Sept. 21, 2021

Finding hope after loss. Beverly's story on healing after losing her son in a drunk driving accident, and then her husband to suicide.


*This episode may act as a trigger for some as it covers a topic of sensitive nature.*

Having faced serious trauma in her own life, Beverly is no stranger to adversity. After losing a husband to suicide and her son in a drunk driving crash, she wanted to give up. She battled depression and discouragement, loneliness and pain, yet she persevered and ultimately found hope. Now she seeks to share that hope with others. She speaks to churches, schools, businesses and military events. As the mother of an Army Special Operations soldier she is also uniquely qualified to speak in military trainings throughout the country. When she speaks, the audience is engaged, reflective and attentive. Her story is a powerful one of overcoming adversity; furthermore, she provides wisdom in her deliverance and insight to cause the audience to evaluate their own life and those they love. She shows strength and courage in a way that offers hope to those listening. She makes it her mission to help others rediscover their identity and purpose after loss and trauma.

Listen to The Resilient Heart podcast here: https://theresilientheartpodcast.com/
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Transcript

Melissa Bright:

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Beverly:

I mean, there's a time to grieve. There's definitely a time to grieve. But when we stop being all consumed by our pain and our grief, and we start serving, helping others. In one day I woke up and I was like I'm healing.

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, everyone and welcome to this week's episode of the bright side of life. I am your host Melissa Bright. I do want to mention that this episode may act as a trigger for some as it covers a topic of sensitive nature. On today's episode I have Beverly Shoemaker. Beverly has faced serious trauma in her life, but she has an incredible story of overcoming adversity. She has lost her husband to suicide and a son and a drunk driving accident. She wanted to give up. She battled depression and discouragement, loneliness and pain yet she persevered and ultimately found hope. Now she seeks to share that hope with others. She speaks at churches, schools, businesses, and even military events. She wants others to see all the life that is still available to live and encourage others to rewrite the story in a way that feels honoring to their grief, but doesn't leave them in the suffering of loss and heartache. She hopes to empower others to rise up out of grief, loss and heartache and confidently restore their hope and a new future for themselves. Beverly is a published blogger, resilience mentor, and an inspirational speaker and podcaster. And she is certified through ICIS i see i SF an individual and group crisis intervention. She is certified and assist, which is applied suicide intervention skills training through living works. Whoa, that was a mouthful. Beverly, welcome to the show.

Beverly:

Well, thank you. I don't know how I'm gonna have to live up to all of that after that. But it wasn't awful. But thank you very much.

Melissa Bright:

Yes, and I'm, you know, this kind of sounds crazy. And I don't know if it sounds a little bit morbid, but I am excited to talk to you. And I'm excited to hear your story. Because, as you know, I went through a lot of loss in my life. And I have lost two of the most important people in my life now. And so I really do enjoy having these conversations to basically talk to somebody else that has been through this that has lived through this that has basically, you know, giving advice to one another of kind of how how did you even make it through all of this trauma? You know, I really consider it's not a fun term to have been an expert when you have literally lost two of the most important people in your life and you have, you know, still lived through this. You're an expert kind of in grief and that and I know it's not a fun name to have. But I'm really I'm excited to talk to you.

Beverly:

I'm really thankful to be here. I thank you so much for having me on the show. And I'm excited to spend this time with you too.

Melissa Bright:

Yeah. So let's just go ahead and dive into everything. I know that you had lost your son first. So how old was your son and kind of talked to me about that day and how he ultimately passed away?

Beverly:

But he was 19 years old. He been out of school for a year, he took a year off and didn't attend college and was living in an apartment with some friends. Being a 19 year old. I had moved to Colorado. And I was originally from Ohio. And that's and that's actually where Nicholas was at the time of this. But interesting enough, I will back up his older brother was in the military. And he was in Special Forces and deployed 13 times over a 20 year period. And so he had actually just come back from his second deployment. And we decided to go to Ohio and spend the week together as a family and reunite my older son making it home and he had actually been blown up in a Humvee while he was over there, but he walked away, walked away from that and was uninjured. Couple of the other guys, you know, had some injuries, but I'm just, you know, we just work together as a family. I was with my two boys, I was just so grateful that you know, my older son made it home. Because I was in the peak of the war. One thing, we were just hearing stuff, I had to turn the TV off because it was just becoming overwhelming for me. But I went back home to Colorado and his brother left to go get married in Florida. And it was about four o'clock on a Sunday. And it was about Thursday when the phone rang at 1030 at night. And I have to tell you, I'm Melissa, I kind of had this, just this feeling inside of me that something was wrong. Before that phone call came in. I was served, I was restless, I couldn't go to sleep, I worked. I worked at a hospital. So I had to be at work at 630 in the morning and was in bed normally. And this phone call came in around 1030 from Nick's best friend who we were so close, they called me mom and he was on the other end of the phone and telling me that Nick had been injured and was critically injured in a crash. And it was a at the time I didn't know a drunk driving crash. So but all I knew was that he was you know, he was in the emergency room in the hospital. And I needed to contact the hospital and communicate with the caregivers there at the hospital to find out in his situation was very grave, he had a massive head injury. And in that we were able to get back to Ohio, both his brother and myself and Nick live for five days with that head injury. And it was very That in itself was very traumatic. When you work in I worked in ICU, I worked in the ER and I was used to working on people that you know, came in just like my son. But when when you're on that side of the bed, it's it's very traumatic.

