In this week’s episode, Billy talks to Jason Clawson. In 2018, Jason’s life was flipped upside down after his wife Valerie was diagnosed with stage 4 Colon Cancer. He is here today to share his story of how the loss of his wife rocked his world, but he is also here to share the steps he’s taken to heal and find love again.
Billy and Jason discuss:
–He and his wife’s relationship prior to, during, and after her colon cancer diagnosis
–What a “support vacuum” is
–How a 5K marathon became a cathartic moment for Jason
–Processing trauma and grief through service and the story behind Giving Sunshine
–His sons' involvement in meeting his new wife
–An unexpected surprise for his family
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If you liked this episode, check out these episodes as well:
–Episode 11--Two Brothers Share How Talking about Depression Has Improved Their Relationship
–Episode 22--How to Normalize and Prioritize Mental Health Conversations with Our Children with Tandra Rutledge from the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention
–Episode 45--Confronting Mortality with Cancer Survivor Joy Huber
–Episode 46--The Trail to Recovery and Redemption with Michael Mosher
–Episode 47--The Human Healing Project with Marie Nutter
–Episode 72--Acts of Service As Self-Love with Dr. Lina Haji
All of our episodes are available at www.mindfulmidlifecrisis.com
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Billy: Coming up on The Mindful Midlife Crisis.
Jason Clawson: What happens when you go through grief especially, or even a traumatic event, is people want to help in many ways. They don't know what to say or what to do. So they go into a support vacuum where they wanna do something, but they just disappear. They end up doing nothing. And sometimes that's even worse. And in a sense too, is they don't do any worse. Or they come up and they say, well Jason, if there's anything I can do, let me know. And again, that's putting the stress back on the griever. And I don't have emotional energy to tell you, <laugh>, that I need this, this, and this because I'm managing so much. So telling me if there's anything I can do is really hard. And then saying, I want to do something, but you don't do something is almost worse than just disappearing.
And that becomes so hard and it becomes even more lonely because you feel there's people around, but you're just sitting there. And what I felt, I was like in this bubble and I was slowly walking through in slow motion of life and I'm looking around and everybody's laughing and everybody's happy. But I was in this bubble where nobody could get to me and could help me, and I felt trapped. And I just said, why are they happy? How come they get to be happy? How come they have a family? It's such a lonely spot that doesn't allow, we don't know how to help people grieve either. If we've gone through it, we can, but most people just don't know what to do or say.
Billy: Welcome to the Mindful Midlife Crisis, a podcast for people navigating the complexities and possibilities of life's second half. I'm your host Billy Lahr, an educator, personal trainer, meditation teacher, and Overthinker who talks to experts who specialize in social and emotional learning. Mindfulness, physical and emotional wellness, cultural awareness, finances, communication, relationships, dating and parenting, all in an effort to help us better reflect, learn, and grow so we can live a more purpose filled life. Take a deep breath, embrace the present and journey with me through the mindful midlife crisis.
Welcome to the Mindful Midlife Crisis. I'm your host, Billy Lahr. Thank you for tuning in wherever you are. The purpose of this show is to provide a platform that gives people the space and permission to share their expertise and life experiences in order to help others navigate the complexities and possibilities of life's second half. Now, just to be clear, you don't have to wait until your thirties, forties, or fifties to apply this free and useful information. I know I would've benefited greatly from this information when I was younger. In fact, I'm sure people tried to tell me stuff like this all the time. But you know, I was a pretty stubborn guy. <laugh> filled with youthful pride. It was my twenties, so I was living in an alcohol-induced state most of the time. So it was really difficult for me to apply this useful advice in a meaningful way.
But I'm telling you now, as I'm older, I realize how universally golden these conversations are, and they will help people of all ages reflect, learn, and grow. So if you hear something that resonates with you in this week's episode, go back and check out some of the other episodes. Today's episode focuses on mortality, losing a loved one, resilience and moving forward after a tragedy. This one is an emotional doozy, <laugh>, I'm not gonna lie, but it's a powerful story that I hope hits you in the fields. If you're looking for more heart to heart conversations like this one. Check out episode 11 with Brother Scott and Lee Maros, where we discussed Lee's mental health struggles and how this very podcast actually opened up a line of communication between the two of them. Check out episode 22 with Tandra Rutledge about normalizing and prioritizing mental health conversations with our children.
You can check out episode 45 with cancer survivor Joy Huber. She has an amazing story as well and really is a ray of sunshine. It's incredible the perspective that she has. You can then check out episode 46 with Michael Mosher, where he discusses his struggles with alcohol and mental health. And then there's episode 47 with Marie Nutter where we discuss the loss of her brother during his trip to Africa. Yes, I'm well aware that these episodes are heavy, so make sure you're taking care of yourself after listening to them and send someone you love a message and let them know you're thinking about them. All right, let's meet today's guest. Our guest today is Jason Clawson. In 2018, Jason's life was flipped upside down after his wife Valerie was diagnosed with stage four colon cancer. He is here today to share his story of how the loss of his wife rocked his world, but he is also here to share the steps he's taken to heal and find love. Again, if you're interested in learning more, you can go to www.giving sunshine.com. Welcome to the show, Jason Clawson.
