Krista St. Germain was driving on the highway with her husband when they had a car problem. Wanting to fix it himself, he pulled over and started to work on the car, only to be struck and killed by an impaired driver while doing so.
This past week I interviewed Krista about that day that changed her life, and what she’s learned about the process of grieving since.
As the host of The Widowed Moms Podcast, Krista delves into topics that everyone who’s ever grieved knows well–the anger, the indecision, the triggering moments, and the cold hard fact that grieving is never truly fully over.
I wanted to sum up some really impactful points Krista made during our interview, so if you or someone you know is grieving, you can perhaps take some comfort in her advice.
Maybe this is something you already know after losing a loved one, or even an important relationship in your life. But it’s a big one, and maybe the hardest to grasp: Grief doesn’t end; it changes.
Most of us want to be rid of anything that hurts or makes us uncomfortable, and grief is one of those feelings. Who wants to hold on to something that makes you feel so bad?
But Krista says one of the most impactful moments for her was understanding this simple, yet difficult-to-implement, concept: Grief doesn’t end, it changes, and that in and of itself is freeing.
“Grief is the natural human response to a perceived loss. So we don’t want to shame ourselves or make ourselves feel bad for grieving; it’s the natural response to loss.
“And also, because we’re not time travelers, and we can’t go back and undo the loss, we’re always going to have a response to it. And so, to me, it’s, it’s becoming intentional in choosing the response that we want to have.
“How do we want to take that part of our life experience and integrate it into the wholeness of this life that that we’re doing? And that doesn’t have to be sad or lonely or depressed at all. If anything, we can become more wise and more intentional and more present, more focused, more aligned. And and still, the loss has happened, [but] it’s evolved so much over time.”
Krista says one way to heal as well as honor a lost loved one is as simple as talking about them.
“I tell lots of stories. And my kids and I joke: Hugo’s language was French, so we have lots of jokes about, you know, ways that he would pronounce words or stories that we tell or things like that. So it just feels more like a warm and loving presence.
“Now it feels more like I’ve got a I’ve got a friend who’s looking over my shoulder and, you know, happy memories.”
While you didn’t choose to lose your loved one, there is choice, Krista says, in what you choose to do next. And for some, that looks like spiritual growth.
“One component of post traumatic growth is often spiritual growth or spiritual connection. Basically, what that means is, we can take anything that happens to us in our lives, including something that we experience as traumatic, which is highly subjective–and we can use that to inform the choices that we make.
“[You can ask yourself questions like], what is your experience like right now, and does that align with the experience that you want for yourself? And if it doesn’t, what’s in the way? Then can we create something that is intentionally what you want it to be.”
Krista uses what she calls the “NOW” process to work through difficult feelings. It looks like this:
N: Name the Emotion
“[When you name it], you open up to it, which is exactly the opposite of what primitive mind wants us to do.”
O: Open Up
This means “really, truly opening your shoulders and breathing it in, and giving it permission to be there.”
W: Witnessing It
Krista says, “Is it in your body? Where’s that emotion in your body being experienced? Is it in your stomach, your chest? Is it in your throat? Like, where is it?
“And what is it like? Because emotions are just vibrations. It’s just energy in the body somewhere. And when we shut down, we close off, we can’t actually allow them to flow through.
“So name it, open up to it, give it permission to be there, and then watch it as as essentially those chemicals make their way through your system, which really only takes about 90 seconds, if we’re actually in the place of the watcher.”
For anyone who’s experienced loss–whether that be of a person, or a relationship–I can’t encourage you to enough to listen to this episode. Krista is full of amazing advice.