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Dear Dougy Podcast: conversations about grief and loss

Drawing from over 30 years of stories and wisdom from grieving children, teens, and adults, the Dear Dougy Podcast is opening up the conversation about dying, death, and bereavement. As humans, we all experience loss during our lives, but often find ourselves lost and unsure when it comes to navigating the grief that follows. Whether you’re grieving a death, or wanting to support someone who is, the Dear Dougy Podcast can help explore your questions about grief. Produced by the staff of The Dougy Center in Portland, Oregon, the Dear Dougy Podcast is a mostly-question-and-answer conversation, and occasionally includes other visitors in the field of dying, death, and bereavement. Have a question to ask? Send it our way at help@dougy.org, with the word ‘podcast’ somewhere in the subject line.
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Dear Dougy Podcast: conversations about grief and loss
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Aug 23, 2017

When it comes to grief support for teens, SLAP'D (Surviving Life After a Parent Dies) is a unique online community where teens get support and ideas. directly from other teens, about how to cope with the death of a parent. Our guest, Asher Liu, is SLAP'D's (Surviving Life After a Parent Dies) current Teen Board Chair. Asher, whose father died in 2012, talks about what inspired his sister, Genevieve, to start SLAP'D (Surviving Life After a Parent Dies) and how being involved with the organization has changed his grief. He also shares suggestions for other teens who are new to grief. To learn more about SLAP'D (Surviving Life After a Parent Dies) and find ways to be part of the community, check out their website. (www.slapd.com)

Jul 21, 2017

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. 

Jun 22, 2017
What does it mean to provide culturally aware grief support for families in the Latino community? We explore this question with Cristina Flores, Bilingual Ongoing Groups Manager and Flor Guebara, Spanish Outreach Manager, at Bo's Place in Houston, TX. Flor and Cristina discuss what they've learned about the barriers families face in accessing grief support and creative programming to help overcome those barriers. We also talk about developing an understanding of our own worldview and how that helps volunteers and others in the field practice being more culturally aware. 
 
To learn more about Flor and Cristina's amazing work at Bo's Place:
Bo's Place
Catalog of handouts in English and Spanish

 

Jun 13, 2017
In March of 2015 Joe DiNardo's wife, Marcia, died from pancreatic cancer. Before her death, he started writing a letter to her which would eventually become the beginning of his first book, A Letter to My Wife. In the midst of the pain of Marcia's diagnosis, illness, and death, Joe turned to his four decades of meditation and mindfulness practice to be as present as possible, both with his wife and his own heartbreak. 
 
To learn more about Joe and his story, visit his website: http://www.alettertomywife.org/the-book/
Jun 2, 2017

John Mayer first encountered grief when his older brother Stephen suddenly died at age 29 in 2007. Nine years later, John's second daughter, River, died 90 minutes after her birth. John talks about how he keeps Stephen and River present in his daily life and the ways he and his family reached out to their community for support. John also describes how his older daughter, who was 2 when River died, is making sense of her sister's death. 

May 16, 2017

Our guest is Darwyn Dave, creator and host of the Dealing With My Grief podcast. In 1978, when Darwyn was ten years old, his father was killed. 38 years later, in January of 2016, Darwyn turned to podcasting as a way to explore grief and how it continues to shape the adult he is today. With his unique mix of candor and insight, Darwyn illuminates the interior world of what it was like to be 10 and suddenly without his father. 

Dealing With My Grief Podcast
www.dealingwithmygrief.com
Darwyn's Facebook Group
https://www.facebook.com/groups/dealingwithmygrief/
Apr 28, 2017

Heather Stang, thanatologist, mindfulness speaker, and author of Mindfulness & Grief: With Guided Meditations To Calm Your Mind & Restore Your Spirit, joins us in this episode 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. 

To learn more about Heather's amazing work and listen to guided meditations, visit her website. (www.heatherstang.com)

Apr 6, 2017

What do you tell children when someone in their life is diagnosed with an advanced serious illness? How do you support them and everyone else who is affected by this devastating turn of events? Mia Nyschens joins us to talk about her work with families who are faced with the knowledge that someone they love is going to die. Mia is part of The Dougy Center's Pathways Program, which provides peer support groups for children, teens, and their adult family members when someone has a life-limiting illness. 

To learn more about Pathways, visit our website.

For more tips on supporting children and teens when someone they love is dying, click here. 
 
If you know a teacher or school administrator who would like to learn how to support students, click here. 
 
