BW 007: Intense Joy and Grief Post Loss with Shyla Nash

widow interview Nov 30, 2022

Watch the video above or on YouTube or listen on Apple or Spotify podcasts.  The Transcript is below.


What does life look like after loss?  Does grief ever just “go away”?  When can you find joy again?  

In today’s episode, Shyla Nash shares her experience with:

  • Diagnosis to loss within two months
  • Living with intense joy and grief at the same time
  • Widowhood with three young children
  • Dating post loss

Shyla openly shares her experience, thoughts, struggles, and joy.

The Brave Widow Community is a place where you can connect with other widows, find hope and healing, and begin to dream again for the future.  Learn more at  

 Hey guys, I’m Emily Jones

I was widowed at age 37, one month shy of our 20 year wedding anniversary.  Nathan and I have four beautiful children together.  My world was turned completely upside down when I lost him.  With faith, community, and wisdom from others, I’ve been able to find hope, joy, and dream again for the future.  I want to help others do the same, too! 


Twitter @brave_widow

Instagram @brave_widow



BWS 007 Shyla Nash

[00:00:00] Emily Jones: Hey guys, I'm excited for you to hear today from Shyla Nash. Shyla is a 33 year old widowed mother, making the most of her widow life crisis. She has a background in social work and is currently a full-time mom to her three kiddos, one of who has autism.

[00:00:18] Shyla's an open book, and today she shares with us her experience in going from diagnosis to loss within a two month span of time, living with intense joy and intense grief at the same time, dating post-loss, and then dating and widowhood , with young kids.

[00:00:37] Okay. All right. Well, Shyla, thank you so much for joining me on the show today. I know you have a lot of challenges that you've gone through in this grief journey and as you've healed and you're a little further out now than some of the other folks that, that people will be hearing maybe before you.

[00:00:58] But I'm so glad that you're here. Thank you for coming.

[00:01:02] Shyla Nash: Yes. Thank you. I'm super excited about it and nervous, but it's gonna be good. .

[00:01:06] Emily Jones: Oh, you're, you're a natural. I can already tell. So you're gonna be good, but well, tell us. Everybody's gonna want to know a little bit about you and maybe your background and your family.

[00:01:16] We'd love to hear about that.

[00:01:18] Shyla Nash: Sure. Yeah. So I'm 33, so pretty young, young widows club over here. I live in Michigan. I have three kids. Hazel is six, Hendricks is three, and Hudson is like 20 months. So, Super busy. I stay at home now to take care of them and everything just with the, the intense changes that came with, uh, Jake's death.

[00:01:41] But prior to that I was in the social work field for about 10 years. So that's kind of my background professionally. And now I'm home doing the kiddo thing and we will kind of see where life takes me next. I'm not sure we're, we're just gonna see where it goes. Once I get a little bit bigger and.

[00:01:59] You know, it looks like at that point. So yeah, right now I'm just stay at home mom life busy and everything that comes with that.

[00:02:06] Emily Jones: I was gonna say, you probably have your hands full with three kiddos on those age ranges for sure.

[00:02:12] Shyla Nash: Oh, yeah. Yeah. It's, it's constant never ends. I'm sure people, uh, can relate to that and how that goes.

[00:02:18] Yes.

[00:02:19] Emily Jones: Yeah. All right. Well, we would love to hear your story and I'll let you start where you feel like it's the best place to start, but I will turn it over to you.

[00:02:29] Shyla Nash: Okay. All right. Well, I will just kind of start where, uh, Jake and I started. So, yes, my husband, uh, his name was Jake and we met in 2013, uh, just through some mutual friends and started dating like pretty much right then.

[00:02:44] And just kind of moved pretty quick from there. We had our first daughter, Hazel in 2016. Bought a house. You know, did the whole family thing. And then we actually didn't get married until 2017 cuz I'm a little bit like, mm, when it comes to marriage. It's not like I, like never pushed it. I was cool with being just how we were being, so we actually didn't end up getting officially married until 2017.

[00:03:09] But looking back, I'm really glad that we did do that just with everything that that happened. So, yep. We had our second son Hendricks in 2019 and we were really just living a very normal you know, mostly very happy busy family life with small kids and everything that goes with that.

[00:03:28] And you know, being tired and grumpy and, and all that stuff. But, but honestly, we really did not have any big problems. We lived a very kind of routine, normal life, and that worked really well for us. And everything was good, you know, busy, but good. So, in spring of 2020, obviously covid hit, right? And so we have all of that going on.

[00:03:51] And Jake started complaining. A lot of neck pain. And he always had neck pain actually, but could always be like, oh, it's cuz you're sleeping on the couch with the baby who doesn't sleep right? So that's why your neck hurts. Like, could always be explained away by something. But of course it started getting really intense and he started having a lot of like tingling in his hands and arms and pain and kind of eventually moved down to his chest.

[00:04:17] And that was really concerning because no one wants. Chest pain and, and like feeling numb. Like that's weird. So, you know, we tried to, he tried to get into the doctor and covid, right? Let's take this all into consideration, like jump back there a minute. So things that weren't really super essential and he, he was young.

