Episode 182 - Grief and Songwriting - A Conversation with Rachel Leycroft

Rachel Leycroft

Rachel Leycroft

Sometimes when we lose a friend we are driven to write a song about them.

Rachel Leycroft began piano lessons at seven years old and found her voice through songwriting at thirteen. Her lyrics became her diary for expression and healing, rarely shared with anyone outside of her notebook pages & piano keys.

Sixteen years later, upon the sudden death of a dear friend, she felt the undeniable need to bring a song to life in the recording studio for the first time. “Warrior” was written the day after her friend’s passing and she recorded the track as a gift to his daughter. The song honors his life and touches on universal feelings of grief. The experience sparked her desire to advocate for other areas of mental health through songwriting and gave her the most fitting reason to finally share her songs with the world.

Despite the serious messages her lyrics often convey, she focuses her production style on creating an enchanting and bright experience for the listener. Her heart resides in the airwaves between organic acoustics, pop and EDM.

The driving force behind Rachel’s music is her desire to evoke compassion toward ourselves and one another by sharing vulnerable experiences with the hope of encouraging connection and authenticity. she started a project called #lovethroughlyrics where she shares her lyrics along with the knowledge that has helped her through the darkest times. She hopes to accentuate the commonality of the human experiences we all share, both painful and beautiful, regardless of who we are, where we’re from, or which lens we see the world through. Her greatest wish is that the stories told within her songs provide hope and a source of connection for those who listen.

Rachel is an advocate for mental health & dedicates time to supporting those who are struggling.

Listen to "Warrior" (Original or Acoustic) on any music platform: https://fanlink.to/rachelleycroft_warrior
Instagram (@rachelleycroft): https://www.instagram.com/rachelleycroft/

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Episode 181 - A Guitar and Grief

I have mentioned that I am also a photographer who mostly takes pictures of jazz musicians. One of the questions I am often asked is whether or not I play and instrument mysels. I simply say no.

This is not entirely true...

When I as in 5th grade, about 7 months before my dad died, he bought me a guitar and would take lessons after school. I continued to take lessons after he died until I entered hight school. Girls and cars were my new obsession.

A few years ago I came across my old guitar at my mon's hous and it brought back memories, and I decided I wanted to play again. This old guitar was in bas shape so I decided to buy a new one and get back into teaching myself how to play... but it was hard... there were so many memoires that I've found it hard to get back into it.

I've decided that this is something that I must do, because I enjoyed it too much. I just need to set aside time go get it done.

Question: What is someting you used to do that you want to get back into doing?

Announcement: I have a new podcast coming out with the hosts of the Grief Dreams podcast call Grief Cafe where we will discuss grief related topics. 

You can find it here:
https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/grief-cafe/id1479286093

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Episode 180 - Marking Time In Grief

“I don’t think of all the misery, but of all the beauty that remains.”

–Anne Frank

This week marks the one year anniversary of my mothers death and as I have tried to figure out what I'm going to do on October 2 I am reminded of a question that comes up often in grief forums I belong to:

How do you mark the time since your loved one's passing?

For me, I don't... I can't - not if making the time means counting the days or the months since the day of their passing. That to me means that I have to actively think about and look forward to the next day or month and that never gives me time to move forward in my process. It makes me feel like I'k stuck in quicksand and the harder I fight to move forward, the more I get sucked in. I try to live life and just let the moments of grief happen, and deal with them as they come.

I will concede l, however, that I do remember the yearly anniversary of their death. That to me is like an internal clock that is a reminder leading up to the events of their death. A reminder that I've been able to deal with and hopefully grow just a little from the experience of having lost them.

I let grief come naturally with and try to process my emotions and just let the moment pass and do wht I think is appropriate. That could be a good cry or talking to others. Buty I can't intentionally go through the daily/monthly reminder of its been this many days or that many months.

My interview with mom: Episode 95
My reaction to mom’s passing: Episode 129

Do you mark time after someone passes? If so, how?

Announcement: I have a new podcast coming out with the hosts of the Grief Dreams podcast call Grief Cafe where we will discuss grief related topics. 

You can find it here:
https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/grief-cafe/id1479286093

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Episode 179 - A Grief Game: The Death Deck Creators, Lisa Pahl and Lori LoCicero

Lisa Pahl (left) and Lori LoCicero

Lisa Pahl (left) and Lori LoCicero

What happens when a widow establishes a relationship with the hospice social worker responsible for making her husband as comfortable as during his final days? They create a game designed to allow people to have tough conversations around death and dying, course!

