WPP 017: Positive psychology coach Pam Garramone on how to be happier

Research shows that if you take one of your top five strengths and use it in a new way every day for seven days, it’s been shown to lift depression for up to six months.
— Pam Garramone
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I’m so happy to bring you my discussion with Pam Garramone. Pam is a positive psychology coach who teaches people how to be happier.

It’s important to note that Pam is not talking about ignoring or minimizing the pain and difficulty of losing a spouse, and being a widowed parent, but rather about some ways to gradually move the needle and to work some happiness into our lives in spite of this.

Pam and I talked about so many interesting topics, including many practical tips for how to be happier — and — how to help our kids be happier. We talked about:

  • What is positive psychology, and how does it relate to ‘regular’ psychology;

  • Some tools of positive psychology that can help us become happier;

  • The VIA character survey, and how to use your signature strengths to lift depression;

  • Fostering a growth mindset in our kids;

  • How helping others helps us to feel better;

  • How social connections can boost happiness; and

  • The benefits to our lives of increasing our happiness.

I hope you enjoy my discussion with Pam Garramone.

Links & resources for this episode

Thrive Now Boston
Penn Positive Psychology Center - Dr. Martin Seligman
The Wholebeing Institute - Tal Ben-Shahar
VIA Character Strengths Survey
Amy Cuddy TED talk - “Your body language may shape who you are”
Greater Good Science Center - UC Berkeley

Books recommended by Pam:
Mindset, by Carol Dweck
Solve for Happy, by Mo Gawdat
Books by Shawn Achor

Connect with Pam:
pamgarramone.com
Instagram - @pamgarramone
Facebook - @pamgarramonespeakerandcoach
Twitter - @pamgarramone
Linked In - /pamgarramone

More links for listeners

Widowed Parent Podcast discussion group - sign up here (free) - next meeting April 7


What is your biggest challenge as a widowed parent right now?

Call our voice mailbox at (669)257-3434 and leave a message. Or, answer this quick one-question survey. I’ll pick the most interesting questions and challenges, and hunt down experts to address them on upcoming episodes.

WPP 016: Katie Barrows-Rempe’s reflections and tips on widowed parenting

To newly widowed parents, I would say to give yourself a break. Please take care of yourself. Whatever it is that gives you joy or peace or rest, please do that for yourself, and recognize how hard you’re working. You are on 24/7 right now. And you deserve a break, you need a break, you’re working hard, and if you’ve made it through today, then congratulations and give yourself a pat on the back, because making it through each day is not easy right now. And it does get easier. It takes time. But it does get easier.
— Katie Barrows-Rempe
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I had such a great discussion with Katie Barrows-Rempe for this episode. Katie is actually a very good friend of mine in real life, and I’m so glad she was willing to sit down with me and share her perspective and tips from her 8 years as a widowed parent.

Katie and I talked about so many topics, including:

  • The importance of lining up help to give yourself a break, and designating regular times to get out of the house;

  • Cave days for yourself, and hooky days for your kids;

  • Tips on communicating with kids’ schools, both in the early days and as they get older and change schools;

  • How her family celebrates birthdays and anniversaries;

  • Supporting kids through milestones;

  • Connecting with other widows;

  • Deciding to start dating after loss; and

  • Her youngest child having special needs and what that has meant for his grief process.

I hope you enjoy my discussion with Katie Barrows-Rempe

Links for listeners

Widowed Parent Podcast discussion group - sign up here (free) - next meeting April 7


What is your biggest challenge as a widowed parent right now?

Call our voice mailbox at (669)257-3434 and leave a message. Or, answer this quick one-question survey. I’ll pick the most interesting questions and challenges, and hunt down experts to address them on upcoming episodes.

WPP 015: Shelly Bathe Lenn from The Garden on healthy communication and helping kids feel safe after loss

You’ve got a very hard job, but not an impossible job. And, really make sure you’re taking care of yourself so that you can take care of your kids.
— Shelly Bathe Lenn, The Garden
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I had such a great discussion with Shelly Bathe Lenn for this episode. Shelly runs The Garden: A Center for Grieving Children and Teens in Northampton, Massachusetts.

