Being Intentional Through The Grief Journey With Teressa Green-Clark

WRT 17 | Intentional Through The Grief

 

It can be challenging to be honest about our grief, sometimes. But once you let go of the fear that holds you back from really confronting what grief looks like, it can make the journey much more bearable. Teressa Green-Clark is someone who is not afraid of being honest about her grief. And instead of getting stuck there, she is surviving it day by day. In this episode, she joins Tina Fornwald to talk about her grief journey and why being intentional has helped her along the way. Teressa lost her husband, her sweet face, in 2020. Since then, she has been putting one foot in front of the other, being intentional about confronting her grief. She shares how she is coping with the help of her husband’s words and the Bible. Teressa also talks about letting her grief out through therapy and writing, imparting her own experience to help others in the same journey.

Thank you for viewing this post. I am not a licensed therapist or professional life coach.

I am sharing my experience of loving the same man for 32 years, a mother to two adult children, a retired military officer, a breast cancer survivor, and my connections with others. 

Anyone experiencing suicidal thoughts should reach out to a suicide hotline or local emergency number in their country https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/basics/suicide/suicide-prevention-hotlines-resources-worldwide

Watch the episode here

 

Listen to the podcast here

 

Being Intentional Through The Grief Journey With Teressa Green-Clark

We are about to have a conversation with Ms. Teressa Green-Clark. She has been a widow for years but she is so intentional. You are going to enjoy this conversation and be inspired. Let’s get into it.

 

WRT 17 | Intentional Through The Grief

 

Hello, Teressa.

How are you?

I’m good. Yourself?

I’m good.

Welcome to the show.

Thank you. I’m glad to be here.

I am glad to see you. Tell me, Teressa, what gives you hope?

What gives me hope is being able to get through my daily activities despite the grief journey that I’m going through and the pain that sometimes I feel and getting through my day-to-day activities, knowing that I survived today and I can see tomorrow.

You said that thing right because you’re surviving the grief journey that you’re on. What I hear is you’re not allowing yourself to get stuck there. You’re trying to survive this. It is a journey. Day by day, not being afraid to be honest about how you feel is one of the things that is so inspiring to me. When I see some of your posts, you are low-key and high-key educating people about what it’s like to deal with somebody that’s grieving and being honest to say, “Don’t get it twisted because I made it to work or I’m living that I’m not hurting even though I could be smiling. I could be smiling one moment and I could be missing a beautiful face another moment.” That’s okay because that’s what grief looks like. You mentioned grieving. Whom are you grieving? Tell us the story of that love.

I’m grieving my husband, Willis Clark III. It’s different without him. I met him through a friend. We met in the early part of 2015. It wasn’t long before he knew that he wanted to make me his wife.

How long is not long?

Probably about a year. We gave ourselves a year of trial and became friends first. What stood out to me when I met him was when he called me on the phone. Most guys want your number so they can get to know you and probably sleep with you but he wasn’t that guy and I felt it. He was like, “What do you like to do? I’m a family guy. I like to do this and that.” We exchange things we like to do.

He said, “I want to do some more talking and conversating with you but before, can I ask you something? Can I pray with you?” I was like, “Prayers are always in order.” He was like, “I like that.” He prayed with me. We prayed. Before we got off the phone, we prayed again. That was something from day one until death did us part. We will not start our day out without praying together and we will not end it without praying together.

WRT 17 | Intentional Through The Grief
Intentional Through The Grief: We will not start our day out without praying together and we will not end it without praying together.

 

On the first phone, he said, “Can I pray with you?” Talk about setting the atmosphere. Talk about expectations being risen. Where did you go from there? How long did you talk before you saw each other again?

He lived here in Illinois and I was still in Mississippi going to school. I graduated in December 2015. We met at the top of 2015. We talked and conversated daily for 2 and 3 times a day, checking on each other. We became friends before we became anything else. Mind you, he was a widower. He made it his business to let me know, “I’m a widower,” and how long he and his wife have been married. I respected that. Back to us, we talked, conversated, and got to know each other.

My sister is another person whom I’m grieving, Ms. Bessie Tinsley. I lost her in October 2022. Her birthday is April 10th. I was coming to visit her birthday party. That was going to be the first time we ever saw each other eye-wise. We talked on the phone but that was going to be our first time seeing each other. That was 4 or 5 months after the talk on the phone.

