Feeling Trapped by the Memories?

Do you spend more time reliving images of the past, the days you had together, the life you shared, than you do in the present moment?

It’s a pretty big side effect of widowhood and a common experience for most of us. After all, when you were married for 10, 15, 20, 30, 50 years a lot of your life is sitting back over your shoulder. And it’s really tempting to keep looking at it. Especially when the future feels so uncertain.

HOW you look at the life you lost determines a lot about how well you will heal. Sound odd? It’s not.

You see, our brains like routine. You had routines in your relationship that are now disrupted and gone forever. But your mind doesn’t know the difference between what was and what is and what you want for the future. You have to tell it what to think. Make no mistake, what you think about is what you receive. To heal and move forward, you want to help your mind let go of the slide show and visualize a new future. It’s very possible to do this, it’s neuro science.

When you examine what you’ve lost with a skilled guide and a reliable grieving process you can understand and release that unending slide show of your past life and move into your future.

I am a coach for Widowed Women. As a  Certified Grief Recovery Specialist and fellow widow, I can help you navigate all these memories and move your life forward.

You can hope it gets better or you can invest in your future.

Hit Pause

The pause is here. Have you felt it? Nature is taking a deep, cool breath and resting for a minute before moving onto the next thing.   Maybe you could do that, too. Maybe you could take in a deep breath and prepare for what’s next.  

A cool breeze is slipping around the edges of the heat that has baked too many of us this summer. It’s sliding up just at sunset, giving us a whiff of what’s next. Like a cosmic resetting, a resettling of what is.  

I don’t know about you, but I often underestimate the stresses of summer. I always think I’ll “just relax;” only to have conferences, trips, vacays, tight schedules, too much sunshine, sunscreen, and heat pile up on me like a curse instead of a respite. What the heck happened to my anticipated relaxation?  

It was just more delicious self-delusion! Like when I make plans with a friend to go to the old-fashioned, hand-dipped ice cream shop where I’m going to order three flavors in a waffle cone only to look at the calorie count and go for the no-sugar-added, mini-yogurt in a pill cup.  

After all the teary-hot racing around doing nothing stress of summer, I welcome autumn. It holds my birth month (October) and the closer it gets, the better I feel. (I’m curious. Does that happen to you in your birth month?) While I’m not an astrology person, I find the renewed energy around the time I was birthed quite fascinating. (Witnessing death has changed my opinion about life. A subject for another time perhaps.)  

So today I’m doing it. I’m just breathing into that quiet pause nature is offering. As the summer insects sing their closing chorus, I want to sit in that space and rest.  

Once again we’re in transition whether we planned to be or not. (Have you noticed God doesn’t really care whether you’re ready or not?)   God lets nature push us along. She gives us visual clues, changes the landscape with color so we don’t miss the unfolding of the transition.

While nature is ever-changing, we experience transitions, too: birth, school, graduation, work, marriage, babies, work, illness, and then when we least expect it, death.  

And each little transition is sacred. Each one deserves to be held in our hearts and celebrated for the special moment it is. So don’t miss this one. Sit with nature and take a deep breath. Don’t worry about getting lost there. Life will push you along soon enough!  

Let me guide you as you transition. SCHEDULE YOUR FREE CALL NOW.

Who Is Going to Fix That?

My world was falling apart. I had to fix it. As a widow, you quickly learn life has a never-ending question: “Now who is going to fix THAT?” I found my solution this time with two brothers who know how to do just about anything and everything which is a good thing because just about …

An Honest Conversation About Widowhood

An Honest Conversation about Widowhood

Donna Marie: What was the hardest thing for you about becoming a widow for you Gwenda?

Gwenda: Admitting that I needed help and then asking for it. You feel so raw and so, well, it’s almost like being a kid again. Not knowing how to do things and needing somebody to hold your hand and lead you through it but you’re a mature woman and you’re not supposed to be like that.

Donna Marie: I think your reference to being like a child again is so interesting…it’s an interesting spot to be in, isn’t it?

Gwenda: Interesting…that’s a nice adjective (she laughs!).

Donna Marie: So you came to A Widow’s Tale retreat…did you find that helpful?

Gwenda: Yeah, it was helpful. There’s something strange when you’re talking about grief, sort of this dark curtain comes down. It’s like a dark room you don’t wanna go into, right? You know, I’m so tired of being the one that has to deal with everything.

Donna Marie: Say more about that. That part has been really big for me.

GWENDA: Well, you’re always on…. there’s nobody else. The kids want the best for you but – they’re not there, are they?

