BW 012: Freedom from Overwhelm in Grief + Tragedy - with Janine Cowie

widow interview Dec 16, 2022
 

Watch the video here or on YouTube; listen anywhere podcasts are played (Apple, Spotify, Google…)

The Transcript is below.


Content Warning: miscarriage, suicide, drugs, alcohol, PTSD, and death.

At the age of 26, Janine tragically lost her husband (age 27) to suicide.  She shares her experience navigating the traumatic events and offers advice for young widows.  She was able to find freedom from overwhelm by asking for help, designating a point person to speak with companies, and accepting help from family members.

Janine recommends:

  • Find a support person
  • Accept help
  • Using creativity as an outlet
  • “What Happened to You? Conversations on Trauma, resilience and Healing.” - Bruce Perry 

Quotes-

"I don't wanna force him to get help if he doesn't want to."

 "…the day after he died, I actually found out I was pregnant the next day."

"And so I was terrified…what am I gonna do? I have another child on the way, and he's not here."

"I didn't want their pity or I didn't want people saying, oh, I'm so sorry for your loss."

"I wish people would've been like, how can I help you? How are you feeling today?"


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 bravewidow.com.  


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!

 

FOLLOW me on SOCIAL:

Twitter @brave_widow

Instagram @brave_widow

Facebook https://www.facebook.com/bravewidow

YouTube @bravewidow


Transcript

[00:00:00] Emily Jones: Hey guys. Welcome to episode number 12 of the Brave Widow Show. Now, today is a little bit different. In today's episode, I'm actually gonna give you some trigger warnings. Now, normally I don't talk about trigger warnings because here we're talking about widowhood and death and things that are traumatic that people have experienced.

But today we talk about several different topics that may be bothersome to some folks in our audience. So I wanna make sure that you're fully aware of what those are. Miscarriage, suicide, drugs, alcohol, firearms, trauma, and death.

This is not the episode to watch with your kids or to play in the car while you're driving them around. All right? Now that being said, Janine, at the incredibly young age of 26, navigated those issues with her husband who passed at the age of 27, and she shares her advice, her insight, what she did when she got overwhelmed, and what she would tell other young widows or other young women who are going through some of those same things. I'm pleased to share her story with you, and I hope it resonates with others who have gone through similar types of situations to know you are not alone. There are other women that have gone through some of the most difficult, challenging, frustrating moments with their spouse who also suffer grief, and the loss that comes with losing a loved.

So today I'm pleased to introduce Janine. Janine is now a 27 year old widow with two children. She was born and Germany and is bilingual. She was raised in the US as a military brat, and she has her college degree in business and psychology. Let's get on with the show.

All right, Janine, thank you so much for joining The Brave Widow Show today. I just reading your story, my heart broke. I know that you have so much that you can share with the audience, and I'm just really appreciative that you joined us. So, so thanks for coming on today.

[00:02:06] Janine Cowie: Thank you for having me.

I do think it's very important to talk about it cuz there was a lot of things that, I didn't know or never thought about. So the fact that you're doing this and invited me to come, it feels good. Cuz I definitely, when I first became a widow, I was definitely lost.

I had no idea of who to turn to, who to talk to, especially being so young you know, . I don't know anyone my age that is, a widow. But before we get into that, I just wanted to kind of explain how everything happened, how I got here. So I'm currently, I'm 27 and I have two kids.

My husband passed away in January. At the time I was 26. It was, I wanna say six days before my birthday. So I met my husband at work in 2018. We, yeah, we met at work and, we always work next to each other. Great time. And then we, we moved in together, I wanna say after six or seven months, maybe longer, eight months, we, we moved in and I found out I was pregnant four months after he had moved in with me.

And, halfway through the pregnancy covid happened. And so, it was, he couldn't come with me to my appointments anymore. So that was kind of a bummer . So then I gave birth to my son in May of 2020 and continued working and, I worked for a little bit and then ended up staying home.

Cuz childcare is, there was a huge waiting list here and there was no way I was gonna be able to, work and not have someone watch my son. So I, we decided that I would stay home. And so my husband started around that time getting on medication. He had, depression and he

also had some other issues that he was trying to work through and my husband was working for Sherwin Williams. Their insurance was very good and all the benefits, so I was like, this is a good time to go see a therapist, see if you can get some help. I do know that he had he struggled with mental illness for a long time, since he was a child.

There was a lot of childhood trauma abuse and, and stuff like that. So, it was important for me as well that he would get help since we did have a son now and he wanted to be the best dad that he could. So it was important for him to be able to be healthy in his mind and, and be a good dad and be there for our son and, be a good role model as well.

And so he started going to therapy and it started getting a little wonky, I guess, especially with the pandemic. There was a long wait list to even see a therapist, so that was a little difficult and. Then I ended up getting pregnant in August of 21, and I kind of started noticing that he didn't, his mental health kind of declined.

