I’m writing this today with all of you strong women in mind who are widows after the loss of their husbands to suicide. It is an experience that is difficult for many people to understand and sometimes that leaves us feeling lost, alone, and misunderstood. Our people try and thank goodness for those who do! But there’s nothing quite like having a deep conversation with someone who has been there intimately. You see, I am you and you are me. We are in this together.
Not all of the details of our experiences are the same, but there’s a sisterhood that’s been created from our common denominator. And while this group is not one that we asked to join, we’re here and the support we offer each other is profound and life changing.
This is why I’ve chosen to coach widows who are experiencing the stigma, the challenging thoughts, the painful emotions, and the limiting beliefs about their “story” and who they are. I help women reset their stories, so they can continue on their journey and reclaim their lives with confidence, compassion and courage.
With that, I’d like to share my experience with you. . .
It was in December of 2011 when I lost my husband to suicide. I loved him dearly. And we suffered in our marriage for quite some time. He was depressed, but I didn’t know the depths of it. He drank too much. He had secrets. We both did. Our communication had ceased to be productive. Our life together was falling apart. I chose to leave him after a volatile altercation. It was incredibly difficult, but I knew it was the thing I needed to do.
We talked every day after that. He began seeing a counselor, he stopped drinking, and his doctor put him on an anti-depressant. I was concerned about that, but he said he was feeling better. I reminded him of the side effects and asked him to reach out if he had suicidal thoughts. He said he would.
He called me one day at work and asked me if I would come back. This was a heart-wrenching call. I knew it wasn’t time yet for me to do that. While he was taking steps forward, I didn’t believe it was the right time — it had only been two weeks. Because I was at work when he called, I told him I wanted to talk more with him that evening. Sadly, that didn’t happen. He made the decision to leave this life.
There was so much guilt initially, but I knew in my soul that it wasn’t my fault. That “knowing”, however, was an elusive one. It came and went with my own thoughts, in addition to the blame I received from others. The grieving process was (is) quite an interesting one. Somehow I thought there was a lock-step process to follow and mine just didn’t seem to be working in that way.
I realized within that first year that each person grieves differently. It’s like being in the ocean. Sometimes it’s very still, sometimes there are small ripples, there are deep swells, occasional rides on top of a wave, sometimes you come crashing down, and then you move through it all again and again, in varying degrees and sequences. What I know now is that you just have to be in it. To allow what comes and not to fight against it or try to predict it. Even after six and a half years and now that I’m remarried, I still find myself in the ocean from time to time. I no longer question why I am there. I simply welcome the healing that comes with it.
Within the first year after his death, I went through the range of emotions. I worked through the logistics of the practical items I had to be sorted. I learned how to tell people about what happened and to deal with their reactions as well as mine. And, I began to see how the experience of this loss was affecting my ability to move forward in the different areas of my life.
I didn’t know what to believe about my story, my life, who I was, what I wanted to be, and what others believed about me and my experience. It all seemed so daunting, confusing and consuming. I felt blame, shame and the stigma of my experience. I felt these on a personal level and from external sources as well. I was definitely in the emotion of my experience and I didn’t know how to let it flow through me. I was navigating my experience in uncharted waters.
I decided to try therapy, as I hoped it would offer guidance for how to get through it and ultimately give me some peace. So, I found a therapist. I began with my story. I went back into the past and explained what had happened, where I had been, and what it had been like for the last several months. This felt useful in helping the therapist understand more about me.
Unfortunately, that’s where the progress stopped. I continued on for a few more sessions, but I wasn’t getting anywhere. I was just telling my story over and over, and sharing little nuances that hadn’t been divulged before. I was tired of my story and continuing to repeat it kept me fully ensconced in the old feelings and scenarios. I was not gaining any traction for feeling better and getting the results I wanted.
After five sessions, I decided that method wasn’t for me. I wanted to feel better. I wanted answers. I wanted to know that I could change my life, even though I wasn’t sure what that meant. I was willing to look at myself and make changes, but I realized that staying in the story I was telling – reliving it in the same way over and over – kept me stuck where I was. There had to be a way to feel better and I was going to find it.
Life coaching was my next step. I began the coaching sessions the same way I began therapy – with my story. This was the only similarity. My story was used as a reference point, context for how I’d gotten to where I was and from there it became
I learned how to use my story to help me rather than to hold me back. My story is mine. I own it. I haven’t let it go, but I’ve reset its meaning. It no longer holds the power to mean anything harmful or negative about my life and who I am. While I cannot control many of the circumstances in my life, I know I can control how I respond to them. I am no longer at the mercy of life happening to me, because I have the power and the ability to choose what I think, how I feel and what I make it all mean.my launching pad. Life coaching showed me how my thinking was directly related to how I was feeling and to the results I was getting. I learned how I could use my thoughts to create better feelings. In feeling better, I began to approach things with a new mindset and take different actions which led to more positive results.
This doesn’t mean that I no longer feel negative emotion. I do and I choose to. It’s important to feel the full spectrum of emotions that come our way. Feelings are our guides. They show us what we want, what we don’t, what’s working and what isn’t. I still have emotion about my story – sometimes the feelings are painful and sometimes they’re joyful, but they are always empowering because I can control my thinking and therefore create the results I want. I know now that I’m in the driver’s seat.
This is the key to it all.
With love & grace,
P.S. If you feel like you’re at the mercy of your story and can’t seem to find your way out, but you want to with every part of your being, you are in the right place. We can do this together. You’ll be able to reset your story so that you can reclaim your life with confidence, compassion and courage! It is absolutely all within your grasp.
It’s a process.
It’s not always easy.
It’s extremely revealing.
It’s ultimately empowering.
It is SO worth it! AND so are YOU!
Join me for a free empowerment session so we can talk about what’s going on for you and how we can work together to get you where you want to be and beyond! It’s the first step on this next phase of your journey.
I can’t wait to meet you!