Shelly and I had a wide-ranging discussion, covering topics such as:

  • Helping kids feel safe after loss;

  • Helping children express feelings after loss;

  • The importance of commemorating a loved one;

  • Being truthful with kids, even when difficult circumstances surround a death;

  • How parents can model healthy grief and emotions;

  • Running grief groups in schools; and

  • Book recommendations.

I hope you enjoy my discussion with Shelly Bathe Lenn.

Links & resources for this episode

The Garden’s website
The Garden on Facebook

Books recommended by Shelly:
The Dead Bird, by Margaret Wise Brown
When Dinosaurs Die: A Guide to Understanding Death, by Laurie Krasny Brown and Marc Brown
One Wave at a Time, by Holly Thompson
Orchards, by Holly Thompson
Joshua’s Song, by Joan Hiatt Harlow
Playing Dad’s Song, by Dina Friedman

More links for listeners

Widowed Parent Podcast discussion group - sign up here (free) - next meeting April 7


What is your biggest challenge as a widowed parent right now?

Call our voice mailbox at (669)257-3434 and leave a message. Or, answer this quick one-question survey. I’ll pick the most interesting questions and challenges, and hunt down experts to address them on upcoming episodes.

WPP 014: Karen Millsap on turning pain into purpose

I realized that I wanted to use my pain for purpose. The first thing was, ‘I’m not going to be defeated by this. Caleb’s not going to lose both of his parents.’ But then I think as I started to work through and surrender to the journey and say, ‘Well, okay, but how can I use this?,’ because then it would actually honor my husband’s life and his death wouldn’t be in vain.
— Karen Millsap
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I’m so excited to bring you my discussion with Karen Millsap this week. I mean, you’ve got to love someone with a TEDx talk called “Use your tragedy to change the world,” right?

Karen’s husband Richard was murdered when she was just 29 years old. Her son was 2. After seeing her dreams shattered, and spending the first year in a fog, she realized that she had the power of choice…the power to decide that she was not going to let her life be destroyed by her husband’s death. She also realized that how she handled her husband’s death would have a direct impact on her son’s life and character.

Karen and I talked about so many fascinating topics, including:

  • Getting herself out of the victim mindset and the “pity party”;

  • The four pillars of practical empathy;

  • The HEAL method;

  • Teaching your kids how to use confidence checkpoints

  • Transitioning back to work after loss

  • Using her experience to help others

  • How in the midst of losing everything she found herself; and

  • Her plans to help her son turn his pain into purpose as he gets older

I hope you enjoy my discussion with Karen Millsap.

Links & resources for this episode

karenmillsap.com

Karen on Good Morning America Thriver Thursday with Robin Roberts

Karen’s TEDx talk: “Use your tragedy to change the world”

Karen’s video: “I am what I choose to become”

Karen’s free ebook “The Transition Back to Work,” and other awesome free downloads

Mindset: The New Psychology of Success, by Carol Dweck

More links for listeners

Widowed Parent Podcast discussion group - sign up here (free) - starts March 3

Homeowner 101 survey - I’ve lined up a contractor to answer all our questions about home repair & maintenance on an upcoming episode. Tasks our late spouses used to do, that now fall to us. So…what do you want to know? What are your biggest challenges?


What is your biggest challenge as a widowed parent right now?

Call our voice mailbox at (669)257-3434 and leave a message. Or, answer this quick one-question survey. I’ll pick the most interesting questions and challenges, and hunt down experts to address them on upcoming episodes.

WPP 013: Dr. Lisa Damour on parenting teenage girls

The greatest gift we can give our teenagers if we can is to be really boring and self-sufficient as parents, to allow them to be the ones whose lives feel a little unsteady and unpredictable and drama-filled. That’s sort of what it means to be a teenager. And so if we can surround them with a pretty stable and boring environment, where we’re meeting our needs in lots of ways that don’t necessarily depend on them, I think that’s a huge gift.
— Dr. Lisa Damour
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I had such a useful and fascinating discussion with Dr. Lisa Damour for this episode. Lisa is a clinical psychologist and is the New York Times bestselling author of Untangled: Guiding Teenage Girls Through the Seven Transitions into Adulthood, and the brand-new Under Pressure: Confronting the Epidemic of Stress and Anxiety in Girls.

