Voted Top 10 Mental Health Podcasts for Women in 2022!
Feb. 15, 2022

How we can love like Rachel. Brandon Janous's story of navigating life after losing his wife to cancer.


Brandon Janous is a Father to 3. Widower. Believer. Writer. Storyteller. In 2019 Brandon lost his wife to cancer. In this episode we talk about his story from how he met Rachel, to what the conversations looked like weeks before she passed. He gives great tips on what spouses can do when they might be faced with a similar situation. He also shares tips from a father's perspective and what you can do to help with grieving children. Brandon is passionate about keeping Rachel's memory alive and sharing about what a huge impact she had on everyone she met.
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Transcript

Brandon Janous:

We always say love like Rachel, because Rachel just lives in love so well. I'm just trying my best to continue in that journey. Because I was not the person I am today. Without Rachel helping me be better.

Melissa Bright:

Welcome to The Bright Side of Life, a podcast where people share their personal stories of struggles, pain and grief. But through all of that, they are still able to find the joys in life. Hello, bright ciders. And welcome to this week's episode of the bright side of life. I am your host Melissa bright. If you have not yet subscribed to the podcast, please be sure to do so on your favorite listening platform so you never miss an episode. And if you just love, love, love the podcast so much. And you would like to support the show, you can do so by writing a review on the website, sharing your favorite episodes on social media and with friends and family. Or lastly, you can make donations by going to the donate page on the website. Whatever you choose to do, however you choose to support the podcast, I am very grateful. And also you can do all of that stuff right on the bright side of life podcast.com And today I am talking to Brandon Janis, and he is going to share his story. It's not an easy one, Brandon lost his wife to cancer two years ago, they have three beautiful children. And today I really just want to talk to him about actually a lot of things. Obviously, things really change when you lose a spouse. And I personally haven't experienced this, but I've had to watch my stepdad put his life back together after he lost my mom. And I just want Brandon to share his experience and knowledge and any advice he can offer. If you guys or anybody you know, has had a similar story. Brandon is a writer storyteller, and from what it looks like on social media doing so many more other things. So Brandon, welcome to the show. How are you doing this morning?

Brandon Janous:

Hi, I'm so great. I'm honored to be here. Thank you, Melissa, for, for choosing me. I know you have a lot of people that that would like to visit with you for an hour here and there on your podcast. So I'm thrilled to be here and to tell a little bit more. You know less about my story and probably more about Rachel story and my kids story. As we as we've gone through this last couple years.

Melissa Bright:

Yes. Well, thank you very, very much. So kinda to get started. I kind of want to just know about Brandon, you know, where do you live? And what do you do? And then we'll get into all the other stuff.

Brandon Janous:

Yeah, sure. So I live in Knoxville, Tennessee, with my three little ones. So I have a 10 year old little girl Hadley, and a nine year old girl Cooper, and a seven year old little boy Macklin. And so we are living here in Knoxville, my parents live a mile away. And my sister lives three miles away. She's got three kids, we we are super close to our family and spend a lot of time with them. I have a couple businesses, I have a business called fan box, which we do subscription boxes for celebrities and brands. We also have a brand called Faith box, which is a faith based subscription box, kids box called Hello Bible that we also do. And then I just launched a new company called Beauty text, which is a text to buy beauty company. I know nothing about beauty. But I love the end the tech side of it and the texting side of it. And I thought it made sense. And partnered with a couple guys that got it. And then we brought in a girl a bunch of girls that are our advisory board that understand beauty. And so beauty text is my brand new venture that I'm really excited about.

Melissa Bright:

That is amazing. So you literally are doing all the things, a lot of things. Yeah. And I looked at your stuff. And I'm like, I just have to ask him these questions before we even get into the story. And I definitely want to look at all of those things. So thank you so much for sharing that. And your kids names are absolutely beautiful. I love unique names. And they're just really, really beautiful. Yeah, I want to start really by asking, you know how you and Rachel even met? And then ultimately, what was Rachel? Like, what made you ask her to marry you?

Brandon Janous:

Yeah, no, that's a great question. So we met through some fraternity brothers of mine went to high school with her many many many years ago. I believe I was a sophomore in college at the time. I went to university, Missouri, she went to Nebraska. Long story short, we won a flag football tournament and it brought us to Nebraska and her High school friends that were my fraternity brothers said, Hey, let's stay with with this, this these girls because they have a bunch of room and we can stay there and save money. And that's what we're trying to do. And on the way there, one of my buddies said, you are going to really like Rachel, I'm just letting you know you're going to and that was his thing. You're you are going to fall for her. And he was right. The second he opened the door. I said, Man, I like her. She's got this energy. There's something special about her. It took me 10 years to convince her that she should marry me. But 10 years later, we did get engaged. And it was a chase of a lifetime. And then we're able to spend just under 10 years together, married before she passed away.

Melissa Bright:

Wow. So is this in total? 20 years? Is that correct? Okay.

Brandon Janous:

Yeah. So we have so we had a, we didn't we didn't date for that 10 years, I mean, kind of off and on. But we were in different areas. It never made sense. And we were both realistic about that. So we never dated, but we were always friends. And they're for each other. And if you needed a wedding date, I was there, you know, she needed this. I was there. And so it was it was just an incredible friendship. And we dated other people, and compared other people to each other. And I know on my end, like no one ever lived up to what Rachel was. And so I had actually ended up moving out to Hawaii for a gig in the golf business. And I called her and said, Hey, I think you should come out here. She was in nursing school at the time. And it was her spring break. And I said, I think you should come out here. And let's just see, like, is this worth pursuing or not? And she actually turned me down. I think she was dating someone at the time. So she turned me down, which is fine. And then a few days later, she called me back, I think she probably broke up with her boyfriend, and call me back and said, Okay, I'll come. And so she came. And that week, we knew we're like, Okay, this is this is what we're supposed to be doing. And so, gosh, three months later, we were engaged. And the rest is history.

