BW 014: Learning to Live with Grief While Finding Joy in Life - with Jennifer Mullins

widow interview Dec 27, 2022
 

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

The Transcript is below.


Jennifer Mullins became a widow in 2012 after her husband's sudden death from an accidental overdose. She was not prepared for the heartache that would follow. She found solace in support groups and other widows and reading stories of others who have traveled this path.

 She has gradually learned to live with grief and find joy in life. She believes in paying it forward by being there for others who are experiencing grief. You can visit her and learn more [email protected] for her experience.

We talk about:

  • The benefits of having a gratitude journal
  • How its okay that traditions change
  • The first year is hard but the second year can be harder
  • The importance of joining community groups
  • What grief looks like after 10 years
  • Picking up hobbies that can help you feel connected to your loved one
  • Giving yourself permission to allow change
  • Living with uncertainty in life while still finding joy

 

Quotes-

“You're gonna hit a wall, it could be eight months, it could be 12 months. But you're gonna feel like, oh my gosh, I'm right back at the beginning again.”

 “First year's hard, second year's harder.”

“It's finding those places where you can find that peace.” 

“It's nice to be able to finally give yourself permission to just go, things have changed. I've gotta do what works best for me. it's being okay with letting things go.”

“And now what I've realized is I can live with the uncertainty of life and still find joy and hope in it and find friendship. And I always say that there's such a difference between joy and happiness. Joy is like that deep feeling that you can have regardless of what is going on in life.”

“Never give up hope because it does get better and you can find joy and purpose and still have them with you, and still have them be a part of who you are.”

“And it does get better. You will not always have that sad heartbreak. You'll always feel those moments and you'll get hit by waves and, but you'll also learn you can survive those waves, that they won't kill you in the beginning. You think this is going to kill you. And then what I've learned over time is, no, it won't.”

 



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:

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Transcript:

Brave Widow Show 14 - with Jennifer Mullins

Emily Jones: Hey guys. Welcome to episode number 14 of The Brave Widow Show. Today I'm gonna introduce you to Jennifer Mullins. Jennifer Mullins became a widow in 2012 after her husband's sudden death from an accidental overdose. She was not prepared for the heartache that would follow. She found solace in support groups and other widows and reading stories of others who have traveled this path.

She has gradually learned to live with grief and find joy in life. She believes in paying it forward by being there for others who are experiencing grief. You can visit her and learn more [email protected] for her experience.

 Hey everyone. Welcome to the Brave Widow Show today. Today we have Jennifer Mullens that's here with us. And for those of you that are watching on video, no, we did not plan this, but we are wearing the same color shirt. So, I [00:01:00] like Jennifer already and I can't wait to hear more about her story, but Jennifer, welcome.

I'm so glad to have you and I'll turn it over to you to, to start wherever you feel comfortable in sharing your story.

Jennifer Mullins: Sure. Thank you so much for having me, Emily. So, my husband died on March 13th, 2012. I always say he probably died the day before he died of an accidental opioid overdose. When we married, there was not an addiction issue.

We met when he had already graduated from college, but he was involved with the Catholic community on the public university. And I lived at home, so that's where I met him. And I met him at a coffee house where he was playing music and I just, a song really connected and I just was like, oh, I really like that. I mean, often I would go, Hey, I really like that song. And that's kind of like how we started. We were married five years before we had [00:02:00] kids. And so the addiction really did not come until a bit later when we had twin girls first and started kind of with just alcohol but he was a great guy.

I always said there's so many things about him that were just so wonderful. When I was pregnant with my girls, I was huge . I didn't do pregnancy, beautiful and dainty. And I couldn't reach over and he would shave my legs for me because I couldn't reach my legs. When the girls were born, we used cloth diapers. We lived in a small town. There was no diaper service. He would be the one who would squeeze out those diapers and, wash them. And he did the laundry and he took care of Bo. I mean, he just was that. So he had so many beautiful and wonderful qualities about him and was very caring. Then we had our son four years later and, and he had chronic pain, which is hard.