He started drinking a little bit more, and I know it was because he really couldn't see a therapist. There was a long wait list for him to see somebody. So he was just trying to go without, and he was trying to take his medication but he was kind of struggling with which one to take and which one is best for him.

So I know he was switching a lot. He was going from one to the other to starting one, stopping one, increasing the dose, decreasing the dose. So it wasn't really regulated and it never bothered me before. But I did notice that he was starting. Like I said, start drinking and he started staying out more often.

He would be out at a bar for 10 hours and at this point we were already together for three, three and a half years, and I was like, Hey, this doesn't seem like you, and especially since he comes from a family of alcoholism. I told him, you have to be careful.

It's okay if you enjoy a beer every once in a while. But especially knowing that you have a family history of alcoholism, it, especially since you're trying to get your mental health in order and being on medication, I don't think it's a good mix to, to drink and be on medication. And so, He stopped drinking, at least at the time.

I thought he was, he stopped drinking. So we go to my OB appointment the very first one, and it turns out there was no heartbeat, so I was supposed to be eight weeks along and the baby was only measuring around six weeks. And so, they were like, okay. Sometimes that happens. Maybe.

Cycle was off, or maybe you ovulated later. There's all kinds of different reasons of why you could be off by like a week or two. So they told me, to go home and two weeks later I would come back and we would see if there was any progress. So, we went back two weeks later and at this point, I'm supposed to be 10 weeks now.

We look on the screen, the baby was still only measuring six weeks and that's when they said you have something called a missed miscarriage. And that's essentially when the baby passes in utero and sorry, the baby passed in utero. And so you generally have three options, which is you continue waiting to see if your body naturally

gets rid of, the baby, I guess. And at that point I had, like I said, I was supposed to be 10 weeks and baby was only measuring six, so it had already been there for four weeks, but, sometimes your body just doesn't realize it. I still had all the symptoms of pregnancy and my pregnancy tests were still positive.

I was like, okay, I'll give it another week because at that point it'll be five weeks. My main concern was, can I get sick or, can I become septic or anything like that? And, they told me that as long as the baby's inside the S sac, and as long as the sack isn't broken, nothing would leak and you wouldn't get sick or anything like that.

So I was like, okay, I'll wait a week. We go back after a week and nothing had happened. So you know, they told me, okay, now you have two options, which is either you take medication and you would pretty much start cramping and all that stuff and it, it should come out. And worst case scenario, that doesn't work.

Then you'll need something. It's either called a D N E or a D N C, which is a surgery that they remove it. And during that time I noticed that my husband started drinking a lot more. And you. I thought it was because we lost the baby. And so I, I was also very upset. So I understood where he was, coming from, he stopped talking to me and he didn't wanna talk about it.

And it was difficult for sure, but like I said, I understood that he was, drinking and whatnot. So I try to give him, His space and, so I was like, okay, th this is what he's doing to deal with it and maybe we can talk about it when he's ready. And so I take the medication and it also failed, unfortunately.

So at this point it's been six weeks. And it was starting to be concerning for me, and so I just went to the doctor and I was like, Hey, I, I think let's just go with the surgery. Because I, I would feel uncomfortable waiting any longer and continue taking medication. And it felt really strange knowing that it was inside for so long.

It's very heartbreaking. So I got the surgery in November. 21. And that's when I started noticing that my husband started drinking even more. And then he's, he would be like, okay, I am gonna go to the bar. And he went to the bar and he would drink and then he would come home after he had just texted me an hour ago, he's still drinking.

And I was like, oh my gosh. I thought maybe you would get an Uber or something, and. I was like, were you drinking and driving? And he was like, oh yeah, but I'm, I'm, I'm sober. Or, and, and I was like, oh, I don't know. How much did you have to drink it? It felt risky to me, that he was starting to now drink and drive and, and he was telling me, no, it's fine.

I totally, I waited, I was drinking, but I didn't have that much. It was just beer and, But it was starting concerning. It was definitely concerning for me. So, one day I sat down with him and I was like, Hey, listen, I know, we lost the baby and I know you're struggling with, seeing a therapist and your whole medication and all that stuff.

And, I was like, let's just slow down. Let's just think about, what do we need to do to get better? Right now therapy seems like a priority at this point. And he was working overtime a lot and I was telling him like, maybe you should just work the 40 instead of volunteering for more work.

I think your mental health is really, really important right now. And especially since I knew that he had prior attempts to take his life. But that was when he was, before we ever met. I think he was like 19 or 20. I know he told me he took Fentanyl patches and you. Kind of plastered them all over his body and he thought he would kind of peacefully pass the pass away in his sleep, but he he woke up and he bodily,

That's how that ended. And then I think he had another attempt, I think oh, I don't even know. I don't remember.

