BW 047: Clear Your Way Through the Blur of Grief - with Susan Ford Collins

industry interview Sep 12, 2023

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

The Transcript is below.



I have Susan Ford Collins, who is a fellow widow, a successful leadership coach, and has has proven to be a brave and courageous person throughout her entire career, throughout her entire grieving process, and she has had some significant challenges and obstacles that she's had to overcome.

Susan Ford Collins is the founder and CEO of the Technology of Success, a training, consulting, and coaching company, which teaches the 10 success and leadership skills she discovered highly successful people use unconsciously and so struggle to consciously pass on.

She is the author of the Technology of Success book series, which includes the bestselling Joy of Success, Success Has Gears. Our children are watching and now her fourth book, Blur, Clear the Way Ahead, Even in the Worst of Times, is available on Amazon and Audible.

She's facilitated more than 4, 000 training sessions and major corporations, educational and governmental organizations. She has coached individuals and teams worldwide in person and on zoom. And CNN has quoted her as being America's premier success and leadership coach.

So please join me in listening and welcoming Susan to the Brave Widow show. And I hope that you enjoy all of the insights and the wisdom that she has to share in this episode!


You can find Susan at:

Facebook | susanfordcollins

Instagram | susanfordcollins

LinkedIn | susanfordcollins

For Susan's free gift of Short and Sweet Secrets of Success email her at [email protected]




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

Facebook |

YouTube | Brave Widow



Emily Jones: [00:00:00] Hey, hey, welcome to episode number 47 of the Brave Widow show. I am so excited about a special guest that I have for you today. I have Susan Ford Collins, who is a fellow widow, a successful leadership coach, and I'm not going to tell her story for her. I'm going to let her share that, but she has proven to be a brave and courageous person throughout her entire career, throughout her entire grieving process, and she has had some significant challenges and obstacles that she's had to overcome. 

Emily Jones: I'm really excited for you to hear about the insight and wisdom that she has to share today. So without further ado, I'm going to introduce you to her. Susan Ford Collins is the founder and CEO of the Technology of Success, a training, consulting, and coaching company, which teaches the 10 success and leadership skills she discovered highly successful people use unconsciously and so struggle to [00:01:00] consciously pass on. 

Emily Jones: She is the author of the Technology of Success book series, which includes the bestselling Joy of Success, Success Has Gears. Our children are watching and now her fourth book, Blur, Clear the Way Ahead, Even in the Worst of Times, is available on Amazon and Audible. She's facilitated more than 4, 000 training sessions and major corporations, educational and governmental organizations. 

Emily Jones: And she's coached individuals and teams worldwide in person and on zoom. And CNN has quoted her as being America's premier success and leadership coach. So please join me in. Listening and welcoming Susan to the Brave Widow show. And I hope that you enjoy all of the insights and the wisdom that she has to share today. 

Emily Jones: I'm really excited to get to share that with you. 

Emily Jones: Hey everyone, welcome back to another episode of the Brave [00:02:00] Widow show. Today I am so excited to host a special guest. We have Susan Ford Collins with us today. She's going to share some amazing insight and wisdom and I'm really excited to hear what she has to share with us today. So Susan, thank you so much for agreeing to come on the show. 

Emily Jones: I'm really excited  

Susan Ford Collins: to have you here. Well, I'm delighted. And it's something that I like to talk about, although some people are afraid to talk about it, but I'm not. So I'm glad to be here.  

Emily Jones: Yeah, definitely. Um, so for the audience who may not know, uh, I'll have read your bio before, before we play the podcast, but for a more personal touch, would you mind to share a little bit about you and your background and what you've done and how grief. 

Emily Jones: Has maybe changed the path a little bit for you or expanded a new layer of what you're  

Susan Ford Collins: doing. I'd like to take it in the reverse order if I may because. Sure. [00:03:00] It started one day four years ago when a tornado and a hurricane hit our home, and it was amazing like it went dark all of a sudden, and the tree fell over the house and completely covered it with leaves so that we were in the dark and we didn't know what had happened because the hurricane hadn't even arrived yet. 

Susan Ford Collins: So that happened, and it was really devastating experience. I mean, holes in the roof, backhoes. The whole yard had to be hauled away at great expense to me, not knowing where the money was going to come from to reimburse myself. And then, a month later, my husband Albert found out that he had stage 4 colon cancer. 

Susan Ford Collins: Which, I was already devastated, but that just, that was... More than I could possibly, because he was this really healthy guy, younger than me, healthy. And then, a month after that, my sister called, and she was like, I [00:04:00] know you've had enough, but I just found out today that I have not just one cancer, but two cancers, and they're very advanced. 

Susan Ford Collins: So this is all tornado, hurricane, Albert, and my sister Fran all, boom, all at once.  

Emily Jones: How did you feel in that moment? Like how, how could you even process really everything  

Susan Ford Collins: that was happening to I couldn't. I mean, that's why I call the book blur because for a long time I was in blur. I couldn't think straight. 