Jason Clawson: Yay <laugh>. Thanks for having me. I'm happy to be here. So this is, this is exciting.
Billy: Yeah, yeah. You know, we had a really great conversation about a week ago and people are like, wait, it's exciting for him to talk about his wife who he lost is like, no, no, no. When you listen to this story like it's an emotional story, but this idea of giving sunshine will really warm your heart because it really is a beautiful story. It's an emotional rollercoaster and I'm excited to have you here to talk about this. So I know that our listeners are really going to enjoy hearing from you too. But before we get into that, Jason, we like to ask our guests what 10 roles they play in their life. So what are 10 roles that you play in your
Jason Clawson: Life? The 10 roles I play in my life, man, that's hard to come up with all of them. But I'm a father, I'm a therapist, I'm a husband, I'm a coach, I'm a son, I'm a brother, caregiver, spiritual guide, healer and motivator. And those are my roles that seem like I play quite often in my life.
Billy: Well yeah. And of the ones that you're looking forward to most in the second half of life, you put Father first. So talk about, why is being a father something that you're looking forward to in the second half of life?
Jason Clawson: I think because being a father in the past was hard and difficult and trying to do the right thing at the right time, <laugh> try to be emotionally available for my sons and trying to show up the way I want to. I felt like the beginning of my life of being a father, I wore so many roles that it took away from me being emotionally present for my boys. And now that of what I went through and the events in my life that caused me to look at life differently and speak for my heart, be present, be intentional with my actions, me showing up for a father is exciting because now I can emotionally connect with my boys on a regular basis because of the way that I'm going to show up and the way I've learned how to show up with going through a tragedy. So I'm looking forward to really strengthening my relationships with my boys and seeing where our relationship goes because I'm going to try and be there on a regular basis rather than I'm trying to do so much. And then it's like, oh yeah, I have a kid that's, oh, I have to go to a game and being frustrated or texting on my phone at the game. No, it's being present in the moment and, and join those moments for what they are and taking away the event and the experience and the emotions that come with them.
Billy: And one of the things that we're gonna discuss here is finding love again and you put husband down as something that you're also looking forward to in the second half of life. So talk about, why is that something that you're looking forward to?
Jason Clawson: <laugh> that makes me emotional because after, and we'll talk more about this, after I lost my wife to cancer, I never thought I was, I know this is silly to say, but trying to find someone that I could emotionally connect with and be excited about life and someone that loves me for who I am. And I'm excited to be a husband because I connected with my sweetheart Kirsten, who actually lost her husband to cancer. And together we're able to share this story and this narrative of helping each other get through a traumatic and life altering event. And we can help each other become the best spouse, best husband, best wife possible because we've walked this difficult and hard path. And again, it's about being intentional. It's about being present when we need to. It's about not being fearful of talking about hard things and it's about helping each other lean into the discomfort of life and growing in it rather than, you know, I'm not gonna talk about that <laugh> or I'm not gonna go there. It's no, it's walking this path together. It's an amazing experience to be a husband to someone, again, me and my wife talk about, it's not about missing the other spouse, it's about enhancing our life by marrying again and loving again.
Billy: Well, and you also put down here healer and I imagine before you can even become a healer, you also have to be the recipient of healing you. We'll dive deeper into this a little bit later, but it sounds like for you and your wife, Kirsten, now, you guys have been healers for each other while also being the recipients of each other's healing.
Jason Clawson: I thought before I was someone that could help and my role has been therapist for the last 15 years and I thought I was doing a good job healing people and I was always a good listener. But when I walked to hell and back and now I can speak from a place of I know what that pain feels like, I know how it feels, I know what goes into that now, when I ask questions, I ask questions that sink in deeply that help people walk through that process. It's not a superficial question, it's questions that our heartfelt and emotionally driven to be able to help people through that difficult space of life. I walk the path with them rather than just watching from a distance. And it becomes such an emotional and a beautiful connection when I help people get out of their most difficult spots of their life.
Billy: And these are all things that we're gonna dive deeper into in this episode. And like I said, we had a really deep conversation the last time that we talked before we sat down for this interview. So everybody just kind of buckle up because this is gonna be one of those emotional ones. So when we come back, Jason is going to share his story with all of you. Thank you for listening to The Mindful Midlife Crisis.
