When we think of grief, we typically think of grieving the loss of life. However, grief takes many forms, has nearly countless sources, and has no time limit. In fact, a client may be grieving but not realize it because the cause was not a death. But, as humans, we grieve many types of loss. That’s why helping clients through grief of varying degrees and origins is something all coaches do.
To encourage you in this vital work, I invited grief coach, Krista St-Germain to share some of her insights and skills. She begins by relating her personal experiences that led her to grief coaching and then to becoming a coach herself. Then, throughout the episode, we discuss many of the myths, biggest challenges, and nuances about grief and coaching those experiencing grief. We hope this episode leads you both to identifying more forms of grief and to additional resources to help you care for your clients.
“They come to you thinking that the thing that happened has power over them. And what we can show them is that: No, actually, they get to choose how they want to feel about this thing that has happened. And that doesn’t mean that we have to choose to be happy. But that helps us start seeing the thing as less powerful and ourselves as more powerful.” – Krista St-Germain
“When my husband was killed by a drunk driver, I was devastated.
Therapy helped me survive the tidal wave of grief and unfurl myself from the fetal position.
I went back to work. Everyone kept telling me how “strong” I was. I acted strong in front of my kids. But inside I felt hollow. All my dreams had included him.
I desperately wanted to believe I could still have a happy, fulfilling life but I wasn’t sure how. Then I began to research grief, trauma and healing extensively. I studied cognitive behavioral coaching and read every book I could find. I combined what I learned about Post Traumatic Growth with cognitive science based coaching tools and figured out how to turn my loss into a strategy for growth.
I learned to see myself as stronger because of what I’d been through instead of using it as a reason to stop dreaming.
I created a new life using small, manageable steps and techniques that made sense. The changes I experienced were so profound I became a Master Certified Life Coach and created a group coaching program for widows like us called Mom Goes On.”
Molly specializes in her mom-centric coaching. She’s working on a new certification course – Advanced Certification in Motherhood and Family Life Coaching (Advanced Parenting Coach Training) – and that will be ready soon. Join the Waitlist HERE!
Intro: Welcome to the Masterful Coach podcast, with Molly Claire, where coaches learn skill mastery, business mastery, and life mastery at a whole new level. If you’re ready to create a meaningful coaching business that makes a difference, you’re in the right place. And now your host, master coach instructor, Molly Claire.
Molly Claire: All right, coaches, you are going to love today’s guests. I know a lot of you probably already know Krista St-Germain. Say hi, Krista.
Krista St-Germain: Hello guests of Molly Claire’s podcast.
Molly Claire: This is going to be a great episode, because I know in working with so many of you, that a place where you’re often asking me for help is with coaching on grief specifically. And so, that’s what we’re going to be talking with Krista about here today. So, Krista, hosts the Widowed Mom podcast, yes?
Krista St-Germain: Yes.
Molly Claire: And that is her specialty. So, I’m going to have Krista tell you more about that. So, Krista really helps widowed moms, and she helps them through the grief process, and also brings coaching into that space, so she has a lot to offer. And my hope is that as you listen today, you can apply this to your clients, and whatever or wherever they may be experiencing grief. So, let’s dive in, let’s do it.
Krista St-Germain: Let’s do it, yeah.
Molly Claire: Awesome. Okay, so, first of all, Krista, tell my people about why you even went down the life coaching road to begin with.
Krista St-Germain: Yeah, it definitely wasn’t a road I planned to go down. I remember when I start…
Molly Claire: Yeah, that’s the first the case for most of us, right?
Krista St-Germain: Right, I first started listening to the Life Coach School podcast, and I remember thinking, “Wow, this stuff is so good, and everything she’s saying is what I need to hear.” And then also telling people to listen to it, but saying things like, “but don’t worry about the life coaching part,” because I thought that was like snake oil salesman-ish.
Molly Claire: For sure.
Krista St-Germain: I’m from Kansas, we didn’t have life coaches back then. But no, I started listening to the podcast, but then I really didn’t actually have my own personal coaching experience until after my husband died. So, when I was 40, he and I were coming back from—and this is my second husband, so my first husband, that marriage did not end well. Second husband, Hugo, was the redemption story, right? The proof that good men do exist, and things were just going so well, and I was in such a high.