[00:11:25] Emily Jones: So during this, during this time, you're, Having to deal with your own emotions about the pregnancy? Mm-hmm. , and then just more and more frustration, I'm sure with. Mm-hmm.

How you move forward. Did

you feel, was it

difficult also juggling his drinking and your concern about his mental health? Do you feel like he was supportive of you during that time or he was just trying to survive on his own? How did I think it was, juggle all that.

[00:11:54] Janine Cowie: I think it was mainly he was trying to survive on his own.

I don't think that there was a lot of support, at least for me. I think, he would, I think he tried to, to say, it, it happens sometimes. And they say like, one in four, one in three or whatever, we'll have a miscarriage or whatever. But I kind of needed more, because I.

In that moment, so, but I also realized, like I was very sad and upset, obviously, but I had no idea what was going through his mind. He didn't wanna talk to me about his feelings and what was going on in his head, and so it, it was very difficult. I would say it was very difficult to juggle all of that. And, I, it was very hard. I had no idea where this was gonna go.

I didn't know if he was gonna get worse or better, I was just trying. To help him. That was my main concern because I did know that he had struggled with mental health in the past and knowing he had prior attempts, but I didn't think that he would do it again. It seemed something, it seemed like that is something he, kind of got under control, I guess,

angrier as a teenager. And he kind of just said like, oh, I'm kind of past all that stuff. I dealt with it in my own way and but he still had depression, so I, I didn't think that there was still thoughts of him taking his life at all. I mean, had I known, it, I think I would've been a lot more drastic, dragged him to the doctor if I had to, or to a hospital, if I would've known the thoughts he was having.

So, he pretty much tells me that everything's fine and everything's good. He just kind of needed some time for himself and that's why he was drinking a lot more, but guaranteed me that pretty much everything was okay. And, and so, I was still kind of worried, but I kind of put it on the back burner and I was like, okay.

He told me he was fine. The drinking was like a one time thing. But then I started noticing he was still out longer. Even though he said like, oh, I, I'll, I'll be home tonight by let's say eight or nine. And he would still stay out till midnight or one o'clock or two o'clock. And I was like, I understand, you need to drink and like let loose.

But I was, telling him that I had just lost a baby and we still have our son, and I need help, and he worked a lot and. I was just like, maybe we should just focus on our family and the mental health first. And so then that's, when I guess.

And that's when he told me he had started experimenting with drugs. So he was he took mushrooms, I think twice from what he told me. And he did coke I think once or twice. And now that was a major concern. I was like, okay, this is, this is very concerning now because that's never happened before.

I didn't know what to do because that's something I've never experienced before. I've, I knew people who struggle with mental health, but I never knew anyone that you know that. Started doing drugs. And I was like, how do I, I, I don't wanna force him to get help if he doesn't want to.

That is something, I, I can't force him, what am I supposed to do? Drag him by there. He was a very stubborn, very stubborn person. And I think he was also raised by his stepdad, who was very much against mental health and didn't think it was serious. And it. The stereotypical, and it's really unfortunate, he said this to, to my husband, that, men don't cry and men don't show their emotions and you swallow all that, all your problems.

So it was very difficult for me to try and convince him to get help because that just wasn't ingrained in him when he was a child. So, so then we're in December of. Of 21. So that's about a month before he passed and that's when one day he came home from the bar and had his gun on him. And, that was also very concerning.

I was like, buddy, do you have your gun? Blah, blah, blah. I know that he mainly did it for he didn't hunt, but he liked target practicing and, and that stuff. Yeah. He was very much he liked doing it, but For me, there was bells going off in my head and I was like, this seems like a very bad idea.

If you're drinking, you're doing coke and mushrooms, and now you have your gun on you. And I know he had a history of prior attempts, I was like, I am not comfortable with this. I, I told him I would like for him to get rid of it. He didn't want that. And it got out of hand and he he started wrestling me.

He kind of started getting paranoid and he told me that, he thought there was something on my phone and that I was. He thought I was gonna leave him, and then I was gonna tell everybody he was doing drugs and that, was gonna tell everyone what an awful person he is or, or whatever.

And, and I was like, where did this come from? This is totally outta left field and. He did threaten to take my life and my family's life and, and that's where I was like, okay, I understand you have mental health problems, but this is too far. I had actually kicked him out I think it was like the first week of December, and I told him, you need to calm down.

We have a child at home. See if you can spend a few days at your friend's house until things kind of calm down. Because that was not okay. So, I had the locks changed because he did wanna, kick in the door and he absolutely refused to leave. And, I was getting scared at this point and I was like, I don't recognize this person at all.

