Grieving Voices

Susan Snow | The Other Side of the Gun: The Aftermath of My Father's Murder

June 18, 2024 Victoria V | Susan Snow Season 4 Episode 199
Susan Snow | The Other Side of the Gun: The Aftermath of My Father's Murder
Grieving Voices
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Grieving Voices
Susan Snow | The Other Side of the Gun: The Aftermath of My Father's Murder
Jun 18, 2024 Season 4 Episode 199
Victoria V | Susan Snow

Send Victoria a text message!

In this week's episode, I am honored to host Susan Snow, a beacon of hope for anyone navigating the treacherous waters of trauma and loss.

Susan is an inspiring figure as an author, international speaker, and resiliency coach. Susan bravely opened up about her experience following the tragic death of her father, an LA police detective. Her candid discussion on coping with PTSD before it was widely recognized sheds light on the silent battles many face.

In this raw conversation:

  • Susan shares her firsthand experience dealing with PTSD following the violent loss of her father at age 17.
  • She discusses how the lack of mental health awareness in the '80s left her struggling alone with grief.
  • We delve into how witnessing gun violence impacted Susan, leading to sleep deprivation and suicidal ideation.
  • The podcast touches upon how trauma can affect familial relationships, highlighting Susan’s strained dynamic with her mother post-tragedy.
  • We learn about Susan's path to resilience: from wearing an "emotional mask" to eventually finding a therapist who understood severe trauma.
  • A pivotal moment occurs during our discussion when she recounts watching coverage of the Columbine High School shootings in 1999, which triggered flashbacks — illustrating how PTSD symptoms can persist over time without proper help.

Susan’s tale teaches us something vital: In sharing our stories openly without fear or shame, we permit others to do the same. We foster conversations that might be someone else’s lifeline or inspire them towards help they've been reluctant to seek out themselves.





  • National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255
  • Crisis Text Line provides free, 24/7 support via text message. Text HOME to 741741 to connect with a trained Crisis Counselor

If you are struggling with grief due to any of the 40+ losses, free resources are available HERE.


Support the Show.

This episode is sponsored by Do Grief Differently™️, my twelve-week, one-on-one, in-person/online program for grievers who have suffered any type of loss to feel better. Click here to learn new tools, grief education, and the only evidence-based method for moving beyond the pain of grief.

Would you like to join the mission of Grieving Voices in normalizing grief and supporting hurting hearts everywhere? Become a supporter of the show HERE.

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Show Notes Transcript

Send Victoria a text message!

In this week's episode, I am honored to host Susan Snow, a beacon of hope for anyone navigating the treacherous waters of trauma and loss.

Susan is an inspiring figure as an author, international speaker, and resiliency coach. Susan bravely opened up about her experience following the tragic death of her father, an LA police detective. Her candid discussion on coping with PTSD before it was widely recognized sheds light on the silent battles many face.

In this raw conversation:

  • Susan shares her firsthand experience dealing with PTSD following the violent loss of her father at age 17.
  • She discusses how the lack of mental health awareness in the '80s left her struggling alone with grief.
  • We delve into how witnessing gun violence impacted Susan, leading to sleep deprivation and suicidal ideation.
  • The podcast touches upon how trauma can affect familial relationships, highlighting Susan’s strained dynamic with her mother post-tragedy.
  • We learn about Susan's path to resilience: from wearing an "emotional mask" to eventually finding a therapist who understood severe trauma.
  • A pivotal moment occurs during our discussion when she recounts watching coverage of the Columbine High School shootings in 1999, which triggered flashbacks — illustrating how PTSD symptoms can persist over time without proper help.

Susan’s tale teaches us something vital: In sharing our stories openly without fear or shame, we permit others to do the same. We foster conversations that might be someone else’s lifeline or inspire them towards help they've been reluctant to seek out themselves.





  • National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255
  • Crisis Text Line provides free, 24/7 support via text message. Text HOME to 741741 to connect with a trained Crisis Counselor

If you are struggling with grief due to any of the 40+ losses, free resources are available HERE.


Support the Show.

This episode is sponsored by Do Grief Differently™️, my twelve-week, one-on-one, in-person/online program for grievers who have suffered any type of loss to feel better. Click here to learn new tools, grief education, and the only evidence-based method for moving beyond the pain of grief.

Would you like to join the mission of Grieving Voices in normalizing grief and supporting hurting hearts everywhere? Become a supporter of the show HERE.

Victoria Volk: Welcome to another episode of Greeting Voices. If this is your first time listening, thank you for being here. And if you've listened before, thank you for coming back. Today, my guest is Susan Snow, she is an author, international speaker, and resiliency coach. Her message of hope and healing through trauma and loss comes from her vulnerability, which allows others a safe space to tell their own story of trauma and loss. And thank you so much for your time and being here today and sharing your story.

Susan Snow: Thanks for having me.

Victoria Volk: And your book title is very to the point Can you share that story, please? But also, I have a quest a follow-up question to the book title.

Susan Snow: So Sure. Absolutely. Well, the book came out and that title was specific because I am the daughter of a Los Angeles police detective who was ambushed while picking up my then six year old brother on Halloween of nineteen eighty five. And my mom and I were called to the school and witnessed his body in the aftermath. So the other side of the gun It was my side. It was my side of what gun violence, you know, takes away from you. Without getting political, you know, it was more on the mental health side.

Victoria Volk: And when you when this happened, you were seventeen on the gas of adulthood. And you're old enough to recognize that what happened. Right? And process what happened to some to some degree?