[00:04:37] 33 neck pain. You see? Right. You know, you know, oh

[00:04:41] you want some pain meds or, you know, whatever that might look like. And just in the culture that we were in at that time. So, he did eventually get in for an MRI and that was June four. And so we were there I was able to go along, which is like shocking, right?

[00:04:57] So, so right then and I've had MRIs before for other health issues, and I know that you leave and then the doctor calls you with your results. And they were like, why don't you stay here? And I was like, . And he didn't, you know, I've never had a medical issue like that. So I kind of started having some anxiety about that at that point.

[00:05:20] But so yeah, we were told via phone because of Covid that there was a mass found tumor at the very top of his spine. So cervical spine it was very large and that we needed to go to a bigger hospital. Right then. So there we went. And it ended up being diagnosed. He had cordoma, which is really super rare.

[00:05:41] It's like one in a million people get. Just really crazy, really rare. He's probably had it his whole life actually. They're super slow growing, but until they start causing a lot of issue typically people don't know. So, so just kind of fast forward, uh, that was June four. We had a really big surgery scheduled for the end of June.

[00:06:00] And that was like 16 hours one day. I think seven hours the next, so this was a really big surgery with like spinal reconstruction all of that. And again, it's Covid, right? And only I could be there and. It just adds another, you know, another whole loophole.

[00:06:20] Emily Jones: Yeah, I mean, you've already got. Life is stressful.

[00:06:24] There's so many changes that are happening. The way that we live is changing the way we seek medical care. Yeah. And then when you receive the diagnosis and as you're moving through the surgery mm-hmm. , did they give you any indication like, oh, this is something with surgery, we feel like he's gonna be fine, or there's a high risk, he may not survive much longer. What was that like?

[00:06:48] Shyla Nash: Yeah, so, the kind of the game plan or the thought at that point was, we're gonna get as much tumor out as we can. We're gonna reconstruct those, that top of the spine there, C one through four, and the tumor had like eaten through bone, so it was like gonna be metal, metal rods there.

[00:07:04] So he was gonna lose function, a lot of function of his neck. So I think he'd be able to turn it like 10%. So it was gonna be a huge lifestyle change. It's a slow growing cancer. It typically doesn't spread to other parts of the body. So the prognosis, the prognosis was pretty good. Once we got through that surgery radiation was next or, or talked about you know, to kind of get any spots that were missed.

[00:07:25] But it was gonna be definitely a life changing you know, thing for him, especially with the limited mobility. But the thought was, It's a slow growing, it doesn't usually spread. We're gonna adjust to this new, you know, not being able to turn our neck, but life, you know, can continue on in a new normal.

[00:07:46] So it wasn't terminal in that sense. Does that make sense?

[00:07:52] Emily Jones: Oh yeah, absolutely. So I'm sure. Still probably pretty depressing and a lot of anxiety and things going on, but it wasn't really in the back of your mind that you're not going to be able to overcome this.

[00:08:05] Shyla Nash: Exactly. Yeah, definitely a lifestyle change and everything that comes with that.

[00:08:10] But you know, life would continue on mostly normal, especially with, you know, young kids. So, so yeah, that was kind of the hope. So he came through the surgery really well. He was doing great. He was up and walking around starting physical therapy, you know, doing really well. Still in the icu, but, but doing really.

[00:08:29] And he ended up having to get a, uh, GI tube placed just because the surgery was through the mouth. So that was hard. As far as eating went, and that's kind of when things just went really suddenly downhill. He started saying some things that just didn't make sense, kind of losing touch with reality or kind of random phrases and you know, it could kind of be explained cuz he just was put under again for this GI tube.

[00:08:55] So, you know, you're kind of loopy when you get out of anesthesia anyway. It's probably that, you know, kind of give it time. And what ended up happening is that same. I went home and ended up going back into the ICU that night. Just because he was not cognitive, you know, mentally something was off there and some other issues too.

[00:09:16] So he went back to the ICU that night and then ended up needing to be intubated and it just went downhill from there. He ended up getting a just a really massive infection and we tried some really intense like IV antibiotics and several more surgeries to kind of clean up those areas of infection, uh, along the spine and in the brain.

[00:09:39] But it just got to the point where it was just so spread throughout the entire spinal cord and parts, the brain and. He was losing his, you know, lost function of arms and legs and, and other other things. And just got to the point where we really had to make a decision about, uh, you know, quality of life versus, you know, what that would look like.

[00:09:59] And, uh, going forward and, and it was just really intense. It was really intense. So, oh, also, I forgot to mention right after his surgery. So like early. I found out I was pregnant. So, surprise, surprise.

[00:10:18] Emily Jones: And did he get, did he get to know that?

[00:10:21] Shyla Nash: Yes.

[00:10:21] Emily Jones: When you were pregnant?

[00:10:22] Shyla Nash: Yeah, so I was, I was like, do I tell, do I not tell cuz like stress, right.