LORI LoCICERO
Lori LoCicero is a freelance writer and the co-creator of The Death Deck. A creative storyteller and eternal optimist, Lori combines her personal stories of loss with her innate sense of humor to write about life and talk about death. She has written and directed independent films, documentaries, and a variety of live
gala events. Her upcoming memoir offers readers an intimate look at loss and her discovery of posttraumatic growth and was the catalyst for the creation of The Death Deck: a lively and humorous card game that inspires meaningful conversations on what matters most in our lives and in our deaths.

LISA PAHL, LCSW
Lisa Pahl is a Hospice Social Worker, ER Crisis Interventionist, and co-creator ofThe Death Deck. Lisa’s goal is to help people cope with illness, dying, and grief. With a passionate belief that peace at the end begins with meaningful conversations over time, she engages people in talking about and preparing for this difficult stage of life. Embracing a challenging but equally rewarding career as a Licensed Clinical Social Worker in both the trenches of ER and within her
true passion working in hospice, Lisa has witnessed hundreds of deaths which have taught her innumerable lessons about truly appreciating life.

SOCIAL MEDIA INFO
Instagram & Twitter: @thedeathdeck
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/thedeathdeck/
Website: www.thedeathdeck.com
Email: thedeathdeck@gmail.com

Buy a deck on Amazon:https://amzn.to/2ljtaPv

Announcement: I have a new podcast coming out with the hosts of the Grief Dreams podcast call Grief Cafe where we will discuss grief related topics. 

You can find it here:
https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/grief-cafe/id1479286093

Subscribe to this podcast by using one of the following:

Contact me using any of following:

email - darwyn@dealingwithmygrief.com

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voice/message - (240) 778-5200

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Instagram - https://instagram.com/dealingwithmygrief

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

Episode 178 - A Photo, A Milk Carton And Grief

When I'm not working my day job, I usually have a camera in my hand taking pics of allkind, either jazz musicians or anything I find interesting on the street.

Facebook reminded me that I took a picture of a homeless man 3 years ago. While the photography industry seems to look down on taking pictures of the homeless I look at them in the same light as children on the sindes of milk cartons.

See, when I was 10, no one asked me then or even since then "Why haven't I gotten over my fathers death?" I think as we give children a pass as we give them a little more sympathy because they are the innocent victims of losing a loved one. As I reflect on this, I realize that I was living in the moment after my dad's death.

I wasn't thinking about missing him when I was married of having children... I was only 10. I spent my time thinking about TOMORROW. That's all I could focus on... school, homework, TV, chores and playing (not necessarily in that order.) In that respect I think I'm fortunate.

Homeless \people are not as fortunate. They are shamed and blmed for the position they find themseves in and they should do more to try to better themselves. Almost in the same way adults should find ways to deal with the fact that death is a part of life and they should do more to "get over it,"

In a way, the homeless may not be any more responsible for where they are in life than those children on the side of the milk carton.

I thionk we need to pay equal attention to them all.

Announcement: I have a new podcast coming out with the hosts of the Grief Dreams podcast call Grief Cafe where we will discuss grief related topics. 

You can find it here:
https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/grief-cafe/id1479286093

Subscribe to this podcast by using one of the following:

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

Episode 177 - Grief and My Continued Belief in Religion

I went through what I went through because God told me to go through it. - Allen Iverson

Two weeks ago, I questioned why people do the some of the things that they do... like go to church. I theorized that this was done because someone (our parents, probably) took you church at an early age and you got baptized (or went through whatever right of initiation your church has).

At some point you received the doctrine of your religion and that you were told that if you followed these teachings or this way of life, you would receive whatever the highest reward in that religion is... for Christians, this is heaven.

I never questioned this, until I was 10. What did I or my father do to deserve the fate that he received?

Nothing!!

Why did this happen? Surely a just God would not intentionally let his people live a life of struggle and strife.

As I pondered the quote by Allen Iverson referenced above, I must process the teachings of the church and see how it applies to me,. More importantly, if the central figure of Christianity had to pay the ultimate sacrifice, what makes me so special that I not go through any pain and suffering. 

Announcement: I have a new podcast coming out with the hosts of the Grief Dreams podcast call Grief Cafe where we will discuss grief related topics. 