. And I really was afraid that he was, that he might, pull the gun out. So, I had, like I said, changed the locks and then, I told him, you can come back when I feel like it is safe for you to come back. About two weeks goes by. It's right before Christmas, and I was like, okay, it is the holidays, please put the gun away and no more drinking, no more, no more drugs. If you wanna come back in this house, we, this is very serious. And he said, okay. He was like, I'm so sorry. I apologize for everything. You're right. I. Get control of the situation and so I let him back in and then I think two weeks go by.

I thought everything was fine. And then he suddenly is gone the whole day. And so I'm texting him, calling him. I'm like, where are you? Where are you? I hear nothing. So I'm calling his sister. I'm, I'm writing his friend. I'm like, has anyone seen him? Does, does anyone know where he is? I was thinking he was probably at the bar drinking again.

That's, that was my assumption, and everyone said, oh, he was at the bar with me since 9:00 AM and I was like, oh my gosh, he didn't even go to work. You. So I'm getting concerned and I was like, okay, he's probably drunk somewhere, that's why he is not answering. And then I think 7:00 PM he finally calls me and he's like, I'm on my way with dinner.

I'm so sorry. and, and kind of had an argument because I was like, no, this is not okay. It, it keeps escalating. You keep apologizing and nothing's getting really done. I don't wanna have another conversation where we sit down and talk about this. And I, I was very concerned about his drug use and in alcohol use.

So again, he just promised me everything would be okay. and then I was like, okay, so eight o'clock rolls around nine o'clock, 10 o'clock. And I was like, well, he was only supposed to get get dinner, and why is he not home? I called everyone, I was trying to see, I even called the pizza place he said he was at, to see if anyone had picked up any pizza.

and they were like, no, we don't know that name. I haven't heard of it today. And then the next day I wake up in the morning and he's still not home. So now he's been gone for the whole day, the whole night and still not here in the morning. And suddenly I hear a knock on my door. And I look out and I see the police in front of my door.

And, my first thought.

My first thought, was, oh my gosh, he got into a car accident. He was drinking and driving again and then I was like, this time he either hurt himself or someone else and my heart just dropped. And I was like, oh my gosh. And I write his sister, cuz I was up on the phone with her last night and I was like, have you seen him?

I haven't heard anything. And I text her and I was like, Hey, I think you need to come here. The police are at my door. And so she hadn't answered her phone. So you know, the guy is like, Hey, are you the owner of a Mazda? And I was like, yes, I am. And he was like, was it reported missing? Was it stolen? I was like, no, my husband took it.

And then he was like, okay well let me park my car and then I will come in and talk to you. And in that moment I knew, I was like, this is something serious. I, I was, I already had tears in my eyes cuz I was like this, they found the car somewhere and the cop comes in and he was like, I'm so sorry to tell you, but.

Your husband shot himself, and that's exactly how he said it. Just kind of ripped the bandaid off. And I said, are you sure? Are you sure that's him? I was like, he wouldn't do that. And I said it over and over again and I said he would never do that. He wouldn't do that. And he was like, do you know what he was wearing?

Does he have any tattoos? And I described the tattoos he had on his back and, he kind of radioed the other cop. And and they were like, yeah, it's confirmed that it was him and the whole day was a blur. I honestly don't know anything that happened. I think I just cried on the floor pretty much the entire day and I just pulled my phone out.

And I had the police call my mom so she can, watch my son And I, like I said, the whole day's a blur and I finally got in touch with his sister and I just said, you need to come here. So she finally showed up and I answered the door and she saw, my face. She could tell I've been crying and she.

She she said he killed himself, didn't he? And I just shook my head. Yes. And we were both crying and we hugged each other and, she's younger. She was the little sister from my husband and she's 21. And their family is very dysfunctional. My husband only had a relationship with his sister, so I knew that me and her actually had to plan the funeral.

And that was also difficult, going to funeral homes and, we're like children walking in there. And yeah, because

[00:22:39] Emily Jones: Cause you were what, 26 at that time? And how old was he?

[00:22:44] Janine Cowie: He was 27. So, we're, we're children walking in there and I can already tell on their faces like, oh my gosh, and I'm like, my husband's dead and we need to plan a funeral.

And I can see it in their eyes, they're questioning like, I wonder what happened. And. I mean, I wouldn't say anything. I could barely get the words out. I had to bring her with me everywhere. I, I, I would get choked up every time someone asked me a question about my husband. I would just kind of look to her because my, my throat literally would just close up.

I could not get the words out that he was dead, but he committed suicide. I mean, none of those words would leave. I mean, for at least the first three weeks before I could even say it out loud. And you. , then the whole legal paperwork started. So. We had a, my husband had a car and I had to get that in my name, but you know, dead people can't sell cars.