Susan Ford Collins: I couldn't organize my thoughts. I'd start from one direction and go on another. And meanwhile, I'm taking Albert to chemo and testing and we're trying to find out what the way ahead for him is. And I'm having to manage the all of this work that's going on at the house so we could be in the house and live in the house. 

Susan Ford Collins: We had no water for a month. I mean, it was just, it was, it was like more than anybody could conceive of. But you know, [00:05:00] when somebody close to you dies, Or, you know, especially if it's your husband or your significant other, you're devastated. You don't think straight. You think you're okay until you stop one moment and go, Oh my God, did I just say that? 

Susan Ford Collins: Or did I just do that? Or why didn't I follow up on that? So my book is called Blur because it was a word I came up with. Because I felt like I was in blur. I was muddled. I was confused. I was overwhelmed. I couldn't sleep well. Um, I couldn't do any of the things that I was used to doing that were comforting to me. 

Susan Ford Collins: Albert couldn't do them with me. We couldn't go on rides. We couldn't watch TV at night. Um, you know, he was in his own process and he was somebody who didn't talk when he was upset and I didn't know that about him. That was a shock. So when I would ask him the critical questions, the end of life questions about, you know, [00:06:00] do you want to be resuscitated? 

Susan Ford Collins: Do you want to be innovated? He wouldn't answer. I mean, finally, the doctor stepped in and brought a portable machine in to breathe for him to show him what it would be like if he had to go on that kind of mechanical support this man who had been my friend, my companion, my chat about everything person all of a sudden was mom and mute and out of touch was devastating. 

Susan Ford Collins: So I lost What I felt like was my best friend, my support, my do everything with. We were really great photographers, and we'd constantly go on trips and go to Fairchild Tropical Garden here in Miami and take pictures, and we just did a lot of stuff together. We did a lot of stuff independently, too, because we were both business people. 

Susan Ford Collins: But, whew, it was a huge loss. Yeah.  

Emily Jones: I can't even imagine having to [00:07:00] watch that person, who's really your other half in life, just deteriorate, just not have that same close connection with you, and then you had to carry the weight of Maybe making the decisions or trying to say, well, here's what I think we should do. 

Emily Jones: And maybe even wondering, does he understand? Is he just given up? Is it?  

Susan Ford Collins: I wonder if he didn't love me anymore. I mean, you know, you get kind of desperate. I mean, he wouldn't talk to me, wouldn't share what was going on with. He was stoic, and I wondered like, what's going on? Why? What happened? There's like a wall between us, and I know the wall was facing death. 

Susan Ford Collins: I can say that now, but it didn't, it didn't help to know that because I was still alone. And I was lonely. You know, I remember waking up one night from a dream, and it was about an old boyfriend that I've had 30 years before. And it was like, So [00:08:00] romantic and close and intimate and I started crying because I realized I was missing all of that. 

Susan Ford Collins: It wasn't there. I didn't have it. The last two years of Albert's life instead of us being close and sharing everything and remembering all of our past good times. He just showed up and it was devastating to me. I'm a communicator, so I don't know what to do when somebody won't share the most important things that are going on. 

Emily Jones: And how long was it between his diagnosis and ultimately his  

Susan Ford Collins: two and a half years, two and a half years. And when we went to the oncologist, the very first time Albert said, how long do I have? And he said about two and a half years and we didn't believe it at the time, but as it turned out, that was accurate and he had 33 rounds of chemo and a clinical trial. 

Susan Ford Collins: So, I mean, it wasn't like I wasn't taking him everywhere. He [00:09:00] wasn't trying everything. Um, but I didn't have the closeness and, and I've talked to a lot of people who've lost cells. People who are their closest people and people approach death differently. Some people approach death by remembering the good things and sharing and being close and talking and some seal it off. 

Susan Ford Collins: And I found that very difficult, very, very difficult. So. You know, what did I do? At first I was in overwhelm and I felt like the overwhelmed caretaker and I'm sure there are a lot of people listening to that who understand, you know, I was taking him to his appointments. I was filling out in all the spaces that he couldn't fill in. 

Susan Ford Collins: You know, I had to pick up all of his tasks and I was working full time. I mean, I'm a consultant to major corporations and I was You know, I had a lot of work that I was doing, but I had to fit [00:10:00] all of this in two, and that was really challenging. Somehow or another, miraculously, and I'll share this with you because it's important, I could do my work. 

Susan Ford Collins: It was my life I couldn't do. I was fine, you put me in front of a client or in front of an audience and I was fine. But, put me in my bed trying to remember my day or what was going to happen next week, a whole other story. Yeah,  

Emily Jones: it's, I, I love how you titled the book Blur. A lot of people talk about, you know, grief and loss being kind of this brain fog and being really hazy. 

Emily Jones: And I think Blur's such a great way of capturing that feeling, like life's just going by and, and you're wondering, how is this possible? And I was the same way I think about you with work, where... Work was my normal. Like, I wanted to go back to work fast. I wanted to get into my normal routine. I knew what to do. 

