BW 052 - Raising a Child After Losing Her Husband and Rediscovering Who She Really Is - with Nicole Repecka

widow interview Oct 17, 2023
 

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

The Transcript is below.

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Finding out that she was pregnant only two days before her husband was put into a coma and ultimately passed. Nicole Repecka shares her experience with raising a child post losing her husband and rediscovering really who she is and what helped her through some of that.

Nicole has a beautiful spirit with a beautiful presence and I can't wait to introduce you to her on today's show.

For free resources and to get on the Brave Widow email list to stay up to date on what is happening within the community go to Brave Widow Resources.

 

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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

 

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Transcription:

Emily Jones: [00:00:00] hey, hey, welcome to episode number 52 of the Brave Widow show. Today, I talk with Nicole Repecka and Nicole is, she, she has a beautiful spirit. She has a beautiful presence. If you're able to watch this on YouTube, I highly recommend that you do that. Just the way she presents herself is very. Lovely. And she has some really interesting things to share about her story. 

Emily Jones: She ended up finding out that she was pregnant only two days before her husband was put into a coma and ultimately he passed. So hear about her experience with raising a child post losing her husband and rediscovering really who she is and what helped her through some of that. Now before I introduce you to Nicole, I do want to remind you that we have A lot of free things out there in the widow universe at [00:01:00] brave widow. 

Emily Jones: com and we have some live events that are coming up and the way that you can hear about those and know the latest and greatest of what's going on is by signing up. For the email list, and you can do that by going to BraveWidow. com slash free F R E E. Download free resources. I have checklists. I have training videos. 

Emily Jones: I have a workbook. I have all kinds of stuff that you can have absolutely for free just by signing up and being part of the email list. And including some live events where I spend all kinds of time putting together information that's educational, impactful, and helps equip you on your journey to healing. 

Emily Jones: So sign up again at BraveWidow. com slash free to learn more about what's going on there. All right, now let me introduce you to Nicole. Nicole's husband was put into a coma two days after she found out she was pregnant with her [00:02:00] first child, and he never woke up. It's now been five and a half years since he's passed, and she's gone through pregnancy, childbirth, raising her now five year old, and dating and finding new love again. 

Emily Jones: Nicole's journey has not been easy, but she has... She's been very vulnerable and open with her story. She shares with you today, and she is now helping other widows on their journey to healing. So let's dive in. 

Emily Jones: Hey, hey, everybody. Welcome back to another episode of the brave widow show today. I am here with Nicole Repecka and I'm so excited to have her on the show and to hear her share her story and how she is currently now also helping support other widows. So Nicole, welcome to the show. 

Emily Jones: And thank you so much for coming on.  

Nicole Repecka: Hi. Yeah. So thank you for having me. So you want me to just get started on my story?  

Emily Jones: Yeah, I think it would help if you want to [00:03:00] share a little about your background and then we can jump into your story just wherever you want  

Nicole Repecka: to start. Okay, so, I met my husband when I was like 22, 23. 

Nicole Repecka: We were young, started dating, got married a few years later. We were both working, towards our careers. We weren't quite there yet. Then 2017 so we had been married for almost four years at that point So Christmas Eve so we were like finally like getting to a good place, like we were had both been promoted in our jobs We were starting to be financially stable more Christmas came around Christmas Eve. 

Nicole Repecka: He got sick with the flu. I don't talk about it much anymore. So it's kind of it's been five years now, but Christmas Eve, he got sick with the flu, we were young, I was 30, he was 33, so we just kind of, okay, you're sick, whatever. Then a couple days later, he was still really sick, so we took him to the doctor. 

Nicole Repecka: The doctor was like, there was a Tamiflu shortage at the time, so [00:04:00] the doctor didn't prescribe anything, just said, it's a flu, go home, take some, Tylenol, Ibuprofen, you'll be better in a few days. A few days later, we went back to urgent care because he had started coughing up blood the night before. 

Nicole Repecka: And sorry, I skipped something in there. It's something very big in there. About two days after we took him to the doctor. I kind of thought that I might be pregnant. So I took a test. I wasn't sure if it was just like the stress from the holidays. I was late So I took a test. We weren't trying at the time took a pregnancy test came back positive. 