Melissa Bright:

Yeah. Oh, my goodness. So five days. And let me ask this was he the one that was drinking or he was hit by a drunk driver,

Beverly:

he was actually in here, he had made the choice to get in a car with someone he barely knew. And my son had nothing to nothing on board, which they had told me there were there was no drugs, there was no alcohol. And that wasn't his lifestyle, for the most part, but he made some bad choices that day. And this is something that I when I speak at schools that I share with kids, it's like you never know when you're going to make that choice that ultimately is going to be a catastrophic consequence. And he barely knew this young man. I had reports come in where he he was always the designated driver. My son was and he tried to be that that situation. But that didn't work out, apparently. And he did. And it was like a four mile drive. So I don't know if he was I don't know what he was thinking, you know, I can play movies in my head. Right? All that. And I you know, I'll never get those answers, but it was even his friend said that was so off for him to even make a decision to do that.

Melissa Bright:

Oh, my goodness. So here he was he had a brain injury. Is that what it was head end or head injury and injury? massive? Okay, so did they, during those four or five days? Did they say that? It's it's not looking good. Were they hopeful? Or what was happening during that time?

Beverly:

Well, we were hopeful. But the reports coming back to us, you know, did not give us that indication. You know, and I just have a strong faith and, you know, was standing on that throughout that time, but ultimately he worse than every day. And I was astute enough, Melissa to to see because I knew everything going on in that room. I knew ventilators and IVs and, and watching that, as they were continuing to give me more and more medications that, you know, I knew that he was going in a different direction. And you know, all we had all we had was the possibility of a miracle. But on the fifth day, they did come to us in His blood flow scans. They get two of them. In both of them. There was no there was no blood flow to the brain. So,

Melissa Bright:

yeah. Oh my goodness, and what are you? What are you feeling at this point as, as a mother about to lose your son,

Beverly:

that my gosh, there is no greater pain. And if you have any mothers out there that you know that that hear this, they get it, it's almost like you have when I meet mothers that have lost children, it's like, we have an instant connection. Because that is a pain, there's no really description for it. It's like your heart is shredded, a piece of your soul is stripped out. And then it's a pain that it doesn't leave. We just if we choose to go forward in and find a healthy way to deal with it, and it doesn't happen overnight. We learn to we just learn to live with that. Because Hey, ultimately, it's out of my hands. I it's out of my control. I can't undo it.

Melissa Bright:

Right. Right. And I'm sure that, like you said didn't happen overnight to learn, you know that it was was out of your hands. So what what kind of happened in the in the days after that, where where were you mentally? What were you feeling? I mean, I know, these are obvious kind of questions and answers. But I just want my listeners, you know, to kind of hear, I promise there's, there's better we get there. There is some advice at the end of this, I promise. But we have to go through all this first. So where where were you during this time?

Beverly:

I was devastated. absolutely devastated. I can tell you I was in a fog. Um, I don't remember a whole lot I can remember just not wanting to live not wanting to feel this pain. I can remember wondering, is it ever going to stop? You know, will this pain ever quit? I was blessed to have another mother that reached out to me that had gone through the same thing seven years before I did. So this is important for people to know what your role is with people like that, because it's very easy to get frustrated with people that are going through that level and that depth of grief. And many times I've seen where people were like, well, I just I just want them to, I just want them to move on. That's that's what they'll say I just want him to move on. And so we can have our life back together because they're tired, or you're sad being on them. And so this mother reached out to me, and just walked in compassion beside me, just helped navigate, she sat with me and it was long distance. So she wouldn't, you know, be on the phone with me, she would check in on me or I would call her. She would cry with me. She would sit with me. And she would just she would just say you know what it's going, I promise you it's going to get better. It doesn't feel like it is right now, but it will, it will get better. And I think the key factor for me is I've always been a fighter. You know, I've always been resilient in my life, which is why my podcast is the resilient heart podcast, but I wasn't ever the type of person to just just throw in the towel given in life. So I had that innate in me, because I thought I'm gonna come up out of this. And I think the first year Melissa, there were a lot of court hearings that I had to go to and had to go back to Ohio for there was criminal, they were civil. And so for that, that was like a driving force. For me, it was like, I had my sword and my shield. And I was going to battle to make sure that that this kid was going to get the absolute absolute top of the justice that he could get delivered to him. Right. That was a battle for me. But ultimately, I didn't get that ultimately, you know, he only got two years. But I this is your listeners. Most people just like me, I was like, What are you kidding me? You know what this guy, you know, his kids responsible for this and, and that's it. But ultimately I did come to a place where I had to realize they couldn't they could have taken him to the town square. And, and with a hangman's noose or whatever, it wouldn't have mattered because it would have not been enough justice. Right? For me, I had to play I had to find a place where I had to walk into forgiveness and just just literally just walk away from the whole situation because I was becoming bitter inside. I was being just full of anger. And I just, I can't even begin to tell you all the emotions that were rolling through me. I wanted vengeance, you know, right,

Melissa Bright:

right. How long did it take you to really learn? Was it yourself or was it somebody else other people People saying, Beverly, you know, who are you now? You're You're becoming angry? Or was this just kind of something that was all consuming for you? And you just noticed like, you are starting to become a different person? Which I can't even say that, that I wouldn't do that. I mean, if somebody else was responsible for my child's death, I mean, I can't even imagine what I would do or wouldn't do, you know? Um, but, yeah,

Beverly:

I had, I had a very dear friend that I'm still friends with today, for many, many, many years, and she's kind of like, you have that one person that's just your confidant, your soul, sister, whatever you want to refer to them as, and she, and you know, we're the type of people back and forth. We're like, we don't hold back, you know, what, we speak truth to one another. And we're, we still love each other. And she said, One day, she goes up, I don't know, she said, you are going to have to learn how to forgive this kid. Because you're giving him too much power in your life. In in the in her statement, it made me realize, wait a minute, he was responsible for taking my son for me. And in a way, you know that my son has his choices in it. But that's at that time, it was like full responsibility was like, yeah. And he was in. So the whole thing was just stealing more years from my life. It was stealing my life, because I was I was just consumed with, with wanting this justice, wanting his parents to feel the pain that I felt. And that's not my normal way of thinking with people. Right, right. Wanting wanting people to suffer in retribution.

Melissa Bright:

Mm hmm. Yeah, I, I just cannot even imagine being in that position. But like you said, it was taking from you all the time, you know, no matter what his punishment was, at the end of the day, what it really, it's not going to stop your pain, your pain is still going to be there. Right? It's not going to just be like, oh, now he is forever in jail or prison or whatever, but your pain is still going to be there. This sounds a little bit kind of messed up. But if he has any heart at all, I mean, he's living with this every day of his life. And that alone, you know, and I mean, I cannot even imagine, like what I would feel in your position. But it's just, it's just crazy. So how long did it really take you to give or start having forgiveness to this kid,

Beverly:

what it was a lot of years, because like you mentioned at the beginning of the show, it was three years after he was killed that my husband chose to end his life by suicide. And so that just threw me right back into just the deepest pit that, you know, I could find myself in. And then of course, I had a whole lot of unforgiveness with that decision, and anger and bitterness. So ultimately, I had not completely healed in any way, shape, or form. Even after three years of Nick being gone. Before I'm I'm in this next tragedy. So it took me a lot of years after both of those events to really pull myself together and to be able this to stand up.

Melissa Bright:

Yeah, so just backtracking a little bit really quickly. So you alert you first lost your son in 2004. Is that correct?

Beverly:

I'm sorry.

Melissa Bright:

Did you first lose your son in 2004? Yes. Okay. And then your husband three years later. Now, I know you had previously told me that this was not your son's father. Correct. So your husband did not commit suicide because of losing the son. So did your did your husband have mental illness that he suffer from depression? Or do you know ultimately, why he chose to end his life?

Beverly:

Well, you know, when when we say that he this decision wasn't because you know, it wasn't his son. I will tell you that anybody that has lost a child, it takes a big toll on your marriage. And it's even worse when it's not biological parents grieving that child. So there were things that were just, you know, I had nothing to give I, you know, I was not easy to live with is the best way for me to say, but also behind that too. Yes, there was a history, really, and I didn't realize that but there was a So a family history. And it was interesting because one of his friends had called me afterwards. And he said, he wasn't shocked when he heard this because there was, you know, a time before I knew him, where he felt like that he was very close to making that, that, you know, that make decision in his life before but he didn't talk about these things for me. And, and he had a difficult childhood, his his father was a world war two vet. And you know, now that we know all this stuff with our military, and the things that are normal, we didn't know that those guys came home, and the Vietnam guts, and you know, it was like it was just stuffed under the rug. And so there's secondary PTSD that happens in families. And and this is just speculation on my part, I'm not going to say that, but I know that there were a lot of issues that he did talk about in his childhood. And he had an I can say, he had a lot of unforgiveness in his heart. And to me, this is an example of when you carry that bitterness, that that just hardens you, and lead you to maybe make decisions later in life. He had issues with drinking earlier in his life before me, obviously, and he had walked away from that. So, you know, that's kind of indicative of that, too. You know, a lot of people with that. So,

Melissa Bright:

sure, yeah. So that sheds light on kind of where that came from, was your grieving process, different from your son, to your husband?

Beverly:

I remember thinking, I was so angry, because I thought to myself, Nick didn't have a choice. And you made a choice. And you put this on me, I can just remember when the when the detectives, you know, when they found him, and they came to me to share, you know, the situation I can remember fall into my knees and I remember screaming why How can you do this to How could you do this to me? And, and this is what you're leaving me with? And I and his son from a previous marriage, that's the air remember the funeral. That's what he said that he they had a troubled relationship. And then he said, You know, I wanted a relationship with my dad. But this is what he left me with. Right? It is so. So in that and, and I understand wanting to make that choice, because I was in that level of darkness, Melissa, that the pain was so overwhelming, and the life was so hard. I had to sell my home, I had to move because I couldn't stay in my home because the situation happened there. And there were so many things that were so big and so great. And I'm telling you, I don't fight to live every day, I had to fight to live. But my anger in that situation was overwhelming. But at the same time, I almost probably didn't really grieve for a long time, because I was still grieving neck.

Melissa Bright:

Right? Oh, my gosh, I I can't even imagine. I mean, three years has to seem like almost two weeks in terms of grieving not only a child and then now your husband, it just seems like it. It was like you close your eyes. And now I'm having to do with this. Did you ever I have spoke with somebody else that has been on my podcast, and he did attempt suicide. Thank God it did, did not go through whatever he did not go into details about it. But he basically said I just wanted the pain to stop. Right? That was there was no other solutions anymore. I had done solution. 123 whatever. And I just wanted the pain to stop. Do you? Did you ever when you are going through all this pain at at one time have a moment of like thought that maybe you could understand why your husband did this if he was suffering from so much pain? Because you even said yourself you at times couldn't even imagine going on?