[00:10:29] And I'm like, I can, I can't keep that a secret. I have to tell. And so I did tell him and I was like, I have to tell you something. And he is, You're pregnant. And I was like, guessed it right away. So, he was super excited about it. He was like, it'll be fine. This will be fine. We'll be fine. And so, like, I've always kind of kept that, like he said, it's gonna be fine.

[00:10:54] We'll be fine. But I am really glad looking back that I did tell him and that we were able to have that conversation and he did know. So, just another, you know, craziness in our story.

[00:11:05] Emily Jones: So, so here you are in the midst of Covid and then, you know, finding out that your husband has this tumor that has to be removed.

[00:11:16] You go through these excruciatingly long surgeries, you think everything's gonna be fine, then this infection starts to spread and he's losing a lot of functionality. How long was he in the hospital where you were kind of on the edge of he, maybe he's gonna recover or maybe he's not. You were just Yeah, I, I know those days.

[00:11:38] Every day is like torture . Yeah. You know, that you wait for those daily updates or maybe twice a day updates. It's, some days maybe look good and some days you've taken two steps back. Uh, how, how long did that happen and what was that like?

[00:11:52] Shyla Nash: Yeah, it's definitely a roller coaster of emotion, isn't it? And, and we, we can hold on to that, you know, that little bit of good news sometimes, and we just can hold onto that.

[00:12:03] And it's, it's easy to let little things like that you know, kind of when you're looking at the big picture, uh, sometimes it's like, oh, but his blood pressure was super great. Right. Yeah. And it's like, well, he also can't move his legs, so, so, you know, and, and he, he's intubated. He can't speak, he's not, he's not conscious.

[00:12:23] So it definitely was, you know, that roller coaster of up and downs, but he never left the hospital after, after the surgery. So, so I think. I think it was like July eight was maybe when he went back to the icu. So, and then I made the decision to move him to just comfort care or hospice.

[00:12:43] Very end of July, like July 30, I think. So, you know, we, I definitely feel like we gave it You know, we, we gave, you know, the different therapies, antibiotics, time to work, and time to see what that looks like. And you know, we had a lot of different opinions and, and you know, different surgeries that, you know, to try to clean some of that out.

[00:13:04] So, it really was. He never left the hospital. So really, I would say, you know, July eight to, you know, the end of the month, a good like three, maybe three, four weeks there. Yeah. Where we kind of were waiting for things to work and, and seeing what and some of that stuff takes time, you know, neurologically and healing of your body.

[00:13:23] And you know, if it wasn't so intense, it was just, there was just not one spot where the infection was. It was it. It was just everywhere, you know? And so it, it just makes, uh, such a difference. And I'm really lucky that I was, uh, that we were able to have those conversations and we were pretty open and honest with each other.

[00:13:43] And I think that's something I really advocate for. You know, all people, couples, partnerships, whatever that looks like to really talk to your, your person and make sure, you know, Uh, what they would like medically, what, you know, funerals, you know, burials, death, cremation, what that all looks like because it's so important, uh, to be on the same page because when it comes down to it and you are the one signing those consents and that paperwork to know that you're making the decision that you've talked about together just provides so much relief.

[00:14:19] Than, than guessing about what that may look like, especially when they can't talk to you about it. So, I'm really happy we did that and I always tell everyone to, to do that, to have those conversations because you just don't know and it's really not, you know, if, well, if you die, I mean, it's when it's we and

[00:14:38] yeah.

[00:14:39] Yeah.

[00:14:40] Emily Jones: I mean, I It's one of those things I think culturally we don't like talking about and we don't wanna have to face it. But in the end, I mean, even if it's just funeral arrangements, there are so many decisions that have to be made and. For the most part, I felt like I knew what my spouse wanted, but there were a couple of things I really got hung up on.

[00:15:02] Like even something like, well, do I bury him with the wedding ring or do I keep the wedding ring? And what would he have wanted? And that was one thing we hadn't really talked about. So,

[00:15:12] you.

[00:15:14] Most people as they're grieving, go through various phases of guilt and what if I could have done this, or what if I could have done that?

[00:15:21] And so I think you have an excellent point of when you have those conversations up front, you can be confident that you're doing what your spouse wanted and what you believe is the right choice. And after that, we just kind of have to leave it in God's hands that, that he knows better than maybe any of us.

[00:15:39] What really needs to happen, so,

[00:15:41] Shyla Nash: yeah. Yeah, definitely. And there are so many of those small choices that you don't even think about until, until you have to do it. And to have some of those bigger things done is just so helpful when it comes down to it and in that crazy time that we're in. So I definitely agree with that there.

[00:15:59] So, So, yeah, so I made that decision to move him to Comfort Care Hospice, and then he did pass away August four. So we had, uh, the diagnosis June four, so we had exactly. Uh, two months from, from diagnosis to death. So, it was just really traumatic and, you know, that could be its own podcast. Like we could spend a whole episode just, just on that.

[00:16:21] So I don't wanna feel like I'm skipping over things, but just trying to keep it, you know, keep it short and, and kind of focused, but just a crazy two months of, of up and down. Intense life changes and you know, now here we are, you know, two years, a little past two years out, and it just seems like I'm living just such a completely different life.

