BW 076: Embracing Resilience: Journeys Beyond LossDec 27, 2023
The Transcript is below.
Content warning: accident. Anxiety, depression, death
In today's episode, we have a special guest, Jess Jones, an executive assistant from Virginia. Jess will be sharing her personal journey as a widow, reflecting on 17 years of marriage, the sudden loss of her husband in a car accident, and the ongoing process of rebuilding their lives.
Episode Highlights: Join Jess as she delves into the challenges and triumphs of single parenthood, raising her two incredible children—a son aged 11 and a daughter aged 14. Alongside them in this journey is their loyal canine companion, a source of comfort in the face of adversity.
Discover the strength in the mundane as Jess navigates the intricacies of daily life, finding ways to make it work despite the challenges. From school pickups to family dinners, each moment carries the weight of their shared history and the resilience that propels them forward.
- Find support
- I encourage the therapy though. I think that it's, it, it works for everybody.
- Accept help
''when I saw the grief therapist, she told me something, she told me a lot of very interesting things about grief.
But, one of the things that she explained, actually, I think it was during my son's appointment and she just explained the emotions that are, that everybody's going to go through during the grief process. She drew them, she wrote all of them out. I think there are five, and, She said, there are going to be days where you guys are going to be really sad and cry, or there's going to be days where you're going to be really mad at each other for no reason.
And it's not going to make much sense, but you're just going to lash out and you have to have, lot of forgiveness for each other. And you have to recognize that it's coming from a place of grief and not coming from a place of true anger.''
''Your neighbors, your family, and your friends, if they're offering to help take it, it's sometimes some people are have too much pride and they don't want to take it or they're just used to doing things on their own or having a lot of control in their lives.''
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
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Emily Jones: [00:00:00] Hey, and welcome to episode number 76 of the brave widow show today. I talk with Jess Jones. No, I don't think there's any relation there, but yeah, I talk with Jess and she is going to share her story on the show today. And before we dive into her story, I just. Want to put a little something in your ear give you a little something to think about we've just had Christmas and Maybe in fact you are busy with so many plans or doing something different that you're listening to this a much later time Either way, it's still relevant But at the time of this podcast, we've just had Christmas.
We are maneuvering through all of the holidays and for some of us, that's really, really a hard, difficult time. And for others, it may be bittersweet. For [00:01:00] others, it may be full of love and gratitude and a wonderful time with family and friends. None of those is wrong, but what I want you to think about as we move into 2024, as we move into the future of this new year, and what that means and what that can mean for you, is I really want 2024 to be your year.
To be the year that you are able to move forward, to be the year that you're able to get your feet underneath you, to be the year that you start creating dreams again, you start building a life again, a life that you can be happy to have a life full of joy and positivity and hope and things that [00:02:00] excite you again.
And as I share those things with you, I have to just sit back and think for a minute, because it's amazing to me sometimes still that less than a year ago, I still was trying to find myself in this new world. I still was wondering, is it possible? To live a life where every good experience and good memory and good milestone isn't ruined by sadness, isn't ruined by the fact that there's a bitter voice in my ear saying, Well, yeah, that's good.
That's good for you. That happened. But Nathan isn't here. Your person isn't here. It doesn't matter. I believe that it was possible. I had no idea how I didn't know how I was going to get it. From there to here where I am today, but I can proudly sit [00:03:00] in front of you on this microphone and tell you that now I do live a life full of joy and hope and excitement.
And yes, there are still moments where I do miss my person. I do miss being able to talk to Nathan for him to. Not be able to see his kiddos as they're growing up and driving and doing all those things that teenagers do as they hit different milestones, of course, there are occasionally those moments, but grief no longer has.
Uncontrollable power over me. I'm not volatile like I was in those early days. And there are so much joy and gratitude and hope and excitement. And it's just incredible to me that I can look back and vividly remember exactly [00:04:00] how I felt. A year ago, versus how I can sit here in front of you today and give you hope that even if you're wondering how it could be possible, how that would be possible for you and your future.
