The shadows of a tragic event shall cast the beauty of love that radiates between you and your late hubsand. You will only feel the rhythm of life’s music until you learn to overcome the loss. In this episode, Tawana Proctor-Robinson recounts her life with her husband, Victor, and how he struggled with fentanyl, which led to an accidental overdose. As a drug dealer turned into a drug addict, Victor was a product of his environment and became his own demise. Tawana shares her insights on Victor’s struggles and what she learned along the way. Let’s join Tawana as she flips the pages into her story of Victor’s addiction, death, and their love and life together. Tune in to this episode today and indulge yourself with her wisdom and insights.
Listen to the song Tawana and Victor created HERE.
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
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Losing Your Love Of Your Life By Accidental Overdose With Tawana Proctor-Robinson
My guest is Tawana Proctor-Robinson. She is one of the founding members of Widowhood Real Talk with Tina, our private Facebook group. She is so low-key and so quiet but so intentional. I want you to pay close attention to this conversation. If you have a loved one or maybe you are struggling with a drug addiction, pay attention to the words that she has to say. The journey that she’s been on and the wisdom that she is sharing will be life-changing for you. Let’s get into this conversation now.
Tawana, welcome to the Widowhood. I guess it’s not welcome to the Widowhood because you’re already part of it. You’re part of our private group but welcome to this conversation.
Tawana is part of our private Facebook group and I am super glad to have her in our private group. She wanted to share her journey and I appreciate her for wanting to do that. Tawana, where are you from originally?
I’m from Gary, Indiana, where I reside.
You started in Gary. Where have you traveled and lived? What does that look like for you?
I lived in Indianapolis, Indiana for 31 years, and then I moved back here to take care of my mom in November 2023. I have been hear back home for a year.
What prompted you to move to Indianapolis?
My first husband and I moved to Indianapolis to have a better life.
How did you like Indianapolis?
I loved Indianapolis. There was so much to do and easy to get around. I had to move back to take care of my mom. I knew I’d eventually probably move back to Gary, but I didn’t know when.
Before you met your first husband, what were some things in your life or what were you doing?
My first husband and I got married when I was eighteen, so I was in high school.
Do you have some interests or any activities in high school?
I was in the concert choir and gospel choir. I was in the marching band and concert band. I modeled for a modeling troupe at Horace Mann High School here in Gary, Indiana. I did a lot of things in high school.
I did not know any of that about you. Tell me what type of modeling things you did.
I modeled on our modeling troupe when we had fashion shows at school, and we modeled all types of fashion.
Do you have any pictures of that?
I don’t. This was before the era of taking pictures all the time and stuff.
In a yearbook maybe or something like that?
Maybe in the yearbooks. In my senior year, I didn’t take a lot of pictures in the yearbook. I only had my senior picture in there.
You said marching band, what instrument did you play in the marching band?
I was the first chair clarinet.
Do you still play a clarinet or did you let that go?
I don’t. I let it go after high school. I played for a couple of years after graduation because my band teacher asked me to come back and play for the seniors. I did that a couple of years after I graduated. After that, I haven’t picked up a clarinet. My oldest son and daughter both played clarinet in high school.
You passed it on to your children. You still do have a love for music, if I recall correctly.
I do. I love music. My late husband and I, Victor, recorded and wrote some songs and they’re actually on our YouTube pages.
How did you meet your first husband?
My first husband and I met a month after my daughter was born in June of 1990. We got married about 7 or 8 months after we met.
How long were you guys married?
We were married for about 4 or 5 years. Not very long. Long enough to have two sons.
How old are the boys now?
31 and 29.
Absolutely men. I was not born, so I should say that for sure.
My 31-year-old will be 32 in January 2024.
Do your children live in proximity to you?
My daughter lives here in Gary with my two grandchildren. My oldest son lives in Philadelphia, and my youngest son lives in Bloomington, Indiana. Both of my sons graduated from Indiana University in Bloomington, Indiana, but my youngest son decided to stay and become a school teacher. He did that for several years after he graduated.
There cannot be enough men in education. That is a field where people are needed. After the divorce from your first husband, what did life look like for you then?