Nicole Repecka: He was still very sick So, we didn't really talk about it. He was just kind of like, okay, you know We'll talk about it later when I'm feeling better. I was like, okay And then the next morning is when he woke me up, told me he was coughing up blood overnight. We had to take him to the doctor took him to urgent care, urgent care, took his took all of his vitals and was like, I can't believe he hasn't passed out yet because [00:05:00] his his I'm blanking on the word his blood oxygen levels were like really low, like in the seventies, which normal is like 95 to 98. 

Nicole Repecka: So it was like really low. So they sent us, well first they told us we had the option of just going to the pharmacy to get some medicine or going to the hospital. And my husband at the time was like, oh yeah, let's, you know what? I don't wanna go to the hospital. It just seems like a lot of work. 

Nicole Repecka: Let's just go get the medicine. And then he started feeling worse before we were discharged from urgent care. And so he is actually on second thought, let's go to the hospital. So I drove, drove him to the hospital. His parents only lived a few minutes away from us at the time. So, they had met us over in, the er . 

Nicole Repecka: . But yeah, so we we got to the hospital, it took a little while. 

Nicole Repecka: It was like a really bad flu season. That year was like 2017 into 2018. So this was actually, this was December 30th at the time. So it was just kind of crazy at the hospital. It took a while to [00:06:00] be seen. Like I had to ask multiple times at the triage center being like, Hey, like my husband can't breathe. 

Nicole Repecka: He's like about to pass out. We need to be seen. And so finally after it was at least an hour of waiting we were finally taken in and seen and they were immediately like, yeah, like he's, he's not doing well. Let's put him in oxygen. Let's, we have to admit him. He's going to be here a while. 

Nicole Repecka: So, So yeah, so that was the first day. It was a very overwhelming day. I ended up spending the night there with him. He got admitted into the ICU after a few hours once the bed opened up. And then we spent the night there. He was on like a I forget the name of it, but it's kind of like a, 

Nicole Repecka: it's it forces like oxygen. And so he really couldn't talk. He was like texting me, but he couldn't talk because the machine was on its face. They had to shave his beard. He had a really big beard. It was like a gorgeous beard and they had to shave it off [00:07:00] and they did an awful job of it. But yeah, so he was on that. 

Nicole Repecka: He just, I was feeling awful all night the next day. His mom came back, I had spent the night there in the ICU with them, his mom came back and she kind of like relieved me, like I. So I could go home shower. We were not expecting to spend the night there when we went. 

Nicole Repecka: So I went home and just cried, cried on the way home, went to the grocery store, cried, took a shower, cried. And then 

Emily Jones: That had to be really overwhelming. I'm sure. And I don't know at that point if you were thinking, I'm not sure if he's going to make it or if it was more just  

Nicole Repecka: this is scary. I really didn't understand how sick he was at that point. It was just kind of like, the stress of having been at the hospital, Just having found out I was pregnant and we were not trying to get pregnant. 

Nicole Repecka: So that was kind of a shock. And I was a little overwhelmed by that news already. So, yeah, so a few hours later, I was like, I hadn't slept [00:08:00] really, so it was kind of just trying to rest and relax, which was impossible. His mom called me and said. They need to induce a coma and this is New Year's Eve day or, New Year's Eve, but not at night and she was like, they need to induce a coma because he's just not responding. 

Nicole Repecka: He's not getting better. So they need to intubate and put them into a coma. So I had to go back to the hospital because they're like, they need to do it now. You need to get back here quickly. The hospital wasn't that far away, but they were like, they have to do it now. So you have to get here if you want to talk to him before they put him into the coma. 

Nicole Repecka: That was,  

Emily Jones: that  

Nicole Repecka: was tough. So I had to go back to the hospital. I didn't even know, like, how to get back to the room because I was so disoriented. I had to have someone walk me back there. That's the last time I got to talk to him. 

Nicole Repecka: So they put him into a coma. All I really got to do when I got there was just tell him like, Hey I'll be here. I'll be here when you wake up. I love you. [00:09:00] And he still couldn't really talk. And then they kind of whisked me out of the room and started doing what they needed to do. 

Nicole Repecka: And that's all the time I really got with him before they did that. Which I mean, I understand, it was, it was urgent, but yeah, so he spent the next. basically three weeks just in a coma. And there were a lot of ups and downs and it was very tough three weeks. And then, it was there was a point in there probably about two weeks in he was like, he would kind of get worse and then do a little bit better and then get a lot worse and do a little bit better. 