To reassure you that it is, it is possible to build a life of hope and joy and dreams and excitement and plans and a life where you're doing things. You really never had even dreamed of, because maybe for whatever reason It's something that you and your person wouldn't have wanted to do together. Maybe they wouldn't have wanted to do.
You didn't even know that you were interested in. So much about widowhood is finding our new identity, creating the person that we want to become, figuring out who this new version of us is. And that can be so confusing. [00:05:00] Like. In many ways, I know the core of who I am is the same, but in a lot of ways, I have changed so much.
I've changed so much in these two and a half years, and it's just incredible to think how much this changes every widow that I've spoken to. And so before we dive into Jess's story, which I believe you're gonna thoroughly enjoy, I just want you to start thinking about this new And not being intimidated by it, not dreading it as another year gone by without your person, but with the.
Perspective of hope that it's a new year. There's hope for you. It could be a new chapter in your story. It could be new opportunities, new dreams, new hobbies, new habits. It could be mean so many things for you. And it can [00:06:00] really be exciting if you allow it to be that. So. I would love for you to join me and the Brave Widow membership community as I walk side by side with so many amazing, brave, generous widows, as we purposefully move forward this year towards rediscovery, towards hope and purpose.
And intention, and I can't wait to get back behind this microphone a year later, and to be able to share with you all of the things that we accomplished and how it has impacted so many people's lives. And I want you to be 1 of the people that I'm able to speak about. So. Please consider joining us in the Brave Widow membership community and take this journey with us this year.[00:07:00]
I I'm so confident that you are going to be able to accomplish more than you ever even knew was possible just by taking these steps forward. You don't have to walk this journey alone. This doesn't have to be an isolating experience. You can walk side by side with other widows who care about you, who will pour into you, who will be there for you.
It's Truly an amazing community and experience. So you can join the brave widow membership community by going to brave widow. com slash join J O I N. And I would love to see you there. All right, let's dive in to Jess's story.
Emily Jones: Welcome to The Brave Widow Podcast. I'm your host, Emily Jones. We help young widows heal their heart, find hope, and dream again for the [00:08:00] future.
Hey, hey, welcome to another episode of the brave widow show today. I have a special guest. Jess Jones, and even though we made sure the last name, we did not plan on wearing the same color of shirt, but if you're watching on video, you'll notice we both decided to wear green today, but just thank you for coming on the show today and welcome.
Jess Jones: Thank you for having me.
Emily Jones: Absolutely. So I know our audience would love to know a little bit about you, about your story and your background. So if you don't mind, I would love for you to share that with them.
Jess Jones: Sure. My name is Jess Jones. I am an executive assistant. I live in Virginia and I was married to my husband for 17 years before he was killed in a car accident.
I have, we have two wonderful children. My son is 11 and my daughter is 14. And, [00:09:00] um, and now we have a dog. Um, but, uh, we're just making, making it work as we can.
Emily Jones: Yeah, in 17 years, my goodness, I know I was married, um, right one month before 20 years and that's a lifetime, especially, you know, I just turned 40.
So that was like, Oh, half of my life at the time. Yeah, was being,
Jess Jones: we were, we were best friends for like 9 years before we actually started dating. So we. It feels like it's been even longer than, you know, it's, it's been forever. Yeah. Well, yeah.
Emily Jones: And you kind of grow up together and, um, I think you really struggle then in finding identity after, but tell us, um, a little bit about your, you know, relationship with your spouse or maybe, uh, a little bit more about what happened either during or after the time that you lost him.
Jess Jones: Sure. Eric and I were best friends for a long, long time. And we eventually gave in and [00:10:00] started dating and, um, had a really great marriage we, I think because we based it on our friendship, it was, you know. I mean, obviously we were in love with each other, but we had such a, he was my everything. He was my best friend and my spouse and my, um, and the father of my children, which is, and he was really good at that.
So, um, there's definitely a big hole missing in that, um, part of my life, obviously, In November of 2021, he had We had just actually recovered from covid really bad covid. It was took us out for a long time. And, um, it was his 1st day out of the house. And he decided to go to a thrift store, which he loved to do.
