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Madonna Badger: Finding Light After Unimaginable Tragedy

2018-04-16 | 🔗

Madonna Badger, who lost her three children and her parents in a devastating Christmas Day house fire, opens up to Oprah about how she found the strength and courage to live after the unthinkable tragedy. Madonna discusses the ever-present spiritual connection she feels to her children, her quest for answers and the legacy of love she knows will endure forever. She talks about how she puts one foot in front of the other in moments of grief. Madonna also shares a life-changing definition of grief and reveals three things that have helped her cope. Her journey to the light from the depths of despair will touch anyone's life and remind us all what it means to be grateful for what we have.

This is an unofficial transcript meant for reference. Accuracy is not guaranteed.
I'm over Winfrey welcome to supersede conversations the podcast. I believe that one of the most valuable gives you can give yourself is time taking time to be more fully present. Your journey to become more inspired and connected to the deeper world around us starts right now. On Christmas, two thousand eleven Madonna Badger lost all three of her children and both her parents in an early.
Morning: fire nine year old, lily, seven year old, twins, Sarah and grace, and her parents, Pauline and Lomer all perished. The hours before the fire were a picture perfect Christmas Eve seen the girls decorated the house, but Donna's mom, baked apple pie, while her dad returned from his dream job playing Santa Claus at a New York Department store. I thought about Madonna a lot since that fire I've held her in my prayers and wished her strength and love. Super soldiers with Madonna has done in the face of unimaginable grief and pain, will elevate our souls today, as I sit down with her the day before her 50th birthday, I meet a true spiritual teacher who has discovered that opening yourself up to love is the path of brings her closest to her three girls and her parents. Madonna also shares her belief that death was not the end.
Relationship, but a new beginning. I have thought about you so many times over the past couple of years. I think about you and I think about your family and I think about how you doing how you manage to get out of bed and then you did the TED Talk and answered all of those all of those questions. So really it's a privilege to have you you here, because I see you as a true spiritual teacher who had to in the midst of the greatest storm of life when everything his fallen apart, learn how to walk the walk, would you say you're still learning? Yes, definitely indefinite still learning what Did you want to tell your story, particularly the TED talk? What made you wanted? Will you your point we were finally ready to tell it. My friend is a teacher at that school at Sir, the Nightingale School in New York City.
And it was two hundred high school girls and the topic was resilience and she thought that story. You know what really resonate with easy girls and dumb. I got so much. A beautiful notes from them, and one girl in particular wrote May that she had been I'm in trouble getting out of bed and their parents had sent her to all kinds of therapists and psychiatry and given all sorts of medicine, and that after you know she heard my TED talk. She was in the audience. She said that that was the best advice should ever gotten was that you can't think you're, out of bed. You have to actually physically get out of bed. There were days, were you really couldn't get out of bed absent I mean in the beginning, especially in oh there, even just getting up and going the kitchen and getting a cup of coffee was a huge victory or
having a shower or making a phone call or seen a friend or you know those things were such huge victories and in the beginning you know my skin was literally gray, and my hair was falling out and chunks Amene it was. It was really really bad and you know, putting together Those little victories, maybe no that I could do the next one. I could do the next one that you know I would get up and I could get up and then they're all little steps. On the way, and you just try to put those together and that's all that and I really could do in the beginning. Though, did you just want to die? Yes, and did you ask yourself many times? Why do you also die. Yes, I still have those feelings. I still this last Christmas, I had those feelings of I just want to die, and certainly the field Why didn't I die?