Susan Snow: I really struggled. You know, this was the eighties. It was mid eighties. There was no talk of mental health back then. And there definitely was very little known about PTSD. What I witnessed was horrific. And I didn't know how to process. And unfortunately, that night was so chaotic. There was just so much going on. And when we showed up, there was so much going on, but we still didn't know until we actually saw this scene. All I saw were officers coming towards me with tears in their eyes. And I didn't know what that meant. I mean, even when I'm the one that received the call at home, I was getting ready to go a Halloween party or hoping to go to a Halloween party, and it was a week night. So my dad had already said, nope. Not doing it. But I was bound to determine being seventeen, and I got that call from a woman from my brother's school. And all she said was there was a drive by shooting, and my dad was involved. So even at that point, I didn't know what to expect when we arrived at the school. And even that night, after I witnessed what I witnessed to the officers, you know, my mom was screaming and Iwas focused on an ambulance that was did still in the street, and I couldn't understand why they weren't helping my dad. I just it was not processing at all. That what I was seeing was that he was gone. It was it was a a very surreal kind of feeling like an auto body experience kind of And then when we got into the school, we went into a office. And I sat down and my mom was kind of ushered out of the room. I believe was some detectives. I didn't know where my brother was.
I didn't know if he was hurt. If he was at the hospital, like, I knew nothing. And as I was sitting there, there were two ladies that were talking. And the one said to the other, yes, unfortunately, mister Williams is deceased, and that's when it hit me and my world cracked. And I just wanted to run out of there. You know? I talked to a lot of people who have had loss. And this seems to be kind of a feeling of I just wanna run away from this nightmare, especially when it's something that happens. And occurs quickly, but you just wanna run. And I wanted to run and run and run and run and not stop. But my legs were like cement. I couldn't move. Physically, could not move. And my mom came back into the room and she said, I'm sending you with a neighbor. And even though I wanted To leave, I wanted to run, the seventeen year old girl needed my family. I needed to be in a space where I felt like I wasn't alone. And instead, I got sent to the neighbor, and I don't blame her. I mean, there was a lot of chaos, like I said, going on. And people handle things differently in chaos. But that night really impacted me because I felt like I was not important in this family unit situation and all the focus and so be it was on my brother because my dad's last thing that he did on earth was to save his life and tell him to duck down in the truck because he knew what was coming. So, you know, for me, I was having to go to this neighbor and this poor neighbor had known my parents forever. So she was trying to wrap her head around what was happening. And my environment changed because my quiet street now was covered in media vans and police cars, and we had helicopters we could hear over the house. And it was crazy, you know. So I didn't get to grief. By my like, I had no privacy on the grieving process at all. Like, There was always people around. People I didn't know. And you know, I had my boyfriend at the time who I'm now married to. And he was nineteen. So we were both children, you know, and we're trying to figure these things out. Like, how do you navigate this? So Yeah. It was it was a huge pivotal pivotal time in my life. And Yeah.

Victoria Volk: did I wanna backpedal to my statement about that you can process it to some degree. And what I meant was when I said that because I'm a child of loss. My father died when I was a kid and

Susan Snow: You get that. Do that.

Victoria Volk: Yeah. So I get that. And when people say, oh, children are resilient, they'll bounce back. Like, that drives me crazy.

Susan Snow: Me too.

Victoria Volk: Yeah. So what I meant when I said that and I should have said it differently was as opposed to like a younger child. Right?

Susan Snow: Oh, yeah.

Victoria Volk: You have a greater understanding

Susan Snow: Yeah.

Victoria Volk: Of the weight

Susan Snow: Yeah.

Victoria Volk: Of what's happening. Yeah. Right? I still really under like, a child mean, like, I understood when my dad was dying of cancer. Like, Iand when he died, I knew he died.
Like, Iunderstood that. Like, he was gone forever. Right? But to understand, like, the impact that that was gonna have, the rest of my life, that I couldn't even run my head around. Right?

Susan Snow: Right.

Victoria Volk: But as a seventeen year old and you know you're going into adulthood and you you have an understanding of this is changing everything for me. Right? And that's that's the weight of the trauma and what you witnessed and all of that. Did your brother survive?

Susan Snow: He did. He survived. I didn't see him until the next day. What I was told was that he was in he was questioned by police immediately. So he was still at the school when I got sent away. But I didn't get to see him. I could hear him crying. In his room, but there was nothing left of me. To be able to go and console him. And I just assumed my mom would be there and do it. And he would be surrounded with people because he was so little. So I really didn't see my brother until the next day and I was able to hug him. And, you know, just let him know that I was there for him and I love him and you know, dad loved him and, you know, so but it was it was a hard time. It was, you know, I My relationship with my mom was not a hundred percent when this happened. We had a strained relationship for many years.
And I didn't realize that until I started to write my book. You know? So when all this happened, my dad was always like the go between the mediator. The voice of reason, and now he's gone. And so not only was I processing the fact that my dad was gone, but then I was processing the fact that how was I going to manage that relationship with my mom?
So it was just a lot. It was a lot for me and, you know, I was living, as you well know, with grief, you live in a fog. I was living in a fog. I couldn't sleep. I was total sleep deprivation.
And I ambeknownst to me, I had suicidal ideation. I wanted to be with my dad and I didn't know how that would happen. But I longed to be with my dad. And I had days where I just couldn't get out of bed, so the depression hit me. My sense of security was gone because they didn't catch the men. So the men who were involved in this in my dad's murder. My dad was a detective. So he had testified that day in one of his criminal court cases, and the guy who was the defendant was out on bail. And it gave him an opportunity. But it didn't it took them six days to find them. So for six days, we had police presence all over our house, front yard, backyard, everything. I had bodyguards. So anywhere I went, I had bodyguards. And it was just crazy, like a whole different world. I had a pretty normal teenage life before all of this. And that was gone. And I had to grow up very, very quickly. So it was just it was a lot to process a lot. And I didn't have the tools, you know. Ijust I didn't have the tools at the time to manage my anxiety.
So I always felt like I was I even though I wanted to be with my dad, I was always, like, I felt like, you know, I'm having a heart attack because the panic attacks and and the feelings of it. And I would have to just try to squash him most of the time Iwould just talk myself out of it. But now I know not to do that because it just extends the attack. But it went on for a while. And I you know, and my mom now that I realized my mom has a narcissistic personality, And so her focus was totally her. And you know, we all process trauma and grief differently. And she chose to drink. And so that felt alienating to me as well. But that was her coping skill, and I'm not, you know, like I said, everybody deals with trauma and loss differently.

Victoria Volk: That's another level of grief. Right? And then your younger brother is growing up in that environment too.