And then a drunk driver came, and think we were trying to change the tire on my car, along the side of the highway, I had a flat tire, Hugo had pulled up behind me, he was just the stubborn man, like, “Well, I don’t want to wait on AAA, I can change the tire, let’s just get home,” you know? And so as he was trying to change it, a driver that we later found out had both meth and alcohol in his system, hit the back of Hugo’s car. He just didn’t see us. And so, within a day, ‘I love my life, it’s amazing. My best days are in front of me,’ went to ‘my best days are behind me, and my life felt like it really exploded.’
So, that was not the place where I needed coaching, though, right? So, I didn’t really discover coaching or have a coaching experience until after I had done some therapy and done some of that early acute grief work, which, for most of us, looks like just coming to terms with, you’re not actually in a nightmare, this really is your life, right? This actually did happen. And talking about it enough, so that the part of your brain that still is seeking them, starts to realize that they’re not on a business trip, they’re not coming back. And so, therapy helped me do that.
And then I got to a place where I now describe it as like a stagnation zone, or a grief plateau, is how I see my clients experiencing it, and how I experienced it. Which was that everybody on the outside thinks you’re great, they think you’re doing well. You look like you’re doing well, right? And they’re telling you, you’re so strong, and I’m so proud of you, and I don’t know if I could ever do what you’re doing. And you see why they’re saying that, because yes, to the external world, it does look like, you know, the to-do list is being handled, and the kids are getting fed, and you’re getting them to their activities, and maybe you’re back to work if you want to be.
But what’s happening on the inside of you, totally doesn’t match what’s happening on the outside of you. And so, on the inside you’re feeling hollow and robotic, and kind of worried, like, is this all it is? Is this my new normal? This is not really what I want, but I don’t know how to make it any better. And that’s at the point where I discovered coaching, and I learned all the tools that I needed to learn that I wasn’t getting from therapy. And so then it was so powerful for me, I was like, “Okay, I’ve got to become a coach.”
And I actually was trying to do both at the same time, I don’t know if I ever told you that. Because I certified in person, in August of 2017. And I had literally signed myself up for a marriage and family therapy master’s degree that started the weekend after that life coaching certification. So, I was going to…
Molly Claire: Oh, you’re kidding, I didn’t know that.
Krista St-Germain: No, I was going to have to leave certification a day early, just so I could get back in time to start this MFT program, because my thought was, well, again, life coaching, it’s powerful, but like you, I’m probably not going to make any money doing that, or nobody’s going to take me seriously. And so, it took me a while to really believe that I could make a difference with coaching. And finally, I got to the point, before I got to the actual in-person certification, where I decided, “No, I don’t want this MFT. It’s scarier to be a life coach, but that’s what’s moving my needle, and that’s what I have to work with people.”
Molly Claire: Yeah. Okay. So, I know everyone listening can already tell this is going to be so useful in helping them to really help clients who are struggling, and know when and where, and how to plug in. So, thank you so much for sharing your personal story.
Krista St-Germain: Totally.
Molly Claire: At least, a little taste of it, and it’s really meaningful. And I remember, Krista, when I first met you at that in-person training, because I was one of the coach instructors, right? And I just remember seeing you, and what? At the time, there were like 18 people in the group or something?
Krista St-Germain: It was not.
Molly Claire: Or was it when there was more?
Krista St-Germain: I think it was maybe 50 or 60. It was still one of those groups where…It was a small group, compared to what happened after that group, for sure.
Molly Claire: Yeah. And I just even remember them seeing you, and just really being amazed at how strong you were, how clear that was. And as you were talking, I’m wondering if that was part of that phase too, where it was like strong on the outside, but still…
Krista St-Germain: You know, by then I was feeling a lot better. But what that reminds me of, as you mentioned it was, when I started to realize as the client, how the coaches were struggling to coach. Because I remember in that training, standing up and asking Brooke to be coached on something, and I said basically, “My husband died a year ago, and I am struggling with my relationships with men, because I can’t tell who wants to date me, and who wants to be my friend, and I’m not ready to date.” And as soon as I said my husband died a year ago, the whole room was like, “Ahem.”
Molly Claire: Yeah, I remember that too actually.
Krista St-Germain: Do you remember that?
Molly Claire: Absolutely.
