How Do I Go Through Work While Grieving The Loss Of Someone Dear? With Jennifer Marriner

WRT 6 | Losing Someone

 

The pain of losing someone is always hard to get over. Anybody’s world will never be the same again following the death of a family member or close friend. In today’s episode, Tina Fornwald’s close friend Jennifer Marriner narrates her story of working through the grief of losing people very dear to her. Jennifer and Tina have worked together at Tobyhanna Army Depot Pennsylvania. Tune in and learn how their friendship was a critical part of Tina’s journey of learning to live again, navigating grief at work, and having a safe space to be honest about what she was experiencing.

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How Do I Go Through Work While Grieving The Loss Of Someone Dear? With Jennifer Marriner

Friends Who Were There

Welcome to the show. We are on our first episode of the series, Friends That Were There with Me. You’re going to speak to my good friend Jennifer Marriner. My girlfriend Jennifer is in Macon, Georgia. What is on point is her heart, her love, her commitment to our friendship and her pushing through very difficult moments to be there for me.

I hope you’re able to get something out of this conversation that will encourage you to leverage a friendship and be there for a friend that needs you. If you’re a widow or widower, open yourself up to your friends to be a part of your community and hood as you go through this difficult journey. Let’s get right into it.

 

WRT 6 | Losing Someone

 

We are kicking off the series, My Friends That Were There. For this first episode, we have my girlfriend Jennifer. I am so excited for her to be here and to be able to talk and share about some things that happened. I also want to say that I am sorry for your loss. I am sorry for what has driven you to have to be part of this conversation but I’m glad that we’re here so that you know that you are not alone. This is to be able to connect and know that other people are going through this journey. With that being said, let me introduce my girlfriend, Jennifer Marriner. Jennifer, where are you at?

In Macon, Georgia.

I am in Virginia. Some of my hood has moved around since we were in Pennsylvania but we get to have this conversation. I’m glad about that. Can you share a little bit about yourself?

My name’s Jennifer Marriner and I am a single mom of two girls. They’re G and G, Grown and Gone. One of them lives in South Carolina with her Navy husband. That’s Kara and Shaun. The other one lives in New Mexico with her husband Jason. He’s in the Air Force. They have two little guys, Knox and Jameson, my grandsons. I like to call them the redheaded raptors because they’re full of boy energy. I’ve moved down to Georgia a few years ago to get a government job here at Warner Robins. I live here with my dog, Coasty and my cat Mackie. We are enjoying living in the South, enjoying better weather year-round, making new friends and loving life. I went for a hike.

I saw those pictures that you posted. It looked fine. You talk about warmer weather. Where are the other places that you’ve lived?

I was born and raised in California. I lived there for a little over eighteen years until my sophomore year in college when I moved up to Ashland, Oregon in Southern Oregon to go to college. My best friend and I wanted to go anywhere but California because we grew up there and were tired of it. She got into Oregon State and I got into Southern Oregon. We moved up to Oregon where I met the father of my girls, my ex-husband. We went to school there and probably were there for almost seven years. I lived there and then I moved to Pennsylvania.

Did you have other families in Pennsylvania when you moved there?

My mom and dad were there. They had moved out from California. During my freshman year in college in 1983, they moved to Bethel. They tried to run away from all their kids but I found them.

How many children did your parents have?

I was raised with two older brothers. Those were my oldest brother, Mark and my other brother Kurt. I like to say Kurt’s my twin. I was born on his third birthday. He wanted GI Joe but he got a Jennifer. Mark was five and a half years older than I was and two and a half years older than Kurt. Mark was killed in a motorcycle accident when he was 25 and I was 19 years old.

I am sorry to have talked about that. How did your brother Mark’s passing impact you in your life?

It changed it tremendously. My brother was not always the nicest. He was a big brother. He filled the role to a tee. He was tough on me and babysat me by putting me on my bed and telling me there were alligators under it so I wouldn’t get off the bed. My parents always let us say, “I love you because you’re my brother but I don’t like you right now.”