Susan Snow: Mhmm. Oh, yeah. Absolutely. So, you know, it's a it did take them about a month. I was at the point where if you pointed me in a direction, that's the direction I would go. You know, Ihad no advocacy for myself. Ididn't know how to verbalize. Ididn't even tell anybody what was going on in my head, and I didn't know how. I had guilt and shame and felt like if I put more on someone else, it was too much, so I just kinda just dealt with it. You know? And My mom came to me about a month after my dad was killed, and he she said that the Los Angeles police department the advocate said that they wanted to put us in therapy. And I didn't know anything about therapy. In fact, in the 80s, I thought if you went to a therapist, You were crazy. But being, you know, subservient, I was like, Okay. Because that's that's the direction that you're gonna push me. That's the direction I'll go. And I met with this therapist. I had this feeling like, oh my gosh, this is gonna be the adult. This is gonna be the one that's gonna help me, that's gonna make me feel better. Right? But unfortunately, I think that the trauma that I experienced was too much for him, he wasn't, what I call, trauma competent. And he didn't wanna ask the questions, and he didn't. For an entire year, Ali talked about every single session was my relationship with my mother, my relationship with my brother, my boyfriend in school. And that was it.

Victoria Volk: And in the room.

Susan Snow: Nothing. And people like when I tell people that they go, What? And I said, yeah, because I think, honestly, he was afraid to ask the questions. Right? Because, you know, maybe he didn't have the answers or he didn't know what to do.

Victoria Volk: So have you ever even asked you, are you having thoughts of harming yourself or others? Not at once.

Susan Snow: Not once. And every session I'd be like before the session, I was like, today's the day. Today's the day. He's gonna figure it out because Iwas a mess. Like, I was a mess, but I just didn't know how to verbalize. Most seventeen year olds back then didn't know how to verbalize our feelings. And most of the time, you know, at Gen X, we were we were told to, you know,

Victoria Volk: suck it up buttercup.

Susan Snow: Buck it up buttercup. Yeah. Exactly. It wasn't it wasn't an open conversation. So an entire year went by, and the last day that I saw him, he looked at me and said, Susan, you're a well rounded young lady, and you're gonna be fine for the rest of your life, and I don't need to see you anymore. So that was that. And I walked out of that last session thinking, okay, I am so I've cracked I've cracked. I'm I'm crazy. I I'm just gonna have to live with this pain for the rest of my life. Even a professional can't help me, and that was my mindset.
You know, I lived in fight or flight from then on? It was just that's how it was. And, you know, and and and my my boyfriend, he didn't He didn't know what to do either. So I just I struggled a lot. And then on top of that, you know, as the years went on, you know, the the time with my mom and living with my mom became very unbearable. I couldn't do it anymore because I watched her spiraling and couldn't do anything about it. And I had this feeling of, like, I'm the oldest, and this is my responsibility. And I just had to, like I think even back then, I knew a little bit about boundaries without knowing about boundaries. And I just drew a line in the sand and said, that's it. At eighteen, I'm moving out. I can't do this. And I did it. I moved out.

Victoria Volk: What did your early twenties your life look like after that into your early twenties?

Susan Snow: I you know, I had some peace being out on my own even though my mom told the local police department, so they were constantly driving by my apartment. Which, you know, you just can't get away from it. But I married my boyfriend when I was twenty one. And in hindsight, you know, both of us agree that we were too young to get married. But because we had been together for so many years and we'd lived with each other for a little bit, that that was the next step. But even you know, all these years, like, I was living in fight or flight. So is he? He may not have witnessed what I saw that night, but from the moment I told him that night when he came because the the neighbor called him and told him to come to her house. The minute I told him, that was trauma. He'd only known my dad for three months. We'd only been dating three months. Three months and this nineteen year old guy, most guys would have been like, bye bye. This is too much. Too much. But he stuck it out. And I think he stuck it out because he knew my mom was going to do what she did, which is kind of turtle within herself. And I needed a friend. I needed some sort of support. And I'm grateful for that. You know, but it was, you know, it was it's our journey too, you know, and it's I don't think I would be here if my husband wasn't. In my life, especially at that point. You know? So but, you know, we've we've been together almost thirty nine years now, and it's just nuts to me. I mean, we've had our we we it's it's if you read it in the book. If you read it in the book, there was a divorce in the middle, but we are together. And married in for the second time. But yeah. I mean, it it's just you know, grief is is a crazy thing because it you know, it it comes and it goes. And the nice thing about having my husband is that he now knows my triggers. I hate that word, but he knows he knows and he knows when that's gonna send me into the grief. You know, so it's helpful. I have the tools now, but he he does too. Through watching me through the years. And that's really important.

Victoria Volk: When I think you raise a good point in that the ripples of grief, it's the impact it has on you, but also I mean, the people around you, when you don't have the tools, right, and you can combust at any moment or, you know, explode into a fit of rage or anger. The people around you feel like they're living and walking on egg shells.

Susan Snow: Yep.

Victoria Volk: That's the ripples of getting And so when people think, oh, it's not affecting me. I'm dealing with it. I'm just sweeping it under the rug. I'm not gonna talk about it. If you are getting angry about someone not replacing the toilet paper roll or, you know, refilling the salt shaker, whatever it is. Right? Like these silly things that can make us angry when we are just like you said, walking in a fog. Well, and yet it's like these a thousand paper cuts. Right?

Susan Snow: Exactly. Well, I will tell you I got really good, and I talk about this all the time. Igot really good with wearing my emotional mask. And what that is is, you know, when I was young, after it happened, people would say things like you're strong. You're brave.
You're gonna be fine. And that's what I wore. So anytime anything came up, I was like, put on the mask, I'm fine. I'm strong. I'm this. Right? But underneath, I was a mess. But what I put out outwardly was something that was different. And so that's why I call it the mass. Because nobody can see what all the turmoil is inside. My husband had a way of knowing when that mask was coming on, and that was the difference. But it took me many, many years to get rid of that mask. Many, many years. And you know, fourteen to be exact. We we were married. We got we had two children. We had two children. We decided we were gonna leave Southern California. I always lived with this safety issue. Because it was my dad's death was a planning of his death for months. Before he died, before they killed him. I always looked behind my shoulder all the time. Nighttime was extremely stressful for me because my dad was killed at night at the night at the, you know, like, five forty And when we got an opportunity to move to Denver, Colorado, that's we jumped on it. And we moved in ninety seven and then I was working as a hairdresser at the time. And I was working at a salon that was close to Littleton, Colorado. And I on April twentieth of nineteen ninety nine, I was working and I took a break, I went into the backroom and turned on the TV, and all the coverage of the Columbine high school shootings. Were happening. And as I sat and I watched it, obviously, my colleagues were having a reaction to it. Shock you know, sadness, all that. But for me, I saw the school. I saw the kids that were my own age. I saw the ambulances. The police cars and I started to have flashbacks. I turned pale white. What is a ghost? Started getting clammy. I could feel my fingers tingling. I knew it was happening. I was having a panic attack. And I did not tell my colleagues my story so they had no idea why I was having this visceral reaction, and I didn't either. Because I was told I was gonna be fine for the rest of my life, and that stuck with me. So as this was all going on, I tried to calm myself down and then I did what I always did and I put that emotional mask gone. And I went out and I did my clients and everybody was obviously very upset. But I went about my day like it didn't affect me. The minute I walked through those doors, though, to drive home.
All of those emotions came flooding back. And I was I spiraled. I was terrified now because now I'm a mom of two small kids. And I wanted to leave this planet. Part of me did. The other part of me was terrified to leave my children. And this happened for two days. And when I got home one day, my husband met me at door and he said, you have two choices because he knew it was a slippery slope. He knew it. He said either you get help today or I'm putting you in a hospital. And I threw up the white flag and I said, okay, I'll I'll go to the doctor. And I went to the doctor, and a regular physician, and he immediately put me on antidepressants because that's what they do.