When you spoke the first time, you had never met in person.

We have never met in person.

You’ve been talking for five months over the phone.

When I told him that my sister was having a party up there and that I was going to come to it, he said, “We can have our first date if that’s okay.” I said, “I’m going to do the little family thing. Later, we can do the date.” Our first date was downtown to see the lights in this restaurant called Pappadeaux. We sat there and had a long conversation. We smiled. I talked. He talked. We talked like we knew each other for a lifetime. I felt the vibe. I’m sure he was saying the same thing. He was such a gentleman from day one until he died. We had that date. I got ready to go back home.

We talked like we knew each other for a lifetime. Share on X

I booked my flight here but I hadn’t booked the flight back. He’s an eighteen-wheeler driver. He was like, “How about I drive you home?” I was like, “I know you.” I felt the vibe. I didn’t feel in danger or anything. I was like, “Cool.” He was so shocked. He was like, “Are you going to get in the truck? Most ladies won’t get up in the truck.” I said, “I feel like I’m safe around you already.” He drove me home and met my mom. It went from there. When he met my mom, he had flowers to give to her.

Had you ever been in a semi or done anything like that before?

Never. It was so much fun. Mind you, we didn’t go straight to Mississippi. He had some runs through Atlanta. We went on a little ride. I was like, “I like this.” We were talking and getting to know each other.

What were your sister and your family thinking? You got in the truck with him. Were they freaking out as this is going on? How was that?

They were like, “Do you know him?” I say, “I’m a woman of God. I got discernment. If I felt like I was in any danger around this man, there was no way I was going to get up in that truck with him. I felt safe. It was the vibe.”

That vibe proved to be correct. He shows up with flowers to meet your mom. What does your mom say?

He called her Miss Annie because her name is Annie. He said, “Shall I say, Ma Annie?” This is 5 or 6 months into the relationship. He said, “Your daughter talks about you a lot. I heard a lot of good things about you. I have something for you.” He gave her the flowers. She smiled. I introduced them and they shook hands. At that moment, he was like, “Ma Annie, your daughter is a nice lady.” Brace yourself for what I’m about to say because he shocked me.

He was like, “Your daughter is such a kind lady. She’s so nice. I like being around her. I would like to ask your hand in marriage.” I’m sitting there like, “What? You didn’t tell me any of this. We didn’t talk about this.” It was a wild moment. Once we got back in the truck after he dropped me off at home, he was getting ready to go on his run the next morning. After the fact, we had some alone time. I was like, “You didn’t tell me about that.” He said, “You weren’t supposed to know about that.” I said, “Are you sure?” He was like, “I’m so sure.”

That is some Cinderella fairytale something going on. How beautiful. What happens next after your mom said yes? Were you over there thinking, “What happens next?”

We continued to talk about it and date. Every moment I got out of school or break out of school, he was flying me to Chicago. We were spending time together and stuff. When we were going to set a date, I said, “Let me know when we got to set a date.” He was like, “It has been six months already. Let’s give ourselves six more months and get to know each other.” That’s what we did. We set our day for June 24, 2016, got married and became husband and wife.

Although he transitioned from 2016 to 2020 when I knew him from 2015 to 2020, it seemed like I had known him for a lifetime. That short period was a teaching season. I learned so much from him in that season. He taught me so much about the city, how to travel, the rules of the road and how to get off this interstate or this exit and flip it if I miss my exit. He taught me so much about the Bible. He would break the scripture down for me. We would have Wednesday night Bible classes here at home together. It was awesome.

Did you ever drive the semi?

It was our plan. It wasn’t God’s plan because our plan was to move to Texas. He was going to be a trainer-driver and train me. We were going to be team driving but it didn’t happen like that.

You said he taught you how to get off the road and flip it around. What was that?

We would always do road trips together and stuff in the car and the semi as well. We both worked. He worked in this city and I worked in Indiana. One day, I got lost. I was frantic. I was like, “I don’t know where I’m at.” I was trying to get over to his mom’s house. He was like, “Where are you? Look at your exit.” I said, “I’m getting off on exit so-and-so.” He’s like, “Wrong exit. Don’t panic. Get out of that exit. Go to the next exit. If you see the next exit, get back off of it. You’re going to flip yourself and come back around. When you do that, keep going straight until you see a road.”

