Rank #1: Ep. 82: The Before & After Worlds - Grieving A Sudden Death
Five years ago Sarah was 23, doing what a lot of 23-year-olds do - working, hanging out with friends, starting life as a "real" adult, and living at home with her mom and dad. Then on a totally average day in May, Sarah walked into the house to find that her mom had an aortic aneurysm. The paramedics came and she was rushed to the hospital where she died later that night.
How do you go from being in one world - the world where your person is alive and washing dishes and folding laundry and calling your name down the hall - to another where this person no longer exists in their physical form? How do your brain and body and spirit even begin to make sense of that?
Sarah talks about the extremely close relationship she had with her mother and how she worked to bridge this before and after world of grief.
Rank #2: Ep. 1: The Myth Of The Grief Timeline
In this episode of Grief Out Loud, Jana and Brendon discuss some of the current mythology surrounding grief timelines. We demystify the idea that there is a recipe for grieving or one right way to go about integrating a loss. Listen to learn new ways of conceptualizing the unfolding of grief. During the discussion, Jana mentioned a couple of relevant resources:
- Getting Grief Right, a NYT Opinionator article about grief timelines and "stages of grief"
- 5 Stages of Grief overview, which Jana noted is a familiar cultural landmark, but not a framework that The Dougy Center endorses for those who are grieving. While each of the stages involves thoughts and feelings that grievers may experience, it’s not a clear-cut linear process. Thinking that we need to achieve certain stages in order to grieve correctly can often create more suffering for those in grief.
Rank #3: Ep. 65: A Mother's Story - Sue Klebold
Sue Klebold is the mother of Dylan Klebold, one of the two shooters at Columbine High School who, in 1999, killed twelve students and a teacher, and wounded more than 20 others before taking their own lives. In our conversation with we explore how current day mass tragedies continue to affect her. We also look at how tragedies like Columbine occur - and how someone's thinking can become suicidal and homicidal. Before publishing her book, A Mother’s Reckoning: Living in the Aftermath of Tragedy, Sue spent 15 years excavating every detail of her family life, and trying to understand the crucial intersection between mental health problems and violence. Instead of becoming paralyzed by her grief and remorse, she worked to advance mental health awareness. Sue is donating all author’s profits from her book to organizations that promote brain health and prevent suicide.Resources mentioned in this episode: Sue's TED Talk, My son was a Columbine shooter. This is my story. https://www.ted.com/talks/sue_klebold_my_son_was_a_columbine_shooter_this_is_my_story Sue's Book, A Mother's Reckoning: Living in the aftermath of Tragedy http://amothersreckoning.com/ If you or someone you know needs help, please contact the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) Music: "Which That Is This?" by Doctor Turtle From the Free Music Archive CC BY http://freemusicarchive.org/music/Doctor_Turtle/Jonahs_Message_for_New_York/Which_That_Is_This Music: "I Thought of Pills" by Lee Rosevere From the Free Music Archive CC BY http://freemusicarchive.org/music/Lee_Rosevere/The_Big_Loop_-_FML_original_podcast_score/Lee_Rosevere_-_The_Big_Loop_-_FML_original_podcast_score_-_07_I_Thought_Of_Pills
Rank #4: Ep. 106: Grief & Anxiety - Claire Bidwell Smith. LCPC
When grief enters our world, many of us expect to cry and feel frustrated, but we aren’t as prepared for the intense fear and worry that can also be part of loss. Someone being 10 minutes late getting home sparks visions of a car crash or getting a call from the hospital. A random ache or feeling extra tired leaves us thinking we must be dying. Maybe sleep eludes us as we spin over how to do day to day life without our people. Sometimes the hardest part about anxiety is how it can catch us off-guard, either because we’ve never dealt with it before, or because the anxiety we already knew well has ratcheted up to untenable levels.
Claire Bidwell Smith, a licensed counselor, author, mother, and grieving daughter recently published her new book, Anxiety, the Missing Stage of Grief, that delves into all the ways anxiety can be part of grief. Before Claire was 25, both of her parents died of cancer. Her adolescence and young adulthood were deeply etched with their illnesses, treatment, and deaths. Out of this devastating grief grew her desire to help others facing similar situations.
Be sure to visit Claire's site to learn more about her work.
Rank #5: Ep. 17: Grieving A Suicide Death
Jana talks with Erin Shuster about the death of her brother from suicide. A former young adult group participant and volunteer, Erin talks openly about the unique aspects of grief when someone dies of suicide and how she learned to identify her needs and advocate for herself. For information about our groups for young adults, visit: http://www.dougy.org/grief-resources/help-for-young-adults/Know a child who is grieving? The Dougy Center Workbook: After a Suicide Death: an Activity Book for Grieving Kids is designed for those ages 5-12. Other great resources for suicide grief support:
Rank #6: Ep. 26: Grief And Complex Relationships (Part 3) - The Death Of A Parent
The last in a three-part series talking with those grieving the death of someone when the relationship was complex, difficult, or challenging. Jana talks with Diana about her father who died after seven years of no contact with him. Her mother, whom she was very close with, died 13 years earlier.