Melissa Bright:

That's amazing. And I'll tell you as somebody that my boyfriend and I have known each other since high school, never dated in high school. I actually had my daughter in high school. So I was dating her father. And we got together years later, and we had been, you know, we've been best friends. We've been exes to each other. But it always just life keep kept bringing us back to each other. And I was happy that we did have so long to learn about each other and be just friends and all that stuff. So that's awesome.

Brandon Janous:

I mean, I think I think I wouldn't change any of it. We weren't ready at 20. And, you know, maybe we're at 30. And so, yeah, definitely the chase of a lifetime. And I'm glad.

Melissa Bright:

Well, at least you admit that. Yeah. Okay, so what was life? What was life? Like, during your marriage? What What were you guys doing? And obviously, you guys had three kids in between this time. So if you wouldn't mind sharing a little bit of that.

Brandon Janous:

Yeah. So um, we so we got married a little bit older. I mean, so we were we were 30. And she was ready to have babies. And I kind of was too and it's, it's not like we had to get to know each other. Because again, for 10 years, we were we were we were knowing each other. So we started having kids pretty much right away. I should say about a year and a half after we were married. We had our first our first kid. So how they was born. And we man we just we just enjoyed the moments we loved each other. Well, Rachel was is the most selfless person I've ever met. And so she cared so much about my happiness and allowed me to follow my dreams, which happened to be failed business after failed business and bad decision after bad decision. But she just continued to, to cheer me on. And it was it was awesome to have your number one fan there with you all the time. Then we had Cooper and was part of a network marketing company at the time that was doing pretty well. And I was traveling a lot I was on the road all the time. She was pregnant with Macklin. And she decided one day that that wasn't going to fly anymore, that she did not marry me to be a stay at home mom and never see me. So she had this grand idea right after we had Macklin to get an RV and travel together with all five of us. And so we did we packed up our house. We lived in 40 foot of RV for a year. It was by far the best year of my life. Macklin was just under two. So they were two and and four, two and four and five. And we spent a year on the road and 40 feet of motorhome. And it was the best experience by far of our lives. Yeah, so that's kind of a big part of our journey. spent a little time

Melissa Bright:

amazing. Yeah, sorry to interrupt you. i Oh I have an RV. And that's actually one of my bucket list goals is I want to at least live in the RV for a year. You know,

Brandon Janous:

don't you, it just, gosh, it taught me perspective. It taught me presence. Just so priority. I didn't mean to use three key words. But that's that's what it taught me present priority in perspective, because you know, when you're in 40 feet, there's no way you can go, I continue to work, I continue to do the things I had to do. But you realize what mattered most wasn't always the webinar, or the call, or the sales meeting, or whatever it was. It was those kids, and spending time with them and my wife and spending time with her, and actually being in the moment and being present. And so it taught us some lifelong lessons. I don't know, that I would have ever learned. Had she not said we're going with you? And I'm glad she did that.

Melissa Bright:

Yeah. So did you guys ever like stay? Did you travel? Was it all for business? Or did you guys go off? And we're like, No, we're 100 miles from Mount Zion. We're going and stay in there. Yeah. So

Brandon Janous:

it was it was a lot of it was it was business and pleasure. I mean, everywhere we went, we found fine. Our best trip was was Niagara Falls, we were supposed to go for, gosh, three days. And we spent three weeks I think, because we found a campsite there we really loved and it was just so much fun. And so there was no agenda unless I had to be somewhere to do a speaking thing or whatever it may be. So we, we were on our own time, and having literally the time of our lives and just learning so much about each other. You know, going into a season, we had no idea that was coming. You look back on it, you're like, Man, how lucky were we to have that that time together?

Melissa Bright:

Right, right. And I bet your kids just had like, that's their favorite thing to do is be in an RV right? They just think it's like the coolest thing ever.

Brandon Janous:

It was absolutely and and you know, they were young and Hadley and Cooper story. Remember at a time Macklin not quite as much. But um, but I would love to do it again. I mean, and I will do it again. You know, so many people were on the road. And I wish I could do that. We'll do it. Like, we had nothing saying this is the right time to do this. Three kids under five in an RV. Like nothing about that made sense. I know landlords thought we were crazy and what are they thinking? But supported the heck out of us on our on our journey and adjust again, the lessons I learned that I had no idea I was about to step into. We're just so so so valuable and precious to me.

Melissa Bright:

Yeah, absolutely. So it sounds like how, how quickly after the RV trip? Did you guys found find out that Rachel got sick? And what did that look like for you guys?

Brandon Janous:

Yeah, so we had actually, after a year was up, we what we wanted to do was make sure when Hadley started school, we were somewhere. So that was kind of what was the year or whatever, we may still be in it right? We knew once Hadley started school, we kind of wanted to be settled. And so we had a few different options coming out of the RV where we were going to go something popped up and of all places, Nebraska, which Rachel loved, because that's where she went to school. And so she had a lot of people there. And so, Lincoln, Nebraska is where we spent the next couple of years, it was supposed to just be a year, and we'd always plan on coming back to Knoxville that was going to be home. And about a year after we got there is when we got the news that that Rachel had breast cancer. So it was April of 2017. If yours, right, yeah, that we had that we had found out that. And you know, the initial reaction is, oh, gosh, this is not great. Because it's cancer, right? Nobody wants to hear that word. But it's also, you know, so many people beat it, the majority of people beat it, you know, it's not a death, breast cancer is not a death sentence. You know, let's be very clear about that. So we were very encouraged that we caught it early. We were very encouraged that Rachel was so healthy, and that we were in a position that we could battle it and that you know, there are no accidents in life. And I had just given up another job that I had terrible insurance with you don't think about you don't think about needing insurance. So you need this one business that had crashed, thankfully to lead me to something else that was stable, that gave us insurance. You know, to this day, I think about how great it was that I'm not continuing to fight bills on a daily basis. So many people are. So when that business crashed, I'm thinking why is this happening? Why is this happening? Why are you doing this to me, God, what's going on? And looking back I'm like, Thank you, gosh, thank you for putting me in this position to where we would be okay. And we would be able to not only think about trying to survive, but Not have to think about how am I going to deal with it when it's open? Right?