Victoria Volk: Of course, they do. They're not trained psychologists or therapists.

Susan Snow: No. And then he handed me a card. And he said, I want you to make an appointment for this therapist. And I literally laughed at him in his face. And I said, I did this fourteen years ago. And it didn't help me then? What makes you think this is gonna help me now? And he looked me and he said, you have no choice. You have no choice. So I said, okay, fine. And I made the appointment, and I'm so grateful I did because this therapist specialized in severe trauma, and she knew all about PTSD. So in five minutes, of having a conversation with her. She looked at me and she said and I described everything I went through at seventeen and everything that I was currently dealing with. And she said, Susan, she said everything you've gone through since you were seventeen years old. Is a hundred percent normal because you have PTSD. And I kind of like sat back in my chair because I was confused. I went, wait a minute. I'm not in the military. I didn't go to war. And she said, well, She said anyone who has gone through trauma can experience PTSD. But what you what you need to know is that PTSD isn't something that goes away. It's something you learn to manage. And those words were like, Oh my goodness. I always describe it as the sky opening up and rainbow shot shooting out of him because I felt like I wasn't crazy, and I had hope, and I had it. An adult that was gonna guide me in this journey and help me heal. And I just I felt so grateful in that moment. But she had her work cut out for her. Definitely.

Victoria Volk: Thank you for sharing that. And I think one thing that came to my mind as I was hearing you talk about your experience with the PTSD and stuff is and let me ask you this from what you've learned about PTSD. Is it kind of like the pendulum can swing where you're maybe it's like all the cells in your body are just like all at once, like like you're it's almost like you're how do I wanna explain this? Like, your energy is really amped up or the pendulum can swing the other way where you're completely detached. Yes.
So Pete, I just want to

Susan Snow: Answer is yes.

Victoria Volk: I just want to clarify for people listening who are unfamiliar with the symptoms of PTSD. It doesn't just look like your experience.

Susan Snow: Oh, yeah. And everybody like PTSD is not a one size fits all. Right? So everybody has different reactions for different things. So for me, for example, anytime there was like a shooting of some sort, It would take me right back to that day and all the feelings I had. So the anxiety, I would be extremely anxious and then extremely sad. Right? Some people just get very anxious or on edge. Some people just go into a deep depression. Some people become suicidal. There's just a a very variance of things that happen to you. And so for myself, when I say she had her work cut out for me, is she decided that it was going to be beneficial to start out small. And not overwhelm me. So the one thing that I was struggling with at that very moment is sleep. And if you don't have sleep and you have PTSD, It just exacerbates everything. So she really wanted me to get rest. But I told her nighttime was the worst because and I'm sure there's people out there that are, like, Yep. When you start to rest, your brain just turns on. My brain would turn on, it would go straight to the darkness. So I would be terrified to shut my eyes. Because I thought I was going to be enveloped in the darkness and would not be able to come out of it. So she said, okay, here's what we're going to do. You're going to journal at night. And I kinda looked at her funny because I'm like, that sounds a little dumb. Like, Really simple too. Right? Right. Yeah. Like, really, this is gonna make a big difference for me. And she's like, you know what?
Just give it a week. I'm gonna give you a couple of prompts to write. If you wanna write, you can do it through music. You can do it through art. I don't care how you do it, but just get all that stuff out of your head before you go to sleep. And I said, okay. So for a week, I had a little a little tablet next to my bed. And I would write down all the stuff that was swirling around in there on the paper. And at first, I was like, oh, but my spelling was wrong, and my You were judging it. Yeah. And, you know, when I called her, she's like, Susan. This isn't a lesson of like English. You just have to write. Right? Just like write it. It doesn't matter. If it's spelled right, it doesn't even it doesn't matter. Just get it on a paper. I said, okay. Fine.
So for an entire week, I did that. And And the crazy thing that happened is I fell asleep. I started to sleep. Because I was no longer anxious, I was no longer in that, you know, darkness when I slept. And I thought, oh, this stuff works.

Victoria Volk: And typing it I'll say this too. I'll just add this for people listening. Handwriting is the key.

Susan Snow: Yep.

Victoria Volk: Not typing on a laptop or anything like that. Yeah. Right? That's what connects the brain to your heart.