Thank you for listening to The Mindful Midlife Crisis. If you're enjoying what you've heard so far, please do me a favor and hit the subscribe button. Also giving the show a quick five star review with a few kind words, helps others find and benefit from this podcast just like you are. Finally, please spread the wealth of free knowledge and advice in this episode by sharing it with the people in your life who may find this information and my mission to help others live a more purpose filled life valuable.
My hope is that these conversations resonate with others and inspire people to live their best lives. Thanks again. And now back to the show. Welcome back to The Mindful Midlife Crisis. We are here with Jason Clawson. You can check him out at www.giving sunshine.com. He's on Instagram at Giving Sunshine Daily. You can check that out there as well. And Jason, we kind of touched a little bit on the story. So you lost your wife to colon cancer. How long had the two of you been married before you found out that she had cancer? How did you guys find out? What was the timeline of treatments, preparations, conversations with kids, family and friends? A lot to unpack right there. And I know that you've got the story for it, so I'll turn it over to you.
Jason Clawson: <laugh>, we've been married for about 13 years and that's when you know you work really hard to get what you have and sometimes life doesn't give you the best circumstances. But you know what, we worked really hard to get to a point where we're like, okay, we arrived with life and some good things were happening in our life. Whether I was a clinical director at a recovery program and I was just loving helping people in recovery, my wife just lost a hundred pounds and her health and her light was starting to come on. We're building this dream house of ours, kids are doing well. And I just felt like, you know what? This is the life I've dreamed about and I would be very happy if we continue on this pathway. But, um, you know what? Life has a way of changing and throwing hard difficult situations at us.
So when my wife came to me and she had a lump in her stomach and said, I had this lump in my stomach, Jason, I don't know what's going on. So I, I felt it and I said, well, let's not freak out. Let's wait a week and then we can, um, go from there. So I waited a week and then I came back and felt it and it had grown and that's where concerns and worries overcame us. And we said, well, let's take care of this. We've had hard things come to us in our life, let's go take care of this. So we began to dig into, seeing the doctor doing scans, doing blood work, and nothing really was definitive of what this was. And again, we weren't freaking out. We're like, we're living this good life, we're doing good in the community. I'm helping people in their hardest recoveries and we're good people, so good things are gonna happen to us.
Right <laugh>, you think, you think that's, I'm investing in good behaviors and good deeds, I'm going to be rewarded for those. But one thing led to another where we couldn't figure this out and we found ourselves at a hospital doing exploratory surgery and that's where the doctor started to open my wife and kind of look around to see what was going on and doing a partial hysterectomy. That's where she found life changing news. And then I remember her coming back into the recovery room where we're waiting on pins and needles of what this is about. My in-laws were there, my sister, her best friend were there. And I remember the doctor looked at me and said, Jason, I'm so sorry. What still gets to me today? Your wife has stage four colon cancer. I remember just stunned like, what, what am I supposed to do with this?
And all of a sudden all these thoughts begin to race my head. How am I gonna pay for this? How am I gonna tell my boys that mom has cancer? How are we gonna fight this? Like, what are we going to do? And we just wept because we knew our life was going to be forever altered from that point forward. And I realized I could never go back to the way my life was even though I wanted. And I longed for a my life before my life was going to be altered. We went back to where my wife was and she was waking up and we told her the news and, and she began to weep and we're in the room just weeping, just trying to say, well, why do we deserve this? And just scratching our head with all these questions. And I remember the doctor leaving and I wasn't done with the doctor <laugh>.
I said, I want some questions, I want some help. And I ran down the hallway and I said, doctor, doctor, you need to help me. Like I don't know what to do. How are we gonna pay for this? What is the lifespan? And I just started to pepper this doctor with questions and she paused. She said, hold on Jason. And she goes, Jason, you'll get through this. And then the phrase that has forever altered me and the way I lived my life, she said, Jason, cancer has a way of enhancing your life. And I did not want to hear that. I did not want my life to be enhanced. My life was fine Billy. I thought, how dare the doctor deliver this to me when I was in such a vulnerable spot and I was just emotionally drained saying, I need your help. I don't need to know that this is going to enhance my life. And I just, I just remember I was being angry at the doctor, angry at God, angry at our situation. And I was just saying, how, how am I gonna do this? There's no way that I'm gonna be able to manage everything that is coming in the future. I was broken <laugh> as a 42 year old male. I was broken because something, our news and our life has just got turned upside down by this life altering event.
Billy: I know that you can step back and reflect about the impact that that statement has on you now, but oh man, I, I have actually in the newsletter written about how much I really dislike the saying everything happens for a reason or you know, it's part of God's plan. Yeah, I, I just have such an issue with that in the moment that's really hard for me to hear in the moment and yeah, wow, <laugh> like I don't even know how I'm responding to that and I can't, I wasn't in the situation. I wasn't in the moment that you were in and whew, that is, that's something else man, for her to say that to you. I guess as you look back on it now, what are your thoughts?