So I had to get it notarized and I had to go to this department and that department and, I was just getting transfer after transfer and people calling his phone asking for his name was Nicholas, But everyone called him Nick. They, they were asking for him and I was just like, I'm so sorry.

He passed away. He passed away. I said that daily. I mean, everyone was like, his bills aren't being paid. And I was starting to get worried about how I'm going to make ends meet now. He was the breadwinner. I was home alone and with the son and. So it turns out the day after he died, I actually found out I was pregnant the next day.

And so I was terrified. I was like, I, what, what am I gonna do? I have another child on the way, and he's not here. And so I, I cried a lot about that as well be just because. I knew that, I mean, I didn't even know I was pregnant when he passed away, and so I had a lot of feelings of guilt, thinking about if, if I would've taken a pregnancy test the day before, maybe he wouldn't have done it if he knew there was another baby on the way, because, I try to rationalize, maybe he wouldn't have done it if he knew.

There would be two kids instead of one. I don't know if he thought, okay, well I'm just leaving her and one child behind. She should be fine. I don't know what was going through his mind, so I, I was gonna have two kids and be by myself, and, and we lived in a very, very small apartment. I knew that I would have to leave and the increased the, the property manager managers increased my rent.

And so I was, My husband was a breadwinner. I now have another child on the way. Where am I gonna go? So I ended up moving in with my mom and that, had to sell the Mazda that I had. I, it was my car, but I didn't wanna have any ties to it. He damaged my car pretty, pretty badly.

I think he was probably very angry and upset. right before he did it. So, not only that, but there was, blood on it and, and it was dented. So I, I was like, someone take this car. I, I, it just felt like bad energy. I was like, I don't wanna drive it. Yeah. It, it was honestly awful. I, one second, he's here.

The next he's gone. I'm, I can't pay my rent, I can't pay my phone bill. I have another kid on the way. And I had just lost a baby two months prior to that. Now I just found out I'm pregnant again. I had to get a storage unit. I had to put all the, the stuff in there, and my lease ended four months after he passed.

So I had to pack all his clothes. Which I didn't wanna do. It was very difficult for me to go through his stuff. It felt very invasive, because we all have secrets or we all have things that are maybe sentimental and we don't want people touching those or going through our stuff, maybe journals or, stuff like that.

And so it felt very invasive to pack everything up. So it, it was very difficult to you. Pack all his stuff and put it away.

[00:26:44] Emily Jones: How did you even survive those first few weeks and months? I mean, just thinking about where your mind and heart had to be after going through all of those experiences in such a short amount of time, it's amazing that you're even here able to talk about it today.

[00:27:00] Janine Cowie: Yeah. Honestly, I asked my mom, my dad, and my sister-in-law to come over and help me. I mean, I did not eat at all, even though I know I should have been eating, cuz you know I was pregnant, but my body was on autopilot. I couldn't even tell you the first two weeks, three weeks that I was doing, I had a lot of help.

So my dad would come over and he would, he wouldn't even say anything. He would just knock on the door. I'd let him in and I would just sit on the couch, probably crying and he would just silently do my dishes. He would take my trash out for me. My mom would come over and she's like, let's take a shower, because I probably didn't shower for many days or brushed my teeth.

I had no high personal hygiene the first few weeks. It probably sounds gross, but it's not a priority at the time. I kind of blank and two days passed by and I was like, oh my gosh. I, I swear I just blinked and I hadn't showered in two days. And it was starting to get outta hand.

I remember trying to find a community to kind of give me advice and help me with, with, with what's going on. And his company, Sherman Williams actually sent me a little packet, that said, we're so sorry for your loss. These are the things that some people might not think about that you should do.

And it was a whole list, which was very helpful for me because my mind was all over the place.

So I got a list and it pretty much said, make sure you're closing his bank accounts. Make sure that you cancel his social security or you let someone know it's social security. Cuz I guess they have.

I don't remember. Someone called me and said that they would do it for me. I wanna say it was the funeral home. They had like a little package that someone would like reach out to me and talk to Social Security for me to kind of say, Hey, he passed away. And for one year for free, they would kind of put like monitor his social to make sure no one would steal his identity or, take out loans or whatever.

So they did that for me. It was, it was just a long list. I don't remember everything that was on there, but I pretty much tried to check off everything and that was really helpful. And, if, if he didn't work for that company, I'm not sure if other companies do this, but it was very, very helpful for me.

So, I didn't have to worry about that. But it was still very overwhelming. I mean, I had, when he first passed, I had a stack of papers. It was, I mean, it was textbooks. I mean, it was huge and things I needed to do. And, we were young, so I never thought about a will. They were asking me, do you have probate?