Emily Jones: I knew what to expect. But in my personal life, it was [00:11:00] like the rug was pulled out from under me and I was lost. And that was a really strange and difficult time to manage for sure. 

Susan Ford Collins: Yeah, I just want to say one other thing. It's really important. I have been a consultant to major corporations around the world. I had started my career as a research psychologist at the National Institutes of Health and After a year and a half there, hoping that I would learn about how to be healthy and how to be successful and what I found out was we were just studying illness and dysfunction and that was not what I wanted to learn about. 

Susan Ford Collins: So I stood up at one of our big conferences after many sleepless nights thinking about this and I said, I think we're on the wrong track. We should be studying healthy, successful people to figure out whether there's a skill set they're using and other people aren't. Are there a certain number of skills that somehow people don't learn along the way? 

Susan Ford Collins: Um, [00:12:00] and instead of having the audience go, that's a great idea, Susan, they laughed at me. And remember, this is my first job out of You know, out of college as a young psychologist, I was the youngest one in the room at NIH. And I think that was the most important moment in my life because in that moment I had to decide, were they right and I was wrong? 

Susan Ford Collins: That I should not even think about this, that it was stupid? Or was I onto something that they didn't understand yet? And I opted for the second and I said to myself, I know this is valid. You've been thinking about it for over a year now. I know you're onto something. And I committed to spending my career studying highly successful people and finding out about the skills, what skills were they using? 

Susan Ford Collins: How could I organize programs? to teach those skills to people who were missing one or more. And so that's the work I [00:13:00] had been doing all these years. Little did I know that when I got so busy being the caretaker, I would somehow unconsciously stop using all of the 10 skills that I had been using ever since I discovered them. 

Susan Ford Collins: And it was in that moment that I went, Oh my goodness. You dropped out the most important thing in your life. And so I consciously went back to doing the things that I saw highly successful people's lives were made to work doing. So when I went back and started success filing and, and being aware of the success gears and, and all of the 10 skills, I brought myself back. 

Susan Ford Collins: And afterwards, I thought COVID has just struck us. And lots of people have lost lots of family members and lost a lot of best friends because we were isolated from each other. We weren't talking, we weren't eating [00:14:00] dinner together, we weren't going to restaurants and having fun. So there was a whole bunch of isolation that happened that completely threw a lot of people into blur. 

Susan Ford Collins: So I had just gotten over the death blur when COVID hit. But. I had the skill set. Once I realized that I had the skill set and I put it to use, I said, I've got to write a book because I've got to share this. This is so important. And I did not want to write this book because I just wanted to kind of get back to normal. 

Susan Ford Collins: But this book wrote me, it woke me in the night, it answered me, it bothered me, it like called on, you know, what is your life about? And you promised me these skills and blah, blah, blah. You know how the mind works. And so, it, I started taking dictation, I mean that's the way it felt, it would come in as dictation. 

Susan Ford Collins: And, um, that's what this is, this is dictation. And then, when I started [00:15:00] consciously writing the book, I started looking at, who were the people during COVID who really made a difference? Who are using these skills and who are sharing these skills. And I started interviewing people like, uh, the creator of zoom, for example, or Instacart or, you know, a lot of very powerful businesses that came forward during COVID. 

Susan Ford Collins: And I found that they were using the skills too. So it was the reason that I'm here. It's the reason I wrote the book. It's the reason why I feel like I have something very important to give your audience. Yeah. That's, that's amazing.  

Emily Jones: That's amazing. And I think when you. Have that. Inner calling and the book that won't be ignored that has to be written. 

Emily Jones: And I just love how you've led such a purpose driven life. And I think about how brave and courageous you were to stand up in front of all of those experts at [00:16:00] NIH as a young person who in their mind probably didn't know much and to move forward in spite  

Susan Ford Collins: of, I'm sure I look like a stupid, I mean, I'm sure they laugh because. 

Susan Ford Collins: Here's this upstart coming in and telling us that we've been doing the wrong thing all these years. I understand it, but in the moment I had to stand up to it. 

Susan Ford Collins: And I think I'm so glad that happened. I'm so glad it really changed my life. It's really my reference point that if I could handle that time, I can handle any time. And you know, that's an important thing to know. If you can handle a tornado, hurricane, stress, Your daughter being ill too, uh, and that book that won't stop. 

Susan Ford Collins: You can handle anything and it's a good thing to know.  

Emily Jones: It is. It is for sure. And people often say, well, I didn't have a choice, but I feel [00:17:00] like you do have a choice. You could have curled up under your covers on the bed. You could have refused to try to heal and to learn and to grow. So we're not. Um, and we're not given a choice on our circumstances, but we're given a choice in how we respond and how we demonstrate resilience and strength. 

Emily Jones: But so Susan, what would you tell, you know, the widow that is in the blur and just feels lost and overwhelmed and like they're, they're up to their eyeballs drowning in grief and just life. Where do they even start? That's  

Susan Ford Collins: a really good description. Cause that's how it feels. How they start, I, I'd say they start by talk, getting some people around them that are code dreamers. 