And, um, so he called me on the phone to say that he was just. Getting ready to take the exit to our house and that he would be there in 20 minutes because I was taking the kids to, uh, a trampoline park and I needed my car. He had my car, um, and I didn't really want to take his work truck, but I did tell the kids if dad's not back in, you [00:11:00] know, like 45 minutes, we'll just empty out all his tools and we'll just take the work truck.
I was, you know, powerful mom then. And so, um, He didn't call. I tried to call him several times to find out like status. Where are you? Because it just kept taking longer and longer for him to get home and he wasn't answering the phone. Um, I started feeling a little sick. And then, I got the, I did. I loaded the kids up in the truck because I didn't want them to be concerned.
And I just, um, we all went to the trampoline park. We get to the trampoline park and the manager looks at me and says, ma'am, are you okay? You don't look like you're feeling very well. Do you want a bottle of water? And I said, no, sorry. Just, I really want to get out of here. Um, because I still couldn't get a hold of Eric 3 minutes later after my, um.
After the manager came up to me, the neighbor across the street called and said the state police were at my house. And, um, she said, uh, they just need you to come home right now. And I said, okay, so I packed up the kids and, we pulled in the driveway and sure enough, there were 2 or 3 state [00:12:00] police cars in my driveway.
And, um, I get out of the car. I tell the kids to go directly into the house, but I got out of the car and they informed me that, that Eric didn't that he died in a car accident. He died. He was, it was a single car car accident. We had a, uh, he blew a donut tire, I can't think of what it's called right now.
Like a spare tire. A spare tire. Yeah. There was a spare tire on the front, right? And it, he was taking a turn and it, it all lost control. So, it was. A really bad night. It was a really long night because my kids were in the window of the front of the house staring at me wondering what is why the police are talking to mom.
And my daughter was really concerned because she had also tried to call my husband and he never ignored her calls and he didn't answer. So I think she kind of knew. Um, but I eventually came in the house and, sat with them and, um, I don't know how I kept it together. I was going to say,
Emily Jones: how did you find the strength to, you know, try to absorb the gravity of the information they gave you and then turn around and have to walk inside where you knew your [00:13:00] kids were waiting?
Jess Jones: My 1st initial reaction to them telling me that Eric had passed away in the car accident was with pure rage. It was, I don't know where it came from and I don't know. It was, I was mad at Eric for being in the car with a donut. I was mad at him for making a turn when he shouldn't have or maybe too fast.
I was angry at the police for bringing me news that I didn't want to hear. They had offered to go in and sit with my kids and I. Said some things I probably shouldn't have and told him. No. Um, I did have 2 neighbor friends here. 1 was a police officer and 1 is, my girlfriend's husband and they were here to help me kind of in case something in case I lost it.
But I, I have this thing inside me that, um, when there's an emergency, whether it be, you know, a kid fell and broke his arm or whatever it is. I just have this calm inside me that it's like a. Uh, an adrenaline response, I don't know what it is, but so I, I did call my best friend who happens to be a widow also, and she was on her way over.
And [00:14:00] so I wanted to tell the kids before everybody descended on the house. And I just kind of pulled up my boots and did it. It was not fun and they were devastated. It was awful. And then we all kind of balled together. I feel like that. I think that was the 1st moment that I let tears fall. And how how old were your kids at the time?
Nine and nine and twelve. Yeah. And my son and my husband were to get, I mean, they were not, not to say that he didn't love my daughter the same way, but he just, he and my son were , very close. So he took it really terribly. It was awful. And my daughter was a mess and it was just, it, you know, the kids, I feel like I've been able to survive this because of my kids, because I have to be.
Um, strong for my kids.
Emily Jones: Yeah. So what were those next few, you know, weeks? What did that look like for, you know, the three of you?
Jess Jones: Well, part of it is like, you know, I feel like I was in this haze of this things that [00:15:00] were happening around me. Funeral was being planned, which I did plan, but I had a lot of help.
