The Whole Shebang

Ep. 07 - Navigating Grief: A Heart-Centered Perspective with Stacy Saindon

November 22, 2023 Jen Briggs Season 1 Episode 7
The Whole Shebang
Ep. 07 - Navigating Grief: A Heart-Centered Perspective with Stacy Saindon
Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

Grief, especially around the holidays, can be so tough.  Whether it’s loss of a loved one physically, mentally, or emotionally, a breakup, miscarriage, or even loss of a fur baby, I wanted to share this episode today in support of those who are missing someone around their table or in their heart. 

In this episode I chat with Stacy Saindon, a licensed marriage and family therapist, grief coach, yoga teacher and trained in Reiki. She takes an approach on grief that is so incredibly full of love and goodness.

We chatted about:

  • How to support friends and family who are grieving 
  • Various kinds of grief
  • Societal norms and opportunities to shift how we view grief
  • How love and grief and interconnected 
  • How grief is a space to soften, surrender, and become
  • Coping strategies for grief

Loves, grab a seat with us … my hope is that the episode wraps itself around you and holds you with strength exactly where you are.

Resources:
Connect with Stacy

website: www.grievelovewell.com
email: hello@stacysaindon.com 
Instagram: @stacy_saindon

What we chatted about:
2:50 - Grief-Phobic Society
3:35 - Societal Norms with Grief
8:00 - The Difference Between Depression and Grief
9:14 - Grief and Love as Inseparable
10:55 - Different Types of Grief
17:15 - Compassion That Gets Shut Off
20:25 - Being a Witness to Emotions
25:00 - How to Support People Grieving
27:11 - The Challenge of Receiving Help
35:03 - Coping Strategies for Grief
39:30 - Grief During the Holidays

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Speaker 1:

A lot of people ask what's the difference between depression and grief? And depression is a unmotivated state, it's apathy, it's losing interest and pleasurable things. Grief is actually a motivating state because you're seeking. Your brain is trying to seek the person you lost. There are so many implicit memories we have of our loved ones in our brain and our brain is a pattern machine, so it's looking for the pattern and searching and seeking. It's motivating. And then when we're met with absence, when we want presence, it's so hard and so subtle.

Speaker 2:

I have never heard that before. Hello, it's me, your host, Jen, and fellow journeyer on this path of learning how to reintegrate feminine energy into the boardroom. So we'll talk about things like conscious capitalism and leading with vulnerability and awareness and connection and play. We'll be diving into the bedroom. So basically we're going to talk about the horizontal bombo in all seriousness. We're going to look at how to create a deeper level of intimacy and connection in your romantic partnerships, but also in all of our relationships. I think we've become so disconnected. So how do we gain that in our relationships? And then we're going to look beyond that into any tool or practice that helps us become more magnetic and more full. So manifestation techniques, meditation and personal development approaches that will help us move through challenges to step into our brightest, fullest, most magnetic version of ourselves. It's all the things. It is the whole shebang. So buckle up buttercups, we're diving in.

Speaker 2:

All right, I am here today with Stacy St Don. She is a yogi, a sister, a mother, love and merrimaker. I love that. She's also a licensed marriage and family therapist, a grief coach, a yoga teacher and trained in Reiki, which is so fun. So I am so excited to dive in with you. Welcome, Stacy, to the whole shebang. I'm so delighted to be here. So gosh, grief is a big topic. There's a lot that we can dive in on, but why don't we just start a little bit with how you got into this particular work?

Speaker 1:

Yeah, my story of grief began before I was born. My mom lost her mom when she was 12, and that shaped her whole world, the way that she grew up, her choice in a partner, how she parented my sisters and I, and it really passed down this message to me that grief is so horrible, we can't talk about it, it has to live in the shadows and as a kid. Kids use kid logic, so if it's silence, well, we kind of plug in, but we think grief means so. For me it was just so scary and I lost my mom when I was 24. And at that moment I was like I want to read everything I can get my hands around. I read Motherless Daughters, I read about death and dying. I went back to school, graduate school to become a therapist. I did an internship at a hospice. I just wanted to wrap my arms around grief.

Speaker 2:

And man. So I'm going to back up for just a minute, because when we met so we met on an online course, which is crazy, turns out, we live how many blocks.

