The Second Wave of Grief

The Second Wave of Grief

First you lose your loved one, then you lose yourself. A personal essay about grief.


My Mom died two and a half years ago. It was sudden. Without warning she went into cardiac arrest in her home early on a Monday morning. Although I remember everything from that day, it took me several hours to actually understand what was happening – that she was dead. That this was permanent.

Once your brain is able to process that you have lost someone extremely close to you, like a parent, the world turns gray. Just like that, in an instant. Everything loses its color and vibrancy. I have had very close family members die, like my grandparents, and I have mourned and missed them. But something different happens when you lose someone who was a part of you, your foundation breaks.

The pieces that made you who you are, are shattered. It is as if a bomb exploded inside of you and your soul, your spirit, your heart, your brain – everything about you is in too many pieces to put back together.

I remember thinking that I would never be able to feel happiness. I could not imagine ever being able to laugh, enjoy, or feel excitement again. And it does stay like that for a while. But slowly emotions begin to return. You find yourself enjoying a TV show, or laughing on a phone call with a friend. You experience the necessary firsts. The first birthdays, holidays, and everything in between without your loved one. You are told the first year is always the hardest, and you believe it.

As more time passes your new routine becomes habit, and you manage better every day. The tears lessen, you can speak about your loved one without as much sadness, and you begin to notice there are parts of you healing. You have made it through your first year.

But a new form of grief arises. One that no one warns you about and it was not mentioned in the bereavement books you read. This time you have to grieve yourself, or rather the person you used to be.

The pieces of you that were shattered have been stitched back together, but not all of them back in the same place as before. You realize you are fundamentally different. You probably look the same, you may even seem the same to friends and family, but on the inside you are a new person.

Your reactions to situations are different. Priorities have been rearranged. There are some things you no longer care about, and new things that cause your emotions to stir. Relationships with people you have known for years may now seem hollow, and you crave a deeper connection than that relationship can provide. You talk to some close friends less than before. An extreme sensitivity to certain topics is awakened in you, but there is also dismissiveness to things you once tolerated. Preferences and interests change. You are essentially relearning life – relearning who you are – all over again.

I was not prepared for this side effect after my Mom’s death, this second wave of grief. I did not know I would have to figure out my emotional responses to everyday situations all over again, and I mourned who I used to be. I mourned the carefree version of myself who never seemed to have a worry. The person who assumed everything would work out. The person who enjoyed adventure more than companionship, and who seemingly had more friendship options because depth of character was not as important as it is now. The person who was not as sensitive to death, illness, suffering, or inequality in the world. The person who infrequently cried. The person who did not know how temporary life actually is.

In many ways this relearning can be positive once you are able to regain your footing. Ultimately our choices become more precious and our priorities become clearer.

When your life has been hit with loss, you understand there is pain that comes with it and you can share what you are feeling with others. Once the established ‘appropriate amount of time’ has passed and people stop asking how you are, that is when you realize you are not the same. Experiences and once common happenings feel different. Your reaction, your feelings, and your emotional responses are new and unknown to you. You cannot trust that the life you had built for yourself will provide you with what you need. You cannot expect your old life to bring you new forms of satisfaction. And you cannot predict how you will feel about anything until you are feeling it. You have to mourn the old you and accept this new version. Accept that at your center of being, at your core, you are changed forever.


Nicki Carrea believes that true beauty is synonymous with well-being. In 2015 she established Genuine Glow, an inside-outside wellness and skin care brand, and is a published beauty and wellness writer and speaker. Drawing on her life experiences she conceptualized and launched the Genuine Glow blog, which spotlights authentic voices, and creates a platform for shared experiences and human connection. Nicki is a graduate of the University of South Carolina and currently resides in New York City. You can connect with Nicki here: LinkedIn 

Genuine Glow is a wellness and skin care brand that creates nutrient-rich exfoliators and specializes in inside-outside health and beauty. Established in 2015, Genuine Glow has been nominated for 3 CEW Awards (Best New Indie Beauty Brand, Best New Indie Skin Care Brand, and Best Exfoliator/Scrub) and chosen as a Top 50 Breakthrough Beauty Brand. You can connect with the brand here: Website, Instagram, Facebook

“Genuine Glow™ products and blog are not intended to cure, treat, prevent, mitigate or diagnose any disease, and are not intended to affect the structure or any function of the human body. The Genuine Glow blog is based on anecdotal wisdom and the experiences and research reported by others. We are not medical professionals and we have not independently tested these claims. Always consult your physician or mental healthcare provider if you have questions about a medical or psychiatric condition or if you seek medical advice.”