Susan Snow: Absolutely. Yep. And yeah. So I physically wrote it. I physically wrote it.
But like I said, you know, some people people can do art. They can draw pictures. They can pick up a guitar and start writing a you know, like, just singing it out, like, whatever you have to do to get it out. And like I said, there's no one's size fits all. And so that was the first thing that she started me on.
And as we started attacking every single symptom, My next symptom that I dealt with was anxiety, and I had dealt with this forever And, you know, and I told her, I said, it's exhausting, physically exhausting to my body. To continue to have a panic attack after panic attack after panic attack. So she started to teach me breath work. And breathing techniques. And the first the very first breathing technique that I learned was called box breathing. And I still do it to today. You know, I actually teach it. So, you know, it was changing my nervous system and it was changing my state, you know, state the state of my my being. And so I started to learn as I felt the triggers of anxiety, I would know. Okay.First, I gotta let it happen. I can't fight it. Because when you fight it, it doesn't go away or it'll stop and then it'll start and then it'll stop and it'll start. So I've got to just tell myself, I'm okay. You know, this is gonna be alright. I'm gonna live through this. And then so that I don't go into another one then start the box breathing and really change the state of mind. And so she just each thing, she just kept attacking each thing that I was dealing with. And it was unbelievable. But here's the really important thing that is over and above all it is the most important thing in the lesson that I learned. Was I had to be able to one trust her because I had to be the most vulnerable that I could be in order to do this work. And if I didn't feel that, I wouldn't have healed in the way that I did. And that's really important for people to understand is that if you go to a therapist, when They need to be trauma competent. They need to understand your type of trauma and know how to help you heal through it. But you have to have that feeling of safety, of you can be a hundred percent vulnerable and go there with those people. And know that they are going to respect you, that they are going to guide you in a way that you need to be guided. So because I hear a lot, people say, oh, therapy didn't work for me. Well, it's because you didn't find the right therapist. Because when you do and the work is done, that's that's when you see the real healing.

Victoria Volk: Well, in the distinction too, and look at the contrast of the first therapist versus the second therapist. The second therapist was giving you like homework. Right? Yep. You had action to take. Yep. That's the difference. That's why support groups, if you're not taking action, they don't work. Yeah, it make you feel better for a short period of time, but it's not long lasting. It's not moving you forward in a positive way in your life. Like therapy, like talk therapy, continually talking about the same things as you shared, it makes you feel better for the short period of time. Right? But then the next time you're talking about the same things again. Right? But I think the difference is this action. Taking action.

Susan Snow: Yeah. Actually, yeah. Because she would give me something to do And then ask me, like, how did that affect you? What it you know, how did you feel after that? You know?
Did you feel relief? Did you not? Like, do we need to tweak something? You know? And it was and that's why I tell people it's not a one size fits all. What happened for me and what I used worked for me. It may not work for you. There's so many modalities out there right now. You know, and you just have to find what works for you. And don't be a soul

Victoria Volk: resonates with you. Absolutely. Yeah. Yeah.

Susan Snow: Yep. Absolutely. So and I tell people, like, you will know in the first five minutes of meeting someone. Especially a therapist if you feel comfortable. If you don't, find another one.
You know? This your healing, and your journey is your journey. It's not theirs. And so it's important for you to be your own advocate. And if you feel like you're not getting the right help or you're frustrated because you're not going in the right direction, then find another therapist. It's okay. Everybody has to find their right fit.

Victoria Volk: I'm a certified grief specialist and what I learned in my training is that and me personally my story is that and maybe you resonate with this. Is that trauma Trauma happens, but grief is what's left.

Susan Snow: Yep.

Victoria Volk: The grief that's left.

Susan Snow: Yep. And you're grieving a lot of different things. Like a lot of different things. I mean, for me, I was not just grieving my dad. I was grieving my life. I was grieving my relationship. I was grieving my childhood. I was grieving not having a mom in the way that I need it, you know, the support system. I was grieving watching my both of my, you know, my mom and my brother took a different road than I did. Now my brother is doing amazing now. But when he was younger, he took, you know, a rough road, and I was grieving that. You know, I was grieving not being able to be the sister that he needed because I had to put boundaries down. You know, and so there was just the grief evolves actually, you know, as time goes on, you're grieving for different things. And so things will come up, you know. And I, at this point, I have no contact with my mother. And it's okay. Because what I realized was that that relationship was very toxic. And I spent a lot of time in shame and guilt because I was healing and she was not. And I felt like as the oldest and as the daughter that it was my responsibility, to help her heal. But what I had to realize and my book actually helped me realize is that It's not my responsibility. Everybody is their own individual person. And so even though she's my mother, it's still her own responsibility for her own life. And the choices that she makes. So when I wrote the book, I figured, you know, I was doing this to heal myself, but also in the process of it because I had so much fear. It was terrifying to be this raw and this vulnerable with strangers. I'm putting it out there, but I had fear of safety, repercussions, you know, because I'm putting myself out there. Are these men gonna find me kind of thing? I had fear about, you know, is this going to somehow blow up my marriage again because I talk about some very serious things that we went through. In the book because it was traumatic. And the relationship with my mom Is it going to open a conversation, or is it going to completely destroy whatever is left of the relationship? And it did the latter. But in all of that fear, I had to find a purpose Why was I writing this book? Who was it going to benefit? And that's who I put in front of me. The faces of the people that need to hear my message to know that they're not alone and that other people go through things and they find resiliency through it. Brief doesn't go away. It comes back in weird ways. But when you have the tools to move through it, and you know the people to look forward to help you support you, it makes a huge difference. And so that was what I did is I just focused on the people that were out there in the world. That needed to hear, hope. And I, you know and so with it having this effect on my relationship with my mom, I actually feel at peace and I feel okay. And sometimes that is the best thing. And I tell people, you know, if you're in my situation, if you're in that situation, sometimes best thing for you is to find your peace and protect it.

Victoria Volk: Well, and make peace with the choice that you made. Right? It's making peace with the choice that you made.

Susan Snow: Yep. Chaz two. Yeah.

Victoria Volk: This relationship and I'm going to make peace with that.

Susan Snow: Yeah. And actually, she's the one that severed it.

Victoria Volk: Oh. Is that Is the last with your mother, is that the other loss that you were describing on your website?

Susan Snow: Oh, yeah, absolutely. I mean, it's, you know, it's It's hard because that night, I felt, and even my brother says the same thing, that we lost both parents. Because we lost our dad, but my mom lost her identity. And she She just turdled. She just she to this day, if you meet her, she'll tell you in the first five minutes who she is. That she's the widow of my father because that's her end all be all. Right? That's that's her identity. And that's fine, and that's the choice that she makes. But I feel like watching that both of us watching that all these years has been hard because it's like we always wanted my mom to be happy. We always wanted my mom to have this beautiful life, finding love again, finding happiness again, and and we watched her. Exactly. And, I mean, she has no relationship with my kids.

Victoria Volk: And that's another layer of grief.