Speaker 2:

So like 10 or something Exactly Like a nationwide class and then like, oh my gosh, you live around the corner for me, which is so cool. But I was really grateful when we got a chance to meet because of the grief aspect I share in episode one a little bit about my brother passing and my dad passing and what a sort of portal. I don't even know how else to put it, but like I can't remember, the quote is by Glen and Doyle, but she talks about how grief shatters but it becomes sort of the way for something sort of new and beautiful and as it relates to our becoming and our becoming whole, it sounds odd to say, but grief has been such a tremendous gift for me, as hard as it's been, and so I'm really glad to have you here to just talk about that aspect of it. So maybe you're a therapist or talking with lots of people. You are obviously dealing with grief a lot. What are, what are, what's, some of the main themes that you see and how people relate to grief?

Speaker 1:

Well, because we live in such a grief-phobic society in the Western world, a lot of it is almost embarrassed or ashamed. They kind of feel like they have a scarlet letter or they have to do it in silence or in secrecy, so really just creating a space where all of their wisdom can come forth. And I see myself just as a witness to that. And a lot of it too is feeling isolated from their peers. If they're a widow, don't have other people in that specific last category. So a lot of loneliness and isolation too.

Speaker 2:

Why do you think we're afraid of grief?

Speaker 1:

You know, when you look at some other cultures, like the day of this recording, in two days is Dia el Los Miros, the day of the dead. So if you look at the Mexican community, they celebrate that On November 1st they decorate the cemeteries, they bring in food, they bring in merry-gold flowers so the scent of the flowers can bring the spirits of their loved ones back. There's such a thin veil between life and death and they celebrate it. We see that in indigenous cultures, we see it with Tibetan monks, but our Western world is just so afraid of it and there was a time when death was more palatable and then the medical model kind of came in and created this medical failure and we hear people strife me crazy. He lost his battle to cancer or somehow. Death is a failure. So really, this idea of having to look at the circle of life and that death and life go hand in hand, but that's not something our Western world really sees it as.

Speaker 2:

I know for me, like when I was going through maybe more so with my dad than my brother, but after their passing I remember chatting with my sister about it and she did sociology, undergraduate anthropology, and so a lot of study of the different cultures, and she was just talking about like we just don't have even a real grief process or ceremony, or there's not time in space. And I mean I was sort of self-employed as a real estate agent owning this business and I worked every day after my dad died. It wasn't until COVID that there was any space to like honor his life and actually grieve Exactly Well.

Speaker 1:

Corporate America gives you three days for a bereavement leave.

Speaker 2:

What do you think like if you got to draw up would be healthy. If we were gonna like, build our own organization, what would you build in for grief Like? What could that look like?

Speaker 1:

Oh gosh, this question is making me really emotional because I think of grievers as holy people Like. They're so holy, they're so close to the veil especially when you walk with someone throughout their dying process and it's so disorienting. They need a place where they can just be present with their experience without having to like shift it to left brain and make sense of it and do all the things where they could be held and fed and tucked in. So I'd love that idea. It's kind of like a red tent actually as I'm thinking about it.

Speaker 2:

I haven't read the book, but I think you mentioned that in one of our conversations I might have mentioned that.

Speaker 1:

It's just. It's this beautiful concept about how, when women were banished in the red tent because they were menstruating and they all celebrated together and they took care of each other. When a woman had a baby, she would just lay there and they comb her hair and bring her food, bring her the baby, take the baby away. We need some kind of a red tent, quite honestly.

Speaker 2:

For grief and with that before. Do you see like a common period? I mean, I know it's so different for everybody, but do you see a common period of time or like, what would that look like?

Speaker 1:

Yeah, that's an impossible question to answer because I use terms like fresh grief, because I don't like the idea of even like early grief or some kind of a timeline. 90 plus percent of the people grieve well and they resolve it, and they resolve their symptoms and integrate the loss. But for those that don't, you know, they need to have this time and space to really understand what's happening for them. So there's a disorder called prolonged grief disorder, which basically says after one year if you haven't resolved your symptoms, then it's a medical diagnosis and that's such. I have pros and cons to that. On one hand I love words because if we can mention something we can manage it. So I appreciate cluster of words that mean something. But it also feels shaming too, because some people just struggle and they don't have the support to move through it. So clinically we say between six to 12 months, but I don't think that's really a useful timeframe because everyone is so different.

Speaker 2:

What are symptoms of grief.

Speaker 1:

You know what's really interesting. A lot of people ask what's the difference between depression and grief? And depression is a unmotivated state, it's apathy, it's losing interest and pleasurable things. Grief is actually a motivating state because you're seeking. Your brain is trying to seek the person you lost, as there's so many implicit memories we have of our loved ones in our brain and our brain is a pattern machine, so it's looking for the pattern and searching and seeking. It's very motivating. And then when we're met with absence, when we want presence, it's so hard and so solid-ful.