After the divorce from my first husband, I got married to my second husband who turned out to be a drug addict. He was very physically abusive. He wasn’t verbally abusive or emotionally, but when he was trying to get a fix and I wouldn’t give him money, he would physically abuse me. Up until that point, he would be nice. I never saw it coming.
Thank you for sharing that, Tawana. Let’s back up a little bit. How did you and Victor meet?
It is odd, but we met at a plasma center, donating plasma. I was sitting there waiting for my initial interview. They interview you and take your vitals before you can donate each time. I was sitting there and he sat next to me and just started talking to me. At the end of our conversation, he asked me what was I going to do when I left there. I said I’m going to the movies. He said, “Can I go?” It’s a public place, I don’t care. We went on our first date, the day we met.
What movie did you see? Do you remember?
I believe we saw Starsky and Hutch. The newest version. We went to Hollywood Bar and Film in downtown Indianapolis, Indiana which is now closed.
What year was that?
It was 2004. It was downtown Indianapolis where you could have dinner and drinks and watch the movie at the same time. It was one of the first places that did that.
Those are so popular now. That’s a common thing now. Before you went to the movies, now you have a whole experience. What did the next date look like?
I didn’t see him for about a month after that. I had major surgery and I didn’t see him for a while. When I saw him again, we talked and talked, then we talked on the phone. We would be on the phone all evening and all day. We never wanted to hang up. We shared our whole life story with each other. We felt comfortable right at the start telling each other everything about ourselves. It was funny because we were both trying to figure out who sung the song I Call Your Name. I said Switch and he said DeBarge. We called his aunt on the phone, and we threeway her. She told us it was Switch, but one of the DeBarge brothers was in Switch so we were technically both right. That was funny. We always remembered that.
How long did you guys date?
We dated for five years before we got married. We lived together for four years before we got married.
Tell me some more about the dating experience with Victor, and what that was like.
It was fun. We were almost inseparable because every time I would go over to one of my friend’s houses, even my female friends, he would go with me. We would play video games, play cards, watch a movie, or play Monopoly but he always wanted to be with me. We spent so much time together when we were dating. He had a cousin whose house we would go over a lot too. We spend time with him and his fiance and their children. He took me around his family and his grandmother and introduced me to his mother. He lived with his mother at the time. She told me I was going to be his wife, and I’m thinking, “I’ve been married twice. I’m not trying to do this again.”
You’ve been married twice before Victor?
Yes. She said, “You’re going to be my son’s wife. You’re the woman that my son needs in his life.” At the time, I was going to a sanctified church and wearing skirts down to my ankle. When he met me, I had on a skirt down to my ankle. I did that for the first couple of years of our relationship. He finally said, “Why don’t you wear some jeans sometime?” I did. I started wearing jeans and pants more often.
How did it go from dating to living with each other? What was that transition? How did that start?
It was a very unusual situation. My mother-in-law called me before she was my mother-in-law. His mother called me and she said, “I’m afraid that my son is going to die out here. Indianapolis is very dangerous. Can he come and live with you?” I thought about it for a minute, but I said okay. When he came to live with me, we were still not serious about each other, but we were very good friends, we considered at the time.
One day, he was in the bathroom cutting his hair. He was ambidextrous so he could use both his hands and he cut his hair. He was in the mirror cutting his hair. He said, “I’m tired of us just being friends, I want us to be more than that.” I blew him off. I didn’t tell him yes right away. Eventually, I told him okay. First, I thought he was a pretty boy, he was from the projects, and he had this thug mentality, which in all honesty, secretly, I was attracted to, but I had had a pass with someone that had that same makeup and I didn’t want to go down that road again. Victor and I were the best of friends. We didn’t keep secrets from each other. Even stuff that was inappropriate to tell your girlfriend or somebody that you are dating, he told me.
I have a question. When he moved in, what was the sleeping arrangement?
At first, he slept on the couch and I slept in the bed.
How long of being together did that shift?
I don’t remember. Probably about 3 or 4 months, not very long.
Once you realized the pattern or the type of person, did you just give into it, or what made you not want to turn around and do something different?
Victor was very charming. He was very kind and he would do anything for you. It was hard not to fall for him. Initially, out of the gate, I was attracted to him because he was a very nice-looking young man. Tall, dark, and handsome, literally. I immediately was attracted to him physically, but I didn’t want what I felt might be the drama that would come behind all that. Plus he had a previous relationship that I felt wasn’t done.