Melissa Bright:

Wow. Wow. So whenever she got the diagnosis, I'm sure there's obviously stages at the point that you guys initially found out was the consensus. Yeah, you can fight it like this. So on and so forth.

Brandon Janous:

Yeah, absolutely. There was there was not again, other than hearing Oh, no, Mommy's got cancer or my wife's got cancer. We had very little fear, like, Okay, let's go just beat it, man. Like, that's what we're gonna go do. And we were confident in that and we did. And so Rachel did everything. seseri She, she, we have chemo radiation. We have double double mastectomy hysterectomy did all the things necessary to make sure this never came back. And, gosh, not even a year later had a clean bill of health. You know, everything was good. I remember going on a celebration trip do we beat can we beat cancer with a bunch of friends and family and California? Celebrating Rachel and we were good. That was April of 19. We're on this trip, just celebrating. All is good. In our world. Cancer is gone. The doctors literally said it's I remember one doctor saying your husband's got good just to get a chance as you do to get cancer again, this thing is gone. You know, it's gone. So I felt that like I was so at peace with our cancer journey being over, right. Like that was a Rachel never was Rachel always had it on her heart that the cancer were gonna come back. She always told me that. And I remember thinking you're crazy. I don't know why you think that. But unfortunately, she was right. And I can jump into that now. If you want me to.

Melissa Bright:

Yeah, yeah. No, you you are doing so great. Like, seriously, I know you're a storyteller. So I'm like, Yeah, you're doing great.

Brandon Janous:

Well, we so um, we had then moved from Lincoln, Nebraska, in May, and Lincoln to Tennessee, Nebraska, Tennessee in May of 2019. So we were going to start our new season of life here in Tennessee. In that July. So that summer, we only been here a couple months. That summer, Rachel started having pains in her back. And you know, I chalked it up to we're just getting old, you know, my back hurts to vape? You know? I don't know, I don't know what else, Bob Levy. And she knew she said no, I think I think the cancers back and a lot of times, again, I know way too much about cancer now because of this. But a lot of times, that's what happens if it goes from you know, your breast to metastasize into your into your spine. And that's what happened to Rachel. So so it turns out, we found out soon after that, that it had spread into our spine, you know, and at that point, cancer is now in your bones, and you can't remove bone, like you can't go in there and get rid of it. So you a simple Google search will show you that this isn't gonna go away. It doesn't again, it doesn't mean it's got to be death tomorrow, but it is a it's not going to go away barring a miracle. And so we kind of just talking to some experts and looking at what was going on. We knew that, you know, Rachel was probably not going to be around forever. You know, there were people that have lived 10s 20s 30s of 30 years with that, you know, but the, the moral more often than not, it's a three to five year progression. And so that's what we were facing. We went to MD Anderson, we talked to all the experts, we did everything we could, but it never got better. tried some different treatment options. And then Christmas Eve of 2019 we were visiting Santa Claus, which we do every Christmas with my kids and my sister's kids and Rachel actually collapsed at the mall. And so the kids didn't see this. It was such a blessing. The kids didn't see that happen. They were off somewhere else ambulance game. God we spent Christmas Eve in the hospital. The doctors knew at that point, they did a couple tests and could see that it had gotten done in their brain. And I remember the doctor coming in and saying that being here is not the most important thing. Being at home with your kids Christmas morning is the most important thing. We can talk about everything else later. But let's get y'all home. And so we got to go home and spend our last Christmas Rachel's last Christmas and at that point we knew that was going to be our last Christmas with with the kids. Which was which was a a hard one but also a beautiful one that she got to have that and we got to have that and yeah, oh,

Melissa Bright:

can Can I ask you? Did you and Rachel like Ever, you know, talk about her not being here in terms of like, she was scared. We're gonna get emotional. But my mom knew that she was passing away. And I didn't have that conversation with her. And I just sometimes wonder if you know what conversation my stepdad would have with her like, you know, Kirby, you're gonna be okay. Or, or anything like that. I just cannot even imagine knowing that you're gonna pass away and what heaviness that has?

Brandon Janous:

Yeah, so I'm so thankful that we did get to have those conversations. We got to have all the hard conversations, we got to have the conversations, I encourage you in Brandon to have should it get to that point of marriage. Anyone that is married should have not when so and so's on their deathbed. But today, because it's Conversations Matter. And more often than not being in this community of widows and widowers. They don't get to have those conversations. Because most of the time, it is sudden, we at least in what if there's a lot of sudden death, there's a lot of unexpected deaths, and ours was expected. And so I am so grateful. For the months of time, we had to know okay, this is not going to end how we want it to end. But what can we do to be prepared for this next season. And Rachel was so selfless in that in that journey, and made sure that everything was going to be okay. She had two fears and dying. And one fear was that we would not be okay. So she made sure she did everything she could to make sure we were okay. Everything from the big things in the small things like making sure the girls had hair appointments, because it's something I wouldn't have thought about, or appointments, making sure one of her friends would set up demo, like things like that, that just would not be a stress on me. And so she, we were able to have those conversations. And they're not fun. But it was it was so healing to me, I got to heal and grieve with her before she was gone. And so, again, I encourage you to have tough conversations, I encourage you to ask the hard questions, I encourage you to ask to make sure life insurance is in place. I encourage all these things you don't think about. I mean, I could do a total podcast on things you should talk about it with a date night, like, it's not an easy date night, but go out and talk about these things. Because the last thing in the world you want is to leave someone behind. And then there's something called the business side of death. There's a lot that happens after death. And to be able to make that easier on me was Rachel's Rachel's thing. And so that's the first thing she worried about. The second thing she worried about was that people would turn away from Jesus because he didn't make her better, or she wasn't healed. And that's been far from the case. No matter what you believe, in, you know, Rachel and myself and our family just believes Rachel's in heaven, and is in a better place and is completely healed and doesn't hurt and doesn't have pain and doesn't have uncertainty anymore. And so she was able to lead a lot of people to the Lord through her through her passing, which was a beautiful, yeah.