When Mark died, it was 2 weeks after his 25th birthday. I had come down from Oregon from school. Kurt, me, a couple of Mark’s friends and his new girlfriend all took him out to brunch for his 25th birthday. I had seen him a few days before he passed. Also, he came to visit me at the family that I used to babysit for. I was down at their house at the end of college. He was growing up but it was tough. We talked about death. We talked about it to him, honestly. That helped out a lot. He wasn’t idolized and put on a pedestal when he died. We were real about it so that helped out a lot.

When you say talk, was that between you and your family or friends? Where was that dialogue held?

The dialogue was mostly with my family. My parents and I were very good about it. Kurt had a tougher time. You could tell by the way that he reacted to everything. I was back home in Pennsylvania living with my parents in between years in college when everything happened. I had gotten back to Pennsylvania and we flew back out to California. I had them around but it changed my life tremendously.

You say tremendously. If you were to take that word a little bit further and unpack that, what are some specific ways maybe it impacts your life?

It has been years. It’s a constant. It affects lots of things. It can be a simple question, “How many siblings do you have?” I have 1 but I had 2. It can be a simple dialogue with meeting new people. They don’t know. Do you go there with it or sit there and go, “I have a brother?”

How does that feel in your heart when you don’t acknowledge Mark and you say one?

I never say one. It enters your mind. You have to think about it like, “Is this the time I do this? Am I bringing in too much?” The people wanted to ask you a general question like, “Is the sun out?” and here, you’re talking about death.

Right there, does it seem like it’s taboo to bring that up considering we live in a world where it is a reality for everyone? Does it seem like it’s something you shouldn’t say?

I don’t know if it’s because of my life. I don’t feel like it, which is why I always say I had two. I know that the perception is taboo. People don’t want to deal with and talk about it. They want to say, “Let me go over here.” It is life and it is unfortunately part of my character and my makeup.

Thank you for mentioning that because the loss of that person will impact you in some form or fashion forever. That’s probably also why you agreed to have this conversation with me. You are part of my hood, being my friend. You were one of the first people that spent a lot of time with me in this process. To not make it taboo and difficult for other people, I wanted to hear from the perspective of someone that was my friend in that process. Speaking of that, do you remember the first time we met or how we became friends?

 

WRT 6 | Losing Someone

 

I don’t know. I’m trying to remember if we were in Iraq at the same time but at different places. I know that you and Jen were good friends. Jeff and I worked together a lot. We got those outer circles merged. This circle met this circle. There was that intersection. We had a new group in that intersection and then things moved from there. We’d walk, talk and things like that. We’d have some great discussions. We came over for a couple of bonfires. I was scrolling through some of our past texts, Facebook messages and things trying to put a timeline together of things. I don’t know what that did.

Where we met, I don’t know. I feel like when I came to Iraq, you were there. There was a transition. I don’t think we spent the full amount of time there. I feel like I was coming on the end of the rotation and you were coming off. There was a little bit of changeover with that. When I came back, we reconnected by seeing each other. We used to eat lunch together. It was the whole gang together. It’s interesting. When I left, a lot of people left shortly thereafter. Jennifer left and Jeff left also. Jean has since retired. Is Russ still there?

Russ is still there.

If they read this, hello. We used to eat lunch together and also walk a lot during the break. There were also bonfires, coming over and stuff like that. I’m going to shift a little bit. Do you recall how you found out Mark passed? What was going on with us in all of that?

I believe that in the morning, I saw a Facebook post. It was unbelievable. I tried to send some messages to Jen or to verify like, “Is this for real, Doreen?” It was to try and verify that it was for real. We were much closer. On Facebook, I sent you a private message or a text and said my condolences, “I can’t even believe this. I’m very sorry if there’s anything I can do.”

Did I respond or was somebody else on my phone?

You responded. It was hours later. I can’t find that. I know it was Facebook or text message.

It was when I got the new phone number. That’s the challenge. Some people kept the text thread from my old phone number. They go, “I know we talked about this.” They were like, “That was your other phone number.” That’s probably what happened with that.

I knew when you were ready, you would respond. You did respond. I don’t remember how the next was but. I’ve been through whatever you need and you don’t know what you need. People don’t always mean it but I mean it. We discussed or reiterated. I loved what you needed.

Did you bring blankets and pillows into the house?

