BW 079: Unveiling Resilience: A Mother's Brave Journey Through Grief and CourageJan 02, 2024
The Transcript is below.
Content warning: Tumor, IVF, COVID, Cancer, anxiety
In 'Life Unveiled with Andrea Fazio,' we explore the inspiring journey of a young widow who faced unimaginable challenges when her husband was diagnosed with cancer at the age of 31 and eventually passed away. Left to care for her deaf daughter on her own, Andrea courageously navigates the complexities of grief, resilience, and single parenthood. Join us as Andrea shares her deeply personal stories, offering profound insights into the human spirit and revealing the extraordinary strength that can emerge from life's most difficult moments. Tune in to be moved, inspired, and amazed by Andrea's unwavering bravery in the face of adversity.
- You have to just like, listen to your inner voice and, and trust your gut
- Find support
''The only way I guess I know how to navigate this is to just trust yourself, and to listen to your voice in your head that says this feels right.
Or this doesn't feel right. Don't make any big decisions in the 1st year and, don't do anything that you might regret
, listen to your inner voice and trust your gut, as much of a gut as you have in that moment to say. You know what? This feels right or this doesn't feel right for me.''
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
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YouTube | @bravewidow
Emily: [00:00:00] Hey, Hey, and welcome to episode number 79 of the brave widow show today. I talk with Andrea as she shares her story, but before we dive in to Andrea's story, I just want to remind you that we have all kinds of live events, workshops, amazing things that are happening over in the world of brave widow. And I would love to see you there.
To know when these live events are happening, you have to be part of the email list. You need to know, uh, in order to get first heads up notification of when these live events are going to be. And the way to sign up for that is to be on the email list at BraveWidow. com slash free. I have all kinds of resources out there that are available for you, things that I give to people who are subscribed to my email list or part of the membership community.
And the only way to access that is to be part of the email list. So head on over to [00:01:00] brave widow. com slash free to be 1 of the 1st in the know. Of when these live events are and how you can sign up to be a part of them.
All right, let's dive into Andrea's story.
Emily Jones: Hey, hey, welcome back to another episode of the brave widow show. .
Emily: And I have a special guest with me here today, Andrea, and I can't wait for you to hear her story and some of the insights that she has to share along the way. So Andrea, welcome. And thank you for taking the time to come.
Andrea Fazio: For sure. Thank you so much for having me.
Emily Jones: Yeah, absolutely. So I know our audience always likes to know a little bit about you, your background, and then really, we can just jump into your story wherever you like.
Andrea Fazio: Sure. Um, I sat for a long time last night and tried to figure out kind of where to start my story and how to introduce myself. Uh, I feel like I'm on a podcast about being a video.
So [00:02:00] perhaps I don't have to, um, to state the obvious there. But, I guess I'll start with, where my husband and I met and kind of the beginning of our story. Um, my husband's name is Chris. we met at Ithaca College. And I was a freshman and he was a sophomore and we were friends for a while. And then the beginning of the following year.
started dating pretty much right away. We just were best friends and realized like, this is the person that I want to be with. And so we grew up from there really together. We went through college together. And then after college, um, I wanted to work in entertainment. And so we moved to Los Angeles, um, and went from dating in college to like being adults and being roommates and figure out, figuring out how to do that part of life together.
We both got jobs in entertainment because that's kind of all we knew what was out there. [00:03:00] And he decided after only a few shows. Uh, this is not for me. This is not what I meant to do in this life. Uh, you keep doing your thing. Um, and he went into education, went back and got his master's in special education, um, and ended up doing high school special education.
In California where we were living and he worked in Santa Monica. And then after a few years in LA, we said, this was great, but we're East coasters and , this is not real life. Let's I'm back east where it makes more sense for us. And so we moved to Boston, um, where neither of us is from or really knew too many people, but, um, Chris's brother and his wife were living there at the time.
And so we said, we'll be closer to family. And we still have a little bit of the city thing that we liked, but a little bit more of the suburbia that we were used to. And so we moved to Boston and, about a [00:04:00] year after we moved there, um, my husband was, uh, having a lot of headaches and, um, having like a loss of vision in one of his eyes.