Beverly:

Right? I could I yes. I mean, I could understand that I could feel that a nice set I my thought you know, to stay alive. But I think the one thing that I have learned out of being a suicide survivor is the impact on those that are left behind behind you. I still had a son and I still had an I had a grandson. At the time to my first grandson was born and who was huge in my healing. I can say that. But you know, I had to say I don't want because I feel like this is this is these are my words from my journey and my thoughts. I feel like that when a person chooses to go that direction. They put their pain off onto someone else. Sometimes they may think in a lot of times I hear people say well they would be better off Without me, you know, if I wasn't here, that would be better off without me. But the level of devastation and pain that you put on to those that are surviving are hidden behind behind that choice and decision is its own a, there's so many why's there's so many unanswered why's that you're never going to get the answers to, but then it throws people into if I had done this, what if I had done that? Maybe if I had, you know, been done that? And and and again, you have to take your focus off of that, because ultimately, I had to realize I was not responsible for that decision.

Melissa Bright:

Right? Did you carry guilt with you for a while?

Beverly:

I did. I did. You know, and anybody would, you know, right?

Melissa Bright:

situation, especially when you can't you don't have answers, like, you're never going to get answers I am. So I lost my dad in January after a failed heart and kidney transplant. And even though he didn't take his own life, we had a lot of unresolved issues. He wasn't a big part of my life. I had always wanted that from my father. And just questions upon questions. So when my when I lost my dad, my initial reaction, like, I screamed, like bloody murder, because I knew that now. Never will I ever get those answers ever again. So now I have the choice to ponder and let this eat me alive still, or let it go? Because I'm truly never going to get these answers. It's not the easiest to let go. But if you don't, you're going to be it's going to consume you all the time of wondering why I mean, mine, of course, was kind of like yours. What did I do? You know, for my dad not to be in my life, your yours was obviously Why did I? What did I do for my husband to leave? You know, right? Um, and you, you just gotta let it go. It's not easy. It's not easy.

Beverly:

No. And then there's always with that, when someone chooses to do that. It's so hard for people to understand and accept that someone would do that, that they, they want to look for someone to blame for that as well. Well, if you would have done this, or you wouldn't have done that, you know, so for their own. And that's their own shock and grief, you know, and to find a place where you can just have grace with people. It's hard, and it's huge.

Melissa Bright:

Yeah. So how did you I know that healing from this is not something that is necessarily ever going to go away? What were some steps that you started taking daily, that could really help you healing, feeling better, anything that would just make you, you know, get through the day, if you have any of those that you, you remember,

Beverly:

and, and for me, I'm going to come from the side of faith, you know, in my belief in that, and for me, I dug into that and just really started pouring, pouring everything in in me from that and to understand and to rely on that. That's the direction that I went, you know, I, I did not really have that as a lifestyle prior to all these happening. I mean, probably just like a lot, a lot of people growing up, and maybe haven't church here and there. But it's I just want to say this most it's not about church, you know, and that's where a lot of people say that or it's not about religion. It was for me about just diving into a personal relationship with the Lord and him. him just showing up in unbelievable ways. But in that there were doors that were opened up, not that not that they were doors that I was seeking. But this is important because I was divinely placed in front of a Vietnam veteran who had a ranch that was working with millet bill. He was building a ranch working with the soldiers coming home from the war that you have PTSD. He this particular man was blown up in Vietnam. The sniper had his hand grenade, so his whole entire right side of his body was burnt. And he's fixing a lot of schools and people would know him if I said his name. And he recognized off the bat. Because these guys came home from their war and really didn't have support. So he recognized off the bat that these guys were going to need support. And so I ended up being really kind of divinely placed in front of him. He and then he stepped out and he said, I want to mentor you. I want you to come through my program and I'm like, but I'm a civilian. I didn't even know my role as a military mother at that point. You know, like, I just knew that my son was in the army. And so, in doing that, Melissa, they actually had me start sharing my story with these with these soldiers or, you know, Marines, whichever that came back from the war. And I didn't really, I didn't recognize that at the time, because it was hard for me to stand up in front of this group of people and, and talk about these things that I'm talking about with you today. I'll barely get it out. And I was a mess. I was, you know, weeping and crying. And then one day it was I realized, as you know, one by one, that these, these soldiers would come up to me, and they would share with me their most deepest painful moments that they would not share with anybody else. Or they would say, Wow, this changed my life. Like I had one guy that said, I had it all planned out, I was gonna go home, I had it all planned out. And I never thought about what it would do to my mother or my wife and kids. And he's, he's still, we're still in contact, and he's still here today. So the key to that, and what I really want to stress with people is when we stop, I mean, there's a time to grieve. There's definitely a time to grieve. But when we stop being all consumed by our pain and our grief, and we start serving, helping others, in one day, I woke up and I was like, I'm healing.

Melissa Bright:

Yeah.

Beverly:

And sharing my story. And this is what's important, I think, for people too, is a lot of times there's people that want to stuff it, they don't want to talk about it. They're just not that kind of person. But the more that you get that out and talk about it. It also I just believe it comes about of you and you get a little bit freer.