Krista St-Germain: Yeah, and Brooke didn’t even coach me on it, because she used it as an example of how to recognize when we have fallen in the pool. Like, I never even got coached on it. Because it was like, okay, wait, see what just happened? Like…
Molly Claire: What just happened?
Krista St-Germain: What just happened? You know, total fear.
Molly Claire: Which is why I think this is such a good conversation for the coaches listening, because it can be something that oftentimes coaches aren’t sure what to do with it, right?
Krista St-Germain: 100%.
Molly Claire: Absolutely.
Krista St-Germain: And I get it.
Molly Claire: So yeah, of course.
Krista St-Germain: But I also get what it’s like to be the client, when you’re like, I just wanted to get coached, I just wanted some help, and nobody could help me, because they all just thought my situation was so awful. I didn’t want coaching on my dead husband.
Molly Claire: Right.
Krista St-Germain: That wasn’t even…
Molly Claire: Right, right.
Krista St-Germain: That was just like the precursor and…
Molly Claire: Yeah.
Krista St-Germain: But nobody could help.
Molly Claire: Yeah. So, thank goodness you’re there to help people like that now. And tell my listeners more about how would you describe what you do for the women that you help.
Krista St-Germain: Yeah. So, it depends on who I’m talking to, right? If it’s the marketing side, or if it’s the coaching side, but thinking about it in both ways. So, I help widowed moms figure out how to love life again. Even though their spouse died. And not just get back to a life that’s tolerable, but to genuinely love life again. Which can be really hard when you have a lot of judgments about what it means about you and your spouse, if you love your life again. There’s a lot of stuff that comes up.
But what I’m really doing, as most of us are doing coaching, is I am helping them change their relationship with their thoughts, and change their relationship with their feelings, and just starting to be able to consciously choose how they want to see their lives and themselves, and knowing that a lot of what they’re experiencing is caused by a misunderstanding of grief, right? By some myth, that because we are so terrible at grief as a culture, that they have bought into, and are therefore struggling with. And so, we have to like untangle all of that.
Molly Claire: Yes. Well, and I remember reading, just even going through divorce, a lot of people don’t realize that there is a grief that comes with going through divorce, right? The loss of a marriage. And I wish I had the book in front of me, but I remember reading…Oh gosh, well, you’ll know what this book is, it’s a purple book, it’s like it’s a Grief Handbook, or something like that. I’m going to figure it out, and I’m going to put it in the show notes. But it’s an amazing book…
Krista St-Germain: Is it this one?
Molly Claire: Yes, a grief recovery handbook.
Krista St-Germain: I could grab some other purple grief books.
Molly Claire: That’s the one, no, how many purple grief books are there?
Krista St-Germain: I have a lot of grief books, Molly, a lot.
Molly Claire: But I remember just reading about it, and thinking, wow, these are all the things people say, and these are all the worst things, and this teaches us how to not, like, this does not teach us how to handle grief. And in fact, it teaches us the exact opposite, the exact opposite of what we need. So, I love that you do what you do, and I want to highlight as well as we dive in, that you’re actually offering an advanced certification for coaches who want help with coaching on grief.
Krista St-Germain: Yes, I am. It’s funny when you do something all day—I know you’ll relate to this, right? You do it all day, and probably coaches listening can relate in the same way, because whatever it is that you have chosen, assuming you have chosen a specific niche, you do it so much, that you take for granted what you know.
Molly Claire: Yes.
Krista St-Germain: And I have had so many conversations with coaches, and so often when I have coached in other people’s programs, they will say things like, “I’m so glad it’s you,” right? Like I have this grief issue. Which while I find to be flattering, it’s also very concerning. Because what that tells me is that either they don’t feel comfortable going to other coaches, or other coaches are shying away from grief. And not letting them know that they can help with grief. Everybody experiences grief at some point in time. And then couple that with coaches coming up to me, and asking me, how do I coach my client on this or that, or the other grief related thing?
I finally got to the point, it happened a little bit after mastermind, where I was like, “Okay, we have got to get in there and solve this, because I cannot coach all the people who are experiencing grief.” And everybody’s client’s going to get this at some point, even if it’s not your niche, they’re going to come to you, and they’re going to be experiencing grief, and if you’re not helping them, they’re not getting help, and I just can’t have it.
Molly Claire: Yeah.
