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#71 Grieving What Isn't

So many of us are grieving the life we thought we were going to have.

What I see with my clients and with myself, is that we take the pain that is completely normal to feel when we're grieving a life we imagined we were going to have... And we double down on the pain with one simple phrase: "It's not supposed to be this way."

In this episode, we're going to talk about what to do when life doesn't turn out the way you thought it would.

Since you’re ready to become your favorite version of you, book a consult to learn more about working with me as your coach.

"When we embrace the full spectrum of our emotions, we learn to process them, own our truth, and formulate actionable steps to find peace or catalyze the change we seek."

What you'll learn in this episode:

  • Strategies for navigating grief and transforming it into growth and strength

  • Embracing and processing the full spectrum of emotions when facing life's challenges

  • How to shift from a mindset of "it's not supposed to be this way" to "now what?"

  • The power of telling the truth of our situations and exploring actionable steps for change

"The way to get out of this way of thinking is to state what is. Tell yourself the truth, take back your power, recognize that it actually was always going to be this way, and then ask the question now what?"

Be sure to sign up for a consult to see if coaching with me is the right fit for you. Join me on a powerful journey to become your favorite you.

Listen to the full episode:

Read the full episode transcript

Hey, this is Melissa Parsons and you are listening to the Your Favorite You Podcast. I'm a certified life coach with an advanced certification in deep dive coaching. The purpose of this podcast is to help brilliant women like you with beautiful brains create the life you've been dreaming of with intentions. My goal is to help you find your favorite version of you by teaching you how to treat yourself as your own best friend.

If this sounds incredible to you and you want practical tips on changing up how you treat yourself, then you're in the right place. Just so you know, I'm a huge fan of using all of the words available to me in the English language, so please proceed with caution if young ears are around. 

Hi there. Welcome back to the Your Favorite You podcast. If you are listening to this podcast in real time on February 6. 2024 today is my husband's birthday Eve. Jon Parsons is an amazing specimen of a man, a real-life superhero, an incredible dad.

A renaissance man getting in touch with his feelings and working to become an even better human. You could say he is consciously working to become his favorite version of himself, and he turns 52 years young tomorrow. So, I want to say publicly and with wild abandon how grateful I am that you were born Jon Parsons.

How grateful I am that you are my partner in this awesome life. How grateful I am that we have both done the work and plan on continuing to do the work to become our favorite us as a couple. I'm just delighted to get to share another trip around the sun with you, Jon Parsons. And I want all of my listeners to know, wish him a happy birthday.

If you know him in real life, happy birthday, babe. Okay. Enough gushing about my man and onto the topic at hand. I wanted to talk about something that I have been coaching on a bunch recently. So many of us are grieving the life we thought we were going to have. I'm going to give you a bunch of scenarios where I see this come up.

So, maybe you thought you were going to be married by now and you aren't. Maybe you thought you were easily going to get pregnant and have children, but you didn't. Maybe you thought you were going to be married to your spouse forever, but now you're separated or divorced. Maybe you thought you were going to be married to your spouse forever and raise your children together, but he or she died.

Maybe you thought you were going to be healthy forever, and now you have a chronic or maybe even a terminal diagnosis. Maybe you thought you were going to work at a company until retirement, and you were let go. Maybe you thought you would always have a good relationship with your parents, or your siblings, or your extended family, and now you're estranged.

Maybe you thought that you would be friends with someone until both of you died, and now you no longer hear from that person. Maybe you thought, year after year, that you might be Super Bowl champions, and then you remembered your team is the Cleveland Browns. Maybe you thought your child was going to make the team, and then he was cut his senior year.

Maybe you thought your children were all going to be healthy, and now one has autism, or now one has diabetes. Or now one has leukemia. Or now one needs a new liver. Or now one is an addict. I could go on and on with this one. My pediatric brain obviously goes into overload. Maybe you thought one of your children was going to be a physician, or an attorney, or an engineer, and now they are not.

Hopefully you get the idea. As I am a proponent of feeling your feelings about every situation in life, I will definitely suggest that you feel the disappointment, the frustration, the anger, really, it is grief. I suggest you feel the grief of having a life different from the one you dreamt of. If you need help feeling the grief of these situations.

Please hire me to help you. You don't have to do this alone. This is my jam and one of my favorite things to coach people on. Typically, this is not what I see. What I actually see with my clients and with myself prior to coaching for sure, is that they take the pain that is completely normal to feel when you are grieving the life you imagined you were going to have, and they double down on it with one simple phrase.

What is that one simple phrase or one simple thought you ask? It's some version of, it's not supposed to be this way. So, it's not supposed to be this way. I shouldn't be single. I shouldn't be childless. I shouldn't be divorced. I shouldn't be widowed. I shouldn't be ill. I shouldn't have been fired. I shouldn't be estranged from my family.

I shouldn't be without this friend. I shouldn't be a Browns fan. I shouldn't have a child that was cut from the team. My child shouldn't have autism, diabetes, leukemia, liver disease, or addiction. I shouldn't have a child that is not in a quote unquote prestigious career. The problem with telling yourself all these shouldn't when you are these things, or you do have to deal with these things, is that it is not true, and it causes you so much more pain to think this way.

