Redefining Grief with Herdyne Mercier, LCSW

Valerie Johnson-Reed:Triumph Over Tragedy

February 23, 2021

Valerie Johnson-Reed: Triumph Over Tragedy 

Episode Introduction

What if you learned someday that your name symbolized what you will go through and how you will handle life? Some learnings could be just as incredible. Often, we have to not say anything at all, for it is not about saying something; it is about being there.

Join me on this episode of the Redefining Grief podcast as I interview a mindful and strong woman and my dear friend, Valerie Johnson-Reed. Valerie's moving journey in life is a ray of sunshine for anyone who wishes to declutter from the infinite hardships in life and feel heard.

Her journey through grief started when her only sibling, her brother, passed away after suddenly being diagnosed with a tumor on his back that left him paralyzed from the waist down and then from there, ending up having a blood clot traveled to the lungs. And then her mother, who was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer before her brother passed away, died. Giving her very little time to recover, life threw upon her another mishap. After celebrating 15 years of marriage with her husband, he was diagnosed with a rare form of soft tissue cancer. He passed away in the October of 2012.

The compounding loss left Valerie with a surreal feeling, and she didn't know how to get things done. It took a lot of God's grace and mercy and angels watching over her, she says, that she was able to get me where she is today. She also makes us understand why sometimes, you're not emotionally available to grieve during the service because you have the pressure of just making sure that everything goes right for your loved one. When her husband passed away, she had her children to look after and give strength to, and breaking down in front of them was never an option for her. She battled through it alone until finally making the move to ask for help.

Valerie recollects all that played the hardest for her. She was used to her husband getting things done for her, and his absence left her tormented. She knew not where to start and how to do all that he had been doing for her all this time. She shares how the strongest connection with God gave her the strength to endure the most challenging times and keep moving.

Voicing your emotions and speaking the truth is crucial to your journey to recovery. There is always someone who needs to hear what you have to deliver. Sometimes, you don't need to save those who grieve. You just have to be there to listen. Listen in and learn how Valerie's learnings could pave the way for your healing too!

About Our Guest

Valerie Johnson-Reed is a mother, author and motivational speaker. She started with Strong To The Finish Motivational Speaking, to create a positive place to talk about the hardness that life can bring. Realizing she needed to share her story with the others to give them hope, she wrote three books, ’ Through Micah's Eyes’, ‘Grieving under God's Grace’, and ‘Stay Strong, Finish Strong’. Having known grief and its immeasurable depth, Valerie’s words are invaluable wisdom to overcome life challenges and still emerge out of them victorious.

Episode Quotes

● “I remember certain things about the service, but I don't remember truly engaging in the service.” - Valerie [10:34]

● “They are in the business of making sure the funeral and the service goes right. And they're not in the business of emotionally being vulnerable, to be present, to grieve.” - Herdyne [13:13]

● “Once I started talking about it, I started feeling better. And then other people started coming saying you know what, I know somebody that needs to hear this.“ - Valerie [19:31]

● “When you go through what your life situations, having what we call grief, no matter what that grief may be, you empower yourself and you educate yourself.” - Herdyne [20:37]

● “Sometimes we have to not say anything at all. It's not about saying something, it's about being there. “ - Valerie [22:14]

● “People cannot support us when they are emotionally unavailable, because supporting us sometimes mean for them that they have to deal with the reality of the truth that is currently happening.” - Herdyne [26:30]

Redefining Grief Pearls of Wisdom, P.O.W., Questions

● What have you learned about yourself since redefining your grief journey? [42:30]

I have learned that there are times when I do need help. And then, I need to ask.

● If today was your last day on earth, and you were granted five words or less? What would it be? [43:36]

Enjoy life. Live. Be present.

● During your hard times, what's that one song that just gets you through? [45:02]

Breathing to me oh Lord by Fred Hammond and one by Marvin Sapp, ‘Not the time, Not the place’.

Episode Time-Stamps

● [05:11] - Valerie shares her grief journey with us

● [14:47] - How did the healing process look like for Valerie?

● [18:53] - Learn why the truth anchor is real

● [21:14] - Educating oneself on what to say

● [29:10] - You’re not alone

● [31:27] - What it was like putting the pieces back together and the emotional part of it

Reference Links

● YouTube link to Valerie’s favorite songs:

1. Breathe Into Me Oh Lord by Fred Hammond:

2. Not the time, Not the place by Marvin Sapp:

● Books by Valerie:

1. Through Micah's Eyes

2. Grieving under God's Grace

3. Stay Strong, Finish Strong!

Connect with Valerie

● Website:

● Email:

● Instagram:

● Facebook:

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