All those good keys to watch out for. Now we go from three months of him living with you. What was that part of the relationship like?
It was okay. We both worked so we would get up in the morning and go to work and everything. I got an opportunity for a job and I turned the job down. He was like, “What did they say you were going to be doing? Girl, call them people back to get that job.” It was a supervisor in a bookstore at Ivy Tech Community College. He encouraged me to take that job and I did take the job. I worked there for a couple of years.
What type of work did Victor do?
He did all kinds of work. He worked in warehouses. When he died, he was working as a maintenance man at an apartment complex. He loved that job and they loved him. After he passed, they were so supportive of me and did everything they could to try to help me. Plus he was a barber naturally. He cut hair. He had a lot of clients, especially young children because he was good at doing the children’s hair.
A charming personality.
It’s hard to deal with children when they’re getting a haircut. They don’t want to be still. He had a young man who was autistic whose hair he would cut. His mom was like, “I don’t know how you do it, but nobody else could get this done.” She adored Victor and appreciated him for being able to communicate with her son and get his hair cut without him getting very upset.
There’s a lot to be said for that type of personality. Victor had to be able to be that consoling and help people like that. Thank you for sharing. What are some other ways that Victor helped people in the way you talk about him?
He was the type of person who would do anything for his friends. He would get up in the middle of the night if they got stranded, got a flat tire, in the hospital, or anything. He was that loyal friend to a fault because a lot of times I would be like, “Why are you running to them? When you need somebody you come to me. You don’t have any of those people. They’re not there for you.” He did it anyway and he didn’t mind. He didn’t complain about it either.
You said you guys dated for 4 or 5 years. After the two relationships that didn’t work, what made you start thinking, “Maybe I would do this again?”
As I told you before, I was in a sanctified church and I didn’t feel comfortable living with him and not being married. For a while, he brushed off the marriage topic and I would talk to him about it because I didn’t want us to continue living together and not being married. One day, we went to dinner and he said, “Do you want to get engaged?” I said, “Sure.” We were engaged for about a year before we got married.
I want to circle back to something because everyone that’s tuning in may not have an understanding. How would you define a sanctified church and what does that look like for somebody?
The church that I was in was called the Church Of God In Christ, for short, it’s COGIC. We believed in wearing long skirts and not wearing a lot of makeup. We believed in setting our lives aside for God to use us. I was conscious of our living arrangements because of that. Sanctify, we consider ourselves set apart for God’s use. We tried to do what was pleasing to God above all else.
Thank you for explaining that. How was your life or what were things that you were doing as far as setting yourself aside for God’s use? How did that show up in your life?
Even though Victor and I lived together for the first 3, 4, or 5 months, I didn’t sleep with him. I kept myself pure from that. After a while, I fell for the temptation. I ended up not going to that church anymore. I lost touch with religion altogether, in all honesty. I have a lot of reasons for that, but that’s another topic for another day. I strongly believe in God. I develop my relationship with him every day. I read my Bible and pray. I do believe in the power of prayer. That’s what happened then.
I apologize for not making the question clear. When you were talking about setting yourself apart or being used for God, in my mind, there were maybe different things you did in the community or different people you were serving or what you were doing to serve God. Being in that sanctified set of apart state is what I was referring to, how you were walking out your faith in life daily.
I prayed regularly. I don’t like to tell things that I did as far as community service and giving stuff. I feel like that’s between you and God. You shouldn’t brag about those things that you do as far as charity.Between you and God, you shouldn't brag about what you do as far as charity. Click To Tweet
Let me ask this question. How would one know they were different in a sanctified church than in a different church? What are some of the things in that experience that would set that aside?
Like I was saying earlier, wearing long skirts and not showing your legs. This is religion and that’s one of the reasons why I’m not involved anymore. This is what it entailed in their eyes, wearing long skirts, not wearing a lot of makeup, not cursing or cussing rather because there’s a difference between cursing and cussing. You went to church about 3 or 4 times during the week, and on Sundays twice. As you said, you do community service as far as food pantries, clothing drives, and raising money for the needy.