You can find it here:
https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/grief-cafe/id1479286093

Subscribe to this podcast by using one of the following:

Contact me using any of following:

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

Episode 176 - From Podcaster to Author... Another Conversation with Shelby Forsythia

Shelby Forsythia

Shelby Forsythia

Today I have a follow up conversation... a sort of health and welfare check with my good friend Shelby Forsythia. 

Shelby Forsythia is the author of Permission to Grieve and podcast host of Coming Back: Conversations on Life After Loss. After the unexpected death of her mother in 2013, she became a “student of grief” and set out on a lifetime mission to explore the oft-misunderstood human experience of loss. Through her book, weekly podcasts, and one-on-one grief guidance, she helps grieving people find direction, get support, and cultivate radical self-compassion after devastating loss.

Shelby is a Certified Grief Recovery Specialist®, Reiki Level II Practitioner, and Intuitive Grief Guide. Her work has been featured on Huffington Post, Bustle, and Optimal Living Daily. She currently lives in Chicago.

Connect with Shelby: http://www.shelbyforsythia.com/

Get Permission to Grieve:

Listen to my previous conversation with Shelby:
http://www.dealingwithmygrief.com/podcast/episode-98

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

Episode 175 - Grief and the Gun Revisited

With the deaths of several people in early August 2019 in the events that took place in El Paso, Texas and Dayton, Ohio, I reexamine my view on gun gun control and what different wys in which I think we as a society can make a difference when it comes to mass shootings.

Are guns really the problem? Let me know your thoughts

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

Episode 174 - Grief and Going Back To School

With children returning to school, how can we prepare schools to deal with children who've experienced loss over the summer?

I've received some listener feedback from a lady whose husband has died over the summer and their child is returning to school in a few weeks. she'd like to know how best to prepare her child. In my opinion it's best to prepare the environment first.

Here are just a few things that I would do:

  1. Contact the school an let them know the situation. You have experienced a loss in the family and your child may exhibit behaviors that are not usually associated with them. Discuss ways engage the child when this happens.

  2. Get students\school community involved. This could be a teachable moment for all involved. Students can learn that active grieving comes and goes I don't show "signs of grief" only in the immediate aftermath of the event. This is a perfect time to let the class know exactly how to support their grieving classmate.

  3. Let your child know that it's normal to grieve and whoto talk to at school if they need to talk to someone during the school day (teacher, counselor, etc.)

If you have things that have helped you cope, pklease let me know.

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

Episode 173 - Making Connections Through Grief... A Conversation with Alyssa Budinock

Alyssa Budinock

Alyssa Budinock

This week I welcome Alyssa Budinock to the podcast.

Alyssa is a Kripalu yoga instructor, podcast host, and end-of-life doula in training. She lives in Rochester, New York with her fiance and their beloved dog Blue.

Between 2017-2018 she experienced 5 significant losses in her family that ignited her deep curiosity in how people grieve, how they die, and how they live. She's a sucker for beautiful things like little streams, wildflowers, and garbage plates (it's a Rochester thing...).

Today she feels the most alive when she's dancing like crazy, experimenting in the kitchen, walking through cemeteries or having intimate conversations with strangers, loved ones, or herself. Alyssa is dedicated to living from a place of love rather than fear, and discovering more and more of who she is each and every day.

Connect with Alyssa here:
https://www.gravedancers.net

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

Episode 172 - When It Comes To Grief, I've Got Street Cred

One of the things I don't say enough is that I don't have any formal training in grief. I am not a therapist, psychologist, or grief counselor. All I have is my many experiences of dealing with loss in my life, beginning with the death of my father.

As I have so often stated, grief gives you an opportunity to learn more about yourself than you ever wanted to know. One must simply put aside their own biased opinion of what life "should" be like and confront the life they currently have. Examine one's self and ask the tough questions about how to move forward in grief.

I have for walked the walk and talked talk... someone recently told me I have grief "street cred". I can only assume that this means I am not someone who simply talks about grief in the third person. I've actually lived through the experiences I talk about on a weekly basis.

I seriously try to look at situations and scenarios that i experience and try to determine the best course of action to take. Do I always pick the best one? No... But I have to consistently  evaluate the best we to move through the emotional mine field that grief leaves.

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

Episode 171 - Some Prey On Those In Grief

This past week I lost  a little faith in humanity. Let me explain.

Early in July 2019 a person I served in the army with lost his son suddenly. Unfortunately, after spending so much money trying to keep his son alive, he need money for whatever final arrangements the decided upon for his son. So the reached out to family and friend on Facebook and started a fundraiser. 

