A Widow’s Journey with Lydia Coats

What is it like when your person dies suddenly at 25? Just ask Lydia. 

In this episode, fellow widow, Lydia Coats shares her journey through grief and how she’s healed after the sudden death of her partner, Matthew. 

She also shares her strategies for healing and what others may want to consider on their journey.    

If you are enjoying the podcast and you know others that would benefit from the Now What? Podcast, please take a few minutes to rate and review the episode in Apple Podcasts (or anywhere you are listening to the show today). Click here to learn how to enter for your chance to win one of five $50 Amazon gift cards that I will be giving away in celebration of the Now What? Podcast launch! Winners for the Giveaway will be notified via email the first week of March 2022.

What you’ll learn from this Episode:

  • A Widow’s journey after the sudden loss of her partner at 25.
  • The gift her loved one left behind that became her source of hope. 
  • How a community can become a source of connection, support, and healing.
  • Facing trauma and advice she’d give others on their journey when it comes to therapy.

Featured on the Show: NOTE : Links are all updated

  • Learn more about Lydia and the work she does here>>>https://linktr.ee/lydiacoats 
  • Share your story with the podcast here >>> erinhente.com/podcastguest
  • Join the email list to get the latest episode reminders, tips, and tools to support you on this journey>>erinhente.com/newsletter

Let’s discuss what’s possible for YOU on this journey by requesting your FREE 30-minute Breakthrough call TODAY>>erinhente.com/becomingyou



Welcome to the now what podcast episode three. A widows journey to becoming you with Lydia. You're listening to the now what podcast. A podcast for women healing from loss will provide you with practical ways to overcome challenges you are facing as you navigate the aftermath of loss. If you're ready to get unstuck and move forward with confidence on your journey, then this is the podcast for you. It is possible to start loving the life you're living after loss. And here is your guide, post certified life coach and widowed mom, Aaron hinting.


Hey there, and welcome to episode three of the podcast and a huge thank you to you for choosing to show up for yourself by being here today. If this is your first time joining, I'm your host of the podcast Aaron Henty. I'm excited to have a fellow widow to share her journey through grief. And in some of the upcoming episodes, as you continue to listen to the podcast, we'll have more widows coming on to share their stories. So you can listen, learn and grow as you step forward ahead and navigate this journey. You're on. With that. Welcome today. Lydia, thank you so much for being here. I'm really honored to have you on the show.


Thanks so much for having me. I'm really excited to dig into this content. I think it's good that we're having these conversations now.


Absolutely. And I am really excited, because whenever I first throw it out there like, Hey, who wants to be on the show? I'd ask any widows who have a story to share, to get on here, because I think it's so important. There's so many people out there that are in different places who have experienced different types of losses, and that have done so much incredible work on their journey in completely different ways that it couldn't not have you on here today. So why don't we take a couple minutes here at the beginning to introduce yourself to everybody and share a little bit about your story.


All right, it's hard to figure out how to put myself into a little synopsis. See, my name is Lydia, I'm currently 30 years old. I am actually an acupuncture school at the moment. So that's cool. And I'm also working on my own kind of projects. I'm starting a YouTube channel, hopefully launching in the spring, we'll say called Well, shucks or it's kind of similar to what we're talking about here, where you talk about the times in life, like life frequently does not go the way we expect it to. And like how do we deal with it when we do get those hard left turns that come out of nowhere? Like how do we overcome them? And how do we overcome incredible hardship, because there are some of us out there who go through some really tough battles. And I think it's important that we discuss it so that we can maybe handle these battles a little more smoothly, because we have outside help and knowledge.