Melissa Bright:

Yeah, that that's amazing. I actually read that. Whatever article you wrote about the the two things that Rachel you know her to feared that was very, very beautifully written. So, okay, so you guys had Christmas? How soon after Christmas? Did she pass away?

Brandon Janous:

Yeah. So how Christmas we were in and out of the hospital all that next week. A couple of conflicting opinions on whether or not the cancer got into the brain. It's got a bunch of tests on that. ended up finding out it was absolutely in the brain started radiation on the brain. And and that didn't go well. There were some seizures and things that happened because of that. So we ended up in the hospital on January 21, January 21, and never came out. We were in hospital for 39 nights. We didn't know we were going in there to stay for good. That wasn't. That wasn't the plan. But the radiation continued to hurt more than it was helping. And so then we had to make a decision. I say we it was myself and her family and my family. The doctor just said the treatments making it worse. And so we had to make a decision to stop treating and just working on comfort. And so probably the hardest the hardest conversation I had to have, which I had to have almost every morning with her because she heard memory was was fading was that we weren't doing anything that we weren't trying to, to make it better. She would ask every morning, so what's the plan today, and there was no plan, it was to be comfortable. And having to repeat that, for 20 days wasn't a fun thing. But again, I wouldn't trade that those 39 nights for anything in the world, front row seat to watching people be ministered to, people came from all over the world to say bye to Rachel and just left, fulfilled, left, knowing Jesus more than they did when they walked in, left with a new enjoyment for life, to go and live in love, and people came in that room to be ministered to, and I got to be there for every moment of it. And it was such a special time. You know, even when you're watching your person die. I'm, I wouldn't trade that. Having that time for anything. Yeah, it was, it was pretty special.

Melissa Bright:

Right? It's, um, it's very, very interesting that you say that about everybody coming to see her and left, you know, believing in God even more. I also had to watch, one of my great friends passed away from cancer, I was there the day before he passed away, I was in the hospital for about two weeks that I think he was in the hospital. And at that point, and I won't get into everything. At that point in my life, I didn't believe in God. And this had nothing to do with like me. Losing my mom, this was like a dumb psychology class that I believed in. And at that moment, Donnie did not know that I didn't believe in God. But all he wanted was the minister to be there. And he wanted to know that he was going to heaven. him doing that literally brought me to God. Because I saw how powerful that was for him and how important that was for him. And I was like, first of all, I wasn't going to tell him. But it you know, after that I was when I really started to believe in you know, whatever. So I just like that you share that about your story, as well.

Brandon Janous:

What was so neat about that room was so different than any other room in the hospital. And I'm, it's not because I'm biased, because Rachel just had such an impact on on all the nurses, all the doctors. You just don't see doctors crying in rooms very often. And these doctors on their day off would come and spend time with Rachel and spend time in that room because they're just something so special in there. And it makes me sad that if not happening in other rooms, the room is where it was happening was a beautiful thing. But I was sad that the nurses weren't fighting over anyone else. They just wanted Rachel. They just wanted to be by Rachel and they wanted to spend time with Rachel. And it just shows you how beautiful her impact was. But I am sad that the room next door didn't have that same hope. And that's what really gave everyone was just hope she was. She never said Woe is me. She never said why. You know, she never ever, ever did that. She knew this was her story. And the reason God never took cancer all for heart is because she knew this was her story. Her story was to impact people through her journey, not only through her life, but through her death. And I'm just thrilled that that continues to happen.

Melissa Bright:

Yeah, yeah, definitely. Can I ask and I know that this is obviously a hard question. But this is the reality of life is after, you know, your wife did pass away? And maybe even before that, but how how were you guys able to explain this to your kids? Because this is a very important question for parents that our could potentially be dealing with this.

Brandon Janous:

Sure. So one of the things that Rachel and I said early on, was that we weren't gonna whisper. kids pick up on things. And even though they were young, we weren't gonna whisper because we needed them to trust mommy and daddy, and what was happening. And when we got the news that it wasn't going to get better. I was given the task to tell the kids that you know, mommy wasn't going to be coming home and mommy was going to be going to a returning home she gets to go be with Jesus. But when that happens that he gets to come home because I was staying with with mommy at the hospital. And so it was kind of that they knew when Daddy came home that that meant mommy was was with Jesus. So we, again, one of the hardest conversation I've ever had to have with them about that. But we always were open with them. We're always honest with them, because had I continued to say Mommy's gonna get better, and she didn't. I'm gonna have teenage girls and a few years, and they may never trust me. And I can't have that. And so I always wanted to, I always wanted them to know that there was no secret here that that, no, they're not adult, but we were going to treat them. We were a team, we're a team and everything we do, from that RV trip to Rachel's cancer journey. We were a team and and they feel that, you know, they feel a part of that they don't feel like they're they're lied to they don't like their secrets behind their backs. They feel like they can ask daddy anything. And so I that's how we did it. Not everybody does it that way. And I'm not saying that's the only way to do it. But I'm so grateful we did it that way. Because there's a reason my Relationship is what it is, with my kids today. I think it's because of that, because they trust me fully. They know that there's no secrets. And so as hard as that was to walk through that with them. I mean, they spent almost every day with us in the hospital, they were there all the time until it got really bad. And then they just decided they didn't. Two of them decided they didn't want to be anymore. But they got to say bye to mommy. And they know mommy's in a better place. And they you know, they saw her hurting for so long to know that she's not hurting anymore is such a blessing to them. Is it hard to be the kid at school that doesn't have a mommy? Absolutely. I can't I can't relate to that. Because I I don't I'm not that person. It sounds like you may be able to relate more of your world and not have a mommy come to your things is hard. You know, but daddy's they're not all that easy. You know? So I try to beat all the things that volunteer anytime I can. And I know it's not the same. But they are doing so well. They are so they're just equipped to deal with a lot of things. And they're happy, happy, happy kids. And we talk about mommy. Every day. There's not a day goes by that we don't talk about mommy enjoy us stuff. It's not. It's not always sad. It's man, Mommy made better mac and cheese than you daddy, or man. You know. It's it's it's all good stuff in good memories. You know, it also there are days where there's the tears. And that's great. And we welcome that. And we're okay with that. That's not something we shy away from. We are all grieving together in this all differently. So navigating three different children grief. But, but yes, I would just say there were just no secrets. We just don't whisper.

Melissa Bright:

Yeah. And I think that is probably some of the best advice you could give. I had a woman on here, Carrie Schmidt, who lost her son to cancer. And she had to tell her other her other son, his little brother, and she was told the same thing. You know, speak exactly like what is happening. You don't sugarcoat it, because that's not going to make it better. And I can see how that is especially like you said, you you can't tell them that things are going to get better and it not. And then you're right. Yeah, I could absolutely see a situation where like, Dad, like, why did you tell me that and then, you know, that could definitely have created some problems. I love that you talk about you guys talk about feelings and that they're accepted. Because that's what I feel like the world is really learning now is like, feelings aren't bad. Like, we can talk about them. Whether they're anger, sad, happy joy. There, it shouldn't be shameful to feel those feelings. And kids especially need to know that, you know,

Brandon Janous:

yeah, and they all they all do it differently. And I think that's important to know, there's no, just like adults, we all grieve, and we have different feelings and the way we handle things differently. For me, it's it's writing, that's how I get my therapy, you know, that's big for me, right? For you. And maybe this for some, it may be intense therapy, there's no right or wrong, like, none of it's bad, right? You know, and welcoming that and almost, like cheering people on for seeking help and doing those things I think is important. And, you know, I've kind of learned what my kids styles are and one is in there, and she needs it and she longs for it and she loves it. No one talks to me about everything and that's that's just how it is and so she doesn't sugarcoat anything. And so I'm, I've become a therapist right now. You know, and the other the other kind of the same. She's a big writer, she she writes a lot of it, you know, and then shares it with me and then we talk about and so we all have kind of our own ways to do it, but just welcoming it and being, gosh being their cheerleader, not just to your children, but us as adults, we should be cheering people on, as they're going through journey because we all are going through something. We're all going through a hard enough. We're not it's common, you know, I hate to say it, but like, hard things just happen. And you know, if Rachel taught me anything, it was to love people where they are and to, to understand that we never know what's happening to that person that we ran into at Starbucks today. We never know what they're saying. And we need to be a light to them. And we need to be kind to them. And we need to love them, because they may not get that anywhere else. And, and Rachel was the best in the world at doing that. As far as I'm concerned. She did that with everyone her whole life. And again, I got to spend the most time with her, which made me made me really, really happy.

Melissa Bright:

Yeah, can I ask you? I it two years is I feel like five minutes. It took me really 10 years to process my mom's trauma. She's, she's been gone. It'll be 12 years this year. So for you to even be speaking about this. Two years later, is just like, astounding to me. So I don't know if anybody's ever asked you this question. But what has your grief journey looked like? Were there ever moments of anger or anything? And and for anybody that has not went through the grief process there, there actually is a process, although it does not go in any particular order. There's there's anger, there's bargaining. There's denial. I can't remember the other ones. But there is a process. So what has your process been like? Thank you to better help for being our sponsor. If you guys think you might need to see a therapist better help is amazing. They are online, you can do it from the comfort of your own home, you have the options to message them, you can do a phone call, you can do a video chat, whatever you feel comfortable with doing. They have several different types of therapists, if you need couples, or for marriage and family therapy, it's also available to individuals worldwide, better help is a monthly subscription. So you're not paying per session, and financial aid is available for those who qualify. So visit better help.com/bright side of life, that's better help.com/bright side of life, join over 500,000 people taking charge of their mental health with the help of an experienced professional. And for your first month, you're going to receive 10% off by being a listener of the bright side of life. So let them know that I sent you by using the link better help.com forward slash Bright Side of Life, the link will also be in the description section of this episode.

