Where some might think the Internet is hindering face-to-face communication, Becky McCoy, a Niantic, Connecticut resident, is using the newest technologies to connect people in powerful and meaningful ways.
McCoy recently launched a podcast she calls Stories of Unfolding Grace, which, for those unfamiliar with podcasts, is essentially a radio show to which listeners can subscribe and download from a website or stream online to a computer or mobile device.
In each weekly episode (airing on Thursdays) McCoy interviews someone who has suffered a serious loss, ranging from death and divorce to loss of one’s physical and/or mental health to loss of one’s job, one’s home — even one’s confidence.
At only 29 years old, McCoy is an expert on loss. Her father died from cancer in 2012 at 52 — eight hours after her son Caleb was born. Her husband also died of cancer just over a year ago, a month before their daughter Libby was born.
But rather than cutting herself off from a world that has been so harsh and unpredictable, McCoy has chosen to reach out and help others who are hurting with the tools and courage and wisdom she has gained through her own experiences of grief and loss.
“I think what caused me to start this podcast is I have experienced a lot more grief than people my age, as well as people my mother’s age. I think I have the ability to start the conversation about what it’s really like,” she says.
McCoy wanted to make the theme of the podcast about the many kinds of loss in addition to the death of a loved one.
“I’d been blogging my experience of being widowed, losing my dad in my mid-20s, losing a place to live, not having a place to live,” McCoy says. “I also have an anxiety disorder. So I’ve experienced all these things and feel like all these different life experiences have a grief component to them.
“I want people to understand that grief is a universal thing,” she continues, “so I chose to keep the topic very broad so people can find an episode they can directly relate to, and even if the loss is different, the experience may be the same.”
She stresses that she wants people to know “no matter what you’re dealing with, you can make it. No matter how bad it gets, you can keep going.”
Her story unfolds
The reason McCoy says she chose the title Stories of Unfolding Grace for the podcast is that she tends to use the word “grace” a lot and in Second Corinthians in the Bible it says, “Not a day goes by without God’s unfolding grace.”
“I know other people can connect with that idea,” she says. “Think of unfolding a red carpet that just keeps going and going like there’s almost an endless supply of it. We don’t always see the good things until we unfold something, and then they show up.”
McCoy belongs to Shoreline Community Bible Church in nearby New London (CT) and finds that faith is a central component to her healing.
She also writes for the online On Coming Alive Project that was launched in February 2016 by another young mother, Lexi Behrndt, writer and founder of Scribbles and Crumbs, based in Florida. After her 6-month-old son Charlie died of a congenital heart defect, Behrndt created her project in an effort to help others who have endured suffering, along with 72 contributing writers.
“We actually just happened to be working on very similar projects at the same time,” McCoy says, “and got involved in what each other (was doing) — it was coincidental and really cool. It’s great to see it going viral and really neat to be involved in this giant collaborative project”
McCoy studied dance and physics in college and has a graduate degree in physics, but personal writing wasn’t something she did in her previous life.
“Writing as a form of expression was never on my radar,” she says. “I’m so grateful for the outlet of writing. It’s giving me a chance to connect with people in a way I never could have before (although) I write firstly for myself; not to build a fan base or gain other people’s approval. But I’m really glad that the way I’m processing can be helpful to other people.”
McCoy points out “hard things will happen. No one is immune. No one lives a full life without having something really difficult happen.”
The best advice she says she can give people going through a tough time is “surround yourself with a community of people you trust. So when those bad things do happen, you have people who love you and are willing to take care of you. We were really blessed to have a special group of people around us that were willing to help.”
She also thinks it’s important to realize that everyone handles their own situations in unique ways.
“How I dealt with the loss of my husband is different than how someone else would and that’s OK,” she says. “We need to give people the space to grieve. Lots of people like to give advice, and that’s just not helpful. I really appreciate that people don’t know what to say. You don’t have to have a perfect response for every situation.”
McCoy has come a long way in her grief journey in a relatively short time, but she doesn’t think that makes her stronger than anyone else.
“What people don’t realize is that we get to choose how we respond. I have just chosen not to let these situations ruin me,” she notes.
McCoy says she’s been interviewing guests with incredible stories for the podcast and is “excited to see how this project creates a community of people who are determined to live well, even when it’s not easy.”
New episodes of Becky McCoy’s podcast Unfolding Grace and information regarding ongoing submissions can be found online at www.BeckyLMcCoy.com or by searching #UnfoldingGrace on any social media platform. She is also a regular contributor to www.scribblesandcrumbs.com.
(The original version of this story appeared in The Day on 4/6/16 and is reprinted with permission.)