[00:16:45] And sometimes it's like I think back and I'm like, that life seems like it was like decades ago, right? Like, I can hardly even remember. What that was like sometimes. But at the same time it's like, I can't believe it was that long ago. It seems like just yesterday. I think such a weird dynamic.

[00:17:08] Emily Jones: Yeah. And I think one thing that people will really be interested to know is, You, you had a lot on your shoulders, right.

[00:17:17] Going through that, and then that's you had tough decisions to make you, you know, just found out that you were pregnant not that long before. You also have a, a small child and so many people, when they lose their spouse, they just feel like it's hopeless. Like there's no point in going on. They can't breathe.

[00:17:37] They're just drowning in their grief. And, and we know everybody's timeline with grief is different, but for you, where was the point where you felt like, okay, it's not gonna be like this every day, and maybe I can have hope again for the future, and maybe I can start to rebuild my dreams and what I really see for my future?

[00:17:58] What, what was that like for you?

[00:18:00] Shyla Nash: Yeah. You know, I think in those first few days and weeks, it is just such a massive. Grief. And you know, when I put all those things together, we had the death. We moved like a month, not even a month later. And that was in progress, you know, prior, but still had to go forward with that move.

[00:18:19] I lost my job the first day back you know, because of Covid and said I was in the social services field and just the way that that all went down you know, I had worked there for 10 years and you know, nobody, no manager there even mentioned Jake's passing. and it, you know, it's just it's just beyond how, how that can even, you know, this is my first day back and then getting let go.

[00:18:47] Cuz my pro, the program I ran because of Covid just, it wasn't no longer feasible, it was a school based program, but you know, for no one there to even mention that when you go back to get let go is just crazy. That's crushing. It really is, you know, and then living in that covid world, still post loss.

[00:19:06] And that isolation was really, really draining. And then having the baby so basically I say all of that to say that at the time I really had to kind of make a decision to. To really deal with all of the task oriented things that needed to get done. And, and that's my. Personality. I'm a very task list type of person, so that came easy for me.

[00:19:33] And it's almost like I like had to split my brain and say like, the emotional part is gonna be over here. And for now, like, to get through these next few days, like, I have to just focus on the daily tasks, right? Like I, and that for me was Comforting in a way because I in a wor and when you wake up and your whole world, Different and there's a huge hole and a huge loss.

[00:20:03] To have something, some goal or something to do was helpful for me. You know, personally, and that's kind of where I focused those, you know, that next month or two was wrapping up the bank accounts, the, you know, the passwords, the funeral, the. The insurance, the, you know, the car, that kind of stuff.

[00:20:26] That really practical stuff is where I just poured what energy I had into that until I got to a place where I felt like the practical things are taken care of. I can breathe for a second and now I can start dealing with the, the emotional side of. Mm.

[00:20:47] Emily Jones: Yeah. It's almost like we go into crisis management mode of, yeah, we know what, what has to be done.

[00:20:54] Here's all the to-dos, let's check everything off the box and Right. I know for me, I had some coworkers tell me the same thing, like, well, we can tell you've just got a checklist in your head and you're going down it, but you know, you almost have to not give yourself a choice. And it's not that you don't cry or you don't still have those overwhelming moments, but you know, in order to survive, especially with kids or other family members that depend on you, that you've gotta just get some things done.

[00:21:21] And then it's almost like maybe you have this moment where things quiet down a little bit and people stop checking on you as much and people aren't really sending you as many messages and it slowly kind of seeps back in. Did, did you have a similar experience?

[00:21:36] Shyla Nash: Yeah, yeah, for sure. And that that support is Is so great and I'm lucky to have had a lot of great support and family and friends, and I really was, you know, I, I know that not everyone has that, and I, I know that that must just add to the difficulty of, of someone's grief and you know, but there does come a point where that stops and slows down and you still have to get up every day and You know, you still have to make the meals and it just, it's not a choice when you have such young kids to not you know, you just have to.

[00:22:09] But you know, I really remember the people who would send texts, you know, three, four months later, Hey, just check in on you, or just wanted to say hi. And I have, you know, a handful of great friends who did that and, and didn't ever require a response back. And I think that's the key. You know, where and, and they kept doing it.

[00:22:32] And so even if I didn't ever, you know, say something back or, or whatever, and, and that is helpful and that's what I remember a lot about that time is, is those few people who really did. Continue to check in and, and still do. And you know, yeah, we do go to this kind of numb place to just get things get through the day.

[00:22:53] And we do have those breakdowns. For me it was like nighttime cuz I finally had a moment. Without the kids. And driving. I don't know what it was about driving, but I could just kind of space out for a minute. Which probably isn't the safest, but I mean, I definitely did it. You know, like I would miss, you know, I've lived in this town my whole life, but I would miss, you know, basic turns.

[00:23:16] And it's just like, I think because I, I knew the kids were buckled, contained, safe, and I could just kinda. Zone. So I, you know, I had that kind of thing going and those are the two things I remember. It's like nighttime and driving. Mm-hmm. were kind of my two little areas to just kind of start dealing emotionally.