Thank you for explaining that because sometimes people hear a phrase or a statement and it doesn’t quite resonate with them to break it down. I like to try to share things that may not be something common that someone has heard before. You’re out eating and he says, “Do you want to get engaged,” and you go yes. What happens from there?
After that, we were engaged for a year. After that year, a situation happened and our house got shot up. After our house got shot up, we ended up moving in with someone that he knew. After we moved in with them and I stayed with him, he was like, “It is time. We need to go ahead and get married. If you stay with me through that, I feel like you could be my wife and we could have a life together. I will try to change my life and not be involved in the streets and stuff like I was.”
Having a background in church and religion, I felt like I could pray away whatever issues he had. I anointed his feet and his head. I anointed his hands while he was asleep. I prayed over him while he was asleep. I did all the things and you have to realize that you cannot pray against someone’s own will. God gives us all free will and if it’s not that person’s will at that time to change, or if they’re not putting forth effort to change, even if they say that they want to, then God is not going to move on that.
Thank you for sharing that. What was the wedding like? Did you elope or was it a ceremony with close friends?
Our wedding was the best day of my life next to having my children. It was very intimate, but as long as my father was there to walk me down the aisle, it was the best day of my life. All of our children were there. My daughter came from out of town to be at the wedding. She was going to be my maid of honor, but she had to go back to Gary the day before the wedding because she got a job. She got called in for a job that she had just interviewed for, so she couldn’t put that off. Other than that, all of our children were there.
We didn’t pay for anything. This is how I felt it was God-ordained because we didn’t pay for the wedding. Our pastor had just become the pastor of the church. We were the first couple that he married as the pastor of the church. His niece was a wedding planner or an event planner. She said, “I’m going to do your wedding.” I was like, “We don’t have money for that.” She was like, “I’m not charging you anything. Just get your dress and you get his tux. I’ll make the cake and everything.” That’s what she did. They decorated the church and did everything.
The night before our wedding rehearsal, I picked up my husband’s aunt and she she said, “I want to ask you one question. If Victor never changes, will you still love him?” I immediately said yes. I thought about that throughout our marriage. That’s one of the things that kept me with him. It was to remember that I said I would love him whether he changed or not. That night before the wedding too, before our rehearsal, his aunt had given me a two CD album of some wedding songs. I picked one that I wanted his cousin to sing as I walked down the aisle and she sang it. She has a beautiful voice like an angel. She memorized that song overnight and sang as I walked down the aisle. I was just so happy.
It was a beautiful day for us. We stood at the altar and made each other laugh while we were standing there to keep from crying. He was making faces at me. It was funny because when my dad walked me down the aisle when we got down to the center, he reached out and grabbed my hand and the pastor said, “Not yet. Hold on.” We all started laughing. He was anxious.
When his aunt asked if Victor never changed, do you know what she was alluding to or what things about him to change or not change that was concerning to her?
I do know. Just to go back a little bit while we were dating. One day I came over to his mother’s house and he was asleep on the couch. His aunt was there and she was praying over him. I didn’t realize it and I didn’t know until that day that he had a drug problem. He had been on a binge and had been out a day or two. She came over to pray for him. I was like, “God, not another one.” I was skeptical, but I was younger then and I wasn’t as wise as I am now. I didn’t realize that I couldn’t pray the addiction away.
Thank you for explaining that. When he was asleep on his mother’s couch, what part of your relationship did that happen when his aunt was praying over him?
We were still dating at the time.
In that first year or down the road?
That first year.
You saw her praying. At what point did you find out she was praying about the drug addiction? Was it that day or sometime later?
That day I realized as she was praying for him that he wasn’t responsive to anything that was going on in the room because he was that tired and he was coming down off of the drugs. I was like, “I would never do this again with another person that was on drugs.” I went against myself. I had decided in my own decision not to be with another person on drugs and I did it anyway. In all honesty, I don’t regret it because he showed me he loved me. He was at every milestone that I accomplished in my life. He was there for me for every milestone I’ve accomplished during our relationship in our marriage. Over the course of the eighteen years, I was there for him. He accepted me for who I was and I accepted him for who he was.