I’m very glad to bring you my discussion with Lisa for this episode. One of the questions I hear a lot is “how do I know if something is a grief issue or a normal teenage issue?” I figure, since she’s an expert in teenage girls, who better to help us understand our daughters, and to help us understand what “normal” looks like. And then, when we have a better grasp on what’s normal, we can also better understand when we should potentially be concerned.

Lisa and I talked about a wide range of topics:

  • The seven developmental tasks that teenagers are working on;

  • Parting with childhood, including what this looks like and when to be concerned;

  • Joining a new tribe, including why having 1-2 close friends at this age is actually preferable to having a large circle of friends;

  • Harnessing emotions, including how teenagers’ brains undergo a massive upgrade, beginning with the emotion centers;

  • Why parents need to be strong enough to withstand their teenager pushing away, and why this is complicated by bereavement;

  • Serving as the emotional dumping ground for your teenager; and

  • How stress and anxiety are normal and healthy functions for all people, teenagers included.

I hope you enjoy my discussion with Dr. Lisa Damour.

Links & resources for this episode

drlisadamour.com

Untangled: Guiding Teenage Girls Through the Seven Transitions into Adulthood

Under Pressure: Confronting the Epidemic of Stress and Anxiety in Girls

When Tragedy and Adolescence Clash, Helping Grieving Teenagers Cope – New York Times

Lisa’s Untangled video series

Lisa’s articles for the New York Times & other outlets

The difference between adults and grown ups - Dr. Lisa Damour at TEDxCLE

More links for listeners

Homeowner 101 survey - I’ve lined up a contractor to answer all our questions about home repair & maintenance on an upcoming episode. Tasks our late spouses used to do, that now fall to us. So…what do you want to know? What are your biggest challenges?


What is your biggest challenge as a widowed parent right now?

Call our voice mailbox at (669)257-3434 and leave a message. Or, answer this quick one-question survey. I’ll pick the most interesting questions and challenges, and hunt down experts to address them on upcoming episodes.

WPP 012: Diane Ingram Fromme on stepparenting grieving children

Grief has a way of seeping from the inside out in the most unexpected ways. Being prepared and open to field unexpected situations, with keeping in mind honoring the deceased parent in that whole picture, is probably one of the most important things that you can bring to the relationship. I believe that remaining open to ways to help a child navigate their grief process is going to be one of the keys to deepening that relationship, which then unlocks the door to so many other wonderful things.
— Diane Ingram Fromme, author of Stepparenting the Grieving Child
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I learned so much from talking with Diane Ingram Fromme for this episode. Diane is the author of “Stepparenting the Grieving Child: Cultivating Past and Present Connections with Children Who Have Lost a Parent.” She married a widower with kids, thus becoming a step mom to two young kids who were grieving the loss of their mom. She entered this role full of optimism, and found it much harder than she expected. She couldn’t find any books on stepparenting grieving kids so she did extensive research and decided to write that book herself.

Some of the topics we discussed include:

  • If the stepparent isn’t ‘replacing’ the deceased parent, what then is their role with the kids;

  • The importance of the stepparent helping the kids honor and remember their deceased parent;

  • On still being in the “get to know you” phase after several years;

  • The stepfamily cycle;

  • Common stepfamily myths;

  • The importance of maintaining relationships with the family of the deceased parent; and

  • Tips for preparing to marry into a widowed family.

If you’re a widow who has remarried, or someone who has married into or is considering marrying into a widowed family, I highly recommend reading Diane’s book. I think you’ll find lots of advice and perspective that will help as you embark on this new phase of your family’s life.

I hope you enjoy my discussion with Diane Ingram Fromme.


What is your biggest challenge as a widowed parent right now?

Call our voice mailbox at (669)257-3434 and leave a message. Or, answer this quick one-question survey. I’ll pick the most interesting questions and challenges, and hunt down experts to address them on upcoming episodes.