Speaker 2:

I have never heard that before.

Speaker 1:

That's one. Wow, mary Kay Francis O'Connor wrote the Grieving Brain. She talks about that.

Speaker 2:

So grief is motivating because it's looking for presence, it's seeking, it's searching, oh, and then it's met with absence, and that's where the pain is. Ooh, wow, that's so powerful. I've heard and experienced that this idea of grief is love with no place for the love to land, and that is maybe, would you say, another way of describing what you're talking about For sure, absolutely, I see.

Speaker 1:

Grief and love are inseparable. They're identical twins at the same DNA, so you can't have one without the other.

Speaker 2:

Hmm, man, I feel this in a really real way, like after experiencing grief and realizing like, oh, I feel that I feel like when I feel love, even for my kids, I get a really deep place. It's like in your heart chakra, it's like definitely in the ch I'm like I feel it in the same place and the physical feeling feels very similar grief and love, like I don't probably exactly the same. If I'm really thinking about it and I remember this moment, I was dating a guy at the time.

Speaker 2:

Not with him anymore but I remember feeling that kind of love and then realizing for the first time that I wasn't afraid to lose it and that I was willing to love really deeply because I had felt grief. I was like I know what it feels like to hurt and lose somebody and I know I survived it and I would rather love really deeply and lose somebody than not love. So I feel again like that's where a piece of the gift has come in that I'm like oh, I can love as hard as I can love and I'm not afraid of falling.

Speaker 1:

Which is so-. That is so beautiful. That gives me the chills in my elbows. That was so beautiful Because then the opposite's true If you numb out, then you numb out from love too. You can't pick and choose. Be like yeah, I'm not gonna feel so, I love that.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, that's cool. Okay, so not everybody has lost somebody close to them. And I know, when you and I chatted prior to this, that you mentioned that there are different types of grief, that there are different types of grief. Can you speak to that a little bit?

Speaker 1:

Yeah, so there are several different types. One is anticipatory grief. So an example of this could be either yourself or someone you love has a diagnosis of stage four cancer, prognosis of six months to live. They haven't died yet, but they're imagining that, so they're starting to feel some of the feelings of grief before that happens. Another one I told you before we hopped on here is launching your kids to school. My daughter and your daughter will be launching next year and just anticipating that I mean I can feel the love and grief right here as well, as I anticipate that.

Speaker 1:

There is a type called ambiguous loss, which is a term from Dr Pauline Bass. What it essentially says? That it's a loss that there's no resolution and there's no closure. So there's two types. Type one is when someone's physically here but emotionally gone. So think about folks with dementia, severe mental illness, severe substance abuse disorder. And the second type is when someone's emotionally here but physically gone, and the really dramatic example of that is like a child being kidnapped or a prisoner of war. So in both example there's no death, there's no home or card, people don't bring food, there's no publicly sanctioned sort of ritual. So it's the hardest loss to grieve because our brain loves closure, it's seeking that and it's met with no information. So she talks about how important it is to hold two truths at the same time, to be able to hold the possibility, like in the second type. I love that one might come home and they might be dead. So it's this paradoxical thing.

Speaker 1:

Another one is absent grief. So this is folks that really don't grieve right away. It could be a delayed grief, it might show up later, but there's just sort of a numbing out and not an active sort of grieving process. We also have collective grief, which we all experienced through the pandemic. It's happening in Israeli and Palestine right now. So that's basically a nation or a group of people who have lost someone through death or even just some kind of disaster, and it's a cultural, social way of trying to deal with the powerlessness and helplessness. We've got accumulative grief. I think of it like a stack of pancakes, like loss after loss, after loss after loss, or I think about it as people like waiting and feelings of grief, or waiting in file line, just like waiting to be felt and processed, and sometimes we wait so long that poof, you know, it really explodes into a big grief process.

Speaker 2:

So yeah, so can we talk about the collective grief? I think it's really relevant with what we're experiencing in the Middle East and also, I don't know how many people are still in or even acknowledged like pandemic or here like George Floyd, like there was a lot that surfaced in the last few years. Are you seeing people still processing that or like how has it? My perception I could be wrong, which is why I'll ask you is that there's a lot of people that didn't realize they were even grieving or like what that looked like or what they were feeling. Is that accurate?

Speaker 1:

Yeah, I think it's really interesting because I mean it was such a shock. This is a global shock. You know, this isn't even just local. Then people at least people I talked to there was kind of a honeymoon phase. There was something really delightful about hunkering with your family and nesting, and especially folks with families, all the over schedule and activities and all of that was hushed in a silence and there really was a coming together like the first Christmas.