I have bipolar disorder and I had to be hospitalized at one point at the beginning of our marriage. I didn’t think that he would stay with me after that. He came to the hospital, he talked to the doctors, he encouraged me to take my medicine because, for years before that, I got diagnosed when I was 14 or 15 years old. The medicine that they would give me at that time would have me very lethargic and very tired. I felt like a zombie so I wouldn’t take it.
This time when I was hospitalized, shortly after we had gotten married, he encouraged me to take my medicine and it was a different medicine. It wasn’t the same stuff that they were giving me back then. Times change and they evolve and come up with different treatments for things and better treatments. He accepted me for that and I accepted what he was going through and dealing with. He always said he wanted to change. There was a lot of trauma in his childhood and he self-medicated to try to forget those things. I tried to encourage him that wasn’t the way, that there was another way that God could deliver him and set him free from that. He had a relationship with God.
I know people don’t like to believe that a person who was on drugs or living a certain type of lifestyle would have a relationship with God. We’re all sinners saved by grace and none of us are perfect and we’re all dealing with something. God accepts us and he can deliver, but as I said, he won’t go against your will.
I want to circle back to something that you said about the trauma in Victor’s life and dealing with that with self-medicating. I know that when my late husband passed, there was a choice between how to manage that grief. I say grief in this regard as it relates to the death of a loved one, but grief manifests in our lives in so many different ways with different traumas that we’ve experienced. Whether it was abuse in a household growing up, or never being able to express your emotions, different things that were stuffed inside of ourselves and not being able to express those emotions freely.
Oftentimes, from talking to therapists and other mental health wellness professionals, a lot of times where people are dealing with self-medicating ways, it’s because of grief that was not managed correctly. Thank you for mentioning that. People don’t start drug addictions a lot of times just because. It’s because of masking something else that they’re not dealing with. They never feel like the drug is going to control them, that they’re going to control it, and not being able to do that. Thank you for mentioning that part of it because it’s not just they did drugs but what was it that led them to it.
Thank you for talking about the things that Victor struggled with. I dare to agree that when we leave this world, we’re all going to leave still struggling with something, but people like to often point fingers at other people that whatever they’re dealing with is worse than my struggle. We all have something that we’re struggling with in trying to live in this world.
He was a product of his environment. He grew up in the projects on the east side of Indianapolis, in the Amberwood project that used to be Park Chateau. That’s what people did out there. They did drugs and they sold drugs. He went from being a drug dealer to being a drug addict. They say in the streets, “Don’t get high on your supply.” That’s what ended up happening and he ended up becoming addicted. Unfortunately, he became a victim of his demise.Don't get high on your own supply, or you will become a victim of your own demise. Click To Tweet
Outside of everything else you’ve spoken about, what would be something people like, “I didn’t know that about Victor, or I would’ve never thought Victor did those good things about him.” It just would’ve been like, “I would’ve had no clue that that’s something Victor would’ve done.”
He played the drums for our church and for several churches that we attended. Some people know and a lot of people don’t know, but he was a great drummer. Also, he was a music producer. We had a music studio in our home. He would wake me up sometime in the middle of the night. I turned to him and said, “Sing this for me.” The only difference was he wasn’t physically abusive. He would be like, “Sing this for me or I thought of this.” He would wake me up to record something and then he’d get mad at me because I was too tired to sing or I was not enthusiastic about it but we would eventually get it done.
We came up with some music and they were all gospel songs. That’s why people would be surprised to know that they were all gospel songs. For some of them, he used poems. I write poems and sometimes he would use some of my poems and turn them into a song. He mastered it, produced it, and did the beats and everything himself.
Any other things about Victor that you want to share that somebody may not know about him?
He was ambidextrous so he could use both hands. He loved cutting hair. I tried to encourage him to go to barber’s college, but he was like, “I don’t want to do that. I don’t want to make this a career. I do it because I like to do it and I want to be able to do it when I feel like it and for people that are close to me and people that I know.”
At what point in your life with Victor did you start seeing that the drugs were going to be getting out of control or more than he could handle?
After his mother died. She lived with us for six years before she died. She was on dialysis and had a quadruple bypass. I thought that they were mistaken, but I spoke to her doctor myself and he said she had a quadruple bypass. After she was diagnosed with stomach cancer, she had surgery to remove the small portion of cancer that was in her stomach. She had complications after the surgery and had to have a tracheotomy. Being on dialysis, they did not have a facility in Indiana that could house her with a trach and having to have dialysis. We ended up having to move her to Illinois to be able to have a place for her to go because she had the trach she was on dialysis and she was too ill to come home.