♦ Note: Genuine Glow is a brand meant to complement your lifestyle. Our company and employees views do not necessarily reflect or agree with every article we publish. We do however believe that open communication and honest expression is a beneficial tool that can be used for healing, growth, and connection.

Progress Through Transparency

Progress Through Transparency

Article Background: Although leaning much heavier on an opinion piece, it does share personal experiences from working in both corporate America and the start-up world. And I felt it was timely because of the current state of our world, namely the resurgence of the Black Lives Matter movement, the recent L.G.B.T.Q. Supreme Court victory, and the ongoing fight for women’s equality in the world.

As the founder of a start-up, I have seen the unbalanced reality that exists within the start-up and founder community. As a white, straight female under 40, with past Executive experience, one may think my journey has been smooth. It has not. And that can only make me empathize with how much more difficult someone’s path to run a successful company or move upwards in their career would be if they are not white, not straight, or starting out as an older adult.

I have seen how certain companies and founders roads to success are seemingly evenly paved, contain only green lights for go, and the weather is always a sunny 76 degrees. But for others the terrain is rocky, there are stop signs after stop signs with U-turns, red lights, and no one is giving out directions.

Thankfully, all it takes is expecting transparency and being aware of the inner workings of the companies, founders, and executive offices that we support to shift this current state and level the playing field.

This is my Op-Ed.


Millions of Americans have spoken openly about the Black Lives Matter movement, white privilege, and condoning racism. The majority of companies have issued public statements taking a stand against racism and vowing to be part of the solution.

And it does feel like many of us have spent the last weeks listening, learning, and reflecting on ways we can make a difference. Hopefully recognizing our blind spots, seeing the role we can play to be an actionable ally, and figuring out the steps we can take to move our society forward.

Out of all the things that need to happen to level the playing field, transparency is the one word that has continued to resonate in my mind.

Webster’s dictionary defines the word transparent as: characterized by visibility or accessibility of information especially concerning business practices.

Like it or not, we live in a society where money – how we spend it, where we spend it, and what we spend it on matters. Yet the majority of us remain unaware about the inner culture, demographics, belief system, or back office set up within the companies we give our dollars to. It is why we are outraged when we see a picture and discover that the CEO of a well-known brand is a big game hunter. Or why we are disappointed when we see a company supported a political candidate we would not vote for. Or when a small business owner posts something on social media that lets us know they are racist. Transparency has not been something we valued when it came to deciding where we spend our money.

There was a time when remaining quiet on public issues seemed responsible and polite, but we cannot continue to glide by using this outdated way of thinking. It is partly what got us here. Monumentally important issues face us today; issues that will shape our future. It has been proven over and over again that people who speak up and out have the ability to effect change. Which is why expecting transparency from the companies that make up and influence our culture is necessary to course correct the path that we have been on.

Currently there are only 4 black CEO’s of Fortune 500 companies, and only 37 women. And most Executive Boards and upper management organizational charts do not look that different, remaining devoid of minority, women and LGBTQ representation. I personally worked for a large billion-dollar corporation for 10 years. While I was aware that no female or person of color was in a C-suite role, I never openly questioned this because I was complacent, and believed I was not in a position to change it. That was before I knew the power that the collective we can hold. Maybe I cannot change it, but we can.

Once I started my own company, I saw first-hand how we grow through diversity. A diverse infrastructure provides new thoughts, ideas, opportunities, and expansion. It fuses different perspectives and life experiences together, which ultimately is better for all of us as it creates more seats at the table, not less. Having it any other way is archaic and demands change.

Yes a company may issue an apology or make a donation, but if noticeable change is not happening inside of their organization, how can we trust that they intend to progress forward? Consumers are the ones in charge. Take our dollars away and the business no longer exists. We need to expect companies to make visible strides and fix this inherent problem. At a minimum we should be made aware of who is behind the companies we support, the ethics system in place, and be given answers when companies fall short of anything less than representing equality.

We cannot continue to shop, watch, listen, or partner with companies that do not support all of us. If they see us as good enough to be their customer, we should be good enough to be in rooms where decisions about us are being made. It is time to insist on equality in the companies we support and expect doors that were previously closed to be open to everyone. We need transparency and authenticity over branding and statements. We need to see values in action behind the scenes. We hold the power to effect positive change by expecting transparency.