Melissa Bright:

Yeah, I love everything that you just said, because I was one of those people. And that's so important for people listening, that are saying, How could she? How could she share her story? How would she even find the courage? How could she even muster to get out of bed? And I haven't been in that exact spots. But when I lost my mom, I didn't want any kind of support on my stepdad offered for me to go to like grief counseling with him. I said, No, I, nobody's going to know what I'm talking about. I didn't say that to him. But in my head, I was like, No, I don't want to go talk to anybody else. They're not going to know what I'm feeling, even though they had probably lost their mothers or whoever, I thought that they wouldn't be able to understand because I'm the only one in the world that has ever lost their mother, you know,

Beverly:

but you were the only one that ever lost your mother.

Melissa Bright:

Right. But then, now, me sharing my story Finally, in 2020, and I started sharing about my mental health and what me what losing my mom really did to my mental health and all this stuff. I did start to heal. And it's amazing. And so I just want people to hear that I want people to know that, yes, there is a time to grieve and to be the status and not to get out of bed for days. But there is a beautiful, beautiful healing process when you really do start sharing your story. Because then what happens just like you said, you would have people come to you and tell them their most painful moment. I've had the same thing. People reach out to me after I started this podcast saying that they suffered from depression, or they whatever it is, because I started sharing my story and doing this podcast and it's like, I never in a million years imagined this would be the way that I healed, you know, right. It's just so amazing.

Beverly:

And I remember one time when I was standing there because I would always keep most of my and they were very good about just allowing me to be who I was up there. And you know, and here's this man that's mentoring me that's been all over the world, you know, sharing his story or whatever and just just really cradled on I'm, it was a gift that I'll be forever thankful for. But I remember thinking one time not really realizing everything at the moment, I was sharing so much about Nick, you know, my my biggest thing was I'm going to share about Nick I want to share about Nick and I would share a little about the suicide, you know, because and I can look back now realize that I was still holding so much animosity and anger from that, but in reality as time moves forward, and then I'm going to military basis and there's I'm speaking to 1000 military you know I went from a group of military to you know, I'm now I'm I'm speaking to hundreds or 1000s of military sharing my story Never did I ever dreamed in a million years, Melissa that when I was in the grips of that pain that I would be used. It's such a you know, such a huge way To go into these arenas and share in inevitably like schools, I will have kids come up to me afterwards and they're just weeping. And they're, you know, because now, you our youth are really struggling in this area. And since COVID is hit, there's so many people this isolation, there's so much that people need. And when you speak to them, and you're speaking into their heart, like what you do, you know what, you're you have that instant connection with them, and they feel free to come up and say, Yep, you know, I remember I'd be at the base and that instructor for the show whether or not the show I'm sorry for the class would come up to me. And he would say, I didn't know that, because he would hear on telling me, you know, and he would be like, I never knew that. They've never shared that with anybody. But it was safe when you're vulnerable. Yep. And transparent.

Melissa Bright:

Mm hmm.

Beverly:

And you're truthful, it creates a place of safety for people to open up to.

Melissa Bright:

Yeah, absolutely. Can I ask you what your speeches were to the military? What was ultimately your message to the military? from men and women coming back from such a traumatic time? Maybe? I don't know. I don't want to assume that all of them came back from traumatic experiences, but some of them had to So what was your message to them?

Beverly:

Um, a message of hope? Basically, I would share, I would, I would walk them through my difficult story. And obviously, I would be, you know, tears would be, you know, enormous with that. So that, you know, it was a truth. But on the other side of it, it wasn't, it wasn't like I just said, this is what happened to me, you know, boom, it was a story of overcoming a story of, of redemption, a story of being able to move forward a story of encouragement, you know, right now, I think the world needs overcomers. Yeah, no, we need, we just need people that will stand up and say, yeah, I've been there. And I went through that, but I made it and you can, too. So that's my biggest message was, if I made it, you can make it, you know, and my Warzone wasn't obviously, in the combat zone, you know, which I would always say. But my connection with the fact that I had, I was a mother of a greenbrae, as soon as I walked in, because the military family is just like, super, super, like, if you're not in there, you're not part of the family, right? real hard to trust and accept. And that was always like, I want to say, the door opener or breaker for it? And they would they would be like, wow, because those guys are, you know, they're the best guys.

Melissa Bright:

Yeah, that is just amazing. And it's so amazing. Did it ever make you feel like you had 1000 sons at one time with all these men?

Beverly:

Well, when I was involved with this organization that I shared about with you, there was a group of us that what they would, that we're always kind of together and you know, traveled to different places, different ranches, and, and did these programs. And they all started calling me Mom, you know, and and so and they still do today, like if, you know, maybe we're still connected on Facebook, and then instead of saying, hey, Ben, they'll be like, Hey, Mom, let's say, obviously, we're not as close as we, you know, we're back then. But at the same time, you're right, that's exactly what happened.

Melissa Bright:

Yeah. And that's like, that's a beautiful, beautiful thing, you know, because like you said, you were you started walking in your faith. And that's something that may be like God provided you know, he, he provided you, all these different kinds of, you know, sons that you could help ultimately with with your story. And I think that's such a important message is man, people go through some really, really, really, really terrible things. I mean, you have literally lived my worst nightmare. But you're, you're doing good things now and sharing your story to give other people hope that there can be life after loss and grief. And I just think it's absolutely amazing. What you're doing. Um, so what do you do? What do you do these days? Do you still speak at these different places?