Nicole Repecka: And, it got to the point where it's if he gets any worse, he's just going to die. So there was a day that we thought he was going to die and I was freaking out and it was funny because nobody else thought he was going to die, or at least nobody, maybe the doctors did, but they weren't saying it, but his family was there and they were kind of like, no, it'll be fine. 

Nicole Repecka: It'll be fine. They had to put him on dialysis. That was kind of like, the doctor told me it was like the Hail Mary. I happened to be out to lunch with my sister at the time. She came over. [00:10:00] It was Whatever holiday around there. I don't know. But it was a holiday weekend. So she came out and this was in January. 

Nicole Repecka: It's around like the maybe 15th. So she came out and we went to lunch and they called me while we were at lunch and the doctor was like, look, if we don't do something drastic right now, he's not going to make it. So, we need to put him on dialysis, which is dangerous because he's never had it before. 

Nicole Repecka: So they did that and then he did get better. But then two, three days later, it was he took a big turn for the worse, and that's when, it just, it happened, he went downhill he ended up coding while they were doing the, starting to code, while the I think it was after they did dialysis, I honestly am a little hazy on the details now, but Yeah, so, so he passed away, obviously, or I wouldn't be on the show and I was, I was seven weeks pregnant at the time hadn't even had my first, I had one appointment that my sister went with me Just to [00:11:00] confirm, with the doctor that I was pregnant, I didn't even do an ultrasound or anything yet, so I didn't even really have my first real appointment yet and he was gone. 

Nicole Repecka: I did tell his parents, I had to tell his parents while he was in a coma which I'm glad I told them before he passed away, but yeah, it was just like, I was too stressed about it, and I'm, I'm a huge coffee drinker. And I also, I do like to drink alcohol. And so we were going out to dinners and they were like, oh do you want to get a margarita? 

Nicole Repecka: And I was like, no. 

Emily Jones: No, no reason. I'm  

Nicole Repecka: just going to pass today. So it was just like, stressful for me because I'm like, they have to know I'm not drinking coffee. I'm not drinking alcohol. So, I actually told them at the hospital one day he was on a roto prone bed, which is and something they do for he had what they call the ARDS, which is acute respiratory distress syndrome. 

Nicole Repecka: It's actually, it wasn't COVID, but cause it was, this was 2018, January, 2018. And so it was before COVID, but it was [00:12:00] very similar. To how people kind of passive COVID from what he had so they put him on something called a Rotoprin bed, which would turn him basically. So he was like, suspended upside down, which put less pressure on his lungs. 

Nicole Repecka: So they would sometimes turn him back up because you can't stay that way for too long. So they were like doing something with that. So we were outside and I gave them like a little gift bag that had a onesie in it that said, Brad, like dad. And I told him that I was pregnant. Which is kind of like a weird, sudden. 

Nicole Repecka: How did they  

Emily Jones: react to that? Cause that's, that's a lot of mixed emotions.  

Nicole Repecka: I mean, they were excited, and I feel like it was, like, hopeful for them more that he has this thing that he knew about, though we never really got to talk about it, but he has this thing, kind of, to hopefully live for, and maybe he'll fight and make it, kind of a thing yeah, but yeah, that was definitely, it was a very, that was one of the weirdest things, was, [00:13:00] like, When I was telling people he died, like I called his best friend after he passed away, I called him out like two in the morning. 

Nicole Repecka: And he knew what I was calling about, like he didn't even answer the phone the first time because he knew and I had to call again and then he answered and that was a tough conversation. They had been friends since like junior high. And then in the same conversation told him I was pregnant, which was just a very weird, I didn't get that normal pregnancy announcement, it's because I felt like it was so close to when he died But like I felt like I had to tell people like, you know early on like at the funeral at the because And I still feel like it's like I always have to explain he is my son is my husband's kid I was pregnant, because the timing is just so, questionable, I guess, so that was kind of a weird experience, just having to kind of lump in like announcing that my husband died and announcing that I was pregnant [00:14:00] at the same time. So yeah, that's, I don't really know it's just very strange. Well, and I think it's a  

Emily Jones: beautiful way that your husband's legacy gets to continue. 