Citations regarding CEO numbers:

Yurkevich, Vanessa. “There are just four black CEOs of Fortune 500 companies. Here’s how they are addressing the death of George Floyd.” CNN Business https://www.cnn.com/2020/06/01/business/black-ceos-george-floyd/index.html

Ebrahimij, Alisha. “Female Fortune 500 CEOs reach an all-time high, but it’s still a small number.” CNN Business https://www.cnn.com/2020/05/20/us/fortune-500-women-ceos-trnd/index.html


Nicki Carrea believes that true beauty is synonymous with well-being. In 2015 she established Genuine Glow, an inside-outside wellness and skin care brand, and is a published beauty and wellness writer and speaker. Drawing on her life experiences she conceptualized and launched the Genuine Glow blog, which spotlights authentic voices, and creates a platform for shared experiences and human connection. Nicki is a graduate of the University of South Carolina and currently resides in New York City. You can connect with Nicki here: LinkedIn

Genuine Glow is a wellness and skin care brand that creates nutrient-rich exfoliators and specializes in inside-outside health and beauty. Established in 2015, Genuine Glow has been nominated for 3 CEW Awards (Best New Indie Beauty Brand, Best New Indie Skin Care Brand, and Best Exfoliator/Scrub) and chosen as a Top 50 Breakthrough Beauty Brand. You can connect with the brand here: Website, Instagram, Facebook

“Genuine Glow™ products and blog are not intended to cure, treat, prevent, mitigate or diagnose any disease, and are not intended to affect the structure or any function of the human body. The Genuine Glow blog is based on anecdotal wisdom and the experiences and research reported by others. We are not medical professionals and we have not independently tested these claims. Always consult your physician or mental healthcare provider if you have questions about a medical or psychiatric condition or if you seek medical advice.”

♦ Note: Genuine Glow is a brand meant to complement your lifestyle. Our company and employees views do not necessarily reflect or agree with every article we publish. We do however believe that open communication and honest expression is a beneficial tool that can be used for healing, growth, and connection.

One Year Ago

One Year Ago

It’s been said, a lot can happen in a year. And while true, are we usually deliberate about our intentions over the course of a year?

Nicki Carrea writes about what she learned after a trip to India one year ago.


Last year at this time I was returning from a 2-week trip to India. I was supposed to visit with a friend, and 3 weeks before we were to leave, her schedule changed and she told me that she would no longer be traveling overseas. I made the decision to continue with the plans and travel by myself. 

It was the first time I ever traveled internationally alone, but I had always wanted to visit India and knew first-hand the benefits that come from seeing a new culture and having brand new experiences. I was at a crossroads. Although we are always making choices and decisions that impact our future, I had a lot on my mind. For one, I had moved to New York City 3 years ago. I was renting an apartment in Williamsburg, but the lack of space and convenience was starting to get to me. The golden glow of the city lights were fading and being replaced by dimly lit and overcrowded subway rides. The buzz and energy was still there, but harder for me to access over the crowded streets, sirens, and car horns. My view of lower Manhattan was amazing, but it didn’t make doing laundry in a shared building laundry room any easier. I knew for months I had a decision to make – stay or leave?

I also had to make some work decisions. I had launched my own business 4 years prior, and the satisfaction I thought it would bring me wasn’t there. I needed to figure out why and somehow change or pivot my work load so I could enjoy what I was doing, and get back to the original purpose that led me to create Genuine Glow. 

My trip started in Mumbai, and I barely had time to think. Between the time difference, adapting to the way of life, being alone in a completely foreign place, the intensity, the number of people on the streets, the number of people who asked for a picture with me, transportation challenges, a quasi-kidnapping, etc… I never got around to thinking about much more than what was happening in front of me. My evenings were spent eating traditional Indian food, drinking brown liquor, processing the craziness of the day, and course correcting my next day plans based on what I learned being out and about that day.

After a week I headed to Jaipur. After some incidents in Mumbai left me a little shaken, I knew I had to do things differently in Jaipur. I hired a driver and scheduled 2 tours to see the city. I would not be making the same mistakes. India was beautiful and full of culture and history and wonderful people, but I needed to make adjustments so I could experience all of that safely. 

