Episode 147 - Men Helping Men Through Grief...Sam Feldman and Ken Levy of the National Widowers' Organization

Sam Feldman and Ken Levy are members of the National Widowers' Organization. It's an organization created by Sam to help men deal with their grief by talking about it with other men.

we have a candid discussion about losing a spouse, finding companionship after loss and the act of moving through your grief by sharing your experiences with other widowers.

For more information about the National Widowers' Organization visit: https://nationalwidowers.org/

For grief related resources go to: http://www.dealingwithmygrief.com/grief-resources/

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Music provided by Oren Levine (oren@ohljazz.com)

Episode 146 - Letting Go and Not Letting Go In Grief

When my dad died, I struggled moving forward because I couldn't let go... not of my father, but of the things that kept me from living - fear, anger, revenge, uncertainty.

I had to let those things go in order to mentally and emotionally let myself live.

I have to now retrain my brain to do the same thing in the absence of my mother.

For grief related resources go to: http://www.dealingwithmygrief.com/grief-resources/

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Music provided by Oren Levine (oren@ohljazz.com)

Episode 145 - Grief and a Government Shutdown

I returned to work for the first time THIS YEAR after the longest government shutdown in U.S. history.

Usually when the government shutdown happens ist only for a day or to until these things get resolved, but not this time... the shutdown lasted 35 days. No one was prepared to go that long without receiving a paycheck. 

So this week I reflect on the uncertainty presented with grief as it relates to the recent shutdown, and is it possible to prepare for such things.

For grief related resources go to: http://www.dealingwithmygrief.com/grief-resources/

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Episode 144 - They Are All Gone... A Grief Conversation with Sandy Rocourt

Sandy Rocourt

Sandy Rocourt

A few weeks ago I spoke to a widow who's support system disappeared after she lost her husband. Today, I welcome a guest who's support system vanished in the course of 15 months... yes, months because they all passed away!

Sandy Rocourt is a creative writer, speaker, and strategic
transformational educator, who helps clients turn the tragedy of
loss & heartbreak into the strength needed to rebuild their lives.
Sandy is currently completing her memoir by winter of 2019.

After going through multiple traumatic losses in a short 3-year
span, Sandy found triumph when she discovered a library of
personal development books that her now deceased sister had
collected. Her journey of self-discovery led Sandy to become a
graduate of the acclaimed Robbins-Madanes life coach training
program and dedicate her life to empowering others to develop
their own toolbox to overcome life’s storms.

Today, Sandy works with clients through group coaching and
speaking engagements to teach you how to move beyond the pain
of grief and loss in order to create happiness, build stronger
relationships, and live with intention and fulfillment.

Connect wiith Sandy at https://sandyrocourt.com

For grief related resources go to: http://www.dealingwithmygrief.com/grief-resources/

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Episode 143 - The Three Year Anniversary Of Dealing With My Grief

If you can't feed a hundred people, then feed just one.

Mother Teresa

3 years ago I embarked on a journey inspired by two people:
One who inspired me to tell my story - this person still has no idea of this and Dave Jackson,from the School of Podcasting who introduced me to the medium through which to tell it.

At the time I just wanted to get some things off of my chest. Things that I had been carrying around at that time some 38 years. Just to be able to clear my head of some things that I will carry forever, some things that I won't be able to let go off... things I'll never be able to forget!

January 2016 was the beginning of feeding myself mentally from feelings I'd been suppressing for years but never trully talked about with anyone exept for an annual conversation I would openly have with my mother on the anniversary of my father's death. Other times I might have asked vailed questions about life that might have been derectly related to my father, parthly because I didn't want her to think that I was not doing will in the aftermath of his death, Maybe I just wanted to know that she was still thinking about him too.

What started as what some might call therapy sessions with myself changed in May or June of 2016 when I received and email from the widow of Darwin Cooke, a cartoonist and writer and illustrator for DC Comics. I had mentioned him in one of my episodes and she proceeded to tell me a little of how she was coping with her loss. That was validation that people where listening, and somehow my words and this podcast were resonating with people.

Istarted this show to feed one person... to inspire one person to keep moving forward - me. but it has turned into something greater than myself.

Thank you so much for listening and continuing on htis journey with me!

For grief related resources go to: http://www.dealingwithmygrief.com/grief-resources/

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Episode 142 - Alone in Grief... A Conversation with Michelle Marek

As I mentioned previously, I am going to use this platform more to give others an opportunity to speak out about their experiences moving through the grief process. This week I have a discussion around being abandoned by those you thought would be your biggest supporters.