Speaker 1:

Our neighbors, who we have a close knit neighborhood usually everyone goes to their family Christmas Eve we all went outside and sang Christmas songs and had our jingle bells. So there was such a beautiful part of the pandemic. But, yes, I mean, think about our kids, all of the social and emotional developmental stages. They missed all of the funerals that didn't get to happen, or the deaths of people who died alone and had an iPad to say goodbye. I mean this is horrific what people experienced. So I think the people that have processed it and have brought it forward, you know, are moving through this well, but a lot of people go back to what their coping strategies are, which could be to just stuff it or avoid it. So there is still a lot more processing to do.

Speaker 2:

This may be a silly question, but do you think, do you think it's possible, that some people just weren't really that impacted? Because I feel like I work with people that are like why are we still talking about this? Absolutely Okay, and are they okay? You know, that's a good question, judgmental. I just am actually like because to me, I'm just like, oh, we're really being present, or if we're really aware of humanity, there's an ache here when we're connected to one another and to love, and it doesn't mean that anybody's bad for not feeling it. I just wondered. I'm like, honestly, at moments I'm like, am I too emotional?

Speaker 1:

Am I the crazy one here? I know, I know exactly because I'm the same way. I am so sensitive I pick up on I mean, that's part of my work is to have boundaries because I pick up on so much emotion. I think that's an interesting question and I know what you're saying, because there are some people who, if it hasn't happened to them, they just don't get it, like the empathy and compassion doesn't happen. And think about the people who have resources, have worked from home beforehand that didn't have people die. They don't understand it the same way. So I think there is something to be said about. I think about people who seemingly look like they don't have compassion. I actually think they have so much compassion they don't know what to do with it that they just shut it down.

Speaker 2:

Shut it off. I can totally see that, yeah, and I'm like here's the other thing about compassion, about grief that I've experienced is that you can feel these bits of it, and I know I was afraid because I was like what's going to happen if I actually let myself feel this Like? Will I survive that?

Speaker 1:

And I wonder if that's a bit of what's happening with people that they're like I'm just not going to face it because I'm afraid that I can't oh yeah, I can't tell you how many people who are so afraid that if I start crying, I'll never stop. Yeah, there's this great quote I'm probably going to butcher. But it's like, if you're a river, what mountain made you ashamed to flow? Or something like that. You know, like somehow we learned that flowing because emotions are literally energy in motion, that's all it is, and we block it up and we dam it up. We're meant to flow, but it's so. It's a masculine left-brain kind of mentality of not crying, of just shutting it off and compartmentalizing it.

Speaker 2:

So do you hear that from people? They're like oh my gosh, if I start crying, I will never stop. Do they stop?

Speaker 1:

Yep, they do, they do and it is scary. You know, like I want to validate that If you've been so shut down and frozen and you start to thaw and things move, it's a powerless, helpless for a lot of people, traumatic experience. So the goal isn't to flood. You know, like I don't want to flood my clients, I do want to help them titrate and have some coping strategies. So it's more of a garden hose than a fire hose.

Speaker 2:

What's on the other side of the flow? You know, like when the crying stops, let's say you can flow and not flood, and you get on the other side of that. What's on the other side of that? What do you see in people? How do they change?

Speaker 1:

You know, one of the greatest things I like to think about with difficult feelings like grief, if you allow yourself to feel it, there's something on the other end of that. So who knows? An opportunity, a surrender, a growth, a release Lots of different things are on the other side, but feelings are meant to be felt. I literally look at them like there's a beginning, middle, an end. You know or think about like you ingest food, it metabolizes, you eliminate it, Like it's meant to come and go feelings. So I find a lot of physical symptoms decrease. You know, like so many of us live like this. We're so tight and clenched, Shoulders, hunched, yeah yeah. And when we're like that, we go to our Olympic brain. That's where we fight, fight, freeze or fawn and we're just impaired. We can't get online to our prefrontal cortex and find solutions, language, ideas. So it's like if you can let yourself feel and relax, then you can. All the resources you ever need are right here in your prefrontal cortex. Like I just help people get there. That's what my job is.

Speaker 2:

How do you help people get there?

Speaker 1:

Really start with witnessing and validating. So many people have had invalidating experiences so then they don't learn how to trust their flow, because if you're a sensitive kid and you're crying and you get humiliated because of it, who wants to put themselves in that situation? So being able to have a safe and brave place to tap into their own wisdom, that's there is a 50% of it. It's just holding space and witnessing that.