And Long winded way of getting there, but, uh, was eventually diagnosed with stage 4 melanoma. he had, um, something somewhere that he had actually had, a biopsy done a couple months prior that came back negative. So we still don't really know where it started or how it, became what it was, but, um, he had lesions A primary tumor kind of wrapped around his optic nerve, which is what was causing the loss of vision.
And then he had two more in his cerebellum and then, uh, lungs, liver, and kidney, um, kind of all over. Uh, and so we say all the time, I don't really know why we landed in Boston. There was nothing about the city that meant that we need to be there, but. They [00:05:00] just so happened to be this like Mecca of health care.
Um, and so, he became a patient pretty quickly at Dana Farber Cancer Institute. Um, and he had surgery a few days after he was diagnosed. Um, he had six days of radiation, and then he did immunotherapy for almost three years. Um, and it was every month, and He was kind of in maintenance mode for most of that time.
Um, pretty quickly after his diagnosis, his surgeries, his radiation, a few treatments into it, they said like, gosh, your body has responded to this so fast. You're like 99 percent here. And so we're just going to keep going with this thing. And so we kind of went into maintenance mode. And at some point during it, I was like, Looking through old blogs and things last night, trying to remember what's sad to say.
Don't even remember. At some point, they said, you're in remission. And we said, great, what changes? And they said, nothing. You keep coming every [00:06:00] month and we keep doing scans every three months. So we said, okay. And so we did. And then again, part of the process here, um, we found out in the middle of treatment that we couldn't.
conceive, um, while he was undergoing treatment, but, uh, had banked prior to him starting treatment. So we started doing IVF and the first time it worked and it never works. And so it just so happened that like, we started our shots the first week of COVID lockdown. And so like, Chaos ensued. We had a baby.
It was still COVID. He was still undergoing treatment. All the things at once. My daughter, Eleanor, um, is, well, she'll be three, um, in February. Um, she was born profoundly deaf. Um, and so we quickly shifted from like, Cancer patient and treatment and all the things to trying to figure out how to be parents [00:07:00] to in general as first time parents and then parents to a deaf child.
Um, and the whole system of early intervention and all the things that come along with raising a kid with different needs. Right.
Emily Jones: Yeah, so that a lot is packed in there. So how, how old were the two of you when he was first diagnosed?
Andrea Fazio: Let's see, 2018. I was 30 or just about to be 30. I think I had just turned 30.
Um, he was the same age, maybe 31. Okay. We were the youngest people, uh, on our floor for a long time at Dana Farber.
Emily Jones: Uh, yeah, I can, I can only imagine. And, and you'd already been together for a significant amount of time since college. And you're super adventurous for just Moving to different places, which is, you know, really amazing that you had the, the bravery to do that.
And, um, I'm sure when he was first diagnosed, it was. Um, [00:08:00] I know that that's very scary and there were some uncertain things that, you know, happened during that time. And then it sounds like you had a few, you know, years where things were just kinda kind of in that routine. So how were your emotions and how did that feel as you know, you had a baby and then you're.
Really excited to have this new little person in your life now. And, um, was that about the same time then he went into remission was right before you had her or right, right. As you were having her. I
Andrea Fazio: mean, he had been in remission. I don't know most of that time. That's what's so weird as I can't even remember because our lives kind of went back to normal, um, or as like normal as they could be and then covid and then being pregnant and also still getting cancer treatment.
But like. It was in maintenance mode. Like it was just routine kind of stuff. I think when he was first diagnosed, I, I go into do mode. [00:09:00] Like I kind of put all of my feelings on a back burner for a long time. I say like three to six months is my, my norm. Um, and I just go into go mode. I'm a project manager.
And so it's my just like nature to just say like, okay, what needs to be done? How do we do it? I will make it happen. Um, and that's what we did. Like I became the note taker at every appointment and I was on the phone with insurance and then, um, all the doctors and scheduling and trying to figure out all of our things.