Um, My brother in law, the pastor, and he was really helpful in that regard, just leading, leading the direction in that. but I had my inputs and then my sister flew here from Michigan and, um, I, it was just a, it was, but it was a blur of, um, people in my house. And, um, I did take short term disability from work, uh, for quite a while, I think two months because I just was not in my right mind.
I couldn't, I couldn't function in an office setting or talk to people about work things. So one of the things that those next couple of days I did was work with HR, which everybody who's lost someone knows the administrative part of, of, of a death is. Huge, you know, the getting the death certificates and canceling the subscriptions and but talking to HR and getting all that settled and it was awful.
But, um, I wish I could say I remember a lot more of [00:16:00] it. I just know it was a blur. I, the day of the funeral was, uh, I think it was 7 days later and I, um, I just didn't want to get dressed. I didn't, I mean, I didn't want to, I just was, I remember saying to myself, do you think anybody would care if I went in my pajamas and didn't brush my hair?
Like, would they really have the nerve to say something to me? I don't think they would, but my mom was a little bit more encouraging and just was like, you know, you can do it and get dressed. And so I did and I made it, but I don't, I can't tell you who was at the funeral.
Emily Jones: Right. Yeah, it's such, it's so interesting how our brains work, where it really puts us in this fog or like this haze, and it takes so much energy just to do any one little thing that we're just trying to survive, much less Have a lot of memories or much more
Jess Jones: entertain people.
Like, I felt like that, the funeral was it was beautiful. And we did my kid's, my kid, my kids helped the planning too. And they, [00:17:00] they put in some personal, um, parts of the funeral, my sister, I mean my daughter wrote a poem and my, uh, my son picked the music for the slide show. And, um, it was. It was moving was really, really moving and they were good.
They their request was that they had their best friend sit with them at the funeral on that. Um, well, my that was my daughter's request and she did. She had 2 of her closest friends with her and we had a really great support system of the neighborhood. I, I am so blessed in where I live. My family, my friends here are, they're so great.
They did a food train, you know, the whole bit. Um, but those. It, once the, once it settled down, once the funeral was over and everybody kind of went back to their homes and, um, you know, a few weeks later, I could, I could definitely see that we were going to have to do some, um, create a new normal for our, the three of us.
Yeah. And that was going to be. A little tough because I was struggling a little bit mentally, and then, um, I didn't [00:18:00] really know I was so busy doing all the administrative stuff that it's kind of hard to focus on the kids, which is sad to say, but it is there's just so much to get done. Um, but we did do it in, um.
In March of that year, so I went back to work January 18th and then February 1st, my, um. My employer had announced that they were laying off a large ton of people, um, which was a little devastating at first, but then they'd offered this wonderful severance package. And so I, um, I consider this a blessing, but, um, I took the severance package and I took the thing and I, I was off work for 6 months.
And during those 6 months, the kids and I literally created our new normal. We went on vacations together. We did therapy. We did, um, I had the house repainted. I mean, I just, we just all kind of pitched in to sort of figure out where we fit in the picture. Um, the summer was. It was great considering, um, we did lots of one [00:19:00] on lots of trips together.
I did some with one kid and some with another kid and some with us all together and we made great memories and I'm just so thankful that I was able to have that, that time because not everybody gets that.
Emily Jones: Yeah. Yeah. And, uh, that is to your point, such a great blessing. And I think it's important that you started to make new memories and started to go places together, because I think that does help when you're making those new memories and not necessarily trying to live the same life that you've always had, which
Jess Jones: is hard.
It is hard.
Emily Jones: So you lost your husband in November and school is in full swing and you have holidays right after that. And
Jess Jones: how was,
Emily Jones: how were things with your kids going back to school and getting back into that routine?
Jess Jones: I made the mistake of making them go back to school too quickly. Initially. Um, I let them [00:20:00] have, obviously they were off for the funeral and they were off.
Between the day that he died and the funeral. Um, and then I think I let them have a couple more days, but I, I said, then I, then I was like, okay, we got to, we really got to get back in the saddle and we got to go back to school. And, you know, I got to, we got to do stuff and, um, it didn't, it didn't go. Well, my son was an emotional wreck at school.