Speaker 2:

Do you need somebody to witness it, or can you hold your own space, or what does that?

Speaker 1:

look like. We need both because, if you think about it, when a baby is born, it needs mother. It doesn't know how to regulate, it would not live without mother. We literally mold our babies into our body and through this loving, consistent pattern, time and time again, they learn oh, I'm worthy of love, oh, my voice matters, oh, my feelings matter. Once they internalize that, then they can self-soothe. Then they find their thumb, or then they find a little lovey, but we always need other, then we'll be robots. We need a balance of co-regulation and self-regulation.

Speaker 2:

I don't know why this is coming to mind, but what if you are in a situation with family or maybe in a partnership, where you're seeking a witness and you want space to be held and that person doesn't meet you there or you don't trust them to meet you there? How do you handle that? What do you recommend? How do you have the conversation around that?

Speaker 1:

So first we need to know that we're worthy of our feelings or worthy of being witnessed. A lot of times people don't know that that's true, so then they won't ask for that need to be met. Once we know that, ideally we want to coach our loved ones, our family members, if they're. If it's not safe to do that, if they're unwilling to, then of course I would go to a friend, I would go to a therapist, I would figure out other ways to get that need met. But in an intimate relationship like a partner, they should be able to be there. So to me they're blocked. What kind of individual work could they do? Or relational work, if that's safe, to be able to show up in that way, because our partner doesn't have to meet every single one of our needs. But that's an important one.

Speaker 2:

Yeah yeah, not an easy conversation to have if you're feeling unmet, or I know. For me I mean whether it's great for just emotions. In general, some people are more comfortable holding space for that than other people and it can be disheartening if you show up, especially to an intimate relationship with, with what doesn't feel irrational. It just feels like I need to flow for a minute and I really need a witness or I would value that so much, and then it can be so hurtful if you're unmet and so just try to how, to how to have that conversation.

Speaker 1:

Well, and you know what, A lot of partners feel responsible. So if you're flowing, oh my gosh, I got to fix it.

Speaker 2:

I don't know what to do, so like codependency and there's interesting.

Speaker 1:

So even coaching them like you don't have to do anything, you didn't do anything wrong and you don't need to fix this. I just need your support, I just need to listen to me. That can help too.

Speaker 2:

That is such a good thing to key in on, because I, yeah, I can see that where if a person feels responsible, then they're kind of like drawing a boundary because they don't want to feel responsible, but being able to have them understand the difference between this isn't yours to fix and I'm not coming to you to fix me or to fix this problem, because it's not even a problem. Yeah, if it's grief, especially, it's not a problem. Can you just like I don't know how else to say it but that idea of holding space, it's being a witness, it's just being there.

Speaker 1:

Exactly. Yeah, you know, I think about you. Know, when someone sneezes, a lot of people say, isn't it tight? Or salute, or maybe they don't say that.

Speaker 2:

But they do in some country.

Speaker 1:

So I wish we had that for grief, Like when someone's grieving it's a natural response to loss, a sneezing as a natural response to something in your nose. I wish people had like a knee-jerk response of like are you okay, what can I do? Can I listen to you?

Speaker 2:

That's a good well. Yeah, let's go there while we're here. If I've got someone close to me that's grieving, or if you've got listeners right now that maybe they have people in their life that have had loss or are experiencing whatever. You know, we didn't talk about things like miscarriage. I mean, there's lots of kinds of grief in particular situations. What would a good friend say or do?

Speaker 1:

You know, I just thought of another type of loss I want to say before I answer that question Disenfranchised grief is when there's no publicly sanctioned ritual. So it could be the loss of a dog, it could be a miscarriage. I had a client who came to see me because her fair partner died and no one knew she was having an affair so she had nowhere to talk about this. So I just wanted to say that. So you know, everyone's different in what they need when they're grieving. But you can never go wrong by showing up, even if that's coming to the door with groceries and leaving it at the door.

Speaker 1:

If you're really, really in their inner circle, of course, I say you just go right on in and follow their lead. If they're kind of more of an acquaintance, you still show up in some way. That could be a text, it could be I'm picking up your garbage cans for you all winter. I'm taking your kids to the. You know whatever. Tonight when you're grieving it's such a brain, heart and body like discombobulation that it's so hard to figure those things out. So show up in any way, shape or form and you can ask like oh, how's your grief doing today? Or can I ask you about your grief and they're going to say no if they don't want to, but when we're fresh in grief, that is all we're thinking about.