I just kind of stopped working for a second. Um, I just said, like, My husband just got diagnosed with cancer. I gotta be gone for a little bit. Like, good luck. See you out there. and my team was like, cool. Uh, like, let us know what you need. And, um, so I took probably a month or almost 2 months to just kind of figure out what we had to do and how to do it.
And, um, everything happens for a reason or so they say. Uh, [00:10:00] so I had been laid off during the pandemic. I was 8 and a half months pregnant. And so thank God I wasn't working when I had my daughter because figuring out how to be a mom is a lot. And then figuring out how to be a mom to a deaf baby is a lot.
And then learning a new language is a lot. Learning to navigate all of the systems of early intervention and specialists and children's hospitals and all that kind of stuff is a lot. And so again, I just, Went into go mode, um, and did all the things that you have to do in the midst of like postpartum anxiety, right?
And you just get through it. I don't know. I, I. I don't know any other way to like, explain how I function as a human, like with all that I've been through. And I feel like I get that question a lot and I've started to resent that question. I'm like, I don't know how you do it all. And I'm like, you just say that because you can't imagine this life.
[00:11:00] You can't put yourself in my shoes because there's so many pieces of this puzzle that just Are not your reality. And that's the reality that I live in. So I don't know any other way to do it because that's just the reality of my world.
Emily Jones: Yeah, I, I, I resonate a lot with that because I was very similar.
Like. As soon as I knew that Nathan was gone, it was like, okay, plan the funeral, call these people, call the, you know, those people. It was just like running through a massive checklist of all the things that needed to be done and that was, allowed me to focus and to get things done, but it didn't really allow time to just feel and to just grieve and be in that moment.
Did you feel the same way? Did you struggle with some of that in the beginning?
Andrea Fazio: Very much. Um, and I think that's kind of what's been an interesting parallel that I've seen in all of these stages of life [00:12:00] is he was diagnosed with cancer and like, you kind of grieve this. normalcy of your life, right? Like when it happens, you, you grieve what, um, what you anticipated doing that day, that week, that whatever.
Um, you have this like weird thing where everybody gets the head tilt and the, um, the voice drop when they ask you how he's doing and you like have a little bit of grief with that. And then there was definitely a grief with my daughter's hearing loss diagnosis of like, You're grieving this normal baby experience, right?
Of like every book we had read said, oh, you need the sound machine. And like, these are the lullabies and like, here's the shushing. And I'm like, okay, next, what are the right ideas here? Because that's not going to work for us. Um, so I feel like when, my husband passed, um, I didn't get to this part of my story yet.
Sorry. I feel like I twisted and turned to get here, [00:13:00] but, um, he passed completely unexpectedly, not related to any of these other things. Um, we, uh, had been. Deciding to move back to Syracuse to his hometown. Um, for a while we had realized like, gosh, having a baby is a lot. Having a baby with additional needs in this life is a lot.
We need more support than we anticipated going into this. We had no idea we were up against, right? And so we built a house here. Um, we moved in last September and on a Wednesday morning, um, in December, the first week of December, our nanny had texted, um, and said she was feeling sick. She had been sick a lot.
And so it was kind of just. Wednesday. Um, didn't think anything of it. Um, Chris had been done with treatment for about six months at that point. Um, in June of last year of 2022, we decided to [00:14:00] put his immunotherapy on pause with the advice of his doctors. He had been doing it for a long time. It's still a pretty new treatment.
There's not a lot of research as to like best practices and like what is best. Chances of anything. Um, and so we had put that on pause, but because he had been on it for so long and just his immune system being really weak and, and impacted by everything when he got sick, regardless of what it was like a cold, a man cold, um, whatever it was like, he got really sick.
Um, he would hit him quick. It would hit him hard. He'd be down and out for like two days. And then he'd bounce back like just as quickly as he got sick. Um, so she texted us on Wednesday morning, Wednesday night, we were both down and out sicker than we'd ever been stomach flu kind of stuff. So we each claimed a bathroom for the night.