After we moved her to Illinois, we would go and visit her on the weekends. It was a real strain on us to have to keep going out of town on the weekends back and forth. We did it because we didn’t want her to feel like we put her there and just left her there by herself. We would go on the weekends and then one time we went, she said, “I want to come home.” We brought her home and she was in the hospital of course because she still was too ill to be at home. She ended up passing in the hospital.
After she passed, he went into this deep dark depression and he was unable to get out of bed aside from going to work. He would come home and get back in bed. The drug addiction got severe at this point. It got so bad for the first couple of years after she passed. She passed on July 19th, 2016. I had just started a new job on July 11th. On July 19th, I got the call while I was at work that she had passed. They couldn’t get in touch with him. He was at home. They had told us the night before that she was going to pass soon. I spent the night with her, but I had to go to work in the morning.
When I left, her niece and her sister came up there to be with her. She passed while they were there. They couldn’t get in touch with him so they got in touch with me. I left work, went home, and I had to break the news to him. He didn’t want to go to the hospital, but I said, “Baby, you are her next akin, you have to go.” We went to the hospital and we spent time with her after she had passed in the room until the mortuary came to get her at the funeral home.
He was in a dark place and there was nothing anybody could do or say to make him feel any better. He would get high more often. After a few years, probably about 3 or 4 years, he started getting better as far as the drug use was. He wasn’t doing it as often, and he was coming out of that dark place. When Fentanyl came on the scene and he had heard about people dying from a Fentanyl overdose, he told me about it. I didn’t know anything about it. I learned a lot from him and my second husband about addiction and drugs because I don’t use myself. Just being with them, I learned so much because I saw so much.
He ended up telling me about it. I asked him a question. I said, “Babe, don’t you think you should stop because it can happen to you?” He said, “It can’t happen to me because I know where and who I get my drugs from.” I was like, “You don’t know where they get it from. You don’t know what people do to it so it could happen.” Sure enough, that’s what ended up happening.
You approached me about wanting to have this conversation. What were some things that you wanted people to know and to gain from this discussion?
First of all, it can happen to you. They’re putting it in weed or cocaine. Don’t feel like just because you know who you get your drugs from, it cannot happen to you. At first, I did not want to tell anyone his cause of death after I found out. At first, I didn’t know and they told me he died in his sleep. That’s what the coroner told me on the scene because I did go to where his body was where he died and saw him before they put him in the coroner’s wagon. It can happen. Not only that. I didn’t want to tell anyone after I found out. I felt ashamed and I felt like, “How would people look at me and judge me?” In all honesty, I don’t care.
I feel like this is something that needs to be told. What encourages me to tell my story about Victor and his addiction is DMX, the rapper. His daughter Sonovah is 11 years old, and she started when she was 10 years old advocating for families of people who have lost a loved one due to Fentanyl poisoning. If this little girl can talk about her dad’s addiction and his death due to Fentanyl overdose and poisoning, then I should open my mouth and say something so that people who know me or know someone who’s on drugs or is on drugs themselves can see that this can happen.
It has happened even to people that you know, and if you are on drugs, please stop. Please get help. Please seek counseling. There’s inpatient and outpatient rehab. You don’t have to go into rehab if you have a job and take care of a family. If you’re a functioning addict and feel like you can’t stop your life to get treatment, there are so many ways that you can get treatment.If you own drugs, please stop, get help, and seek counseling. Click To Tweet
If I’m with someone, are there signs that you learned that looking back in hindsight, this was a sign or that was a sign? Would you mind sharing what some of those signs were?
There are signs that a person is using cocaine or crack. Signs like they are making excuses to leave home at all untimely hours of the night and day. They will move their fingers a lot and it seems like it’s almost uncontrollable. Things like that. People who use cocaine and crack, from my experience with my two husbands who used, got quiet and seemed distant as though they were zoned out. You could be talking to them and they’re not paying any attention to you because their focus is stuck. They can’t concentrate on what you are saying or the fact that you’re even talking to them.