WPP 011: Lane Pease from Kate’s Club on building resilience in kids after loss

Children can be resilient. But we know there are factors that have to do with building resiliency in them. They are not automatically any more resilient than we are, or than anybody is. If anything, they’re very vulnerable to a lot of things. Losing a parent in childhood is one of the most adverse events that can occur in a child’s life. So, to just say they’re resilient, they’ll be fine, is not enough.
— Lane Pease, program director of Kate's Club
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I really loved talking with Lane Pease for this episode. Lane is the program director of Kate’s Club in Atlanta and is herself a widowed parent. We discussed so many topics that I found fascinating, and I hope you will, too. Topics we discussed include:

  • Building resiliency in kids after loss

  • The balance between maintaining structure & routine and giving your family a break when needed

  • When to choose one-on-one therapy vs a peer grief group for your child

  • Traumatic grief – what is it, and how does it differ from adaptive grief, & signs your child might be experiencing this

  • Worden’s Tasks of Mourning

  • How the surviving parent’s ability to cope affects the child’s ability to cope

  • The importance of open and honest communication with your child regarding cause of death, especially in difficult situations

  • Kate’s Club’s programs (a great resource if you live in Atlanta!)

I hope you enjoy my discussion with Lane Pease.

Links & resources for this episode

Kate’s Club (Atlanta, Georgia)

National Child Traumatic Stress Network

Book recommendations:

When Dinosaurs Die, by Laurie Krasny Brown & Marc Brown

A Terrible Thing Happened, by Margaret M. Holmes

Always and Forever, by Debi Gliori & Alan Durant

Complete list of book recommendations from Kate’s Club

More links for listeners

Take Action Against Cancer - day of service Feb 4 - for cancer widows & families turning grief into action


What is your biggest challenge as a widowed parent right now?

Call our voice mailbox at (669)257-3434 and leave a message. Or, answer this quick one-question survey. I’ll pick the most interesting questions and challenges, and hunt down experts to address them on upcoming episodes.

WPP 010: Writer & widowed parent Jeanette Koncikowski on re-partnering after loss

It really is about trusting yourself. Trusting your kids. Absolutely get professional help. Get community around you. Whittle down your life to the most essential components if you can. Insulate yourself in a way that prioritizes your time, prioritizes your healing. I think those are the things that I’ve taken most away from this. Be authentic, be kind to yourself, give yourself a lot of grace.
— Writer & widowed parent Jeanette Koncikowski
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I had a great discussion with Jeanette Koncikowski for this episode. Jeanette is a writer and is a widowed parent. She is writing the book she wishes she had when her husband died.

Jeanette and I had a great discussion on a variety of topics:

  • Healing from the traumatic circumstances of her husband’s death;

  • Moving and buying a home on her own 9 months after her husband died;

  • Starting a new relationship after loss, and figuring out how to move forward together;

  • Moving forward with a new relationship while honoring your late spouse;

  • Carving out a role for the step parent that is not replacing the deceased parent;

  • Learning to bear witness to her kids’ pain rather than trying to fix it;

  • Realizing that having more than one kid means more than one kind of kid grief; and

  • Honoring her late husband’s life on his birthday by involving her kids in charity fundraisers.

One more thing – Jeanette is still looking to conduct interviews for her book with a few more widowed dads and widowed LGBTQ parents. If that’s you and you’d like to help, please get in touch with Jeanette.

I hope you enjoy my discussion with Jeanette Koncikowski.

Links & resources for this episode

National Child Traumatic Stress Network (NCTSN)

NCTSN handout

Invitations to participate in interviews for widowed dads and widowed LGBTQ parents

Where to find Jeanette

email: widowedparentproject@gmail.com

Twitter: @widowedpp

Widowed Parent Project Facebook group

More links for listeners

Take Action Against Cancer - day of service Feb 4 - for cancer widows & families turning grief into action


What is your biggest challenge as a widowed parent right now?

Call our voice mailbox at (669)257-3434 and leave a message. Or, answer this quick one-question survey. I’ll pick the most interesting questions and challenges, and hunt down experts to address them on upcoming episodes.