Brandon Janous:

So I was I remember being angry, when the cancer came back, and getting to grieve with my person before I lost my person helped me so much. Again, not I won't get to do that, right? Like I got to grieve the life we had and the life I thought we were going to have with my person and not know that we'll get to do so again, my situation is a little bit different. And some people might look at me and say, Well, how is it? How's he talking about this? How's this? Okay, how can you know, it's already over the snow. It's not something you're ever over. There are ups and downs and highs and lows and they're always there always will be it's like being on a boat. And the waves are going to come and go. And sometimes they're really big. Some days, they're really big. Some days, they're not as hard but they're always there. And I've just learned to be a better captain of my boat. You know, I can deal with it a little bit better on a day to day basis. But there's still days I find myself my closet just crying. Because it's just really hard and I'm overwhelmed. There was a stage of blame. I don't even know if that's the stage of grief but blame on myself for not doing more for not finding the right treatment for not seeking more help. For not, would Rachel have tried harder, which you've done more, you know, for me than I did for her. I remember that was probably my biggest struggle after she passed was was that like blaming myself because I just other people around us were getting better than ever struggling with cancer and we were we did. But then I then one day I remember thinking or realizing that I'm not God. This was not my, I could not be the healer of all. And I did all I could. And I remember being set free of that. And that was such a big thing for me because I did beat myself up. Right? No one ever did that, to me. No one ever told me I should feel that way. It wasn't that I felt judged. But personally, that was really hard for me, because I just wonder, would Rachel have done more. And, but then I, again, I realized that it's not, it wasn't my battle to win or lose. And I did do what I could physically do. So where I am per day, it still it's still a roller coaster of emotions. You know, the kids are still struggling in their own sense. All those that love Rachel are still struggling in their own sense. But I've learned there's just no again, there's no right or wrong way to grieve through it. And everyone's gonna go at their own pace, but it will never, never fully go away. And I've accepted that and anyone that comes into my life is going to have to know that and, and understand that we have a big piece missing in our life, there's a big hole that will always be there. And I don't know that it's fillable. And I don't know that I want to be fillable. Because the memories always live on and, and griefs a hard thing, and and I am so grateful to those that have wrapped their arms around us and walk through with us and not trying to fix us. We're not broken, you know, so those that you know, that are going through something, don't try to fix man, like they're there. They're just going through their thing, just hold space with them. Just be there with them. Just hug them. But don't try to fix us because we're not broken. We're just working through it.

Melissa Bright:

That oh my gosh, that is such great advice because people, like, first of all work sometimes naturally fixers, especially women, like we want to fix anything like how can I help you? How can I help you, my boyfriend's the same way, I'll complain to him about something and he'll start fixing. And I'm like, I don't need you to fix it, I need you to listen. And that's such an important part, like advice to make it because death is so uncomfortable for people, especially if they have never dealt with anything, like losing a spouse or a wife. They don't know what to say. It truly makes them uncomfortable. And so then they just want to try to fix things because that like that's all I know what to do. And that's such a great point that you make about that and just holding that space.

Brandon Janous:

i Yeah, and hit on that a little bit more. Because people do come to me a lot like what can I do? What can I do? Well, one when it happened, people come to me and say, What can I do? I have no idea. Like, look, I'm just trying COVID Literally the country shut down 13 days after Rachel passed. So we were all going through this thing together, right? And I I'm just trying to figure out, this was one thing Rachel didn't prepare me for it was COVID. Right? Like, like, this was about to happen. And so there were so many people that come to me, What can I do for you? I had no idea. I never had the I was never going to say I need you to do this. Right? Like so the worst question is, what can I do to someone because we're just trying so hard to just stay afloat and make sure everyone around us is okay. That I have no idea where you can do. So my answer is just do if What if making a meal is what you want to do, just do it, don't ask them, just do it. If sending them an UberEATS gift card is what you want to do. Just do it. If coming over and just giving them a hug is what you want to do, just do it. But do with no expectation. Don't expect them to be there. Don't expect them to want the hug. Don't expect them to thank you for the gift card because honestly there were so many things that happen that I didn't know who things were from, or where they were coming from or what you know. So don't do because you're looking for something in return. Do because that's what love does. Love just does things and those that just showed up and just did. I am so grateful for those that someone sent someone to just clean my house. I have no idea who it was, but they just have it you know, like that was such a blessing. Right and to go send somebody to take care of their yard send someone to just do right but don't do it hoping you're gonna get a shout out on Facebook or hoping you're gonna hit you know that honestly, like this is not, but don't ask them what you can do. Don't ask them what you can do. Just do whatever it is that you think you need to do or want to do. And I'll tell you right now, Uber Eats gift cards is the best thing in the world for anyone that's going through a thing because what you don't think about is dinner. You don't think about dinner you don't think about feeding people you'll think about those things. I'm not a casserole person. So I didn't want casseroles because casseroles will just stack up in my in my free drive. But if you're casseroles, whatever it may be. But you those that just did. I'm forever indebted to. And that's what I tried to do you know, today when someone's going through something, is just do.

Melissa Bright:

Yeah, that's such great advice. I just, I was recently on this, like TV boot camp. And one of our things that we kind of learned is like, don't like not asking people like, How can I help you? Like, that's like giving us homework. I don't know how you can help me just do it in the way that you know how and sometimes it like it does make it awkward for that person. Like you might be in like, Well, I do need my house clean, and I need a meal. And I need my kids to have a bath like, but I don't want to come forth and say that. So I just think that's so important that you know that for sure.

Brandon Janous:

I love what you said it's like giving us homework. You're the last Yeah. That was homework to think about. Right? And so I love that you said that I'm going to steal that line. That's really yeah. Go for it. Just yeah,

Melissa Bright:

I wish. I wish I could say it was for me, but it's not. But when she when she said that I was like, Oh my God, because people ask me all the time. Like in my podcast, like, what can I do? How can I support you? And obviously I know that answer now like, oh, you can support me by sharing and telling your friends. But at first I was like, I don't I don't know. Like, what do you mean? I'm not sure. So yeah, yeah. Very good point. Um, okay. So this is going to kind of be and you have already given such great advice to people. But if you could give advice to husbands that might be going through a similar situation? What would it be and you can choose, I don't even care if you want to say, you know, let's talk about, you know, your wife getting diagnosed, or you losing your wife, if you want to touch on all the points, please go for it. But what have you learned that you can tell somebody else?