And [00:03:00] at the time they were going out pills much more quickly. But we lived in northern New York and then we moved to Arizona where I still live 21 years ago. He did struggle with his addiction. He would have moments that in the end it was too much.

And one of the hard things, and it took time to get that forgiveness for myself was that he had stopped using and that he did use again, my son was a senior in high school, and I just said, okay. I said, you gotta do something, go to treatment, go to the hospital. Cause I'd been called by a doctor's office to pick him up.

I said, or go to a hotel, but you can't come home. It just, you can't keep doing this. And I had been in Al-Anon, which is for families of alcoholics and addicts, which was a huge saving grace for me. And he said, no, no, I'll just go to a hotel. I was like, all right, he, unfortunately, [00:04:00] everything that was in his system is what killed him.

It wasn't like he had anything. And so he had gone, I dropped him to the hotel. As we drove by a hospital, I was like, we could go there. He goes, no, no, I'm good. I'm good. I saw him on that Monday the next day. My daughter who lived in New York at the time. She still does, but she said, mom, can you just go check?

He's not answering. So I called for a welfare check and she goes, would you drive down? And so I drove to where the hotel was. When I got there, the manager was outside the door and I was like, can I just go in? He said no, we have to wait for the police. And it was the most excruciating day of my life.

It's the before and after of this was my life before. And this is my life forever after. I called a few friends who came and sat with me and the police came and they were asking me [00:05:00] questions and I always remember this police officer who was sitting next to me and I just said, Can I just hold your hand?

I just needed something to ground me because I was just so overwhelmed and I knew I was gonna have to tell my kids as well. And then, somebody from the fire department came and they're just like, okay, where do you want his body to go? And I'm like, this is not something at 50 I had ever planned nor knew what to do.

And someone's well, when my husband died, this is where we went. So I'm like, okay, that's fine. And then they let me go into the room to spend some time with him and one of my friends came in and she gave me some time and it was just so heartbreaking. Because it just looked like he had sat on the bed and just laid down and that was it.

It was just respiratory arrest from too much in his system. My friend drove me home cause I couldn't drive my car. I called my parents who were in [00:06:00] Florida and my dad made reservations and he, my mom came out the same day and they were there by 11 o'clock that night.

This was like 10 in the morning and he, they were there by 11 at night, which is what I needed. I needed that person who I could count on. I was calling my daughter in New York, which unfortunately with cellphones, I didn't know where she was , but she had been waiting. So I had called her and unfortunately she had been out running and she just kind of collapsed on the side of the road.

This was kind of a gift of the person who stopped and saw her. My husband used to work at Syracuse University. He used to do a lot with the sports and interviewing and the head coach at the time was Dick McPherson, the woman who stopped was his daughter and she knew who my sister was cuz her child went to that school.

She called my sister, she stayed with my daughter, which I'm forever [00:07:00] grateful, but I just thought, what a beautiful connection that person who stopped to help my daughter was connected to my husband. Then I had to come home, my son was here and I was like just come home cuz he had a half day.

I said, I have to tell you something about dad because oh, are you getting a divorce? And I'm like, no. He's dead. And that was devastating to have to tell him.

Emily Jones: So did your family and close friends, did they know that he struggled with addiction or was this something that just really surprised people that weren't that close to him?

Jennifer Mullins: My friends knew. And my family knew that he struggled with addiction. Unfortunately there is that shame with addiction, so I don't think you get the same compassion for someone who dies from addiction.

Emily Jones: Yeah, I was curious if you felt like it was, people were less sympathetic or if they made comments just not thinking about it.

Oh, I know you guys weren't happy, or, I [00:08:00] know he was having issues almost to invalidate the pain that you were feeling.

