BW-056: From Grief to Grace: A Widow's Perspective on Finding StrengthNov 07, 2023
The Transcript is below.
Content warning: Death
A 35-year-old mother of three, who unexpectedly lost her beloved husband when he was just 38, as she shares her deeply personal journey of love, loss, and faith. Refusing to label herself as a widow, she instead celebrates her husband's promotion to heaven, describing him as the best husband and father, now watching over their family from above. Just 9 months into her grief-stricken journey, she opens up about leaning into her pain and finding strength and solace through her faith in God. Join her as she navigates the challenging path of survival and the occasional glimmer of thriving in the midst of her profound grief.
learning, learning a new skill and how can that help one with motivation, to with understanding that we're still here.
Just live the moments.
- Ask for help, but say how we feel.
- Journal and process the thoughts.
''We're going to be there one day. We don't know when, but he's just waiting for us.''''
''That we're here for his purpose, not for ours.''
''The moon doesn't have to be whole to still shine.''
''And alone is not a bad thing. I mean, people make it seem like being alone is going to be lonely. But it doesn't have to be. We can be by ourselves and then it just becomes an option if we want to have somebody else or not.''
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!
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Emily: [00:00:00] Hey, and welcome to episode _number 56_ of the Brave Widow show. Today I talk with Andrea Palacios, who is a young widow and mother of three. But before I introduce her, I want to remind you by now, you know, or you should know that we have a lot of live events and things happening here in the Brave Widow community.
They're free. They're educational. They're interactive. We make them as fun and informative as possible and I would love to see you there. The best way that you can know when the next one is and how you can get involved is by going to Bravewidow. com slash free F R E E
You can download available resources that I have that are absolutely free and join the email list.
And our email subscribers are the first people to hear about live events. Educational sessions, just all kinds of things that we have going on. And I would love for you to be part of that list. And I would love to see you there [00:01:00] and part of that community. All right, let me introduce Andrea. Andrea is a young widow and mother of three children.
When she lost her husband only nine months ago, her children were ages four and under, which is very hard. For me to wrap my mind around being in that particular situation, but she has a beautiful spirit and presence and story to share with you today. And I think she has some great insight, advice and encouragement.
For other young widows and mothers who are struggling in their first few months of grief. I am so pleasantly surprised and proud that Andrea is at a healing point where she can share her story. She wants to give back. She wants to help other widows. She's a beautiful person. I think you will agree. Let's dive in.
Thank you. Thank you.
Emily: Hey, everybody. Welcome back to another episode of The Brave Widow Show. I have with me Andrea Palacios, and she's probably going to say if I butchered her name or not and let us know how to pronounce it.
But I'm so excited to have her on the show today and to hear her story and the insights she has to share with you. So welcome. Thank you for coming on the show. Um, Andrea, and I'm so excited to have you here.
Andrea Palacious: Thank you for having me. It's an honor. I love your show. So
Emily Jones: Awesome. Well, I know our audience will want to know all about you.
So if you don't mind to tell us a little bit about who you are and your background, and then we can just jump into your story, wherever you want to start.[00:03:00]
Andrea Palacious: Okay. Um, I'm Andrea and you'd pronounce my name, right? So thank you. But, uh, so my story with my husband, I still call him my husband. Um, so we we've known each other for 12 years.
Uh, we got married 10 years ago. His name is Carlos. Um, how we met. So back 10 years ago when, uh, online dating was still a taboo. My friends recommended I, I could just join it and see how it goes. And I was like, no, you know what? That doesn't work for me. And I was on the match. com for like three days.
And then I was like, you know what, this doesn't work for me. But I kept on talking to him, like emailing. This is how far back it goes, right? So yes, we matched like right away. And the next thing, two years later, we were married. Um, the funniest thing is when he proposed, One, his best friend, they asked me, it's like, Hey, come on over.
Are you need to rub this lamp? Because they have a little girl and she wanted me to rub this lamp and ask for a wish. The funniest thing is that on [00:04:00] that wish, I was like, I want to marry him. And next thing I know he was proposing. I mean, that they opened the window and there he was like what? Exactly. So I was like, wow, that was amazing.
So now fast forward a little bit. We have three kids, five, three and one. The one year old, when she was born, a few weeks before she was born, we knew there was something, we just didn't know what it was. There was possible heart issues, a lot of things, right? Uh, when she was born, they said, okay, she's, she's okay.