It was in Jaipur that I finally felt my head begin to clear, which allowed me to take note of what I was feeling. I could think without distraction and prioritize. I made sure I had an hour each afternoon to process the day and reflect, tuning into my feelings instead of what was happening around me. It was interesting for me to see first-hand how quickly I could adjust and make changes when it came to travel, but how difficult I made the process to change when it came to my real life. And how easy it was for me to access new thoughts, ideas, and feelings when I gave myself permission to do so. 

For at least a year I had felt dissatisfaction with work, yet I was committed to the track I was on because it’s how I believed you grow and operate a business (based on seeing/reading how other people did it). And for at least a year I browsed real estate and thought about buying a home, but yet I hadn’t moved or taken any tangible steps to change my surroundings. 

My experiences in Mumbai and Jaipur were as different as day and night, and I personally facilitated that within a couple of days. Spending a week in Mumbai taught me I could trust myself and it also showed me I was someone who took action. Every day I woke up early, got ready, ate breakfast and was out by 9:00am. I had no one to hold me accountable. I could have spent my days at the spa, or in my room, or at the pool, but instead I got out and experienced. And when it got hard I didn’t quit, I learned and made adjustments. Why wasn’t I doing this in my own life?

So after an amazing 1st day exploring Jaipur, I sat outside in the Rambagh Palace courtyard and the thought came to me – – I needed to let go of what I thought I wanted my life to look like, what I thought my life should look like, and start building a life better suited for me. A life built on what actually brought me satisfaction, not what I thought or believed would make me happy. 

Now I see it like making a scorecard of sorts. Listing all the things we do during a day, week, month, year – and ranking each activity, person, responsibility and so on. And instead of just dismissing or tossing the low ranking ones to the side, we could first check to see if we could make adjustments to improve those things and our relationship to them. If not, then yes…maybe they had to go. But I’ve found we can actually adjust most things to better fit into our lives. 

I put aside all the images I created of what I thought my life should look like and asked myself one thing – to remember the times I felt fulfilled. I could think of so many instances where I felt safe and settled and happy. The list was across the board. Anywhere from the feeling of walking through the front door of my previous condo, laughs and conversation with old friends, an email from a satisfied customer thanking me for my help, an amazing movie or concert, certain business interactions, the comfort of family, conveying a message clearly, an early morning jog, and so on… These feelings were so easy to access and I started to think about how I could pivot my current daily responsibilities and circumstances to feel them more often. 

Once I allowed myself to feel satisfaction, my priority became getting back to that feeling. I had clear intentions, so when I returned to the US I knew how to follow through. For starters, I realized I wasn’t as much as a city girl as I thought I was. When I moved to New York I envisioned going to Soul Cycle in the morning, hopping around the city from meeting to meeting, having a martini after work and then dinner at the coolest new restaurant. But New York taught me that I was much more of a homebody than I realized. And after a long day I liked comfy clothes, watching Bravo, and dinner and wine at home. 

I also realized what I was missing in my job was authentic human connection. I had become so focused on taking meetings with investors, getting products out to influencers, social media marketing, and attending industry events that I completely ignored what I’m best at and where I’m happiest – and that’s creating partnerships and relationships with people. 

In a few short days, without any outside interruption I was able to get to the heart of what I was trying to figure out for months. I set into motion a plan right then and there. First, I made sure Genuine Glow was a specialized beauty brand. I originally listened to outsiders tell me I needed a full product line when I really wanted to concentrate on our hero product – exfoliation. So I changed that. I wrote all the content myself to make sure it was my message, and it was truthful. I started Genuine Glow to make people feel good about themselves, so I made sure any traditional beauty wording that could cause insecurity or make anyone feel bad about themselves was removed. I had always wanted to let the efficacy of our ingredients speak for itself, and talk to our customers like they were our friends. I didn’t want to tell people they needed to look different to be happy, but I had bought into that philosophy after seeing other brands do it, so I corrected that. I changed the packaging and the website. I tightened up all our back office operations so my focus could be on our partnerships and customers. 

I also moved. Although tough to swallow at first, I left New York City and renovated a place right outside of the city. It’s on the Hudson River and 3 miles from Manhattan, but on the nights and weekends it feels like another world, and it gives me everything I need right now. 

I try to challenge my beliefs a lot. In a sense we are all living in our own bubble, so even though I try to get out of my own whenever possible; I know I’m still influenced by who and what’s around me. That’s one of the reasons travel is such an important part of my life. I always learn and grow whenever I’m able to look at things for the first time or when I’m put in new situations. 