It was sheets and some air mattresses for your family and friends.

Probably my crew of people from Virginia was all there, which are people that you did meet during the bonfire. I want to say there may have been 15 or 20 people in our house.

Everybody wasn’t there yet. There was you, the kids and your brother. The kids were out of the house when I came over.

If you can remember, what was it like the first interaction seeing me and my disposition? What were your thoughts on that?

Lynnwood and I talked about it before I came over. I was like, “You are a very strong woman. I don’t know if I’m going to go into a facade of her being comfortable and that strong woman or if she’s going to be gone.” We talked a little bit about it ahead of time. It was casual like, “Here, I got your blankets. They’re all in the pillowcase.” It was awkward and uncomfortable like, “His initials are on all of them so you don’t have to worry about that.”

That was smart though. That helped a lot because I was like, “I don’t have time to be thinking about that.”

That took some of the headaches away from you when you were ready to be done with everything. I wanted to make things as helpful but as easy as I could. Who wants to deal with normal stuff when your world is turned around? We did the normal courtesy chat stuff and things like that. You talked a little bit about how you guys were going over some bills or something like that or paperwork and things like that. Finally, I said, “Have you cried?”

What did I say?

You looked at your brother and said, “I ugly cried and slid down the wall.” It was not in a bad way but you slid down the wall. We talked that you had cried and had your moments. You still ugly cry and couldn’t believe it. It’s a tough thing to do because I don’t want to make you sad but your world is going to be sad. My family talks so I wanted to make sure you were talking, crying and not going into control mode organizing everything and staying away from emotions. They’re going to come sometime.

Don’t go into control mode organizing everything and staying away from emotions. They’re going to come sometime soon. Click To Tweet

After that conversation, what was your takeaway? What did you think I was doing?

You were going through things normally. You were dealing with it. You were crying when you needed to and laughing a little bit here and there. You were having some smiles about some memories and things. The thing that is normal for going through a grieving process is you’re going to be all over the place. You weren’t being stoic, which was what I was worried about with you because you’re such a strong woman. I didn’t want you to hide behind that.

I don’t know where this perception of me being strong is but I’m going to roll with it. It’s more me depending on my faith than depending on myself. That strength may come looking in a different package. You drop off everything at the house. People are still coming in. Did we connect any more between that and Mark’s service?

We talked a little bit about it and then got information from Jen and Doreen. That’s probably about the inner circle that I connected with. We talked about when his service was going to be and things like that.

That was a week later. His service was on a Saturday. What was it like at that point for you to be my friend in that process? What was it like being at his service with the kids? What were your thoughts? What was going on?

I hate funerals. I hate you having to be upfront all by yourself when things are gripping you. You want to be like, “Can I go sit up there and give her a hug?” That’s hard. There are some points where you take back the emotions and listen to people eulogizing and talking about Mark. I knew you a lot better than Mark. My interactions with Mark had been the bonfires and the one day that I came over to stay with you so they could go to church and everything when you were going through your breast cancer.

We skipped right over that.

While it’s very sad and everything, I didn’t know Mark that much except through you in our talks. To listen to people talk about him, meet some family and things like that, you isolate emotions and things like that. It always gets me at funerals. Everybody should sit on the floor and the couch altogether or something like that. It’s tough to see you isolated up there and having to watch this service happen where you’re saying your final goodbyes and things like that.

When did you finally get to give me a hug and feel like connecting one-on-one again?

I don’t think it was until you came back to work.

I was out for about three months.

I don’t remember going back over to the house. It was quite a while until I came and got the bedding and things like that but it was quite a while.

Three months go by and I’m finally back at work. You probably picked up the bedding and everything but it was probably a quick interaction.

I’m trying to think. You weren’t even home when I picked it up. I’m not sure what you were out doing but you weren’t even at the house at the time. Catherine might have been there.

The first time we connected, you think it was when I returned to work after three months. You had to come to pick up the blankets. What do you recall about that piece?

We had talked about it. When I came over to the house, you were not home. I’m not positive but I think that Catherine was home and we got them from her.

I don’t remember that so that sounds about right. Me coming back to work, what do you recall about that?

