understanding. My youngest was four when it happened. And so as he gets older and kind of has a better understanding of what it means, that he lost his mom and realizing what he might have might have missed out on, how that shifts as they get older but yeah.

Krista: How do you kind of keep her memory, how do you weave her into life in your house?

Jess: Talk about her all the time. We’ve got pictures. I’ve created, started with the boys, memory boxes. So they each have a box and we’ve gone through, started going through pictures and so I just print off. We go through and they pick what pictures they want. And as I get them, I write on the back kind of when it was, what’s the place. And it’s just things that come up. Mom’s so proud of you for doing this, she’s still proud of you, she still sees this. This is what mom used to do. And they will, they’ll be like, “Yeah, mom, snakes, mom didn’t like snakes. She wouldn’t like this show.”

And just little things like that, “Remember this is mom’s favorite meal.” So just always talking about her and that’s important.

Krista: Yeah. What was she like?

Jess: She was, I mean if you can imagine the kindest most compassionate person. That was her. She had the biggest heart. She was an advocate for people with disabilities. And so she was always finding ways to help people. And just the most caring person you would ever, ever meet. And I see that in my older son, so my older son, she gave birth to. And then I gave birth to my younger son. And they have the same sperm donor so they’re biologically brothers.

Krista: Love it.

Jess: But I see a lot of those things in my older son and so I often tell him, “Do you remember how kind mom was? And she had the biggest heart and was so generous.” And I said, “You have those too.” So being able to share that with, “You’ve got her smile.”

Krista: I love it. I wonder if your youngest son that will be an interesting thing to navigate. I wonder if there will be differences in the connection that he feels at some point than your older one.

Jess: Yeah, I wonder that. I feel like it will come down to what he remembers because he had a pretty special connection with her. And I always used to say, “Well, I mean her and I connected, so of course she would connect with the one I gave birth to because he’s a lot like me.” But yeah, I’ve thought that. And I think just helping him remember the things that, the special bond that they had, because they did have.

Krista: Yeah. And the idea that connection isn’t, connection is something we cultivate. It’s something that we, based on how we think we create. So empowering him to know that there really is no difference in terms of his ability to connect with her and your oldest’s ability to connect with her. It’s all what he chooses to believe and planting some of those loving thoughts that she had about him. So what’s next for you?

Jess: Actually I have started seeing someone. And so that’s been a big step for and it’s pretty new, but has been a big, I can say if it wasn’t for this work that I’ve done, I would not be here. And I’ve had a whole lot of emotions and feelings and feelings of guilt and judgment that I worked through, I’m still working through. So that’s been something new to navigate and knowing what I have learned with feelings and it’s a feeling, not a belief. It’s not a truth, has been…

Krista: A fact.

Jess: Yeah, has been big and if I’m thinking other people are thinking it then you used to say that, it’s probably because I’m thinking about myself.

Krista: Yeah, worried other people are going to judge you in the same way that you’re most likely judging yourself, yeah. Good. So it sounds like you’ve been able to coach yourself pretty well.

Jess: Yeah, I have, when I can do it. I can feel that. I’ll get into situations and I just, I need to stop myself and sit down and write and get those thoughts out and see that this is a thought and where is that coming from and what am I telling myself about it?

Krista: Good, music to my ears. Did you have some tools you can pull out of your toolbox and help yourself after the program? That’s what I want.

Jess: Yeah, that’s huge is having that tool. And so that’s where, yeah, listening to the podcast was great. It made me feel not so isolated, but I wouldn’t be where I am right now if that’s all I did was listen to the podcast. I needed that other work.

Krista: I’m glad you were willing to do that for yourself. And to put yourself in a position which didn’t sound like it was super comfortable.

Jess: No, it wasn’t, no.

Krista: For the person who’s private and doesn’t really want to talk in front of others, to come in and do that, it’s a big deal.

Jess: Yeah. And I have to say, I also had some reservations with the fact that it wasn’t my husband, it was my wife, my partner. And so that felt like, you don’t know how people might respond or how that might be. And I did not feel like, I mean love is love and grief is grief really. It didn’t matter that she was a woman and it was a man for everybody else. The emotions are still the same, what we went through was still exactly the same. Our feelings are everything. And so I’m glad that I put that aside.