Emily Jones: But in the moment, it probably just feels... Overwhelming and confusing and probably kind of takes away from the normal excitement that you might have had being pregnant and going to the appointments and the ultrasound and all of that.  

Nicole Repecka: Yeah. Yeah. So my my first appointment was. The week after he died and I cried at the end the doctor was like, I mean, cause they always look for like signs of I know, you've worked in healthcare, like the pregnancy appointments are like a big place where they look for like signs of abuse and stuff and So I was crying at my appointment. 

Nicole Repecka: So the doctor is what is going on? So I had to explain to her that my husband had just died the [00:15:00] week before. So that was another tough conversation. And my, my mother in law came with me to almost all of the appointments, the ones that she didn't go to, either my mom or my sister went with me. 

Nicole Repecka: So that was, at least she got to be there. Yeah, it was it was just kind of, it was so weird. So what  

Emily Jones: would you tell somebody, let's say, because that's actually not super uncommon, that people then have to, after they lose their spouse, then their. pregnant and they're having to go through all that pregnancy stuff and delivery without their person, which is probably like a constant knife stab that the fact that their person isn't there. 

Emily Jones: But what advice would you give for people that, would be going through those appointments?  

Nicole Repecka: So, I mean, I guess just being honest about it, and like up front about it. The fact that my my OBGYN knew, it's they [00:16:00] kind of stopped asking because they would have the question every time of are, are you being abused? 

Nicole Repecka: Is everything okay at home? They stopped asking me that question because I told him one time, I was like, look, I was like, I live by myself. My husband is dead. Please stop asking me that. And they were like, okay, got it. So, and then also when I did go in for delivery, I had to be induced. 

Nicole Repecka: So I was there for for several days. I told them, the first nurse when we got there, I told them, I was like, Hey, I was like, my husband passed away. Can you just let all of the nurses know before they come in to see me? Like any nurse I have, can you just let them know the circumstances so I don't have to keep explaining it? 

Nicole Repecka: And they were like, yeah, we will make sure there was one that didn't get the memo. Before she actually had to leave because she was crying when I told her but overall that I think that kind of helped, not having to explain it over and over and over again. Having someone there with you that kind of obviously, can be your support person. 

Nicole Repecka: I remember there [00:17:00] was a. There were like these classes, I have Kaiser, and they offered like these classes that you can go to about breastfeeding and how to take care of your kid and stuff. So I was going to those, and the first one I went to, I went by myself, and I was the only Like solo person there like everyone else was there with someone else and I remember texting my friend She was like my support person. 

Nicole Repecka: She is also a widow, but you know was farther along and I was texting her and She I love her sense of humor. She texted me back and she's look just remember half those people are gonna be divorced in a year So that helped, that made me feel better.  

Emily Jones: But I love that widow humor.  

Nicole Repecka: If you can find someone like that, even if they're not a widow, that can just be there and support you. 

Nicole Repecka: My sister at the time was also, just really supportive. She was there with me both my widow friend, Jeannie and my sister were both there with [00:18:00] me when I had my son, So just lining up support and just being upfront and being open about the situation so that, people can help you better, I guess. 

Nicole Repecka: It  

Emily Jones: was a little bit about. How helpful it, it has been to have somebody as a friend that's been widowed that's gone through that and how very recently now you're going to be that friend for someone else who's also going through that and how did you find that it was really helpful having someone that close to you that really understood you. 

Emily Jones: In their own experience in a way, what it was like to lose their person.  

Nicole Repecka: Absolutely. So it's funny because we actually were not close before my husband passed away. We worked together. I was her supervisor at the time. So we were friendly, but we never talked outside of work, and then she came to the hospital when my husband was sick. 

Nicole Repecka: She was there, with me at the funeral. She was there like. [00:19:00] Every step of the way, we're still, close. We still talk often. I mean, it's, I don't know how I would have gotten through it without her. Honestly, there were so many days that I was calling her crying and she would always pick up the phone and she would always just, she would always answer, she would always just let me cry and be like, again, I love her sense of humor. 

Nicole Repecka: She would be like, screw them or whatever. So it was, it was great. And now it's actually The two of us were friends with another girl we worked with who just recently had This past week lost her boyfriend. So it's kind of, it's funny because she texted, she's the one that told me because our friend had called her and she texted me and told me. 

