Navigating The Tough Part Of Grief Together With Tina Fornwald, Founder Of Widowhood Real Talk With Tina

Widowhood Real Talk with Tina | Tough Part Of Grief

 

Navigating the grief process is hard, and nobody knows just how tough it is better than the person who is going through it. But even the most challenging aspects of the whole healing journey are surmountable with the right mindset and tools. In this episode, Tina Fornwald takes special attention to speak to us about navigating the tough part of grief. Specifically, she shares tips on overcoming the anger, guilt, and isolation that many people experience upon their loved one’s transition. Tune in to hear more of Tina’s wisdom!

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Navigating The Tough Part Of Grief Together With Tina Fornwald, Founder Of Widowhood Real Talk With Tina

It is the month of May 2024, and Widowhood Real Talk with Tina is celebrating our Founder’s birthday. Yes, that’s me, and we invite you to help us celebrate. How? By donating $5 in the month of May. Five and five. See what we’re doing there with that? How do you do that? Text Hopeful Hearts to 53555. Thanks for helping us celebrate and support a worthy cause. Let’s get into this episode.

I am staying true to my promise of conducting a solo podcast at least once a quarter. Today is May 16th, 2024, and you are helping me celebrate my birthday. I want to say thank you in advance for the $5 donation going towards the Widowhood. Widowhood Real Talk with Tina is a registered 501(c)(3) nonprofit on a mission to support the people who are grieving in our world. At some time or another, we are all grieving. Having a community is helpful, which leads to our conversation.

Widowhood Real Talk with Tina | Tough Part Of Grief
Tough Part Of Grief: At one time or another, we are all grieving. Having a community is helpful.

 

Why People Get Stuck In Grief

I am going to tackle things that people have asked me about, where I have found the pattern of people being stuck in grief, and what my recommendations are for working yourself out of grief. The first thing that I’d like to tackle is when people feel the death of their loved one was a personal attack. Let me say this is not related to the death of a loved one that has a crime related to it, or there was a murder or something that was intentional. That certainly has different implications, which I am sorry for.

I am referring to situations where, such as my husband having a heart attack at the age of 51, someone’s mother, cousin, uncle, sibling, or child dying earlier than they anticipated, maybe an accident, but feeling like their loved ones’ leaving of this Earth was a personal attack to them. That is something that I find often puts people in a place of feeling like they’re stuck and unable to move forward.

That also goes to the second item, which is guilt. When people carry an immense amount of guilt related to their loved one’s death, it keeps them in a place of being stuck. They cannot move forward. They feel as if they would have only done something different if they had stayed home, not gone to work, done CPR better, given them that last meal, or forced them to go to the doctor. They think that there was something they could have done to prevent their loved one from leaving this world. That often leaves people in a place of being stuck. The third thing that I have seen that allows people to be stuck is isolation. It is being alone.

These three things you may say don’t relate to me, and that’s fine. I am sharing three things that I have found as a pattern overall when dealing with people related to grief. That is the person who feels like the death of their loved one was a personal attack. They feel like God or a higher power took their loved ones from them. That is the person who wrestles with guilt, feeling as if they could have controlled the situation.

The third person is isolation, where they are alone. They are disassociated from society, and they do not want to interact with anyone. They have come to a place where they feel like no one cares. They feel like no one understands their pain or grief. They feel like they have lost themself in the grief fog, and being around other people will not help them.

I want to encourage you to do the opposite of that. It may be hard to digest, but I would ask you to entertain three other things that are different from that. One, death and life are a part of our existence. All of us will transition from this world. That is the reality. If we are able to come to peace with that reality, it will disassociate the idea that the death of our loved one was a personal attack. If we’re able to find peace with the reality that life and death are part of our existence, it will eliminate us from thinking that the death of our loved one was a personal attack.

Widowhood Real Talk with Tina | Tough Part Of Grief
Tough Part Of Grief: If we’re able to find peace with the reality that life and death are part of our existence, it will keep us from thinking that the death of our loved one was a personal attack.

 

It’s not granted. I’m not a fan of it. I won’t be happy that it happened. That is not what I’m asking you to consider, but I’m asking you to consider the reality that our loved ones leaving this world is part of human existence. If you’re able to take a sliver of that concept, it will eliminate you from feeling like somebody, someone, some power, some being, and God made this happen to you. It is part of life.

death and life are a part of our existence. All of us will transition from this world. That is the reality. Share on X

As our own existence will end, the ability to now harness the love that we have from our person who is no longer here, harness everything we learned in our relationship with them, harness everything that they were good and the things that we learned that they were not good to use that in our existence in living. We get to honor every person with whom we have traveled this life journey. We get to show up wiser in life than we were before.

I would also ask you to think about the idea of feeling guilty for your loved one. That can show up in a lot of different ways. It can show that I feel guilty for laughing. I feel guilty for still living, and they were not here. I may feel guilty for continuing my life with someone else, knowing that my partner is no longer here. Those are guilts that people often wrestle with. I would ask you to consider this. Your life journey is still going. You are still alive, and you have the right to live.