Krista St-Germain: So, working on that, and it’ll be grief, it’s grief and post-traumatic growth, because I think still there’s a lot of work to be done with understanding post-traumatic growth, and how do we coach on that? And where clients might get stuck, or resist.
Molly Claire: Yeah, so great. Kristen and I have been working, kind of been like accountability and master mining buddies, as we’ve been creating advanced certifications in these different areas, and it’s great. So, I think that from our perspective, with working behind the scenes with training coaches, it’s nice to be able to see some of these voids, and to help fill them.
Krista St-Germain: Yeah, because I just can’t stand it.
Molly Claire: Oh, yeah, yeah, yeah.
Krista St-Germain: I just can’t stand it. There’s no reason that people can’t feel fully comfortable coaching grief, right? And tip toeing and not coaching bravely, and giving clients experiences like I had at coach training, not helpful.
Molly Claire: Not helpful.
Krista St-Germain: We can do better.
Molly Claire: Yeah. So, I would love to actually hear from you, what are the biggest mistakes that you see when it comes to coaching on grief?
Krista St-Germain: Yeah. There’s a—and I hate to even call them mistakes, but some of them maybe challenges or opportunities that I see. Again, this idea that I can’t be honest, I can’t be brave, I can’t truly show my client the result that they are creating with their brain, because somehow there is an exception when it’s grief, right? That the model doesn’t apply, or I have to tip toe around, I can’t be honest. We just create this eggshell experience where we don’t bravely show the client what they really need to see to increase their awareness and change their lives.
And we think it’s because we’re trying to protect them, or be kind, or maybe we’re worried about, they will think that we’re insensitive. But really, we’re doing them such a disservice, because we’re not giving them the awareness that they need to be able to make the changes that they came to us to make. And so, I see us just really tiptoeing and not being brave. And also I think that part of that comes from, we just don’t really understand how to hold space, and be neutral, but also be empathetic and compassionate. And I think we’re so worried that we’re going to come across as cold or insensitive, and we don’t know how to find that balance. Yeah.
Molly Claire: Well, and I think as you were talking, because this is something that I work with my clients on, in terms of coaching ability, is that, like we think of neutral, like you said, as cold. But actually, an open and neutral space, even though I know a lot of people don’t like that word, I think sometimes that word can have a negative connotation for people in this space. But actually, I think about it as like I’m not adding or taking away from any of your feelings here, right? Which in a sense is sort of the most validating thing you can do, because you’re allowing your client to think and feel what they do.
Krista St-Germain: Yeah.
Molly Claire: But one thing I wanted to ask you as you said that is, how do you describe to, or how would you describe to these coaches how you know when the client needs to see a model on what they’re creating? And when a client just needs space for their emotions? Because I know I see a big difference in those two, how do you articulate that?
Krista St-Germain: Yeah, so I pay a lot of attention to what I perceive in the session, as far as what’s going on in the client’s facial expressions, and their affect, and how much emotion I’m seeing. And so, if I perceive that they’re in a place that they really aren’t even able to think about their thinking. Then because their emotional intensity is so high that the part of their brain that they need to access just isn’t available to them, then it’s definitely not a time where we’re going to be thinking about our thinking, then we need to be considering, what’s the feelings part of it?
Also, I ask sometimes, right? What would be more useful to you? Do you want to allow this feeling? Do you want to talk about what’s happening emotionally? Or do you want to understand what’s happening in terms of your thinking? Or something along those lines I will ask, and then let the client choose too. I don’t presuppose that I know the answer to that always, because sometimes I will think they are ready to look at their thinking, and maybe they’re not, or vice versa.
Molly Claire: Yeah.
Krista St-Germain: Yeah, and I think sometimes too, when I’m thinking of showing a client their mind, and I know that everybody knows this, this may feel very obvious to people, but I feel they need to say it anyway. The goal isn’t to get them to think happy thoughts, right? Like we’re not trying to say, okay, if you think a thought that makes you feel sad because your person died, we don’t have to change that model, right? Just because we did a model, doesn’t mean we have to change it.
Molly Claire: Oh, this is like a wrong or problematic model.