Jennifer Mullins: It's funny that you bring that up because one time, it was not long after he died and I was at the store and it was somebody I, I tutor and it was somebody who I've worked with for a number of years and I had told her, that he died of an accidental overdose.

And she goes, well, how do you know it was accidental? I mean, that was just, I said, because the coroner said, and I had talked to them a number of times and so to have people say stuff like that, so yes, there were some people or, or I didn't talk about it because, because of getting reactions like that.

Whereas now I'm just very open about it. But it took me time to be able to say that. And I think because even, in the family, there's just, you just don't talk about stuff like that, but, one of my best friends came right over that day and she just said, okay, here's what we're [00:09:00] gonna do.

And God bless her kids , she's allergic to cats severely. And she'd have to go out every once in a while because she just, I have, I had two cats at the time. But she said, okay, here's what we're gonna do. We're gonna write everything in a notebook. And you're gonna put the time and the day and the person you talk to and whatever they say, because you are not gonna remember any of this.

You think you will, but you will not remember any of this. And I still have all those notes. I still have everything. I call it the death box. It's just put away. That's all the paperwork because that just was a savings for me to be able to do that. And I'm glad you did. Cause I really feel like that first year was just like, it's the lost year.

Emily Jones: Excellent advice.

I don't know how many times I've told myself, Oh, I'll remember that. I have definitely have been living a life of post-it notes and phone reminders.

Jennifer Mullins: Yeah.. [00:10:00] So, yeah, so I mean that just, boy, that made such a difference. I'm so glad she did that because it, it was true, and so I did, have people stopping over. And it was like so funny cuz like my daughter and my sister came like the next day and there was something on modern Family and it was, a clown funeral. And they all just looked at me like, can we watch this?

And I'm just like, yes. I'm not gonna have a clown funeral. This does not bother me . So it was just like, yeah, that's okay. That's fine. That whole week was just a lot of paperwork and my friend who had come over and she said, we'll, have a reception at my house.

Here's how long you should do it, because this is how much energy you're gonna have. So everything was done at her house. A lot of the support I got was from people from Al-Anon. My husband was a teacher at one of the community colleges, so people from there [00:11:00] came as well. I didn't have a funeral service. He was cremated and I was just talking with a friend yesterday. I was like, yeah, I still have his cremated remains in here. I was like, and that's fine. I'm good with having them here. I just don't have a place where I feel like, oh yes, I wanna put 'em somewhere else, and I'm just like, everybody's different and that's okay.

It's whatever works for you, one of the things, because I had been an Al-Anon for three and a half years, I knew how much a group support helped. I was like, I need to find something to help me through this grief, because it was so excruciating and it was like, it was just like every, just all the little things of, I remember my dad washing and drying the towels, and, and my daughter brought 'em to me and just like falling on the floor going, these don't feel the way they did when Mike dried them.

Because he did the laundry and, and I was just like, [00:12:00] it was all those little things of just being he's, he's not here. I was just that constant reminder. The year before he died, I had read this book called Signs of Life by Natalie Taylor where she was 25 and five months pregnant, and her husband had died suddenly in an accident.

And it's the journal from the year after he died. I remember reading it the year before Mike died and just, just really kind of cheering her on and just like certain things like, oh, get rid of those dogs. Just, just following her story. And then after Mike died, I got it again, and then I was reading it like, oh, here's my friend. She understands. Talking about stepping over the jam on the floor and I'm like, yeah. So many things I'll just step over cause I don't care. It doesn't matter. It's not that important. And so, and then I would say to my kids, [00:13:00] my friend Natalie, and they're like, mom, you didn't know her.

And I'm like, but I do. I know her in a special way. So one of the things that I did was I did contact hospice because they had open groups and even though Mike didn't go to hospice, I was able to, first I just went to their open groups, it was just all different types of losses. One of the things they had, because this was, 10 years ago and no pandemic, is they had closed groups for spouses and partners. So Mike died in March. In May, they were having one, and I said, I'd really like to do this. And I said, do you think this is too soon? I said, no, it's not too soon. I need this. It was so helpful because it was other people who are in the same position that I was, and they had it again in August and they went and did it again in August. It was so helpful because [00:14:00] some of the things they said I didn't wanna hear, but was so grateful that I heard them because when they did happen, it made it go normal.