Dealing with everything and not knowing what you’re doing, it’s like a comic bit, like the old cartoons….Oh my God, what am I going to do about this? Who do I call? Of course it’s a pattern and now, now, I just do it automatically. I’ll just get somebody…

Donna Marie: If you had to tell other widows something about being a widow what would it be?

GWENDA: When you lose the person you’ve lived your life with, when I became a widow, I started on a new journey to finding out who Gwenda is now and I’m still on that one. It’s entirely new territory. Not completely new, what you’ve lived and who you are is there but it’s different now. You work on being your own best friend.

I couldn’t have said it better myself! Gwenda is right, your real work now is learning to be your own best friend. The Widow’s Recovery System is designed to help you become your own best friend.

It’s easy to get started.

  1. You set up a free phone call with me to talk about where you are in your widow’s journey and where you’d like to be. The whole program takes place in the privacy of your own home.
  2. You order the program online.
  3. You’ll receive the link to 7 Recovery Audio Recovery Courses that provide valuable insights. As you listen, you’ll learn about the different phases of grief and gain a deeper understanding about the challenges of your recovery and rebuilding process.
  4. Your Recovery Workbook has practical exercises to release grief and rebuild a compassionate relationship with YOURSELF step-by-step!
  5. I’ll be right here for you. Every other week, we’ll talk by phone, just the two of us, about how things are going. This gives you the support you need to move forward!
  6. And, you’ll receive unlimited email support for the full seven weeks of the program.


Peeling Paint

It all started innocuously enough. The doorway to my rental apartment needed scraping and painting. No big deal, except that I put It off for a year so it was a bigger deal than it should have been. I went to the hardware store and bought a scraper (because I waited a year) and a quart of white exterior paint.

But you know how these things work. First, if you think back to fingers on the blackboard in school, that’s what scrapers on wood sound like, so the next order of business was to find some earplugs. Fortunately, a local craft beer barkeep had just given me a new pair over the weekend! I went out for an IPA and couldn’t drink mine, until he gave me the plugs, because the local band wanted their music to reach Chicago.

Earplugs in, I went to work on the doorway, only to notice that the windowsill next to it was in even worse shape. So I got the stepladder and prepared it, too. But as the paint chips fell to the ground, I noticed that the brick foundation was also losing paint. Dang it! This went on all day until paint chips lay around my house like a bread-crumb trail.

As I spent the afternoon painting (which is a cathartic experience for me so I’m not sure why I put it off so much) I realized that home repair is a lot like life. We have these places inside ourselves that need attention but we put it off, fearing it will be too painful or take too long or bring up stuff we aren’t sure we can deal with. But when parts of us start hanging out at the seams, the day of reckoning comes. The irony is that we’re always better after we address our hidden selves and then we wonder why in the heck we waited so long!

Are there places in your life that  need sorting out?  The Widows’ Recovery System can help. Sign up now for a free sacred support call.

One Night Away from Death

As I write this, I am furiously drinking a lemon water in a panicked attempt to flush cortisol from my bloodstream so I can exit that hyper-alert state that comes upon you when you don’t feel safe or when you feel terrified. (Like when you realize you could have died, for instance.)

But let me calm down and start at the beginning. My week began innocently enough. I drove to the International Festival Gathering of Biblical Storytelling, which just happened to be happening in Dayton, Ohio. I told A Widows Tale for opening worship and it was a beautiful experience to share that story with my fellow storytellers from across the country and the world.

We spent three more days immersed in story and by Friday night we were just about glazed over from the joy of story.

That’s when someone mentioned having dinner in a lovely, vibrant, eclectic area of Dayton with fabulous restaurants. The foodies among us couldn’t resist, so we carpooled to said district and were not disappointed. We found gorgeous Thai food with an atmosphere to match, right down to the oriental letters tattooed on our well-coifed waiter’s wrist. (You can’t have fabulous food without atmosphere, right?) Then as evening fell, we wandered the district and enjoyed the ambience. We passed bars and restaurants filled with laughter and intriguing aromas, listened to street musicians and djembe drummers, visited a hat shop (this was Ohio, not NYC, so it was a hat shop, not a haberdashery), walked around a few drugged and drunk people huddled in front of a tattoo parlor, and hurried past a peep-show palace to get back to our car. (I said the district was eclectic. The peep-show and patrolling police let us know the district was clearly a heady work-in-progress.)