Krista St-Germain: Exactly, right. But even doing the model can help the client feel more empowered, right? When they know that actually, okay, maybe I do want to choose to be sad, right? Instead of feeling like it’s my only option, sometimes just that subtle switch where we’re not even doing a new model, or trying to change how we feel. We’re just moving from its happening to me, to actually, I’m more powerful than I thought, and I’m creating it, can be, I think, so powerful. Because I don’t want to not miss my husband.
Molly Claire: Yeah, of course.
Krista St-Germain: And I have a partner, I still, right? I don’t want to be happy that he died, that doesn’t feel good to me. So, it doesn’t always have to be maybe what we’re used to in terms of thinking, okay, well, we do an unintentional model, and then we show the client what they’re creating, and they won’t like it, and so they’re going to want to do something intentional, and it’s not necessarily that.
Molly Claire: Yeah. And I know you’re talking about the model a lot, is the model, is that your primary coaching tool that you use, is most of your work based around that?
Krista St-Germain: A lot of it is, I also do tapping, and I have a process that I use for feeling feelings. But one of my goals for my clients is that by the time we’re done, they’re able to coach themselves. And so, a lot of it is very model centric. I do break a lot of rules, though, with the model, and my philosophy is that the tool is secondary to the client. And so, whatever we’re doing, it’s in service of what the client needs, and meeting them where they are. And sometimes that means some unauthorized uses of the model, maybe.
Molly Claire: Off the book use of the model.
Krista St-Germain: Off the books, right. We wouldn’t teach it in CCP, because it would confuse people.
Molly Claire: Yeah.
Krista St-Germain: Yeah, and I’m less interested in being a model purist, and working it to the ends degree. I’m more interested in showing people that it can be as simple as identifying, is this moving me toward what I want, or away from what I want? And if the answer is away, I get to be the boss of what I believed when it shows up in my brain, and even slight little pivots, right? And focusing on cognitive diffusion, and those tools, I think are super powerful.
Molly Claire: Yeah, and one thing, kind of going back to that question that I had asked you, that I know I’ve often talked with my clients about, in terms of knowing when to look at thoughts, versus when to look at emotions, is kind of like, which one of these will move this client forward, right?
Krista St-Germain: Right.
Molly Claire: Because sometimes, looking at the thoughts, taking a cognitive approach, all that’s going to do is just spin you round and round, right? And sometimes what needs to happen is, being with the feelings, seeing the feelings, processing the feelings. And so, I don’t think there’s one answer or another other than asking the question, right? And really taking a look at which one, which approach would move the client forward.
Krista St-Germain: And sometimes it’s a matter of knowing, like what are they struggling with? Because it’s easy to assume that the original emotion they present to you is the struggle.
Molly Claire: Yes, yes, right.
Krista St-Germain: And more often than not, I find that it’s their resistance to that emotion, their judgment of that emotion. And especially with grief, this is really important. If we don’t understand the myths of grief, we won’t understand the reasons our clients are bringing us the coaching requests that they’re bringing us.
Molly Claire: Yes, yes.
Krista St-Germain: Right? So, to give you an example, most of us have this idea—and I just heard it on a podcast yesterday, and I wanted to punch this man. And he was supposedly very well educated. But he said, grief has a beginning, a middle, and an end. And I wanted to push my hand through the phone. It doesn’t. Grief does not have an end, but if you think it does, and that’s not lining up with your experience, then guess how many coaching requests are going to be based on this idea that it ends, right?
Molly Claire: Wanting to get to the end of it.
Krista St-Germain: You should further along than you are…
Molly Claire: Totally.
Krista St-Germain: … this idea of backsliding, moving on, there’s just so many, for each grief myth that exists, so many ways that it materializes into a problem in the client’s life, and if you don’t understand, or you have bought into that grief myth, which is not your fault by the way, because I did too, before I had my own big grief experience. But if you don’t understand that, then sometimes you’re not really getting to the root of the problem, or helping the client see why they are experiencing that thing as a problem. And that I think, we just got to do. But we just kind of suck at grief. So, we…
Molly Claire: Right.
Krista St-Germain: We got to throw out everything we think we know about grief, and start over, and then coach from there.
Molly Claire: Yeah. And what would you say to my listeners, even from a personal standpoint, because every one of my listeners is obviously going to have a client who’s experiencing grief at some level, but also every one of my listeners are going to not only experience it themselves, but they’re going to have people close to them who are experiencing grief.
Krista St-Germain: Totally.