She has Down syndrome, which we were expecting a lot worse. Um, but he was my strength. He was like, we were chosen, and I was like, yeah, we were, and that was okay, because I knew we were gonna be with that, like, together. Just for three months, when she was, when my baby was three months, I got to sleep. And, um, she wakes up, it's 3.
50 a. m., uh, she wakes up because she, like, you know, to eat. And I knew something was wrong, so I [00:05:00] touched him, and when I turned him, I woke up. But in the dream, I knew he was gone. That was my dream. Three months later, that's exactly what happened. It was 3. 50 a. m., she woke up to, to eat. And this time it wasn't a dream.
It was real. I, I guess I was just like checking on him because I had the dream and after that I was just like, Oh my God, this is, I was afraid that was coming. And it did. I mean, like any widow journey, I'm only 35 years old. So I was like, uh, how do we do this? Because a lot of the people that I know, well, none of them have gone through this.
And the widows that I know are like probably 70, 80 years old. So So it wasn't relatable. I got myself a grief mentor. I went to get a financial advisor because I, out of the questions I had, it was how I was going to run my finances. And we were talking about finances for like 10 minutes. And then we started talking about grief for five hours.
So I asked him to be my grief mentor. That [00:06:00] was probably the best decision I've had, I've done after my husband passed. He has kind of guided me through like the stages and we've had the deep conversations, like I don't see a purpose in life now. Um, but what, like talking to him, it has helped me. See a little bit of that light.
He's very close to God. Uh, and that's one of the things I'm working on how to get closer to God and he kind of has walked me through a little bit on how this. was part of God's plan, as messed up as I think it is, and I still think it's messed up, but there is a purpose and I'm starting to see it.
So my husband was 38, healthy guy, um, no symptoms, nothing. He just went to sleep. Well, it turns out three months later, I found out that it was a heart condition that we weren't aware of, that now I have to get my kids tested because it's genetic. So maybe he's saving one of the kids. A little bit about [00:07:00] my story.
Emily Jones: Yeah, that's a tough one. And I think about your Comment on. Oh, it's hard to think about. Oh, was this God's plan and how I've had to think about it is God's plan wasn't ever for us to die. Like his plan was that we would live here on earth. But because of what happened with Adam and Eve or their sin in the world.
Now there's death, their separation, things that we weren't Originally created to experience and because there's free will and because we're in this broken world, that means bad things can happen. And so for me, sometimes it's hard to reconcile. Well, God intervenes sometimes and sometimes performs miracles and then other times he doesn't so it's hard to understand that difference of, okay, well, why didn't he, you know, come in and save the day in this situation, but in other times he does, but I think to your point, it's [00:08:00] requires us to have faith to say, you know, this is what has happened and maybe that wasn't The original intended plan, but that doesn't mean that my life is over and that something beautiful can't come out of something terrible and bad that happened, um, is just kind of how I think about that
Andrea Palacious: fully agree. And the thing is, I mean, if you had asked me this 8 months ago, I would be like, no way. How is this God's purpose? And I don't think that is the purpose, but there is something bigger. I mean, he knows I don't, but he does. Um, so I just have faith that. She'll guide me through it.
Emily Jones: Yeah. And how, so how old were your kids, at the time that he died?
Andrea Palacious: Four, two and six months.
Emily Jones: Four, two and six months. And what has that been like having children so young and seeing how they grieve or seeing how they, have acted, you know, since he was gone? What has that been like for you?
Andrea Palacious: Well, it's been nuts. I mean, having three kids [00:09:00] with your, with your husband, this crazy, a lot of chaos, uh, just trying solo is just a lot more.
Um, we talk about that every single day. Like, there is not a day that we don't bring him up in the conversation. Uh, for us, he is that. It's not like he was your dad. He is your dad. Because. I just think he's home. I mean, we're going to be with him again. So he was a great dad and he is a great dad.
He was just waiting for us on the other side. So we talk about him every single day. Uh, we have videos, we sing songs. Uh, there's a little prayer that it says like, Hey. We're going to be with you and with that so that is, he's, that's what I tell my kids. He's, he's in our hearts and he is home.
We're going to be there one day. We don't know when, but he's just waiting for us. So the grief on that age is they don't fully comprehend what that means, which in a way it helps because I'm dealing with my grief. [00:10:00] Not so much theirs, because they don't fully comprehend what that means.
And at that same moment, it kind of teaches me like, they don't fully comprehend because they don't understand how long it may be. Because when I think about it, he may be just only a second away. We just don't know what second that might be. And the kids don't know that. So the eternity for them, that's why it doesn't hurt to them as much as it hurts for us.