Well, someone decided that they would set up a fake page and solicit funds from those people who had already donated. A few people donated to this fake page before determining from family members that it wasn't legitimate.

Now the family has to deal with the appropriate companies to resolve the situation as well as try to make arrangements for their son. Donors have to make sure they gave to the right page... it's a mess!

There is a special place for those who prey on people in need. I hope they get caught and are prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.

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

Episode 170 - Grief, Writing and the Spoken Word... A Conversation with Melissa Lynne

Melissa Lynne

Melissa Lynne

 This week, I have a conversation with Melissa Lynne.

Melissa’s mother died in March 2014 and everything changed in that instant...her priorities, her career, her purpose and passion, her outlook on life and death. She crumbled into a heap under the blankets and shut out the world, where she stayed for almost a year. The thing that brought her back and kept her going was returning to the page, returning to the written word, returning to something that felt like life. The words came through her body and soul and heart and gut and quite literally saved her life. She wrote her way back to a life she needed and wanted to live. She resurfaced with a fearlessness to look grief head on and to feel all of it...the pain, the insanity, the beauty and love, the snotty tears on the shower floor or the shoulder of the kind stranger at the grocery store. She gave herself permission to grieve and trusted herself to feel anything that came.

Today, Melissa’s grief lives in her body, in that place where love and creativity intersect. Where she blesses and honors it. Where it’s fed and watered. Where it’s shown darkness and sunshine. Where it is cherished. Where it leads her one day into the next.

Melissa is co-founder/curator/editor of Grief Rites Foundation, where she encourages the use of art as agency to survive through grief. Connection and storytelling are how she walks beside others who are feeling the loneliness and isolation of grief. She is a death doula and a grief specialist. She is currently writing a grief memoir. Melissa lives in Portland, Oregon with her 3 children, 2 cats and 1 dog. She thrives in words and water and trees and moss and mist.

Instagram: @breatheinbreatheoutlive
Instagram: @griefritesfoundation
Website: griefritesfoundation.org
Facebook: facebook.com/GriefRites

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Episode 169 - Grief And The Schools of Google And YouTube

The internet makes finding answers to answers to any question you could possibly have very easy to find... just type your question, hit enter and in milliseconds you have more answers than you might ever imagined.

When it comes to grief. looking for answers to questions such as how long will it hurt this much or what can I do to make the pain go away will give you various results that all worked for the people who wrote them. They may not work for you because even though there are similarities in how your loved ones died, everyone's grief story is a little different; maybe the dynamics around the support syste,s you have is completely different. The answers you get for Google and YouTube aren't really answers, but merely suggestions.

A few weeks ago, I spoke with Dr. Sarah Neustadter who is a psychologists who works with clients that are working through their grief and she stated that even in her studies, she didn't really learn much about grief, but did learn things to help people deal with trauma.

You can listen to that conversation here.

You may have to tweak some of the answers that you get see to fit your particular scenario. Some may find that you need to get completely out of your comfort zone and try something you thought you'd never be able to do.

Just remember -  you aren't getting answers... you are simply getting suggestions. You have to put in the work and find what works for you.

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Episode 168 - I Can't Avoid Grief Forever

As I post this, I am in St. Louis... at my mom's house... finally going through her things.

As I spent 13 hours in a car driving here, I had a lot of time to think about this process; how hard it might be and the emotions i would face as I tried to determine what I would keep for myself, what I might offer to others and what I woulkd just get red of entirely.

It was difficult when I first got started but I decided it would be easier if I could establish a closer connection to mom while I was here. So I decided to change the linen on her bed and sleep in her room. It has been a very calming experience over the last few days... very calming emotionally. It has definitely taken the edge of what as been and emotional roller coaster.

I have to also take time to thank my family and friends who have supported me through this process. I have not been the easiest person to reach or to talk to in fear of having to answer the question of when was I going to begin the process ofg cleaning out mom's house. They are a truly amazing group of people,

I have found that I can do what I con and when it becomes too much, just take a break until you can do more. Eventually you'll reach your goal.

Thank you for supporting me through this process.

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

Episode 167 - Love, Homelessness and Grief... A Conversation with Latasha James

Latasha James

Latasha James

Latasha James is the founder of James + Park, a digital marketing company based in Detroit. She is also a YouTube content creator and host of The Freelance Friday Podcast.