He said, “What mile marker are you at?” He taught me how important mile markers were. He said, “You got to know this stuff.” We used to travel to my mom’s house in Mississippi. I’ll be on the passenger side to chill and sleep. He was like, “You need to wake up.” I said, “I’m tired.” He was like, “You need to wake up and learn this road. I’m not going to be able to do this all the time.” I say, “As long as you’re here, you’re going to do it.” I never knew he will be gone.

My first trip to Mississippi was a year after he passed away when stuff started opening back up. I got his little favorite hat and put it on the seat beside me. I put our picture on the dashboard. I was talking to him, “They got me. You thought I wasn’t listening but I know how to get here.” I got off on the wrong exit. It took me down a road. I started feeling funny. I was like, “This isn’t the way.” I could hear his voice, “Turn that car around. Get back on that exit as I told you and go straight.” That’s what I did. It took me right back to where I needed to get to.

Hearing the calmness of his voice to help and direct you is so beautiful. Can you talk about him also sharing with you about the Bible? What did he share with you that you didn’t know before? You said you were a woman of God. There were things you had already known. How did that work?

There were certain scriptures that I would recite. I would have my meaning formed for the scriptures. He was, “Come here. Let me show you. Whenever you’re in doubt over the scripture, you do know you have footnotes in your Bible. I’m going to do something with you. I already did it but I’m going to do it again with you so you can get that understanding.” We went to Bill Winston’s church. He was like, “I already had the foundation class that teaches you scriptures about the Bible and the intercessory prayer class on how to pray. I already went through it but I will go through it again with you so you can get an understanding of it.”

We went through it together, graduated together and went to classes together. We learned a lot. After the intercessory prayer classes and the foundation classes, we would always continue to pray together. After me going through the intercessory prayer and the foundation classes, we would be discussing stuff on a Wednesday night. I’ll break it down. He was like, “You’re getting it.” If it was something that I did not understand, then he will help me with it.

 

 

That is good. He did it already but he knew the value and importance and wanted his wife to have that good foundation. The intimacy kept growing from one thing to another.

It did. He would get off work. I’ve never seen him so motivated. Even his mom said it. She was like, “I’ve never seen him smile that much.” He would be smiling from ear to ear. His sister-in-law or his brother’s wife would say, “Brother-in-law smiles from ear to ear now.” I was like, “Your brother-in-law got me smiling from ear to ear as well.” He would get out of work, call me and say, “Lay that out. I’m going to only have time enough to come in and take a shower so we can get to our intercessory prayer class.” He would get off the road, come in and take a shower. We’re going to the intercessory prayer classes.

Unfortunately, this conversation is because Willis is no longer on this side of the Earth. What was the transition of his life? How did that come about?

It was a shocker because he wasn’t sick. He had the little basic ailments but he wasn’t a sick man. It was in 2020. That was when COVID hit and everything was shutting down. That Friday night, he went to bed. I was getting ready to go on spring break. Whenever I go on a break, he would take a break with me off the job. He’s like, “I’m going to take a spring break too because I’m going to be in the house with my wife. I’m not going to work. My wife is at home.”

That Friday night, he came in. We talked and had dinner. I sat on the couch. He kissed me on the forehead and said, “I’m going to go to bed. I’ll see you tomorrow. We’re going to make that last run and then we’re going to be locked in. I love you.” I said, “I love you too.” He said, “Wake me up at this time if I’m not up.” He usually got up around 4:00 to 5:00 to get to work at 6:00.

This particular night, he woke up several times because I was still sitting up. I hardly ever go lay with him. Sometimes I lay with him if I know that I’m going to go on a run with him. I’m watching TV because I know I’m going to sleep on the run. That particular night, he got up twice. I was like, “Something isn’t right because he doesn’t get up like that. He sleeps straight through his sleep.” He went and laid back down. I went into the room. I said, “Are you okay?” He said, “I can’t feel my left side. Maybe I slept on it. That’s why I keep getting up.”

