Is That Thought True?

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This summer I hiked through Zion National Park and Bryce Canyon with a group of awesome ladies. The hikes were challenging at times, but a goal I had set for myself and achieved. Another example that life is still good.

It does if you want it to.

That’s how my friend, who has been a widow three years longer than I have been, responded to my question, “Does life get any better?”

Her response was a game changer for me this year in how I’m approaching life as I move forward. Honestly, what I expected to hear from her was something like, “Well, there are days that are easier than others; life will never be the same, as you know. You will have ups and downs.” All logical and true responses. But her directness about what I can control has been the best counsel I’ve received since my husband died. 

Life gets better if you want it to. And I get to choose.

Her response reminds me that my thoughts drive my feelings. Here’s what that doesn’t mean. It doesn’t mean that I pretend that I’m not grieving–that I push down my emotions and slap on a smile. If I don’t acknowledge grief, it hounds me until I do–until I have that good cry or sit with that funky, angry mood. I lost a person, a love, a life that was very important to me. Grief is a part of my life now. But I don’t have to get stuck in it or be controlled by it. Facing it straight on is the best way to go through it.

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Joann The Life Coach

Joann Filomena is October’s (and our very first) Reimagining featured profile. Joann is a professionally certified life coach and weight loss coach, as well as producer and host of the Widow Cast podcast and author of two books, Widowed and The Widow Coach. Through her business, Joann The Life Coach, she trains and certifies widows to become Widow Life Coaches.


Headshot 300 dpiJoann Filomena says about every 20 years she has the opportunity to reimagine her life.

“From 20-40 I was a wife and mom raising a daughter in northern California,” she said. “After my divorce, I met and married my second husband, Jim, moved to the Bronx and we were married 20 years. That was my second reimagined life. The third reimagined life I will have, the next 20 years, will be coaching.”

Joann’s husband, Jim Filomena, died suddenly at the end of 2014, and as she sat alone on New Year’s Eve, less than 48 hours after his death, two thoughts went through her mind: Jim didn’t know when they celebrated 2014 that it was going to be his last year, and she had no way of knowing if 2015 would be the last year of her life.

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Don’t Go It Alone

Burdened-Endearing-1People who need help sometimes look like people who don’t need help.
Author Glennon Doyle Melton

My day job is working with family caregivers in support groups, a place where they have the freedom to share what’s on their mind and visit with and learn from others who are walking the same path they are on.

I often meet caregivers who are trying to wear so many hats in their families while caring for a loved one with a chronic or terminal illness. They put on a brave face and grip tightly to the ship’s wheel while weighted down by duty, tired and already in the midst of the grieving process that comes early to caregivers as they let go of what they dreamed life would look like for them and their spouse. Often, they can’t see to navigate the ship for their loved one let alone take care of their own health and well-being. Sometimes the simple question: “Is there someone who can help you?” leaves them dumbfounded. Many don’t realize they have the right to ask for help from friends or family members. They often believe they are in it all alone. Continue reading

What Do I Think About This?

7196ea17c02778a39b8cd76ff042ae29--scar-quotes-quote-tattoosOne thing we can be sure of in life is that if you haven’t experienced circumstances that knock you off balance, hold on, it’s only a matter of time.

My husband’s death changed my family’s life as quickly as flipping a light switch. On many days since, I’ve wanted to bury my head under the covers and never come out. But I learned something through counseling and my graduate work that has piqued my interest in people’s approaches to stress and crisis. How a family or individual perceives a stressor can have an effect on the impact of the stress.  Continue reading