Krista St-Germain is a Master Certified Life Coach, grief expert, widow, mom, and host of The Widowed Mom Podcast.
When her husband was killed by a drunk driver in 2016, Krista’s life was completely and unexpectedly flipped upside down. After therapy helped her unfurl from the fetal position, Krista discovered Life Coaching, Post Traumatic Growth and learned the tools she needed to move forward and create a future she could get excited about. Now she coaches and teaches other widows so they can love life again, too.
In this episode we discuss:
1) Why do traumatic situations often feel like a movie playing out before your eyes?
2) What is Post Traumatic Growth: Scientists have now discovered that loss can actually be a catalyst for growth and a source of resilience and strength.
3) The myths about grief stages: The popular “5 stages of grief” actually isn’t based on the grief of losing a loved one.
4) What the widow/survivor fog is: Feel like you’ve been in a daze after losing your partner/child/parent? Forgetting to pay the mortgage? Forgetting to pick up the kids from school? This is VERY normal and Krista can explain why your brain might be feeling a little foggy.
5) Why you must take care of yourself first: Remember the last time you were on an airplane? Didn’t your flight attendant remind you to take care of yourself before you try to assist others in case of an emergency? The same is true with grief. You can’t pour from an empty cup. Here Krista can share why you have to process your grief and trauma in order to ever be able to help your kids through their grief too.
6) The truth about moving forward: You won’t move on, you won’t get over it, but you WILL figure out how to love your spouse/child/parent, miss them and keep on living.
You can find Krista at: https://www.coachingwithkrista.com/
I'm excited to announce a new resource I'm very proud of. This guide outlines the four daily practices I discovered on my grief journey. These techniques have helped dozens of my clients. Get it free today.
GEMS- 4 Steps To Go From Grief To Joy
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Close your eyes and imagine what are the things in life that causes the greatest pain, the things that bring us grief, or challenges, challenges designed to help us grow to ultimately become what we were always meant to be. We feel like we've been buried, but what if, like a seed we've been planted and having been planted, to grow to become a mighty tree. Now, open your eyes. Open your eyes to this way of viewing life. Come with me as we explore your true, infinite, eternal nature. This is grief to growth. And I am your host, Brian Smith. Hey everybody, this is Brian back with another episode of grief to growth and today I've got with me Krista St. Germain. I'm gonna read her bio and then we'll get started as we always do. Krista is a master certified life coach. She's a grief expert. She's a widow. She's a mom, and she's the host of the widowed mom podcast. When her husband was killed by a drunk driver in 2016, Chris's life was completely and unexpectedly flipped upside down. After therapy helped her unfurl from the fetal position. Chris's discovered life coaching, post traumatic growth and learn the tools she needed to move forward and create a future she can get excited about. Now she coaches and teaches other widows so they can love life again, too. So with that, I want to welcome Krista St. St. Germain to grief to growth. Thank you, Brian. I'm excited to be here. Yeah, it's great to have you here. I want to talk to you about your your story. What happened with you. And I know you said in your in your introduction, that therapy helps you. So I'd like to also find out what type of therapy you found that actually helped you to get through this.Krista St-Germain:
Yeah, so I had had, so my husband was my second marriage kind of my redemption story after the first marriage didn't end well. And so I had met a lovely therapist, amazing therapist while I was going through my divorce. And so I hadn't seen her in quite a while. But she was one of the first calls that I made after Hugo died. And so I don't know in terms of style of therapy, if I would classify it much more than just by saying, I got a chance to tell my story as many times as I needed to tell it, to make it real to my brain. Because in those early days, it was so surreal. And I'm sure you know, most people who have experienced a loss can relate to that where you intellectually understand that what has happened is truly real, and that they aren't actually coming back from a business trip in a week. But there's just a part of you that doesn't quite believe that. And so, just being able to talk to her and tell the story and not burden, at least I felt like it was a burden. The other people in my life, who either were grieving themselves, or who didn't know what to do with my grief, was incredibly useful to me. I just needed to talk about the accident and talk about the details and, you know, share all of my regrets and the guilt and the anger and just get it out until I could come to terms with what had happened and kind of get back to that baseline of functioning. Yeah, yeah. Yeah. Yeah.Brian Smith:
So tell me about Hugo. Ah,Unknown:
he was lovely. It's kind of a renaissance guy. He was. He was French Canadian. And he came to the town that I live in to work for Lombardi A, which is a company that manufactures jets. And so it was in us an engineer. And so he was just kind of geeky, right? But really well rounded. He could talk to you about anything. He was very shy, but had this boisterous fun, laugh, his accent, his French accent was very strong. He was just, he was all the things. To me, he really was kind of proof to me that true love is possible that I could be treated the way that I wanted to be treated, that there are people on the planet who will love you and accept you for all of your faults and flaws and darkness. And yeah, he was just an amazing guy.Brian Smith:
So how did you find out about his his passing? Were you?Unknown:
Yeah, I was there. So we had come back. Yeah, ironically, we had come back from a volunteer trip. So when I was in my early 20s, one of my sorority sisters was killed. And in her memory, we started a summer camp program for youth who are visually impaired. And so we were on our Gosh, 17th 18th year of that program. And so Hugo and I had been volunteering. It's called Heather's camp at Heather's camp. And so we were on our way back home. We had driven separately he'd gone out a couple of days ahead of me and then I came out in my own vehicle. And so as we were coming home, I had a flat tire in my car, and I pulled off to the side of the road shoulder of the interstate. And he pulled up behind me off to the side blinkers on caution, lights, everything. And he just wanted to change the tire himself, we had paid for triple A. But, you know, his thought was, it'll just be faster, I can do it, there's a tire in the trunk, I don't want to wait on triple A. And to be quite honest, it was against my better judgment, I felt that the whizzing of the cars coming by on the highway, you know, 80 miles an hour or so. And but I didn't, I didn't exist. I just said okay. And so I was standing on the side of the road facing away from the traffic but texting my daughter to let her know that we would be late because she was also returning from the trip. But she had ridden the bus with the children. And he was trying to get into my trunk to get access to the spare tire. And a driver that we later found out had meth and alcohol in his system. It's 530 on a Sunday daylight, right? no brakes, just slammed into the back of the Durango trapped him in between the Durango and the Camry. And you know, within 24 hours he was gone. So I was right there.Brian Smith:
Wow, I'm so sorry. Wow. Yeah. So even though you're right there, you mentioned earlier, the the shock, our brains just don't want to accept something like this happens. Right? So what was it like in the early days and weeks following this? How is your brain functioning?Unknown:
Just so surreal. I recently, since I just moved, just move this weekend, I've been going through some of my old things. And one of the things that I looked at last couple of days was the journal that I kept, right after he died. I kept that journal for quite a while, but I was reading through some of my earlier entries. And yeah, just this, I can't believe this happened, I can't believe it felt like everything that I had wanted in the future just evaporated. Right, because not to say there weren't other facets of my life that were important and well rounded, because there certainly were but my vision for the future was of us, right the trips who are going to take and the memories are going to make and we had just hiked mount Harvey or sorry, Mount Yale, in Colorado, which is a fourteener. And we didn't train very well, it didn't go well. But, you know, we had plans the next year to hike not Harvard. And so yeah, I just couldn't really believe it. And I was so consumed in the early days, also, with what I should have done differently. In my mind, you know, I should have pulled up farther on the highway, I should have insisted we call triple A I should have had that tire checked before we left we should have left at a different time. All of these things, I after the fact was still trying to control that just couldn't, weren't ever meant to be controlled. But in the early days, you know, I was trying really hard to just control them. Also, you know, you're focused on in the early days, just getting through the logistics. Right. So just planning the service and, and dealing with the insurance and of course, consoling my children. And, you know, his mother flew into town and didn't make it before he passed because she lives in, in Quebec, and, you know, dealing with having the family in town and, and all of that just is crazy. We had also booked a trip we had bought in June, we had bought into a timeshare in Mexico. And we had scheduled a trip for the second week in August to take our children down there. So his son, my two children, and he died August 1, and the trip was two weeks later. So trying to decide do we still plan? Do we still go on the trip? And we ultimately did took my dad and took the kids and tried to do you know, tried to try to just be normal? But it's just kind of a blur?Brian Smith:
Yeah, yeah, I think you know, the thing about losses like this, I was just sick before we get started, you know, every loss is unique, of course. In my cases, my 15 year old daughter and your case it was your your spouse, but in some ways they're kind of universal. It's that it's the fog that we go through. It's a surreal feeling like this couldn't have really happened. It's the that you mentioned earlier, the anger and the guilts the things that we think we should have been able to control this should have been omniscient, right, we should have been able to see that this dummy. And we should have said or done something different. I think that's a very common experience that people go through. How did you learn to deal with that? How did you learn to deal with all those different things?Unknown:
something in me just knew pretty early on. I don't exactly know why but something in me just knew that that would not bear fruit that I wanted. Right. So I could kind of tell that it was an Optional mind game that I could play with myself that if I allowed, it would go nowhere fast. And so somehow I was able to just kind of I don't even know if it was shut it down, but just pivot a little bit in my thinking and just go, Okay, yeah, we could have done it differently, but we didn't. And, you know, whenever we're focusing on what we can't control, then that limits our ability to focus on what we can. So what can we control here, here? Here we are, in this moment, this has happened? What aspects? Can we influence? And where do we want to put our energy? I think some of it maybe came from just a lifelong love of self development. And, you know, I started at 16, reading, a return to love with Marianne Williamson, and, you know, just always kind of on this spiritual path and self development path. And so this, I think, was, I had a lot of tools already, in my tool belt of life and life experience. And, and those things, they just were were available for me to play off of.Brian Smith:
Yeah, that sounds like yeah, you must you kind of were prepared, at least in some way to understand, you know, having done some of the self development work and knowing that that was a, it's a dead end path. But it's a path that most of us go down, at least for a while. Yeah, until we figure out that it's a dead end path. And, and you talked earlier, you said, you know, what I want to kind of emphasize what you said about like you, we think about all the things that we're missing out on all the plants have had. And that's what we focus on, suddenly, we get very laser focus on that one aspect of our life, and how it's going to change. So, and I've seen this for the benefit of the people that are listening, that have gone through this, because a lot of my clients are like, there's something wrong with me. And I feel like the brain fog and all this stuff. And it's like, no, this is a very common thing that we go through in this type of situation. I remember what Shayna you were talking about that, you know, all the logistics of a family coming into town and making. And so a lot of people go on autopilot for the first few weeks. They'll even say, Well, I feel like I'm numb. I'm not feeling anything. It's because your your brains just kind of you've gotten into robotic mode. You're just doing anything I need to get done.Unknown:
Yeah. And I I'm in retrospect, I'm glad for that. Yes, I think if I had felt the full impact of the loss instantly, it would have so overwhelmed me that I don't think I would have been able to function. So I think I'm really grateful that it did feel numb and hazy and confusing. I mean, there were still a lot of tears and a lot of railing. But to have felt the full brunt of it would have been just incomprehensible.Brian Smith:
Did you feel any resentment to an outside force, whether it's God or anything else, the universe, you know, but you this is your second chance at marriage? And it sounds like you know, it was great. How did how did that play out for you?Announcer:
I mean, oddly, I didn't.Unknown:
And I know a lot of people do. And I don't want to say that I didn't in order to make anyone else think that they shouldn't be thinking the way that I was thinking but I think my belief was that God the universe was his love. Like, that's where I come from. Right? Like so it's all divine. It's all love. And it's not, you know, nobody's out there trying to harm you. Nobody's out there, you know, punishing you for wrongdoings of your past that. I don't have to understand why it happened. And I don't even have to believe there's a purpose for it to have happened. But I don't believe I choose not to believe that. You know, I don't know there's any ill will or anything to be mad about. It's just like, Huh, okay, didn't see this coming. This is not at all what I expected. This is not at all what I wanted. But yet, this is what it is.Brian Smith:
Yeah. Tell me about your your family. You mentioned you, you have children and you go has children. So how many what ages are they?Unknown:
Yeah. So at the time, my daughter was 12 and my son was nine. And then he goes son was 17. Yeah, almost at the time. And so it was Hugo's, it wasn't actually his biological son. It was his son from his first marriage, but he had been, you know, in Lance's life since Lance was in diapers, so it was the only father he ever knew. But technically, it wasn't his biological dad. So yeah, and Lance, you know, lived with his mother. And it was really rough. It's really rough on him. Till Yeah,Brian Smith:
I can only imagine. It had to be really tough. My children and so you're dealing with your own grief while you're trying to help them deal with their grief, I assume.Unknown:
Yeah. Yeah, it was interesting. I didn't expect. So I expected that my daughter would be the most sad. It's interesting. So what happened is that for my son, the youngest, his biggest impact was realizing that people you love can die. Because he had never lost a grandparent, he had never lost anyone that he loved. And so for him, it became about the fear that I would die. Right. And I remember him saying, one time, I was tucking him into bed, and he said, Mommy, I hope I die a couple of seconds before you die. That way I don't ever have to live any, any without you. Wow. And so that so it was a different kind of loss for him compared to my daughter, who she felt the impact of what she lost in the future. Even though she had never really lost anyone that she loved that was, you know, a close family relative either. She could see what Hugo and her relationship and that relationship would offer her in the future. She was looking forward to him. He was a barefoot water skier, a snow skier he was looking, she was looking forward to that. Right. She was looking forward to him helping her with math. He's an engineer. So those things came easily to him. He was, you know, would have been the one helping her with calculus. Yeah. And she was looking forward to that she was looking forward to the French, you know, he was she wanted to learn French from him. And so for her, it was just a different kind of loss. And then for Lance, it was, you know, the loss of the only solid male role model in his life. At a very important age.Brian Smith:
Yeah, yeah. Very important age. Yeah. So, um, how are your kids dealing with the now it's been about five years? Yeah, but five years coming up. So how are your kids doing with it now?Unknown:
exceptionally well, exceptionally? Well, I think my daughter must be an old soul. You know, she I remember one time we were in, we were at the cabin in Colorado, my dad's cabin. And Hugo loved it out there. And I was saying something about how we were looking at the valley because it's big picture windows in the house and looking at the valley and out. I told her I said, I wish she goes here to see this. And she looked at me and she was like, Mama, he's here. Like, what are you talking about? Like? Could you ever think that he's not here? And I'm okay, she's got it. You know, good reminder. For me, of course, like I like, how did I drift away from what I know to be true. But, you know, for her, it was just kind of a done deal. I think. You know, Lance ended up graduating from school doing very well joining the Marines, and figuring it out for himself. But, you know, you never know what it would have been like, if he had had his dad here. I don't know. But I think he's done remarkably well. I put both of my kids in just a little bit of grief counseling. But, you know, they didn't really seem to need it that much.Brian Smith:
That's great. So how is I wish I said earlier, not every situation is a little bit different. And I know what it's like for parents to have children, you know, pass. What are some unique challenges that widows face? That's what are some unique challenges you face going through grief as as a widow?Unknown:
Yeah. Such a good question. There's a lot, I think what's most shocking to most widows is they are so not prepared for how it will impact every area of life, you often don't realize how much you rely on your partner for aspects of your purpose, right for your thoughts about the future and what's possible for you for yourself confidence, that's always a shock. I think people perceive themselves to be confident and then do not expect how unconfident they feel going forward. Yeah, it just permeates every aspect of life. Solo parenting, right, all the pressure that we put on ourselves to be both parents. So not helpful. You know, the drama of when do you date again? Do you date again? How do you involve your kids in that? You know, do you go back to work when? Well, what's the drama? If you get life insurance, money and how you spend it? what other people think of your choices? How long do you wear your wedding ring? When do you take it off? You know, all of these kinds of things that you just never really gave much thought to before? Right? And then then there they are.Brian Smith:
Yeah, I can only not even imagined, but I was thinking about that when I was thinking about interviewing you. Ironically, or synchronistically or whatever. We had a friend just passed away suddenly in March. She was 49 years old, a good friend might know my wife that I've known for over 20 years, friends with, you know, she and her and her husband, and, you know, went over to his house for dinner, you know, a few weeks ago, and just the dynamic of, and I was gonna ask you this, because when people you're together as couples, right, but a lot of times when we're married, we were friends as couples. So what happens when one person we've had, we've had people get divorced before, but when some suddenly one of your friends is single, you know, that's got to be a weird dynamic for both you and for the other people.Unknown:
So much. So yeah, I just did a podcast episode on being a third wheel, because that's how it feels. Right? Is Yeah, that you are the third wheel? And how do you interact with these people? And, you know, what, if they were your partner's friends, more so than yours? And, you know, now you feel like the odd person out? And yeah, it's just there's a lot that relationships with in laws can be very challenging. Yeah, I'm watching a lot of a lot of my clients right now go through to this kind of, we're coming back into a functioning society, you know, as things start to reopen, and, and there have been some elements of, you know, being at home that have been kind of easier to deal with, for some people harder in some ways, but easier in others, you know, now, my mom's are going back to the baseball diamond and answering the awkward question of, you know, what is your husband do for a living? You know, those kinds of things, or, you know, just getting back out in the world and, and figuring out how to function without their person. That's really a challenge.Brian Smith:
Yeah, I'm curious, did you have friends fall away with the with the sun just couldn't handle it, orUnknown:
less so than I imagined, I was really lucky in that he and I worked together at the same company. And so I don't think a lot of people have that luxury. And some people might not even think it's a luxury, some people might choose to see it differently. But I just felt so surrounded, both by family who loved me and friends who loved me, but also by co workers who not only loved me, but loved him, and felt that loss felt the impact of that loss, and just rallied. So yes, relationships have changed over time. But if anything, I don't know, people seem to come out of the woodwork to be kind to me.Brian Smith:
Yeah, that's, that's great. Because a lot of times when there's a loss, no matter what the loss is, people just get awkward. And they don't know what to say. And sometimes, yeah, it's like, they just kind of go away. Yeah, and, you know, I and I want to go over some of the things because I know there's no, you know, Pat answers for any of these. But when your clients, I'm sure they ask you questions, like, when should I start dating again? or How long do I wear my my ring? And you know, stuff like that? So what, what are those conversations like?Unknown:
Yeah, well, they're always, you know, with the foundation of, I don't know what's best for your life that you do. Right. So let's not use what Christa thinks as the authority here, let's use what you think. And then also, just timelines aren't relevant when it comes to these things. So you know, I wear my red wedding ring for I don't know, a year. And then at a certain point, it felt like time to take it off. I switched actually switched it from one hand to another. And then at a certain point, it felt like it was time to take it off. With How long do you keep things, you know, clothing and memorabilia. And to me, it just don't rush it, you do what feels right to you. There's no reason to rush into any of this. You do it in stages, if you want to do it in stages, but it's not going anywhere. You don't have to hurry through that dating again. Are you looking to fill a hole of void? Right, because if that's the reason, you probably won't enjoy your dating experience or your relationships experience, as much as you will, if you go into it doing kind of some of that self work that sometimes needs to be done. And get yourself to a position where you realize No, actually I am whole and worthy and fully complete. And I don't need I don't have a missing piece that I need to find. You know or fill. I've got me. And in the reason I might want to date again is not to fill a void. It's tough love to to find someone to love, right to experience more love. And then it becomes about giving and less about getting. And it's more fun, right? It's we don't end up being so needy and clingy. And there's less drama that way.Brian Smith:
Yeah, yeah, that's I think that's great advice. Because I would also imagine, and I don't know, I just said, Did you have friends saying okay, Krista, it's time to get back out there again, trying to fix you up.Unknown:
Yes. And I was not ready for a long time. And I don't there's nothing against anyone who's ready immediately, right. The first time I went out I remember going out with someone and I didn't think it was a date. I thought it was just me getting together with a co worker who I hadn't seen in a while. And I realized while we were On this pseudo date that he thought it was a date and I was not ready, I went to my cart, and I just cried. I was really angry. That was probably the angriest I've ever been. Just that I did not want to have to date again, I had worked felt like I had worked so hard to find you go, right, right, right. Like, I don't want to be here. I just want to go, you know, it's just so unfair. And so I eased my way into it. I didn't date until almost four years in three and a half, four years. Okay. But yeah, people do want to hook you up because they think it's a problem. We're socialized to believe that we're supposed to be in a relationship, right, especially as women, you know, sometimes we're taught to believe that our value is as a parent, as a mom as a wife, and that we can't be okay. alone. And so people think they're being very helpful. Mm hmm. For sure. Yeah, that's not how I experienced it.Announcer:
We'll get back to grief to growth in just a few seconds. Did you know that Brian is an author and a life coach, if you're grieving or know someone who is grieving his book, grief to growth is a best selling easy to read book that might help you or someone you know, people work with Brian as a life coach, to break through barriers and live their best lives. You can find out more about Brian and what he offers at WWW dot grief to growth.com www dot g ri, e f, the number two gr o w th calm. If you'd like to support this podcast, visit www.patreon.com slash grief to growth www.patreon.com slash g ri e f, the number two gr o w th to make a financial contribution. And now back to grief to growth.Brian Smith:
So let's talk about the you mentioned and some of the notes you sent me. You said something about post traumatic growth. So what is post traumatic growth view? And how does that apply?Unknown:
Yeah, so post traumatic growth, I remember when I heard about post traumatic growth, it was like the record scratch moment, you know, where you're like, what, because I think everyone's familiar with post traumatic stress disorder, but I've never really heard this idea of post traumatic growth. So. So, you know, it's this, this idea developed by a couple of researchers to dashi and Calhoun in the early 90s, that not only can you bounce back from a trauma, meaning that you can get back to the same level of functioning and the same level of life satisfaction, which used to be the goal, right, it was to get back to where you were before the trauma. But these two researchers came along and offered the idea, of course, because they studied it, that you could actually achieve growth after trauma, that you could take that trauma, and then leverage it. Right and, and become more satisfied with your life live a life that you're, that's even more aligned with what you value that's even more filled with possibility and deeper spiritual connection and better relationships, and, you know, stronger appreciation and all of these things. And so, this is kind of my biggest pet peeve. I think, sometimes we use this phrase new normal against ourselves, I don't know how you feel about it. But yes, it's never gonna be the same as it was when the person was in the flesh right next to us. But what I see is that a lot of people use that phrase against themselves. And they, they'll say things like, Well, you know, I'm getting used to my new normal, and it said, with this resignation implied that life will never be as good as it once was, but I'm getting used to it. And so what I love about post traumatic growth is it just really, you know, blows that theory up, and says, No, you know, your losses, your loss, and you get to be the boss of your life, and you get to decide, if you want to grow, it's not that it's, you know, morally superior to do that. But you get to be the boss, and I just love that.Brian Smith:
Yeah, I think that's, I think that's really wise. And, you know, I have a lot of clients will say to me, will I ever get will ever get back to the person I was before. And I always say to them, I hope you don't hope you become a person, you know? Yeah, otherwise, you're just wasting this experience that you've gone through. And there's, but there's always this tension that, you know, we were always gonna carry that, that loss with us that pain that we're gonna have that longing and stuff, but it doesn't mean our lives can't be good again. And I think a lot of times, especially in those early days, the biggest thing is believing that it can be good. Believing that we can actually, you know, do do well for us to do better. So I'm curious. It's, you know, it's been it's a relatively short period of time since since you guys passing. How long was it before you decide to become a life coach?Unknown:
Pretty fast. So that was another one of the tools that I had had in my tool belt was I had been following a life coach, just listening to her podcast and so in a way Her tools and what she taught, but really not ever interested in being a life coach. In fact, I would refer people to her podcast and I would tell them to ignore the life coach part. I guess I just, you know, I don't know, I'm from the Midwest, and maybe we're slow to adapt to trends here. But I kind of thought maybe it was sketchy. So. But I got to that point where, you know, I was back to functioning, I was back to work, my therapist was saying, you're doing so great, you're so strong, you know, all the things. And I'm thinking in my mind, Okay, thank you. And I agree that I am doing well, but also on the inside, just feeling kind of hollow and empty. And thinking that there has to be more for my life than this. Like it can't just be checking off the to do list and going to work and feeding the children and robotically going through the motions. And two things kind of happened at the same time. One was that my therapist said you should be a therapist. She had it all planned out. She said, I'll help you get into an MFT program. When I retire, you can buy my practice. I mean, she was like, she was ready. Wow. And so that so in December, so if you died in August, in December, I applied for that MFT program, had to wait until the following September for it to start. And in January, the coach that I had been following started a program that I joined. And so I was taking another prerequisite for the MFT that I didn't have from my bachelor's degrees abnormal psych class. And I was showing up and being coached as a part of this program that this coach was running. And it was so powerful for me that six months, just really six months of that program, that I decided I don't want to be a therapist, I don't want to be a coach. First, I thought, well, I'll just, I'll just go through the MFT program. And I'll do coaching on the side, as I work my way through the MFT program, because it was going to take a couple of years plus working full time. And then by the time it it came time to start, I decided no, it's it's the scarier path to become a coach. But this is calling me and I can't ignore this call. And this is this is what I needed all the tools I was learning through that coaching program. Were the reason I was changing profoundly. Yeah. And I just decided everybody's gonna think I'm crazy. And that's okay. I'm just gonna go for it. So in September, I started training. So Hugo died in August, the next September, I did my life coach training in person took another three or four months to do the follow up and actually get certified and finish it. And then I quit my job in January. I know right, and I actually happened to quit my job to go and work for that coach on a on a trial, which was felt very safe to me, because she offered me it was a slight pay cut from what I was making, but it felt like a solid job. And it didn't work out. The It was like a trial kind of job. And it just didn't work for either of us. And but it helped me get out of my job. Right? It helped me leave that corporate world that I was in. And so I just decided, when that didn't work out, I was just gonna throw myself into coaching and, and just go for it and not look back. And I didn't. And yeah, you know, it was rough the first year it took it took a while to build a successful business. But, man, I can't imagine. I can't imagine actually still being at that job. Most people are being laid off production lines shutting down. Not deeply satisfying.Brian Smith:
Right, right. Yeah, yeah. This is your you're a fantastic example of post traumatic growth. And you know, it's interesting, as you're telling your story, you were saying, You're from the Midwest, I'm from the Midwest, I'm from Ohio, and I would hear about life coaches, and I would actually make jokes about life coaches, you know, there's a, you know, there was a meal I actually posted before I became a coach and says, you know, eat more kale kale there, I'm your life coach. No, it's I'm like, you know, we're like, what is it just rich people that have life coaches that just have too much money? You know, what's, what's the deal with his life coaching thing, and with me, it was a friend that I happen to working with. She's a medium and I do this work for helping parents heal. Yeah. And she said, Brian, there's just life coaching class that I saw online, I thought you might want to take it and I was like, why would you think I wouldn't want to take a life coaching class, and then I realized a lot of what I was doing with people was I was coaching them. And so it's kind of like Well, yeah, I might as well do this, but it still feels weird when I tell people that I do life coaching but it's so satisfying. It's such great word.Unknown:
Yeah, because most people don't understand what you mean when you say that you do life coaching they're like well, you know, what do you mean what is that exactly? I think it's becoming more familiar but yeah, it's still less known thanBrian Smith:
Yeah, it is. In a different aspects in some people are like I need a life coach helped me lose weight, you know, stuff like that, or I need a life coach and I and that's stuff that I can do but my specialty is More around grief, I know, you're not dealing with what you've gone through, you've worked with widows for the most part is exclusively with widowsUnknown:
exclusively. Yeah, explicitly. And honestly, when I decided to become a coach, I really wasn't planning to work with widows. I still I thought it would be too sad. Hmm. And so I just hadn't done enough of my own work yet. And then at a certain point, I realized, oh, wait a minute, why would I work with anyone else, I would write, like, I have an insight into this experience. And, and there's nothing else out there. At least at the time, there was nothing else out there like it, it was. So so it was really fun to go and create what I wish I could have found, right to take what I know about grief and all the grief studies that I've done, and then what I learned from my teacher and in certification, and then you just take all of that life experience. And, you know, like, it sounds like what you've done right, and then put it together in a way that helps a very specific problem.Brian Smith:
Yeah, you know, it's really interesting, because I call myself a grief guide, and a life coach, and I put them both out there. I've done very little, I've done a couple people that are life coach clients, but most of them are coming to me because of grief. Yeah. And so I think we kind of attract the clients that that you know, that need us and that we can, we can help. And as I was saying, it's really, when you can, when you can talk to someone and say I've been through what you're going through, I think that gives you that gives you a lot more credibility with them. And they feel like they can relate to you. And it's interesting, because I have people that I offer half hour consultation, people, I don't know what this is about, some just sign up for half an hour. It almost always goes an hour, at least. They're like, Oh, yeah, now I see what this is, you know, now, now I get it. So it's really, it's great. I really, I applaud you for taking that leap of faith to, to go out and do this and to allow this experience in your life to launch you into the next thing. Yeah,Unknown:
thank you. I'm so glad that I did. It's given me so much more than I could ever give, honestly, the people that I serve, it's so fulfilling. I just can't imagine doing anything else now.Brian Smith:
So when you work with clients, what can a client expect? If I if I'm a widow? And I'm like, okay, I might reach out to her What? What would I expect a session to be like, or the process to be like?Unknown:
Well, I do groups now. So I don't do any more one on one, or in the early days, I just did just exclusively one on one. And then at a certain point, you know, you hear the same stories over and over and over, you hear the same ways that people think there's something wrong with them when what you know, is that it's just grief. Right? Yeah. And so I got to that place where I thought, you know, if I could just get people together, not because we're going to go around the room and each talk and share. That's not how I do it. But because if one woman can hear another woman's story and see herself in that story, and she can see, oh, it's not me, there's nothing wrong with me, I'm not broken, you know, I'm not damaged, this is just the way of it, then we can get some of those basic, but really challenging grief aspects, we can work through them faster. And then we can move on to the things that are kind of more individual. So the way that I run my program, it's a six month program, all widows all moms, and I coach in a group setting. So I coach, you know, on zoom, Brady Bunch style, so everyone can see each other, they can turn their cameras off if they don't want to. But I coach one person at a time while everyone else watches, which is amazing, because I find that our brain can be a little bit resistant. I don't know if you've, if this resonates with you. But our brain can be a little bit resistant when we're the one in the hot seat. Because the coaches is challenging you a little bit in a loving way. And it's kind of sometimes hard to absorb it, versus the experience of watching someone else get coached when it's not your life and your brain isn't resistant, and you can so clearly see the issue. And you can watch the you know, the coach and the client work together on it and go, Oh, that's what's happening to me. That's I'm doing that. Like she's getting coached on the challenge that she's having with her mother in law and her thoughts about her mother in law, you know, her mother in law's telling her she's responsible for her spouse's death or whatever. And I'm having that, you know, a very similar challenge with my sister in law. It's may be different, but so easy to leverage what other people are going through without the brain being in that kind of resistance state. Yeah, so we do a lot of group calls in that way. I do a lot of coaching online, we use an app so that you know, in between calls, because maybe something comes up tomorrow and the next call isn't until Thursday or whatever. You know, they can come to me inside the app, a lot of celebrating a lot of training our brain to focus on what we want to see more of and then also have a self paced component to my program. So my goal is to To give people the tools that they need all the tools that I wish I would have had, you know, the pathway to work through the most common obstacles. Even if they don't get it all done within six months, they'll have it forever, right? And then I can set them up to be self sufficient at the end of the six months. So they understand grief, they understand how their brain works, they understand how to manage their emotional life, they understand as oddly as it sounds, how to feel their feelings, because nobody taught us this. Right. That's the first thing I teach people is how to feel feelings. I teach them how to do Emotional Freedom Technique tapping, because I just am in love with that tool and position them well, that's so that by the end of six months, they've worked through what they came to work through, and they're ready to go.Brian Smith:
That sounds awesome. Yeah. And that's, that's the thing. I think a lot of people confuse life coaching with therapy or traditional therapy. And they think it's like a lifelong thing. And one of the things when I was going through life coaching, training, and I loved that the program I took the guy was like, our job is to make people self sufficient. It's not to make them dependent on us. We don't want that we don't want men that we don't want. But clients shouldn't have to come to us for years and years and years. If they aren't, we're not doing our job.Unknown:
We're not doing our jobs, I could not agree with you more. Interestingly, I have, I think I have some lifers in my program. And I think it's because they're most widows don't have other widows in their orbit, to really have that sense of community with and that is, the one thing I see is that a lot of them don't want to leave. It's not because they don't have the tools. It's just because they love the sport, and they love the environment. It's not even so much about me, as it is about the community. And so, you know, I prepare them to graduate at the six month mark. But I also have an opportunity for them to keep going if they want to. And as long as we're they're not using that as a crutch. Yeah, it's good.Brian Smith:
I think the community is very important. I mentioned a couple times, I'm part of helping parents heal, which is we're about 17,000 parents have had children transition. And just that not feeling like you're alone, like you're not the only one that has happened to and to, as you said, the group thing, because we have calls and when people come on and say, Yeah, I went through this, or I'm going through this give of that I'm not crazy, you know, it's not just me, and all these things, you know, the dealing with the family dynamics, you know, it's like I said, what I was talking I was I was being interviewed on a program, and I slipped up because I was that's when I was like bear grief. And you know, but parents, we've lost a child when we think that's the worst. I mean, frankly, so I was talking with these people. And I said, Yeah, you know, I had the worst thing, you know, I lost a daughter, you know, 15 year old daughter. And this woman that was interviewing me says, I've actually got a foster child, and I just lost my husband. And she said, For me losing my husband was worse. Because it's every aspect of your life. It's it's all day. And we know that when we get married, we can say it till death do us part, we don't really believe that's going to happen, right? Or it's going to happen a lot where 90, right? And it's not what happened till we're 90, it's not supposed to happen. You know why we still have kids in the house, it's not supposed to happen. While we're still you know, I said with my with my friend, this was sudden, I mean, she just she had a blood clot, and just was here one day in little Oregon. And next and we're all you know, still, like my wife was in book club with her. And they're like, this is just really surreal for us. And, and then, you know, trying to figure out how to deal with the person, the other person. So it's complicated for everybody, I guess, is what I'm saying.Unknown:
Yeah, I think it's just subjective. It's each human having a different experience, because each human is interpreting their experience differently. Yeah. So you know, to your point, yeah, it's, it's not so useful to compare, because who are we to say what what I might experience is traumatic, might not be so traumatic for someone else, and vice versa. And that's okay.Brian Smith:
Yeah, yeah, exactly. But I like to I like your idea of people being in groups and being able to benefit from you coaching other people. And I hadn't thought about that before. But sometimes we do get resistant or defensive. someone's talking directly to us. But if you're talking to somebody else we can we can see the problem the other person. And so yeah, they need to listen to what Chris is saying.Unknown:
Yeah, or one person's bravery, you know, will will just be so valuable to the rest of the people there because maybe they would have never brought it up. You know, like, you know, sex after grief. Like, oh, nobody wants to talk about that. But then somebody, I'll bring it up. And then you know, you hear the echoes in the chat of Oh, me too. Me too. Me too. I'm so glad you said it. I was too embarrassed to talk about it. And so you can really, in a comfortable loving, supportive environment, bring up some stuff that's just hard for people to talk about and normalize it.Brian Smith:
Yeah, yeah, exactly. So I'm Chris how if people want to find out more about you, they want to reach out to you find out more about your program. How can they do that?Unknown:
Yeah, so they can go to coaching with Krista k ri STI calm or I love it. adding people to my podcast and don't let the name deceive you my goal even though I only, you know, work on a paying client basis with women who are widows and moms, I hope that my podcast will help people who are grieving in general. And it's called the widowed mom podcast. So pretty easy to find. So if they maybe aren't a widow, but they just want to learn more, they can go to the podcast.Brian Smith:
Yeah. And actually, there was one other thing I wanted to talk to you about, cuz we kind of talked about a little bit before we get started. And it was about spirituality. And you said, you don't specifically mentioned that in your coaching practice. I obviously make it a big part of what I do with my podcasts. And in my practice, so how do you? How do you help people have hope? How do you help people? You know, because, again, when we lose a spouse or something like that, we're like, this is it. I'm just done. This is the worst thing that could ever happen. So how do you get people past that?Unknown:
Well, I think one of the biggest things that helps is just that they see my life's example. Right? And then I always make a point of sharing other widows journeys, so that they can see it and other people too. So they don't think that I'm a special snowflake. Yeah. Right. Because a lot of times, I think that tends to happen is we just people only show us the highlight reel on their, on their Instagram. And so they think, Oh, she must be special. So I try to tell a lot of stories. And then also, I know this sounds odd, maybe but at a certain point, I find hope is useful when you're feeling hopeless. Right? But then also, how do I even want to see this? The need for hope, implies that where you are, is wrong. Right, the need for hope implies that we need to be somewhere in the present or in the past or mean, in the future in the past, as opposed to how do we stay in the present? Yeah. And find the beauty here?Brian Smith:
Yeah. Yeah, that's a good point. That's a really good point. Because Yeah, you're right. Hope implies a future state. That's different from the state that we're in. So it's, I guess, a matter of helping people feel comfortable with where they are.Unknown:
Yeah. Yeah. And live live in this moment. Yeah. It might suck. But it is. It is what we have right now. Right? And the good, I believe the good only exists, because we have the context of the quote unquote, bad. Right? We know joy, because we have despair. And so we've been socialized to believe that the bad is to be avoided. But really, if we want to look at it as a valuable part of our human experience, I think that opportunities available to us and I think that's what adds rich and you know, a rich depth of experience. And you know, that's appealing to me.Brian Smith:
Yeah, well, that's, that's a, that's a hard lesson for a lot of us to take, right? Because we just went we just went joy all the time. We're like, why would I? Why would I choose a life that has, quote, bad stuff in it?Unknown:
But we're sold that right at every turn, we're sold joy, we're sold happiness, we're supposed to be happier than we are. And that's what creates so much suffering is this idea that we're supposed to be somewhere other than where we are? Yeah. Right. When if we could just relax into where we are as uncertain and as sometimes painful as it feels, without thinking that we're supposed to be somewhere else. We would save ourselves a lot of suffering.Brian Smith:
Yeah, that's, that's right. Very wise. Thank you. Any last thoughts you want to you want to share with us before we before we leave for today?Unknown:
I love this conversation. I'm just really grateful to be here.Brian Smith:
Yeah, well, it's, it's a pleasure to meet you. And I again, I applaud you for what you're doing, which what you've done your for your bravery. And then for your sharing with other people to help other people come along through this, this journey that, you know, it's we always talk, we have the garden sealed, this is the club nobody wants to be in. Yeah. And and being, you know, in a situation Sure, and I'm sure it's something that you would have never, you know, wished or anticipated. But to take that and turn it into something beneficial. something beautiful, is just amazing transformation.Unknown:
You know, that's one thing I would say, Brian, just to add on to that, because I think a lot of times people think, well, if I'm going to grow from the experience, then I have to be glad it happened. And I just would want to offer that we don't have to be glad it happened to still choose to grow from the experience. Right. And yeah,Brian Smith:
yeah, that's a very good point also, because, you know, it's it's a it's, it's hard because my daughter, it's it'll be six years in three days since she passed. And I, I only know one person that I've worked with and I've worked with hundreds of people who has said I'm I'm glad that much I'll pass and not in not in a mean sense, but since I have a better relationship with them now than I did before, because it's because of a deep spiritual understanding. But for most of us, we're like, Yes, I've chosen to make something good out of this. And yes, you know, there's growth that's come through this, but I would give anything to have my my daughter back, you know, I would not my human at Brian would not choose this. And this is for me where spirituality comes in. Because I think from a higher perspective, I understand why I'm going through this. And from a higher perspective, I can get through it, but the part of me, and I'm looking at myself now looks, I see Shane over my shoulder, and I miss her every time I look at her. So I want people to understand that when we say that we're taking something and we're going to grow from it. It doesn't mean that we're glad it happened. It doesn't mean we're ever going to be glad that it happened. It doesn't mean that we don't have bad days that we don't have bad times. I don't I can't speak for you, but I do. I still do. And I probably always will at some point.Unknown:
Yep, totally agree. Let's move on to having just moved. Oh my gosh, all the stuff that came up just moving out of that house where I had so many memories and still had stuff to deal with and oh, yeah, grief, grief grenades everywhere. Yeah. Yeah, that's the way of it.Brian Smith:
Yeah, they're out there. And I tell people don't try to avoid them. You know, is some people say I'm gonna avoid you can't avoid the triggers. Now they're out there. They're all over the place. Just walk through the minefield and let them blow up. Amen. Thank you so much. Yeah. Well, thank you for being here. Chris. It was great to see you. Hopefully people will reach out to you and you know, learn about more about your coaching program. listen to the podcast, the widowed mom podcast if you want to hear more from Krista and then you know, hopefully if you say that she would be a good fit for you for Coach reach out to her. Thank you. Alright, have a great rest of your day. You too. Bye. So that does it for another episode of grief to growth. I sure hope you enjoyed it. If you like this content, make sure you subscribe. So click on the subscribe button here, and then click on the bell to receive notifications and click on all that way you'll be notified whenever I release new content. Thanks for watching and have a great day.
Podcast Host | Coach of Widowed Moms
Krista St-Germain is a Master Certified Life Coach, grief expert, widow, mom and host of The Widowed Mom Podcast. When her husband was killed by a drunk driver in 2016, Krista’s life was completely and unexpectedly flipped upside down. After therapy helped her unfurl from the fetal position, Krista discovered Life Coaching, Post Traumatic Growth and learned the tools she needed to move forward and create a future she could get excited about. Now she coaches and teaches other widows so they can love life again, too.