He laid back down. He woke up at about 5:00 something. He went into the bathroom. I heard him in there. He was having a conversation with God. He was standing there, “You’re lying there with your life.” I said, “Are you okay?” He said, “I can’t feel anything on my left side.” I said, “We need to call the ambulance.” He’s like, “I’m okay. I just slept on it.” He started trying to get ready for work. His eyes were not looking right at me. I said, “You can’t go to work like this. You don’t feel your left side and everything. Why are you going to work like that?” He was a go-getter. The man wouldn’t take days off unless I suggested it.

I was like, “You’ve got to not go to work.” He was like, “I’m okay. I can go to work.” He sat here on the couch and started putting on his clothes. He put on his shirt and socks. He had his boxers on. He went to the side. I was like, “You’re not going to work like this.” He said, “I’m okay.” He got up, put on his pants, walked to the door with no shoes on, came back in and said, “I don’t know what’s going on. I’m confused. I don’t know why I’m doing this.” I called his mom. She said, “He may be having a stroke.”

I said, “Let me get him to the hospital.” He had put his clothes on and stuff. He went in and out of the stroke. He sat here and assured me that he was okay to go to work because he saw himself for a minute and gathered together. He was talking to me like he was normal. He said, “Kiss me. I’m going to go to work.” When he left, I was worried. I said, “I’m going to wait until he’s almost at work and then call his boss.” I call his boss. This is about 6:00 or 7:00. I said, “I’m calling to see if Willis Clark III made it to work because when he left, he wasn’t feeling good. I want to make sure he made it to work.”

He said, “Give me 1 minute or 2 and put you on hold.” He called me back and said, “His truck has not been moved.” I’m calling his mom. I already called. When I called her earlier, she was like, “I told you he was having a stroke.” I said, “He felt like he was okay. He went back to normalcy. He left to work. I called the job. The job is saying that he didn’t move his truck.” She said, “Let me call Vaughn,” who is his brother. I said, “I’m going to go out to look for him.” She said, “Keep me updated. I’m going to call the kids.” I go over to the job because I know how to get to his job. I’m looking at the side of the house.

He had an accident. They didn’t see any of that on the pathway going to the job. Nobody but God didn’t want me to see my husband on the other side of this train. When I pull up to the job, there’s a track before I get to his job. The train stopped. I said, “I’m going to see. I have ten minutes. Maybe the train will start moving.” It took everything in me not to get out of that car and crawl up under that train to see if my husband was on the other side because I’m sure he was.

God said, “You don’t need to see him like that or whatever is going on.” I left. I stayed there for about 10 or 15 minutes. I was calling my mother, “I’m sitting here at the train. The train is not moving, Mother Clark.” She said, “I’m sitting with Vaughn,” who was his brother. I said, “I’m going to go back to the house in case I missed him. He got past the train.” I get back to the house. My house to his job is about 10 minutes to 15 minutes. I get in the house. I’m assuming to try and move. He was two steps behind me because when I got in the house, I called Mother Clark, “He’s not here. I’m getting worried.”

She said, “Calm down.” I said, “He’s not here, Mother Clark. I don’t know if my husband is dead. He wasn’t feeling good when he left here.” By that time, he came in the door because he was using his key. It was God that brought my husband home without him having an accident because my husband had a slight heart attack or stroke driving. When he came into the door, I said, “Mother Clark, he’s coming in the door now.” He fell in my arms. He’s a heavy man. He was like, “Get me to the couch. Call an ambulance. Get me to the hospital.”

I said, “Mother Clark, I’m going to take him to the hospital.” She said, “Don’t take him to the hospital. Call an ambulance because they will get him in quicker. If you go to the hospital, they’re going to have you sitting in that waiting room.” The ambulance came and got him. They were trying to see if he had a stroke. They were asking him all different stuff. He knew his name, birthday and stuff. Some of the things he did not know. They said he had a mini-stroke. When they called the ambulance, they had the fire truck, the police and the first responders on.

The police were like, “You might want to go out there and check the car to see. I’m thinking he had a stroke or a heart attack but I’m thinking it was a stroke. If he had a stroke, you’re going to know. All the windows are going to be down. He probably hit something.” The windows were down. On the left side of his black car, he scraped something. I said, “That was God that got my husband home.” They took him to the hospital. It was COVID. I couldn’t go in with them.

WRT 17 | Intentional Through The Grief
Intentional Through The Grief: “That was God that got my husband home.”