[00:23:39] Emily Jones: Yeah. I think nighttime's a big one for people, and I've been reading this book, I think it's called The Grieving Brain that just talks about how one of the reasons why grief is so hard is because your brain has patterns. You know, how many days, nights, weeks, years did you go to bed and that person was beside you?

[00:23:58] And so now you have to get through more days, weeks, months, years of that person not beside you, for it to feel like a new pattern and a new habit. Yeah. And. I think you also hit on something that you know, I would love for people who support those who are grieving to really grasp is the loving that person without expectation.

[00:24:20] And I did have, you know, a handful of people that constantly sent messages, cards. You know, let me know that they cared. And months later I would look up like, I haven't even told these people thank you, or I got this or, and they just kept sending it, kept sending it, kept sending it. And so I finally was able to go back at some point and tell them like, you have no idea what that meant.

[00:24:43] For me, for you to just keep doing it without a response. So that's awesome. Yeah. Well, so, so tell us now that you, you know, had that experience, you went through those stages or through that, that process of grieving. Then tell us, tell us what's happened now. Over the past it's been, what, about two years?

[00:25:04] Just over two years. Yeah.

[00:25:06] Shyla Nash: Yeah. Yeah. So, I think before I got off track, one of your questions was you know, what, was there a turning point for you or, or what did that look like? And for me that was holding a I, I was able to hold like a celebration of life event a year later. So that was in August of 2021.

[00:25:23] And that was, that was what Jake had wanted. And you know, when we had the funeral, that was in no way healing to me. I, I don't remember it. I'm gonna be honest with you. I, I, I spoke there and I don't. I have hardly any memory of that, of that day. And so that in no way was closure or healing, you know, to me.

[00:25:44] And then during that, you know, with Covid and having to have it limited was just another roadblock. So the celebration event was awesome. And we had, you know, no restrictions. He has a big family, so you know, all his family, all of our friends. He loves beer. So we had a ton of like all his favorite beers and you know, little write-ups and he did beer reviews.

[00:26:05] So like we printed those. It was just a cool event. I was super happy with how it came together. You know, photo album, slideshow, like yard games, pretty setting. It was, it was really cool. The kids were there. And after that event, I was, I felt like I could like take a deep breath and kind of let some of that go as much as I, I hate to say that phrase, like, let things go because you don't, you don't really ever let things go.

[00:26:36] You, you don't ever get over. This loss of your spouse, you never completely heal. It's, it's always going to be like an open wound that is easily triggered. It, it's not gonna go away. And there's always gonna be times where it's like that pain is very fresh and raw and all consuming. But for me, I feel like I found what does happen is that, uh, you just learn to

[00:27:02] live with it and live around it. And I feel like you learn to adapt to it. And like you, you recognize, I recognize that it will always be there and it's always gonna be a part of me and my story and my life. And I will at this point. It's like learning to carry that and also know. The reality is that life keeps going right?

[00:27:30] It's, it keeps going, and it's now and it's here, and it's for the living. And to be able to come to a place where you can recognize and have experiences where you realize like this intense grief and sadness goes side by side with intense joy. And like learning to live with those two contradictory emotions or feelings is really hard.

[00:28:04] But also knowing and accepting that that's just how it's gonna be is allows me to, to move forward. And, you know, with one of those things, being moving forward with dating and. In life. So I feel like after that event, that's what I walked away with. And I, I just feel like that was my turning point, having completed that and done that, and I felt like it was a good, I don't, I could, felt like I could breathe a little better.

[00:28:33] Mm.

[00:28:34] Emily Jones: Like maybe the air was lighter around you.

[00:28:37] Shyla Nash: Yeah. Yeah.

[00:28:38] Emily Jones: And it sounds like such a creative and nice experience on the celebration of life. I'm glad you did that. That's really cool. Yeah. Yeah. , and I think it's hard for people, when they're in those first few weeks and months, it's just crushing every day.

[00:28:55] And people always wanna know, well, do you ever get over grief? But I think the way you described it was really beautiful because it's hard to tell people like, well, you're always gonna have grief around, but you're not always gonna feel the way that you feel right now. It's not gonna be maybe as raw or

[00:29:13] as frequent as it does. But I think you had you listed that out very well, that you have almost this, these bittersweet moments, right? As your, yeah. As your kids have milestones and they start kindergarten and they go off to college and get married, you're always gonna have that thought in the back of your mind, like, oh, I wish their dad was here, and that he could see that, you know, in this moment.

[00:29:36] Yeah. But I, I love the way that you described that.

[00:29:39] Shyla Nash: Thanks. Thanks. Yeah, that was I guess that's kind of how I, you know, you know, figured like I can, gave myself permission to kind of move forward and that kind of stuff. And the dating world, right? Like crazy. Can we just acknowledge that for a second?

[00:29:55] Like, okay.

[00:29:56] Emily Jones: Did you do the dating apps now? I gotta know .

[00:30:00] Shyla Nash: Yes. And if you ever want a confidence boost, I would say that's the way to go. Like just straight off. Even if you're not ever going , right? Like, you know what I'm talking about. Maybe. Yes. You know, if you ever are feeling really down, just, just put a picture up and, uh, Just watch the messages roll in for, for like 10 minutes and then delete it and then you're good to go.