One was, you're gonna hit a wall, it could be eight months, it could be 12 months. But you're gonna feel like, oh my gosh, I'm right back at the beginning again. And I was like, oh, okay. That's good to know. And I'll always remember this gentleman who said, first year's hard, second year's harder.

And I just thought, I don't wanna hear that. This is so hard. This year is so painful. When the second year came and it was painful, I was like, okay, this is how it's supposed to be. Which now when I look back, it's oh yeah, the first year there were some memories of him still being alive. Mike was alive and I can remember oh, we did this at this time.

But the second year [00:15:00] there's no memories. And it's yes, he is dead. One of the things that was also hard. And has gotten easier over time is our anniversary's June 2nd. My birthday's June 22nd. His birthday is July 4th, and the girl's birthday is July 7th, and then there's a break, and my son's in September.

It was such, especially the first year was so hard because it was just like, and then Father's Day because well, I wouldn't you. All those things that are so interwoven into life. Every single one was so hard because oh, we'd have all these celebrations during this time of year. So that was very hard the first couple of years.

Emily Jones: I think that was really wise of you to join the hospice groups and community. Like you said, first of all, just reassuring to know that someone else understands your pain. If I know that someone else is widowed, we can just lock [00:16:00] eyes and it's like you're exchanging information without saying anything cuz you know the pain that that person has felt.

And it is reassuring to know, am I normal? Is this normal? Why? Why am I, it's over a year later and now I'm having a really hard day when I thought I was doing pretty good. I think it would be really interesting for people to know too, since this has been, what, just over 10 years mm-hmm. , since you lost Mike does it progressively continue to be harder?

How does that grief feel now that you're a few years down the road from, from when you lost him?

Jennifer Mullins: What I always say now is it's just part of my DNA where I just feel it's so incorporated. It's not as painful as it was. There'll be moments where I'll feel sad and it's more associated with certain times.

For instance, when [00:17:00] it's birthdays, but it's so much softer now. I just feel like he's just a part of my life that is a part of who I am now. I did so much after that, I didn't think I would ever do. Especially like when you're in the throes of the beginning of grief. I really kind of stayed in a very small area before he died. One of the things is my son is a musician and he wanted to go to open mic nights and at the time he was not of age, so I'd have to go with him if it was to a bar. So there I am driving off to a bar to hear him play open mic. It was really kind of cool cause I was like, oh my gosh. Look how confident he is up there, singing. There was that connection, which was really nice. Then one of the things he taught me when we first met was photography. Back when it was just film. I loved doing photography and then it just became, taking family pictures and things like [00:18:00] that.

 After Mike died, I got a new camera, I started doing photography again, which kind of was that connection to him. And also, it's, it's finding those places where you can find that piece. For me we have a place called Desert Botanical Garden. I always remember that was the first place I felt like I could breathe again because it was so beautiful and calm. That's still a place where I'll go, I'll take pictures and that's my serene place.

 I think that's another important thing is finding those places that you can find some peace and that was that for me, and then going and watching music, watching my son and having that connection because music was what connected me to Mike in the first place. I always remember it was like, four or five years after Mike died, and here I am doing something I haven't done since my twenties.

I'm going around, [00:19:00] I'm going to different, not just seeing my son, but seeing other musicians. I'm going out at night, taking music, photography. I just remember driving home one night and just thinking, Isn't this really great that I'm so connected to him through music and photography, things that we started together so that's kind of part of it, is that built in connection that we have, that I am really grateful for because he, he's just a part of who I am and it's just a part of my life now.