That we're like fully grown and we think like, Oh my God, I'm going to be missing my husband, like forever, forever, maybe just a second away. So I'm trying my best every second.
Emily Jones: Yeah, that's true. That, that definitely, it's hard, right. To think about your, you are very young and to think about 50 plus years without your husband physically here.
Um, that's. A hard concept to wrap your mind around or to think about now you have to create a new life [00:11:00] and maybe you're trying to figure out who you are now and what you want to do and what your purpose is. Do you want to talk a little bit about uncovering, finding your purpose or maybe some things that you're passionate about that you're excited about now?
Andrea Palacious: So, you know, that's, that's actually funny you ask that because, um, that was the last conversation we had with my grief mentor like a week ago. I was like, okay, I'm, I think I'm over that aspect of getting, um, like the stuff that you have to deal with, like dealing with that, right? Like all the paperwork and all that.
So now that I'm not busy doing that, I'm like, what is the purpose, right? Especially because. When you have the partner, you have so many goals and so many dreams that you want to do together. Um, was talking about, about this with him and then I was like, we, we are so focused on what is our purpose. This is just me.
This is probably just me thinking that, Oh my God, I want to be like the second mother of Teresa or the second [00:12:00] Elon Musk, because I love space. So, uh,
Emily Jones: but it's amazing.
Andrea Palacious: , and we're just so focused on that thinking that we need to build this dramatic empire, uh, because we think that's our purpose and in that we forget.
That we're here for his purpose, not for ours. And we forget that maybe just living our lives, like how he created us, maybe just one word could change the life of somebody else. And we don't even know that maybe that was our purpose. So I think just being us. Let him work through us and fulfill his purpose instead of us trying to make this dramatic, uh, saving somebody's life, like jumping on in front of a train just to save somebody's life.
Uh, because I used to say, like in my bucket list, it was always like save somebody's life, like with a dramatic entrance like that.
Emily Jones: Yes. Put on the super cape and swoop in and save their life. Yeah,
Andrea Palacious: exactly. Um. Maybe we're [00:13:00] saving somebody's life just by the way we're living ours, and maybe God is putting us through this journey to help others, just by living this journey.
Emily Jones: Yeah, I, oh my gosh, you just said that in such a beautiful way. The first one being that our life, as crazy as it sounds, may not be about us. It may be about what his purpose and intent was with creating us and then being able to make a positive influence or to save someone's life may not have that dramatic entrance.
I just talked to a widow a couple hours ago and she was telling me. She started sharing her story on TikTok and she started, you know, just kind of sharing the journey of mental health and PTSD and veterans and how they need to get help. And she's had people send her all kinds of messages and say, Hey, my husband saw your video.
He realizes that if he doesn't get help, he may. You know, be in a position where he commits suicide or he, you know, gets to [00:14:00] that place. So she's like, they have told her you saved his life because he acknowledges he needs to get help. And you think, well, that's amazing that she got that feedback. But a lot of times we don't know.
We make that kind of a difference in someone's life. It's not this big, dramatic thing. It's, it's a message on social media, you know?
Andrea Palacious: Yes.
Emily Jones: Yeah. So that's, that's crazy. But, Now, a question I have for you because if you guys are just listening and you're not seeing this video, you're missing out because Andrea has this beautiful smile and this beautiful presence and I know that there's going to be people listening that You know, nine months after they lose their spouse, they're still really struggling in the sadness and despair and feeling like life is over what hope or, um, what would you say to someone who's in that situation that thinks, how can I ever laugh again or smile again or find a sense of purpose?
Like, how [00:15:00] did you get over that hurdle?
Andrea Palacious: Oh, I'm still in the journey, I'm not over that. And I don't think I'll ever be, I think it's something we will carry with us. It's just, it transforms over time. I don't think it's something we move on from, right? Um, I think the biggest thing is leaning into it. just let the feelings come in and feel the feelings.
every night I give myself some time to just talk to him and cry. That's, that's my night routine. Uh, part of my night routine. I give myself a few minutes, well, at least 15 minutes to just talk to him and just be with him in a different way. Um, it helps me because I acknowledge that he's with me, but somewhere else.
But at the same time, it gives me some time to understand and process my own feelings. Um, I think that's one of the biggest things and mean, my, my advice three months ago would have been different than what my advice is now, right? It's just grief has its [00:16:00] stages and it's messy. very messy and it hurts.