Saturday we had planned to return to try out the Italian place that looked promising but we were just t o o  t i r e d  so we went to a brew pub around the corner instead.

Which is how I remained one night away from death. Because you see, that district, the work-in-progress with the patrolling police? That’s where a crazy opened fire with an automatic weapon and a hundred rounds of ammunition on Saturday night, August 3. Before the police shot him in the street like a rabid animal he managed to kill 9 people and wound 26.

We heard the sirens, enough sirens to signal the end of the world. We watched the replays again and again on TV. The politicians owned by the gun lobby again assured us that more people die in car crashes each year than in armed massacres by insane people who clearly should never have access to a weapon. I’ve seen it and heard it so many times I’d become numb to it. Let’s be real, there were 3 other massacres just like it that weekend and like many of you, until then, I tuned it all out.

But I’d never been one night away from death before. I walked that street. I stood on that corner. That bullet-ridden body in Dayton could have been me or my storyteller friends or all of us. The shooter didn’t discriminate and was clearly a person whose story had not been kind to him.

Death missed me by that much. And I’m forever changed. I’m forever changed and I’m ready to do what it takes to get our gun laws changed. As one of the Australian storytellers noted, “You’re not safe anymore are you? When it happened to us, we passed a law. Don’t you think it’s time you passed a law?” Yes. I do. And I’m going to get busy and stay busy until we pass that law. Maybe you should too, because guess what? We’re all just one night away from death.

Take Time to Breathe

Summer has come to a close and there’s a busy-ness that is starting to show up.  As the busyness around ramps up, you may find that the hectic energy around you brings a stress with it that is never far away!

When things get hectic it’s time to get quiet. It’s only by finding your quiet center and acknowledging the energies that are rotating within you that you find the calm and peace you so want and deserve.

Here’s a new healing mediation made just for you to do exactly that. May peace always be yours.

A Lesson in Vulnerability

Vulnerability is hard for me. I have serious trust issues, especially since being widowed. When your life turns upside down (Which happens when you get a cancer diagnosis or lose your job or someone you love leaves you or, worse yet, dies.) it’s hard to figure out how to get your feet back on the ground. For years, I was one of those self-sufficient types who didn’t really “get” relying on others. But when death came calling I was forced to get it.

But as I’ve mentioned before, I’m a slow learner, so God has to keep teaching me, again and again, to stay connected. As my lessons continue, I’m actually learning to let go and revel in the way my tiny puzzle piece adjoins the giant jigsaw that is life.

God provided another teaching moment just this morning. It was so gentle and tender that it took my breath away. I was sipping coffee on the tiny patio of my rented condo on Fripp Island, SC and relishing the pale pastels of the fading sunrise. Thanks to the bright yellow signs that warn visitors of the dangers of feeding (or finding, for that matter) alligators I knew to be careful in the marsh and shallows. The “Lights Out at Night!” signs let me know I was in a sea-turtle nesting area. I knew sharks and jellyfish were in the coastal waters but I was rather unprepared to see a dainty family of deer appear in the dawn light. In fact, I had to blink a couple of times to make sure I wasn’t seeing things. But there they were: An impressive 8-point buck, a fawn still dotted with baby spots and a lovely doe. With bobbing heads, they were nibbling the tiny strip of grass between the condo and the breakfront. Seeing deer was an unexpected joy but I couldn’t believe my eyes when the doe broke into a slow trot and led her family toward me on the patio.

I had some apple slices so I broke off a piece and tossed it toward her. She ignored it and kept on coming, so I threw another piece, which she also passed up. Slowing down as she taxied onto the patio, she fixed me with a gaze as intense and gentle as a moonbeam, walked right up to me and extended her soft face toward mine. And I knew, somehow, that she wanted me to hand-feed her. Those dreamy dark-chocolate eyes never wavered from mine. I offered her a piece of apple and she delicately received it, and drew her head back a bit to swallow it, not unlike a nun taking communion. And then she would lower her head to my hand to receive the next piece. I threw a few for the buck and the fawn, but she would only allow a few tosses before reaching out again for my hand.

I was blown away by her soft vulnerability and quiet determination. Her tawny, toned body perched like a beach babe atop high-heeled stilts. When the apple was gone I expected her to leave but instead, she stood quietly, her dark orbs gazing deeply into mine. I was transported somewhere by them, lost in their softness. It was unspeakably beautiful. And then, she lifted her head and as magically as they had appeared, all three turned and leapt off into the marsh.