Molly Claire: So, what guidance would you give the human race in general, like people, where can people really learn some of these basic things about these grief myths, and how we can do a better job with grief across the board?
Krista St-Germain: Yeah, that’s a big question, but I love that you asked it. I’ve recorded a podcast episode that might be good for people to listen to, called “For Those Who Love Us.” So, if you’ve got someone in your life who is experiencing grief, and you’re trying to support them, I recorded that episode specifically so that they could go and like: here are the things you’re probably inclined to say, and here might be some better alternatives. And this is why, this is what’s happening in the person. Not to say that it’s ever formulaic or the same, because grief is so highly individual, but that’s a good start.
And I think just understanding, like I did an episode called “The Myths of Grief,” like some of those basic things, doing a little bit of educating will help. And also broadening our definition of what grief is, because when I’m talking about it in my own coaching, I’m specifically talking about a death loss. But of course, that is only a portion of grief. There’s all sorts of losses, right? So it’s a human’s natural response to a perceived loss.
Molly Claire: Yes.
Krista St-Germain: Right? Talk about open ended, what is it that we could perceive as a loss? So many things. There’s so many—not only so many misunderstandings about grief, most people think of the five stages of grief, that tends to be what they know about when they think about grief. There are all these other grief theories nobody’s talking about. And there are many, many types of grief. Anticipatory grief and disenfranchised grief, and complicated, like all kinds of grief. And most people don’t know any of those things, too.
So, I think we have to cut ourselves some slack, give ourselves some grace, recognize we don’t know it all, and that’s okay, if we’re trying to support someone. We probably are going to put our foot in our mouth, and later wish we hadn’t said the thing that we said, and that’s just the way of it. As I was thinking about non death losses. At mastermind, when Rachel Hart was talking about how, when she got to a million dollars, she cried for 7 days, do you remember that?
Molly Claire: Yeah.
Krista St-Germain: So, we were talking about it later, and I was like, “You know that’s grief, right?” But we don’t think about those kinds of things as being grief, that’s grief, you expected that when you got to a million dollars, you would be a different person. You expected one thing, and that didn’t happen, and it felt like a loss, right? So, nobody died, but it was still grief.
Molly Claire: Right. Just thinking about for my listeners, and the people that they’re working with in all these diverse situations, I think there can be a loss of what you believed would be the case in your marriage, right?
Krista St-Germain: Totally.
Molly Claire: The loss in a divorce. The loss in having a child with disabilities, and that loss of what you believed would be. Or even, when a child’s life goes differently than we thought it would, right? Like all of these things, I love that you brought that up, because I think it’s probably opening up my listener’s eyes and minds to all the ways they may be encountering this.
Krista St-Germain: Yeah, I mean, just think about our whole COVID experience.
Molly Claire: oh, absolutely.
Krista St-Germain: Think about all the grief that went along with that, all of our children, at least, I’m thinking of mine, my daughter’s was a sophomore at the time.
Molly Claire: Yeah.
Krista St-Germain: Grieving the whole normalcy of her entire sophomore and junior year.
Molly Claire: Yeah, absolutely.
Krista St-Germain: Right? And so, yeah, we really do need to think about it as a very individual term, it’s not something.
Molly Claire: Yes.
Krista St-Germain: It’s kind of like trauma where we…A while ago, I think if you had asked somebody what trauma was, they would’ve given you a very specific list of events that they deemed as traumatic.
Molly Claire: Yeah.
Krista St-Germain: As opposed to now where people are starting to see, oh no, actually different people experience things as traumatic, because it has to do with how they receive it and experience it, and grief is the same way. So, just because we might not understand someone’s grief experience, doesn’t mean that they aren’t having one, and that we don’t call it grief. Even within the same family, and you’re talking about a death loss, lots of people experience that same loss very differently. Again, thoughts, feelings, actions, all about the perception of the loss, and what it means to the person.
Molly Claire: Well, I think what’s interesting as you’re talking, it’s like, we talk about that circumstances, situations, things in life are neutral, right? And it’s our perception of them, the thoughts and feelings we have that create our experience. And sometimes I think that as coaches, there can be a tendency to use that as a way to minimize thoughts and feelings as less important or something. But I think the truth is, that our client is having an experience, whether we believe that specific situation or circumstance warrants those thoughts and feelings, it really doesn’t matter, right?