 

They had him out there in front of the apartment working on him and stuff in the ambulance. He was talking and stuff. I knew that wasn’t my husband. My husband was a man of God. They were trying to put an IV in him and get him stable. He was cursing, telling them to get their hands off of him and saying words. I was like, “You have to calm down.” I started rubbing his head. I said, “You’re okay. Calm down. They’re helping you.” He did calm down and said, “Where are you going to go?” I said, “I’m going to follow the ambulance. We’re going to get you to the hospital and see what’s going on with you.”

My husband told me, “You have to be okay with it. I know that I can go home to God.” He didn’t say it in so many words. I started getting upset because I knew that wasn’t him using those words. They were saying, “We have to get him to the hospital. His blood pressure is getting high.” I was crying. He was like, “Stop that crying. I’m okay.” I said, “You’re not okay.”

He couldn’t see one of the EMT men. He was like, “He’s not okay.” He was like, “I’m okay. Don’t listen to them. I can’t go where I need to go until I know you’re okay.” That’s what he said. I said, “We’re going to go to the hospital. That’s where you’re going to go and you’re going to be okay.” He was like, “Be okay because I’m okay.” He had already said, “I’m going home to be with God. I’m okay. I need you to be okay and know you’re okay.” I took him to the hospital and followed him.

He went into the emergency room. I tried to go in this door. The lady bombarded me and didn’t let me get in the door. I went in the door before she said, “You can’t come in here. It’s COVID. Put your mask up over your nose.” I was like, “Ma’am, I can. My husband is heading into the emergency room.” The last thing I saw my husband doing was, “Come on. Don’t leave me.” I said, “I’m coming.”

I didn’t see my husband anymore until he was laying flat on his back, not breathing. That’s when I saw him. For weeks, months and almost a year, I beat myself up, “I wasn’t there for him. He was begging for me and telling me to come on and go with him.” My mother-in-law was like, “You can’t beat yourself up for that because he knows that if you could have been there, you would have been there.” It was a shocker. The kids were so hurt. He was not sick at all.

Did they eventually tell you the cause of his death?

Pulmonary embolism. He had blood clots. We did a visit to the doctor a month before this happened. When I called his doctor and told him, he said, “I’m so sorry. My condolences. What happened? Willis was healthy the last time he was here. The numbers were a little high.” I said, “They say he had blood clots.” He said, “I don’t see how he had blood clots. My blood work will tell if they got blood clots by the numbers. Those numbers didn’t say anything about blood clots.” I believe he had COVID. They never tested him for COVID. When I got all his records and tests, that was not on there. They treated him for what they saw as a stroke or heart attack. They never knew that he could have had COVID or had it.

It was so new then. It wasn’t like we were fully aware. People were still coming to terms with what it is. That is a possibility.

The doctor said, “That’s probably where the blood clots came from.” It’s known COVID to form blood clots but I never knew it. It was never written on paper. That’s something that I don’t know if he had. His cause of death was a pulmonary embolism.

Where do you go from there in life?

I have to put one foot in front of the other and keep it moving. When it first happened, I thought I wasn’t going to make it. “How am I going to make it without this kind and wonderful man? I moved to this city because of him to be with him.” A whole part of me is taken away. I wasn’t me anymore. I wasn’t smiling and happy, coming home to my husband and hearing, “There comes my wife who’s a doer. There comes Miss Clark.” I didn’t know how to cope day-to-day but one thing that still helps me is my husband’s words and how much he taught me about the Bible.

 

 

Even when he was living, he would say, “I don’t care whatever you go through. I may not be around or you may not be around but I want you to know something. You cannot get strength from men. If ever you feel it’s your lowest, you better grab all the strength you can from God because that’s the only person that’s going to give you strength and that’s going to be able to strengthen you. When I met my Lord, you got to get your strength from God.” I go into my prayer mode, reading the scripture mode, gospel song mode and praise and worship mode. That’s what’s getting me through this journey.

You said before you didn’t know how but those became your coping skills to be able to endure this. It is three years in 2023. To someone that has not lost a spouse, three years seems so yesterday sometimes. It doesn’t seem like an eternity. How have you been with the different anniversaries of Willis’ death?