Absolutely. I love that. I think the more of us out there, speaking our true sharing our story. And being able to help people in all these different areas of their life is incredible. So before we dig into where you're at today, I want to go back on a journey a little bit here to 25 year old Lydia, share with me a little bit about your story about your loss, and kind of where it's led you over these last five years. Yeah,


it's been it's been a wild five years. Let me tell you. So yeah, I was 25 when this all happened, which is an unbelievably young and ripe age to go through this. So I had my life partner. We were never legally married. But he was my life partner. We were committed, we're just kind of outside of the norm and didn't bother with marriage. We just didn't feel the need. So but we were together for nine years. I met him when I was 16 years old. So it's like at the time that this happened. I had been with him for more than a third of my life. And we were living in Arizona and I didn't we didn't have family out there. We hadn't made any friends yet. And like I was dealing with really extreme health stuff. I had to have a surgery a few months before his passing. I had a pretty major surgery and recovery. And I was just starting to get back on my feet. From there. I was like, I'm gonna go back to work and try to find a new job and all this stuff and then out of nowhere, he dies. And it was just it was such a shock to the system because we found out from his death that he'd actually been really sick with leukemia and was asymptomatic. So like I just wake up one day to him being violently ill and eventually losing consciousness and we take him to the hospital. And they later that same day, he declared him brain dead. And they tell me that he had leukemia and all this stuff. And I just couldn't comprehend it. Because he had no signs and symptoms, he was very active and healthy, he was totally holding down before while I was doing well. So it's very big shock to the system. And because of my circumstances, I had to move pretty soon after his death, which they really advise you not to make these kinds of big life changes, but sometimes circumstances forced you. So I moved out to Minnesota, because my sister is out here. And she was like, you can come live in my basement because I had been in California previous previously. And I left for a reason. So California felt like a step back, that I wasn't willing to take it, because then I knew I was gonna have to do a big move again, because California just is it's not the place for me. Beautiful place, just not for me. And so I come out here and I didn't know anybody. And then my sister and I are both horribly depressed because of this trauma that we've gone through. And so it just seemed like I had to experience my first real real winter and stuff like that, which isn't good for depression. So I ended up developing really severe PTSD. And I got to the point where I was volatile in a way that like, I'm usually a pretty grounded, stable person. And there was like a complete I became a completely different human. And I remember seeing pictures of myself and being like, God, I said, dead eyes. Where is my soul? Where's my light? Where's my heart? And I, you know, eventually joined the widow group that I met you in. And that helped me a lot. Because then I was like, because I didn't even know I had no idea how to navigate widowhood, right? I'm 25 widowhood, your radar, when you're 25. So it's like, I asked them what it was all my crimes failing, what do I do, and I eventually got help for my PTSD and started therapy and exploring all these different healing avenues and eventually found my way back.


I love that. And I think you just shared something so important is community and knowing that we're not alone on this journey. Yeah. That there are others who have gone through similar experiences. That may be a couple steps ahead.


Yeah, exactly. There's people who can kind of tell you like what to expect. And we can give you tips and tricks of how to handle it because it's like once I finally got the diagnosis of PTSD, it was from a medical doctor who diagnosed my PTSD because I had a really severe episode, and I thought it was a medical episode. But it was actually a PTSD thing. And so they diagnosed me, we didn't really give me any resources. So like, I went to the widow page, and I was just like, Okay, I know, there's a lot of trauma in here. What's helped you guys with PTSD, like everyone resoundingly said EMDR. I was like, 10 people who said, EMDR therapy, and I was like, All right, and found a therapist and started and then just kind of all went from there.


i For those of you who may not have heard of EMDR, can you just share a little bit about what first? What does that stand for? And secondly, like, what was?


How did that experience really help you work through some of the trauma that you'd experience? Yeah, I can't remember exactly what EMDR stands for. It's like eye movement, something or other. It's about like reconnecting the left and right side of your brain, when you have trauma, like peach, like full blown PTSD kind of lose some of the connection between the two sides of your brain, which is why you're running into these issues, you can't process things properly. So EMDR works in a way to rebuild some of the pathways between the two sides of the brain. And there's a lot of different routes. So they go about it, the main thing is like bilateral movement, so for some people, it is actually eye movement, like you follow a hand back and forth. I couldn't do that I have vertigo pretty easily. So for me, I did what they did for me was I had these headphones, and then they put these little things in my hands that would buzz and then the headphones would be pinned, it would go back and forth. And what you do is you talk about stuff with your, you know, you have to have a trained therapist, of course. And so you talk about your trauma and like they have you go through like successive rounds of the EMDR just kind of like be with your body and your feelings about what popped up. And then they give you kind of advice for like soothing your body and then you go through like another round of the back and forth and basically train your body into soothing itself.