Rank #7: Ep. 51: Anger & Grief - Megan Devine
Megan Devine joins us again, this time talking about another shadow aspect of grief - anger. Anger shows up in many ways, including being angry at the person who died, at ourselves, and at someone or something we hold responsible for the death. Megan shares her personal and professional insight on the importance of acknowledging this anger and finding ways to navigate what can often be a very uncomfortable emotion. Megan is a teacher, speaker, psychotherapist, and also the author of the book, It’s OK That You’re Not OK: Meeting Grief and Loss in a Culture That Doesn’t Understand, coming from Sounds True in September 2017. It's available for pre-order on Amazon and you can order it here. To learn more about Megan's practical, no-nonsense approach to grief, and her ability to guide people inside some of the most devastating experiences of life and love, check out her website. Want to listen to our first conversation with Megan about dating after the death of a partner? You can find it here.
Rank #8: Ep. 120: Mini-Episode - Megan, Michael, & Mason
In 2018, The Dougy Center was selected as one of a handful of children’s bereavement programs to partner with StoryCorps and the New York Life Foundation on Road to Resilience: Memories that Move Us Forward. Road to Resilience was born out of a commitment to helping children cope with the death of a parent, sibling, or loved one. Partnering on this project meant a group of staff and volunteers from The Dougy Center trained with StoryCorps staff to facilitate 40 minute conversations with children and their adults. At the end of each recording, families decided if they wanted to archive their conversations both with StoryCorps and the Library of Congress. They also chose if they wanted to share their recording with us at The Dougy Center.
Over the next few months, you'll hear short clips of these conversations in a series of mini-episodes. In this second mini-episode, Megan, Michael, and Mason talk about life after Michael and Mason's dad died. *Music by Chad Crouch.*
Rank #9: Ep. 38: What Helps When You're Grieving - Ideas For Body, Mind, and Spirit
Jana is joined by Dougy Center staff member, Heather Dorfman, to talk about what helps (or might help) in grief, outside the realm of more formal support. As you listen to this episode, keep in mind:
- These ideas may help for some, not others. What’s helpful can be unique for each person and very much informed by culture and other identities (just like grief).
- Some may have more options around taking care of self and children than others. Support people can focus their efforts on creating opportunities for their grieving loved ones to engage in self-care and compassion.
- Grief is holistic – involves emotions, body, mind, spirit/heart, community/relationships. Engaging in intentional activities to support each of these dimensions can be helpful.
- Consider writing down the ideas you’d like to try - it can sometimes be tough to remember them in the moment they’re needed.
- If accepting help from others is challenging, consider that your acceptance of support is often experienced as such a gift by your friend or loved one – so do it for their sake if necessary!
- Grief can show up in our bodies as sluggishness, excess energy, stomach and sleep upsets
- Walking, hiking or otherwise moving and spending time outside
- Dancing, yoga, swimming
- Punching pillows/bed
- Setting a fitness goal that is safe for you
- Pay attention to what sorts of foods help with stomach upsets, and activities that help with settling into sleep and staying asleep at night.
- May experience a slow/foggy feeling in the brain, inability to concentrate/focus, confusion, rumination. Activities that help with focus, connection, and slowing things down can help.
- Learning/sharing new facts. Making calculations – concrete activities
- Reading (grief-related and non-grief books), podcasts, tv shows
- Crosswords/word searches/Sudoku/other games
- Many receive support from a spiritual or other community. Your community might look like being in the trees, at the ocean, in a gym or library, participating in a support group, mosque, temple or church. Here are some other ideas:
- Ceremony/ritual, which can offer a sense of control, routine/structure, marking important experiences, dates
- Making or listening to music; making/experiencing other art (even coloring sheets). It may be helpful to make the activity simple for you
- Humor – which might look like dark, silly, or wry humor
- Cooking for self and others – or not cooking!
- Volunteering, which can offer the opportunity to step out of your own story for a while
To find more formal grief support in your community, visit our website to search for help near you.
Rank #10: Ep. 54: Self-Compassion As Self-Care In Grief - Heather Stang
Heather Stang, thanatologist, mindfulness speaker, and author of Mindfulness & Grief: With Guided Meditations To Calm Your Mind & Restore Your Spirit, joins us to talk about cultivating self-compassion as a powerful avenue for self-care while grieving. She shares an accessible technique that you can use anywhere to get connected to your emotional and physical needs and bring ease and understanding to the some of the most painful aspects of grief.