Krista St-Germain: Exactly.
Molly Claire: Like I remember, and I may have told the story on here before, because I always think about this moment when this happened. So, I was driving with my kids in a terrible rainstorm, and you know when the rain is coming down really hard, and you’re terrified in the car, because you can’t really see.
Krista St-Germain: Right, knuckling it the whole way. Yeah.
Molly Claire: Yes, I couldn’t see, it was pouring rain, I was gripping the steering wheel, and my kids were in the back, and it was a road trip, and my daughter, I think she was two at the time or something, was screaming at the top of her lungs, because she could not open the fruit snacks. And I remember how interesting it was, I was thinking, if you were to put these two instances side by side, me trying to keep the kids alive in the van and not die, and not opening the fruit snack. One could argue that my plight was a little more upsetting than hers, but that’s not really true at all.
Krista St-Germain: Yeah.
Molly Claire: It’s not true at all, because for her, her entire world was that something was out of her reach, she was feeling powerless, right? And so, her emotions, and my emotions, it’s just as valid. So anyway, the reason I bring this up is that, I think this is why it’s so important for us to never judge for good or for bad, what our client is experiencing, and just be willing to be there with them, in whatever they need, and whatever they need to see.
Krista St-Germain: Yes, I’m with you.
Molly Claire: So, tell me, anything else you notice, where people get stuck or struggle, or maybe have even missed opportunities when it comes to coaching their clients with grief?
Krista St-Germain: Oh, let’s see, what haven’t we covered? So, we talked about grief myths, we talked about holding this space. I think also partly it’s recognizing when you have fallen in… I think we come into coaching, I don’t know if you find this, but I find this to be true. We get this idea that if we’re a good coach, somehow we don’t fall into the pool. Which I think is so unfair and unreasonable.
And so then, of course, we come into coaching the scary stuff. Of course, that’s a thought, but that’s what we think. And then we put even more pressure on ourselves to not fall into the pool. And what we really need to be spending time on is thinking about, okay, no, I’m totally going to fall in at some point. And my goal isn’t to not fall in, it’s just to recognize when I have fallen in, and pull myself out as quickly as possible. Like even I did this this week. I had to coach myself on this. Where I got an email from one of my clients who was like, “I’m too old to do the program.” And in my brain, I was like, “Oh yeah, she is too old, probably. I can see how the technology is too much for her.”
Molly Claire: Yeah.
Krista St-Germain: And then I was like, “Wait a minute, that’s some crap. She’s in Slack, she’s posting fine, what are we talking about here? If I don’t stand up for her, if I don’t believe in her highest good, she should fire me.” That’s the level of self-awareness that we have to have, and it really, we are just doing ourselves a disservice if we say it’s never going to happen. No, it’s totally going to happen, but how do we pull ourselves out of it? And how do we create also, a lot of… depends on what you coach, I think.
I have so many clients crying all the time. I am very fine with clients crying. I don’t believe emotions are problems. I don’t believe they’re contagious. I don’t believe my client is supposed to be somewhere other than they are. And in my nervous system, I am very grounded, no matter what emotional response I perceive in my client. But I get that that’s not always the case, and so we have to figure out how do we ground ourselves? Even when our client is experiencing some big stuff.
And sometimes, that’s like watching what’s happening in our brain, sometimes that’s figuring out what’s happening in our body and how to pull ourselves back to where we want to be. But it’s cliché, but we’re not going to be able to help them, if we’re triggered by what’s happening in whatever they’re bringing to us. I think a lot of us are a little bit scared of that.
Molly Claire: Yeah, definitely. Okay, I wanted to ask also, if there was one thing that you wanted to share with people who have found it maybe intimidating when someone comes to them with grief, or they’ve tended to shut down, just one little piece of advice or nugget…
Krista St-Germain: Don’t overcomplicate it. Don’t overcomplicate it. I rely truly on this thought that I have the model, and the model always works. And that helps me, right? Because the biggest problem is that you’ll think it doesn’t apply, because you’ll think their circumstance really is terrible. And that if you point out to them, that it is an interpretation that their circumstances is terrible, that that makes you a bad person or insensitive person. But really, you’re doing them a service, because you’re showing them that they are powerful, and that, right? Because they come to you thinking that the thing that happened has power over them.