We don’t all have to go to India to have an awakening, but it taught me that if we’re able to remove distractions, opinions, and preconceived ideas, that the right answer – the right answer for us at least – is closer than we think. We already know it; we just have to remove the clutter to uncover it.  


Nicki Carrea believes that true beauty is synonymous with well-being. In 2015 she established Genuine Glow, an inside-outside wellness and skin care brand, and is a published beauty and wellness writer and speaker. Drawing on her life experiences she conceptualized and launched the Genuine Glow blog, which spotlights authentic voices, and creates a platform for shared experiences and human connection. Nicki is a graduate of the University of South Carolina and currently resides in New York City. You can connect with Nicki here: LinkedIn

Genuine Glow is a wellness and skin care brand that creates nutrient-rich exfoliators and specializes in inside-outside health and beauty. Established in 2015, Genuine Glow has been nominated for 3 CEW Awards (Best New Indie Beauty Brand, Best New Indie Skin Care Brand, and Best Exfoliator/Scrub) and chosen as a Top 50 Breakthrough Beauty Brand. You can connect with the brand here: Website, Instagram, Facebook

“Genuine Glow™ products and blog are not intended to cure, treat, prevent, mitigate or diagnose any disease, and are not intended to affect the structure or any function of the human body. The Genuine Glow blog is based on anecdotal wisdom and the experiences and research reported by others. We are not medical professionals and we have not independently tested these claims. Always consult your physician or mental healthcare provider if you have questions about a medical or psychiatric condition or if you seek medical advice.”

An Unconventional Relaunch

An Unconventional Relaunch

Over the last year I’ve been working hard on Genuine Glow’s 5-year rebrand. It started with refining our Exfoliating Face Polish, renamed to Brio. There was a new website design with a refocused concept, and text that I wrote myself. It was important to me that the wording and spirit of the brand was completely authentic and meaningful. Authenticity over branding. New packaging was created to reflect Brio’s mark in the prestige space, while keeping a playful and happy aesthetic.Brio Face Polish

There was an important focus on wellness blended within my beauty brand – reimaging beauty. Hundreds of hours were spent working on this initiative, more than half a dozen people were involved, money was invested into the rebrand, and a launch was scheduled.

 

 

 

 

Then Covid-19 happened. Immediately there were delays…containers, labels, and manufacturing were all impacted. Stay-at-home orders meant my suppliers and partners were working with a limited staff and had to temporarily suspend operations. Brick-and-mortar boutique beauty shops (the heart of my 2020 business plan) closed their doors for an unknown period of time.

 

 

 

 

 

However I continued to move forward (with significant delays) even if the launch and Genuine Glow’s rebrand looked more like a normal day, rather than an important event.

 

 

 

 

Product photography happened at home, all business conversations occurred remotely, but the work was completed.

 

 

Brio Face Polish

 

 

Although I’ve had to scale back on what was originally planned, and promoting anything feels weird right now; in a way this taps into the ethos of the brand. In November I wrote, “I believe beauty should be a tool to show your best self, and feeling beautiful on the inside is just as important as feeling beautiful on the outside. Genuine Glow is meant to complement your lifestyle, help you achieve healthy skin, and make inside-outside health and beauty attainable.”

 

 

 

 

At a time where we are all unsure about what the future holds, it’s clear to me that a brand and company like Genuine Glow, that is focused on making people feel good – has a stable footing. And my plan is to move forward with a continued focus on providing our friends and customers a way to achieve a 360° Glow, resulting in an equal combination of inside and outside beauty.

Brio Face Polish


Nicki Carrea believes that true beauty is synonymous with well-being. In 2015 she established Genuine Glow, an inside-outside wellness and skin care brand, and is a published beauty and wellness writer and speaker. Drawing on her life experiences she conceptualized and launched the Genuine Glow blog, which spotlights authentic voices, and creates a platform for shared experiences and human connection. Nicki is a graduate of the University of South Carolina and currently resides in New York City. You can connect with Nicki here: LinkedIn & Instagram

Genuine Glow is a wellness and skin care brand that creates a nutrient-rich exfoliator (Brio) and specializes in inside-outside health and beauty. Established in 2015, Genuine Glow has been nominated for 3 CEW Awards (Best New Indie Beauty Brand, Best New Indie Skin Care Brand, and Best Exfoliator/Scrub) and chosen as a Top 50 Breakthrough Beauty Brand. You can connect with the brand here: Website, Instagram, Facebook

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