[00:30:22] No, but you know, we, we, I started dating him in 2013 and then to date again, now it's like a whole, it's, it's all changed. It's just changed Yeah. So that took a huge like leap of faith and I felt like nervous, like put, like actually when I hit like the submit button on like my profile, right? And I'm like, someone is gonna see this that knows me, first of all, once she's gonna like judge, right?

[00:30:50] Cause now we have that, that you're not. You know, grieving long enough or whatever that looks like. So that's always in your head. For me it was anyways, like, who's gonna be judging me secretly from behind the corner or screen? But also it's just like, oh man, like, it, it does take a lot, it took a lot for me to like make that step forward because especially the road that like widows are on and how much our life has changed, it was.

[00:31:19] What do I even put in the profile? Like widow three kids, one's a baby. No job. Like I do. Do you see what I'm saying? Like you feel like the real, like self-esteem. Like, you know, cause I'm thinking, well, if I'm gonna talk to someone, the first thing I'm gonna say is like, what do you do for a living? Right?

[00:31:37] Those are basic. Like get to know you questions. And so I was just like, I just don't know if I can, that's my profile, right? So it's kind of like, ugh. But I don't know. So I kind. I kind of just made it like, you know what, we're just, this is gonna just be fun. We're just gonna see where it goes. And I had a, you know, a few dates that that went well.

[00:32:00] I really don't have any like, crazy dating stories, which is nice cuz I know they're out there. But I, yeah, I ended up going on a, a date and with my boyfriend now, and we both, you know, we're kind of in the same spot. Like, this is just gonna be fun, like whatever. And now it's been a year so, You know, things like that just happen and it's almost like when you don't think about it so much and just kind of go into that as like, just gonna be open to like what life has around the corner.

[00:32:30] You never know, I guess. But the first step is, is putting yourself out there and having the that kind of attitude to just see where it goes. I guess that's, that was what was helpful for me, you know, and now, a year later and yeah, and it, and it might not look the way that you think it will look, and I think it's really hard not to compare sometimes, especially if you're coming from a marriage or a relationship where things were You know, pretty easy and pretty, you know, and I know not all relationships are that way, but when you had one that was, it's hard not to compare.

[00:33:06] And I think it's different going into dating again because we have this baggage now. And, and so does everyone else though, by the way, especially adults, our age. Right. And that's something different too, cuz when you're young, dating twenties, early twenties, no one, not a lot of people have a bunch of baggage back then.

[00:33:26] There's not, they, you know, for the most part haven't been divorced or kids. And that all creates baggage. And when you're older, people have. and it's just like learning to finding the right person who will accept, you know, your baggage and then, you know, I think that's the most important and I've been really lucky because widows do come with a different amount, a different set of baggage than you know, a divorce, for example.

[00:33:55] Like I'm still very much in touch with Jake's family and his parents come to visit quite often and having someone willing to meet them and get to kind of know them when there is this big kind of hole and, and. Of now, you know, Jake's family and what that looks like for them and not only me and be willing to kind of meet us where we're at, I think is really important.

[00:34:24] And that's something to keep in mind, that it's, you know, it's not, if there's children involved, it's 24 7. It's not a every other weekend, you know, kind of situation, which is more typical than that.

[00:34:39] Emily Jones: So I have so many questions about dating that I wanna ask you that I know, that I know people will have.

[00:34:44] Okay. So first of all, did you tell your family or your late husband's family before you decided to put yourself out there on the dating app world? Or did you think I'll just wait until I find someone?

[00:35:00] Shyla Nash: Yeah, so I told, uh, my mom cause we're pretty close, my sister and maybe like two or three like close friends that I was gonna do it and like, You know, how do I do it?

[00:35:13] Like what advice do you have? Like my friends, you know, who are still single? Like, how, what do I do? What ones do I use, what do I not use? Like, so I definitely talked, you know, with them about it, but I did not put it out, you know, in the open. Really, I, I didn't. And as far as Jake. Parents go. I I told them I mentioned that they come to visit, you know, quite often.

[00:35:35] So I, I told them at one of those visits when I thought, like, after, you know, the kids have met him and, and I realized that this was not just gonna be a fun little fling. I didn't want it to come up from one of the kids, like, oh, you know, Talking about this person, right. And then have it kind of be an awkward situation.

[00:35:57] So I did tell them prior to their visit one time, and it's like, I just wanted, and I told 'em over text because I felt like it would give them time to. Think about it and respond when they were ready to. And and everyone's different and, you know, you know, your, your people, but I just felt for me that that was the best way to go because it, it's hard to respond sometimes in the moment, especially with a topic like that.

[00:36:28] And so I felt like I'm gonna put it out there. Give them time to breathe and process. And they can get back to me when, when they can. And that sounds easy, but it wasn't. I was like shaking, like, you know, send, you know, sending that message. It, it brings up a lot of emotion. It, it really does. That was.