With the first one, everything is breathtaking. It takes your breath away. The 2nd year seemed harder than the 1st year but 2023 is different because I chose it to be different. I chose not to let years 1 and 2 go over to year 3. I couldn’t handle year one. Year 2 was worse than year 1. In year three, I was like, “I have to keep pushing.” I shed tears that morning. I even shed some tears the day after. I’m sure I’ll share some more but that day, I wanted to celebrate his life by going home to be with God. I chose that. That’s what I did.

WRT 17 | Intentional Through The Grief
Intentional Through The Grief: I wanted to celebrate his life by going home to be with God.

 

If you didn’t choose that, the potential for the third year being even worse caused you to say, “I have to make a difference in this. I cannot allow this to happen. I have to be intentional in how this goes about.”

That was the reason I was intentional. I was like, “Year 1 was hooey and year 2 was even worse. In year three, I’m not ready. I chose to not be ready for whatever year three was going to bring upon me.” I chose to be happy that day.

In the concept of you being intentional, you’ve written some books talking about this journey. Can you share about those books and how that has been for your writing?

I wrote the first one entitled, Maximizing My Praise Through Grief. You can find it on Amazon or personally reach out to me on Facebook or Instagram @SuperTeacher2. I have them on hand. I wrote that little guide to help others navigate. I wrote that during my first year. The first book I wrote was dedicated to him.

WRT 17 | Intentional Through The Grief
Maximizing My Praise Through Grief

In the first year of your grief, you wrote that.

His picture is on the back of the book. It’s dedicated to him. I had a book signing in Mississippi that day on his first-anniversary date. It wasn’t that bad because I was having the book signing but after I got through with the book signing and had to realize, “This is the first year,” it tore me up. In the first book, Maximizing My Praise through Grief, you will find out the techniques and things I used to navigate through my journey. I wrote my second book the next year with several more widows. It’s called The Victorious Widow. We wrote that one. The last one that came out in 2022 is Grief in a Bottle.

The first one was talking about my grief, how I navigated it and what I did to get through it. In the second one with the widows, I told my story. I wrote the third one, Grief in a Bottle because it was time for me. The way I came up with that title, Grief in the Bottle, is because I was tired of grief being bottled up in me. I had to write it out and let the grief out of the bottle through poetry so it can help someone else. That’s why I entitled the third one, Grief in the Bottle. It was time to let the grief out of the bottle.

 

WRT 17 | Intentional Through The Grief

 

Were you a writer before Willis passed?

I was not. I never would imagine being a three-time author.

How did you lean into that first book? What prompted you to even start or do that?

I had a therapist. She would say, “Write your thoughts down.” I used to go to school with this young girl and her sister. They lost their sister. My friend that I used to go to school with is another one, which is like a little sister to me, knew the grief that I was going through. She was like, “I’m going to send you something. This might help you. It’s a grief group on Facebook.”

I know Shawanda Payne. She spoke at my book signing. She talked about how we met. She said, “You might benefit from it because she lost her sister and wrote a book. Plus, she had these grief talks on Wednesday night. You can pour out some of your feelings on the grief talk.” I did that and one thing led to another. We kept conversating and keeping in touch. I asked her how she went about writing her book. She told me how she went about writing her book.

The same friend that told me about it was like, “I know someone else that wrote a book. You probably can get in touch with her. You need to write your feelings out.” I got in touch with her and asked her how she went about writing her book. She told me about a girl that helped her put her book in order, publish it and everything.

When I called her, she was willing to help me get through the writing process. She gave me a daily schedule of when to write and how many hours to write. She helped me go through it. She knew the publisher that helped publish the book. It was a chain reaction. I was like, “God, I see you.” That’s how I ended up writing it, being connected with the right people.

I want to circle back to something if we may. How was your interaction with the therapist? How did you get connected with them?

I got connected with my therapist through my doctor. My doctor is one of the widows that wrote the book with me. Peep this. This is probably going to be another whole subject. I came to her. She had never met my husband. When I came to her for a doctor’s visit, he went with me one day. He was a jokester. We were joking. He was like, “Take care of my baby.” He was joking. He passed away a month after that visit. When I went back to her to tell her that I need to come in for sedatives, she said, “What would you need sedatives for?” I said, “I lost my husband.” She was speechless.