It hurts a lot. So I couldn't say that I'm smiling all the time. I just, I have my good moments and I have my okay moments and I have my sucky moments and that's okay. That's okay. And sometimes we try to show, uh, that we're okay and it's okay if we're not okay. Uh, that's the biggest thing. Uh, but leaning into it, just acknowledging that it hurts a lot.
And being okay with that, if it hurts one day and not as much as the other, it's okay. It's part of it. Right now, at the stage where I'm at, and it's, it's been nine months, so I still have a lot to learn. Um, but right now, one of the things that is helping me a lot is putting my mind into something.
Now, with that, I'm not saying... Stop grieving or just getting busy, um, not having the time to process the thoughts, uh, but it's learning, learning a new skill and how can that help one with [00:17:00] motivation, uh, to with understanding that we're still here. We're still here for something. We may not know what the purpose is, um, but just making the best out of the time we're here because we don't know if we're going to be here tomorrow.
We're just dreading the idea of living our lives without, without our loved ones forever and forever, maybe just one day. So just take advantage of that day. That's, I think, just live the moment.
Emily Jones: Well, and that's, I mean, that's all really that we can do and the good news is we appreciate each day more and each moment more maybe than we did before.
We lost our person because we understand all of that can change in an instant. So how has it been like having support? I mean, my goodness, three children, four and under.
What's your support been like? Are your people that are around you?
Andrea Palacious: That's, that has been [00:18:00] huge. I mean, my family, my sister even moved five minutes away from me uh, just to be able to help out. My support system has been super helpful. My family, uh, friends, and what I would suggest if Somebody's listening and they don't have a strong support system, try to find one through the widow group, through the church, through something, uh, people care.
Maybe not the ones that are right in front of us, but you can find somebody that will care. Doing it by myself, it could have been impossible. I mean, the first four months I actually moved into my parents' house because I was just a big mess. I couldn't keep it together. Uh, it was really hard for me to just be with the three kids by myself, which before December could have been okay, , but just the idea of, Hey, I'm gonna have to do this, like, Solo, uh, just, it was too much.
It was overwhelming. And then I realized it's not solo. I have a lot of help. [00:19:00] My family, my parents, my sister, my friends, my grief mentor. Uh, my, my husband's family, they're all hurting too, but they are helping. And that is, if it wasn't for them, the story would be like a lot more, I don't know, you know, a mess.
Emily Jones: Yeah, that's awesome that you had really good family support because I know a lot of people don't have that experience. But you're so right that there are people out there who care and sometimes it's the people that you never really would have thought of or that you hadn't anticipated who show up in a big way.
What would you say to, let's say a family member or a friend is listening and they want to know how can they help someone who's a widow or somebody who's now trying to raise kids on their own? Like, what was the most helpful thing for you?
Andrea Palacious: That's a tricky question. Because, I mean, I'm the type of person that I don't ask for help.
A lot of, even my own family, [00:20:00] they're like, what can we help with? And I'm like, I don't, I don't know, because they just haven't been on my shoes and I don't expect them to know. Right, but if we're not open and vulnerable and say, hey. Today it sucks. They're not going to know. They haven't been in our shoes.
Right? Like today. Today is nine months. Right? And, uh, my little son, I mean, he's five and his teacher, he gave me a cake and a hug just because you remember it. She didn't have to say anything. And I was like, I know, you know, but if we don't open ourselves. To not necessarily ask for help, but say how we feel, and this is something I struggle with, so I'm probably, I'm sure that if my family sees this, they're gonna be like, what are you preaching if you don't do that?
But I think just letting them see how we are doing, like, authentically, even though I'm really bad at that, but just [00:21:00] giving them a little hint of, yeah, today hurts. That's probably enough. And for us, like the widows, I think it's just not taking personal. Like if somebody doesn't remember or mentioned that today's nine months or things like that, it's, it's our journey, not theirs.
Yeah, I, I completely agree and I think widows are all really mostly bad about asking for help or saying they need help and the sad thing is there are a lot of people who want to help, but they don't know how and widows want help, but they don't want to ask for it or sometimes they don't even want to accept it.
They're like, no, I'm good. I'm fine. I can do this on my own. So thank you for sharing that because I think it's a great reminder for people that It's okay to say that you need help, it's okay that, you know, you want additional support, especially when you're struggling and you're grieving and you're having just a bad [00:22:00] day.
And, um, a lot of times that may be all you need to say, like, it's just a really bad day today or I'm, I'm struggling. So,
Yes. I mean, there are some days that are better than others, right? Um, family and support system, and even people that we just work with, they're not going to guess. So, and we, we shouldn't expect them to guess.