Jason Clawson: I mean it stunned me. I remember, I mean as a male, you're conditioned, you need to be stoic and you need to be strong. So I remember crying and then before I walked back in the room I was like, well I need to put on my mask of masculinity and I need to be the strong person despite emotionally struggling in my heart. I need to be strong for my family. And that's a hard thing to do when you have inner turmoil of being emotionally in pain. But then you have to be strong for everybody else in the room. And that was a big ask, but you know what? I knew my wife needed me, I needed my kids needed me, people at work still needed me. So I was like, okay, I'm gonna put on this mask to protect that I am not okay with this. I didn't let a lot of people in because I wanted to be strong for everybody <laugh> and everybody needed. They needed a strong person in the room or in the situation. Even though I'm not strong, I'm just have a mask that's pretending that I'm okay.
Billy: Well and it's funny because the irony in this is that you're a therapist. So when we chatted before you, you had said that I was great about giving advice about how to navigate these situations to other people. But then when the tables were turned and I had to use this advice on myself, it was like well do as I say, not as I do because it was difficult for you and I can only imagine.
Jason Clawson: Yeah, it was, I can help people out of addiction and trauma, but I couldn't look at myself in the mirror and help me through this. All I knew is because it was emotionally overwhelming. All I knew is I got to hide my emotions so we can take care of my wife and my kids that my and I kind of prioritized everybody's needs above mine and by forgot about myself. And it was easy. And I think for males that go through difficult events, it's easy to hide yourself and be strong because everybody needs someone and you fulfill a need because you can help and you can do all this other stuff. But my heart was broken. I needed to process what I was feeling and I needed to share and I needed to cry. And the only time that I found myself available to cry was as I would help my wife be comfortable, tuck her into bed, help take her medication, help take care of the kids, feed them, make sure everything's done in the house.
And then I would just lay at night on the couch and that's where I'd just scroll on my phone and that's where I was just like, nobody's around. And that's where I gave myself an opportunity to cry and I just would cry myself to sleep. And then after I would just fall asleep from pure exhaustion physically and emotionally and then I would get back on, I'd wake up <laugh>, I'd grab my mask and I'd put it on. I was like, I'm gonna be strong for everybody else. And that was just my pattern to be able to get through this hard time. But that is hard to do for a long period of time because I noticed and as I look back on this, there was little cracks that were starting to show up in me and the way I was handling situations. So in a sense I thought I was protecting and hiding myself. But there was little moments where it was starting to crack and I was, I was like, I'm not letting this out <laugh>, I'm not showing a weakness. I'm gonna be strong through the whole thing.
Billy: You talked about the support vacuum the last time that we talked. Oh yeah. What do you mean by that? The support vacuum of family and friends.
Jason Clawson: What happens when you go through like grief especially, or even a traumatic event, is people want to help in many um, ways. They don't know what to say or what to do. So they go into a support vacuum where they wanna do something but they just disappear. They end up doing nothing. And sometimes that's even worse and in a sense too is they don't do any worse or they come up and they say, well Jason, if there's anything I can do, let me know. And again, that's putting the stress back on the griever and I don't have emotional energy to tell you <laugh> that I need this, this and this because I'm managing so much. So tell me if there's anything I can do is really hard. And then saying I want to do something but you don't do something is almost worse than just disappearing.
And that becomes so hard and it becomes even more lonely because you feel there's people around but you're just sitting there. And what I felt, I was like in this bubble and I was slowly walking through in slow motion of life and I'm looking around and everybody's laughing and everybody's happy. But I was in this bubble where nobody could get to me and could help me and I felt trapped and I just said, why are they happy? How come they get to be happy? How come they have a family? It's such a lonely spot that doesn't allow, we don't know how to help people grieve either. If we've gone through it, we can, but most people just don't know what to do or say.
Billy: Yeah, we touched on that a little bit with Tandra Rutledge in episode at 22 if people wanna go check that out. And we also touched on it in, I believe it's episode 46 with Michael Mosher. And the easiest thing to ask I think is you good? I mean just a real short check in like you good and you're right asking that question, what do you need? I know that I've asked it, I know that I've asked it and the way you phrase it is, you're right, it does put stress on the griever because it's like, oh wait, now I'm, I'm asking them to tell me what they need. They might not even know what they need they, that kind of thing. So yep. I think just that simple, you good, that sort of thing. I think just knowing that maybe you can just check in and, and they know that, hey, I'm here in case you wanna talk, that kind of thing.
Jason Clawson: I would go to church and deep down inside I was hoping that someone would see through my mask and, but I got so good when people would come up and say, Hey, are you good? Hey, do you need anything? And I got really good if, if people weren't really invested or didn't care, I could say the right thing to move 'em on because I wasn't interested in opening up my heart to someone that was going to not do very much or just walk away. It wasn't fair to me. So when people would sit there and say, how are you really doing Jason, how are you feeling? And they would just ask questions where I couldn't shake 'em. Then I gave me permission. I can trust this person and I can open up and that's the person I want to start helping me through this journey. And for a male, it's harder to get them to open up but I was waiting for someone to just ask the hard questions so that I could, I was starting to get ready because my pain of holding on was worse than the pain of opening up.