Susan Ford Collins: People who listen to them, people that they can confide in, people that will be there for them no matter what. Maybe it's a phone call in the morning, it doesn't really matter, but you know, even if it's two people or three people, you [00:18:00] need people you can rely on. And I particularly needed co dreamers because Albert, who'd been my primary co dreamer for all of my years with him, suddenly wasn't co dreaming. 

Susan Ford Collins: He wasn't, I couldn't get him to be my support because he couldn't support himself. So I think co dreaming is really important and the first success skill is something I call success filing. And that means that first you have to define success. So let me tell you what I learned from highly successful people. 

Susan Ford Collins: And that is that success has three essential parts. The first part is success is completion, the ability to complete the tasks or the plans of the projects that we set out to do, and to complete the ones we've agreed with other people that will do. And it's not just fishing, but it's taking a moment each day or on a regular basis to say, I said I would do that. 

Susan Ford Collins: And I did. [00:19:00] Those are magical phrases. I said I would do that and I did because it affirms your personal power. And when you're in Blur, you need something, someone, but mostly yourself to affirm your personal power because you don't feel like you've got any. It feels like your feet have been cut off. So success filing is the first and most important skill. 

Susan Ford Collins: And then the other thing I realized is When we're in times like this, we try to forget, we try to forget the pain, try to forget the circumstances, but we can't. And I was lucky when I was at NIH that I learned that we are designed, our brains are designed to remember the bad things. Why? Because it prevents us from being eaten by lions and tigers. 

Susan Ford Collins: Or falling off a cliff, or, you know, being in devastating circumstances, because the memory of that happening is the cue for us to behave differently when we confront [00:20:00] the same circumstances. So, I talked to so many women, particularly, who said, I just try to forget. And I said, but you can't. Your brain and body are wired to remember. 

Susan Ford Collins: And so another one of the skills is called updating. And this really, really helped me. It's about going back and looking at each one of those horrendous situations. from a new perspective. What did I learn then? What didn't I notice that other people around me noticed? Who could tell me the things that I've forgotten? 

Susan Ford Collins: So I went to my daughters and I went to the nurses. I went to the doctors. I went, I went to my friends and I said, help me. I can't, I'm in blur about this. I need you to help me remember it, but not remember it the way it was necessarily, but the way. It really was bigger than just my little slice of it that I could cope with in that particular moment. 

Susan Ford Collins: And so I had to go back and rebuild my memories, update my memories. And when [00:21:00] I did that, they kind of settled back in. They weren't like jabbing me in the night or getting me, you know, in an unexpected moment, which was happening at the beginning. Because your, your bad memories... are there. They don't go away. 

Susan Ford Collins: I mean, time does not heal. And I've been saying this a lot lately. Time does not heal. Updating heals. Because generally speaking, what you mean by time heals is that you've learned a lot since then. But the idea that I'll just ignore it and in two years it'll go away isn't true. In two years it can be worse. 

Susan Ford Collins: Because it's not processed and because it's coming up from your unconscious. So updating is a really important skill, and remembering is a really powerful way to get yourself out of blur. And, you know, that seemed, when I said to my editor at the beginning, he was like, what? You're telling people to remember the bad times? 

Susan Ford Collins: I [00:22:00] said, yes, I am. Because if they don't learn from them, and they aren't, they aren't feeling like, okay, I grew from that, they're going to be afraid. And that's not okay. It's not okay with me. I want to do something about that. So, that's just a few of the skills, but you know, I can keep going because they work. 

Susan Ford Collins: That's all I can tell you. These skills work. And I knew that they worked with CEOs and corporate teams that I've worked with, but I didn't realize that they would work in these kinds of circumstances. I just really didn't anticipate that. I was surprised and  

Emily Jones: delighted for a second. Yeah, you, you are so right and you've said so  

Susan Ford Collins: many good things and I want to make sure that people like  

Emily Jones: really understood them. 

Emily Jones: You know, I, I worked in health care and the corporate side for 20 years and I always, um, mostly in a leadership position. I thought a lot about leadership skills and I've had [00:23:00] so many people say. You know, there are leadership skills that transition to helping widows lead their lives and rebuild their lives, but in most cases, widows don't really view themselves as leaders, or like you said, these successful people that have accomplished all of these things, we tend to kind of undervalue our role as a mom and a wife, and not always translate it to that business world, but it's true, there are so many skills that, that translate really well, and Uh, you said another thing I thought was really powerful, um, that I've talked about several times on the show, is that time does not heal all wounds. 

Emily Jones: And you can choose not to do anything, you can choose to suppress your emotions, you can choose to try to forget it and block it out. But it'll manifest physically, it'll bubble back up, it will overwhelm you at some point and come back stronger than it was before. It's not a sustainable solution and I think it's really [00:24:00] powerful for people to hear you say that. 

Emily Jones: That you can't just sit back and expect that magically you're gonna feel better about it. It could be worse  

Susan Ford Collins: in the future. And I had little memory groups, you know, I'd get my daughters with me or I'd get the medical team with me and... I'd say, you know, okay, I just went through my diary and this day there isn't anything written on it. 