Krista: I’m glad to hear that too because it’s always one of those things that I have been like, “Okay, how can I create that culture?” Because I know where I am. But just because I’m where I am doesn’t mean the people who want to be in my program share the same beliefs and values. And so it’s interesting to trust in a culture you have hopefully created and watched just to make sure, but I’m glad that’s the experience you have because that’s the experience that I want. I want everybody to feel welcome.

If you identify as a woman and you identify as a widow, which there’s a lot of nuance in there. That’s the environment that I want people to feel good about. How was it watching other people’s coaching?

Jess: That was so helpful. I mean I didn’t have the one, I’d never done the one-on-one therapy. But being the one getting coached is you’re in the hot seat and your mind is spinning and you’re just able to step back when somebody else is doing it. And you’re able to make the connections better and see things kind of more clearly because you’re not feeling as vulnerable. And yeah, and so many things, yeah, I didn’t even realize that I have that too. I have those same thoughts and it’s okay, it’s normal to have those thoughts. I’m not alone.

Krista: I love when I hear that because there’s no amount of convincing, I can seem to be able to do sometimes with people who are just hell bent on I need your attention one-on-one. I’m like, “No, you actually don’t. You think you do, and you’ll get plenty of it if you want it.” And also there’s so much value in when your fear brain is not on the defense or blurring things for you. And there’s so much value in going, “Oh, it’s not a me problem.” That’s what’s going on in people’s brains. It’s a thought problem, it’s a feeling issue.

There’s nothing fundamentally flawed with me, she’s struggling the same way I am struggling, I get it. It’s sobering.

Jess: Yeah. And to see, I mean I think that, for me that’s what the model is, it helps me because when you’re in it you’re not seeing anything else but what’s in your brain. And so to do this you’re able to step outside of your brain and see it from the outside perspective. And when you’re not the one being coached, you’re the one watching it, is the same thing, you can see.

Krista: It seems so obvious when it’s not your life, doesn’t it? You’re looking at the other person and you’re like, “Oh, I totally see.” Yeah.

Jess: Yeah, it’s like watching a TV show and being like, “Why are they making that decision? That doesn’t make sense.” But when you’re in it, you’re just, that’s where your focus is, what you’re believing is a truth and you can’t get past it. And so that was big to be able to learn from others’ vulnerabilities basically.

Krista: Yeah, right. And the more people put themselves in uncomfortable positions and ask for coaching, when it’s uncomfortable or when it’s a subject that they’re uncomfortable with, it’s so lifegiving to everyone else in the group, isn’t it? Makes you want to get help or you’re like, “Me too.”

Jess: Yes.

Krista: Thank you so much for coming on the podcast.

Jess: Yes. Thank you for having me.

Krista: Is there anything we missed?

Jess: I don’t think so. I guess I would just like to comment also for me if anybody is thinking of doing it, definitely is user friendly in the sense of a busy mom. I mean I wish I could have been more online, when people are chatting in Slack or have been more involved with the live coaching calls instead of having to watch the replays. But the fact that I was able to do all of this because of those options, I had to get the boys to school and then work and then for me it was after they went to bed at 10 o’clock at night is when I would do it.

And so that’s very, user friendly isn’t really the right term that I want to use but just…

Krista: No, but I get it, it’s workable, you can actually do it.

Jess: Yes. You can fit it in.

Krista: Yeah. And I remember you’d be calling in from your car.

Jess: Yeah.

Krista: Yeah, good, that’s what I want.

Jess: Yeah, that makes a big difference, yes.

Krista: I just actually got an email from somebody this morning who’s like, “I want to join but I want to attend the calls live. I don’t think it’s going to be valuable for me if I don’t attend the calls live.” And every time somebody says that, I’m like, “I get what you’re saying and also I have a 100 examples of how you don’t actually have to come live.” But it’s hard to get people to see that, so thank you for saying it. Yeah, so good. Alright, keep in touch.

Jess: I will, thank you so much.

Krista: Okay, take care. You’re welcome.

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.

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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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