Billy: Well here might be a hard question to answer right here. When we talked to cancer survivor Joy Huber, I think that's episode 45, it's right around there. She talked about confronting mortality. How did your wife confront mortality? How did you confront your wife's mortality at that time?
Jason Clawson: That's a great question, <laugh>. Because despite everything that we did, we never got good news of my wife's treatment we're positive, uplifting people. We wanted the very best, but despite our hard circumstances, we’d do the tests and the doctors would say, sorry, things are getting better. So that got really hard towards the end of my wife's life because I remember laying in our bed and having this conversation and she said, well Jay <laugh>, this sucks, it's not fair. Life sucks. And then I think her perspective changed where she said, well maybe this is God's will for us <laugh>.
And I said, no, it's not; this isn't fair. And I said, it's not fair to have to let you go because of God's will. That was a hard pill to wrap my head around and I don't think I really understood God's will until she passed away. And then I began to ask God the right questions where I said, what can I learn from this? Or what do I need to grow from this? Versus why did this happen to me? Why, how dare you? And I think I begin to accept what God had given to me. And then it starts to become a blessing of the time I had with my wife and even the time after my wife. I feel like because of what I've done and the choices I've made, my relationship with my wife has increased. And that might sound really weird, but I believe because I've leaned into the discomfort, I feel like my life with my wife and my relationship with her has increased tremendously. And I've got to know my wife through helping people and by helping people through difficult times. So when I think about mortality and her life, I think back, it was such a blessing, the time she had and what she taught. But now I can still honor her life by continuing to live my life, continue to raise my kids and continue to help people through that process.
Billy: You also have a cathartic moment after your wife passed while you were running a 5K in Alaska that significantly moved you along on your healing journey. So what was that cathartic moment?
Jason Clawson: So when my wife was going through treatment, there was a half marathon and it was dedicated to cancer survivors and people that have died from cancer. So I said, I'm gonna run this half marathon for my wife. So I was training, so with all the stuff that was going on, I'd wake up at five in the morning <laugh> and I'd run five, six miles and that was healing for me. But there was a week before the race she passed away and I just said, I'm done, I'm done. Like I'm not running. People said come run the race. And I was like, I'm done, I'm not doing it. And I remember holding that onto those emotions and that just sat with me until I was up in Alaska visiting my sister and my sister said, Hey, they're running a race, do you wanna run? And I said, that'd be kind of nice.
And then she came to me and she says, Hey, if you run this race, here's a bracelet that says be like Val. And that was, that was the bracelet that we wore as we were fighting cancer. So I said, you know what, I'm gonna run this race for my wife. So I put it on and I got ready for this race and I started off and I wasn't ready to run the race, but as I was running, I remember moments where I just, I was able to talk to my wife and when it was hard I said, this is for you. And it became a therapeutic process throughout the whole race. I remember the significant point in the race is when I got to the end, my boys came out at the end of the race about 300 yards and they ran the race with me to the finish line.
And this was so amazing that I was able to finish this race with my boys. But the thing that I didn't realize is when you go through tr trauma, your body holds onto these memories and emotions. So when I finished this race, my brother came up to me and I was a little bit emotional and he hugged me and he says, I am so proud of you. And that moment activated some of the emotions that I'd been holding on for years and I just sobbed and I just said, I miss her tremendously, I miss her. And I just sobbed out some of those grief and those emotions that just came and my sister came over and she hugged me and we had this moment of healing that allowed me to let go of some of those emotions and I was able to finish what I had dedicated to my wife and it becomes such a healing process. I was able to start to move on with parts of my life because I was willing to run that race.
Billy: And it sounds like you and your boys were able to continue processing those emotions through service. So what service projects did you guys get involved with?
Jason Clawson: The service project that transformed us was again, when, when my wife was going through treatment, someone brought over to our house a yellow basket full of like coloring books and yellow treats and yellow fun stuff. And I remember on a hard day these friends showed up to us and I remember my boys were happy we were going through it and my wife smiled and I remember that moment. It's like, that is a moment I will never forget because it was a happy moment despite treatment. So I remember thinking me and my boys were going through such a hard time, I was like we need to recreate that <laugh>. We need to serve and give back to people. And I think many people, when you go through a hard event, you stay here near your pain and you focus on your pain. But what I was able to teach my boys is giving us an emotional break and emotional timeout by serving another person is so healing.