Michelle Marek was born and raised in Maryland and grew up poor Her parents always pushed her to have a better life than them. She fought for everything she's accomplished, including RN BSN degrees, mother of 2 sons. Her second marriage was to the love of her life, something she never thought she would have. Their marriage wasn't perfect but it was theirs. Sadly they didn't get their forever story. Her life now is about helping widows to not feel abandoned like her while trying to rebuild her life.

Michelle is a member of the Grief Share support group: https://www.griefshare.org/

For grief related resources go to: http://www.dealingwithmygrief.com/grief-resources/

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Episode 141 - Truths About Grief as We Move into the New Year

As the calendar has turned to 2019 I have a few things that I have found true about grief that I need to remember from time to time.

1. Grief is a marathon and not a sprint... that never ends. It has no finish line. We will carry our loss forever.

2. You will fall off the wagon. At some point you will see something or do something that will remind you of a loved one. Like hearing a favorite song that was special between the two of you.

3. Speaking of songs just like the one's you listened to in in high school... it's ok to be happy, to laugh and fondly reminisce about good times with your loved one.

4.People may say things that are insensitive or may seem insensitive, but that is not the intent of those people. Sometimes they just don't know what to so, but more importantly they don't know that it's OK to say nothing but just listen.

5. The quickest path to moving forward is to be proactive... If you wait for the world to come rushing to you to help you move forward. That may not happen.You have a voice ... use it. You must let people know what you need or how to help you when you are actively grieving. I'm online a lot and see people preaching to the choir. The people in online groups know what your going through because you have a shared experience with them. Your friends and co-workers may not

6. There is no magic potion that makes everything better right away. Give them time to work and then try different things. The coping mechanism you use will work until... they don't. Sometimes you'll find out that you just can't mentally get those coping mechanisms to work and when you can't, you have to...

7. Just go thought it. If only to prove to yourself that you can.

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Episode 140 - Slowing Things Down in Grief... What's Coming in 2019

I waited until just a few minutes ago - just now - to record this episode... I've been struggling with how I would feel about Christmas without being able to speak to my mother. This is something I have spoken about in the last few weeks. I wanted to get the ray, fresh emotions of the day.

To be honest, I cried a little when I woke up on Christmas but then I decided I need to so things down a little and do some things that incorporated my mother and my grandfather into this holiday. So I made home made wine and ice cream... skills I got from my grandfather.

When my mother was here in June, I asked her to help me with a modified wine recipe that was one of my grandfather's favorites - a raisin wine. It was my intention to bottle it this Christmas and have her taste the first bottle. Unfortunately, since she is no longer here I had to bottle it by myself... and I'll wait until next year to start drinking it. I can't wait!

The mint chocolate chip ice cream turned out well. Doing things that required time and patience... things that slowed things down for me made the day go by a little smoother than I thought I would. I was pleasantly surprised.

Next year I am committed to helping those who are stuck and trying to find/interact with their support system. We can't always wait for people to reach out to use. Sometimes we need to be proactive in seeking the help that we need. Awareness and communication is key.

Finally, I arranged for a series of discussion so that others may share their story. Maybe one of them may resonate with you!

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Episode 139 - Pushing Forward in Grief During The Holidays

I will not focus on the "firsts" as this is the first Christmas without my mother. There are a lot of people who make a big deal of telling me this. Instead I will focus on the way that she lived.

I will pay special attention on making sure to carry on the traditions that we have during the Christmas holiday: exchanging gifts with family, calling those that are not close, and simply enjoying the day as best as I can.

The thing that I'll miss most is not hearing her voice, especially her voice. I've always at least been able to talk to her even if I couldn't see her.

Until this year.

I'll use every coping mechanism in the book to deal with that... until they don't work.

Then I'll simply have to go through it.

The lesson here is that it'll be tough, but I can do it.

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Episode 138 - Grief, A Dream, and A Holiday

Last week for the first time I had a dream about someone who was deceased... it was a dream about my mother.

It was a dream about a family tradition that we had of opening Christmas presents after Midnight Mass. Now the strange thing is that I didn't let the dream play out because I got so freaked out that I was having this dream that I woke before it ended.

Even stranger is the fact that during the last visit that I had with my mom before she went into the hospital I felt my dad's presence in the car with me on several occasions as I drove to different places throughout the city. I wonder if this is the man who came to "see" my mother the night before she died... the person who told her she was going to die.

During my dream before I woke we did in fact exchange gifts but woke before we opend them. I'm a little upset to not know what the gifts were.

In the end I don't think the gifts were important. I believe it was a way of telling me that it was OK to celebrate the season - not to get upset and caught up in the fact that she isn't here.

While I will mess her physical presence, I will miss her voice even more. I saw her sporadically over the years, mainly at Easter and Thanksgiving or Christmas but we'd talk regularly so it is the sound of her voice I'll miss the most.