Molly Claire: Yeah.
Krista St-Germain: And what we can show them is that no, actually, they get to choose how they want to feel about this thing that has happened, and that doesn’t mean we have to choose to be happy, but that helps us start seeing the thing as less powerful, and ourselves as more powerful, right? Coping, you know, self-efficacy, it’s, can I see that my power lies within me, and that’s really all I ever need, and that starts with C versus T.
Molly Claire: Yeah, and one thing as you were talking, I know that as I’ve work with my clients on their coaching ability, something that we’ve talked about, which I think is really important to bring up, is that I think it’s important to find the language that works for you, and works for your clients as well. Because while, if I’m believing, oh, this is a terrible thing that happened, or this isn’t terrible at all, either way, right? If I’m bringing an opinion, it’s not useful. And yet, I do think sometimes, using language that might seem normal to us as coaches, like circumstance being neutral or something like that. Our client can actually experience that as very dismissive. And I think that while well intended, it can be so much less than helpful.
Krista St-Germain: Yes.
Molly Claire: So, I just, as you were talking, I wanted to add to this, those of you listening, keep it simple, and trust that you can show your client that they have power in this, but please, please, do not get in a situation or power struggle, where you are trying to convince your client that their situation or circumstance is neutral.
Krista St-Germain: No.
Molly Claire: If that doesn’t resonate with them, right? Especially, I just think it’s important to acknowledge that. And the other thing along those lines is, sometimes I think that as coaches, you can think that the point is to convince your client that something is neutral, or that they should think and feel neutrally about something. But that’s not the point at all, right? Circumstances, situations in and of themselves do not have power over your client, the point isn’t to convince them or get them to think or feel differently at all, right. But just to really show them, so they can see where their power is.
Krista St-Germain: Yeah, it’s just to go from unconscious thinking, right? To intentional choice. And so sometimes we will choose, like I said, we will choose to believe, “I didn’t want this to happen, this was awful, it’s sad, I miss them.” And that’s not a problem, and thinking about how to use the model then, we want to consider, we just interrupt that model at the F line, we don’t need to get rid of the negative emotion to prevent the behavior that we might take if we act on it, right? That then becomes the art of teaching the client and helping them allow their feeling.
Molly Claire: Yeah.
Krista St-Germain: Right? Because they might not want it to go away, they just might want to have a different experience of it. And teaching them that their circumstance is neutral or arguing that point, usually misses the point of what the client came to you for coaching for. It’s usually not the issue, it’s not like, well, you know you’re sad because of your thinking, right? Okay. All right, that’s not really what they came to you for.
Molly Claire: Right.
Krista St-Germain: And so, we have to understand, what is it that they need support with, as opposed to just assuming we heard a thought and a feeling, and it’s not pick a thought, grab a thought, any thought.
Molly Claire: Yeah, exactly. Okay, so, this has been awesome. Krista, tell my listeners where they can find you, and especially where they can find out about your advanced certification.
Krista St-Germain: Yes, so for those who are interested in the advanced certification, and we didn’t really talk about post traumatic growth, but that is part of it, right? Is, you can email email@example.com, and then just tell us you want to be added to the interest list, and we’ll add you to the interest list, and then when it is available to register for, you’ll be the first to know. And then www.coachingwithkrista.com is where to find everything else, in terms of links to the podcasts, and all of my social connections, and such.
Molly Claire: Perfect, and your podcast name is…?
Krista St-Germain: The Widowed Mom podcast. Yeah, but don’t let that name stop you from listening, if grief is something you want to learn about, because while it is for widowed moms, I have people all the time who listen to it, who they have no widowed moms in their lives, and they’re not a widowed mom, but they just want to learn about grief and posttraumatic growth. And I try to make it very relevant and broad in that way. So, amazing.
Molly Claire: Well, thank you so much for being here Krista, this is great.
Krista St-Germain: Thanks for letting me come on, it was a blast.
Molly Claire: This is awesome. All right, have a good one.
Krista St-Germain: All right, take care, Molly.
Molly Claire: Thanks.
Outro: Thanks for listening to the Masterful Coach podcast. You can check out www.thecoachingcollective.com for info about the ultimate program for coaches building a business. To find out more about Molly, you can visit www.mollyclaire.com.