So there's no sense in, uh, being buddies in there. Um, [00:15:00] And my mom had been in town. Um, she watched, watched still, um, watches my daughter on Wednesdays. Um, and so she had been in town and so she kind of said like, leave me the monitor. You guys need to be far away from her. Um, and woke up. Thursday morning, um, I'd like slept all over the house at that point, like on the floor and the bathroom, like wherever, and went back into our room.
Um, at some point that morning, he had gotten out of bed to go use the bathroom and, um, passed out. And I rushed in there, like, major. He was okay. And like, got him back alert for a second. Ran downstairs had my mom call 911. I sat with him like talk to him for a few minutes like until paramedics got there They got there and they were talking to him and in the course of a few minutes of them taking his vitals and getting [00:16:00] information from me he arrested and they continued doing CPR and rushed him obviously to the ER but they never brought him back and So it didn't make any sense.
It's not connected to any of the things that, um, we should have been maybe expecting, like, as part of his diagnosis, but we never were anyway, because it just never crossed my mind of, like, This isn't going to end well. And so I also feel like I'm in this weird, um, point now, kind of what we were saying before of like, I didn't grieve in that time.
I couldn't, it was so unexpected. It was so, um, you know, out of the blue, uh, I had to go into go mode. I had to plan this funeral and celebration of life and move. I couldn't live in that house. Had to get us out of there as soon as we could, [00:17:00] and, so I just, I feel like only recently have I hit that point of, I think now I'm grieving him, I'm grieving that life, I'm grieving all of these secondary losses, right, that come along with this, but that's been so recent.
And I think that. There's a comfortable timeline for a lot of people and like, cultural expectations of like, what is a reasonable amount of time to grieve. Um, and I think I'm past that. It's been 10 months. Like, I think, um, if you're in our terrible club, you know that that is a very short amount of time.
But for the outside world, like. They see me from the outside. Oh, she's doing great. She's working. Like they're out doing activities. They're doing whatever, but like, it's only really recently hit me of like, Ooh, this is my life now. Like, okay, this was just what we're doing. Okay. It's very weird.
Emily Jones: Yeah, [00:18:00] I think so much of the first.
You know, there's a big debate amongst people is the first year harder or the second year harder. Right. And. Just in everyone that I've spoken to in my own observations, I feel like the first few months or the first year or so is about survival. It's about getting your feet underneath you. You're in somewhat of shell shock and Especially, although a lot of people I talk to when their spouse has a terminal illness, you can't really prepare for it and even though you're expecting it, you don't ever really expect it.
Andrea Fazio: um, yeah,
Emily Jones: so the, the shock of everything, uh, is still very deep. And then as you somewhat move out of that, it's like reality sets in, like this isn't a bad dream. Um, This is real, like, my future is, that I had was, is gone. It's gonna be different. What is that? You know, I, I can't believe [00:19:00] that I'm not gonna see him walk through the door one more time.
It's like, all of that just really starts to sink in, once you get your head above the water and you've maintained that for a while.
Andrea Fazio: Yeah, my daughter, um, she'll be three in February and so we watch a lot of videos of him, right? And I think that's like the weirdness that's starting to set in for me is because you watch videos and pictures and God, he's so alive and it feels like it was so recent.
So it's a very real like shock every time I'm just like, Ooh, there you are. How are you not here or still doing this with me? Yeah. Yeah.
Emily Jones: And you bring up such a great point of. You know, culturally, people view the grief and healing process very binary, like it's you're grieving or you're not, you're healed or you're not, and grief is so much about and, like, I know my person isn't coming back.
[00:20:00] And I'm still in denial or shock sometimes that they're not coming back. Like I feel those things at the same time and I can grieve and be sad and miss my person. And I can go out with my daughter and have a great day or a great moment and enjoy life. And that's confusing to a lot of people that have never been through that before.
Andrea Fazio: 100 percent I was driving home from work just now and heard, um, the classic last Marset jam hand in my pocket. Um, and it's about all of these like dualities of life, right? Like, it's, um, feeling 2 things at once. Like, the, the, um, 2 things can be true kind of function. And that is how I feel every day. Every moment feels Bittersweet, like it's amazing watching my kid do something for the first time.