[00:36:49] I, I, I remember it like I was shaky and I was like nervous about it. And you know, their response was what I expected. Like, you know, we knew, obviously we knew this, you know, you would date at some point were you know, happy for you. But you're right, it does bring up a lot of different emotion and it just kind.

[00:37:09] Kind of left it at that. So, for me that worked really well, but I thought it was important to say something before they heard it from someone else.

[00:37:18] Emily Jones: Yeah, no, that's, that's good that they were supportive, although they're still being honest. That, and I'm sure that would be hard. I've not lost a child and I can't really imagine what all that would feel like, but, I'm sure that that would be really hard.

[00:37:33] Yeah. Did you have anyone around you that became critical of you? Like, oh, how could you do that if you loved Jake, or you're moving, you're doing this too fast, you're just lonely? Did you have any of that negative feedback around you?

[00:37:47] Shyla Nash: Not to my face.

[00:37:49] Emily Jones: Well, , that's good, I guess, unless it was a big social media post or something.

[00:37:55] But

[00:37:55] Shyla Nash: No, no, no. I, I really didn't come across any anything negative like that. And I'm just living in reality. I'm sure that, that it was said, I, you know, I'm sure it was just as how people are, but I, I didn't have to encounter it personally or read about it or, you know, or hear about it. So, That's good.

[00:38:15] Cuz you know, at, at the end of the day, unless you've been in someone's position, you just don't know. And yeah, I think, I think it's a touchy subject and it's a touchy world and if you can just be as transparent about it as you can that's all you can do. Yeah.

[00:38:33] Emily Jones: Well, and I think people view it as either or.

[00:38:35] Mm-hmm. , either you love this person or you love that person and there's no way to incorporate both. for me, as someone I talked to earlier, said, it's like having kids. You know, you have your first kid and you think, I could never love anyone as much as I love this child. And then your second child comes along and you're like, wow, I can love both of them the same.

[00:38:56] And I didn't love the first one any less. My heart just grew a little bit bigger, so, yeah. Yeah, I think that's good for people to hear, so. Mm-hmm. . Alright. You're now boyfriend. You know, he sees your profile and he's like, wow, this girl's really beautiful. I'm sure is what he thought.

[00:39:13] Shyla Nash: Definitely I stop the top

[00:39:16] Emily Jones: And then did he have any reservations about you being a widow or to him? Was that just like, well, you know, it's, it's, it is what it is and I'm just jumping in to see what's gonna happen?

[00:39:29] Shyla Nash: Yeah. No, he didn't. He didn't. He was, he was very much you know, that's, that's your story and that's you know, your, your life and how it happened.

[00:39:39] And he was definitely not at all you know, Scared or nervous of, of what that looked like, or you knows, like, you know, I have my kids all the time, , you know, and, and he was like, yeah, yeah, yeah, of course you do. Like very understanding of that situation, which again, I know. . Not everyone is, and I know that that can bring a lot of you know, conflict and or challenges to relationships.

[00:40:06] But, you know, I think for the most part he has been very understanding and very you know, welcoming of kind of the strange lifestyle or family circle or, or dynamic you know, about how things are. And Yeah, I think that that's important when you find someone who can, you know, handle that. That's something that you need to acknowledge and, and you know, see it for what it is cause mm-hmm.

[00:40:31] that means a lot when someone can do that. You know, and see pictures up and, and, and you know, what that looks like and, you know, have ki you know, my kids, you know, say oh, I miss my daddy and, and respond to that appropriately is a big, is a big thing.

[00:40:50] Emily Jones: Oh, that's awesome. And so have you felt awkward at all about, you know, maybe any pictures or any, you know, maybe if, if at a holiday you kind of incorporate their dad or any of that, have you struggled or kind of felt awkward at any point about any of those things?

[00:41:08] Shyla Nash: Yeah. Yeah, for sure. I think it's, I think it's always kind of an internal struggle. You know, I, I have I still have pictures up and I always will have pictures up. I did, you know, move some of the, like, the bigger ones, you know, to just different, different areas. But, you know, I. Again, he is very much, uh, Jake is very much still a part of my life.

[00:41:30] You know, he always will be, you know, my kid's dad and, you know, there's always gonna be pictures and reference and, and that kind of stuff, but it is from a dating standpoint, you know, you and I know it's not an ex and that's what the difference is, right? It's not an ex, but in our culture, , you don't have things up of your ex, right?

[00:41:52] Like, and so it's kind of this like, I wonder if I should leave that up or should I take it down? And you know, so you do question that. And I, I think that that's probably pretty normal to, to think about kind of that stuff and how that How that feels, and also like how that feels, you know, to your, to your new person too.

[00:42:13] Mm-hmm. , and I think there can e there can be a middle ground and and finding that space where everyone's comfortable, but it takes a difficult conversation to do that. And that can be hard. Yeah.

[00:42:28] Emily Jones: Yeah. I, I think one of the ways I've thought about it best, For, for my experience was I did date someone for a period of time and for the most part, I mean 99% super supportive.