Brandon Janous:

Yeah, so I would, I would just start with just all husbands. Appreciate what you have. Be grateful for what you have all husbands and boyfriends Be? Be appreciate your people, man. Because like, I don't know that I did enough. I don't know that I was grateful enough. I don't know if I recognized enough. I don't know if I noticed enough about what Rachel did. Which I knew she did so much. But when your person's not here anymore doing those things, it gets noticed. And you think, man, Rachel must have cleaned 24/7 She must have she must have been laundry 24/7 Because that's all I do. That's all I do. And I never noticed her doing those things she just did. And, you know, whatever those things might be for you. I would encourage you, husbands and men to be be noticed, sirs, be notice about what's going on around you. Notice what your person's doing, and be grateful for it. And thank them for it. And I teach this my kids you can't say thank you enough. You cannot say thank you enough, be grateful for all the things big and small. Because a grateful heart matters. And so I would say to those that that have their person, don't take it for granted. Appreciate notice them. I would also say have hard conversations. Have the hard conversations, I think is stupid as this may sound I think every premarital counselor should say make sure you have life insurance. You don't think about the bat until you don't have it. Right. So I think that matters, whether you're the breadwinner or not losing someone cost and the void that's left without them cost. And it's it's something I can talk about now two years out. It's something I probably wasn't talking about the day after. Would. Rachel was super healthy four years ago, there is no reason in the world to think this is where we're going to be. And so most people ignore that stuff because they're healthy. Because why would I need life insurance? I'm perfect. I'm great, you know, but I lost a good friend heart attack just the other day out of nowhere. You know, I lost another friend car accident a few months ago out of nowhere. And so, just the thing that Rachel did so well was preparing me and so Don't be selfish with your, with your person, have these conversations and prepare them for for what life would be like without you. It's not a fun conversation, but it is needed. And I have too many widow friends that don't know how to get into their bank accounts, and don't know how to find passwords to things. And don't know so so after they lose their person, there's all this stress of what's next. Just have the conversations. Love your people. Today. Don't wait for an awful doctor's appointment or whatever it may be to appreciate what you have. Because you know what have them. So be grateful why you did why you can?

Melissa Bright:

Yes, thank you so much for sharing that. So I know you touched a little bit on it. But I'm also going to say because there there's two different spectrums, your husband, and then you're also dad. So what advice could you give to dads that are going through a similar situation to you?

Brandon Janous:

Yeah, that's a whole nother podcast. Not that I'm an expert at this at all. But um, gosh, being a dad is my favorite thing. Daddy's my favorite name. I've I've learned and again, it took me I was so not present, it took me living in an RV to realize how bad I was. And so it doesn't mean it has to happen for all of you. Let me be your guinea pig and tell you that the most important thing is usually not what you think the most important thing is, I've kind of created a new system in my home, my kids got off the bus at 252. And I shut off. That's it for the day for me. You know, there are things that pop up, there are things that I have to do. But it's rare. Because I get this little window with my kids from 252 to 730. Every day, that's all I get right. And it's it's sports stuff, it's it's dinner, it's you know, getting ready for bed, it's like I have this little bit of time. And I don't want the majority of that time being spent looking at my phone, or looking at my tablet or looking at my computer. And so I've just had to really train myself to be there in the moment, be present. Make look them in the eye, when they're telling you the story for the 1,000th time that you've already heard. But listen, and, and be their number one cheerleader, show up at everything you can. Because if you don't, someone will fill your seat, someone's going to fill your seat. If you don't show up, someone will fill your seat. And whether that's when they're teenagers, whether that's tomorrow, I don't know when that is, but I'm not going to ever let anyone fill my seat with my children. So I'm going to show up and you should shoot you should too. And the that presence in their life that makes them feel safe, that makes them feel comfortable. That they know they can count on. Because again, if you don't someone will, and I'm not about to let that happen. And so just start with something simple. Put your dang phone down, put your phone down for a couple hours, start there and just watch 10 minutes to kid is an eternity, spending 10 minutes go on the ball with my son is an eternity, find your 10 minutes and go do those things. And I think you'll you'll your relationship will change.

Melissa Bright:

I love that. I love that and something else I want to ask you. I know. Well, I think I know. It is very, very hard for men to talk about feelings. And now you are the go to person for your daughters and your son. And I know there's probably days that you might not even necessarily want to talk about it. Like I just didn't want to think about this, whatever the case may be. But you also know how important it is for your kids to be able to feel those feelings. If there's a dad out there that was like, I don't know how to talk to my kids about this stuff. I don't know what they say to them when they say they miss mom or why can't you cook macaroni and cheese like mom? It's hard. What would you say to them? I'm asking you a lot of thoughtful questions here. I hope that's okay.

Brandon Janous:

It's okay not to be great at making mac and cheese. It's okay to not have all the answers. I don't claim to to be a great therapist. I don't claim to be a great cook. We've made it very clear that I'm not great If these things I'm very open with them, that I'm not great at these things, but I'm trying, and I'm here, and I'm going to listen. And you can always come to me. And I will always put whatever it is down when you need to talk, because you're the most important thing. So I think just assuring them that they know that you are a safe place that when the office doors closed, it's not close, they can always come in. And if they were not in school, right now, they would have been in here often they don't stop, right. I've just learned to to, that's just how it's going to be. But I don't want them ever to think this is more important than them, or whatever that he is doing right now is more important than him. So I'm always open to them coming in. And so you don't have to know at all. You don't have to have all the answers. But you should be there and willing to listen and let them in and do your best and seek advice when you need to. But again, I'll say it if you're not there safe place someone else will be something else will be and and I can't fathom them turning to someone else because daddy wasn't there are daddy's claims, five minutes for Daddy couldn't get off his call, or they will find someone else. And I can't allow that to happen. So try your hardest admit that you don't know at all. But but be be present and be aware?