Oh, wow. Okay. Yeah. So flash forward to going through this. How did that really help you to start taking those steps forward?


Well, for one, it gave me the vocabulary I needed to understand what was happening right. So if you have never experienced trauma, you have no idea like, why you're behaving the way you do like you feel very out of control. So she helped me understand why it was so out of control. And I eventually had to start pursuing different routes, because there's a lot of different types of therapy that people can use for trauma. So like, I eventually hit a wall with EMDR. And it was kind of frustrated, you know, no one likes to hit walls, especially when, in the beginning, I made such huge progress. And like my therapist even commented, like, you process things quickly. And I was like, Oh, that's nice. It doesn't feel like that. But thank you. But I eventually did start hitting a wall. And so I started pursuing modalities and realized that I've actually had PTSD since I was probably like 11, or 12, and never knew it. So the EMDR is only kind of helpful when you know what trauma you're up against. But if you have hidden traumas, you kind of have to pursue alternate routes. And that's what I had to do because his death was just kind of the final piece of the PTSD puzzle, as I call it, where it got to the point from being my consumption with my PTSD, too. I cannot, I was having panic attacks every day. I couldn't like I couldn't work like I had a job. And they thankfully didn't fire me, even though I only showed up like 10 hours a week for like six months. But they were very understanding of my circumstances. And I was very lucky that way, because I know not everyone gets that. So.


Yeah, absolutely. And you mentioned something you showed up for 10 hours a week, the fact that you showed up for 10 hours a week, while having PTSD, and navigating everything else you did, like, you're a rock star, I mean, you're doing what you could at that, at that point in time. And so I pushed hard. Yeah. And I think it's important for others to know and listen to their bodies, and what it's saying and the brains and, you know, it's, it's so important to identify what you need during these times, there's nothing like we absolutely have to do or should be doing, there's things that we could be doing that are helpful for us to process things in different ways. But I appreciate you sharing that, because I know there's others out there that may be struggling and have not experienced therapy or the modalities that can be used in therapy to help get them moving in the right direction. And I'll agree even for myself, having gone to a therapist, I now go to one who also does EMDR and some other work, but just being aware of what it is that's going on in my brain and why it's happening and how I can't keep repeating certain things over and over again, is we get so


frustrated sometimes the process can be very humbling and frustrating.


Yes, for sure. So now here we are today, you've you've gone through a lot of different things to get where you are in your journey. So share with us a little bit more about how you got to where you are today. What are you up to what what do you now know, that you would like to share with your 25 year old self