He was in 4th grade at the time. And, um, the teacher would report that he would just lay his head down on the desk and just stare out at the window. Whatever. Nothingness. Um, my daughter was having panic attacks in the bathroom and texting and calling me on my phone to come pick her up. And, she wouldn't, she was refusing to go to school.
Um, but I decided then it would be best to pull them out for another, at least week, of which I did, um, because it was, it was too raw. Um, the school, the elementary school was wonderful. They, um, they, the principal [00:21:00] who I, who I really love, she came to me and said, we have, we put together a team between the psychologist, the, you know, the social worker, the, his school counselor that he really loved.
Um, and we are here to support Russell, no matter whatever the ups and downs are, um, and they were, they were amazing. Uh, they were very informative to me throughout the day to let me know what his mood was like. And, um, so I was able to go and get him if I needed to, or encourage him if I needed to. And everybody and the other thing is Russell, my son had a stipulation that, um, he didn't want anybody to talk to him about it, the dad, the death, the, any of it.
So the principal somehow got that word around the school. So there were no, none of the faculty members or the, even the students really said. Anything to him about it. It was, you know, Russell really appreciated that. Um, my daughter, she, uh, just had a really rough year. She refused to go to therapy [00:22:00] and, um, I couldn't, I, well, that's not true.
I, the school counselors at the middle school level are a little different than they are at the elementary school level. They do scheduling, at least here, they do scheduling and they can do some talking if you're, if you're uncomfortable. But, um, when they brought her in for the first time, they were a little too.
So I heard your dad died. If you have anything you want to talk about, come, come chat with me. And she was a little put off. I think she was just angry. I, you know, everybody gets that goes through that phase. And, um, so she was very turned off by the thought of therapy, because I did bring her to a grief therapist and it's grief therapist kind of did the same thing.
She just hammered right in with the dad stuff right in the beginning. And I was in the room and I thought, oh, this isn't going to go well. So, um, yeah. Unfortunately, Carly was a little bit more difficult to kind of help in that regard. Um, my son went to therapy, grief therapy. We started kind of right away and he loved it and he loved the therapist and he went from [00:23:00] November or December to May.
And then when may hit the weather, it was nice. He wanted to ride his bike with his friends and the therapist said, Hey man, that vitamin D is going to be better for him than I am. And as long as he's doing good in school and he's not having these bouts of like, you know, anger or crying, then he's. Let him ride his bike.
So, but my daughter stayed in that bubble of anxiety and depression. Um, we tried to take her to a physical in during the year and she cried through the whole thing and wouldn't let them touch her. Um, she just, she just broke down. And then the doctor, the pediatrician at the time said, I think it'd be best for her if she went on a little bit of medication.
So we started to
Emily Jones: be really hard as a mom, just watching your kids struggle and, and getting notified from the school or from physicians that, you know, they're really. Having a difficult time. Um, did that interfere with your own grief and your, your ability to [00:24:00] feel like you can focus on you and what you wanted to process when you're also worrying about
Jess Jones: them?
Yeah, because I don't, you know, I have these days where something will come up and I'll just start crying out of the blue. Um, so I, I feel like in some ways I do process the grief, but, but. Other times I'm so concerned about my kids, especially when, during the heat of all that, um, or even now with grades or just being a single parent is a totally different thing that I forget to grieve myself or to take time for myself.
I have intentionally done things like on our anniversary. I will, I, I rent a tiny house. I've done it twice now. I rent a tiny house and I go on like a guided hike, um, and I'm gone for two days and it, it's just me, you know, it's my Zen time to be with Eric in spirit. Um, And I've seen signs, you know, it's been a lovely adventure on those 2, 2 anniversaries, but, um, it is hard to focus on me when I have the kids all the time.
I have, um. [00:25:00] Lovely in my in laws are just amazing and they live close by and my mom and dad are just awesome and they don't live too, too far. And so when I need a break, they will take the kids for the weekend or days or however long I need them to. Um, but it is, yeah, it's. I don't know that I've ever really just lost it.