She learned a new song. She's singing, she's signing, she's talking to me in 17 languages. It feels like all at once. And like, [00:21:00] God, I'm so proud of her and I'm so proud to be her mom. And I'm so, I love her so much. My brain could explode most days. And also it is so painful that he doesn't get to see her doing these things and that it's both, it's two things all the time.
Emily Jones: Yeah, I heard somebody say, you know, watching your children grow up is like death by a thousand cuts because every, every little event or milestone is tinged with the fact of, yeah, well, their dad isn't here to see this. And, uh, for me, that was very true. Probably the first couple of years. Where I would just question, like, at what point am I going to go to my kid's event and not have my heart twisted that, Oh yeah, but their dad isn't here.
And I will say it has changed for me now, where that wave of sadness is now more of a wave of gratitude and just. enjoyment of the [00:22:00] love and the time we had together, but it really felt like it was never going to feel that way. Like it was always just going to be. Really difficult to get through those moments, but I will encourage you.
And anyone else listening that it can transform. Over time as you work through, just giving yourself time. To heal. To watch those videos to go, man, this really sucks. That he's not here.
Andrea Fazio: Yeah. Yeah. I think that's. That's just the reality of it of nobody's gonna make it better. Nobody's gonna make you feel better about it.
And I appreciate so much when people can just say that just really sucks that they're not here. And there's. There's nothing I can say that to take that pain away. We just have to like sit in this acknowledgement of it just sucks.
Emily Jones: Yeah. Um, it, it definitely does. What, what kind of support did you feel like you had when you lost your, person and did you have a lot of family and [00:23:00] friends like swoop in with their super capes?
Did you kind of feel alone? What was that like?
Andrea Fazio: Um, it's, it's. It was more support than I knew what to do with. Um, to put it mildly. Um, my husband never met a stranger. He, his closest friends, he's known his whole life and, um, their families have all been like such a Godsend to me. I, it's again, so completely bittersweet that we moved here to his hometown and we lived here for 3 months and then he died.
Um, but like, thank God we did because, you Now I'm surrounded by the people who have known him his whole life and who have surrounded me with him during this whole time and made sure that they're still here for me. They, their grief timeline has not expired and they are still on board helping me do things.
Um, one of our friends was over earlier this week, helping me haul junk out of my house for the, the junk [00:24:00] luggers that were coming. I had, uh, friends who helped me put up wallpaper and do things around the house. My parents are here constantly. My mom just kind of never left, after my husband died, uh, and.
So I think she was here for 4 months. I want to say, um, and, uh, she went through some health complications during that time. But it was where she needed to be. And I needed her to be here. Um, my friends from afar have found so many ways to like. Be here with us as much as they can, um, physically or mentally.
I were on FaceTime far too much. My mom, she's not even three. And she was like, mommy, press this button. Okay. Um, so she knows all of her aunts and uncles and real aunts and uncles, um, very, very well. Um, [00:25:00] what I'm struggling with now. Is I have all this support from all of these people and I'm so grateful for it, but I still feel like I'm on an island.
Um, because nobody understands like what I'm going through. They're all here for me and they all want to continue to be here for me. Um, but it's hard for me to, to explain so much of what I'm feeling. Um, and I don't expect them to understand because how could they. But when you go through this, it's not like a lot of people I've heard compare it to divorce and like the cringiest way possible.
It just makes my skin crawl. When you're heading toward a divorce. You still have like all this time to prepare yourself, to figure out how you're going to be a single parent, to figure out what you're doing with each other's lives, to, you're not losing the other person. They're not up and leaving, um, your life completely.
And so [00:26:00] I think, uh, I, I just feel like there's, I'm, I'm 35 and I'm a widow and I have a deaf 3-year-old, um, who. Nobody else can relate to all of these things about my life. And so I've so much felt like I was on an island in a lot of ways before my husband died, like none of my friends have deaf kids.