Nicole Repecka: And we were both kind of having the same reaction like we both kind of got thrown back into that like first day of grief mentality of like I was physically dizzy when she told me the news and like just kind of in shock and and we were talking and we were both kind of having the same reactions, which I don't feel like are normal reactions. 

Nicole Repecka: I don't think it's the same reaction that everyone else was [00:20:00] having to that news, but it's, just because like we had both gone through and we kind of both knew what she was going through at that time. So yeah, no, I mean, I think it's definitely, even just the questions of is this normal and absolutely, it's normal, but you feel like a crazy person when you're going through like those first, few months of grief, you're like, this can't be normal what's going on with me just to have someone there to be like, yeah, no, that's totally normal. 

Nicole Repecka: Don't, it'll, it'll pass, but it's totally normal.  

Emily Jones: Yeah, it's just a sense of relief, like you said, that you're not going crazy, that other people also experience some of those same things, or have the brain fog and, it's just in its own weird way, it's comforting to know that, okay, yes, this is normal, but I can look forward and hope because I see. 

Emily Jones: Other people who have gone through it, they've experienced that and they're, they have moved forward, right? There's hope and joy and things that are still possible. It's not going to feel [00:21:00] like this the rest of my life.  

Nicole Repecka: Yeah. Yeah. Seeing that thing also, I mean, with having kids, it's like you always worry about how your kids are going to turn out, so. I mean, she wasn't pregnant when her husband passed, but it's just seeing that her kids are older now. They're, in their 20s and they've turned out very well. So it's okay there's hope there's, a future that's not just going to be, like, sad and awful for my son. 

Nicole Repecka: So that helped too. Yeah. So.  

Emily Jones: Tell us what it was like as you got to hold your child for the first time and just really, I guess, soak all, soak it all in this fruition of what you and, and he had created together, really.  

Nicole Repecka: So it's funny that you say soak it all in because I feel like I didn't get a normal pregnancy, because I wasn't I wasn't excited. 

Nicole Repecka: It's like everyone would ask me and I I work grocery. So I would, I was very obviously pregnant [00:22:00] and people would always say, Oh, you must be so excited. And I wasn't, I wasn't excited. And I remember talking to my therapist about that and being like, I'm already a bad mom because I'm not excited, and he'd be like, no you're It doesn't mean you're a bad mom. 

Nicole Repecka: It's just you've had a lot of things happen. Not everyone's excited when they're pregnant. It doesn't make you a bad parent. But I, I was not excited at all. And at one point I actually got into my head that I was just going to die in childbirth and I don't know why I decided that, but it was just like, I. 

Nicole Repecka: This dead set that like, I'm going to go, I'm going to have this baby and that's it. Like there's, there's nothing after. And I was just like totally unprepared. I ended up needing a C section. So, I was already just kind of like out of it from the surgery. And I remember they wanted me to hold him, they kept trying to put him on me for the skin to skin time, and I didn't want to. I was like, I'm gonna drop him no someone else hold him. 

Nicole Repecka: I remember, my husband's family coming in, and at one point, his sister, came and was holding him. They were all taking [00:23:00] turns holding him. And his sister was holding him, and I was like, no that's who should be holding him, not me. I don't, I just feel like I was just very I didn't have I guess the normal, I'm sure there's people that aren't widowed that also have that experience that just struggled to bond with a newborn, but I just, I couldn't bond with him. 

Nicole Repecka: It actually took me probably like three to six months to really feel like I had bonded with him. So that was hard. That's actually looking back. I tell a lot of people it's I think the hardest point in my life was not when he was in the hospital and when he died. The hardest point was after I had my son, like those first three to six months was just so much harder. 

Nicole Repecka: And I mean, for me, it's, it's, it's not the same for everyone. Other people may not have that experience. And then there's postpartum depression. I was just alone with this baby, and I was living by myself. So, I mean, there's the struggle of being a new mom, which like, no one's really ready for when it's your first kid.[00:24:00]  

Nicole Repecka: And then there's the struggle, I'm pretty sure I had some postpartum depression. I was still grieving. It was only, it had been less than a year since my husband passed and I'm just not a kid person and I'm stuck at home with this kid.  

Emily Jones: Every two hours. I need you to, doesn't let you rest and doesn't let you. 

Emily Jones: Yeah, that's hard.  