I feel like it's going to come though.
Emily Jones: Yeah. Yeah. It, it probably will. And, uh, to your point, I don't think that means that you're not processing or you're not moving forward because you obviously are, but I think sometimes it is hard to feel like you can just be, and you can just focus on you and not have to worry about, you know, them or their schedule or, Oh, I got to dry my eyes before three, you know?
Um, And all that
Jess Jones: in the beginning I would, what was my body was waking up every morning at five o'clock and I would cry from five to seven on the couch in the living room because my son was sleeping in my husband's side of the bed. And, um, I just had to get it out and I don't know what it was. [00:26:00] It was just my body's way of releasing.
I think all of the, the, the things that had been going on. So that felt really good. And then eventually once we started, um, the therapy side of things, I didn't, um, I didn't feel that need so much anymore. I did see a therapist too for a little while. Um, and I just, wasn't too, too long.
It was a couple of months. I felt like she was pretty much coaching me on how to get how to be a single parent. And I don't know that I was necessarily ready for that. So I just kind of said. Um, so I encourage the therapy though. I think that it's, it, it works for everybody.
I mean, it doesn't necessarily work for everybody. Not everybody's comfortable doing it, but it's definitely, gosh, it's definitely, um, was a healthier thing. And I, I got a recommendation on a therapist from neighbors. Um, that's the hardest part. I think about therapy is finding the right fit for you.
Emily Jones: It is.
And I always recommend to people where they can to find somebody that has walked in their [00:27:00] shoes or somebody that really understands, you know, if you're going for grief, then try to find someone who really personally understands what it's like to lose someone they love. And even if it's not a spouse or a parent, um, depending on your situation, to me, it's always easier to explain things and to get mutual understanding from someone who in some way.
can understand the gravity of what you're walking through or, you know, what you're trying to process. But, um, you know, therapy and coaches, it sometimes takes a while to find someone that you really connect with and, um, that can help you. But I do think for anyone who wants to work on their healing, that that's definitely a good option to consider.
Jess Jones: Yeah, my daughter didn't. So she did not agree to do therapy for a really long time until her next year of school. She, she just didn't go to school. I mean, she was there for maybe three days a week, [00:28:00] but she was calling out two days a week. She was using every excuse under the book. It was, it was anxiety and depression and it was a hot mess.
So the, my daughter's seventh grade year, um, she just didn't attend. It was, yeah. She graduated the year, um, by the, you know, she's just barely, and I was stressed about it constantly. I kept impressing on her, you know, this isn't, this isn't the way we, that we're going to do stuff.
Jess Jones: You've got to take action and, you know, take the medicine the doctor suggested for you and, and really you need to see a therapist, but you need to decide on what you need to do to get yourself feeling like Carly again. Um, and that whole year she just refused. Um, this year. I, she started high school, sorry, this year she started high school.
And, she like, I think a maturity level just kind of came in and she also wanted to do some things. And I said, if, if, you know, I'm working for our family to make sure that we are successful people and we're happy and healthy, I need you to put in your. [00:29:00] Um, and in order to do some things like have privileges like horseback riding, I need you to participate in therapy and take medication so that you are, so that you graduate high school.
I mean, really, it was what the bottom line was, but, um, I said it a little bit more warm and fuzzy than that, but, um, she was really resistant at first, but she's, she's been on it. Uh, like on doing therapy once a week and, um, taking her medication and it has turned her life around. She's just a whole new, I mean, she's, she's got all A's and B's, which I'm like, Oh my gosh.
Um, her teachers love her. She participates in class. She's a very shy kid to begin with. So that doesn't help all of it, but she's, but the teachers, I went to back to school night and they said she was doing fabulously. And she was. Participating in class, reading out loud when asked to and doing all the things.
So, and she goes every day and she gets up on her own and she makes her own lunch. It's just, it's such a turnaround. [00:30:00] And I, I'm so happy. I'm so, so happy about that. It's a big. You know, big relief. I want her to be successful, um, in whatever she decides to do. But I, you know, I need to give her the tools to succeed.