So what we did is we had a lemonade stand and we wanted to raise a hundred dollars and make these baskets for people. And by the time the lemonade stand was done, we had $1,500 ready to build these sunshine baskets and we were going to begin deliver them to people in need. And my boys begin to start looking for yellow things everywhere they went. And I think this process allowed them to, instead of look for painful and sad, they began to look for bright and happy things to go towards someone else. So every time they look for a yellow thing, it actually brought them peace and a break. They weren't feeling and focusing on the pain. So it gave them emotional timeout. And then we begin to show up to people's houses and we begin to deliver these to people and say It sucks but we're here for you and we want you to get better. My boys and me became closer because we weren't focused on our pain, we were focusing on helping others get through that process.
Billy: How did you not get sucked in to the emotion that the family was experiencing so that it still felt healing to you? Cuz I imagine if you're looking at the family and you're seeing them go through it that it might drum up these emotions, but it doesn't sound like it did that it actually sound like this was part of the healing process. So how do you separate that? How do you not get sucked in like a tractor beam of emotion?
Jason Clawson: Yeah, that's a great point because it's easy to do because you want to help so badly and sometimes you, you compromise your own emotions in your own time. So the way that we were able to do that is when we would go deliver these baskets, we invited a friend that was connected to the story and connected to this family and so we could show up and we could deliver this basket and this story of hope, but in order for us to separate it, this person that's in their life that got us connected becomes the emotional support for that person. And so it was kind of a buffer for us to help. And when they begin to open up and share, we can invite them into that conversation or we can refer back to them. Because what I wanted to do is when we left, we wanted someone to be a part of their team to help 'em through that rather than me trying to do more than I can handle this family or this support person can provide emotional, physical, spiritual strength. And that's is how we didn't get wrapped up into the emotion and that's how we didn't get emotionally exhausted is because that was the role of this family and this individual rather than us trying to do everything.
Billy: Well it sounds like your sons had a different service project in mind for you. So what we're gonna do is we're gonna take a quick break and then we come back. We're gonna talk about Jason's continued journey towards healing and finding love. Thank you for listening to the Mindful Midlife Crisis. Thank you for listening to the Mindful Midlife Crisis. New episodes come out every Wednesday to help you get over the midweek hump. If you'd like to contact me or if you have suggestions about what you'd like to hear on the show, visit www.mindfulmidlifecrisis.com and click contact us while you're there. Don't forget to sign up for the newsletter to get free weekly meditations as well as free resources from our reflect learn grow program. You can also click on the show notes for links to the articles and resources reference throughout the show. If you wanna check out my worldly adventures, follow me on Instagram at mindful underscore midlife underscore of crisis.
My hope is that my trials, tribulations and successes will inspire you to take intentional action to live at more purpose filled life. And while you're at it, remember to show yourself some love every now and then too. Thanks again. And now back to the show. Welcome back to the Mindful Midlife Crisis. We are here with Jason Clawson. He is sharing his story of love Lost his wife passed away from colon cancer. He's here today sharing a story about what steps he took to heal and how he found love. Again, you can check out firstname.lastname@example.org sunshine.com. He's also on Instagram Giving Sunshine Daily. Jason, you've talked about the important role that your sons play in your life and it sounds like they had a plan of giving sunshine to you. They're the ones who got you back onto the dating scene, is that right?
Jason Clawson: Yeah. As where does that sound? Yes.
Billy: So how did that unfold? What did they say? How did they encourage you?
Jason Clawson: I was just stunned and I just lost someone that I love deeply and I was like, I'm not in a spot to open my heart to anybody. And then I was worried about them and all the emotions that go into that and I was like, well, we've already been through so much, I'm gonna wait like 10 years <laugh> before, before I even start doing this cuz I wanna work on me and my family. I remember just driving to the store and them just chiming in and saying, Hey dad, are you gonna start dating again? And I remember them saying, cuz we really want a mom <laugh>. And, and I remember saying something like, that's great. I'm glad you want a mom, but I want a wife but it's gonna take some time. I remember just conversations, do you want a date? Like what's going? And I thought it was just funny that my boys who were eight and 13, so they were asking these questions and I remember my son just kept bugging me and said, Hey dad, have you heard about online dating apps? <laugh>
Just like dismiss it every time because I wasn't ready. And I remember my son says, Hey, when you're ready dad, I wanna help you. So one night I just said, okay, we downloaded the app and he filled out my online profile <laugh> and, and I thought, is this really happening? Is this really happening that my 13 year old son is helping their 43 year old dad into the new world of dating? And we set up a profile and and that's where it began to I guess started to see what it felt like to open up my heart and interesting experiences. I got to a point where I went on a date and I just remember just going and seeing what the world was gonna be like. And on my first date, I just talked about my wife that died and that was it. I just like poured out my heart <laugh> and I was like, this is kind of weird that I'm on a date, but I'm talking about my deceased spouse.