Susan Snow: Mhmm. So that's, you know and what let's and I say, like grief comes up in different ways throughout your life. And so now I literally, last year, realized that my mom was a narcissist and that, you know, narcissistic abuse is very difficult. To heal from, but it's something that I'm doing right now. And I'm the helping my brother as well just have he still has a relationship with her, but I'm trying to help my brother to be because he always wants to fight her over me. And I'm like, no. You protect your peace. I'm protecting my peace. So, you know, it it it took me I'm fifty five. It took me fifty four years to figure this out and writing my own book and reading my own book and seeing the patterns throughout my life where my mom had opportunities to step up and be a mom and give me the support that I needed. And it didn't happen. And so instead of living my life like having this fantasy, that one day my mom is gonna wake up and be some hallmark holiday mom, I had to let go of that and that is another grief. Of letting go of that fantasy. So yeah. I mean, brief is not something that you you heal from it at one point and then it goes away. Because there's always gonna be things throughout your life. That you're gonna grieve over always. It's just a matter of how you wanna do it. So I choose to learn from my experiences. And in learning, I find the resiliency.

Victoria Volk: And even if that takes thirty plus years, Absolutely. Did you and me?

Susan Snow: Absolutely. It's not too late. There is no timeline. There literally is no timeline. I think the the craziest thing that drives me bananas and it probably does you too being grief counselors. When people say, oh, it's been x amount of time, get over it, or you should just move on Right? Why is it still bothering you? Mhmm. Well, because you didn't have the relationship with that person that I did, That's just like when someone loses some when someone dies, I never say I know how you feel. Ever because I don't. I didn't have the same relationship with that person. As the one that's grieving. So Same. Even your brother. Even my brother relationship. I tell my brother that all the time. I don't know what it felt like for you. You had a whole different experience than I did. And I would not pretend to know what that feels like. I just know how it felt fermi. You know, and and the experiences I went through, which is what I wrote in the book. These were my experiences. And, you know, and and, you know, everybody just everybody goes the other The other thing is is, oh, your trauma is worse than mine. Really? No, it's not. I mean, the the story, the, you know, the actual situation, yeah, not everybody goes through that. I get that. But everybody's trauma is different. Does it mean that it's not important?

Victoria Volk: There's no hierarchy?

Susan Snow: Or there's no hierarchy exactly. There's no you know, well, my dad was murdered and you're, you know, you're just dealing with whatever, you know. No. Well, and

Victoria Volk: what people are doing when they do that is they're minimizing their own gap briefing trauma.

Susan Snow: Absolutely. And it's crazy because I've had conversations with people that here's the other side of that is that I've had conversations with people who have gone through trauma, but because it was an everyday event or an environment that they lived in constantly, they felt like everybody, you know, everybody's family was like that. And so it wasn't it wasn't traumatic what they went through. It wasn't abuse that they went through. And when I bring it to light, I had a woman who I was driving for Lyft for a little while last year because I'm a real estate agent now and real estate was a little funky last year, so first time in fourteen years, I had to have a side gig. So I went out and was driving, and I had my book in my car her one of my riders who was, like, why isn't your book in your car? So I had a yeah. Yeah. Yeah. So I had my book in my car and I picked up this woman and she pulled out my book and started to kind of read it. And she says, oh my gosh, you went through so much trauma and this and that. And I've never had trauma in my life, but she was going into rehab the next day. And I said, really? And so we started talking about her sobriety. And I said, well, what? You know, first of all, we talked about the fact that this was her third time in rehab. And that she had three kids, and that this time she wanted to do it for herself, the other time she did it for her kids, but failed. And in talking more with her, she said, well, I haven't had trauma like you have had trauma. And then you said, well, you know, everybody's life is different and maybe you did and you don't recognize it. She said, well, you know, when I was I lived with my mom, my mom raised me and my brother, and my mom was abusive you know, she yelled and screamed at me and whatever, but she said she had these boy this one boyfriend and, you know, he he would touch me from the age of three to seven. And I was like, touch you, and then she started to elaborate. And this woman was sexually assaulted and molested. From the age of three to the age of seven, she was made to have relations with her brother, and this was ongoing. And so for her, it was normal Like, this this was how you showed love. This is, you know, but then the mom would be jealous when the boyfriend would give more attention. To the child. Right? And I almost crashed my car at this point because I was like, you don't think this is trauma? I said, here's what I'm gonna tell you. What happened to you wasn't your fault? That was his fault. That was her mother's fault. You had adults that did not protect you. As a child, did not protect your brother as a child, you one hundred percent went through trauma. And I said, and I don't know how or why, but stuff flies out of my mouth and I go, where did that come from?
But what I said, was this. I said, if you really want to get sober, that is what you need to attack. Because what you went through was severe trauma. And I said, you have been To rehab, three times. Have you ever in those three times told any of your counselors? This story. And she said no. And I said, this is why it's your fourth. So here's what I'm gonna tell you. When you go to rehab tomorrow, and by this time she's, like, in tears, like, in tears.
She's sobbing. And I said, listen to me carefully. When you go to therapy or when you go to rehab tomorrow, Please tell your story. Tell your story. Because when you do they're gonna get you the right people. They're gonna align you with the right people. Because if you don't attack this, now S sobriety is gonna be so much harder. And she was just like, oh my god. I can't believe I'm this lift and this is what I was yeah. But it just it it opened my eyes. It really gave me an aha that there are people that are walking around on this earth. Who have had experiences that it was so common that they don't even realize that it was traumatic. And

Victoria Volk: Or no one ever even asks, what are you trying to cope from? Right? Like, what happened to you? Right?

Susan Snow: That's a very simple question. Even physicians and doctors offices don't ask that. What happened to you? Right? And, you know, and and it again, it shocked me that she said she wants to rehab three dives and she said all they did was talk about the sobriety.
Staying sober not feeling guilty for, you know, whatever. I get all that, but unless you really attack the true whether it's abuse or whatever it was, it's harder to get sobriety because Down deep, that is what you're hiding from. Mhmm. I watched my mother do it. For years.
That's what she was she was hiding from was the reality, you know? And hurt people, hurt people, whether it's themselves or the people around them. So I told her, I said, look, with me healing for myself, the ripple effect is it's helped my kids. It's helped my husband. It's helped my brother. Right? The people that are open, but you have to work on you first. You know, you have to be the priority.

Victoria Volk: And Remember your follow-up?