Emily Jones: You really built that closeness Yes. Of you doing those things too. That's, that's great. I think that's really great advice for people because so many of them are afraid. Their person's gonna be forgotten. They're gonna feel so distant and far apart, and they're not really sure how they keep them as part of their life and their legacy going forward. But it sounds like you found some great ways to keep him close to you, so that's awesome.

Jennifer Mullins: [00:20:00] And, and one of the things too that I'd like to, say is I always remember after Mike died, of looking in the mirror and thinking, that is the saddest face I've ever seen.

Will it ever not be this sad again? And the answer is, yeah, it, it won't always be this sad. I mean, I've found joy in my life and I'm like, oh yeah, there's that smile, there's that person. I love that I can both miss him and still live a full life and find joy too, so I think just having, knowing that that's a possibility because yeah, in the beginning of grief things, this is never going to change. It's always gonna be this way and every year. Has been better. I mean, cuz it'll be 11 years in March and it, it, I just feel like he's part of me now, so it doesn't feel like this fresh grief, there's moments of grief, but it's always related to the relationship to [00:21:00] kids, things like that. That's where I will find that. But they're moments of grief, not constant grief.

Emily Jones: Oh, that's, that's beautiful and I hope that people really hear that. Actually I was exchanging messages with a lady today and, she said, I believe that somehow it's possible to have joy again. But I just don't see it. I don't, and I can't imagine having to go another 10, 20, 30 plus years feeling the way I feel today. And, I try to encourage her with what you said that in my first initial days and some days are still hard, but I just had to tell myself and tell God, like I don't know how it's gonna be possible, that I can have joy or to feel like I'm not just the hollow shell of a person that I was. But I'm gonna hold on to the tiniest bit of hope that it is possible because [00:22:00] I have met widows like you and other people who, they have joy in their life. They have created a new version of what life's supposed to look like. They have been able to move through some of those tough pieces of pain. So I just think it's really important for our listeners that are in that first especially one to two years, and it's really fresh and it feels very volatile and they're just wondering I don't wanna live if this is how it's gonna be the rest of my life. That it doesn't have to be that way.

Jennifer Mullins: One of the things to kind of piggyback on what you were just saying is that was very hard was the first anniversary. The coming up to the first anniversary because of just all the pain that was associated with it. And I think part of me thought he's going to die all over again. And then when the [00:23:00] day came, I was like, oh no that was a one time thing. It doesn't happen over and over again, it was like the buildup was so much worse than the actual day.

 So every year it does get easier of just going, okay, yes, that was a horribly painful day, but it's not that day today. And I can remember the good things. I always tried to, and I would kind of instill this was he was a perfectly human being in that had good parts and bad parts and I never wanted him on a pedestal.

I always wanted to look at him as this complete human being because that's who he was, just like I am. That way I could love him as he was not as a saint, because nobody is, and I just thought that was really important to do.

Emily Jones: It's easy to look back and romanticize a lot of the things about each person, but you're right, we're all human. [00:24:00] We're complex creatures and made of good things and not so good things. And so I've gotten to where, we'll talk openly with my kids about both of those so that we don't become too stuck on one or the other.

Jennifer Mullins: Yeah, so I mean, I just always think it's hard that first couple years of that hope, and one of the things that I had started doing a number of years was just having a gratitude journal, and then I stopped for a while after Mike died, then I started up again and have been pretty consistent. A couple years ago, I read the one from around the time of Mike's death and a little before, but one of the nice things that I think is worthwhile about them is that it's just about everyday life. I was grateful that, Mike and my son and I watched this funny show, and it was just like, oh yeah, those just nice little times.

When I read the week before, he died.. I found [00:25:00] that I was so much more compassionate than I had given myself credit for towards my husband, and I can't tell you the weight that lifted off of me because when I looked at that I was like, oh, that's so different than I've been picturing of myself in my head.