Speaker 1:

I lost a good friend of mine and the way I experienced her like after her death. Every time I blinked I thought of her, like literally I don't even know how many times you blink in a minute, but that's how often she was in my brain and heart. So if someone were to ask me, I'd feel relief.

Speaker 2:

It's just it's bringing back to how we started this conversation of this idea like, of like being cared for and talk about.

Speaker 2:

You know, if I'm going to pull in this feminine energetic behind that, what it part of this that weaves into me is that in our society we have such a hard time receiving, receiving love, receiving help like, receiving compliments, receiving anything, and so, man, if our society had red tents during menstrual cycles and somewhere to go during grief or a normal like let me come over and cook for you, or? It seems a little silly, but I'm like one of the things my mom did when I was little all the time she still does sometimes is like grab lotion and rub my feet and it feels like such a humbling, beautiful experience to receive somebody rubbing your feet, you know, but that kind of thing of like, not that you would necessarily do that for everybody that's grieving, but to show up in a way. And I think, or I wonder maybe, if in our society people are afraid to show up that way too, because it's uncomfortable for them. But it's also uncomfortable if the person on the other end isn't ready, willing, able to receive.

Speaker 1:

That's such a good point, Cause I always thought about how intolerable it is for the support people if they've never lost anyone. But then there's a piece of rejection that's what you're talking about and or like a fear of like I made it worse.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, yeah, yeah. But man, what a beautiful opportunity if we allow it to have that kind of love care, just like circulating in a relationship, even if it's not super deep. But it's like can I? I'm gonna pick up a bottle of wine and drop it off for you, don't numb out too hard, we'll just give you some little something for you.

Speaker 1:

Exactly you have to be crazy, or you know what else is really sweet about the stories about your loved one that day, aren't those little?

Speaker 2:

gifts A thousand percent and they can come to it in such odd ways, like my dad's past coworkers or a person from the church saying, oh, I remember the way your dad played guitar. Or those little things are such a gift because you don't know how they're making an impact or being perceived through other people's lenses. I know you just see your dad.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, yeah, do you know? My sister cuts hair? And she was cutting this gentleman's hair and they're talking oh, what do you do for work? He said, oh, I'm a lawyer. Oh, where do you work? Oh, mayor gear. Oh, my dad used to work there. Do you know David Orfield? And he's like yes, and she's like I'm his daughter. He stood up out of the chair and he was like I need to shake the hand of the daughter of David Orfield. Oh, is that so sweet? Like he was a mentor to this gentleman. Wow, how cool is that? So story and just storytelling is so important. Like my girls never got to meet my parents and they know them through me because we tell the stories.

Speaker 2:

Another lost art. I feel like a lot of our conversation has been around, whether it's generational or societal, just like things that we've lost. Our culture is not as rich as it could be, yes, and it feels overwhelming to think about. How do we change that? How do we change grief in America?

Speaker 1:

Well, it starts with us. Yeah, In like a ripple effect, a little stone in the pond. Yeah, Like I made a decision Like my oldest daughter. I brought her to a funeral when she was three years old Cause I was like I want her to know these rituals before, God forbid, I died or something you know like. So it starts with us and how we talk about grief, how we bring it into conversations, our comfort level of it.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, that's. I feel like that's been inevitable kind of in my family because of what we well, I shouldn't say that necessarily, but I have been working on we definitely haven't arrived but normalizing death. I heard somebody say once to, instead of saying having, instead of using the phrase they passed on, which is just like what I've said out of habit, to not say that but to say they died. I know.

Speaker 1:

Can you what? Why, so it's passed on is such a watered down version and kind of a death denying statement? I still struggle with that because it almost feels like when it's an early grief I say that almost like I'm going to like tell them that, oh my gosh, your person said I mean it's kind of irrational. But then further along the grief journey, I use death or died more. I've actually experimented with both and it feels really weird to say died. It feels like cruel, which is just part of my conditioning.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, yeah. And I think, if again, if death was more normal, a more normal part of life, gosh, and I think the more we grapple with the fact that death is real, the more real life is you know Absolutely Well.

Speaker 1:

That's part of the gift Right. When you lose someone you love so much, your values change. You want to live a more value driven life. A lot of people are actually more afraid of their birth than their death because they're not living their best life. Oh wait, explain what you mean by that. So Steven Levine wrote this. I'm gonna forget the title of the book, but he wrote most people are afraid of their birth and not their death, meaning they're afraid to live their best life.