And so I had tried to connect with other parents in the community and I'm still figuring that out in a lot of ways. But, it's. So good to have support and at the same time, so uncomfortable to just say, like, how do I explain that? It's like, how do I,
Emily Jones: yeah, I have, uh, I would say a small, small number of friends that have really taken the time to listen and to try to understand what it might be like and to, uh, not compare, but just, you know, really understand.
What, what it would be like to be in that situation, which is amazing. I think what really [00:27:00] has helped me is building up, um, a social circle of different people. So having people who knew me before. And are still there for me, which that number is very small, which is fine having, you know, a very small group of newer acquaintances and friends who didn't know me before.
And we just connected on different interests and things that I'm learning about. And then having that support group of, you know, people in the widow community, because it is. So touching and so impactful to not have to say all the words because the other person just like they get it. Yeah, and it almost sounds like you need another category of people or, you know, parenting and, and raising children that are.
In the deaf or hard of hearing community and, um, navigating some of those special challenges. So I completely, um, resonate with what you're talking about in that. It's [00:28:00] difficult to find one person who really has a lot of the same exact challenges that you have.
Andrea Fazio: I think that's like, what's so hard about losing your spouse, like your person that's going through this life with you.
Um, I lost my best friend almost 13 years ago, this week. Uh, and it was excruciating and so painful and still is. It's been 13 years. I think about her every day. Um, But my life got to go back to normal. Right? Like nothing changed about my life except that I was sad that I missed my friend. And I think that when you have this person who's walking through this life with you, who understands the challenges you're going through on a day to day basis, and then that person is gone, you lose all sense of identity.
Like all, all sense of support in that way.
Emily Jones: Yeah, for for a lot of people. I mean, it almost feels like. You're a different person. [00:29:00]
Andrea Fazio: 100 percent I'm a different person. Yeah. Before Andrea would never have been here in 100 years. I can't think of anything she would want to do less than this.
Emily Jones: Ditto. I can smile today because it's been almost a year since I started this.
But yeah, I. Last thing I'd want to do is, is post videos on social media, but, um, you know, I think it is very tricky. Navigating and figuring out who you feel like you are now, what interests you have now, and who you want to be and what you want to do. But you can get to a point where you're actually excited about that and you may find Um, as I did that, there are things that I love doing now or that I really enjoy that Nathan would have hated and he never would have done that.
So, you know, in some ways I'm doing things that I never would have done when we were married. And does that mean, you know, I'm [00:30:00] glad that he's gone? No, but, but it means that you can still have hope and joy for the future and you can still create a life for you and that. Beautiful child that, you know, you both will enjoy.
Andrea Fazio: Yeah, I think, um, something I'm, I'm feeling a lot lately too is like the things that did bring me joy before the things that I was like, just considered part of my identity feel really foreign to me all of a sudden. I haven't been able to read. I've tried so many times. I open a book. I'm still in the book of the month club.
Uh, they are piling up on my nightstand. I can't do it. And so I, I try and I try and I put it down and I say another day. And maybe that's just not a thing that comes back for a while, but like. TV shows that we used to watch together, or even the old TV shows that I just watch reruns, can't do it.
And [00:31:00] so I have just kind of put that in a little bucket of like, maybe this is just the before times. Maybe it comes back, maybe it stays in the before times. Maybe I just find new shows and find new things to enjoy that don't make me feel sad when I think about. The before times of watching out more doing it or whatever.
Emily Jones: And do you find that it's more, um, like a struggle to focus? So it's just hard to focus on something or it's more of an apathy?
Andrea Fazio: Um, both. I, it depends on the day. I think, um. My 1st few weeks when I went back to work was just a mix of those things. Um, especially with work. I feel like it was so hard for me to pay attention on phone calls because we would just be on conference calls talking about marketing things.
And I'd be like. Who cares if we sell this thing like it? It doesn't matter. Like, I don't care if we sell more of them than we did yesterday. I don't care if we [00:32:00] ever sell another one ever again. Like, this is silly. And then the next day I'd be like, Oh, I really care about this thing. Like, I'm, I'm really invested in selling this couch today.