Beverly:

Well, when COVID happened, obviously, everything shut down. And so then we subsequently moved from where I was at the local, the local base here, and I haven't, I started a podcast right when all this was in the middle of this and we were all kind of just like in our homes and, and not getting out and about as much and I've been real focused on that. So I haven't been reaching out to churches or the schools or you know, anything at this point, because everything was just so they would be like, well with it. Nobody knew how to navigate this right time in our life. And things are starting, we're starting to open back up But now and we're shifting again and

Melissa Bright:

constantly shifting,

Beverly:

right. And you know, one of the things I did do is I had retreats where, and I did retreats for mothers who had lost children. And I had this one instance, I'll try to shorten the story that she was actually a gold star mother, which is a gold star mother, as a mother whose son or daughter was killed in active duty in the military in the war, and he was killed in Iraq. And I didn't know this when I met her. One of the girls from our organization said, Dude, you need to get you've got to meet her, you've got to meet her. And she did not want to come over to the ranch, because we were the directors over the ranch at that time. And because it reminded her everything, I understood that it reminded her of everything, you know, of her tragic loss. And she finally came kicking and screaming one day, I didn't know that she just shared it later. And we probably spent several hours in what I what happened was just spending time with her sitting with her and her pain and her compassion. She was able to heal, she would talk about how she lived with by love Jose, and close the blinds. You know, that was how she was dealing with things and, and how she emerged out of that and was able to move forward and do something. So in that I was like, wow, you know, how many other mothers are out there that are going through the same thing. And it because I will tell you, that's the one grief where people can get part, I don't want to say stuck, but they but they get parked in that grief. And they just they just don't know how to back up and come back out of that. So I was doing retreats, you know, for moms, too, as well. So Melissa, that was hard. I found out you know, I thought at the time I thought oh, you know, this is where one of the areas I'm called into. But it's hard. Because ultimately, what I realized is people have to be at a place where they they make a choice that they want to live life again, they want to find joy, they want to live in the confident hope. And if people aren't ready to do that, I mean, you you you can lead a horse to water but you can't make them drink. And that is literally the way that

Melissa Bright:

Yeah, did you feel responsible? If they didn't, if you didn't see an improvement in them or anything?

Beverly:

No, I didn't. Because I realized that I mean, I understood the level of pain and not everybody. Not everybody. And you may may see this in your area too. But not everybody wants to heal. Not everybody wants to live life again. And then they just exist. And for me if I could say one of the greatest statements I could say is, you know, and I said this earlier, if I if I would have stopped living the death would have killed again, in a sense, because I think that we can be here living. But we're not ever actually alive.

Melissa Bright:

Right? I agree with you 100%. And that's why I wanted to make my statement because I have been that person I was stuck. grieving or not grieving or in denial of my mom being gone for 10 years, I wouldn't think about it, I just pushed it down. I didn't address it, I wouldn't go to my mom's grave. I've only been once in my life. I mean, I was really like not dealing with it at all, until 2020 hit and there was just this overwhelming feeling of me wanting to talk to my mom, like that's all I wanted to do was to tell her about the crazy stuff that was happening in the world. And I couldn't do that. And it was really more than any other year that she had been gone. It really bothered me in 2020. And that's when I realized like, well, I wasn't dealing with my mom's loss. I had probably stood in the victim mode a little bit too long. You know, I didn't always feel sorry for myself, but sometimes I did you know. And so I can say that to people is that I've been on both sides of the fence I have been in that just kind of wanting to feel feel sorry for myself, didn't necessarily want to heal didn't necessarily think I need healing. I mean, I've been through all of it. And I can say it is much better to be here. I know a lot of people don't want to heal because they feel like they are they're almost guilty. They think like I can't forget about them. I can't be happy when this person is gone. And I understand that. I know something that you had talked about is being able to honor like what did how did you word it like honoring their grief or on honoring your grief? Can you kind of talk about how how Someone can do that. Because that's kind of like the segue into saying that sometimes people don't want to heal because they're scared. Right? To make they would feel guilty.

Beverly:

Well, I have, like I said, Yeah, if then that is huge, that you say that you feel guilty. And I think, especially in child loss, and maybe in the other, it's that you're like, well, if I go on, then that means I didn't really love them. Or, gosh, if they if they could just like, you know, open up that curtain into where you were standing and see and say, well, gosh, you know, she just, she must not cared about me very much, you know, she's going on with her life. You know, and that's a lie. That is a lie. I know, without a doubt that my son would want me to live. his motto was, I found it as journaling was always like, live life to the fullest. And, you know, in many times that I saw that, quote, it's not how long you live, but how you live and what you leave behind. And we even put that on his headstone. But, but when you think about that, that was huge to him. It's almost uncanny like it, you know, he was an old soul, and they wouldn't even knew. But the greatest way that I can honor my son is, is to actually go out and do what I'm doing. And it's leaving a legacy for who he was in his life, because I get to talk about who he wasn't in for every mother that's lost a child, the greatest thing they want, is for their child's life to matter. And it may be the same with you, with your mother, that my sons or your mom's footsteps on this earth matter. And I want everybody that I meet out there to know how who this person was, and they were here, and they were alive. And they made an entity, they made a difference, and they impacted the world in some way. So I that is how I honor the loss of Nick and my husband, you know, even in the situation of the the way his life was, you know what his life mattered when he was here? It didn't matter,

Melissa Bright:

right? Oh, my goodness, I just love that you say that. And that's how you can honor them by still sharing their stories and just not forgetting about them. And that's so important. And that's why, you know, it's so much easier to talk about my mom, I mean, I'm sure everybody on this that is listening to my podcast knows the whole story about my mom, because I think I bring her up and every single episode, right, but it really does feel good to now talk to her because I'm sharing her story. And she's like, still here with me. And I just think that's really important to do, you know, and it helps me every time to just heal a little bit more, heal a little bit more, and know that we are making a difference.