Do you have an estate? Do you have a will? And I was like, we're, we're 26 and 27. I mean, I never even thought about that before. And I was like, no. I was stressed about, what, if any of his debts roll onto me, what am I gonna do? But I was very fortunate that since we didn't have anything that bangs and, I know that he.

While he was going through the drinking and, and doing the drugs, he had actually applied for multiple credit cards that I didn't know about. And they arrived right after he passed. And he was maxing out his credit cards and everything, which I also didn't know about until the mail started coming through and I was opening them, which also, again felt very invasive.

Cuz I don't know. I mean, not that I, I mean, it's his mail. I, I'm not like, oh, let me see how much you owe. I. , if I was like, oh, you know how much you got on there? He's like, oh, I only have like 300 bucks. I'll, I'm almost pay it off. But then it turns out there was like 2000 on there or 3000 on there.

That was I was so scared. I was like, I, I'm gonna have to sell everything I own to pay this. But I'm, I'm glad that the banks were just like, okay, just send us his death certificate and we'll just write it off. And. Yeah, when I got the death certificate, I was also very upset because in the state that I live in, I live in Nevada and I don't know if it's a county thing, they actually do include his deaths on the death certificate, which made me very uncomfortable.

It does say suicide on there and then under what does it say, reason or not reason, but it says suicide, and then it says, Gunshot to the head, and that's included on the death certificate. So, when banks are asking for his death certificate, I felt very uncomfortable sending that out because, I can't imagine that they're sitting there, doing their job and then they see why he died.

And it just felt very, yeah, just invasive. I didn't want people to know why he did it, especially strangers, like a bank. Why does the bank need to know? How he died and, and what he did. Like his method, so I was very uncomfortable with that. And that's something I hope that we don't do, to people.

I mean, when I saw that it was like traumatized all over again. I thought it was just a piece of paper that says he died on this day, and that's about it. But just seeing the words, he shot himself in the head. That was, it's brutal, it's violent. It. It's not pretty, it's not nice. And yeah, I just hope that we can get rid of that.

I don't know. It's, it's also personal, like it's just the personal information out there. Yeah. Yeah. And the bank doesn't need to know how he did it. They just need to know that he passed and you know that it's a certified copy and everything. Just do their job, ri right off the debt or whatever and, and move on with your day.

But it, it feels. I don't know. I feel like when I was on the phone with banks and all these other people, it felt I could feel their pity, cuz they could see the reason on there. And that's something that I didn't want at all. I didn't want their pity or I didn't want people saying, oh, I'm so sorry for your loss.

And, and I know that a lot of people say that because they don't know what else to say. But for me, I heard it so much in the beginning. I hated it when I heard it every time. And that's just me. I don't know how other people feel, but. , they were just like, oh, I'm so sorry for your loss. I'm so sorry for your loss.

And, and now thinking back, I wish people would've been like, how can I help you? How are you feeling today? But it was just more like, here people say, oh, hi, how are you? I'm good, thanks. It's, they're not asking because they really wanna know how you're doing. It's just kind of this.

This thing that we say to be polite. And that's how it kind of felt when they said, I'm so sorry for your loss. I just felt like it was not genuine. That's kind of something that you have to say. You're at, you're a bank, you're the, you're the OB office, or you're the social security office, and you do.

I'm sorry for your loss. So anyways, this is the paperwork that we need, blah, blah, blah, and mm-hmm. . And so I would rather people just not say it to me at all, that that would be my preference. And over the weeks, I've learned that people have become very invasive. People that I haven't talked to in a while, they kind of saw that he passed away and they were like, oh my gosh, what happened?

What happened? And, I didn't even get, how are you doing? You. It was just, well, how did he pass? What happened? And I felt very, relationships change, people were, I felt very insensitive personally, they just, it felt gossipy to me almost, like, oh, I just heard Janine's husband passed away and, I'm gonna try and see why.

And, I don't know, it just felt, people just wanted to know. I did tell about two or three people and they were just like, oh my gosh, that is so terrible. And then I just never heard from them again. And and I was like, yeah, okay, well they probably just did that just to get information outta me.

They just wanted to see what happened. And that was, that was that.

[00:34:28] Emily Jones: Yeah, I think people are naturally curious about, what happened, but then they completely forget that you. That person's in a whole different place and we're still here, left picking up the pieces. Mm-hmm. . And I think the illustration of your dad coming in and just doing stuff for you is so beautiful.

Mm-hmm. , just doing your dishes, taking up the trash, like those are the things that we need. And those early days mm-hmm. , not the pleasantries or, courtesies of those things. So if you think about. Someone who right now may be listening to this and they're in that situation, like they're just overwhelmed.

They're, feel like everywhere they turn it's just another kick in the teeth. It's just one thing after another and they are feeling so overwhelmed and hopeless and like their life is gonna be like that forever. What advice would you give them or what maybe glimmer of hope that every day isn't going to be like that.