Rank #11: Ep. 72: Inviting Grief Out Of The Whisper Corner - Megan Devine
Rank #12: Ep. 57: Fine But Not Okay- Mindfulness In Grief - Joe DiNardo
Rank #13: Ep. 59: When Grief Gets Awkward
Interacting with others while grieving can be wildly confusing and tricky. You’ve probably been there. You run into someone you haven’t seen in a long time, likely in a public spot, and this someone doesn’t know the person in your life died. Maybe they ask an innocuous, “How are you?” or more specifically, “How's your mom, dad, husband, wife, partner, sibling, or friend… doing?” On the spot, you’re charged with either telling this person that your person died or faking a sudden and urgent task - maybe yelling out a “Hi! Sorry, I forgot I left my keys in the car. Bye!” In this episode, we talk with Caitlin Sweeney about these potentially awkward social interactions in the midst of grief. Caitlin’s mom died of a pulmonary embolism in November of 2015. Caitlin is the youngest of two and until recently, lived in the same town as her older sister and father. Just a note of acknowledgment that this episode is not meant to shame anyone who’s found themselves voicing platitudes in the face of grief. Platitudes are what we’ve been socialized to say and in a moment when we don’t know what else to say, they tend to jump out of our mouths.
Rank #14: Ep. 11: Who Am I Now?
Losing and finding yourself in grief.
Brendon and Jana delve into the many layers of loss that we grapple with when someone dies and how that loss can change us. When we grieve, we miss the person and who they were in our lives. We miss who we were with them. Often we miss who we were in general before the death. As we think towards the future, we grieve for the events and occasions that we won’t share with the person.
Over time, people in grief may start to see themselves differently. What they value, prioritize, and want in life can change radically.
These changes occur on many levels:
- Spiritual shifts
- Difficulty remembering/accomplishing small tasks.
- Want to be social/difficult to be around people
- More compassionate/less able to tolerate everyday drama
- Put more time and energy into relationships
- Less concerned with work and material success/more immersed in work
- Can’t seem to exercise/exercise all the time – need it
- Increased interest in movies/books/songs about grief – vs. can’t tolerate them at all
As you sort through what is different, it can be helpful sit with a series of questions:
- How do you see yourself now?
- How do you see the world?
- Which of these changes do you value?
- What strengths have you discovered?
- Where are the places in your life that you need additional support?
- What parts of yourself do you miss and want to re-cultivate?
Rank #15: Ep. 63: Losing Someone Twice
One aspect of grief that rarely gets mentioned is losing someone twice- once in a life-altering circumstance and again when they die. This feeling can arise from a variety of circumstances including substance abuse, mental illness, the personality changes related to a physical illness, or other situation where there is a radical change in a relationship long before someone dies. For people left behind, this can add a complexity in understanding their feelings of grief. Our guest Caraline's older brother Bobby died of mental illness in 2016, 10 years after being diagnosed with schizophrenia. Six months after Bobby's death, Caraline had an epiphany. She realized she never dealt with her feelings of grief surrounding his diagnosis. A realization that would serve as a major turning point in her grief.To learn more about NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness) visit: www.nami.org.
Rank #16: Ep. 21: Turning Points In Grief
Have you ever struggled with the idea of finding closure in grief? Given grief’s ongoing and evolving nature, the search for final closure can be a misguided pursuit, one that leaves us disheartened and even ashamed. In this episode you’ll hear from a variety of grieving young adults as they break open the idea of closure and identify significant turning points in their process. You’ll learn about moments of clarity, confusion, new understandings, and what it's like when the sharp emotions rise up again. Thank you so much to everyone who contributed to this episode.
Rank #17: Ep. 119: Grief & Parenting - Infancy & Toddlers
This is the second in our series on Grief & Parenting.
In 2017, Brittany and Jonas were raising two young children and pregnant with their third. Then, after returning home from a business trip Jonas was diagnosed with aplastic anemia. Seven weeks later, despite intensive treatment, Jonas died. Aria, their oldest was three and a half. Her younger brother Loic had just turned two, and baby Klyde was still in utero. Brittany talks about explaining Jonas's death to their children, helping Klyde to know his father, and learning to ask for help.
Rank #18: Ep. 36: Grieving My Dad - A Son's Story
In the two years since his dad died, Mike bought a house, got married, and is expecting his first child. This episode explores what it means to grieve the person you would have turned to the most for advice and guidance on these major milestones in life. It's the story of a son whose father's values, principles, and personality continue to influence who he is and how he lives.
Rank #19: Dear Dougy: Introductions
In this inaugural episode of the Grief Out Loud Podcast, Jana and Brendon introduce themselves, talk about the history of The Dougy Center, and our work with grieving children and their families. Jana and Brendon also do a little housekeeping with respect to episode timing (weekly) and duration (aiming for 15-20 minutes), as well as what TDC can offer to the podcast community.
Resources mentioned in the show:
Rank #20: Ep. 40: Grieving An Overdose Death (Part 2 of 3) - The Loss Of A Child
In part two of our three-part series on grief after an overdose death, we talk with Samina, whose son Ayaz died of a heroin overdose. The episode starts with Samina reading a poem that came to her while sitting on an airplane. She describes the poem as coming through her, as if Ayaz was speaking and she was the one with the pen. We discuss the heartbreak Samina and her family faced as they tried to help Ayaz through his addiction. Samina also shares insights from her experience and describes what helped and didn't help in the early parts of grief.
To learn more about their national networks of support groups for grieving parents, please visit The Compassionate Friends