Susan Ford Collins: I'm a complete blank about it. I know something important happened that day. Can you help me reconstruct it? And they'd say, well, I remember this and, and by the time we got finished, we all felt better because all of a sudden it made sense. And all of a sudden, I felt healed. And I mean that literally. I felt that those memories and remembering them, bringing them back together in a better order was healing me. 

Susan Ford Collins: And I wasn't waking in the night haunted by them anymore. It kind of settled back to where they should have been if I hadn't been in Blur. [00:25:00] You know, if they're like, if during COVID there had been all these little interactions that we're used to having people coming over and chatting and You know, the face to face stuff you do, your kids are playing and you're having conversations with, with the moms that you know, and it wasn't happening. 

Susan Ford Collins: So we weren't processing the same way. That was a scary time.  

Emily Jones: It was, and, uh, I lost my husband July of 2021, so it was right in the midst of all that, and we both had COVID and pneumonia, and the last time, you know, speaking about these hard memories, I had one that haunted me for a really long time. Uh, the last time I spoke to him over FaceTime, the nurses were holding up his iPad, and he waved goodbye to me, and I had no idea. 

Emily Jones: That was the last time that I would see him conscious, you know, over a camera because I couldn't go see him in person and, um, that. That's like my [00:26:00] memory, just really haunted me for a long time. But the more I talked about it, the more I shared it, the more I spent time with it. The easier it's become where now I can speak about it and not just burst into tears thinking about it. 

Emily Jones: So you're right.  

Susan Ford Collins: And this podcast is really a smart strategy for healing yourself. Just as my writing the book healed me. And I suggest that people take notes every day, especially in those horrible times. It doesn't have to be extensive notes. I call them holo notes, holographic notes. They're little bits of a day, but the brain, we have a holographic brain, a brain that sees holes all the time, even though we're not conscious of it. 

Susan Ford Collins: So if you can remember three or four little pieces of the day, later when you're not so harassed, You can go back and reconstruct the day or say to, as I said, to these code dreamers, what you remember about that and give it some perspective and make it work. So I [00:27:00] would say taking notes during these horrible times when we're so lonely, we're so isolated. 

Susan Ford Collins: I felt like my notepad, if it was on the computer or my piece of paper by the bed. Was my friend that was holding on to this stuff for me. So later when I wasn't so bombarded that I would be able to reconstruct it. I'm a big note taker. I mean, I'm looking right now at my Ben Franklin planners up there. 

Susan Ford Collins: And, you know, it's like, I spend time every day remembering the day before and thinking about the days ahead. And that's something I highly recommend because when you're in blur, you tend to be floating in nothing. You know, you're like the days just get all muddled, the weeks get all muddled, the things you used to look forward to aren't there anymore, you know, Saturday nights with your husband, um, you know, sitting and watching your favorite TV show with your husband, I mean, they don't sound like big things, but to me, they were the biggest, they [00:28:00] were the hardest things, eating with him, um, sharing my grandchildren with him, I mean, he was a fantastic day. 

Susan Ford Collins: Yeah. Grandfather. Fantastic. Amazing. You know, it was devastating for them. My grandson, Sam, was hiking the John Muir Trail out in California. He was up at 12, 000 feet up on a mountain and I called, or he called his mom and said, Should I come home? I hear that Albert's really, really bad. And they said, well, you have to decide. 

Susan Ford Collins: So I called him right back and I said, I'll help you decide. I'm your grandmother. I can tell you what to do. And I said, get here as fast as you can, because Albert's not going to last. He can barely breathe. His scans look like ground glass. His lungs look like ground, filled with ground glass. And so he hiked across a 10, 000 foot pass down the mountain.[00:29:00]  

Susan Ford Collins: Across the valley, got a rental car and flew back to Miami and spent the last two hours holding Albert's hand and being there. So, you know, sometimes you have to be directive. And it was really important that Sam be there and, and Mark and, you know, All of my family to be there. Um, the other thing that was really hard for me, and I don't know how this might impact you, but I have any idea who was going to die that day. 

Susan Ford Collins: None of the staff had told me really how serious it was. And my daughter is a neuroradiologist and, you know, she was giving me clues that things didn't look good, but the doctors were not telling me that. And so, I was literally  


Susan Ford Collins: to get him moved to hospice, which they didn't have in the hospital where he wasn't, he'd have to transfer, so we were waiting for transportation, and my daughter Kathy was sitting with Albert, and I came back in the room, and Kathy said, Mom, [00:30:00] say whatever you want to say to Albert, I've got a feeling, and I didn't, for the moment, I couldn't comprehend what she was saying, but I went over to his bed and said, honey, I really love you. 

Susan Ford Collins: You're quite a fighter. I'm proud of you for the battle you put up to live. And I love you. And I, you know, I've loved being with you all these years. And just as I'm saying that, his eyes went back in his head. And I said to the nurses there, it's like, what And, you know, within a couple of minutes they pronounced him dead, but I was not prepared. 