And I felt, I don't think I'm ready but I need to talk. I need to find people to talk to. And this just went on for a period of time and I just remember my boys just saying, dad, we want a mom. We really want a mom. And that that just pricked my heart and I knew that I need to work on myself so that I can attract someone that I want in my life and in my boys' life. So I just began on a journey of just working on myself physically, emotionally, spiritually, and began working on me so that I can put myself in a position to start dating. And the ironic thing, Billy, is a year ago tomorrow is when me and my wife swiped right and connected <laugh> on social media. Tomorrow we call it swipe right day
Billy: Oh that's a cute anniversary. I like that. I like that. Yeah,
Jason Clawson: It's where we came, got connected for the first time. We knew about each other through a support group online, but that's where we connected. And I'm so old school, we were texting back and forth and I, my, I just said, Hey, I don't like texting, can I just call you? And I remember calling her and we talked for three straight hours and that was the beginning of our relationship and our connection and we talked and we quickly realized we were in a position where we're open to talk about our other spouse, like they were still a part of our life. And that helped the growing process tremendously. So it wasn't something we were fearful, it wasn't something that we were scared about. We talked about it openly and it began to grow our relationship. And I think the hard part is we quickly got connected and we felt like we were, were a really good match.
But then I was worried about my boys and I was like, how am I going to bring this girl in my life? And I think for some crazy reason my, my boys were ready, more ready than I was. And I remember driving home and my son saying, how's your girlfriend? And I said, she's good. And he goes, well dad, if she's your girlfriend, how come she doesn't come over to the house and how come she doesn't come hang out with us? And I remember in that moment saying, my boys are ready to have a mom. And I called her up and I says, you need to come over <laugh>. I think it was the next day or day and they were ready to accept and have a mom into their life because they, they've been missing a mother figure for so long that they wanted that connection and they wanted something that I couldn't provide differently and they wanted to connect to someone as a mother.
And I thought that was really amazing and that them saying that and them doing those things expedited our relationship because we knew they were ready and we knew that they were open and willing to have Kirsten in their life. And it just became so amazing to be a part of, even though we kept saying, are the boys ready? I'm scared, I'm nervous. We would have these conversations, but from what they said in their behaviors, it invited us to go to the next step to have this amazing relationship that we continue to build and continue to strengthen even though we lost our spouses and been through awful, awful circumstances together, we are able to help each other regardless of what we go through now.
Billy: And you initially met prior to that through a Facebook grief group, so you kind of sorta knew each other from that. So I imagine that just added to the comfort of, okay, like you know, I've been on, I've been on pass dates and I've spilled my guts about my wife who passed away to people who have no idea what this is like. And now there's someone, hey wait, I know you from this group and we kind of have this shared experience so now I still need to talk about this. But it's nice that you understand it because you've been through it too and I imagined it was very effortless to have a three hour conversation the first time you talked.
Jason Clawson: Yeah, I mean the ironic thing, obviously we would see each other post. Here's the ironic thing that my wife just told me not too long ago, she wasn't ready to jump into things and she was hesitant about opening up and talking and she said she joined this, this support group and she was worried about who was on there and the type of people that were on here talking. And the ironic thing is I was the first post that she saw <laugh> on this support group and she says, okay, I can do this. I can open up my heart and I can begin to talk. So that's what's so ironic about this is she was so hesitant to jump in, but when you jump in, I was in a spot where I was open and vulnerable and invited someone who was also vulnerable and open to work together.
Billy: Was there any reservations about bringing in someone new that you're dating when it comes to like what your wife who deceased her family might, did that ever play a part? Did you have a conversation with them and just say, Hey, I just want you to know cuz you know they're grandparents, if they're aunts, their uncles, they're invested in it too or does that not really play a role because they're your kids and it's your happiness?
Jason Clawson: People have experiences across the spectrum and if we talk about my wife, her experiences are so much different than my in-laws. My in-laws have been pretty amazing and I think they honestly should teach how to go through that process. They were always checking on me, helping me through this process and they would mention, Hey, are you gonna start dating again? So they respected me emotionally and they just wanted me to be happy, but they understood in order for me to be happy, I probably needed a date again and I needed to connect with some people. And throughout the whole process they have been so supportive, so happy and so accepting of Kirsten. And even to this day they talk about Kirsten as if she's their family, their sister-in-law, there's no differences. They just say, we're so excited for you and the boys, they talk to her like she's family.
And it's just the verbiage and the narrative that they say is so helpful and it helps her feel more welcome to the family. It's just been so easy to connect with the family on her other end where her deceased husband, they've gone through multiple losses of their kids to cancer. I've only met the father once. They're struggling with it and they feel like me marrying Kirsten is like they're pulling her away from the family rather than seeing it as an addition to enhance the family. So we have two polar opposites of what's happening with her family and my family that we compare to. And it's sad to see on one end, but on the other end Kirsten's like, what is wrong with your inlaws <laugh>? They invite us to everything. They think I'm family, like don't they know I'm not their fam. So it's weird to contrast, but very hard for Kirsten. She wants a relationship, she does things to try to keep that relationship, but they're not ready and that's what's hard for her.