The doe was gone but her lesson remained. She trusted me and I loved her for it. She offered me nothing but gentle vulnerability and I gave her my golden delicious apple. If that’s not a lesson from heaven, I’m not sure what is.

If you’re tired of trying to recover from his death alone, schedule your complimentary call with me and let’s talk about how you can move forward into new life.


Some things make you feel like you took one step forward and then two steps back. But other things bring your life to a full halt. They’re the four-way stop signs of life and, guess what, you don’t have the right of way.

It feels so weird, right? . It’s like no one sees you’re stopped. The other drivers pause to look both ways and then blow on by like you aren’t even there. They are still living life at full-on go, petal-to-the-metal baby!

But you can’t deny that you’re at a STOP sign. The reasons vary: loss of a job, a serious health issue or accident, an intimate betrayal, or someone close to you dies. And suddenly you are suspended in mid-air and, worse yet, there’s no net set up to catch you.

Shock is the natural reaction to a full-on stop. You’re bound to say one version or the other of “What the hell just happened?!” Your mind replays the inconvenient truth again and again – as if more thinking can make sense of the unthinkable.

When you’re stuck at a STOP sign, it feels like it’s never happened to any one before, when in reality, full STOPS are the truest of human realities. It’s just that, until the STOP sign appears, you feel invincible. It’s the American Way! You buy into the super-hero fantasy of invincibility which, it should be noted, sells lots of movie tickets, Spanxs, and spandex. But when you deny your softness and vulnerability,  you deny your own humanity and cut yourself off from self-compassion.

Self-compassion is the most important part of waiting at a STOP sign.  Let’s say your car was totaled in an accident. Would you leap out and yell at it? Could you bully it into action? Would screaming, “Get it together! Stop whining. Get your front end up off that pavement and just get on with it!” be helpful? Could the car get up and put itself back together because you yelled at it? It’s laughable, right? And yet…

When the inevitable happens and a STOP sign rises up in front of you, are you tempted to bully yourself into “doing something?” Do you push yourself to action when there’s probably not an “action” you can take that will change anything?

The only solution to STOP signs is kindness. The kind of loving kindness you would offer to a lost puppy or a toddler with a boo-boo happens to be good for you, too. And the irony is that when you are kind to yourself, what really does need to happen usually does.

This is going to sound crazy, but the next time you hit a STOP sign, maybe you could just stop. Maybe you could be patient and wait and be as kind to yourself as you know how. A STOP sign is a highly personal experiences that arrives unannounced and uninvited. STOP signs don’t seek your opinion. They don’t ask if you want one or if now is a good time. It just doesn’t’ work that way.

So when the STOP signs of life appear, maybe you could try something different. Maybe you could take a deep breath and say something nice to yourself like, “Oh honey, I’m so sorry.”  That might really help because the only thing you can really control at a STOP sign is how you react to it.

If you are at a pivotal moment in your widowhood (you’ll know it if you are) and are ready to forward, then you are ready for the Widow’s Recovery System and the personal support and resources it offers. Let’s talk. Book your complimentary call now.

Got Weeds?

Weeds. Those pesky things that inhabit garden space and grow better than anything you plant. You pull them, you spray them, and you mow them down. It’s a never-ending effort and it often feels like the weeds are winning.

Grief is like that, too. Recovering from death is a daily process that requires patience and energy (things you’re a bit short on as a widow). Just when you think you’re done crying or screaming or staring out the window at a world that doesn’t feel real anymore, grief pops up out of nowhere and rapidly gains ground.

Like the weeds in your garden, grief doesn’t go away on its own, you have to actively tackle it. But you don’t have to do it alone.

The Widow’s Recovery System gives you one-on-one support and helpful resources to help you rebuild your life.

It’s easy to get started! Here’s how it works:

  1. You set up a free phone call with me to talk about where you are in your widow’s journey and where you’d like to be. (The whole program takes place in the privacy of your own home. You don’t have to go anywhere or get dressed up.)
  2. You order the program online.
  3. You’ll receive the link to 7 Recovery Audio Recovery Courses that provide valuable insights. As you listen, you’ll learn about the different phases of grief and gain a deeper understanding about the challenges of your recovery and rebuilding process.
  4. Your Recovery Workbook has practical exercises to release grief and rebuild a compassionate relationship with YOURSELF step-by-step!
  5. I’ll be there for you to get your back. Every other week, we’ll talk by phone, just the two of us, about how things are going. This gives you the support you need to move forward!
  6. And, you’ll receive unlimited email support for the full seven weeks of the program!