Susan Ford Collins: And I would say, you're with somebody who's, I, you don't know whether it's terminally ill or not, but they use that term. I mean, some people pull through miraculously, you know, but if you think there's a chance that somebody's going to die, say everything you want to say. And say it often. Say, I love you every day. 

Susan Ford Collins: You know, even [00:31:00] if it doesn't even feel right, say it, because I kept looking when I got home from that horrible day. I kept looking around. Did he leave me a note? Did he, you know, did he say something to me that would comfort me now? And he didn't. And so these are the things I would say if you're the one who's ill. 

Susan Ford Collins: Write notes and say wonderful things and record messages and make plans and share plans and do all those things because They help your partner be in blur and pull out, you know So the book is blur clear the way ahead even in the worst of times because it takes a lot to clear it up and It's hard because you've got to create new dreams And that sounds easy, but it's not, because you're creating new dreams without your key player in them. 

Susan Ford Collins: You know, usually the person you [00:32:00] travel with, or you go out to dinner with, or you socialize, or you spend time with family with, and that person is not there. And you have to rewrite your life without the main character in it. And you have to become the main character. That one took a bit. That was tough. 

Susan Ford Collins: You know, it's like, what do you do on the weekend? What do you do on birthdays? What, you know, and your family can't always fill in those pieces. You've got to do it. You've got to be responsible. Yeah, that was a lot of responsibility that comes.  

Emily Jones: There is. And I think that was a, one of the hardest things for me is I'm a planner. 

Emily Jones: Like I had my retirement plans. We knew what we were going to do. And then I found myself going, well, do I still want to do that? Do I still like doing that? Do I want to do that by myself? If I don't have someone with me, it was more like we'd been married almost 20 years, so [00:33:00] it was really more about our life and our dreams. 

Emily Jones: And now all of a sudden I was questioning what that would look like on my own. So that was definitely, that was definitely a tough  

Susan Ford Collins: one for me. I'm in the process of leasing a new car and I had chosen like a month or so after Albert died to lease a new car, because whenever I'd get into that car, He'd be sitting in a seat next to me, and it would bring up all kinds of memories that were really hard for me to cope with, and I decided I needed a new car, but I needed a car that was empty, that didn't have Albert riding everywhere with me, and it's funny because when I went in this week to drive the new car, it was the same salesman that had been there, who had seen me when I was in Blur, and And he was so caring, he was like, Oh my God, you look so good, you know, so I remember when you didn't even back up, I was afraid, I was afraid, I was very afraid of [00:34:00] driving in traffic, I don't know that, that was really hard, really hard. 

Susan Ford Collins: But this idea that your main character is not there, and that you got to dig in deep and decide, just as you said, do I still want to do this alone. Do I still want to spend my money this way? Do I still want to renovate the house? Do I, I mean, you know, all of these questions that relate to plans you had made with your partner become questions you need to go over and reconsider. 

Susan Ford Collins: And your financial planning, too. Because Albert had been a major contributor to our, our household. And there, he wasn't there to do it. So, and not just financially, but, you know, we had vivid up the responsibilities. He was my tech support and he was, you know, he did a lot of things that over the years [00:35:00] I had allowed myself not to learn how to do because he did them. 

Susan Ford Collins: Boy, that came back, bit me. I didn't, there were certain things. Albert was a Microsoft engineer. So when I had a problem with a computer or Zoom or whatever, I'd say, Hi! And he'd come in and he'd save me from that thing. Well, he wasn't there to save me anymore. And I had to, like, admit that I didn't know all these things because I had depended on him to do them. 

Susan Ford Collins: And that, that took some time for me to admit to myself.  

Emily Jones: Yeah, that was one of the most frustrating things for me was having to learn like how to mow with the zero turn. How to, you know, the process for getting my car titled. Like I hadn't had to do that in a really long time. So, uh, it, it just I think piles on to that blur, that haziness, that frustration where it feels like it takes so much effort to do one little thing [00:36:00] because You've not really had to do it. 

Emily Jones: You've not had to learn. You haven't had to get  

Susan Ford Collins: to it. Well, and you hadn't planned a funeral and you hadn't had to deal with a death certificate or, you know, closing accounts or, I mean, there's things that just pile on. Make sure you have a financial advisor and a lawyer and, you know, you have all those people there that you need to help you because I just felt like I wasn't as smart as I usually was. 

Susan Ford Collins: And what I meant by that is I couldn't muster my intelligence the same way because so much of me was shaking and rattling in there, you know, and that's the truth. You know, it's hard to admit but it's, it's true I just didn't feel as smart as I always have felt before. And it took a while I'd say it took a year before I felt like, Oh, this is me, I get it man. 