From what you’ve shared in this conversation, you have dealt with grief yourself. What are some healthy coping mechanisms that you have found in dealing with grief compared to people who are self-medicated?
Dealing with the passion of my husband, I don’t like to stay lost because I feel like I know where he is. I feel like to be absent from the body is to be present with God. I know a lot of people may not agree with me because of the way he died, but the night before he died, we had a Bible study. He had prayed over me and our family. Not only that, a friend of his called and was talking about committing suicide, and he talked him out of committing suicide the night before he died. God looks at the heart and people look at the outer appearance and look at what you do on the outside, but God looks at your heart. I believe Victor’s heart makes it to be with God.
How do you manage your grief or how do you deal with grief or your coping skills?
Like I said, I don’t feel like he’s lost. I feel like I know where he is. I’m encouraged by that because we had a conversation a couple of weeks before he passed. We said that we wanted to not be here when the tribulation period came. I coped because he’s no longer struggling with his addiction. He’s no longer struggling with the childhood trauma and the things that he was dealing with. I don’t feel like he’s missing his mom anymore, his grandmother, or his son, because they all preceded him in death. I just have a hope that I’ll see him again.
I look at his pictures. I post his pictures and I think about him every day. I think about all the good times and good memories and all the things that we did together. How we made a life together and helped to raise our children together. I look at all those things and I have no regrets. I feel like he made it in and that’s how I coped. I read my Bible a lot and pray to God and I listen to gospel music. I spend time with my children, my grandchildren, and my grandchildren who are out of town. I like to talk to them and keep up with their parents and make sure they are okay. If I can FaceTime them, I’ll FaceTime them.
I spend time with my daughter who lives here and my only two biological grandchildren. Those things keep me encouraged. They keep me looking forward to the day when I will be with Victor again. I don’t feel sad. I did for the first month or 2, maybe 3 months or so. After that, I began to feel encouraged and I said, “He made it in. I know where he is and he’s not lost and one day, I will see him again.” I’m encouraged by that. I’m encouraged by the Bible study that we had the night before he died, and the prayer because we prayed together often. When we went to bed, we would pray before we go to sleep. I would encourage him to pray most of the time because he was the head of the household and the man prays for the head of the household. I felt like that was important. No regrets. If I had it to do all over again with Victor, I would do it again.
What shifted from you no longer being ashamed?
When I saw that young baby, that was the catalyst right there. I said, “Tawana, this can happen to anybody.” If she can talk about it and advocate after the passing of her dad, then I could speak about my experiences with Victor and what we went through before his passing. Try to encourage someone who may not be aware or even if they are aware or in denial, that it can happen to them, to encourage them to please stop, please seek help, reach out to your family and friends, and tell them what you’re going through. Let them help you. help yourself first because another person can’t pray it out of your life, they can’t wish it out of your life, and they can’t make you do it. You have to do it with God’s help for yourself.
Thank you for sharing your journey. Thank you for sharing about who Victor was. He was struggling with something and the way he managed it was difficult. Thank you for encouraging other people to not be ashamed, to put a voice to their struggles, and to seek help. Is there anything that you thought about having this conversation you wanted to talk about that we maybe didn’t cover?
Another thing I did want to say is don’t shame a person for being on drugs. Encourage them and love them. We shouldn’t point the finger and say, “You shouldn’t, why are you doing this?” Don’t do that. Love and kindness are what the Bible says. It takes love, kindness, prayer, and encouragement for a person to take that step, get the help that they need, and carry through. It may take four or 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, or 10 tries for them to come to a point where they can quit, and quit for good and forever, but always be willing to be there and encourage them.
I’ve been asking you a lot of questions by chance. Any questions you have of me or anything of that way at all?
I just wanted to say thank you for allowing me to come on this grief journey with you. I see how far you’ve come and I recognize, I was one of the founding members of the Facebook page. I remember when you sent me the invite and I was like, “It’s only about 20 people on here but that’s okay. I’m going to take part and be involved as much as I can.” I want to thank you for allowing me to share my story and Victor’s story. It’s one that a lot of people don’t talk about and that you don’t hear about often. Thank you very much and I look forward to your future show. I’ve tuned in to many of the previous ones as well.
