Search & Replace S04E13: Cindy Burns

What if hiding your feelings leads to hiding your true self? Dive into Cindy Burns’ story, from overwhelming grief to rediscovering purpose and positivity. After the loss of her husband, Cindy faced a dark period, burdened by hidden emotions and the facade of strength. Hear how she transformed her life by embracing her feelings, shedding negativity, and finding a new mission in helping others navigate their own grief. Cindy’s story is a testament to resilience and the healing power of authenticity. Don’t miss this inspiring episode 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 & Taylor. More information follows this episode.  

[00:00:10] Joe Taylor Jr.: What if you get so good at hiding your feelings, you end up hiding yourself?  

I’m Joe Taylor, Jr. This is Search and Replace. 

[00:00:29] When tragedy struck Cindy Burns and her family, she stepped up to take care of everyone, but she wasn’t prepared for what would happen next.  

[00:00:38] Cindy Burns: It was about five or six years after my husband died. In the intermediate time, my sons needed me physically to be there and, you know, help them out with some medical issues that they were having and things like that. 

[00:00:52] So, everybody got healthy. I retired. I had no reason to get out of bed in the morning. It was a dark, dark place I went to. It’s not a lot of fun being there. No reason to get out of bed in the morning. So, most days I was in my nightgown all day. I didn’t really, I didn’t want to burden my sons. I didn’t want them to worry about me. Oh Mom’s, you know, she’s really depressed. What are we going to do? I didn’t want that. I ended up with a bleeding ulcer because I hid my feelings.  

People thought I had it all together. You know, even while I was searching. Oh, she’s so strong. I heard that so much. You’re so strong. Yeah, you do become strong because you have to. Life still goes on.  

[00:01:43] Joe Taylor Jr.: Cindy noticed that everyone else seemed to be moving on around her, even as she felt stuck in the same place. And that brought her to a crucial realization.  

[00:01:53] Cindy Burns: It was close to a year, maybe, and I wasn’t sad, I just didn’t care, because there was nothing to care about. I finally realized that that’s not living, and I could live another 20, 30, maybe even 40 years. 

[00:02:12] And I didn’t want the rest of my life to look like what it was at that point. So I decided I needed to do something about it. And I talked to my doctor and I got on medications and I was very lucky that the first medications I was put on worked. That does not always happen. Sometimes you have to keep trying different ones to find the right combination for you. 

[00:02:35] I spent so much time being negative and I was tired of that. So, I worked really hard in bringing positivity into my life. I kept a gratitude journal. I kept a prayer journal. I surrounded myself by people who were positive.  

If I was, you know, like Facebook friends with somebody and all they did was drama. Sorry, I unfollowed them. Drama. I said, I don’t do drama unless it’s on a stage.  

[00:03:02] Joe Taylor Jr.: Cindy says that getting rid of the drama in her life opened her up to a new focus.  

[00:03:07] Cindy Burns: I used to call myself an optimistic pessimist. And now I’m definitely an optimist. You know, pessimism just doesn’t, you know, why look at the negative when there’s so many positives floating around. 

[00:03:21] But then I figure, okay, I need a purpose. I need a reason to get out of bed in the morning. So I tried a bunch of different things. I tried all kinds of things that weren’t really true to me. And it wasn’t until I realized that what I really, really wanted to do deep in my heart was to help other widows. 

[00:03:45] It makes me happy to see somebody come out the other side of grief. It makes me feel good to know that I’m helping them. It makes me happy. You know, it fills my soul.  

[00:03:58] Joe Taylor Jr.: Cindy says her approach to working through grief isn’t about blocking out the memories of the people that you love.  

[00:04:04] Cindy Burns: It’s not that I don’t miss my husband. Of course I do. And both my parents are gone now, and I miss them terribly. And there are times when I think, Oh, I’ve got to, you know, I actually reach for my phone to call one of them. And my husband’s been dead almost 13 years. And my mother’s been gone 10 years.  

[00:04:23] And in the past that would make me sad and bring me down. Now it’s like, I think of the good memories that I have of them.  

For the most part, I’ve learned who I am now. I’m different. You know, you’re forever changed. And once you know who you are and like who you are, that’s a huge step. After that, you can learn to dream again. And once you can dream again, once you can envision a future for yourself, you can actually reach for that future. You can find your purpose. Those are my four steps. Feel your feelings, find yourself, dream again, and find your purpose. That sounds simple, and it is. But it’s not easy.  

[00:05:09] Joe Taylor Jr.: Cindy reminds us that grief comes for us in lots of different ways.  

[00:05:13] Cindy Burns: Grief is not just for widows and widowers. You grieve the loss of a dog, you grieve the loss of a job, the loss of a friendship. You can grief somebody while they’re still alive. There’s so much grief out there and people don’t, it’s, I call it hidden grief. People don’t know that, you know, what they’re feeling, it’s a whole constellation of emotions, and they don’t realize that what they’re experiencing is actually grief, and that’s what’s keeping them from moving forward in their lives. 

[00:05:49] It’s what’s keeping them stagnant and maybe even, you know, putting them back a little bit. And once you deal with grief, once you manage it. It’s there for a reason. Grief is good for us. Believe it or not, it is good for us. It helps us get these feelings and emotions taken care of. Once you do that, then you can open yourself up to what life really has to offer. 

[00:06:19] Joe Taylor Jr.: That’s Cindy Burns, a life coach for the widowed and for people experiencing any kind of grief. We’ve got links to Cindy and her work in our show notes and on our website at  

[00:06:32] Also in our show notes, Hope Gillette writes about nine distinct types of grief, including one kind that happens even before you’ve experienced a loss in your life. 

[00:06:42] And Natalli Amato writes about an experience similar to Cindy’s and the renewed sense of purpose that can happen when you channel grief into a new capacity for connection.  

[00:06:53] All that and more in our show notes and at  

[00:06:55] Today’s episode was produced by Nicole Hubbard with help from the entire Podcast Taxi team. I’m Joe Taylor, Jr.  

[00:07:03] Announcer: This has been a Podcast Taxi radio production.

Support for Search and Replace is provided by Johns & Taylor, user experience specialists serving media and technology companies that want their websites to work. Learn more about how top performing businesses eliminate barriers between customers and their goals at

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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