Let's think of all the ways we could do it. And like, yeah. You know, four words into an email would be like, Oh, squirrel. Yes.
Emily Jones: Yeah. So I noticed, I noticed that, um, a lot of times that brain fog is, um, really difficult when you're still. Especially as you're still in that really heavy, grieving, , those tough times where reality is setting in.
Um, and, I think too, there can be things that you used to like to do that you really don't care about anymore, you don't like doing them, and you may find, and I would encourage you to look for new things. You know, maybe now you, you like to learn about drawing or [00:33:00] maybe you like to go fishing or, you know, just being a little adventurous and open with, oh, let me try a few different things and see if I really like this.
And you may find something that you really enjoy now.
Andrea Fazio: I think that's, uh, on the list of things to figure out. Yes. I feel like, um, I've, I've tried to find the community here. 1st, kind of going back to what we're talking about is like, finding the people who understand you a little bit. So I went to a widow's group 2 weeks ago, maybe 3 weeks ago.
And I was the youngest person there by 25 years. And so I left there being like. Okay. That's not it. , like that's, we gotta figure something else out. Um, so in the same breath, I kind of put a pin in that and said like, okay, that's not it. But I, I know what I need right now is what I, what I need is community.
What I need is [00:34:00] conversations like this where you don't have to explain like the on. Unspoken things about being a widow. Um, and so I've kind of said to myself, like, if it doesn't manifest for itself, if I don't find the thing that I'm looking for, I'm going to go create it and I'm going to figure out how to make it work for me.
Um, and how to be. That person for myself, and surround myself with those people. And that's only why I know how right now. So, um, so I think for me, like, the thing I need right now is community. And so, like, on my, you know, never ending list of to do's, um, that's, that's towards the top of the list. And, but on there, it's definitely like, Hey, what do you like to do?
Like, what are some activities that you're interested in? Um, So much of like being together for 15 years is like, you just the plural you like things. Um, and I have had to figure out what is my decorating [00:35:00] style? What colors do I like in my house? And that's It's new and weird. And so, um, I feel like that's the next version of it of, okay, what do I like to do?
Emily Jones: And that's the thing people don't tell you or that people don't talk about is you're like, wow, you know, I was with Nathan over 20 years. I'm like, I,
Andrea Fazio: who am I as my own person? I don't know. You know, I know it's so much a part of your identity. Being a wife. And that's not a bad thing. Just who I was.
Emily Jones: Yeah, I, I completely agree.
And, um, of course I'd have to do a shameless plug for the Brave Widow community because, you know, we meet online, it's a virtual, and those are exactly the types of things, you know, that we do. And, you know, whether or not You or anyone else chooses to join. I think just finding that group of people you resonate with is important.
And, we have a fairly big widows group that [00:36:00] meets, uh, locally where I live. But to your point, you know, I'm 40 and I'm the youngest one there. By a couple of decades, at least, and you know, there's probably 50 or 60 ladies that join that and they're all very nice. Uh, and as younger widows, we have unique challenges.
We have kids at home. We are still working in our career. We're not retired. We're, you know, trying to figure out, do we have, what is the rest of our future? Are we going to? Meet someone else. Are we gonna continue with the same career? Are we gonna, you know, what all does that look like? It's just a big kind of a mystery.
And so to your point, I looked for that, couldn't find it and said, okay, well, let's create it. Let's create what we need because whether it's COVID or other things that have really COVID 19. Bubbled up over the last few years, there's just really been, I think, a surge of new younger widows and, uh, it's tough navigating that and [00:37:00] feeling like you don't know anyone else that's in a similar situation for sure.
Andrea Fazio: I think that's why I'm so hungry for it in person too, is the COVID of it, the, like, all of these other factors before that it was the cancer of it and all of this, like. I feel like I've been cooped up and looking for support online and through all these groups and conversations like this. And I'm finding that, but I'm like, let's go do some things with our kids.