Beverly:

And also, you may be helping people that are going through what your mother went through, you know, to and encouraging in some way. Yeah,

Melissa Bright:

absolutely. Absolutely. I'm trying to look at some of the questions that I have. Okay, that's not that wasn't going down. So one of the questions that I wanted to ask you is, how what have you learned the most about yourself from losing loved ones?

Beverly:

A strong person? Not my my wife. But um, I guess the here's the best way that I want to say it, you know, we talk about people that have grit, right? I've realized that, you know, I can go through some really hard, difficult things, and I can come through them and I can overcome them. But I also realized that deep down in there, I did have compassion in me that I didn't necessarily know that I have before that that happened.

Melissa Bright:

Yeah. And that's something else that you had spoke about, about having compassion for, for people and people that are going through grief. That's something that's really it's kind of a side topic. But social media, you have people that are maybe transparent talking about mental health, talking about loss and grief, whatever it is, and I am always hoping that whatever I am speaking to people, I'm not making them feel guilty for not for still being stuck in grief, right? I don't want to make them feel guilty for being scared to do something. But I do want to motivate them and inspire them. I never want to be in because sometimes it is hard for people to hear the truth. They don't want to so instead of maybe hearing the truth, they're like, I don't want to hear what Melissa has to preach to me about or it'll make them feel worse about themselves. When that is never my goal because I am such a sensitive person. As soon as I read somebody saying like you're responsible for your life and there are no excuses. You can't blame anybody else. I'm like, Oh my gosh, like Rambis really sensitive and so just having compassion for people is is just so so so important because you don't know what What they've they have been through you just I mean, you might, but you might not either.

Beverly:

I think everybody, everybody goes through some something in life you don't get out of here with not suffering some some of us just suffer a lot. Yeah, more than others.

Melissa Bright:

Yeah, exactly. I just have a couple more questions for you. How if you could give advice to somebody that may have just recently lost a child? What would be one of the first things that you would recommend for them to start doing to heal a little bit to make the pain a little less coming from just Beverly his opinion?

Beverly:

Right? And let me say this, this is something that was said to me, first and foremost, give yourself permission to feel the way you feel in that moment, in that day, you know, if you have just lost, there's no, well, I don't want to end up in this unhealthy place. because let me tell you, if you've just if you're fresh your role there, you need to feel what you're going through. If you're going to heal, you've got to walk through that pain. It's almost like the hot coals. And you know that I can't remember what that was where people would walk through the hot coals to prove their tribal, you know, manhood or whatever. But in this, you've got to walk across those hot coals. And if that day, you can't get out of bed. And you can't face that day. It's okay. The key is, don't stay in that bed. The key is make yourself get up, make yourself Do one thing, just one thing, you know, write out, you know, one thing and say, I'm going to do this today. But you know what, if you can't do it, don't beat yourself up either. Right? But I would also say, try to find one thing that you are grateful for. And every day, it no matter how small it is, maybe if you turn on the sink, and the hot water comes out. And you're like, I am grateful that I have hot water that I can go soak in the bathtub today.

Melissa Bright:

Yeah. Yeah, that's, that's such such great advice. What was I gonna say, I lost my train of thought that you had said something, the fine line about staying in bed and getting out of bed because I feel like some people think, thinks think that there is a grieving timeline, oh, well, in two years, I should be healed or whatever. Or I shouldn't have been in bed for these past three days. And only you yourself knows what's best for you. Don't feel bad for doing that at all. But like Beverly said, Just don't stay there. Don't stay there for the rest of your life. And some people unfortunately do. But if you can pick yourself up. There really is beautiful days after that. And I know that is not easy to hear. But coming from two people that has she's lost a son and a husband, I have lost both of my parents. I don't have basically hardly any family left in terms of my own family. I've lost them. Almost all. We've been there. And we have done that. And we are here smiling, you know. But that doesn't mean there's not always hard days.

Beverly:

Rather, there's always the anniversary dates. And there's all of that. There's something that you said. No, I'm trying to remember what it was too. But

Melissa Bright:

I can't say, I know, I'm telling you. That's why I have to have my notebook. I will like Forget it. And I'm like, Oh, I knew it. Well, if it comes to you be like, Oh, I remember. But we'll move on. Um, okay.

Beverly:

What was I do that. Here's the key thing to me, I want people to remember in the loss of a child if you have other children. The biggest, one of the most common things, and I did this myself is we become so focused on that child that we lost, that we kind of push our other children, often, Clif and I remember seeing a show on one of the morning news shows when I used to watch TV, but and there was a couple on there that the mother and a child and I remember the daughter said to the mother, she said not only did I lose my brother, I lost my mother too, because my mother forgot that I was still here. And I was like, I mean, I had an aha moment. And I went to my older son and I said, Have I done this to you? And he was silent. So if I could give any advice, embrace those kiddos that you still have is hard as it is you because they're not only grieving the loss of their sibling, but when you push them back, they start to feel like Am I not enough? I've heard people say, Well, I'm still alive. What about me? Don't ever, you know, forget that you still have the gifts of the ones that you have?