And. It took such a weight off of me. Even now, like the other night I was just writing in it and I was like, oh, I'm just gonna go back and read. Because as I told you earlier is, both my parents died this year. So just kind of looking back at the people who were very, have been support.

I'm like, oh, these people's names keep coming up over and over again, and I can look back and say, oh, it was nice. I would talk to dad every day. Just to have those memories because I don't know about you but I'm completely forgetful. From day to day, I'm just like, I don't know. I have a calendar with everything written in it. I have alarms on my [00:26:00] phone that go off during the day that remind me I've gotta do something at this time. I just know that I have to do these things because I can't remember, so that if you can keep something like that, and it doesn't have to be elaborate, it's just really the simple things that we do during the day that actually when you go back and look and you go, oh, that was really nice. I'm glad I got to do that. That's, I think that's the nice thing about having something like that to look back at.

Emily Jones: Yeah, I agree. Even if you just wanted to journal about how you're feeling as you go through the process I know many times, even at work, right? I would look back at things and think, oh, that was just so overwhelming, or I didn't know how I was gonna get through that part. Or at this point I felt like my life was over. But I can always look back and go, was it really that bad? Or remember how far that I've come since I thought and felt those [00:27:00] things, and how much more I've grown since that time. I think journaling or just recording videos of yourself, talking to yourself, whatever that is, will provide you some good perspective as you look back when you're further down the road. So I think that was a great idea.

Jennifer Mullins: Yeah. And now last year, ironically I started the year before, the day my dad died was the, actually the same day. But one of my friends kept saying, you had so much experience and you always have such really good insight, you should write stuff down. So I was like, all right, I'll start this blog. I'll just do it. The last, I don't know, a couple weeks ago I said, because of you, I've been doing this. I've done 73 pieces. I never thought I would do that much writing ever. But it does help to kind of also process a lot of what's going on and how I see things. [00:28:00] How much I've changed over time. It allows me to express grief, but also to share what I've learned. And also how it was after Mike died. I really was not inspired. I love baking, but I was not inspired to bake or to cook. We went out a lot to eat. It was just my son and I, and we got a lot of free Red Robin Burgers because we hit those 10th meals a lot. And at Christmas time, because, my son is also a Christmas person. He's okay, we gotta get the tree up and you've gotta do your Christmas cookies cuz they're only come out once a year. And that kind of got me back into baking again. The other thing was traditions changed how we celebrated our holidays.

Emily Jones: So talk a little bit about that, cuz we know we have the holidays that are coming up. Maybe what was something that you would do before and how you've changed that now?

Jennifer Mullins: Well our first [00:29:00] Thanksgiving, I just said to the two kids who were here, it's pick any restaurant, order it, I'll pick it up. That's fine. I just don't care. Our first Christmas we used to always have Christmas Eve, we would have our big dinner since the kids were little and we used to have a ham dinner. We'd open a present on Christmas Eve, there were just certain Christmas specials we'd watch every year. Then, on Christmas Day, we opened presents and it was just very, very relaxed. The first year, first Christmas after Mike died, we went to PF Chang's for dinner on Christmas Eve. It was completely different. It took all that emotional baggage out of how we would spend Christmas Eve. And that actually helps. That was a really good choice. So we did that for several years of going, and then one of my friends would invite us over on Christmas day. Over time I had another friend who would [00:30:00] have a Christmas Eve affair. So she started, invited us and the first year we did that, ate there and then went to PF Chang's and we're like, why are we going to two dinners? It's a lot of food. So since then, one friend's on Christmas Eve and one friend's on Christmas day. At this point it's just me here, so it's nice to have those people that I can go to. The other thing, because it's just me, I haven't had a Christmas tree for the last couple years. Instead what I've bought is a rosemary bush that's shaped like a Christmas tree from Costco.