Mama mode. Do you know how Tobyhanna is with talk and things like that? People started talking about different things and everything like that. People are nosy. People are crass.

While I was out, a lot of people were coming to you because they knew we were close friends and asking questions.

They were asking different things. It was like, “How’s she doing? What happened? When will she come back to work?” It was the normal type of thing. I was like, “You don’t need to worry about it. She’ll be here when she gets here.” They were like, “I heard she’s retiring.”

A lot was going through my mind. I remember my supervisor when Mark first passed. He was like, “Take your time. Don’t worry about it.” A month went by and he was like, “How are you doing? How are you feeling?” I was thinking, “I don’t know if I could make sentences.” My job was very demanding. There was a lot to have to be on point about. There was a lot of interfacing with customers and different things that I wasn’t certain if I could return to doing if I needed to ask for a different work assignment. A lot of things went through my mind.

At the three-month mark, I was thinking, “You probably need to figure out if you’re going to go back to work or not.” I thought about not going back to work but then, I didn’t know what I would do with myself. I didn’t know what I was going to do every day. I felt like going back to work drew me into interacting with people instead of being locked into staying at home so I finally decided to come back to work. I could see a lot of people asking questions and engaging. Did it seem like they were insensitive because they were asking questions? What was it about it that made you feel you had to bear up?

They wouldn’t ask, “How was your day?” I was like, “There are 365 days out of the year. Why now?” It’s because something had happened and they were asking things. It’s enough to deal with the normal people in your life, let alone everybody else. People come in and ask you questions that they didn’t need to. When you came to work, you needed to zone in on that and not have to deal with everything else. People come in and make you cry at work. This is the time she needs to come in and be a little stoic and not have to fight for that.

Do you remember my first day coming back and what that looked like or any interaction that first week or so?

When you first came back, you didn’t come back full-time.

You’re right. I did do part-time.

You did part-time and was like, “That’s it. I’m going to go home now.”

That’s a good point because I didn’t even think about that. I remember coming back to work. Getting dressed, driving in and getting there was such a huge accomplishment. I was so drained. I got to work the first day and annoyingly, my supervisor’s name was Mark. I had to utter his name and not fall to pieces in our first meeting. I was like, “I can’t do this.”

Since that appearance of strength is what people are accustomed to, I saw him having a hard time reconciling like, “What do you mean you can’t do this?” I had to tell him, “I’m going to have to call you by your last name. I can’t do this.” He was like, “I never thought of that but you’re right.” He allowed me to adjust to that. I don’t know if you remember being at work and someone was trying to talk to me about relationships and how upset they were. I didn’t even know how to end the conversation. You rescued me from that discussion.

I remember at least one incident but I don’t remember everything about it. I remember that type of thing that there were times when people needed to be redirected away, change the subject or things like that. It was not to keep you in a bubble but to ease back into things and not slam you like, “Here’s life back to normal.” That was one of the things when my brother passed. I couldn’t believe that everybody could go on with their everyday lives. I was like, “The world changed. Don’t you understand this? How are you talking about, “Let’s go to Burger King.” My brother died.” I know that everyday life is offensive at first. It was to me. I wanted to prevent or ease some of that for you at work.

It helps to ease back into things and not slam you into “back to normal.” Click To Tweet

My life at work was so public. A lot of times, people thought they knew me more than they did because of the role that I had. That made accessibility to me a little bit different. I feel like my ability to articulate the fog of that situation made it so difficult to engage and talk while I needed rescue and when I didn’t even realize it. I feel like I was a shell of myself to some extent.

Tina gets up, talks and does was it invocations?

Yeah. Those were things when we didn’t have a chaplain. I stood in and did that.

Everybody is like, “Tina can talk. This is the new Tina. She needs to be here, breathe, turn on the computer and look at it.” We went for extra walks. You came over to my desk a couple of times and if I was able to, we’d go for a little bit of a walk or something like that to stop the phone from ringing. These people kept asking you things by email. You weren’t ready to do it for 8 or 9 hours a day.

You’re right. When you’re back to work, people expect you to be on back to work mode. Even though everyone knew what happened. From the people I dealt with in Huntsville and every command I dealt with, everybody knew but when I was back to work, they expected me to be the same person that I was coming back to work.