Melissa Bright:

Yeah. Awesome. Thank you for that. So as you saw on Facebook, I did ask my Facebook peeps, if there any questions that they wanted to ask you. And one of my friends, Nikki actually wanted to know, a question and her question says, is there one scripture quote, or piece of advice that you cling to expecially? To hold it together around your kids?

Brandon Janous:

Gosh, that's such a good question. There's there's not one, there's just so many, there's so many different things that I claim to? Gosh, that's such a good question. And

Melissa Bright:

I was like Nikki Yes.

Brandon Janous:

Like Nikki deserves a prize? Because I don't know exactly what the one would be.

Melissa Bright:

Maybe I should have sent it to you before?

Brandon Janous:

No, no, this is good. I think for me, one, I'm just so I'm so blessed to have what I still have. And I have my three incredible kids in a community that loves us so well. And it's hard for me to to be angry or upset or mad about any of it. And my goal is to continue to share what a light Rachel was to as many people as I can. And the fact that I've been given an opportunity to do that time and time again is such a blessing to me. And, you know, Rachel's big, big thing that she was known for, is hugging people and hugging them uncomfortably long, she would not let you go. And and I would challenge people. And I know this is kind of straying away from the answer. But I would challenge people to do that is to hug your people while you have them. Appreciate your people while you have them. And also understand that everybody you come in contact today with today is probably going through something and it's probably not pretty, it may be a loss of a job. It may be a messy marriage, it may be you know, a terrible relationship. It may be this may be that. So don't add to their burden, be the best person you can be to those people, even if they annoy you at work, even if you're not your favorite person. We always say love like Rachel, because Rachel just lives in love so well. And so I'm just trying my best to continue in that journey. Because I was not the person I am today. Without Rachel helping me be better.

Melissa Bright:

Yeah, that's awesome. Thank you. Thank you. I hope Nikki, you hear that she'll hear it. She loves listening to the podcast. So is there anything that I have left out that I have not touched on? That you want to make sure that we talk about that you might want you know anybody to know about your story?

Brandon Janous:

No, I think this was fun. I think that there was a lot of these topics we could have spent a lot more time on because there's just it's just so deep and but again, I will I will just encourage people to to just, gosh, just love what you have and hold what you have. And just be good to your people. Because one day that might change and I wish I could have noticed more when Rachel was here. and given her more love and, and been more grateful. And so you will have the opportunity to do that. So do that while your persons around if you learn nothing from me It's love your people today where they are.

Melissa Bright:

Yes, yes. All right, Brandon, how can people connect with you because you do some amazing things and write some amazing articles and do all this stuff. So how can people find you?

Brandon Janous:

Yeah, you can just find on the only Brandon Janice J. N o us in the world. And so if you just search for Anna, Janice on Instagram, that's me there and on Facebook as well. If there's another one, it's not it's someone pretending to be me. And I promise you, you'll know the difference pretty quickly. But But yeah, just search granted, Janice, and I'm out there, Instagram and Facebook is where I kind of share all my all my stories and our journey, and all the things that are happening for us.

Melissa Bright:

Yes, and he he shares so beautifully. And it's just awesome. I mean, we just started following each other I think, you know, maybe even two months ago, and you just share some some beautiful things. Um, and that's why I felt comfortable. I knew you obviously share your story a lot. So I'm like, I want to talk to this guy.

Brandon Janous:

Well, I'm grateful for you having me. Thank you so much. This has been so much fun. And let's do it again sometime.

Melissa Bright:

Yeah, well, you're not done yet. I got one last question for you. And then you can get off the hot seat. All right, I asked all of my guests this. But in your own words, what does the bright side of life mean to you?

Brandon Janous:

Oh, man, Rachel, means Rachel. She, she, everybody was Rachel's best friend. Because she, she, she just loved and lived so well. And she, she never sweat the small stuff. I don't know how she did that. But taught me through our journey, the things that just don't matter. And the bright side of life to me would be focusing on the things that do and realizing that most doesn't, most of the stuff you're stressed about today, most of the stuff you're arguing with your spouse about today, most of the things that that are just driving you crazy, will not matter in three months, or three weeks or three days. Yeah, man, just just love your people. Love your people love your people. And, you know, for us when all we were focused on was living another day. Finances didn't matter. The way we parented didn't matter. The stress in our life that worked and like these things just didn't matter that much. And so just do your best to, to not sweat the small stuff. The bright side of life to me is, is loving and living like Rachel.

Melissa Bright:

Yes, that is such a beautiful answer. Brandon, thank you so, so much for coming on here to share your story. I greatly appreciate it. And you should just be proud of everything that you are doing. And yeah, thank you so much.

Brandon Janous:

Thank you, I appreciate your it's been fun.

Melissa Bright:

Thank you guys for listening to this week's episode of The Bright Side of Life. I just want to say these, I know that these stories that I bring on here are heavy stories. And I have continued to say this from the very beginning. But this is the reality of life, people are going through extremely hard things every single day. And Brandon, unfortunately, is no exception. And I want to bring people on here like Brandon, to share his story, to be able to talk about his wife, Rachel and to keep her memory alive. And to also help other people that are going through similar things that he's going to, to hear a different perspective that people might not have. And that is always been my hope with my podcast. So once again, you know, I know these stories are heavy, but it is always in hopes to help people. And as we know to put joy in people's hearts again. So I just wanted to say that and I can't thank Brandon enough for coming on here and sharing his story. It really really means a lot to me. Also, as I always say guys, be sure you're signing up for emails if you have not yet done so. So you guys can get some goodies from me. All you have to do is go to the bright side of life podcast.com And you can sign up there. And as always guys, if you know anyone that needs to hear Brandon's story, please share it with them because we never know if this is the one that put It's hope back in their heart

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Brandon Janous

Daddy / VP of Partnerhsips / Co-Founder of BeautyText

Daddy to 3. Widower. Believer. Writer. Storyteller.