I remember when your cousin reached out to me and then I connected with you. We were just getting started. October made one year. I remember thinking, “I don’t know if anybody is going to want to join this,” because you look at some of these groups and they have thousands of people. What I’ve also learned is there’s a very small percentage of people that share and connect. Now I’m at the place where I’m okay if there are never thousands. What I want is people who share. I feel like in our private Facebook group, some people are watching in the background, reading, and engaging.
What I’ve learned is that grief has a way of muting us, that we feel like our voice is gone, that we feel like maybe people don’t care anymore. We’ve shared so much that we may have worn out everyone, but we all need a safe space and we need community as we are going through this difficult journey to know that we are not alone. I am grateful for every person who follows and participates, and like yourself, people who have donated because we are a 501(c)(3).
Sometimes people go, “I thought it was just a podcast. I didn’t know it was this and it was that.” There are different things that we’re doing to help people get through this grief journey. Miss founding member, thank you so much for being a part of this and being on this journey with me. There’s so much out there trying to get our attention on social media. When people like yourself decide that this is where they want to be, I know they’ve thought it through because there are so many other things trying to grab our time. Finding a place where you feel wanted, connected, and valued is important.
If people are tuning in to our show and are interested in joining the private Facebook group, we do have that. We have meetups twice a month. I’m going to tell you something that I’ll be announcing to the group. We have a gentleman in the group who’s going to start hosting one of the meetups that we have in the evening. He will be doing it on the second Thursday of the month, and I’ll be doing it on the fourth Thursday.
Just as Victor struggled, I feel like men in our society struggle with having a safe space to talk about their struggles. Having this gentleman lead one of the groups will create a space for men to want to participate and not have to hold so much in and have a place where they can share a safe space, where they can talk about what they are grieving whether it is the death of a loved one or other experiences in life. We are super excited. You have to hold that close. We’ll be mentioning them in the private group. On December 15th, 2023, we’ll have his information available. I’m going to put it out starting in January 2024. We’ll have it twice a month on Thursday. The ladies can go to his group, but I think a man leading it will draw men in to want to be part of that conversation. That’s what we’re hoping for.
Most of the other groups that I’ve noticed on Facebook that I’m involved in are for widows only and not widowers. Just for the women and not for the men. As you say, in society as a whole, there are so few places for men to feel safe and comfortable talking about their feelings and their emotions. It should not be that way. Victor talked about that too when he was alive, that women have so many outlets, but men have very few.There are few places for men to feel safe and comfortable talking about their feelings and emotions. Click To Tweet
We do have widows and widowers in our group. Our group is not a place for dating or connecting. It’s a place where people are candidly sharing their grief journey and trying to connect with people who understand them and try to understand what their life looks like. I’m going to let you close out this conversation. Whatever last thoughts you want to share with the people that are tuning in.
If you know someone who is a widow or a widower and they tell you that they don’t want to date and that they’re at peace or comfortable being single and celibate, please respect that. Don’t try to tell them, “You need somebody and you shouldn’t be alone.” That’s their choice. That was the one thing that I did want to say that I had not said yet.
Many people in my life try to encourage me to date. I tell them I’m at peace with being single and celibate, even though I’m just 51, I’ll be 52 in March 2024. At this time, I feel that way. Please respect people when they say that. Know that just because they say that now, life brings about changes and sometimes it may change. At this point, that’s what I feel and that’s how I choose to be. I’m at peace with that. I’m okay with that. Me and God, my mother that I take care of, my children, my grandchildren, my life is full and it’s not empty, and I’m not alone or lonely. I wanted to mention that.My life is full. It's not empty, and I'm not alone or lonely. Click To Tweet
Those are some great words of advice. Thank you so much for being here, Tawana.
Thank you for having me.
Thank you for being here with me for this conversation. Thank you for taking into consideration the words and the wisdom that Tawana shared from her journey. I encourage you to look at the people in your life. If you see some of those warning signs or other questionable things, be proactive. Do not silently let someone you love suffer. Encourage them to seek help, and if you are the person who is struggling, contact somebody. Reach Out. You are not alone on this journey. We are having this life experience together. Thank you again. You are welcome to contact me at WidowhoodRealtalk@gmail.com. Contact me on Facebook, all of our socials, and our website if you need help getting help so we can be of assistance. I will talk with you soon. Goodbye.