That was the way before everything had changed. I have not lost a husband but I’ve lost a brother. I’ve lost my grandparents and my best friend’s young daughter. I’ve been through a lot of death but I can’t even fathom the loss of a spouse and how much I can say, “When Mark died, it was this. When Ashley died, it was this.” I can’t even fathom how much more it was.

You and Mark were married for a long time since you were young. You were good friends. You had a good relationship, a good family relationship and everything. You’ve lost that. How are you supposed to concentrate on work and then on politeness to other people around that don’t need it? It’s hard. I’ll go back to Ashley. My best friend that we went up to Oregon together got married and had a little girl, Ashley Shanae, my goddaughter.

When Ashley was in first grade, Ashley and the little neighbor, her best friend Nick, went to go play with the big kids in Michigan. They fell through the ice and both died. Only children of mothers who could never have another child. Mary and I had been best friends. We hated each other in 5th grade and in 6th grade, we were best friends. We’d been around each other’s kids their whole lives and everything like that. My kids had been to see her and Ashley and Mary had come to Pennsylvania to see us.

When Ashley died, Mary and I would talk for hours on the phone like normal. It was about nothing. One night, I was laying there and Mary said, “Did Kyla and Kara die?” I said, “What are you talking about?” She was like, “When Ashley died, did Kyla and Kara die?” I was like, “No.” She was like, “You should probably talk about them occasionally.” I was afraid to talk about my girls because she no longer had hers. There is a balance between somebody coming up and talking to you about relationships and ignoring the situation.

There is a balance between somebody talking to you about relationships and ignoring the situation. Click To Tweet

You are ignoring your life in the essence of the other person. The idea of learning when to talk about your life and when not to ignore different things, how did you find that balance with me since we walked and talked a lot? How did that go?

When I say you’re a strong woman, you’ve always been a strong, good example to me about things. We talk about interviews, relationships, raising our kids and things like that. We’ve talked back and forth. I’ve always respected the things that you’ve had to say. One of the most important things about being a good friend and being able to help somebody is to listen. A lot of what I did was to listen to you and see what you needed because a lot of times, you tell me. I don’t remember what it was but you would tell me about the different books and things that you were reading.

 

WRT 6 | Losing Someone

 

You had told me about the one where this lady said, “Nobody ever remembers the anniversary, the anniversary of the death, his birthday, my birthday,” and things like that. I put your anniversary, Mark’s birthday, the anniversary of his death and things like that on my calendar. I would make sure that on those days, I start my morning with a message or a text to you about something. You guided me in what you needed to the point that when you were done with it, you flat-out said, “At some point, it’s enough and I’m good without that.”

It was the wedding anniversary. It was a smart idea because it was my birthday. Our wedding anniversary is right after my birthday. It seemed fun when we got married and did that. I didn’t think about 29 years later. It was getting to a point I was so gut-wrenched about celebrating our anniversary. I couldn’t enjoy my birthday anymore because it was so hard. For me, there was nothing to celebrate anymore. The anniversary was a celebration of our continually being married. It was the 2nd or 3rd year. It was like, “We’re not though.” It seemed, for me, so hollow and empty. It made me pissed off to think about, “This would’ve been our anniversary.” I’m not counting.

Before, it was like, “We made twenty.” We made 29 and thinking about getting to 30. I’m saying, “This would’ve been such and such.” It was torture for me to continue doing that. I am grateful to you and other friends that heard what I was talking about to take that extra effort and put those dates down and the value of what that meant to circle back to me. When that happened, I was like, “They remember.” It didn’t get washed into the sea of forgetfulness. It was intentional.

I did the same type of thing with my mom because Mark died in June. His birthday was May. It was a full year until the first birthday without him. It was almost a whole year.

You’re talking about your brother, Mark?

Yeah. There are too many Marks. It was the first Mother’s Day. From the middle of May to the first week in June, everything was crammed all into that same timeframe for her. Mark made her a mother. I made sure on Mother’s Day to send her some flowers and acknowledge that she became a mother on Mother’s Day when he had been born. I made sure to acknowledge that on his birthday, she became a mom on that day because he was her firstborn. She’ll always be a mother since that date. With the anniversary of his death, it was like, “You’re not forgotten. It didn’t go away because the person went away. You’ll always have part of that as your identity.”