The way to get out of this way of thinking is to state what is, tell yourself the truth, take back your power, recognize that it actually was always going to be this way, and then ask the question, now what? So, for example, I am single. I was always going to be single right now. Either I don't want to be single, or I am at peace with being single.

Now what? What can I do if I choose to be at peace with it? What can I do to change it? What is within my power to change and start making strides toward doing that, or I am childless. I was always going to be childless right now. Either I don't want to be childless, or I am making the choice to be childless from here on out. Now what?

I'm divorced. It was always going to be this way. Now what? I am a widow. I was always going to be a widow. Now what? I'm ill. I was always going to be ill. Now what? Do you see how taking ownership over the truth over what is actually happening in your life is so powerful and so much less painful than telling yourself the lie that it wasn't supposed to be this way when it actually is this way.

I was recently coaching one of the incredible badasses in my group. Her hubby passed away unexpectedly in his sleep around eight years ago. At the time they had four kids all under the age of seven with a set of one year old twins. She was asking for coaching around, feeling frustrated all the time about how dirty the house was and how much laundry there was to do and the sheer amount of work it is to take care of four kids as one person who also has a full-time job, by the way.

As we dug a little deeper, she kept saying it shouldn't be like this, and we uncovered that she is frustrated, not because of the laundry. To be clear, we also talked about how her 13- and 11-year-olds could be taught how to help with the laundry, and even her 9-year-olds could help. The reason is not because of the laundry, but because she is having the recurring thought in her head, it shouldn't be like this, and it is like this.

So, no wonder she's having this endless back and forth conversation in her head that feels terrible and painful. She's not mad at the laundry. She is mad that it was not her plan to be the only parent to four kids. We joked around, of course, and actually laughed about how her husband really fucked up her plan by dying.

We talked about how she was never going to have her husband around to help with the cleaning and the laundry. And the fact that he was never going to be around to witness the joys and the hard things in life that she is going to help shepherd her kiddos through. We acknowledged that this sucks and now we have to figure out now what.

So, spoiler alert, sweet client of mine, this is the next step. This is what we have. Now how are we going to handle it? Another one of my clients has a child who's on the autism spectrum. She has spent a fair amount of time grieving the child that she thought she was going to have. And believe it or not, taking the time to feel and process this grief with me has opened up so much for her.

She has always been an advocate for her child, but once she stopped telling herself that she was supposed to have a neurotypical child, whatever the fuck that means, she was able to ask herself, now what? And show up even more powerfully for her child and for herself. She has gotten her child every service known to man.

And now her child is communicating with her, learning self-soothing techniques to help her with emotional regulation, practicing her social skills with other children her age and making friends. And mom is getting the support she needs, coaching, respite care. Mom's also learning self-soothing techniques to help with her own emotional regulation.

Mom is also socializing in groups with other parents who understand her struggles. It has been so powerful for me as her coach to witness. All of the energy that she was putting into arguing with life about why her life should not have turned out this way was channeled toward helping her child eventually be able to live independently.

It's so amazing. If you've been listening to the podcast for a while, you know that I'm using myself as the example for my child being cut from the team as a senior. I am so grateful to my 2018 self for finding and signing up for coaching because I can see how much more painful that situation could have been if I was thinking it's not supposed to be this way.

The way I handled it was to immediately reach out to my coach, Maggie, asking her what to do in this situation. She in turn immediately showed me my own power by reminding me that I actually did know what to do. Let Jack feel his feelings. Let Jon feel his feelings. Let me feel my feelings and show up with love for Jack over and over, not trying to fix the situation, just being with what actually was saying, yeah, this sucks.

Now what? I can't change this for him. I don't actually want to change this for him. This became clearer over time, and we were all eventually able to see how this unexpected change of plans happened for us. It took some time to be sure. But we never would have seen it if we were arguing with the reality of what actually happened.

This is where the magic happens, folks. When enough time has passed, you have felt the grief of what you thought was going to happen. You have found your power and asked, now what? And you have been able to see how whatever transpired actually happened for you instead of to you. That is the magic. We are making magic happen in the latest group of Your Favorite You.

All on the path to discovering who we want to be in every situation. There is still time for you to join the group. Hack it. If you decide today, you can come to our bonus call tomorrow. We officially start next week on Valentine’s Day, 2024. We would love to have you join us.

Okay, folks. See you next week.

Hey, everybody, don't go quite yet. I want to let you know all the ways that you can work with me.

If you've been listening to this podcast and maybe especially you have listened to episodes where I interview my clients, and you are thinking like the older woman in the diner in the classic Meg Ryan, Billy Crystal film, When Harry Met Sally... In the film, Sally is proving a point to Harry by faking an orgasm while in public at a diner. Sally finishes, so to speak, and then takes a bite of her food. The older woman in the next booth says, "I'll have what she's having." If you've been thinking, "I'll have what she's having," this is your sign from the universe to schedule a consult with me.

I have a few spots available for one-on-one coaching with me. This is a space where I am laser focused on you and your brain for six months at a time. I will also be doing consults with women who want to join my next group coaching cohort, which will likely start in the spring of 2024. The way to contact me is to go to my website,, go to the Work With Me page and click book now to schedule your consult. I will look forward to hearing from you. Let's make 2024 your year ever as you become your favorite you.


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