Hmm. So, it's, it smells good. It's alive. Usually, I will put lights on it. This year I had my daughter in New York. I said, do you want any of the Christmas ornaments? Cuz I said, I'm just not using them. She said, well, I don't even know what you have, so I was just clicking to send pictures [00:31:00] and she told me what she wanted. It was very difficult to do because of all the memories of Christmas past. I was doing it with an online group so that made it, I was like, that's the only way I'm ever gonna do this, cuz they helped me with that emotional support. What I ended up doing was taking some of the ornaments out that meant something to me. One for each of the kids, the ornament from our first Christmas that we'd gotten at the New York State Fair and just put a few other things. So those are all on my rosemary bush now. Okay. So now it's more like this beautiful memory bush of what's important. It's simple, but it works for me.

This year I haven't baked, which is more, I'm just this year and I'm just like, you know what? I may do it this year, not do it this year. I may do it next week. I don't know, but it's okay because I might do it next year. I don't, I, I just learned that what happened this time [00:32:00] doesn't mean it's for, and nothing's forever.

And I can change the traditions as it works for me. And, and that's okay. It was like, in the beginning it was more, other than the dinner, it was like, well here's what we usually do. We watch these shows and we put up the tree. But I'm like, why would I do all that extra work.

At this point I'm just, I know, I just can't see. I'm like, I don't have the energy for this, so how can I make it simple and beautiful for me? The other thing is I bought a Christmas cactus two years ago and I'm really great at killing plants and I haven't, and this year is actually in bloom, so it's really that's just another reward of just oh, that's just something beautiful and simple they're all in my line of sight when I'm sitting in my living room.

Emily Jones: That's really nice. I know we have the last few years had a second tree upstairs where the boys' bedrooms are, and my daughter recently moved from upstairs to a downstairs [00:33:00] room and we were, pulling all the bins and everything out and I said, okay, we really need to evaluate. Do we really need ? All of this Christmas stuff? And by the time we got the main tree done and a few other. Looked at that second tree and she's well, I'm not upstairs anymore. I don't care about it. And I asked the boys and they didn't care. I was like, well, less work for me. Put it back in the attic. I totally understand.

Jennifer Mullins: It's nice to be able to finally give yourself permission to just go, things have changed. I've gotta do what works best for me instead of, cuz nobody else is expecting it. It's it's letting, it's being okay with letting things go.

Emily Jones: I agree. Well, thank you so much for giving us your insight and sharing part of your story. Is there anything else that you would want people to know, or that you would say to try to encourage people that maybe are having a hard time with widowhood or going through the holidays, or maybe they're early on.

Is there anything that, like final advice that [00:34:00] you'd like to leave people with?

Jennifer Mullins: Yes. The early part is so hard, and one of the things I always remember thinking is I used to think the world was solid and then I realized it wasn't. And now what I, and I would always check things to make sure everything was where it was supposed to be.

And now what I've realized is I can live with the uncertainty of life and still find joy and hope in it and find, friendship. And I always say that, there's such a difference between joy and happiness. Joy is like that deep feeling that you can have regardless of what is going on in life.

And it does get better. You will not always have that sad heartbreak. You'll always feel those moments and you'll get hit by waves and, but you'll also learn you can survive those waves, that they won't kill you in the beginning. You think this is going to kill you. [00:35:00] And then what I've learned over time is, no, it won't.

And Mike has become a part of me. And your person will become a part of you and they'll just be there, in your life. So I'm just like, never give up hope because it does get better and you can find joy and purpose and still have them with you, and still have them be a part of who you are.

Emily Jones: Oh, that was so beautiful.

What an amazing way to just tie that all together. love it. And I, I think your point about living with uncertainty and being comfortable or confident that you can figure things out, even if things change or your traditions change or reality maybe isn't what you thought it, it was gonna be. That's, those are just really some great insight there.

So thank you for sharing that. And thank you so [00:36:00] much for being with us today.

Jennifer Mullins: For me, I really appreciate it.

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 brave [00:37:00] widow.com to learn more.

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