Oh, you live in Arkansas. Okay. We're probably not going to get together this weekend. So I, I do feel like finding something that I can have that in person connection with people and have some, some face to face time is like what I'm just desperate for right now.
Emily Jones: Yeah. And I think a lot of people are, you know, especially given the last few years.
So keep searching. Um, I have no doubt that you will find it or maybe the one to create it and start it. And, uh, you might be [00:38:00] surprised. I think a lot of the older widow groups to meet during the day, during the week. So it's really hard to, you know, when you're working a job, it's really hard to break away sometimes during the day, especially for something like that for a few hours.
So, uh, we've tried. Here locally, uh, we've met a few times in the evening during the week and we're playing around with like a, a Saturday morning just to see how much interest we have, because we know, I know when you're working, it's hard to get away, for some of those things. So who knows, we may be hearing back from you in a few months about this amazing group in New York that you've put together.
Andrea Fazio: That would be amazing. Yeah, I think, um, the times like this when I, like you said, break away for an hour to, to do something like this, or I have for a long time was seeing a therapist who only worked like, uh, 11 to four, like, bless her heart. What great times for you. Um, so I would, I would leave that and they'd be like, Oh [00:39:00] my God, now I have to go back to work.
Like God, I just feel drained. Like the last thing I can function and focus on is. Doing project management time, um, and so, yeah, trying to, to find something that's better for working parents and schedules and things like that. I feel like is, it's a big component of it that didn't make sense to me at first.
And then after a few weeks of seeing this therapist, I was like, Oh, I don't, I don't think it's going to work out for us.
Emily Jones: Yeah, yeah, that is, uh, when you're dealing with some of those heavy things, it's really hard to think about. Oh, no, I got to go back to work and talk about marketing and Gantt charts and
Andrea Fazio: spreadsheets.
Change my brain.
Emily Jones: Yeah. Yeah. Well, um, as we, you know, wrap up our podcast recording here, are there any words of encouragement or any. Bits of advice or insight that you would want to leave people with who, you know, are still in the [00:40:00] early days, they're still struggling, or they find themselves in a very similar situation and they're like, Oh, finally, I hear somebody that sounds like me, you know, what words would you want to leave them with?
Andrea Fazio: I wish I had a better prepared answer for that. It's like, I, um, again, like, sat down last night and we're like, what are some things that we'll probably talk about? Oh, I should give some advice to other people. Um, I, I, the best advice that I can give or, or the. The only way I guess I know how to navigate this is to just trust yourself, um, and to listen to your voice in your head that says this feels right.
Or this doesn't feel right. Um, I got a lot of advice from people saying, don't make any big decisions in the 1st year and, um, don't do anything that you might regret. I don't regret any of the big decisions I made. I sold my house. I bought a new house. I saw a medium. I got a tattoo. Um, [00:41:00] like those were the right decisions for me at the time.
And I'm really proud of myself for making them and doing it by myself because. I never made big decisions like that by myself before, um, and so you have to just like, listen to your inner voice and, and trust your gut, um, as much of a gut as you have in that moment to say. You know what? This feels right or this doesn't feel right for me.
And I've applied that to a thousand different things. Like, should we go to this birthday party? You know what? That actually doesn't feel like a thing I'm going to do right now. That just doesn't feel right for me today. , and that's the only way I've gotten through the day.
Emily Jones: Yeah, no, I think that's really great advice and I appreciate you so much for being willing to be open and share your story and for joining me here today.
Andrea Fazio: Thank you so much for having me.
Emily Jones: Hey guys. Thank you so [00:42:00] 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.
Do you need a safe space to connect with other like-minded widows? Do you wish you had how-tos for getting through the next steps in your journey, organizing your life or moving through grief? What about live calls where you get answers to your burning questions? The Brave Widow Membership Community is just what you need.
Inside you'll find courses to help guide you, a community of other widows to connect with, live coaching and q and a calls, and small group coaching where you can work on what matters most to you. Learn how to heal your heart, find hope, reclaim joy, and dream again for the future. It is possible. Head on over to brave widow.com to learn more. [00:43:00]