Susan Snow: I didn't. And it kills me because I would really love. I center with my book. I said, read my book while you're in rehab. Maybe it'll give you some hope and maybe some some kind of healing. She didn't wanna get out of my car, but you know, I've met many people like that, and I feel like I'm living in my purpose. You probably feel the same way, being a grief counselor. Iknow I've made a difference in people's lives. I've seen it from other riders that I have gotten a follow-up with. But with her, you know, she is always on my mind. Maybe one day, you know, we'll run into each other again. But I really hope that she's able to heal all the terrible things that happened to her. And how it's affected her mindset all these years, not believing in herself and not, you know, feeling like that's the only way that you can show love with a man in making the making wrong choices with men. That kind of thing. But, yeah, I mean, it's it's important to make yourself the priority.

Victoria Volk: So what has your grief taught you?

Susan Snow: Oh my goodness. My grief taught me to learn from what I'm grieving about. There are lessons in grief if you pay attention. So when I feel like I'm grieving something, Ilook at it a little bit differently and say, why am I feeling this way? What is it that triggered me to feel this way? And what can I learn from it? Because the other side of grief too is that It's the universe trying to teach you something. You you gained something out of it.

Victoria Volk: That's a really hard thing to hear. You know, at first. I know

Susan Snow: it is. It

Victoria Volk: is. Listening to that or, like, oh, I didn't ask for this lesson. Right?

Susan Snow: Right. But again So

Victoria Volk: it's a

Susan Snow: It's all timing. Yeah.

Victoria Volk: Well, and and it it's all part of our own evolution.

Susan Snow: Absolutely. And it's it it is. It's all in timing. It's it's, you know, what is that that saying, you know, when the when the student is ready, the teacher will appear.

Victoria Volk: Mhmm.

Susan Snow: Yeah. I mean, that is a hundred percent real. And, yeah, in the beginning, it is it is hard. It it is. And I think in the beginning of grief, like, the best thing you can do is take care of yourself, just the littlest things. Just making sure that you're that you're remembering to to give yourself love in your in your self support. And that's, you know, that's something I had to learn to do really early on, is I had to figure out, okay, how do I love myself? Since I didn't have adults around me that were giving me the support I needed at the time. So I had to learn to do the things. And as a kid, you know, what is that? Oh, well, that's getting my nails done. You know, feeling pretty, getting my hair done, you know, spending time with my friends just like sometimes it was forcing myself to spend time with my friends because all I wanted to do is sit in my room. As a kid, you don't know what you're you don't know what you're doing anyway. So I was just like, I'm just going to envelope myself with friends and my boyfriend and, you know, the things that I know that even though they walked on egg shells around me, they still I could find a little bit of joy in spending time. With them. But, you know, as an adult, when I tell people and they're going through grief is, I know it's hard sometimes, but find something that makes you feel better even if it's for five minutes. Whether that's just a good cup of coffee, or a tea or just sitting outside and feeling the breeze on your face and the sunshine. You know, taking a bath, listening to your favorite music, just something. That gives you a little bit of comfort.

Victoria Volk: Very good. Very

Susan Snow: good. Yeah. Scream into your pillow. Cry your eyes out. And I think people get really scared. Like, oh my god. If I cry, I'm gonna cry for days. Like, I'm never gonna stop crying. I'm I'm just it's just not gonna happen. You know? And so I know women who are like, I allow myself to have ten minute cry and then that's it. I'm like, really? I think you should just go for it. Just just let it all out. And it's okay. Actually, it's a positive. It's not a negative. But, you know, I still think that there's that little, like, that little myth in the back where people think if I cry. I'm weak I'm showing weakness, and it's the total opposite. It is so the opposite.

Victoria Volk: Well, you can get outward attention from your anger, or you can get outward attention from your tears. And which would you for it to be.

Susan Snow: Exactly. Would you like to go to jail or because I've had those days too where I was like, Oh, man. I, you know, I have to rain it in a little bit, find other ways.

Victoria Volk: And speaking of that, as a mother, dealing with all of this. Like, your children, how old were well, I have two questions. What's sparked the idea for the book? Was it the therapy? That kind of helped you get to that point? And then also, like, just, you know, the mother you were before you started to do this work in the mother that they have now?

Susan Snow: Well, the book, when I turned fifty, I was mentally at a place where I knew that telling my story when things came up I would have the tools to help me get through it. So that's why the book came around because I was like, oh god, I'm fifty. I gotta get this done. And I honestly feel like it was my dad kicking me in the rear end. Because he knows what my work is. You know? And my purpose isn't is through him. And I had this like I drew a line in the sand that was like, that's it. I'm fifty years old. I'm getting this book done. It took me four and a half years to write it. And it's because I did. I had to dive and relive and, you know, I had repressed memories come up. All kinds of things happened. It was a journey in itself.
As I was writing the book, I feel like as my kids have gotten bigger, and now they're adults. I won't tell you how old they are because it makes me feel old. But they're all adults, and I have three now. And you know, I think they see the resiliency. They see that I've had these days where I've been so sad. They've seen my sadness. I never hid it from them. I never, you know, think the only time I hit any of my emotions is when my husband and I were divorcing. And there was a you know, there was just a lot. And I was really trying to be the supportive parent through that. And I felt like they needed they needed to see a strong mom. They needed to see a supportive mom. And so my closet saw all my tears and heard all the bad words. You name it. Right? And but, you know, my husband as as well was very No. Very loving or, you know, tried to be as loving as possible through everything with them. He was going through his own stuff, his own mental stuff. But as they've seen me progress and they've seen me heal, My kids struggle with their own mental health things, and they have a mom that can help them through their own struggle. They have a mom that was a big proponent of them getting therapy. And finding the right therapist. So I was able to utilize my own experiences even with my own kids. And making sure that they were going to be okay, no matter what. So you know, I think that was the biggest thing. I wanted to leave a legacy for my kids of you can go through horrific things in your life. And you can choose to be a victim or you can choose to rise up and be a survivor. And my hope is that I'm teaching my kids to be survivors.

Victoria Volk: You had mentioned that you gave your clause at all your tears and you wanted to be the strong mom. And I imagine that comes from your own personal experience of with your own mom. Right?

Susan Snow: Yep.