Susan Ford Collins: This is me. Yeah, reconstructed me. And it was about that time that the book said, okay, well, here in [00:37:00] balance, we're going to give you the task of writing for her, but they didn't give me a whole ton. That's good. But your situation was very tough because my daughter is a, is a neuroradiologist and she would talk about the families not being able to see their loved ones and not being able to be there and the things that you went through extremely hard because you don't expect it to be that way, you know, and I think that one of the sources of blur, I didn't expect a hurricane to hit my house. 

Susan Ford Collins: I didn't expect the Albert not to be able to help you deal with all of the reconstruction and all of that. And I talk in the book about how once I got the major repairs done, I started dreaming again and deciding, okay, his room doesn't have to be an office anymore. It can be a guest room. It can be a dreaming room. 

Susan Ford Collins: It can be, you know, and I started, I talk about a day that I asked the person who [00:38:00] cleans for me and my, a guy that I call St. Donald. He's my handyman and yard man who For 10 years, he's been able to do all the things that I've wanted to do and I got him over one day and I said, we're going to do our room again. 

Susan Ford Collins: And I want you to go out in the garage and get all those rugs and all those picture frames and all those suitcases and trunks that I had in the room before he turned it into his office and I want you to bring them in. And they're looking at the whole world's gonna be full. I went, No, I've got it figured out. 

Susan Ford Collins: Trust me. And so they started bringing him in, cleaning him up, and setting it up. And by midday, they were taking pictures of the room and sending it to their friends. And the friends were going, Oh my goodness, you got to participate in that? That was magical. So, you know, it's like. You you have to get over yourself and start dreaming again. 

Susan Ford Collins: And so the room. Well, actually, the bamboo [00:39:00] enclosure outside. I wish I could show you outside my my door here. That whole area had been bulldozed. It was nothing there. And I'm a plant person and an animal person. And so my neighbor gave me the bamboo that had flown over in his yard and I had St. Donald put up a Enclosure made of bamboo, and I started planting plants and my neighbors knew what had happened. 

Susan Ford Collins: It was worse on my block than any other block in my town. So my neighbors started giving me plants. They said, come over, we're pruning. You can have this. And pretty soon it became beautiful and people were coming to see it. And that was really a wonderful thing. It was a little sample of, okay, my creativity's back. 

Susan Ford Collins: I can make things. And then the room when they saw that I had done that with the bamboo enclosure, they realized that we could do it with the room too. And the final thing is we put mirrors up on [00:40:00] one wall or in wall. And all of a sudden in the morning there what happens is it's dark and then the wind, the light comes in and it's like a stage is lit by the 12 mirrors that pick up the morning sunlight and it's magical. 

Susan Ford Collins: So those experiences made me know. That I could create a new life, I could create beauty, and I think that's really important to prove to yourself that it's not over, you know, there's a tendency to think my life is over, the life that I've had is over. Well, it is, but it isn't, because it's the life you're going to create now. 

Susan Ford Collins: And the challenge is for you to recognize yourself as a leader, you know, the very thing I'm saying. A leader and a creator and start looking around and, you know, where, where are the good examples, where are the things you want to do, not because Albert wanted to do it, but because I wanted to do it. And I was [00:41:00] willing to do it by myself, because always before we plan trips and we've done all these excursions and all of that as a duo. 

Susan Ford Collins: So, it took a while for me to get used to the idea that. I was doing it because I wanted to do it. And I think women struggle with that. I think we'll do it for our kids. Uh, I think we'll do it for our husbands. But this, this challenge that you and I are talking about, being a widow, is about doing it for yourself. 

Susan Ford Collins: Yeah,  

Emily Jones: and I do know several women struggle with that or really struggle to think of themselves as a leader, as a take charge kind of a person, but, you know, I'm just listening as you talk and you have such joy in your voice and in your words, and I completely resonate with you that there's a period of time, especially in the beginning that you're thinking, I'll never be able to laugh again. 

Emily Jones: I'll never be [00:42:00] able to experience something good and not be overshouted by this cloud of sadness and despair and I wish my person was here. But you and I are living proof that you can have joy again, you can dream again for the future. And it's not about forgetting your person or shutting them out or not thinking about them. 

Emily Jones: It's embracing that relationship that you can still continue in some way in the future. And I'm really excited about your book because it sounds like it really helps people figure out. How to get out of that blur and how to get clarity back into their lives.  

Susan Ford Collins: And I, it's interesting. You said joy because one of my other books is called the joy of success. 

Susan Ford Collins: And in that book, it lays out the 10 skills in order. What's I think really great about blur is it, it doesn't give you the 10 skills in order. It's kind of like a toolbox. They don't have numbers on them. You reach in there and grab the [00:43:00] tool you need, you know, and since life is so disrupted, you don't need things in the same order that you needed them before. 

Susan Ford Collins: So that's why a blur is a retelling of these 10 skills, but from the perspective of an explosion or chaos happening and reconstructing your life and yourself and loving yourself again. You know, that's a biggie because I didn't feel cold, you know, it's like. My arm wanted to be around him, or to grab his hand, or to do it with him, or to plan it with him. 