Emily Jones: Yeah, definitely. And I think it's hard to, to know as a parent, like how much do you push? How much do you expect, you know, where you're, you don't want them to not be resilient and to be pushed, but you don't want to push them too far. Right. So it sounds like you found a really good. Balance there and, uh, I certainly resonate with your story and my daughter also had a lot of panic attacks.
Anxiety attacks was calling me to pick her up, you know, frequently there for a while, and, um, it breaks your heart as a mom, you know, hearing, hearing that and empathizing with your child. Um, now, one thing I know we talked about. Before we hit record was the 504 process and how you can get accommodations for your child at school.
Do you mind to share [00:31:00] a little bit about
Jess Jones: that? Sure. So, because 7th grade went or an 8th sorry, 8th grade went so. Squirrelly I was wanted to come into her freshman year of high school prepared for. For her to be that way again, basically not going to school and not and calling out during the day and everything.
So I had talked to my best friend and she had a 504 for her son or had gone through the process and explained it a little bit to me. And so I approached the counseling center 1st. I told the counselors about. Our scenario, I, at the very beginning of the year, I, the 1st day of school, I just said, this is the situation and I want to make sure that I have, you know, your support.
Um, and they were, they were, they were great about it. Um, and then I instantly said, you know, I, my next email said, I would really like to discuss a 504 for Carly. Um, 504 gives them, um. Some accommodations and can make things situations when they're having panic attacks, or, um, [00:32:00] however, whatever, whatever your child is going through, um, a little bit more tolerable in school.
So, for example, Carly has a fast pass. Um, some of her teachers don't allow bathroom usage during the day, like, during a period, or you can go 3 times a week, but you can't go every day. I don't know. They have some really straight strange rules. Um, 1 of the teachers has the rule that you have, you have 5 minutes to go to the bathroom and if you're 1 second late, you don't, you lose your bathroom privileges for 7 straight days.
So that had Carly really uncomfortable. That 1 teacher with that 1 rule, um, so I talked to the counseling center and I just, and I brought it up in the 5 or 4 meeting, which in case anybody wants to know when you have 4 meeting, it involves a couple of faculty members, a psychologist, a social worker, and a counselor, a principal of some level.
And, uh. One or two of her teacher. So it's a committee of people that make the decision. And they were really accommodating what we agreed during our personal 504 meeting because it was the 2nd week [00:33:00] of school was that they didn't have. We didn't have enough data to see how Carly was going to be this year.
The 9th grade year to put her on an official 504. Um, but we would revisit it in after the 1st quarter. Um, But what they did do for her was to give her a fast pass, which is basically, uh, a pass to leave class anytime that she feels the need to, to go to the bathroom, to take deep breaths, to run to the counseling center, to meet with somebody, to, um, stand in the hallway and, and just kind of gather herself.
So that really just having the pass has helped her have strength. It's I don't even think she's ever used it, honestly, but I know that knowing just knowing that she has that past because the, um, the one teacher's bathroom policy made her really uncomfortable, you know, nervous. And because when you have a panic attack, man, you just can't do that in a classroom full of people.
Emily Jones: Yeah, and I don't even struggle with, uh, panic attacks now, but just being told, like, you can't go to the [00:34:00] bathroom. You can't do that. It makes you want to
Jess Jones: go. You really have to go. Plus, you know, let's be honest. Not all bathroom marriage urgencies are five minutes long and she's a young teen and you know, so I just, it wasn't a very forgiving policy, but there wasn't much I could do about it.
Um, in regards to her other teachers though, I did send a message to, I think almost all of her teachers, um, through the app that we have at the county and just gave them a background about Carly and her dad and that, that it. Presents itself in panic attacks, or, you know, moments of needing to leave the classroom and almost all of them were so receptive and thankful her gym teacher.
She's actually doing health this semester, but they're doing a section on anxiety and depression, which I thought was really great. And her gym teacher just said that. You know, thank you so much for telling me, because it really helps when we talk about those things to kind of, you know, not tailor it to Carly, but keep her in mind when we're having those conversations.
