Search & Replace S02E12: Samantha Ruth

Grief is something many people suffer in silence. Samantha Ruth unexpectedly lost her husband and found she didn’t have the support she needed to get through the grief. As a psychologist, Samantha evolved her practice beyond coaching and counseling to address all aspects of a grieving spouse’s life. Find out how finding connection and support helped Samantha get through the pain on Search and Replace.

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[00:00:00] Announcer: Support for the following podcast is provided by the user experience specialists at Johns and Taylor. More information follows this episode. 

[00:00:09] Joe Taylor Jr.: What if the worst case scenario you spend your whole career helping other people survive, suddenly happens to you? I’m Joe Taylor Jr. This is Search and Replace.

Samantha Ruth was never afraid of confronting what happens when someone close to you dies. In fact, she made a career of it. 

[00:00:32] Samantha Ruth: I always knew I would work with kids somehow from babysitting to being a camp counselor, to then being a psychologist and working with the at risk population. So I was always dealing with drugs and overdoses and death by suicide and a lot of trauma in that population before I had to deal with it personally. 

I moved across the country to marry my husband, who at the time, he’s the one who got away and the only person. Ever loved and I thought that was my happily ever after. And just a few short years after that, he collapsed unexpectedly at work while he was making his lunch.

Even though I had been here for a few years, it was still a new city, new surroundings, away from everything I had created professionally, and I was absolutely stuck and lost and devastated. 

[00:01:25] Joe Taylor Jr.: Sam discovered in the midst of that heartbreaking moment, that it wasn’t just enough to seek the support of fellow experts. She needed real help from someone with even more specific experience. 

[00:01:38] Samantha Ruth: With all of my education and experience and resources, I struggled to find the help and support that I needed. And so that made me very passionate about creating services for others because there is so little support available. And even very little awareness around grief in general in this world.

It’s an uncomfortable topic. It makes others uncomfortable. The silence is the biggest problem. Everyone deals with grief at some point in life and not talking about it makes those who are dealing with it feel unseen, unheard, alone. 

And we live in this world where everybody bounces back and pushes through. And when it comes to healing, that advice is just the worst. 

When you, I lost my husband. People lose a parent or a child. And you have no choice but to survive. And so your resilience and your strength, doesn’t help us even though, yes, we have it. What we need is connection with people who get it, and that can be very specific.

Many people know what it’s like to lose someone. I needed people who had also lost a husband to help me. And so we need that guidance and support and compassion from people who get it and don’t expect us to go back to certain things we might not go back to. 

[00:03:01] Joe Taylor Jr.: You’ve probably seen the Chicken Soup for the Soul books, not just in bookstores, but in airports and grocery stores. The author who created that series turned out to play a significant role in the next part of Sam’s journey. 

[00:03:15] Samantha Ruth: I was literally grasping at straws. I was doing anything I could think of and I was listening to my Jack Canfield books on Audible because I couldn’t read. I was still struggling to focus, and I ended up connecting with somebody who told me that he has a training program.

And so I took another year to work with him, not for my profession. I was just lost and stuck and knew that he meant something in my life and his books had helped me. And so through that I connected with people who are my lifelines. 

I moved from Denver to Boulder about just under two and a half years after I lost my husband, and I was still very deeply struggling, and I said to a friend, I need rehab for grief.

Like there’s rehab for everything else, and I need help, and people don’t get it. They think I’m fine. And she was like, You need to do something with that. Griefhab is what I call it.

A woman just said to me, it’s been over a year and people don’t know that every morning just opening my eyes and putting my feet on the floor feels like a marathon.

We hear things like fake it until you make it. We hear bounce back and push through, and that’s what we’re taught, whether it’s consciously or not. And so for me, I could not do that. I was just in too much pain to even care about how it made others feel around me. And that’s why I made the shift because so many people suffer in silence and feel like they have to cry in the car before they go into work, and then they have to put on a different face to get through the day. And that makes healing. Longer and it makes it more intense. 

[00:04:54] Joe Taylor Jr.: Sam evolved her idea into an unconventional practice that goes beyond coaching and counseling to address all aspects of a grieving spouse’s life. 

[00:05:04] Samantha Ruth: They have unlimited access to me. They know that I am there and they don’t have to wait until their next appointment.

And with that, I do more than just traditional appointments. I help with obtaining the death certificates and presenting them to the numerous places that pop up over a year where you have to keep dealing with closing accounts or talking to employers or even teachers to just get through the time. And so I’m kind of that bridge.

[00:05:34] Joe Taylor Jr.: Sam’s practice includes clients from all over the United States, and she recognizes that it’s often the people closest to someone experiencing grief who must form that first line of support. 

[00:05:45] Samantha Ruth: I would say to friends and loved ones who want to support someone struggling, We need you. We don’t look the same as we did before. We might not like the same things and we might not be picking up the phone. 

And so a lot of people say to me, I don’t know what to say. I don’t know what to do. And I would encourage you to let go of that and just say anything. Say I’m here. Say I’m thinking of you. Say I love you. Say anything, but don’t wait for that perfect thing to come to your mind because your support is what gets us through.

And reaching out and thinking about who to call is more stressful. So being there for us and not knowing what to say is wonderful, and we need that. 

I hope everyone listening just knows that you are not alone, even when you feel like you are. And please, Find that one person to help you connect with others who get it.

[00:06:39] Joe Taylor Jr.: That’s psychologist and author, Samantha Ruth. We’ve got links to Sam’s Griefhab program, to her books and to other resources for coping with loss in our show notes and on our website at 

Today’s episode was produced by Nicole Hubbard with help from the entire Podcast Taxi team. I’m Joe Taylor, jr.

[00:07:05] Announcer: This has been a Podcast Taxi radio production. Support for Search and Replace is provided by Johns and Taylor, user experience specialists serving media and technology companies that want their websites to work. 

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Joe Taylor Jr. has produced stories about media, technology, entertainment, and personal finance for over 25 years. His work has been featured on NPR, CNBC, Financial Times Television, and ABC News. After launching one of public radio's first successful digital platforms, Joe helped dozens of client companies launch or migrate their online content libraries. Today, Joe serves as a user experience consultant for a variety of Fortune 500 and Inc. 5000 businesses. Twitter | Facebook | Instagram

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