Speaker 1:

They hold themselves back and then when they lose someone, bang. We get a wake up call. That's part of like being close to the threshold to the veil. Yes, you kind of. I just remember people I've lost. I could just see the world like, oh my gosh, I'm here to love, I'm here to be loved. It felt so real. And then life comes back in. You know like I got disrupted. But there's such an opportunity and the gift, as you called it, with your dad, to live a more love filled, joyful life.

Speaker 2:

If you choose to. Yeah, yeah, I remember choosing. I remember the moment that I chose to step into grief. Literally, it literally was a moment of of like I kept feeling it coming towards me and me, just like pushing it away. And then I remember being like feeling like it was a wave. You know, like I can see this not a tsunami, but a big wave coming towards me and I keep finding a way to outrun it. And then deciding like I'm going to let this wash over me and actually I didn't actually think I was literally going to die, but I had a feeling of like I feel I don't know what's going to happen Exactly, and then having it for the first time sort of really wash over me and it being like intense, but then just like so healing, and so like, oh, like there's a moment when you, you can choose.

Speaker 2:

You can, and I think it's that way with so many things in life that seems so scary and so hard, we try to outrun them. I don't know that this is always true, but I feel like it may be always true that the things that we're avoiding are where some of the most powerful, good, juicy things are.

Speaker 1:

Exactly. Well, the more we resist something, it persists. So the idea of just allowing is so important, so good for you. The surrender yeah, exactly, and what's so cool about it is that you can play around with that in your kind of recovery process, because just the way you described that you got to the other side of it and you didn't die. In fact, you had relief wash over you. I was washed over.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, ooh, love this stuff. It's so good. Okay, I would love to hear from you to some practical like, if somebody is grieving in a big way or it's really fresh, or maybe maybe I don't want to call it smaller, but I think we have some smaller griefs. Maybe we've just lost a job or a front, I don't know what it is, but what are some coping strategies for people?

Speaker 1:

Number one validate the loss. However you feel, feelings never need to be questioned. We have to just allow feelings to happen. We're accountable to our behavior. So we can't behave in an old way because of the feeling. But however we feel it's like, acknowledge it, nod to it, allow it. It's gonna have a beginning, middle and end.

Speaker 1:

When I think about big grief, I go back to just simple things Sleep, movement, nutrition, relationship. We need those things. I mean sleep. Every research about physical and mental health. Sleep is the foundation. All the way Back to the relationship, relationships are medicine. We need people when we are grieving.

Speaker 1:

When I talked about Dr Pauline Basser earlier, she went to New York after the September 11th attacks and she refused to let anyone come to see her individually. She would go to groups because she's like I don't want you to leave your pod, like you need your pod for safety right now. So relationships are so important and check in with yourself. I know we're gonna talk about the holidays coming up. Some people feel like they shoot on themselves. They're like I should do this, I should do that or this is what I should do. Well, if you don't want it, then don't do it. You get to create new rituals. You get to stay in your jammies in bed all day. You get to do lots of different things. That it's like what's the best thing for my highest good in this moment.

Speaker 2:

That's so good. To just punctuate that, because I think, whether it's perceived or it's real, there's a lot of pressure on what we should be doing and should be going back to work after three days and I know that, like man, my brain wasn't functioning. I mean, I don't just to offer yourself grace and Exactly, and maybe also to be able to be as hard as this is also to be an advocate for yourself, especially if you're employed by somebody else, or just to be able to speak up and say, hey, I'm having a day today and I might not be showing up. I love that. I don't know. I don't know what else. I mean, I didn't, I wasn't in a position of the time to do that, but I think if somebody were to come to me and say that Exactly.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, do anything for him.

Speaker 2:

Absolutely Take your time and it's too bad that there isn't more. I mean, you look at even like maternity and paternity leave, like do we have some like grief leave? That is more than three days.

Speaker 1:

In Europe they have 18 months of maternity leave. Like how great would that be if we had this big chunk of time for a grief leave? We gotta change something. Yeah, Seriously, it's true.

Speaker 2:

I just want to rethink it all. I mean, I'm not totally kidding where I, you know, part of this for me is just like I want to live my life in a way that is, that I'm showing up whole in every area of life. And if a part of that is being in a healing phase from loss, how can I show up that way to my work? How can I show that way to my client as entrepreneurs? Like how could we do that? How can we reimagine that? I do think maybe this is like way too optimistic of me, but I do think we're in a time where we're being primed for opportunities, where people seem more open to me Because of all of the disruption we've had in a really real way, and people prioritizing their lives like I think we're more open to creative ways of working and being I think so too.