Like what would you say to somebody who's currently in that situation?

[00:35:35] Janine Cowie: Find a support person. For me, that was my family. I remember I gave my parents my husband's social and all the information that they. Certificate and I was like, can you please call these places and see what you can do to get the paperwork situation, finished.

Because in overwhelming me, like I never realized how much a person. Is or exists until someone passes away. I mean, it is everything that you've ever done since birth. Pretty much everyone wants to get in contact with you. Everyone wants to know what happened, why you're not paying your bills, why are you not at work?

Did you have an insurance policy? Did you have, did you have this or that? And I was so overwhelmed I did not wanna be on the phone. I turned my phone off and I kind of just said, please, someone else do this for me.

Certificate for the most part. And I didn't wanna sit there and take picture after picture, get on the phone, get on the phone, explain the situation over and over and over again. What also helped me personally is I started therapy. So, I've never been in therapy before, so I was also very scared to go.

I think I started therapy. Four months after he passed. And that was very difficult for me cuz I just didn't think that I would start therapy. I was so afraid of going, I'm not sure why. I don't know if it's, you the stigma. Some people are like, it just wasn't for me or I didn't find the right person and, and it just didn't work.

Especially being pregnant at the time, I, options for medication was kind of limited to me. And I. Afraid of taking medication, especially knowing that Nick was on a lot of medication and he was on and off, on and off, increased dose decreased and that scared me. So, once I started therapy he, my therapist told me, we have this little bucket and.

We need to do something to empty that bucket. So when we have stress, it gets filled up a little bit more. If we're exhausted, we're tired, and we're not taking care of ourselves, that bucket is gonna get more full and full and full. And you need an outlet of some sort, whether that is running, reading let's say you like drawing, listening to music, or listening to a podcast or putting on a funny movie.

We have to remember to take care of ourselves. So, find someone. That can help you alleviate some of the stress and the pressure that you have. I remember at one point my dishes were stacking up and my, no one had come over to like do them. I was like, I'm not gonna do them today. I just went out, I got paper plates and I ate off paper plates and that's what I needed at the time to survive. I mean, in the beginning it is truly just survival.

I didn't care about doing the dishes and I didn't have a dishwasher in my apartment, so I needed to do everything, my hand, and I was like, that is not happening. I know this is gonna sound really gross, but I think the first two weeks I, they, the dishes stacked up so much. I put them in my tub, I filled up the bathtub, put soaps, all kinds of stuff in there.

I mean this concoction of different soaps and just toss all my dishes in there and let them soak the whole day. And then, when I was ready for a shower, I knew I was forced to take them. because, there was grime and dirt and I didn't wanna shower with it, so it forced me to clean my dishes.

And then it, it started getting overwhelmed again. So honestly, I, this sounds terrible, but I tossed a lot of my dishes when I was just tired of cleaning them. I know it's so wasteful, but again, that's something that I needed to survive at the time.

[00:39:12] Emily Jones: So, that is the number one thing I tell people to buy.

Somebody who's grieving. Paper and plastic, everything. Mm-hmm. so that it can just be tossed and you don't have to worry about doing any of those dishes. That's horrible. Yeah. I like your creativity though, of using the tub. I mean, , it does get to that point where you're just like, forget this. Mm-hmm. , I'm throwing 'em all in the tub.

We're gonna soak 'em and if they're too bad, I'm just gonna throw 'em away.

[00:39:39] Janine Cowie: Yeah. It's overwhelming. Yeah. And, and I needed that. And honestly, I might regret throwing away some of my stuff, but at the time didn't care. It was very helpful, and that's something that I needed. I think it's, a lot of the things that I did were maybe unconventional or wasteful, but again, this is something that I needed to survive in the beginning.

I think all rules or, those kind of all go out the window when someone dies. It's. It was very hard, very, very hard. But therapy has helped me a lot. And what personally helps me is I started journaling. So I talk about in my journal entries about the day that it happened, how I felt.

And it's, it's very therapeutic for me because, it lets me sometimes, I would have intrusive thoughts about where he did it, why he did it, what it looked like. And I was very ashamed to tell people. What kind of thoughts were keeping me up at night? So I decided to write them down and I think.

About two months after I had written down my journal, en journal entry is when I felt comfortable enough to bring it up to my therapist. And, he, I think he was very grateful when he said it was, it probably felt really good to get it out. And he is someone that I have a very good relationship with and I trust him.

And so it, it feels good to tell somebody because, if I tell my mom or my dad or like friends, I think. They don't quite understand what it's like to lose a partner and maybe some of the intrusive thoughts that you have or, or anything like that. And I think most people like, don't know how to handle that.

