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41: Reclaiming Your Power: Talking About Pain and Grief (with Shawna Percy)

Shawna Percy shares 2 stories of pain and grief that initially led her to be silent and hold the pain inside of her. But listen to hear how talking about the pain of an abusive situation, as well as sharing the grief of her husband's suicide, helped her to reclaim her voice and her power.

Shawna Percy is a published author, speaker, and advocate. When Shawna was 32 her first husband died by suicide. Overnight Shawna became an only-parent, and was left to find her way through a traumatic grief journey. Today Shawna is known as the Good Grief Guru. She has remarried, now has two children, became a certified suicide intervention trainer, and was thrilled to take the TEDxUW stage in November (listen to her talk here). Her motto: “Talking today changes tomorrow.”

Nuggets of Wisdom from Shawna:

“We are more alike, my friends, than we are unalike. – Maya Angelou”

“As I am open with my story and I talk to other people, what gets reciprocated is that other people can relate and they open up and start sharing their stories.”

“Unfortunately, some life lessons take some time to surface. But one of the things that helped me was someone once told me a Cherokee parable, which is the story of two wolves: There's this story of two wolves, and one is full of everything bad…greed, hate, anger, resentment, all of these terrible things. And then there is this other wolf, who is full of love, hope, kindness, everything good… And these two wolves, go to battle. And the question this person asked me as they were telling me this story was ‘which one do you think wins?' And part of me was tempted to say, ‘Well, I kinda feel like the bad wolf is gonna win because those things sometimes feel like they're stronger.' And she said, ‘The answer is whichever one you feed.'”

“…believe that most people generally have good intentions. And if I pour love out into the world and stay open and vulnerable with people, I have known some of the greatest supports of my life to come out of that. And so really, when tragedy hit my life later on, and my first husband died, I am not sure that I would have had the incredible support that I did have, if I had not really fostered the sides that are in the good wolf. If I had not fostered love and kindness and vulnerability and staying open to other people.”

“One of the reasons why I talk so openly about suicide and my grief journey and all of that today is that it was by breaking that silence that I became more united with this person and we were able to then go through this journey together instead of on our own.”

“I learned in that moment that someone else's reaction about something that I have shared is not really a reflection on me – it is a reflection on where they are at at that time.”

“I have seen that lives have been saved by me talking openly and directly about suicide.”

“Our loss in our life can be transformed into learning, and there can be gain from our pain.”

Some of Shawna‘s Favorite Things:

Personal habit: “I would say being persistent and telling anyone and everyone about these tools and openly talking about suicide.”

Easy meal: “Stir Fry. Lots of veggies, fried up in soy sauce over jasmine rice. ”

Possession: Vitamix

Shawna's Favorite Books: Traveling MerciesPlan B, and Operating Instructions: A Journal of My Son's First Year by Anne Lamott

Best advice received: “‘Have the courage to trust love one more time and always one more time.' (Maya Angelou). After my first husband died, it would have been so tempting to close up and not let anyone in, but this advice really encouraged me to remain open and to remain vulnerable and I have found that so much love and support has come to me through that.”

Shawna's Happiness Formula:

“The Length of Life. The Breadth of Life. And the Height of life: The inward reach, the outward reach and the upward reach.”

A Challenge from Shawna:

Go to the website. And look for a training in your area. Go sign up for a safeTALK (suicide awareness) or an ASIST (suicide intervention) workshop.


Jen's Free Master Class

Good Grief Guru


Breathe: A True Story About Marriage, Faith, and Attempted Suicide by Shawna Percy

Camp Widow


Traveling MerciesPlan B, and Operating Instructions: A Journal of My Son's First Year by Anne Lamott

Connect with Shawna on Facebook

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About jen

Jen Riday is a mom of 6 and life coach who loves to help women experience massive happiness as they let go of stress, sadness or other chronic emotions of negativity.

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