Susan Ford Collins: And it took a while for me to feel like, no, I do it with me. And it's, it's easy, I think, sometimes women grab a hold of somebody in their life and kind of make them a substitute or a surrogate. And that has its dangers too. I think it's important to have people that you depend on in your life. Not someone that you use as a [00:44:00] substitute for the maple chip frost. 

Susan Ford Collins: I think you've got to get used to the fact that you're the leader now, you're the one in charge, you're the one who needs to use the success skills and figure yourself out and, and make a contribution, you know, I gave a talk recently, and a woman in the audience came up to me afterwards and threw her arms around me and said, I know exactly what you meant by blur. 

Susan Ford Collins: And what had happened was her son had cancer, and he had died. And she said, everything that you talked about, all the shock and the, the uncertainty I went through. And I said, I hear that you set up a charity or an organization that helps parents who have kids who die of cancer. And she said, yes. She said, I've taken everything I learned from this experience life handed me, and I'm trying to help other people. 

Susan Ford Collins: And I heard such good things about the work that she was doing and, you know, how [00:45:00] she knew firsthand what somebody in that situation would need. And so I'm proud of you because that's what you're doing. You're saying, okay, I've handed me this. Let me make it something useful. So I think you and I are alike on that one. 

Susan Ford Collins: We want to contribute. Thank you. We want to contribute. We don't need to run from it. Thank you. We licked their wounds, we bandaged up and put on crutches and whatever we had to do temporarily, knowing we'd take it all off and just keep going again.  

Emily Jones: Yeah, I remember thinking that the pain was so raw and so horrible that I didn't know how people could walk through that alone and I never wanted anyone to feel like they had to and they didn't have the resources and the understanding and support. 

Emily Jones: So thank you so, so much for coming today and sharing your time and, um, your great insight. Uh, if you don't mind, if [00:46:00] you'll, we'll put it all in the show notes, but if you'll tell people how they can find you, how they can find your book, um, the best way to reach out to you, then I would love for them to be able to connect with you, um, if  

Susan Ford Collins: that's what they like to do. 

Susan Ford Collins: Well, Susan Ford Collins. I'm very easy to find. I'm all over the internet. I have a website called Susan Ford Collins. I have a website called the technology of success, which is the 10 skills. I have seven books on Amazon, including blur blur and blur is also available in audible I went back and recorded the whole book myself, my voice. 

Susan Ford Collins: So, you know, if we've made a connection now, hopefully we'll connect you up to the, to the book. And that was tough, telling the whole story with, in a recording studio. I mean, that was another level of healing that I went through. But I also have something called Short and Sweet Secrets of Success. They're little two to three minute, [00:47:00] um, video clips. 

Susan Ford Collins: That tell you the skills or parts of the skills. And if you send me an email at Susan Ford Collins at msn. com, I'll happily share that with you. And then hopefully you can share it with people that you know are in need of them. So, I'm here. I'm here, my books are here. Uh, this has been thrilling. This is book four in the Technology of Success book series. 

Susan Ford Collins: And the first one was The Joy of Success. Then I wrote... A book called Success Has Ears, because it does. And then I wrote a book called Our Children Are Watching, because they are. And, you know, it's like we are modeling, we are teaching them. And whatever we don't know, they're learning not to know, too. So that was the next book, and then this book. 

Susan Ford Collins: The fourth in the series. So somewhere there's a book for you or two or three or four.  

Emily Jones: Yes. If you can't tell, I love books [00:48:00] and that is on my bucket list for sure. Uh, I have several that I'd like to do and I would love to see one day your journal or your daily notes be published. Um, at some point in the future, I think that would make a really nice, good insight for people to see those good days and bad days. 

Emily Jones: And, uh,  

Susan Ford Collins: I think that would be really cool. Well, and the beautiful part is, keep in mind the notes don't have to be long, I mean, and they don't have to make sense to anybody else. It's not like a diary, really, it's notes. It's just little, the doctor came in the room, I noticed it was two o'clock, um, you know, the nurse didn't come when she said, they, he was supposed to be on a different floor when he came out of surgery. 

Susan Ford Collins: I cleaned the room out, and then I had to go back, and he was in exactly the same room. I mean, these little things, these little pieces, that are the puzzle pieces. Like, like if you had a puzzle, and you didn't have the picture on the top, you know, to put it together. [00:49:00] These little pieces are the prime pieces of the different sections, which when you put it together makes, it makes sense. 

Susan Ford Collins: So. I think the book will, the book will give you enough for you to know what my process was. I, it's very real. It's very raw. Um, I don't, I don't cover it up at all. I tell it like it was. And I think we need to hear that. We need to hear how it really is, not how it's placed over and covered over. I  

Emily Jones: agree. 

Emily Jones: Well, thank you again so much for your time today. It's been a real pleasure and honor to have you on the show.  

Susan Ford Collins: Thank you. 


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, finding hope, or achieving your dreams for the future. 

Emily Jones: Do you need a safe [00:50:00] 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. 

Emily Jones: 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 to learn more.  

BW 097: Do Comedy and Grief go Together?

May 14, 2024