Billy: Well, the two of you just found out some pretty exciting news recently,
Jason Clawson: Correct? Yes.
Billy: <laugh>. So what would you like to share with our listening audience?
Jason Clawson: I will just start off by saying God works in mysterious ways. So Kirsten is, she's in her forties, she's never had children. She was married for four years to her husband that had two girls and she struggled with getting pregnant and even doctor said, you'll never have kids. And she began to accept that and be okay with that, that that was her role. And even my history with my wife Valerie, we struggled to get pregnant and we had to do in vitro where we helped use the doctor to help us get pregnant and we struggled with that. So in February, Kirsten was very sick, <laugh>. I was at a football game and I get a call that says, I just took a pregnancy test and I am pregnant
Jason Clawson: And she will say that she was mad and angry and upset. That was her first initial saying, this is ruining our plans. This is not what we were intending to do. I can't believe this is happening <laugh>. So we've gone through so many emotions to be able to figure out what we're gonna do with the news and how we accept it and we realize it's such a, a miracle to be able to have this be a part of our life. And even my youngest son, he was sitting on the couch one day and he was, my wife walked in and he's crying and he just said, I am so excited to be an older brother. I never thought I would be an older brother. And it's just amazing to be a part of that. And we never anticipated being parents older on and people are joking and saying at her graduation, her friends are gonna say, Hey, did you bring your grandparents to the graduation <laugh>?
It's just like, but you know what? It's, it's our journey. It's our miracle. It's part of our story that makes it so amazing and so beautiful to be a part of where our traumatic events have led us to each other and now we can enjoy the first that we've never had where Kirsten's never had kids and I've never had a girl. And together we, we were able to help each other. And the amazing miracle too is to think about this sweet girl that's coming to our family, probably has met both of our spouses and have helped us prepare for this. And it's just, just amazing thing. And now we can say God is good <laugh>, God has a plan and to help us get through this and it's gonna be a blessing, for both of us and for everybody in our family. So
Billy: I'll tell you that your boys know how to pull the heartstrings here, so I'm gonna get you out on this. Jason. You're doing this organization called Giving Sunshine. You have a website called Giving Sunshine. What is this?
Jason Clawson: When my wife passed away and I was trying to grieve and get through that, despite the circumstances of being a therapist and helping people, I couldn't help myself and I look for resources to help me through grief and cancer. There's not a lot out there. So in a sense, giving Sunshine is a grief box, a box dedicated to help people through grief, through cancer diagnosis, through depression and anxiety. So it gives you the resources to help you walk the path to be happy and healthy, to get connected to your community and pull you out of that difficult spot so you don't have to suffer alone. And one of my favorite tools in there are support cards. And these support cards, and we talked about this earlier, about not knowing what to say at the right time. These support cards, you hand it to your person that is supporting you through the grief and it tells you what to say.
It tells you what to text or what to say that grieving person, so you know, and do the right thing to help 'em through that trauma. So in a sense, you become their biggest support, but you just almost have a script to what to say and what to do. And it helps pull them and get them into an emotional, stable spot sooner than them just sitting and suffering in silence. And that's what's so amazing is my pain has inspired us to do this box. And now, now we've delivered boxes in 45 states and in four different countries and I'm able to help so many people in the process and share my story and share the spirit of my wife, and we continue to help people heal through the process.
Billy: Well, if you're listening out there and you wanna learn how to give some sunshine and spread it out to the world, go to www.giving sunshine.com, follow Jason on Instagram at Giving Sunshine Daily. Jason, thank you so much for sharing your story, your journey from grief to love and happiness. Really appreciate the candid conversation.
Jason Clawson: Thank you. It's been a pleasure.
Billy: Hey, if you enjoyed this week's episode, be sure to look in the show notes for all of Jason's contact information. Also, I know Jason and I would greatly appreciate it if you would share this episode with the people in your life who may benefit from his expertise and life experiences. As I said at the beginning of the episode, the purpose of this show is to help you navigate the complexities and possibilities of life's second half. So I hope this conversation provided you with some insight that will help you reflect, learn, and Grow. If you did find some value in this week's conversation, be sure to subscribe to the show wherever you get your podcast so you never miss an episode. If you're an Apple listener, please consider taking a minute or two to leave a five star review with a few kind words. And if you're a Spotify listener, click those five stars under the show Art. Finally, you can check out the rest of our episodes at www.mindfulmidlifecrisis.com or wherever you get your podcast. So for Jason, this is Billy. Thank you for listening to the Mindful Midlife Crisis, make you feel happy, healthy and loved. Take care of friends.