Inspiring Stories: John Polo

Inspiring Stories is a regular series featuring interviews and discussions with well known authors, motivational speakers and entrepreneurs from within the widows and widowers community. In today’s edition we chat to writer and coach John Polo.

Tell us a little about yourself and how you became bereaved?

I met Michelle as a teenager and we dated in High School and fell madly in love with her. I knew we were soul mates. Unfortunately, we were young and lived far away from each other, so the relationship ended after a year. I was devastated, and the truth is, I never stopped loving her.

Eight years after we broke up we reunited and planned to spend the rest of our lives together, alongside her amazing daughter. Two years after our fairytale reunion, she was diagnosed with one of the rarest and most aggressive cancers known to man.

Michelle fought for two and a half years before taking her last breath with us on January 22, 2016. She was the love of my life and the most incredible human I have ever known.

#she #was #also #incredibly #good #looking

Your book Rants, Raves and Randoms’ has recently been published. How important has writing been for you during the grieving process?

As I look back at this journey, there are a few things that I can say have literally ‘saved me’. One of those things is writing.

Michelle was in hospice for twenty-three days. About a week before she passed away she went into a coma like state. It was then that I picked up my laptop and began to write her eulogy.  The words coming to me so easily, that my fingertips could barely keep up.

I worked hard to perfect the eulogy in an effort to honor her the way she deserved to be honored. Once done with the eulogy I began to write our full love story. I wrote 27,000 words in a week.

The morning of January 22nd I read the eulogy to Michelle as she lay in her coma like state. I wept over her like a baby, as I struggled to get the words out of my mouth. Later that evening, the love of my life would pass away.

The book of our full love story remains at 27,000 words.  I have not touched it since that morning. The morning of the day that she passed away. I will though, when the time is right.

A month after Michelle passed away a friend suggested to me that I start a blog. I hate to read, so the truth is, I had never ever read a blog before. I googled how to start a blog, got to work, and launched it the next day.

What began as a mission to keep Michelle’s memory alive has now become a deep passion for writing and speaking about love, loss, grief and healing. I went from a man who did not think he could make it to the next second, let alone the next minute or day – to a survivor.

Writing is one of the reasons why I have survived.

Since your wife Michelle’s death, you have started working as a Life Coach, specifically helping others who are going through the grieving process. When did you decide this was something you wanted to do?

I’m big on mental health and grief counseling. I truly believe everyone needs some sort of release. I also truly believe that every person is unique, so what might work for you – may not work for me. As my blog began to grow and grow, I saw that my words and our story, were actually helping people.

I saw that I could actually make a difference. As I thought back to all of the counselors and social workers I had reached out to since Michelle got sick I realized something – as AMAZING as they all were, not one of them had experienced a similar loss.

I saw a need for someone raw, real and unscripted. A need for someone who could connect with people’s hearts and souls.

I saw a need for someone who can help people understand that their grief is valid, their pain and anger is ok, that they are not alone and that there is always hope – even in the moments in which it cannot be seen, or felt.

You have stated that your goal ‘is to help others both honor their pain and see that a hopeful tomorrow can indeed exist’. How important is patience when going through grief?

Patience is SO important. I try to preach this a lot in my book. Grief comes in waves, is always changing, never ending and the price we pay for love.

It is so important that we are kind to ourselves, patient with ourselves and surround ourselves with people who are understanding, loving and non-judgmental.

Do you feel widowers are given enough support in society?

Sadly, I don’t. I think this is for a variety of reasons.

First off, some of the blame has to go towards us.  Men, as a whole, have to stop trying to be so strong all of the time. We have to open up, if not to the world – then at least to someone. It is ok to show emotion and to have a broken heart. It is OK to NOT be OK!

That being said, I think our society in general, also shows a lot less support to widowers. Our society acts as though the male heart does not hurt as bad as the female heart.

That is simply not true.

Can you share with us five things which have helped you through your bereavement?

One book?

Believe it or not, I hate to read. I love to write, but I hate to read. Weird, I know. That being said working on my books has helped me tremendously. It has been an incredible healing tool for me.

One activity?

Writing, speaking and connecting with others in the grieving community. It is so important to surround yourself with people who get it and who care. There are so many online and in person groups that can offer support.

One quote?

My wife’s. When she was dying, and I was at my lowest points, she gave me strength. She would tell me that ‘I was strong’, and ‘that I could get through this’. She would tell me that ‘I was not allowed to give up’.

Michelle was my inspiration. And my everything. She is the reason why I am here today.

One piece of advice?

While at hospice, my friend sent me a meme. It talked about how one could be bitter, or better. This touched me. I was so bitter the entire 2 ½ years she was sick. It was during the last ten days of her life, as I began to write her eulogy, that I began to find my better.

That’s where the name of my blog comes from, Better Not Bitter Widower.

One song/piece of music?

The song Michelle was supposed to walk down the aisle to. She passed away two weeks before our wedding ceremony was supposed to take place.

‘At Last’ by Etta James.

When it’s my time, Michelle and Etta are going to be waiting for me. Michelle will be walking down the aisle. Etta will be singing. Knowing me, I’ll probably be crying. Can you cry in the afterlife? I don’t know. I’ll find out I guess.

#tears #of #joy

John Polo is author of the book ‘Widowed. Rants, Raves and Randoms’ andHurt to Healing’ with Michelle Piper.

To learn more about John Polo, visit his website.

This article is part of the ‘Inspiring Stories’ series.

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