goodness? I mean, what I would love to share with my 25 year old self is just like you have more skills than you'd realize cuz Matt, he, he carried a lot of the weight I would say in the relationship. He was a little bit older than me. So you know, he had a little more life experience and he was healthier than I was, which is also why his death was so shocking. I was supposed to be the healthy one man. How is this what's happening? So I floundered for a little bit without him, but eventually found my way and realized that I'm a lot more capable than I realized. And it's kind of interesting, what motivates you because when he first died, it was just like, I came across a file on his computer. And he had these notes to himself of like how to improve both of our lives. And it was so clear that he cared about me finding my way to some semblance of peace and happiness because I had issues with depression and anxiety before his death because I had undiagnosed PTSD, right? So I was dealing with all this complicated stuff. And I was just like this poor man, he dedicated so much time, energy, love and devotion to Me. And it was really important to me to honor his life and that choice that he made because I was the one person he ever had a serious relationship and his entire life. And that was kind of an honor as a he chose to dedicate what was left of his life to me, and I can't have that be in vain. So I was just freakishly determined to get better because it felt like a dishonor to him. And our story for me to not recover from his death and find my way to some semblance of health and happiness is just because there are so many times where it's so dark and you're like, I don't know how I'm going to survive this and felt you know, survival felt impossible and my family and friends were legitimately concerned for my safety for a solid year and a half there. But I was just like, I can't have this be the way this story and we deserve better than that. So I just kept pushing myself and it eventually shifted into doing it for myself, not for him because he's like, you're gonna run out of motivation if you're not doing As for yourself, that's one of the biggest pieces of advice I could give people's. You need to learn how to have that self love and know that you're worth the effort to get better. And you're worth the effort to get outside help, because a lot of people feel unworthy. And I think it's so essential to get that out. No one can navigate this kind of stuff alone. No one on this planet can handle those heavy things alone, like we need are humans. We require support or pack animals. You know what I mean?


Yeah, absolutely. Oh, man, that's a beautiful message for everybody. And I was as you're talking about kind of that journey you're on. I said, to take a step back for a moment in those in the darkest days. I know that others are out there suffering, wondering, what do I do? How am I going to go on? I just can't do this anymore. Yeah, you kept pushing yourself. But there was there something specific that you would say to yourself, that would bring you to the point where you're, you continue to show up


every day, on the day. So there's certain days where you kind of have to just give up on the day, you know what I mean? Like sometimes you just have to be like, You know what, today's not the day, and you have to just kind of accept that, like, the day is not going the way you want it to. And you find whatever coping mechanisms you need, like for me for a while I didn't have the ability to physically cope. So you know, my doctors prescribed me a Xanax prescription, and sometimes I called it a Xanax reset, or I would take half a Xanax, and just sleep it off. Because sometimes your brain just needs a reset. Because there, there were some very serious episodes that I had, during that there's times where I would just become like, totally catatonic and require outside help. And I just, I didn't live alone, I would say people with severe PTSD probably should live alone, I don't think it's a very safe, you can't support yourself. And you know, you need some sort of, you know, I don't know, because some people don't have people they can live with. So I don't know how to give that kind of advice. But I just know in general, PTSD is not something you can handle alone. And when it was too heavy, I would often call my mom. And I would call her just crying. And she What was most effective for me personally, was to start talking about normal stuff. So she was just telling me about her day and stuff that my dad was doing and stuff because they were still living out in California at the time. They're here now, which is kind of cool. But I said, I usually had to call someone because it's stuck inside here, you get stuck in loops, you know, I don't know, if you had better not be able to stay outside the block loops. And it was just like it would escalate and escalate and escalate. So it has to have some outside source to kind of bring me back because I know my therapist described it as when you're having a PTSD episode, you kind of leave your frontal lobe and you go into like your midbrain, so you're not really having much conscious thought. So you need to do different things to kind of bring you back to your frontal lobe. And for me, what was most effective was calling like my mom or my sister and having conversation. And I know, some people recommend saying five things, you can see four things, you can smell three things, you can hear stuff like that, to kind of bring you back into your body.


I love that. And actually, uh, a friend of mine had reached out to me a while back and asked me You said, things that you can do to bring you back into your body. She had asked me I was putting together some essential oil roller balls. And she's like, you had when you had when we were when we were in Florida together, we send that to me, because she had gone and talk to somebody and they mentioned that smell, bring you back to that place, the place where, you know, when we were together, we were on the beach, and she was happy and having a great time. And so, you know, for you as you step four, and you think about what memories that you want to carry forward. Uh, Matt, what are some of the ones that just make you smile and laugh? What's what's one that you could share?