And he has them do yoga every [00:35:00] day. And she, she says she hates it, but it's really been good for her typical 14 year old response. Right? So I'm really thrilled with the way the high schools handled her this year. Um, we've had a couple of other incidents that weren't major incidents, but like, she missed the deadline for homecoming tickets because she was waiting for something to come back from the administration.
And anyway, the counselors were so great. And so Carly got really upset. The counselors were really great and and getting us to fix that. And, um, so I'm so far this year, I'm really, really. Okay. Pleased with that, but I will probably readdress the 504 after the first quarter, although the data so far that they're going to have is that she's getting up and going to school and doing what she needs to do.
So that's a positive.
Emily Jones: Yeah, that's that's great and it sounds like you've had a really supportive school system that, you know, isn't trying to fight you or isn't trying to force you to go through the process just to make even some minor more minor [00:36:00] accommodations. So, um, that's great. You've had that.
Jess Jones: Yeah, they're really, they're really wonderful.
And the elementary school has been the same way too. He, Russell goes to junior high next year as a seventh grader, and I'm a little nervous. It's just a different environment. Everybody in middle school seems like a little, it's a little intense.
Emily Jones: Yeah. So what, um, what advice would you have for, you know, uh, a young widow that's a parent and they're trying to be supportive of their kids and maybe their kids are struggling?
Um, is there anything else that you feel like as a family you did that was helpful or maybe that you wish you would have done that would help them in their grief while also not neglecting you and your need to
Jess Jones: Yeah, I, you know, when I saw the grief therapist, she told me something, she told me a lot of very interesting things about grief.
But, um, one of the things that she explained, actually, I think it was during my son's appointment and she just explained the emotions that are, that everybody's [00:37:00] going to go through during the grief process. You know, she drew them, she wrote all of them out. I think there are five. Um, and, She said, there are going to be days where you guys are going to be really sad and cry, or there's going to be days where you're going to be really mad at each other for no reason.
And it's not going to make much sense, but you're just going to lash out and you have to have, um, a lot of forgiveness for each other. And you have to recognize that it's it's coming from a place of grief and not coming from a place of true anger. And I, so she talked to Russell and I about that and Russell had had had some, some pretty upsetting anger moments.
Um, and I just explained, you know, we just, we just kind of had to go over that and reiterate that to each other that, wow, that was intense. And that wasn't very nice, but. That was grief talking, you know, and you just have to give each other a lot of forgiveness for as long as it takes. We still have moments, you know, um, and it's been almost 2 years, but it's still, it's give each other a lot of grace and also, you know, lean on your.
Your neighbors, your family, and your [00:38:00] friends, if they're offering to help take it, it's sometimes some people are have too much pride and they don't want to take it or they're just used to doing things on their own or having a lot of control in their lives. But I will say that if someone is offering to help and I'm talking beyond the food train, right?
Right? Not not right after the funeral, but I'm talking like, and, you know, when everybody else kind of seems to go back into their homes. If someone else is there to help you take it, take it because being a single parent is not easy. You need somebody else on your emergency care list at the school. You need somebody to, you know, help you when you need medications and your kid is sick and you're by yourself at the house with them.
Or if you're at work in a meeting and the kids need to be picked up, you got to have people that can support you and really rally around you to do that. And, um, I, I really think that's the most important thing.
Emily Jones: Yeah, I, I
do too. I think it's really important to have people that are going to be in the trenches with you and show up and, and be a support.
And it's great because it sounds like you've had some of those people, um, whether it's your [00:39:00] family or some friends as well that have been that support for you.
Jess Jones: So, yes, I have been. Yes.
Emily Jones: Well, thank you, Jess, so much for coming and sharing your story and some advice that you have for people that are trying to support their kids through grief.
I really appreciate you coming.
Jess Jones: Absolutely. Thank you for having me.
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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Inside you'll find courses to help guide you, a community of [00:40:00] 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.