Nicole Repecka: So that was, yeah, I mean, It's funny because it's a lot of people have asked me since I have a boyfriend now that I live with and a lot of people, always ask oh, don't you want more kids? Don't you want more kids? And I'm like, no I don't ever want to go through that again. 

Nicole Repecka: And they're like, oh, yeah, but it would be different with a partner. And I'm like, it's, I just don't even want to take the chance, like it was. But I think on the other hand, like the other part of that is we struggled like I struggled so much those first few months, but I think coming out of it and getting through it. 

Nicole Repecka: I think my son and I are so much closer because of it. [00:25:00] So that's a good, like I would say we're, we're closer than most like parent child, relationship, like we're each other's people because we were, each other's only person for a long time. Yeah,  

Emily Jones: I love that. I love that you were able to, in spite of all of those challenges in front of you and the way that you felt and just. 

Emily Jones: All of that, that you still were able to form a close bond with your, your child. That's awesome.  

Nicole Repecka: Yeah, it definitely took a while to get there. And I think like nothing went the way I thought it was going to go, which I know is normal for having a kid. But I think it's even more important, like when you're grieving, when you're a solo parent to just kind of remember that it's okay if things don't go the way that you think they will. 

Nicole Repecka: Like I was dead set on breastfeeding and I, I couldn't, like I just, I tried so hard and I struggled so much with that. And it's just, I mean, It just was not working out and then finally, there [00:26:00] is a day one of my neighbors came up to me and I was like, on the verge of tears just like struggling with breastfeeding and she came up to me and she's just stop and it's I, I needed someone else to tell me like, it's fine. 

Nicole Repecka: Give up on it. He'll be fine. Just go to formula. It'll be okay. And I think part of that though, it's just like being a solo parent. I didn't have that support like in my household, at home of someone being like, hey it's okay. Just, just don't do it anymore. 

Nicole Repecka: And same thing with like decisions, like it's like all the decisions are on you, so it's like there's so much more pressure to feel like you have to make the right decision because you don't have that shared responsibility with someone else. And, being a first time parent, that's, it's a lot of pressure. 

Nicole Repecka: It's scary. You  

Emily Jones: know, yeah. Yeah, it is. And not having a person to hash things out with and make decisions and what should the rules be and how [00:27:00] should we raise our child and  

Nicole Repecka: it is hard. So yeah, I think, I mean, navigating that just kind of, knowing, I feel like I've I've accepted more now. I mean, he just turned five. 

Nicole Repecka: So, we've had a few years now together, but I feel like I'm I'm just kind of accepting more now that okay we're not going to have that ideal, and I know nobody does, but we're just, we're doing what works for us, and it may not be what works for other people. 

Nicole Repecka: It may not even be what's necessarily the best thing, but it works for us and that's how we get through things and that's how, it's it may not be the best, but it's good enough and it works. Yeah. So.  

Emily Jones: So what would you tell someone who's struggling to say they have their newborn, they're struggling to bond, they're, still grieving pretty heavily. 

Emily Jones: What, what changed in those three to six months that you feel like brought the two of you closer?  

Nicole Repecka: I think the biggest thing would probably just be accepting [00:28:00] that it was okay, that I hadn't bonded with him yet, that I hadn't, had my therapist. I started therapy when my husband was in was in the hospital still and did about three years of therapy, which helped a lot. 

Nicole Repecka: But I think we spent a lot of time talking about that at the time, with my therapist, just that, like accepting that it's okay, because I think it kind of added on the guilt of oh, I'm a bad mom. Because I'm not bonded with my kid and then seeing actually my friend who just became a widow. 

Nicole Repecka: She had her baby She had a baby two weeks before me. We were pregnant together at the same time and I remember like seeing pictures of her and her boyfriend and like how happy they looked, you know with their daughter and like I remember seeing those pictures and just you know, like those pictures made me sad because I didn't get that and Just knowing that it's, it [00:29:00] doesn't make me a bad parent to not have those feelings. 

Nicole Repecka: It just means that I've had a different situation. So it's,  

Emily Jones: we've gone through that and letting it happen naturally instead of feeling like you have to force it or  

Nicole Repecka: yeah, yeah, because I feel like trying to force it, it's just, it adds on guilt on top of everything else you're already feeling, which does not make those feelings happen and just understanding that, like that feeling will come eventually and just to, kind of like, just, Just keep moving, just keep going forward and you'll get there at some point you'll be like, oh, I do actually love my kid. 