 

Widowhood Real Talk with Tina | Tough Part Of Grief

 

Your living is something that can be done to honor your loved one. It doesn’t have to look like it’s something that you’re doing and you shouldn’t have the right to do. Based on the love that you had in that relationship with them, your ability to keep living, not feeling guilty, and realizing you do not have the power and control over when someone leaves this world frees you up to be able to consider enjoying your life. Consider enjoying the opportunities that are presented to you and to relieve yourself of guilt because you don’t have the power to control the situation.

Widowhood Real Talk with Tina | Tough Part Of Grief
Tough Part Of Grief: Relieve yourself of guilt because you don’t have the power to control the situation.

 

Let me explain it this way. The lottery numbers came out, and people won the lottery. Now, I know what yesterday’s lottery numbers were. I cannot be mad at me for not winning yesterday’s lottery. Guilt often shows up with the idea of knowledge we know now based on a past situation. For instance, my husband, Mark, died of a major heart attack while we were on vacation. He often complained of having gas. He was saying he was having heartburn. He had medication for that.

That night, when he was complaining about his heart burning the gas, he had a heart attack and died. I could choose to say, “If I would’ve made him go to the hospital, he would not have died that day.” I could not make Mark do anything different than he wanted to do based on the knowledge and the information I had at that time. It was another gas experience. There was nothing that was telling in that situation that was different from anything that happened before that would make me think I should make him go to the hospital.

I could choose now to live in regret and constantly roll over in my mind what I should have done that night, or I can accept the reality that I did the best that I knew how to do based on the information that I had at that time. When those thoughts come, as they will, I have to tell myself, “Tina, your emotions cannot override the facts in this situation. The fact is that the night Mark died was heartburn in gas like any other night before, and you did the best that you knew how to do.”

Continually telling myself the truth when my emotions want to get spun up allows me to deal with the guilt that is trying to attack me. I would encourage you, when guilt tries to plague you, to think about the facts and what you knew at that time that you did the best that you knew how to do. That is the reality.

Widowhood Real Talk with Tina | Tough Part Of Grief
Tough Part Of Grief: When guilt tries to plague you, think about the fact that at that time, you did the best that you knew how to do.

 

As for isolation, it is not good to be alone by yourself in this difficult time. You may say, “The people that promised were going to show up.” The people who said they would be there. When you need them, they’re not there. You’ve reached out to family members, someone in your family who was a widow and you thought they would understand, or someone else who lost a family member and they are not showing up the way that you need. I asked you to give them grace. If it’s not someone who has experienced a great loss, they are in uncharted territory, and they may not know how to navigate that path.

Widowhood Real Talk with Tina | Tough Part Of Grief
Tough Part Of Grief: It is not good to be alone by yourself in this difficult time.

 

I can say for myself. Before Mark died, I had no concept of what it looked like how to sit in a space like this with somebody. That has changed now. I would encourage you to consider a couple of things. One, reach out to a community that will support you. Reach out to our private Facebook group. Send me an email at WidowhoodRealTalk@Gmail.com. Allow me to connect you with other widows, widowers, or people who are grieving.

Connect with people on a private Facebook group. There are several that I can recommend to you, depending on your circumstances. Connect with people on different social media platforms and look up widowers and people who have lost loved ones. There are different groups based on age groups, locations, and different things that may allow you to create a community.

One of the apps that I used was called Meetup. I looked up people who were interested in book clubs, bike riding, sports, photography, and interested in trying out new restaurants. When Mark was no longer here, I struggled with trying to create my own identity and to be able to associate with the world because it looked different to me. I can understand that.

Connecting with other people and creating a community empowered me and gave me space to talk, share, and navigate this world. Connecting with other widows, widowers, and people who have lost loved ones allows me to know that all of the things that I experienced are normal in grief. When I could not get out of bed for 3, 4, or 5 days, there were other people that experienced the same thing.

Widowhood Real Talk with Tina | Tough Part Of Grief
Tough Part Of Grief: Connecting with other widows, widowers, and people who have lost loved ones allows you to know that all of the things that you are experiencing are normal in grief.

 

If I was driving down the road and I thought that I saw Mark, that other people experienced the same thing. If other people experienced struggling, having the conversation with their children about how they didn’t show up in the initial part of their grief, that there were other people that experienced that too. It allowed me to deal with the head chatter and be honest with myself.

The other way that I created a community was with my mental health professional to have a therapist. That community, on a low-key scale, was my journal, in which I was able to express and write how I was feeling. Those are the three things that people often deal with when stuck in grief. Those are ways in which I recommend that you approach that.

