Shipwrecked: A Widow’s Journey To Healing, Parenting, And Dating Again With Jeanette Koncikowski

WRT Jeanette Koncikowski | Widow’s Journey

  Guilt can sometimes show up in grief. For Jeanette Koncikowski, being a widow brought up many realizations about the challenges that are often overlooked as we grieve our partners. We tend to look back and feel guilty and ashamed, thinking we aren’t good enough. In this conversation, Jeanette joins Tina Fornwald to lay bare her experiences and realizations when she lost her husband. When did she start being comfortable in the process of making choices on her own? How did she begin untangling the layers of guilt and shame? What does the healing process look like for a widow? How does she handle parenting with grief? What is life after loss for Jeanette? Find out the answers to these questions and more as you follow this episode. Plus, hear about Jeanette’s book, Shipwrecked: A Memoir of Widowed Parenting and Life After Loss.   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: — Watch the episode here   Listen to the podcast here   Shipwrecked: A Widow’s Journey To Healing, Parenting, And Dating Again With Jeanette Koncikowski Jeanette, welcome to the show. Tina, thank you so much for having me. I am glad to have this conversation. You can tell people how I tracked you down on the internet and stalked you to be here because I have no shame about that. I am always intentionally looking for people who have a voice, people who have something to share that will encourage other people. I believe it was on Twitter where I stalked you and said, “This would be a good voice to bring to the widowhood.” Thank you for not thinking of some internet creeper or something like that. I’m happy to connect. We did connect on Twitter. It’s been a great resource. Grief Twitter is a real thing, and it’s been a huge resource in my healing. Thank you for saying that. Before we get into your story, just on that topic, as far as the internet, I know a lot of times people say, “I don’t want to be on the internet. I don’t want to be doing all these things.” Elaborate a little bit more on how the internet or social media has been a positive and helpful resource for you.     I was widowed in the fall of 2014. While there was a local widow support group, everyone was 30 or 40 years older than me, and our challenges weren’t the same. I was raising two young kids. While I did get support from that group, initially, the generational difference was hard to meet in the middle. It was hard because when you’re 60 or 70, your issues and needs as a widowed person are very different than a 35-year-old. I had to go to the internet because it was the only place I could find other young widowed parents. That’s how I started the @WidowedParentProject, was looking for a community that was going through similar struggles as widows and parents raising grieving children. Let’s talk about how you and your husband met or who you were before you even met him. What were some of your interests? Grief is part of our story, but it’s not all about who we are. I want to know who you are as a person. We were fifteen when we met. We had 21 years together. He was my high school sweetheart, so I don’t know what my adult self would’ve been like without him, but we grew up together. We were very young when we met. We were sophomores in high school. On the first day of sophomore year, we met. It was hard for me to know what my life was like before Mark. It was my childhood, we grew up together. In that sense, when I lost him, I didn’t know how to adult without him. That’s been part of my widow’s journey in learning how to be alone and how to make decisions alone. We met in high school, Spanish class, and we were together for many years. My late husband’s name is also Mark, which I thought was very interesting. You touch on something regarding when your Mark passed and adulating, decision making, also identity. Would you share how you came to realize about making choices on your own and how you became comfortable with that? What that process was like for you? Mark and I had 21 years together. As I said, we were married in 2012 and got married when we were 24. We had a very codependent relationship. I guess it wasn’t the healthiest relationship. When you get together that young, sometimes isn’t. We were separated the year before he died. We were separated for thirteen months, but our marriage was in the process of some deep healing. We were not divorcing, but we were living apart while going to marriage counseling. It was that year before his death that I learned how to live alone. I look back and I thank God that I had that year because if I had lost him the way I lost him, and I hadn’t learned how to sleep alone, how to take care of myself alone, and how to go out to eat alone, it would’ve been that much harder for me when he died. In some ways, that year, I told myself God was preparing me to learn how to be alone and I needed some staggered time to do that. It was some difficult circumstances under which he died. Part of that was that we were separated when he died, which is also something that informed who I am …

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