Nicole Repecka: So, it's a, I think that's just, I guess the biggest thing just accepting that it's okay. And it doesn't make you a bad parent because you've had a more difficult situation.  

Emily Jones: Yeah, yeah, I totally agree. And so I know people are going to be curious.[00:30:00] When we're first widowed, usually the first thing in our mind is, Oh, I'll never find anyone else. 

Emily Jones: I could never be with anyone else. It's like the furthest thing from our mind at times. But I know eventually you did meet someone and start dating and you're in a relationship. So do you mind to share just a little bit about that? About You know, at what point maybe you were open to that and if there was anything that changed your mind or a realization that you came to that helped you maybe not feel guilty or some of those things that people tend to  

Nicole Repecka: feel. 

Nicole Repecka: Yeah, so, so I guess that kind of started actually the day of the funeral my I didn't start dating that day, but my my in laws after the funeral we had a reception at their house, and I drove back to the house with them, and we were walking home. In from the garage and my mother in law turned to me and said, you're young Like you're gonna meet someone new and that's okay And at the time I was not ready to [00:31:00] hear that I was like no like i'm never gonna date again Like i'm just gonna be single for the rest of my life. 

Nicole Repecka: I was dead set on he was my husband and that was it. But I think, just having that that like acceptance and permission kind of, from my in laws to move on with my life and be happy really helped. And I know not everyone gets that. So I know I was very lucky to have that. 

Nicole Repecka: They've been amazing. But so that kind of, like that was kind of like the first Oh, hey, like you're actually, your life is going to keep going after this. And then I didn't date for, I mean, I was pregnant, so it would have been hard to date anyways. But about a year out, I kind of started like going on mostly online dating. 

Nicole Repecka: I kind of started dipping my toes in my I was in a mom group and one of my my friends from the mom group kind of set me up with someone But it's like we went on one date and nothing really happened, you know um And then I kind of I don't know. [00:32:00] I just wasn't finding anyone at the time I feel like I was really just looking for a replacement for my husband like I was like all of the guys that I was liking looked a lot like my husband He was bald with a big beard, and I was like liking a lot of guys that were bald with a big beard And I kind of realized that I was like, oh, I was like, maybe I'm not ready if what I'm looking for is just like a copy of him because I'm never going to find it, I'm never going to find him. 

Nicole Repecka: So I kind of took a break and then 2 years out, I kind of again started to, kind of try to dip my toes in and again, it just wasn't really finding anything. I just wasn't really feeling ready So I stopped again, I went on a couple first dates, but just nothing that really went anywhere And then a little bit before three years out I don't know why I kept just doing it at the year mark But a little bit before three years out I started dating again. 

Nicole Repecka: I actually went on [00:33:00] A few dates with one guy, and then I met another guy, it was all on Hinge. I met another guy that I really liked, we dated for about a month, and then he ghosted me actually. Though he ended up apologizing later. And that was like, he actually ended up ghosting me right around the third anniversary. 

Nicole Repecka: It was like a week before the third anniversary of my husband's death. I was just like, this is the worst timing. But I got through that and then about a week after I met my current boyfriend also through Hinge, I highly recommend Hinge. And I, at first it's funny actually because our first date I was kind of like, eh I don't know. 

Nicole Repecka: And at that point I was like ready to give up again. I was like, look I've talked to a lot of guys. I've been on a few dates. I'm just not finding anyone, so I was kind of ready to take a break. And I was like, all right, I'll... I'll see what this guy's about, so we went on a first date and my thing at the time was like, I would only give them an hour on the first date. 

Nicole Repecka: It was like the middle of COVID, so there [00:34:00] wasn't really anywhere to go.  

Emily Jones: Wow. So you, you were, did you tell him? Did you say you've got one hour? Yeah.  

Nicole Repecka: I told him, I was like, all right, I had this park near my house that we've, I always met the guy. And it was like, look, you got one hour at this park. 

Nicole Repecka: We'll walk around and we'll see if I want to date you. So he got his hour and after that hour I was kind of like, eh, I don't know. But in the next week he managed to convince me to go on a second date with him. And then the second date I liked him better. I was like, okay, we'll give it a shot. And two and a half years later, we're now living together. 

