Episode 153 - Grief and a 20 Dollar Bill

Reach in you pocket, wallet, or purse and pull out a bill, for me that is a 20 dollar bill. Now look at it and frocus on the different element of the bill. Where was it made? Have you been there and if so how did you like it?

How are you going to spend that money? Put gas in the car, buy groceries, or pay bills. maybe you'll save it - who knows?

When my parents died, they were different things to different people - mother, father, daughter, son, brother, sister... you get the picture. So when my mom died I had to think about others, how was she going to be memorialized. What things did her sister and my cousins want or not want to do. It could be all about what I wanted to do.

Getting back to that bill that you are holding... you could spend it allon yourself or you could take part of that an do something for someone else - buy yourself lunch and spend the rest on a greeting card to brightens someone else’s day.

Even though it is hard to think with your head while grieving, it is possible to think with your head and your heart... difficult, but possible. We can still be considerate of others and let them publicly remember our loved one even though we might have done it in a different fashion. Sometimes there is no right or wrong... it just is.

For more grief related resources, please visit: http://www.dealingwithmygrief.com/grief-resources/

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

Episode 152 - Grief is Like a Podcast

Sometimes the things I plan don't come out as expected. This podcasr, for example, is edited before being released. You don't hear all of the umms, aahs, ands, or buts that I say during the episode's recording. The reason for this is that I've edited them out.

Grief is the same way... Sometimes, I put on a smile or tell people that I'm doing OK, but really I'm not. I'm simply masking my feelings because I don't want people to know that I'm hurting. I'm still trying to cope with the loss of my mother and I don't want others to know that I still haven't got that quite figured out.

How will I handle this? 

For more grief related resources, please visit: http://www.dealingwithmygrief.com/grief-resources/

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

Episode 151 - The Web of Grief... A Conversation With Rhiannon Jones

Rhiannon Jones

Rhiannon Jones

This week I share an amazing conversation I had with a woman who is teaching her children that it is OK to speak about your grief and that it's Ok to be vulnerable around your children when it comes to grief.

Rhiannon Jones is a writer, life coach and author of the book “The Web of Grief.”

She has written blog posts and articles for charities such as The British Heart Foundation as well as the mental health charity, Mind. After losing her brother suddenly and unexpectedly, she made the decision to not take life’s blessing for granted, to help people to live to their fullest potential and to support those who know the pain of grief. When not actively helping people through her work, she enjoys spending time with her three boys and husband, learning Spanish and usually has her head stuck in a book.
She is currently working on a new book to help people live their fullest, happiest and most authentic life by empowering them to grasp their potential and know their worth so that more lives aren’t wasted away until the day we all say farewell.

Her book can be found here:  https://amzn.to/2Tvv7Z2

Rhiannon's Facebook page: facebook.com/rhijonescoach

For more grief related resources, please visit: http://www.dealingwithmygrief.com/grief-resources/

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

Episode 150 - Grief and the Untouchables

I had the opportunity ro watch one of my favorite movies, The Untouchables and to reflect on one of the key quotes of the movie for me...

"What are you prepared to do?"

This movie centers around Prohibition in America, a time when the manufacturing and consumption of alcohol was illegal.

Al capone establishes an illegal alcohol empire by manufacruing and selling liquor on the black market. Elliot Ness is a federal agent who enlists the help of Jim Malone, a Chicago police officer to help him catch and arrest Capone. Malone wants to know exactly what Ness is willing to do to convict Capone.

This phrase... "What are you prepared to do?" reminds me that in moving forward I might have to do things that I never thought that I should or could do in starting our continuing my grief recovery process - something I simply call "being comfortable being uncomfortable." It's being open to the possibility that you can live through your pain and just simply live again and that it might be difficult and painful doing so.

If you missed last weeks conversahtion with Anne Brener you can listen to it here: http://www.dealingwithmygrief.com/podcast/episode-149

Finally, I was on WPFW 89.3, a Washington DC metro area radio station, discussing the loss of my parents and tools I've used to cope. You can listen to it here: https://lnns.co/_SvB7cRzYGZ

For more grief related resources, please visit: http://www.dealingwithmygrief.com/grief-resources/

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

Episode 149 - A Grief Conversation With Rabbi Anne Brener

Rabbi Anne Brener

Rabbi Anne Brener

It is not often that I have a conversation with someone who has suffered multiple losses and has found the courage and the means to use it a way to help others who are going trough their own struggles.

Anne Brener is the author of “Mourning and Mitzvah: A Guided Journal for Walking the Mourner’s Path Through Grief to Healing” first published in 1993 and now revised and expanded and published as a 25th Anniversary Edition from Turner Publishing.

An ordained rabbi, psychotherapist and spiritual guide who serves on the board of the Aleph (AH-lef) Alliance for Jewish Renewal, Rabbi Brener takes the hand of modern mourners to gently guide them through the mourning process. With MOURNING & MITZVAH, she offers real solutions for healing.

While still in her early twenties, losses included the suicide of her mother, followed three months later, by the death of her 19-year-old sister in a car accident, her only sibling. What began with the personal journal of her own struggle for healing, became a bestselling book, which weaves her own journey and those of many whom she has nurtured into the template provided by ancient Jewish wisdom. She is a speaker and writer, whose book has helped thousands heal.

“MOURNING & MITZVAH” is available here: https://amzn.to/2tC7zlQ

For more grief related resources, please visit: http://www.dealingwithmygrief.com/grief-resources/

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

Episode 148 - Grief Is Like The Washington Post

The Washington Post has a longtime running advertising tagline, "If you don't get it, you don't get it."

I always thought that this meant if you didn't subscribe to or read the Washington Post newspaper tyou were missing out on the best news you could get about the DC metro area and the most political news possible. Now, as it relates to my grief journey, it simply means that that unless you've been through your own grief journey, you don't truly have an understanding of what it's like to go through this.

But as I reflect on my grief journey, there are some things that people still don't get about grief and some things that I I don't understand why grief is still a taboo subject to talk about... until it's not.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.

Shopping online during the holiday (or any other day?) Use the following Amazon link and support the show when you make a purchase:

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

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.

Shopping online during the holiday (or any other day?) Use the following Amazon link and support the show when you make a purchase:

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

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

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