[00:42:43] Even went with me on Nathan's birthday to the grave site and just amazing understanding and support. And I think maybe in a moment of. Just struggling, you know, looked at me and said, you know, how could I ever measure up or compete with. You know, someone that you spent 20 years with and you know, they said, I, I realize it's not, I'm not in competition with them, but in those moments of insecurity, or, as I'm not sure that I can measure up, I think, well, that could be in the back of somebody's mind.

[00:43:18] And I hadn't really thought about it that way. Yeah. But I know for sure it would take a very special person to be understanding and to your point, accept you know that person's side of the family as a concrete part of your family now, and just all of those little memories that reiterate that that person was such a big part of your life.

[00:43:40] Shyla Nash: Mm-hmm. . Yeah. And I think that it is, I'm sure that he does have those moments too. And, you know, we're all human and it is just such a different dynamic. You know, to work through. And I wish that our culture you know, we kind of brought up this point a little bit earlier, like our culture is sometimes so ill-equipped to deal with just death in general.

[00:44:01] And people, people don't know what to say and people don't know what to do and, and people don't know how to react And I, I, I, one of my goals, or what I would really like to see at some point is just a shift in our culture to understanding or accepting that death is part of life and, and You know, you know how to be more supportive and what that looks like because we're not taught, uh, you know, at least in my area, and, and cult you know, small community, you're just not.

[00:44:34] And it's it's almost one of those things that the culture kind of explicitly kind of says like, oh, well now, now he's died. We're not gonna bring that up anymore. And you know, that's really not how it works. Like please do bring it up. And I think people feel so uncomfortable that they're gonna make you sad or upset or, or whatever.

[00:44:57] And it's like, well, I'm already sad and upset about, you know, like, nothing you say is gonna trigger me off the wall. Like, so just that acknowledgement I think is really important, especially for younger. Generations and younger widows. And that's something I would really like to see, uh, change just in our broader culture is just some more understanding and acceptance and awareness.

[00:45:21] And I think with social media, we have a great platform to be able to do that.

[00:45:27] Emily Jones: Yeah, I, I think so too. I think so much of it is just education. You know, you have people that genuinely wanna help you and then you have the widow that doesn't wanna accept help and you know, is probably gonna burn herself into the ground before she asks for help

[00:45:41] So you've got kind of these conflicting dynamics. And then you know, you have the same conflicting dynamic of, I don't wanna ask you, you know about your person, because that might make you cry and be sad, and you're just wishing that somebody would bring them up in normal conversation. Yeah.

[00:45:59] So I think there's a lot we can do to bridge that gap between the people who support someone who's grieving and someone who is grieving, and I saw, I wish I could remember, I think I saw on TikTok that somebody said, it's like culturally we live our life with our back towards death and grief. And until it comes around and smacks us in the face, we just, we don't like talking about it. We don't like thinking about it. And. I mean, I remember in the workplace, uh, you know, to, to the point of your managers not bringing that up.

[00:46:33] I mean, I remember like, I didn't know what to say to people other than, I'm sorry. And you kind of think, well, they're gonna be sad for a little while, but then, you know, probably in a couple weeks or a month, maybe they're better, they're back to normal and you just have no idea. The depths that it changes our identity, that it changes, especially a spouse.

[00:46:56] When you lose a spouse, everything that you do on a daily basis, you just, unless you've gone through it or been really close to someone who's gone through it, I think you can't understand the, the magnitude of how much that changes you as a person. And I wish that we could help people understand that better.

[00:47:17] Shyla Nash: Yeah, I agree. A hundred percent all right.

[00:47:21] Emily Jones: Well, Shyla thank you so much for joining me today. Is there anything else that you'd like to leave people with? Whether it was something that helped you or a word of encouragement or something that you really would want people to know?

[00:47:34] Shyla Nash: I think that it's, it is important to. Recognize you know, your grief and your emotions and, and the massive shift and change in your life that happens when you lose someone and that, that is all valid. And, and it, it really is. But I also think it's okay to know that. There is a point where you can learn to live with both an intense, you know, sadness and loss and also some joy and happiness too.

[00:48:05] And I think that, that they can live by side by side. And I think that brings some hope, or I hope it does.

[00:48:12] Emily Jones: Yeah, absolutely. And I'm so proud of you for putting yourself out there and deciding that you're going to live life and get outta bed every day and, and make things happen. It's something a lot of people struggle with, but you've done it in a very beautiful way.

[00:48:27] So thank you again for joining us.

[00:48:30] Shyla Nash: Yes, thank you.

[00:48:32] Emily Jones: Hey guys. Thank you so much for listening to the Brave Widow Podcast. I would love to help you take your next step, whether that's healing your heart, binding hope, or achieving your dreams for the future.

[00:48:46] Do you need a safe space to connect with other like-minded widows? Do you wish you had how-tos for getting through the next steps in your journey, organizing your life or moving through grief? What about live calls where you get answers to your burning questions? The Brave Widow Membership Community is just what you need.

[00:49:05] Inside you'll find courses to help guide you, a community of other widows to connect with, live coaching and q and a calls, and small group coaching where you can work on what matters most to you. Learn how to heal your heart, find hope, reclaim joy, and dream again for the future. It is possible. Head on over to to learn more.

[00:49:33] ​



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