Nicole Repecka: That's more  

Emily Jones: than an hour a day  

Nicole Repecka: now. Yeah. Yeah. Well, it's, we have kids, he has a 13 year old, so it's, and I have a five year old, so it gets a little busy, but he gets more than an hour now.  

Emily Jones: Well, that's awesome. I love that. And what I really love  

Nicole Repecka: is.  

Emily Jones: [00:35:00] And recognize, I made the same mistake of not trying to replace my husband, but trying to feel a whole, like trying to not be lonely, trying to, because I wanted to be with someone I liked being in a relationship. 

Emily Jones: To fill that gap, instead of saying, I'm enjoying life, I like what I do, I would like to have someone to add to it, but I'm not looking for someone out of loneliness. But I love that you would kind of stop along the way and say I really don't think I'm ready now. Or, well, if I'm looking for someone to replace my husband, probably not what I should be looking for. 

Emily Jones: So that you had the maturity and the discipline to change after you recognize that I think speaks a lot about you.  

Nicole Repecka: Yeah, thank you. Yeah, no, I agree. It's I feel and again, that's where therapy, I think really helped me a lot. Because along the way, I was still doing a therapy regularly and I would talk to my therapist about Hey, so I'm talking to this guy, but you know, these are the things or at one point he told me kind of like, so what's like your [00:36:00] list of things that you're looking for? 

Nicole Repecka: And I had this huge long list. And, on that list was things like I want someone that's never been married before and I want someone that doesn't have any kids and, other things that kind of more aligned with values and stuff and, it's funny because he told me he's I think the things you're going to compromise on that list are the never been married and doesn't have kids. 

Nicole Repecka: And here I am with a divorced dad. 

Emily Jones: But I like how the things you weren't going to compromise where your shared values and your shared I assume beliefs, values, things that are important to you are probably things that you have in common.  

Nicole Repecka: Yeah, so that is the one area I think like I said, when I first started dating, I was kind of looking for someone like my husband because, I loved him, we had a great relationship and then I stopped looking for just my husband, but I think that's kind of the things that I kept from, like my, my boyfriend, [00:37:00] my husband are very different people But that's one thing they have in common is a lot of those core values. 

Nicole Repecka: And I think, I mean, in any relationship, after a while you kind of learn what's important to you value wise and that's, that's the things you don't get to compromise on. Yeah. Yeah,  

Emily Jones: I totally agree. Well, thank you, Nicole, so much for sharing your story and just sharing some of the things that you've learned along the way. 

Emily Jones: Is there anything that you would want to leave people with or anything you would want to say to encourage them or any advice that you would give them as they're going through their, their healing journey?  

Nicole Repecka: I mean, I think the biggest thing for me was to just kind of get. more comfortable with talking about it's just know I'm a mess still crying five years later talking about it, but you get comfortable, like even more comfortable crying. 

Nicole Repecka: I was never a crier before, but like expressing your emotions and kind of sitting with your emotions. Because when you try to push them away and that's what I always used to tell my therapist is the things that I don't want to talk about or the [00:38:00] things that I need to talk about. So, it. 

Nicole Repecka: It's not comfortable. It's not fun to talk about those things, but they're really the things that you need to get off your chest and that you need to talk about and accept yourself to kind of get through things. So that, that I guess would be my biggest advice that helped me the most is just kind of pushing through those uncomfortable moments and just talking about them anyways. 

Emily Jones: Yeah, yeah, I think that's great advice. And, for people that just. Consistently suppress or try to numb themselves from emotions and feelings over time that will manifest physically and a physical aches and pains and or it will bubble up and you won't be able to suppress it anymore. And we tend to see that a lot. 

Emily Jones: So I think that's great advice. It's hard. It's not fun. I started recording this podcast. I'd have to stop and start, I don't know, 20 times when I would just start telling my story and talking about it. But [00:39:00] now the more I talk about it, the easier it is to do that without being overcome by the emotion. 

Emily Jones: And so it is possible and it is helpful to help. Share your story. So thank you for doing that. I really enjoyed today. You're a beautiful person with a beautiful story, and I'm excited to see what's in store ahead for you for your future.  

Nicole Repecka: Thank you.  

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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 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 [00:40:00] 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 widow.com to learn more.  

BW 062- Gratitude in Grief

Nov 23, 2023