and I wanted wanted to die so many times you know just to even just to be with them. You know the doctors they would come in and I would tell them the story and they would start to cry you know, nurses would come in and hear me wailing in the night and read me palms and they would start to cry, and it got to the point where I was on the floor to the doktor and I was just I literally got on my hands and knees and and held him by the ankles and begged him to let me out, and he wouldn't they wouldn't, and they were afraid that you would kill yourself, yes, but I think that we do. Get to choose when we die. You know I dont fully understand what happened when we go to the other side. So I don't
of that knowledge, and so I don't want to do anything to mess that up. Quite frankly, so I know its painful, but can you take us act to that morning. We you awaken and use smell- the small I think, of the did you view of looking senior neighbours, see you yeah. Your neighbors are watching you and this terrifying moment on the scaffolding trying to get through the smoke in the flames. Saying my children are in there my children, you gotta, come and help me yak at it. And then you know. Finally, fire department was coming, and so I climb back down, and then I was trying to get into the second floor window, which is where my bedroom was and, and then they just through basically took me off the roof with the ladders, and I just kept thinking. They were gone,
come walking out. You know I just kept we're thinking. They were in the backyard my mom and dad and save ass. They re my dad was the director of safety and security for Brown Foreman distillers. When in which means. Basically the head of you know: Jack Daniels in Old Forest You know all of these gigantic distilleries all through the world. You know and his job part of his job is actually training, firefighters you know, and so I mean if anybody knew what to do in a fire. It was my dad so back to putting yourself back together. I'm sure that for a long time- and maybe even so now, nobody knew what to say
He knew. What can you say right right so then you went to stay where you're from Cape. Tell me how you got you Frankie. Well, I went from the acute care unit and they sent me to like a rehab facility in Tennessee. Amid nobody knew what to do. You know- and this was a We have the main this was so there's no rehab for grief, yeah, there's. No, we have for grief. Their willingly have four and and then I called Kate, and I said you have got to come get me. You've got to come get me and she did when she moved to Arkansas to stay with her friend, Kate, but Donna went to the University of Arkansas Psychiatric Research Institute. She says it was there where doctors finally explained her grief in a way that made sense on Superbowl Sunday, Dr Smith came in,
from Arkansas, and he was the head of the Psychiatric Research Institute and he basically said: ok she's, not crazy. Everyone's treating her like you know, she's been struck mentally did you give going from one mental institution to the next year? Not crazy right? So he said you know she's not crazy. She said she's really and you know he explained what had happened to me. In a way that no one else could or had and that basically the that mother child bond you know is so huge and it's like having in a nurse sort of better. I guess the called Vega nerves, but Emotional, they can, and there is a vibrational connection. Exactly
that, is real. Yes, if that there's an energetic magnetic vibrational connection and that mine got cut and got cut in three place and then they got cut between me and my mom and me and my dad, which is different, which is a different thing of yours, but that you know just that. I was just basically a great big rock nerve and you know and that they could help me now and they did and that in time Raw nerve would get skin given Lou Only a little lay a little air scan and another layer and another layer? Yes, like other and I could live. I could live in a world Katharine, but boy that is such a profound description. I'm sure that helped you a lot. It completely changed everything yeah
you changed everything you gave me hope and had none. I mean I just thought like open. This is it. You know, like I mean talk about, wanting to die. I think that's so good for everyone else too, because that's what it feels like when you ve been you feel like you, ve been severed and you have this enormous loss it. You can't even explain to yourself and your so read the fact, you are raw and in time you will get a little bit his skin and a little bit askin. I just think that a beautiful analogy. That you have now lived and proven to be true for yourself, yes, and I do have- I do have skin. I have some skin and done a lot more than I thought it would have. An does. Does did the development of the skin come from being from time or being surrounded by people?
Show you love in ways that they can. I think it definitely comes with both of those two things. I think it comes with Definitely the love. You know having letting other people love me. It's been a huge part of this journey for me and letting other people take. Care of me has been a big part and certainly time you know it time doesn't he'll anything? I don't think I think it's just you just sort of learn how to live with it, a little bit better. And then I dont know myself. So that was the big thing that Doctissimus told me was that if I don't. Start acting out like shooting heroin. Ok or I don't start drinking around the clock or like those of the kind of things that don't help at all, and
the kind of things that don't allow for that skinned he'll like you, have to actually feel the feeling, ok, which is the most painful yes, but it's so much more. In my experience, it so much more painful to try and stay outside it pain, and the latest thing for me has been about sort of figuring out that a cat outrun my pain, and you know like just going as fast as I can doing as much as I can like that like in a manic way? You know, I can't do that. Doesn't it doesnt work Were you religious before not really SAM terribly religious now I mean I have a deep spiritual life that important to me. I certainly believe that there is a great big power. Out there are bigger than me. You know
possible way. Did you say God? Why did you do this to me? Oh yeah a lot a lot and that the minister who did The funeral was really helpful on that and he said you know that God is not a puppeteer, God cried first and God cried first year exactly. And in that really help me so much I mean the God I believe in it punishing God, you know would never ever hurt children or do anything in any way to take me people miserable mingle, sick. You know war, I mean that's, not that's, not the girl S, not my god. You know why. God is full of love period,
and you know and being a loving carrying amazing God. You know in my life that leads me. You know and teaches me and carries me, and so you get out of bed by taking the action to move yourself out of bed. It's not something you can think your way through. That's what you say in your talk. Yeah yeah, no, we can't think ourselves to write action right. We have to do right action if they try, so was it a decision before I'm going to get out of bed. I think I just did. I mean I think I don't I don't remember you know, I don't remember you thinking one day I'm gonna have to get out of that one day I'm gonna have to get out of it. I think I was you know in my case. I want to say that I was too afraid to lay in bed. You know that kind of it, because where my brain goes
or even now, sometimes you know, I am I can in bed and way, I can wake up in the morning and be in the fire. That happens a lot really still. Oh yeah. And you know why didn't I do this and why didn't I go there and you know why didn't? Why did that happen? Why didn't I save them? That's part of the journey, absolutely I mean that's part of the grieving. Process. Its part of the whole thing is knowing that you know after trying to do the best I can in and you know, lived my life Sebastian and for my girls and my mom and dad for them to be proud of me. Have you felt this? I feel this with my Angelo going.