Many, like sometimes I just try to remember the vague concept of how much laughter we had in our relationship. Because we did, he was a very silly guy. I think at the time, there's this book called shit, my dad says, Can't remember. But it's hilarious. And there was this one time where I was reading out loud to him the book and we were just like, that was our way of reading together. I was A Faster Reader than he was. So sometimes I would read to him. And we were just dying, laughing the whole night reading this book. So you kind of remember those times or there was this one time where he ran outside in the rain, and he fell in the grass and I just thought it was so funny. And he had a good sense of humor about it. So I just remember those really silly playful times. But in the beginning, it was really hard to connect into that because then this like, instead of feeling relief that you had the happy times in the beginning, it's more overwhelming sadness that no more happy times are being produced. So it was really challenging for me in the beginning to kind of connect into that happy side of him and I took a while to be able to do that.


I think great for other people to know as well that, you know, looking where everyone is Add on their journeys, you have to also look at the things that they've done and been through and you'd have to know everything about their past. So stopping the comparisons, where you think you need to be, or you should be or something you, you know, want to be doing but you're not doing is so important just to stop that focus on you and what you need, and move through those emotions that you're having, because the memories will come. And you can have the same memory early on in the same memory, six years down the road, which is where I'm at almost seven years writing and have a completely different result. And that's a lot of the work that I do with my clients is we, we really go on a journey and look at all those significant memories that they've had along the way. And not only when they're when their spouses or their loved ones died, but also the for that. Because as you mentioned, you start digging into stuff and you realize, hey, a lot of what I'm experiencing has nothing to do with maybe that event, or that event triggered something from my past that I now have to work through. And so it's important for us to understand where we came from what we enjoy those key memories, we can start to use as the foundation as we step forward. And one thing that you had shared with me is, you're now going to be helping others on their journey based on some of these tools and experiences that you've had after loss. So share with us a little bit about that, and what your what you've got going on here in the near future.


Or it's it's been that part of the story has been really cool and interesting. So when when he died, I was a chemist, and I never fully connected with chemistry, if I'm being perfectly honest with myself, and then it got even worse after he died. And then, you know, when I moved out here to Minnesota, I come from a family that's pretty open spiritually, we are not standard religious types, I'm used to exploring different kinds of modalities of exploring life and yourself and stuff that was just like my soul is what's hurting right now. I started seeing an energy healer, pretty soon after moving to Minnesota. And she and I just bonded immediately she was she I still am friends with her. And she's like a huge mentor for me to this day. But I saw her and she was just like, you know, you're really intuitive yourself and very in touch with the elements and nature and the universe and stuff, which is really cool. So if you want, I can train you on the seven or she's a Reiki practitioner. And she does a bunch of other stuff too. But she's like, I can train you in Reiki if you're interested. And I was like, You know what, I'm gonna do this, because part of my journey was trying to explore life a little bit, because Matt himself was very adventurous. And I always really liked that about him. And I personally wasn't super adventurous. And I wanted to take that piece of him and hold it in my heart and take it forward with me. And so I did. And I was like, this is a cool way to explore myself and explore life. And this can help me heal myself. It was mostly for myself at first. And so she trained me and I started going and doing all this really deep soul work. And then she also introduced me to a different type of energy healing modality called inner diamond, which they call it quantum healing. It's like they work with these different colors, slash frequencies. And it's a different way of talking to the soul body, basically. So I was trained by a woman named net Golo, in this kind of stuff. And I took that pretty far. And again, it was originally just supposed to be for myself. But the further I got on this journey, the more I need to share this with other people. It's been really cool to do this journey for myself. And I would love to be able to help other people find their way back. Because it's so easy to get lost, especially with the way society is right now we're in kind of a high pressure, time, especially now that COVID is a whole thing. And there's a lot of people who are realizing like I'm not on the right path, what do I do. And this energy work can really kind of help you reconnect mind, body and spirit together, and it helps you kind of get back on your own path. So now I'm like soon going to be an official registered business, for doing energy work on people. And then I also decided to go to acupuncture school because that's also helped me on my own healing journey with my chronic health issues. So I've dealt with, you know, mental health and physical health stuff, which is pretty common for people with PTSD, especially if you develop it. When you're young, they've noticed there's a trend of autoimmune disease tied to people with trauma. And that's kind of something I want to dig into more and learn more about and kind of include that in my what's eventually going to be all the skills I'll be able to provide people with which is exciting.