They, they kind of freeze up or, sometimes people, it feels like they think that they can catch suicide or something, they can catch it and, I wanna talk to people, I wanna tell them it's totally okay to talk about suicide and, and mental health and. , no one wants to think about their spouse drinking and driving or doing drugs, doing coke in the middle of nowhere or something, but it is still very important to talk about that and, I don't want there to be shame about, maybe you are in a place where you're doing drugs or you're drinking and I would, I obviously, I see the result of what happened of not getting help, and I would a hundred percent prefer that he would've told me, Hey, I've been doing drugs, I've been drinking and driving.

I wanna go see a therapist. I want the help, but I'm scared. Do you wanna come with me or, ask me for help. But, a lot of people are afraid to ask for help, and that's very unfortunate because, some people, like my husband, this is the result if of not getting on the right medication or not getting help, not asking for help, and, and it's, it's very sad, I also have guilty thoughts all the time of would it have made a difference if he would've went or not, he did have very severe P T S D and depression and, he at least told me that the therapist told him that this was something that might be lifelong. And I, I can't imagine what that would feel like to know that you feel this dark cloud in your head every day, no matter, even if we're on the playground and even when we got married, that you have this small moment of happiness.

But as soon as that moment ends, you're back to the dark clouds, the gray sky and everything is you're lonely and you can't get yourself out of this hole. And I can't imagine someone telling you this is gonna be with you. Until the end, until you're old. And that is my explanation of why he didn't, cuz he didn't leave a note.

I didn't have, there was no signs or symptoms. I, I would say, that I saw that he was going to take his,

And more or less, I thought, okay, it was the medicine, he, he got off of medicine and we lost our baby. That was very difficult for him. But I had no idea that he wanted to take his life. So, I don't know. It's, it's very difficult, but I'm trying to, And I think it's

[00:43:31] Emily Jones: asking for help is a really big one cuz a lot of widows I talked to, they have a hard time accepting help.

Mm-hmm. much less like they would not ever ask for help. So I think it was great that you self recognized you needed a person. Like, please just take all the phone calls. Right? Yeah. Here's the death certificate, here's the social security number. Just deal with it. I cannot continue to take all these calls.

Mm-hmm. , it's so good that you're able to recognize that and. Just allow yourself to continue to get swallowed up by all of the responsibilities of things that needed to be

done. It's really hard for people

to reach out, so I'm hopeful that somebody hears your story and they resonate with it because they see a lot of pieces or even a few pieces of a situation that they're in, or they've been in.

Mm-hmm. and maybe. Just really struggled with asking for help or they, they've been scared about going to therapy or they haven't found a good community of other widows that they can connect with. And I hope this gives them the courage to do that. Mm-hmm. , is there anything else that you'd like to share with the group?

[00:44:40] Janine Cowie: Yeah, so I did start reading a book recently. I'm only a third way through, so I haven't finished it. But the book is called What Happened to You? Conversations on Trauma, resilience and Healing. It is by Bruce Perry and Oprah actually. So Oprah's kind of interviewing this like psychologist or psychiatrist, I'm not sure.

And it kind of talks about like childhood trauma and how that translates into becoming an adult, how it affects your brain, mental health issues and stuff like that. And one thing that I see a lot in the widow community is people always say, it's my fault. Maybe they had an argument beforehand or somehow something happened and they, they thought, okay, this is why he did it, it's my fault.

But in the book, the author says something along the lines of, and this is just paraphrasing, he. Nothing is wrong with you. Something happened to you, and that, that really resonated with me because, I would have guilty thoughts of, oh, we had an argument the day before and maybe I shouldn't have been nagging him about his drinking.

Maybe I shouldn't have been nagging him about working less, or, whatever the situation was. And so, people always think, oh, what's wrong with me? Why did I do that? Why did I do this? But again, there's nothing wrong with you. It's not your fault something happened to you, and that, that was really powerful.

So if you wanna read that, that is, that has been very helpful for me. It, it helped me understand mental health a lot better, for sure.

[00:46:07] Emily Jones: Oh, that's awesome. And I'll definitely link to that in the show notes, cuz I think that sounds like a really good resource for people. Well, Janine, thank you so much for joining us today.

I really appreciate your time and you just being so open to sharing, when you were talking about, oh, I was so embarrassed and I didn't want people to know this, or I was hesitant to share, and I thought, well, and here you are now on video just sharing with everybody . Yeah, yeah. Those things that we well, thank you can do with.

[00:46:35] Janine Cowie: Yeah. Well, thank you for having me. It's definitely, it feels better to get it all out and I hope somebody. Here's this and it is like, oh, I completed, I didn't have that, and I hope this, this helps somebody, hopefully for. Yeah, definitely.

[00:46:51] 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.

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.

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 bravewidow.com to learn more.

 




 

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