She said, “I just met him. I’m going to give you these sedatives. I want to see you back in about a month. Let me see what they’re doing. I don’t want you to be addicted to them.” I go back within a month to see her. She said, “I know how you feel about losing your husband.” I’m saying to myself, “How do you know? You got your husband.” She said, “I lost my husband too. I’m going to add you to this grief group on Facebook.” That’s how I met all the widows. We wrote the book together. She said, “I’m also going to give you this therapist’s name. You’re going to like her.” That’s how I ended up with my therapist.

From my perspective of being a woman of color, the idea of going to a therapist is not always something welcomed in our community. It’s not always something that seemed beneficial to deal with our mental wellness. I am so happy for you to not let those stereotypes bind you and keep you. How did you prevent yourself from being bound by those types of things people would say in our community?

I had already made up my mind because I’m my own person. I hear this so much over the years even growing up. The first thing you have to do is admit that you have a problem. It’s not a problem but admit that you need help. I needed someone to talk to. I told my doctor, “I need a therapist. I’m not trying to say that. I need to talk to someone. I don’t have my husband in this place. I’m alone. I need to talk to somebody.” Every Thursday, we would talk. She would ask me how my day went and how I felt. I could talk to her and get things off my chest. She had me doing little projects and activities to help me through the grief journey. It helped me. I’ll tell anybody, therapy helps.

Going to therapy, the first thing you have to do is admit that you need help. Share on X

I am Team Therapist all over here. When Mark passed, I started seeing a therapist that Friday and saw them. I will have a therapist like I have a general practitioner. If I got a dentist, I’m going to have a therapist. I am not bound by those things that have prevented us. It’s not just the African-American community. Whatever community you’re in where pride or strength is supposed to be, “I can do everything myself,” will be those places where you find people thinking, “I don’t need to go to a therapist,” but I believe you’re doing yourself a disservice, especially when you’re dealing with something as traumatic as losing a spouse or a loved one.

With the fog that is in your mind, it is hard to be able to navigate everything. Having a therapist is not a key to making it all go away but it is a key to unlocking those tools and coping skills that you’ve talked about to help manage the grief. You wrote a book with several women. What do you see yourself doing in 2023? What are things in your life for you in 2023?

 

WRT 17 | Intentional Through The Grief

 

I’m doing this show with you. When we were doing the widow book with the ladies, we did a magazine article in UP WORDS Magazine. I’m planning on writing another article for UP WORDS Magazine. I’m planning on starting my podcast. I also have a book that I’m sitting on. I won’t let the cat out of the bag on that one. It’s a mental health book. I’m going to say that.

I’ll take that as a little no.

That’s the mental health book for parents in understanding how to cope with their kids through mental health. I should have put that book out right after COVID because most of the kids were closed in. I know that was mental for them not to be able to see their friends. This book will help parents know some things. I research things about the kids. This book will help them. They have mental health activities that they can do with their kids to help.

When you are not writing, what things do you enjoy doing?

I’m watching my favorite TV shows, hanging out with friends, having lunch or something, journaling, listening to the gospel, reading my Bible and trying to enjoy life. Mainly, the thing I like to do is watch my favorite TV shows.

What are those favorite TV shows?

I’m from the old school. I like Good Times, The Facts of Life and things like that. It’s what I grew up on.

When we first started talking, you spoke about learning to be happy and smiling again. Do you recall when you first started smiling again and being happy and what that looked like for you?

I don’t recall. On a grief journey, it’s tricky. It’s very tedious. When I figured out I was starting to smile again, I was like, “I’m tired of crying. That doesn’t mean I don’t miss my husband. That doesn’t mean I’m not going to cry anymore but I wanted to smile more. I got to get back to me.” I was smiling a lot but I’m a different me because my other half is not there. I could not keep walking around being sad and not smiling, especially working with kids because I’m a headstart teacher. My babies keep me going. They say the darndest things. I love it.

WRT 17 | Intentional Through The Grief
Intentional Through The Grief: On a grief journey, it’s tricky and very tedious to smile and be happy again.

 

You’re working with those young and innocent people full of life. That brings joy in dealing with the craziness of those little people. I can see that. This has been so amazing. If I were a new widow, what advice would you give to me if I’m feeling stuck and I feel like I don’t know if I can do this any longer?