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Episode 137 - The Seeds Of Grief

Life is painful... as a baby we probably feel our first pain when we are teething. Our gums swell and maybe turn red as our teeth begin to push their way through. Parents try all types of remedies to ease this pain... teething rings or home made remedies like brandy or whiskey

During adolescence, we experience "growing pains" whether the psychological process of wanting to do/be more than we are allowed or suffering from the physical condition that some people have where the bones grow at a faster rate than their muscles are able to stretch.

When we plant seeds the process of becoming a plant is difficult and filled with obstacles. They require water and must begin life by breaking through their outer shell fighting to get though the dirt/ground so they can benefit from the light of the sun. But not so fast... if left in their natural environment some plants would have an extremely difficult time surviving. they might get choked out by weeds or eaten by animals. So we help them out by putting them in gardens where we weed out the things we don't want and protect them with fences to keep deer and other animals from getting to them.

Grief is the same... you learn more about yourself that we ever wanted to know.

We used to get loved one's reassurances that things would be OK, or that we've taken the right course of action. They were our fencing from the outside world providing us physical or emotional protection. Now they are not here.

If we' really think about it in our time of need, we already know what they would tell us... it just hurts not to hear THEM tell us

From seeds, to sprouts, to full grown plants or trees - through torrential downpours and the blistering heat of summer. Plants survive... and continue to grow and eventually through their seeds begin life anew.

Through our grief we have the same ability to grow if we first realize we must first break through the shell of fear of pain and acknowledge that you want to begin living again in the best way possible without our loved ones physically present in our life.

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Episode 136 - The Long Road Trip of Grief

Dealing with my mother's personal things after her death is something I began the process of doing during the 2018 Thanksgiving holiday and it was easier than I thought it would be... until it wasn't. sometimes I had to stop and step away for a few minutes until emotionally I could continue going through things.

It was the drive back to DC that I started to process other things. It wasn't until then that I realized grief is like a road trip. When driving, as I pass from one stat to the next the physical make up of the road changes - from asphalt to cement, from bumpy to smooth. There is debris and construction. I have to learn how to navigate through all these will dealing with weather. Sometimes I need to wear sunglasses, sometimes I need to use headlights or windshield wipers - or both.

The thing I need to remember is that I need to recognize when to use which tool.

Grief is the same way, in that there are many obstacles to navigate. We need to look deap within ourselves to determine what tools work best in which situations to help us along our grief recovery journal.

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Episode 135 - Being Grateful in Grief

As I prepare for the Thanksgiving holiday, I reflect on the things for which I'm grateful. I'm am grateful for the love and support shown me and for those who have lifted me up in this time of need. I'm also grateful for the people that surround me with love and lift me up during difficult times.

I speak a lot about time... I'm grateful for the time I've received with my loved ones who have preceded me in death - mom, dad, aunts, uncles, grandparents. The time that I was given to know and learn from them and to make lastimg memories has helped shape me into who I am today. In hind sight, I wouldn't change any of it.

Even thought the holidays may be painful, be grateful for something.

As much as possible, have a happy holiday season. If possible try to fgind a way to incorporate your deceased loved one(s). as much as possible. It keeps their memory alive.

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Episode 134 - Grief and Mental Health... A Conversation with Nancy Eigel-Miller

NEM-1.JPG

Mental health is a topic that is not discussed often enough. On today's show, I'd like to welcome Nancy Eigel-Miller to discuss the work she is doing to educate others in concerning this topic.

Nancy founded the James W. Miller Memorial Fund in 2010 after losing her husband Jim to suicide in 2008. She spent her career in the marketing/market research arena but the call to educate about mental health issues to the youth population pull her in that direction. Her mission is to change the conversation about mental health among the areas youth.

Nancy is based in Cincinnati, Ohio.

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Episode 133 - Sometimes in Grief The Hardest Thing Is...

As the holidays approach I have been asked about how I will be affected by the loss of my mom.

I'll be OK... I'm doing much better than I thought I'd be at this time. Maybe because I've learned how to process my feelings. Maybe because in some small way missing the holidays during other times in my life have prepared me for life without her.

Question: How long do you wait before you go through your love ones possessions? Inquiring minds want to know!!

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Episode 132 - The Irony of Grief

As the death certificate from my mother arrived this week, I've re-evaluated a lot of feelings I've had since her passing.

The irony is I'm dealing with handling her affairs as an only child and while I've never had siblings, I wonder what this process would be like if I could share the load with someone else.

In believing that no one would reach out to support me, or should I say my mother in this process, I was wrong. They did - in droves. The irony is, I had to step away from it for a little bit... it was overwhelming.

Question: How long do you wait before you go through your love ones possessions? Inquiring minds want to know!!

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Episode 131 - The Infancy Of Grief

Once again I have been plagued by the concept of time.