Victoria Volk: One thing I wanna highlight for listeners is that I think there's a distinction that needs to be made. There's a difference between being strong, but also allowing yourself to grieve with your children and showing them how to grieve. Mhmm. Because again, that goes back to what you shared, like you learned to, like, put your mask on. And what happens is, as children learn that, writing, we learn that.

Susan Snow: Yeah.

Victoria Volk: Either and it can go the pendulum can swing both ways. Right? I had a similar experience. There wasn't room for my emotion because there was so much from my mom. Same for you. Like, there was like, Iagree that My mom died the day my dad died. Right? Like Mhmm. So there wasn't room for my emotion. So I had to be strong. To I didn't wanna rock the boat. I didn't wanna upset her. Right? And so I think you can learn. You can be in a situation like that where you either learn to put the mask on or you learn how to grieve in a healthy way. And a part of that involves showing vulnerability, showing tears. Yep. Talking about what you're experiencing. Yeah. Having space and room for everyone's feelings and emotions.

Susan Snow: Yep. Well, I tell you

Victoria Volk: What would you do differently now? Right?

Susan Snow: Yeah. I mean, I think the funniest story for me was I was speaking. My kids had never they've never really heard my story from my perspective before. And I invited them in twenty nineteen. I spoke. I was a keynote speaker. And I wanted to have my kids there. So they came to watch me speak. And I had asked my middle son to video me. And so I did my I did my talk and I came off the stage and my kids were just like blown away. And they were like, I've never heard yours I've never heard it like that before. I I've never, like, Oh my gosh. Like, they didn't know what to say, but my middle son said I said, did you get did you get anything on, you know, an ego's mom? I got so caught up in your story that Iforgot to record you. I'm so so sorry. I was like, it's fine. Because for me, it was like, okay. That sucks. But you know what? It was so much more important for my kids to be a part of that experience.
And to hear my story from their own mother, from my own lips, and to see where I was and where how far I've come because I felt like that was a really important lesson for them to learn. As young adults. And they have been on this journey with me, and Ithink I have such a close relationship with my children and even my I have a I have a stepson. I have a really great relationship with him. He is my kid. A woman another woman just had her had him. I've been blessed to be able to have this experience with my children and teach them exactly how to grieve, and that it's okay to grieve, and it's okay to to show your emotions. And you know, it's not a weakness, and I'm here for you, and your dad is here for you. And we have always been very very much about showing support for our kids, not only our kids, but my friends make fun of me because they say I collect children, not in a weird way. But generally, kids who have challenging home lives themselves, who don't find the support system themselves. Have found my husband and I as secondary parents. And I feel like that's all coming and stemming from my own experiences. And making sure that other kids have the support that they need. And so now those kids are getting married and they're having children, which is giving me grandchildren, non biological grandchildren, but You know, they see me as a positive person in my in their lives, and I am so grateful for that. So grateful for that, that they too have read my book and said, Wow. Like, when you say to me that you're gonna get through this, or when you say to me those times where you say just let it go or if you're feeling, you know, depressed, here's Here's some things that maybe might help or whatever. You get it. You literally get it. I said, yeah, I'm not just pulling this out of the sky folks. Like, I'm taking my own, you know, my own experiences and my own lessons learned and and just helping you, like, almost like giving you you know, they don't even know what this is, but cliff notes. But most kids are like cliff notes. What are cliff notes? I don't wanna talk to you anymore. If if you were around in the eighties, you know what a cliff note is. So yeah. I mean, that's and I think that you know, as adults, and adults who have gone through things or have felt things sort of, you know, I feel like it's important for us to impart our wisdom, our positive wisdom on to the younger generations because I feel like they have personally, I feel like they have a lot more. On their plate than even we did. The differences is that there is talk of mental health. And there is a lot known about PTSD, and there is a lot of conversation around trauma. And create

Victoria Volk: new free tools

Susan Snow: and loss. Yes. Absolutely.

Victoria Volk: It's so much more accessible.

Susan Snow: It is accessible. It's just you know, people still need that little nudge. You know?

Victoria Volk: Yeah. You don't wanna DIY your trauma and

Susan Snow: No. No. You still need the nudge.

Victoria Volk: Yeah. It's you know, you're only like you said earlier, you know, we I think and I did it too. Like, you you're only extending the suffering by not bringing in the support that you need to move forward. And you know, we don't know we don't know. And Exactly.
People that know a little bit more and are a little bit further along. And those are the people you want to seek out. So

Susan Snow: Yep.

Victoria Volk: Thank you so much for sharing all that you've shared. Is there anything that you didn't feel like you got to share?

Susan Snow: Oh my goodness. No. I think this was great. I mean, I hope I hope I'm putting it out there. I'm I'm throwing that energy out there that there's someone listening who I just want you to know that you're not alone. You're not, and that there are people out there that care about you. And that, you know, there are resources available to you. And, you know, I'm I'm out there. You know, I'm accessible. I am open to talking to anyone heck, you know?
Who knows? If you're sitting in my left ride what you're gonna get. But, you know, Ijust hope that someone out there is able to resonate or connect with with this conversation, and it just shows them that there is hope and there is healing. That can happen.

Victoria Volk: Yes. Mhmm. Iwould love to dove into the divorce and the reconnection. Oh. When I say it's hard. A self and everyone else would just have to read the book because I'm assuming that's in the book?

Susan Snow: Yep. Okay.

Victoria Volk: Pick up the book if you wanna know more on that. We're so about all our other podcasts. Interviews maybe?

Susan Snow: Yeah. Yeah. No. Italked about it more in the book than anything else, you know. Because the divorce is the divorce. The lessons out of it is is what's important.

Victoria Volk: Right? Mhmm. Well, thank you so much again. And I will put links to the book, the your website, Instagram, and the show notes. I'll also find a really good box breathing YouTube that I can add in there.

Susan Snow: Yeah. Absolutely.

Victoria Volk: Yep. And

Susan Snow: Yeah. Thank you. Wonderful. And did you say the name of the book? I don't know remember if you did or not.

Victoria Volk: I believe you did. The other side of the gun.

Susan Snow: Yeah. The other side of the gun, my journey from trauma to resiliency. Yep.

Victoria Volk: Yep. I'll put the link in the show notes for that.

Susan Snow: Perfect. Yeah. Awesome.

Victoria Volk: And remember, when you unleash your heart, you unleash your life. Much love.