Melissa Bright:

Yeah. Oh, that is such great advice. I remember Have you ever seen the movie stand by me a long time ago, but I can't remember. That's what happens in the movie is they had lost their their oldest son in like a car accident that year. And the one boy was still around, but they just would not pay attention to him. It was like he wasn't even seen because they were still dealing with all that. And he really definitely felt probably kind of unloved they may they show that in the movie, you know, like, that's kind of what they're going through. It's that is a great point to make that. Just a couple more questions for you. What would your message be to anyone that has lost a spouse to suicide? What I mean, I know a lot of times just grieving is kind of those same things. But they're not necessarily the same. So what would you say to somebody that has maybe just recently lost a spouse to suicide?

Beverly:

Don't focus on the Why? Because you're never going to get the why answered? And maybe maybe you do know, maybe you don't, don't take it personal. This is the biggest thing for me and forgive yourself for any anything that you may be thinking upon yourself that you are responsible for. Because ultimately, what I have learned, especially working so much in suicide prevention, if someone has gotten to that point where they are making that decision, you almost sometimes you almost can't stop them. So there probably wasn't anything that you could do differently. And to just love yourself, and not and just not don't take it all on.

Melissa Bright:

Yeah. What would be your message to listeners about loss and grief, February's message?

Beverly:

Okay, so I do have my notebook. So I would say if you're struggling today, so far, you have you have, you have survived everything you've gone through up into your life at this point, you know, this might be the first big thing, or it might not, but the best day of your life is still out there and yet to come. There's still people that you need to meet, that you haven't met, and things that you haven't experienced. And I would just say, embrace life, and learn to live it again, learn to find your joy again, we have one time one pass through here. We can't change what happened to us. And I would just like I honor Nick live life to the fullest and honor them and everything you do through that.

Melissa Bright:

Yeah, I love that. And I think for me and you both is, in our own ways, our pain has been kind of now our purpose right now. And that happens for a lot of people like you something tragic happens to you. And through some way like yours was starting the military starting to speak at those places. Like, there, there is a reason that that happened for you. There's a reason why this all happened for me, I can't really explain it, you know, but I'm happy that it did. And I'm happy that I have been able to turn my pain into a purpose. I'm very happy about that. And that's what I want other people to know is that, you know, if you are suffering, maybe join, like support groups or some way that you can help another mother or father or whoever, and kind of rally around each other and through that, there can be healing, you know, helping somebody else that might be going through this. Okay, last thing before I asked you the ultimate question, tell us about your podcast.

Beverly:

Okay. It's called the resilient heart podcast by Beverly Shoemaker. There's another one out there with the same name. So make sure you click on the one that has my name on it. I started mine first. It was mine first. But um, that is the podcast and obviously I shared my story on there. But I have a lot of people like yourself that I am bringing on to share their stories and it's just a message of ever coming in a message of hope. And just giving people the tools like I I think I said you know you it's like you have a toolbox and you're like okay, you have all the tools in there to use navigate this. And so that's what the heart of that is, is to give you all the, all the tools and to listen to other people's messages. And there's people that I have on there that haven't been I've had pastors on there that, you know, maybe haven't been through that, but they're just have were so profound in my life in their message. And they're like a magnet, you know, when it's inspirational. So that is, that's the podcast, and I have it. And I also have a Facebook page called the resilient heart, living life to the fullest. And in a group that is kind of set up under that, but I haven't been really super active in it, because I'm inundated with interviews and editing right now.

Melissa Bright:

Oh, that is awesome. I hear you there. It's like where does all the time go to be able to do these things? Well, Beverly, I just have one last question for you. in your own words, what does the bright side of life mean to you?

Beverly:

Oh, I love that. Thank you for asking. So the bright side of life means to me that I was able to get walk out of the darkness and walk into the light and to find life and to love living life again, and moving forward. And not staying parked in that car.

Melissa Bright:

Yes, that is beautiful. Well, Beverly, thank you so much for being on the show. Your story is just incredible. And you should be so so proud of yourself for for everything that you have overcame, and everything that you have done to help other people by sharing your story. So thank you again.

Beverly:

Oh, you're welcome. And thank you for what you do and how you're helping people out there. Because there's so many people

Melissa Bright:

there are and we need all of us to like join hands and just keep putting hopeful messages out there. Right. Thank you guys for listening to this week's episode of the bright side of life. I hope you guys enjoyed this story in Beverly story. I know her story is not an easy one. I know her experiences have not been easy. But fortunately for her, she has found a way to turn her pain into purpose and to help serve others and to help other people that are struggling. So she is absolutely the guests that I love. Because grief and loss is unfortunately a part of a lot of our lives. And it's really hard to navigate that. And so talking to people that have been through the unimaginable, can really help us figure out and to face our own grief sometimes. So I hope you guys got something out of this podcast. And if you would like to check out her podcast the resilient heart, I will also put that link in the show notes today. If you guys are not yet signed up for emails, I would encourage you guys to go to the bright side of life, podcast calm and do so I am going to be doing a Monday mindful morning series. And that's all around mindfulness. And I'm going to be showing you guys some things that you can do. Of course, I always release when an episode first drops. So just go to the bright side of life podcast calm and that will be there and you will also get a free mental health coloring page when you sign up for emails. And lastly, guys, if you know someone that needs to hear beverlee story, please share it with them because we never know if this is the one that puts hope back in their heart.