WPP 009: Dr. Justin Yopp, co-author of The Group: Seven Widowed Fathers Reimagine Life

You’re not alone. There are many, many people out there going through the same thing as you. You do not have to be perfect. You were not perfect before your husband or wife or partner died, and you don’t need to be perfect now. Give yourself some leeway. Be self-forgiving, and be patient with yourself. You’re going to drop a lot of balls. You’re going to sometimes feel like it’s overwhelming. You’re going to feel like you’re not sure you can do this, or you don’t know how to move forward. You’re going to have questions abound. Rely on your friends and family, even if they can’t fully appreciate it. Give yourself some space; this takes time. There’s no clock on this, no time limit.
— Dr. Justin Yopp
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I had such a great discussion with Dr. Justin Yopp of the University of North Carolina for this episode. Justin is a clinical psychologist and is co-author of the book, “The Group: Seven Widowed Fathers Reimagine Life.”

I really enjoyed our wide-ranging discussion. It was a fascinating mix of practical and academic, and included some great stories from the widowed dads in the book about their experiences. Some of the topics we covered include:

  • the dual process model of coping and bereavement;

  • post-traumatic growth;

  • the concept of being a ‘good enough’ parent;

  • the unique hardships of being a widowed father; and

  • the research into the needs of widowed parents being conducted at UNC.

By the way, if you’re a widowed mom or dad with kids 18 & under at home, and widowed less than three years, I’d encourage you to answer the survey on their web site…this is such important work and, surprisingly, there is very little research that’s been done on the needs of widowed parents.

I hope you enjoy my discussion with Dr. Justin Yopp.

Links & resources for this episode

widowedparent.org

The Group: Seven Widowed Fathers Reimagine Life, by Donald Rosenstein and Justin Yopp

Overlooked and underserved: Widowed fathers with dependent-age children, journal article in Palliative and Supportive Care, by Dr. Justin Yopp et al, 2015

UNC research survey – for widowed moms & dads with kids 18 & under at home, who have lost spouse / co-parent within the past 3 years

UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center

More links for listeners

Take Action Against Cancer - day of service Feb 4 - for cancer widows & families turning grief into action


What is your biggest challenge as a widowed parent right now?

Call our voice mailbox at (669)257-3434 and leave a message. Or, answer this quick one-question survey. I’ll pick the most interesting questions and challenges, and hunt down experts to address them on upcoming episodes.

WPP 008: Krista St-Germain, life coach for widowed moms

Love yourself as fiercely as you can. And let it be what it is. And yes, life will be different, but that doesn’t mean it has to be limited. And just let it unfold. And love yourself through it. No rights, no wrongs, no judgement, no should be farther along than you are, no I’m not parenting well enough, or I should be better or my kids deserve better, or I have to fix it for them. It’s not useful.
— Krista St-Germain, life coach for widowed moms
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I had a fantastic discussion with Krista St-Germain for this episode. Krista is a life coach for widowed moms, a career she started after losing her own husband in a tragic accident. We talked about a number of fascinating topics, including:

  • the differences between therapy and life coaching, and when you should consider one vs the other;

  • how our thoughts create our feelings, and some ways to get started with self-coaching to change our thought patterns;

  • what is post-traumatic growth, and how she sees clients hold themselves back from healing and growth; and

  • not trying to “fix” negative emotions in ourselves or our kids.

Talking with Krista gave me a lot to think about in my own life and my own parenting.

I hope you enjoy my discussion with Krista St-Germain.

Links & resources for this episode

Man’s Search for Meaning, by Viktor Frankl

The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, by Stephen Covey

Option B: Facing Adversity, Building Resilience, and Finding Joy, by Sheryl Sandberg and Adam Grant

Option B video: How to Find Meaning After Loss or Trauma with Sheryl Sandberg & Adam Grant

Camp Widow

Soaring Spirits

Where to find Krista

Request Krista’s video on post-traumatic growth (free)

web site: coachingwithkrista.com

Facebook: @coachingwithkrista

Instagram: @lifecoachkrista

email: krista@coachingwithkrista.com

More links for listeners

Take Action Against Cancer - day of service Feb 4


What is your biggest challenge as a widowed parent right now?

Call our voice mailbox at (669)257-3434 and leave a message. Or, answer this quick one-question survey. I’ll pick the most interesting questions and challenges, and hunt down experts to address them on upcoming episodes.