First of all, don’t let anybody tell you how long you need to grieve. There’s no time limit on grief. Do what helps you, not what anybody tells you that can help you. Do what makes you happy. Do what helps you to navigate through this journey. Find the tools that help you to get through the journey. The main thing is don’t let anybody tell you, “You should do this and that.” You do that if that’s something you want. For instance, I told my doctor I needed a therapist. She didn’t tell me, “You need a therapist.” You couldn’t have told me that because I know what I need to help me get through this journey. Use the tools that help you get through this journey.

Don't let anybody tell you how long you need to grieve. There's no time limit on grief. Share on X

That is good advice. I apologize. I want to go back to something. You have been very boisterous in some of your posts on your Facebook. When did that start? Has that been the whole time since Willis passed?

I want to say right into the second year. I’m going to be honest. In the first year, I was posting it but I was posting it to pump myself up and make me feel better. I’m telling everybody else that it’s okay. Cry and let your feelings show. God got you. I was pumping myself up but then I had to sit down and think, “Are you saying this for the show? Are you exercising this stuff? You got to start exercising it because you’re saying all of that but if they only knew how you bottled up in your house crying.”

Cry and let your feelings show. God got you. Share on X

It was at that moment I knew that I had to say it, mean what I say, and say what I mean. I started exercising daily meditations, scriptures and gospels because the scripture says, “As a man thinketh so is he.” If I’m thinking, “I’m sad. I’m never going to be okay,” then that’s what I’m going to be. I had to let myself know, “You have to start exercising this stuff.” Into the second year, God spoke to me and told me, “That’s your purpose. You have to exercise it because you have to help other widows. You have to mean what you say and say what you mean.”

I hear being intentional is a theme throughout this purpose. Even in the most difficult parts of this, you have chosen to be intentional no matter what the pain level is. As we wrap this up, are there any closing comments or other things you want to speak about?

I like the scripture of Isaiah 40:31 where he says, “They shall mount up with strength. They shall wait upon the Lord. They shall mount up with eagle wings.” I think about what my husband, AKA my sweet face, would say, “Get your strength from the Lord.” I say this to all widows. No matter what you’re going through or how you’re feeling, reach up and grab all the strength you can from God because he knows your every tear. He is a heart fixer, a tear-wiper, and a mind regulator. He is a comforter. I say to you to get all your strength from God.

WRT 17 | Intentional Through The Grief
Intentional Through The Grief: No matter what you’re going through or how you’re feeling, reach up and grab all the strength you can from God because he knows your every tear.

 

Thank you so much, Teressa.

You’re welcome.

We finished speaking with Teressa. What an inspiration. She was very honest. She had me when she said sedative because I was like, “Your brain needs to be numb.” With all these things that she had gone through, I love her willingness to be able to seek out her help to find a therapist and be able to release and also help others in the books that she has written. I want you to know that you are not alone on this journey. Other men and women are going through this process with you.

In every conversation that you listen to, I want to encourage you to pluck a nugget from the jewels that they are sharing, and make your journey of being a widow or widower something of purpose. It may be painful and difficult but there is something for you in this process. It may be hard. Sometimes it may seem lonely but don’t let it crush you. Find a way to reach out, find your purpose, and be intentional in your life. We are here with you. You are not alone. I’ll talk to you soon.

 

Important Links

 

About Teressa Green-Clark

WRT 17 | Intentional Through The GriefShe grew up in a little town called Drew, Mississippi.

She is the mother of two young adult men. 

She has an Associate Degree in Early Childhood Education. 

She also earned a bachelor’s degree in Early childhood Ed.

She is passionate about teaching her schoolchildren and making a difference in their lives. 

Teressa is a three-time Author. You can find all her books on Amazon. Or you can reach out to her to purchase a copy. Her books are entitled:

 “Maximizing my Praise through Grief”

 “The Victorious Widows”

 “Grief in a bottle”

Teressa is a new member of Zeta Phi Beta Sorority Incorporated. 

She loves reading her Bible, listening to music, and Journaling in her spare time.

Thank you for viewing this post. I am not a licensed therapist or professional life coach.

I am sharing my experience of loving the same man for 32 years, a mother to two adult children, a retired military officer, a breast cancer survivor, and my connections with others.

Anyone experiencing suicidal thoughts should reach out to a suicide hotline or local emergency number in their country https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/basics/suicide/suicide-prevention-hotlines-resources-worldwide