Yeah, absolutely. Well, what other tips or piece of advice would you give someone who's a young widow, they've got kids, they're trying to rediscover who they want to be and what kind of life they want to live? What encouragement or advice would you leave those people with?
So many! So through the first few months, I think it's just take care of the stuff because that's in your head.
That's just in your head and it messes you up. Journal and process the thoughts [00:23:00] because it helps you understand where you are and where you want to go eventually. The other thing is just feel the feelings, just People be okay with being vulnerable. And I don't mean like, go, go to work and cry every day.
But if somebody asked you, like, how are you doing? You don't need to say you're good. If you're not just. So you're coping. That's what I usually say, like, I'm hanging. I'm just hanging. That's okay. I mean, like, you know, sometimes it, it kind of hurts when you walk in the room and you're like the young widow.
So everybody goes either quiet or start whispering, like, I should do it. Uh, and when we are a little bit more open, uh, and more vulnerable, people are more willing to help. Or just to sit and just talk and just listen to what we want to say or just be with us in silent, which is sometimes just the best thing.
And the other thing that I've [00:24:00] realized a lot is in a lot of the support groups, especially for young widows like me is a lot of them talk about just finding a new love. I'm not looking for a new love. No, like, no. Because if I go, I could be comparing to my husband, like, all the time. So, I just want to be at peace with being alone.
And alone is not a bad thing. I mean, people make it seem like being alone is going to be lonely. But it doesn't have to be. We can be by ourselves and then it just becomes an option if we want to have somebody else or not. That's where I want to be. I just want to be okay by myself and I'm working towards that.
Like, for example, now at night I work a lot on learning a new skill, which for some reason is remodeling my bathroom, but, or just breaking my house apart. That's what it's more like. It's just understanding that we can be okay by ourselves, uh, and learning how the new lifestyle is going to be okay.
Because after [00:25:00] all, we're not by ourselves, we're still with them. They are just in a different environment, let's call it like that. But that doesn't mean that they are fully gone, they are still with us. I still feel my husband sometimes, pretty much every day, and sometimes he even jokes with me, because I let him, because I let that love transform.
To a new way of how we're going to communicate with each other. Sometimes he doesn't respond because, well, he's in heaven and that's okay. But I still talk to him. It's just being okay. I'm not rushing into like, I gotta be okay. And knowing that what works for some people, like for the new widows funding, new love, it may work for some others.
That's not my thing for me. It's just, I want to be okay by myself. I want to feel that first I can do this. Which we can, I mean, that's one of the biggest thing about widowhood is we're a lot stronger than what we thought, which is insane. But that strength [00:26:00] comes, at least for me, I believe that strength comes from God.
So that is one thing, just recognizing that it's OK if we're not OK. And recognizing what we want to be for our own journey, because we are, everybody is in a unique journey. Um, and it's okay if ours doesn't look like a lot of the rest of the young widows. That's okay.
Emily Jones: Yeah, I agree. At first, for me, I started dating or wanting to date earlier on, I think more out of loneliness and just wanting to have that companion to do life with.
Um, but then I really focused on... What you said of being happy in having a life that if you were to never be with anyone again, or never be remarried, that you would still be happy with the life that you have, and that you're really creating a life that supports you, your children, your family, and that you're excited about, and then maybe if you want to share the And [00:27:00] add to that life with another person, that's an option for you, but it's not about filling a hole or replacing something that isn't there anymore.
So I think that's an excellent point.
Andrea Palacious: Exactly. And right now, I mean, my focus is my kiddos and myself. I mean, I'm still going through this journey and I think it's a journey for life because we're always going to miss him. But there's one thing I've read and I really love is again, because I love space, is the moon doesn't have to be whole to still shine.
No, hold on. Well, something like that. Even when the moon is not full, it still shines. And I think that's true for us as well. And we're always going to miss them. And I think that hole is always going to be there. But we're going to learn how to live with it. And I'm still in the process because it still hurts.
And it sucks every day. But just knowing that they will be with us and we will be okay. Just in a different way.
Emily Jones: Yes, and in your own way, you're shining a beautiful light. And words of encouragement for other people who are going, struggling and really having a rough [00:28:00] time. So I'm super grateful that you came to share your story and what has helped you along the way.
So thank you for doing that.
Andrea Palacious: Oh, no, thank you for having me. I really appreciate that.
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.
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