Moving Through The Stages Of Grief

The other thing that I want to share with you is the three steps in moving through grief. There are stages of grief, and you can list them off. After you’ve listed those stages, what are the ways to manage grief? That’s what I want to share with you. I have found that to be helpful. One, I needed to assess and identify my needs and my emotions. I needed to look at my inner feelings, understand what I needed, and reflect.

If I was in depression, in denial, and a place of anger, no matter what stage I was in, I had to look at Tina and say, “Tina, how are you feeling? What is going on with you?” I needed to be honest with myself. It was hard sometimes because I wanted Mark to be here. I didn’t want him to be gone, but I could not do anything unless I were honest with myself.

Once I came to the conclusion of how I felt, I would oftentimes write it down. You would see post-it notes on the mirror about how I felt. Maybe in the car or on the kitchen counter because I had to be honest about how I was feeling. Sometimes, it may have taken me a day or two. I may have felt like I was punchy or agitated and realizing what my true emotion was.

After I was able to be honest with how I was feeling, I needed to understand how to express my emotions and desires. If I was feeling agitated, what was I feeling agitated about? It was because I was tired of eating dinner by myself. I had to figure out what would solve that. It would be going to a restaurant where other people were in the room, but I wasn’t by myself. It was asking my sister or a friend to go to dinner with me.

I wanted to go to the movies, but I hated going to see the series that Mark and I started. I wanted to go. I remember mustering up the courage to go to the movies for the first time by myself. I enjoy going to the movies. I enjoy going with Mark, but I had to figure out a way to empower myself to get my life, which was being honest with how I felt and expressing my needs and my desires with the people around me or to myself in identifying how I could solve that. Once I identified it, I moved forward and took action.

One, understanding how I was truly feeling in all the different stages of grief and being honest with myself. Two, identifying what I needed during those stages of grief. Three, moving forward and conveying what I needed to myself or the community around me. Yes, we will travel through those stages of grief. We may go through those stages within fifteen minutes, all at the same time. Where we go from there is often left up to us because you’ll hear people say, “Every person’s grief journey is unique to them.” That is true.

Every person's grief journey is unique to them. Share on X

I was talking to a friend of mine who is a widow. We were speaking about when our spouses died. Her husband will now be gone for ten years in 2024, leaving this world. Mark has been gone for seven in 2024. I remember the first time that she took me out. She took me to the spa. We were talking. She told me something that changed the way I see grief. She said, “Tina, I will never tell you I know how you feel.”

Yes, her husband is no longer here. She told me that the way I feel is unique between me being who I was and who Mark is, that the grief that I am feeling is uniquely based on us as individuals in his absence. Yes, she can sympathize and understand, but she will never know exactly how I feel. I believe that is true when other people are going through grief. I can understand. You may be able to understand, but no one will know how you feel other than you.

Widowhood Real Talk with Tina | Tough Part Of Grief
Tough Part Of Grief: When you’re going through grief, other people may be able to understand, but no one will know how you feel other than you.

 

It is left up to you to communicate how you are feeling. Sometimes, that communication with yourself and honesty. You get to be angry, upset, and in denial. Those things are natural feelings. The person that you love is no longer in this world, and you are able to receive your love in the way that you are accustomed to sharing it with them. Don’t hold it in. If you need to cry, cry. If you need to scream in the car, scream. Let it out. When you hold it in, you don’t get to heal the way you need to. You will miss them.

Widowhood Real Talk with Tina | Tough Part Of Grief
Tough Part Of Grief: Let it out. When you hold it in, you don’t get to heal the way you need to.

 

As my girlfriend and I were talking, she reached out, saying, “I know March was the celebration of Mark’s leaving this world.” She was apprehensive about texting me. I told her, “I will always remember that Mark left this world in March.” I remember that he entered this world in June and left it in March. There is no amount of life that will change me, remembering that. If someone wants to honor it, honor it. Join me in celebrating him because I do not want grief to mute me. I do not want grief to take away my voice. I do not want grief to prevent me from honoring the man whom I spent 32 years with and whom I still love.

I encourage you to allow grief to not mute you but empower you to live life and to show up bigger and stronger than you did before. I understand it will take time for you to get there, but please know that you are still writing your life story. Your life is worth honoring. As you live, there’s a part of the person that you love is living within you.

I know that as I am alive and continuing to live my life, I am honoring my late husband, Mark, with Widowhood Real talk with Tina. My ability to have this conversation and share this with you is because my husband died. There is no way I would have the ability and capacity to have this conversation if it wasn’t for that. I am not a fan that he died, but I have learned to be at peace with his transition from this world.

In that peace, learning how to use my experience to encourage and help other people to know that you are not alone on this journey and there are other travelers here with you, allow me to be a guiding light on this journey to encourage you to bring hope and know that there are other people loving, supporting, and caring for you. Thank you for being here with me on my birthday. Thank you for helping me celebrate. Please email me whatever social media platform you’re on or comment on this show, celebrate, tell me happy birthday, and let me know how you’re doing continuing to live. I’ll talk to you later.

 

Important Links

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