It’s important because when we lose someone, it does feel like a part of ourselves has gone with them. I also like what you said about not forgetting them. You can still invoke their name. You can speak about them. That impact that they’ve made on your life doesn’t change.

When we lose someone important, it feels like a part of ourselves has gone with them. Click To Tweet

We were talking. Whether it’s a season or reason or for a lifetime that somebody’s in your life, when somebody comes into your life they impact you and change your life in some way or form. You’re always going to be a little bit different whether it was a positive, a negative or otherwise. Even though Mark’s not physically here, he’ll always be a part of who you are.

Let’s say someone came to you and said, “My best friend lost their husband or wife. What should I do?” Based on your experience, what guidance or recommendation would you give to them?

Be still with them at first and listen to what they need. If they need silence and to be in the same room, be there. If they need to be held, hugged and told to breathe, be there. You have to let that person guide you to what they need. You have to pay attention to them and see where they are and what they need. If they’re your friend and they’ve been in your life, you know them. That is when I asked, “Had you cried?” That was part of knowing that I know it’s all raw but I know she’s going to move through this time. She’s going to process and do things. I know that you were moving through things.

 

 

Be with them and listen. Don’t empty offer whatever you need because people don’t know if they need 87 lasagnas or, “I haven’t changed my clothes.” Maybe they need you to go and be with them and say, “Let’s try brushing the teeth today. Let me answer the phone for you all day,” or something. See what needs to be done to help them to get through each day.

Thank you for speaking about that. I remember people asking me or making this statement. They were like, “If you need anything let me know,” and would move on. I felt like when I heard it, it was an easy thing that they felt, “I talked to the widow and I asked her if she needed anything. I did my service. I checked the block and I moved on.”

People that knew me better, like yourself, would identify something that they knew or felt that I needed and said, “Can I do XYZ for you?” My brain could not process, “What do I need?” To be honest, every time someone said, “I can do anything for you,” instantly, in my head, I wanted to say, “Can you bring my dead husband back? Can you bring Mark back? Don’t tell me you can do anything because you cannot.”

I don’t think I ever told someone that but that was the narrative that would play in my head. They were like, “I can do anything,” but you can’t do anything. Stop offering. I would say, “Thank you,” but in my head, there were so many different things. I remember saying, “Don’t ask me how I’m doing. Ask me how I’m doing today.” If you asked me how I was doing, that spectrum was so large. I was like, “Inside, I am falling apart. I’m trying to get through this moment right here doing that.” I shared that as far as I’m doing.

That’s what I said. I would listen to you. You guided where you were, what you needed and if you didn’t know what you needed. There were times that we talked about simple things like grocery shopping for the kids or doing things like that. I’m trying to remember. There was something.

With that Blue Apron shop, I stopped cooking and going to the grocery store. I was like, “Ain’t nobody doing this.” Catherine went into the military. I was like, “I’m home alone. I’m not cooking. Who’s doing that?”

When we had the girls’ bonfire, I couldn’t believe all those boxes.

That’s right. We had a private bonfire because everybody was wondering about the bonfire. It was you and a girlfriend named Renee. You two came.

There were a few of us there.

It was a small group. Sorry for anybody that wasn’t invited to that bonfire. You came and we burned things. We did do that. There were a lot of Blue Apron boxes.

There were HelloFresh boxes in some cabinets. Tina was fixing up the house.

That was fun though. It was a small group. It was like the things we used to do but not in a big group. It was enough to feel like life was being recaptured because the normal is new.

It was reformulated. This was ease into a new normal. This is how this could be. All those boxes were on the whole porch.

It was piled up. You are so right.

I was like, “How much did you eat of this stuff?” I remember I got three HelloFresh meals.

I would post them on my Facebook. I had everybody trying that stuff. A lot of people enjoyed that for the first time. It was fun. Jennifer, thank you for having this conversation. Are there some things you think that we should have talked about that we may have missed or some things you remember that I’m not thinking of? It may be some words of advice you want to give to somebody.