Latasha talks candidly about the love she has for her father who became  homeless after her parents separated. She explains how forgiving him is helping her move forward in her grief.

While he suffered with addiction to alcohol, she did as much as she could for him while he as alive and possibly even more after his passing.


Visit the James+Park website:
Listen to Latasha's podcast or watch her videos here.

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

Episode 166 - Inspiring Others To Share Their Grief Story

This week, I've been listening to a new podcast, 'Grieving Overdose Death' by Susan Claire.

Susan is a listener to the podcast who decided it was time to tell her own lost story and to give a voice to others who like herself have lost a loved one to a drug overdose.  

I have often said that if you have something to say, say it. You may not find support from the people you expected, but you will find support from the least likely of places... and your story with resonate with or even inspire others. Please find links to Susan's podcast below.

Listen to Susan's podcast on Apple Podcasts
Visit Susan's website

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

Episode 165 - When Grief Helps You Help Others.. A Conversation With Dr. Sarah Neustadter

Dr. Sarah Neustadter

Dr. Sarah Neustadter

This week I have a conversation with an amazing woman about the suicide of her boyfriend while the two of them where studying in school together. We discuss why it caused her to move away from the city in which they lived and how the experience helps her sit down with her clients and helps them through their trauma.

Dr. Sarah Neustadter is a licensed psychologist based in Los Angeles, specializing in suicide prevention, loss, and grief, including those grieving the suicide of a loved one. She has over a decade of professional experience identifying and treating those at risk of suicide, especially teenagers. Sarah is passionate about helping others understand grief as an entryway into a deeper process of spiritual growth. She holds a bachelors degree from New York University’s Gallatin School for Individualized Study and a PhD in clinical and transpersonal psychology from the Institute of Transpersonal Psychology in Palo Alto, California. She is the author of Love You Like the Sky: Surviving the Suicide of a Beloved.

You can learn more about Sarah here: http://www.sarahneustadter.com/.

You can find her book on Amazon:  Love You Like the Sky: Surviving the Suicide of a Beloved.

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

Episode 164 - Grief and Master Chef

This weekend I binge watched season 3 of the TV show Master Chef. The show is a competition for amateur cooks hosted by Gordon Ramsay (and other celebrity chefs) to determine who the best home cook for that season happens to be.

The aspect of this particular season that had me glued to my TV was the fact that one of the contestants was blind. How could  someone without sight cook fancy meals in a short period of time?

She had to rely on the senses she had: taste, smell, hearing and touch. And not focus on the one sense she didn't have... sight.

Sometimes for me it's easy to get caught up on the things I don't have and not concentrate on using the things that I do have... that are often times right in front of me when it comes to coping with loss. It could be friends, family, or anything that is around me... I just lose focus on what I have and only concentrate on what's missing.

Sometimes I need to shift my focus.

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

Episode 163 - Grief, the Blues and the Quest for Lord Stanley's Cup

As the St. Louis Blues make a run at the Stanley Cup, the National Hockey League's (NHL) biggest prize, I took a moiment to look back at my time growing up in the city of St. Louis and my relationship - or lack thereof with hockey. Even though I am not the world's biggest hockey fan, I really want the Blues to win it all.

Growing up I was (and still am) a huge St. Louis Cardinals baseball fan. Hockey on the other hand was something I only watched if there was nothing else on t watch. I might have even listened to a game on the radio if I was trying to go to sleep and just wanted some type of background noise. But I never was really invested in the outcome  of their games until now.

When it comes to supporting the St. Louis Blues hockey team, there are the true supporters of the team that have suffered through 49 years of NHL playoff frustration... having teams lose earlier than expected, games that should have been won but were lost, some years of not making the playoffs at all. I am really excited for thos people because they have provided support since day one.

Then there are the former players. The ones that are behind this team because the couldn't find a way to win the Cup themselves. It as a win for this current team is a win for them all. It's a beautiful thing.

Then there is the rest of us... we are only in it because something great is about to happen for the city, or because their has been a financial boost to the city or a specific business because the Blues have mad it this far. Support is only provided because there is something in it for us, even if it's a restored sense of pride for the place we call (or at one time called) home.

This brings me to grief... some won't provide support because they are invested in anyone's grief journey until they are forced to face loss themselves. Then they are all in... and expect other's to be there for them even thought they weren't always willing to be there for others. Grief is funny that way.

The reality is that grievers only want an outlet... someone to talk to... someone who will listen. We looking for people to fix things.

Just be present. That's all that's required

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