And actually felt it with my dog Sophie died, and I really it's hard to explain, but Obviously I miss the physicality of of Maya, but I kin feel the spirit of her, and I can. I can sometimes speak hear her voice in me. I can I can I mean I know that she is that that is real, that that is real, and I know you ve similar experience with your your daughter's. Yours was really profound. Yes, I mean for the long term. I thought I was now. But you know I really thought I was bankers and that I mean I didn't really care very much, but I I thought they were. You know talking to me. There was one experiences two killer where I was clear in the bathroom and I started crying,
and I started crying in a way that was so intense. It was a call level ten cry. Ok, it's like literally feels like blood is coming from my eyes feel. So am I don't know self so much pain and so I looked in the mirror- and I saw myself cry like this, and I never really see myself crime like this. You know and and the pain was so severe, and I remain the thinking, while Thou woman is in a lot of pain and like it was almost like, I was stepped out. Well and then Sarah came to me and lily and grace and everybody was there And Sarah talk to me and she told me not to be afraid that there is nothing to be afraid of and that love was the most important thing in the world and dreams are
more real than this life. And I do you in that you ve, like physically saw them. Would we were talking to you were talking to each other on the earlier, and I call cave and exclaimed. This is real is here it is real. You know not making up there really talking to me. You know it was so my blowing in so ever since then I believe I can you failed them. Oh yes, it is. I sat down like chest, felt, really follow and I don't feel you know there's still I just my. I don't. I feel super president in my body and that's a big thing and that's a big part of not being better. You know it is, It's the only way I've found is you know by not being fully
present in my body. That's when I feel them the most willing, and I dont know why now. I dont know why but boy. When I feel better, I get really angry. Then I can't feel my children. You know so in telling your story now and telling your story. What do you hope to offer? Those of us who came here. I don't know honestly. I don't really know why. I'm supposed to tell my story, you know I've gotten phone calls as blue from people struggling with the death of a brother the children, and uh. You know, and I talk to them.
We know and tell them it's gonna be ok, you can be all right. You know, I I talk to somebody right after fire who had been introduced to me through a friend and he had lost his parents and his sister in a horrible plane crash and will add, watch. M die and dumb. You know, and he said just hold on you're gonna be all right just hold on like it, then that in its terrible I called why it web, who you know, and I love and then to have seen him so much times, and I said what why it, what do I do tell me what to do and he said just find someone to love you just fine, just fine people to love you! That's all. You can and so if this helps other people, then that makes me feel like I've done
are you surprised at all the ways? Love shows up, it's pretty remarkable, it's pretty remarkable. Love shows up in so many ways, think you know the other part for me that so important is on I wish I knew now. What I wish I knew then, when I know now light like when I was so I read about be no having them eat organic food all the time, When I was so worried about them getting into the right school or when I thought that that deadline was so, important work and I stayed and worked laid an or you know the time I missed a recital that Greece did. You know, because I was draftsman,
I wish I knew how important the rear being present. Yes, then, just ended all that stuff, organic food doesn't However, the fact that they can eat food is good it. No, I mean yes, of course, all those things are good, but I'm just saying that I would.
Transcript generated on 2020-02-01.