The main thing is don’t do the check-the-box. Even if it’s somebody that’s not your good friend, don’t check the box. If you’re not good friends with somebody, ask somebody, “What can I do for her, him or that family? Can I go grab some groceries and bring them to the house? Can I come and take some laundry and do laundry?” Ask something intentional and helpful. It isn’t bringing the lasagna because everybody I know that’s had some family tragedy has a freezer of 87 lasagnas. Everybody thought that a meal train was helpful. I’m sorry. I know it makes people feel good to do something but let’s help people with intention and something helpful.

 

 

What I hear you saying is to meet them at their point of need, not something superficial. When you say that, how did you get past being uncomfortable to ask me if I was crying or not versus dropping off the laundry and leaving? How did you get to that place of, “I’m going to be intentional?”

It’s because I love you enough. That is true. Lynnwood and I talked about it before I came over so that I would do that. I would make sure that I didn’t just drop off the laundry and run to where it was uncomfortable where I could isolate. This needed to affect me too. I needed to be there for you to make sure that I was a friend and I was seeing if there was anything I could do for you. I knew I couldn’t bring Mark back. I know that answer. I’ve lived too many deaths in my life to know it. That’s part of why I’m able to ask those questions and things. It’s because I’ve been through a lot of it. It was not a spouse but I’ve been through a lot of death in my life.

You leveraged your experience with a loss and empathy and looked at it very realistically. You were like, “Tina’s going to need XYZ. Based on what I’ve experienced, I could see what this is going to look like.” You’re not running away. You’re staying there and being a friend.

It’s tough. I’m not saying it’s easy. We talked about it. I probably refolded some of the bedsheets and things a couple of times to make sure I was ready. Who knows what I could have walked into? You could have been angry and inconsolable. You could have had an apron and pearls and then made meals for 87 people coming to visit.

I was not doing that.

I’m saying you never know how anybody’s going to react in a situation. You have to be ready to adjust to them like, “Where are you at? How can I approach you? What can I give you or help you with?”

You never know how someone will react in a situation. You have to be ready to adjust to them. Click To Tweet

That is fair. You have been consistent in doing that. I do remember, at the beginning of this, reading different books about grief and traveling and talking to other widows and widowers. I was then hearing how many people lost friends in that process because it was too difficult for that friend to engage with that widower. They distanced themselves because it was too painful.

I want to say thank you. Even though it was painful, you stayed true and have been my friend no matter how difficult it was. That is a gift that I don’t take for granted that I know other people did not have the ability to maintain. Thank you. Thank you for having this conversation with me. This is thrilling for you to do. I know you also see the value of letting people know they’re not alone. Hopefully, somebody’s friend will see this and go, “What do I have to do?” Maybe that friend needs to get another friend to help encourage them so they can help that widower or somebody that has a loved one because they do want to be there. Those are some good tips. Thank you.

Anytime.

We finished the episode with my friend Jennifer Marriner. She does not like public speaking but what she does is love me. She loves the mission that we’re on here with the show. She opened herself up and shared some things from her heart. Thank you for being here with us. We are heading off to our next conversation. I hope you have a good day. Bye.

 

About Jennifer Marriner

WRT 6 | Losing SomeoneHi, my name is Jennifer Marriner – I was born and raised in California, the youngest of three children; two older brothers. I moved to Oregon in the early 80s; to start my college career. I met my (ex-) husband while in college, got married, and we had twin girls. They are grown and gone (G&G). After my divorce, my girls and I moved to Pennsylvania, where my parents had relocated in 1983.

I re-entered college and graduated from Temple University; with a BS in Kinesiology, emphasizing Athletic Training. I was, and still am, a sports nut! I worked in physical therapy and High School and College sports for 15 years – before moving to the Federal Government.

After 31 years in PA – I took a job with the United States Air Force and moved South; I now live in Georgia. I am now a Grandmother to two Redheaded young boys (5&3). I love it! I love to Hike, gather with friends, I am learning to play Pickleball (just graduated Pickleball 101 last night).

I love to travel, and I am restoring a 1963 Shasta compact camper to share my adventures with my grandsons.

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