Speaker 1:

I mean my generation of self-help and getting therapy and you know my kids do therapy like everything is opened up in a way, and I think the internet helps too. We have access to so many different resources that you know a generation ago, a generation ago, we didn't. So I agree with you. I feel hopeful too.

Speaker 2:

You mentioned this I do wanna touch on like holidays, time and grief. We've got holidays coming up. By the time this airs will be right upon Thanksgiving and Christmas, and so, you know, what advice do you have for people that are, you know, missing loved ones or grieving through the holidays?

Speaker 1:

Yeah, again, validate your feelings. Number two check in with yourself. You get to change rituals if you want to. I remember the. I was 24 when my mom died and I still remember setting that Thanksgiving table and just you know like I was so mad. I didn't wanna do it and I wish I had the courage to be like peace out, I'm gonna get pizza tonight, so it's okay to be like I'm not celebrating this year. I don't feel thankful. Okay, whatever you need really to get through it.

Speaker 1:

Some people really wanna do the same rituals and that feels really good. Maybe have an empty chair there, maybe you light a candle, maybe you toast your loved one, maybe you do storytelling. Really, it's like what feels best for me this year. It might not be that every year, but that's okay. This year it's just again what's my next best thing for my highest self? Yeah, that's good, it's simple, yeah. And then another thing I would think of too is especially like holiday parties. Let the host know I got 20 minutes, I'm gonna be in and out, or maybe bring a wing woman or a wingman with you or something. Have an exit strategy, because some people really are like, okay, I'm ready, I wanna get out, and then they're like I'm on mission.

Speaker 1:

Some people are like I don't wanna go. You know what's best.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, that's good. I like that, like having a wingman, wing woman, because you sometimes don't know until you're in the situation and I feel like some things can be triggering that you don't expect that. You're like, oh gosh, like I'm ready for the wave to wash over, but not in front of everybody, like I need to get home and I just need to like let this happen twice.

Speaker 1:

That's exactly right. Yeah, and for people who are hosting, invite their grief. You know, tell them you and your grief are welcome. So you show up in any way, shape or form, you don't have to put a mask on.

Speaker 2:

What a beautiful thing. What a beautiful thing to be able to go somewhere and not feel like you have to wear a mask. Yeah, I'm gonna think about that. Maybe there's some people I can invite in with that, yeah, that's beautiful. Okay, so you have some resources. Talk about. If people wanna connect with you, share with us about that.

Speaker 1:

So I have a private practice in South Minneapolis in my as a licensed marriage and family therapist. So I see couples, individuals, families, mostly around grief, trauma, relational wounds, and then I have a grief coaching program. That is a separate program and I created that because I was so tired of having to come up with a diagnosis for grief. I was so tired of having to have medical necessity and it's such a medical pathological model. So I created this program, which is an online grief coaching program which is four months long. We meet twice a week for an hour and a half each session. I have a 10 module with about three to six different lessons under each module on grief so you can really get a left brain understanding grief, what type of griever you are, what to expect, and then the support group, and then we have a private Facebook group. So it's for a four month chunk of time. It's like an intense program where you're just wrapped. You're just wrapped with support.

Speaker 2:

I love that, Gosh. Thank you for creating such holy spaces for people.

Speaker 1:

It is so nice to meet you. Oh my gosh, it's so funny how we met.

Speaker 2:

I know it's crazy. We're close. This is great, so I'm gonna put your contact information in the show notes. Anything else, nope.

Speaker 1:

I don't think so. Thank you so much for having me.

Speaker 2:

Thank you for being on the whole shebang. We're so happy to have had you here. Thank you, as always. Thank you for tuning in. I hope that this episode is supporting you in becoming your most whole self so that you can lead your most full life. You are definitely worthy and deserving of that. All of the resources that we shared today are gonna be linked in the show notes. You can check those out there, along with ways that you can connect with us if you've got questions or feedback or people that you think we should reach out to to highlight their story on the whole shebang podcast. In the meantime, please be sure to hit that follow button so you don't miss a beat. Share this episode or any others with those that you think could benefit from this conversation, and you can do the podcast a huge favor by leaving a five star review In the meantime. I hope that you have a fantastic bangin' day sightseeingcom.

Grief-Phobic Society
Societal Norms with Grief
Organizational Bereavement
The Difference Between Depression and Grief
Grief and Love as Inseparable
Different Types of Grief
Collective Grief
Compassion That Gets Shut Off
Being a Witness to Emotions
What If Your Partner Can't Be A Witness?
How to Support People Grieving
The Challenge of Receiving Help
How We're More Afraid of Our Birth Than Death
Coping Strategies for Grief
Grief During the Holidays