When I was 10 I began marking time since my father passed and in reflecting back on his death and having begun the process of processing my mother's loss, I realize that I won't do the same with her loss.

When dad died I didn't know what I didn't know about loss: I would have a child that would never know him, or that I would have certain experiences that I would not be able to share or get advice from him. Each year that passed simply marked another year that I was able to "grow" without him.

My mother's death was different.. I had her for 51 years. She taught me and gave me everything she could... really everything I needed. The only thing that we really had left was, well, time.

Time the spend together and do our favorite things, just to make more memories.

I think about time now and I have listened to Hootie and the Blowfish song 'Time'. I had never really given the lyrics much thought until my mother passed.

Here is a link to the song: Time - Hootie and the Blowfish

Song lyrics:

Time why you punish me?
Like a wave bashing into the shore
You wash away my dreams

Time why you walk away?
Like a friend with somewhere to go
You left me crying

Can you teach me 'bout tomorrow?
And all the pain and sorrow running free?
'Cause tomorrow's just another day
And I don't believe in time

Time I don't understand
Children killing in the street
Dying for the color of red

Time hey, there red and blue
Wash them in the ocean, make them clean
Maybe their mother won't cry tonight

Can you teach me about tomorrow
And all the pain and sorrow running free?
But tomorrow's just another day
And I don't believe in

Time is wasting time is walking
You ain't no friend of mine, I don't know where I'm goin'
I think I'm out of my mind, thinking about time
And if I die tomorrow, just lay me down in sleep

Time is wasting time is walking
You ain't no friend of mine
I don't know where I'm goin'
I think I'm out of my mind, thinking about time

Time you left me standing there
Like a tree growing all alone
The wind just stripped me bare, stripped me bare

Time the past has come and gone
The future's far away
And now only lasts for one second, one second

Can you teach me 'bout tomorrow
And all the pain and sorrow, running free?
'Cause tomorrow's just another day
And I don't believe in time

You ain't no friend of mine
I don't know where I'm goin'
I think I'm out of my mind

Walking, wasting
You ain't no friend of mine
And I don't know where I'm goin'
No don't know

[Incomprehensible] is just
Wasting, wasting, wasting time

Time why you punish me?

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Episode 130 - In Grief Different Paths Lead to the Same Destination

Thank you to everyone who has given support to myself and my family in this difficult time following the death of my mother. I appreciate the the love I've received from my immediate and extended family, my friends - many of whom I haven't seen in years, and those of you who know me exclusively through this podcast. I am amazed at the number of emails, text messages, social media posts, etc. that have been seen to my or about my mom. It is greatly appreciated.

I'd like to give a special thanks to Shelby Forsythia of the Coming Back podcast for publicly acknowledging my mother on her podcast a few weeks ago and honoring her with a moment of silence on her show.

Thanks also to Joshua Black of the Grief Dreams podcast who was able to provide comedic relief and help me to remember that we can find laughter and joy during difficult times.

One f the questions Joshua asked was how my grief journey would be different for my mom. Would it be similar to any feelings I had when my dad died. I can say that I wiill probably process this loss faster.

I liken it to hiking and having multiple trails that lead to the same destination. Each path has different elements to navigate... some are rockier while others may have more hills - and some are longer than others. Of, course the scenery is very different.

I think I'm on a shorter path of my journey this time. I have learned who I am and I wil be able to process some things faster as an adult than I did when I was 10.

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Episode 129 - Orphaned at 51... Goodbye, Mom! Welcome To A New Grief

On October 2, 2018 I lost my rock.

After 40 years, my mother was finally reunited with my father. I can only imagine the conversation the two of them are having and the amount of catching up that they have to do.

I am saddened that my mother is not here any longer tyo be with me, but she left with nothing left to give. All of her love and every lesson - I got it all.

Thanks for all the love and support I've received and a special thanks to my tremendous family. I could not have done most of the things I did remotely for her without them being my eyes and ears while I was 850 away trying to take care of my mother.

I LOVE YOU MOM AND I MISS YOU ALREADY!

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Episode 128 - The Mashed Potatoes On My Plate Is My Grief

As I write this, my mother is lying in a hospital bed resting comfortably.  I am facing the fact that one day she won't be here... the first time in my life I have really thought about it.

And now, I can't stop thinking about it... That one thought is now affecting every aspect of my life - work, family, friends, relationships... EVERYTHING!!

I talk myself out of hitting rock bottom.

I have always been one who has been able to compartmentalize life and not have certain area effect others. Like some people don't like their vegetables touching on their plate.

Right now right now grief is like my mashed potatoes and its touching everythng else on my plate of life... and I don't like the taste!

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Music provided by Oren Levine (oren@ohljazz.com)