Unfortunately, we had to go through the things that we did, did, but don't you agree that it woke us the hell up? Like oh my god, like we're away.


Trauma has a way of waking people up. Yes. COVID I view it as a collective trauma where a lot of people did wake up and some people can't handle the wake up I have noticed is too overwhelming, understandably so,


absolutely. And today, you mentioned a few really great healthy coping mechanisms for healing. And for those of you who are listening, who aren't working with somebody on the therapy side, if you're like, This sounds like me, I would highly recommend, like, if you're in Minot, in Minnesota, there's lots of really great resources. But wherever you're at in the country, really connecting with a local resource, asking others that are on a similar journey, asking your doctor because they can really lead you to the right person that will help you and just know that if the first person you, you go to that you may not connect with try, try again, because this is your healing journey, this is what you need. And I will always encourage people to really understand their bodies, and then understand their mind. And really, then I think that will lead them and opening them up to like really clearing out what's deep down in the soul. So I love it,


that I really like is saying how, like the first person you go to might not be the right fit. But that shouldn't discourage you from trying therapy, because there's a lot of different therapists out there. And we're all really complex creatures at the end of the day. So sometimes you have to do a little bit, I call it therapist shopping. And I do the same thing with medical doctors, if someone if you don't vibe with them, that's okay. There's someone else out there who you will feel a connection to, and you do feel supported by or Safeway or whatever it is that you're running into issues with, I am very picky with my therapists. And I'm also a big fan of like, when you start to plateau with a therapist, find a new one, sometimes you just need that fresh perspective, you know, sometimes a certain therapist and only take you so far, and then you need to bring in some fresh blood. And that's okay. Yeah, absolutely.


And I think that's important for everyone to hear. Because yeah, I had to do that chopping around. And I know that early on, in my journey, I really mainly needed help even with like navigating solo parenting. And so I first went for that. But then, you know, grief came up in that just talking about having to parent without, so I really needed to find somebody that was like, an expert in both. And so I gave it a couple of sessions. And I'm like, Alright, this is not, this is not the direction I need to go. And you'll know and you can feel that. And we just want to make sure that you're feeling connected and that you have the support that you need. Anything else you'd like to share before I say farewell today.


The biggest message that I have is like reach out and receive help no one can overcome trauma by themselves. It just doesn't exist.


Absolutely. And I think that you had a beautiful story to share today on how you gone from this place of feeling hopeless to now on a journey to giving others hope. And that's such a beautiful place to be. So thank you so much for being here today.


Thanks for having me and giving me a platform and it's it's great. I'm learning how to publicly share my story which can be a little intimidating.


Hey, anytime Lydia, you got some things you want to share. You're welcome back for those that you that want to learn more about Lydia, I have a link in the show notes below to the episode website and you can get connected with her there. If you haven't done so already. Please subscribe to the podcast today. So you can catch future episodes, where we have more widows and kiddos and lots of tips and tools to help guide you on the journey. Thank you so much for taking time out of your busy lives to show up for yourself today. on next week's episode, you will hear from my oldest daughter Selena on the kiddo episode where she shares her journey through grief. It is such an honor to be on this journey with you. Until next time, I'm wishing you all the best.


If you've enjoyed today's podcast and want to design a life you truly love after loss, I invite you to join my becoming new coaching program. It's a program for women healing from loss where it can personally help you get unstuck and moving forward with confidence. If you're asking yourself, what do I do now? And don't wait another minute to get started and go to www dot Erin hente.com linked in the show notes below to schedule your FREE 30 minute breakthrough session today. I look forward to uncovering what's next for you on your journey.

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