 
 
Mar 27, 2017

What happens when the term widow or widower doesn’t fit because you weren’t officially married to the person who died? This is often the case for young adults who lose their partners - especially in their twenties and thirties. They find themselves grieving their person, the one they were building a life with, and also dealing with the ramifications of not being an official family member in the eyes of the law. In this episode, we talk with Lynsey, about the power of words and the ways she judged her own grief after her partner Jared died in 2009.

 

Mar 15, 2017

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.

Feb 16, 2017

While we usually focus on the death of a parent or sibling, this episode explores what it's like for teens when a best friend dies. The best friend connection is unique, particularly in adolescence. It's the person a teen feels closest to in the world, the person who knows everything about them, even parts that are hard to show other people. Today's guest, Debbie, was 15 when her best friend died the summer before they were to start high school. 

Feb 10, 2017

Jodie Brauer, founder of the annual Celebrate Silas Memorial 5K, joins us again as a guest to talk about the everyday rituals and routines that can be helpful in grief. These routines can be as unique as the relationship we had with the person who died. Head here to learn more about the Celebrate Silas Memorial 5K and to sign up or donate. 

Jan 20, 2017

What does it mean when grief becomes part of our dreams? In this episode we talk with Joshua Black, a PhD student at Brock University, about his groundbreaking grief dream research. Joshua shares his findings on themes in grief dreams, how to better remember dreams, and suggestions for changing negative ones. To lean more about Joshua and his research, check out his website: www.griefdreams.ca 

Be sure to listen to his Grief Dreams Podcast  and consider joining his Facebook Grief Dreams Group.
Jan 6, 2017

A lot goes into talking about the people in our lives who have died. Who do we tell? What do we share, not only about the person and what they meant to us, but about how they died? The words we choose - passed, lost, died - are heavy with meaning and emotion. Sometimes we choose words to make other people feel less uncomfortable. Sometimes the words we choose are the only ones we can make ourselves say out loud. How we talk about the death can be as personal and unique as our grief. Our guest is Sarah whose brother died just over five years ago. Sarah shares about her struggles with talking about her brother's death and what she's discovered in deciding to be more open with her story.

Dec 19, 2016
We are joined in this episode by Holly Pruett, a certified Life-Cycle Celebrant, who helps families to design individualized rituals for the end of life. Holly shares the wisdom she's acquired from years of working with people who are seeking to create meaningful ways to mark the major transition from life to death. In our conversation Holly recounts examples of ways children have played roles in memorial services and grave site ceremonies. She also provides suggestions for how to explain terms like burial and cremation to young children. You'll learn about possibilities around witnessed cremation, green burial, and caring for a loved one's body in the home. 
To find out more about Holly and her important work, check out her website, The Death Talk Project, and PDX Death Cafe
 
 
Nov 18, 2016

This episode's guest is Jill, a longtime educator who incorporates mindfulness and other strategies for emotional regulation in classroom settings. We discuss how grief, stress, and trauma affect our bodies, brains, and emotions. Jill also shares some easy to implement suggestions for both adults and children to increase awareness and ease in response to stress, grief, and trauma.   

Nov 11, 2016

The term comfort food usually brings to mind mac and cheese, lasagna, brownies, and other combinations of sugar and simple carbohydrates. When someone dies, the casseroles start to arrive, even when grief can evaporate your appetite. In today's episode, we talk with Dr. Drew Ramsey - a psychiatrist, farmer, and advocate for using food to support our bodies and brains. Dr. Ramsey outlines what foods are truly comforting when it comes to grief. He also shares simple, affordable ideas for choosing foods that are nutrient dense. To learn more about Dr. Ramsey's work, please visit his website: www.drewramseymd.com where you can find great recipes and suggestions in his three books: Eat Complete50 Shades of Kale, and The Happiness Diet. Want to be part of National Kale Day on 10.5.17? Visit www.nationalkaleday.org

Nov 4, 2016

What does it mean to be a child, grieving the death of a parent, when you're technically not a child? Rachel Ricketts, author of the site loss&found, shares what it's like to grieve her mother, who died after a long illness. As a teen, she became her mother's primary caretaker, which meant Rachel grew up being both the child and a parent. She talks in this episode about how grief radically changed her, along with what she's found to be helpful in making her way through this life altering experience. Be sure to check out Rachel's site at www.lossandfoundxo.com

Oct 28, 2016

When someone dies, many of us are left with if onlys. Some are interwoven with thoughts that we could have somehow prevented the death, "If only I had asked him to pick me up later," "If only I made her go to the doctor sooner." Others relate to wishing we had connected more with the person - talked to them, asked in-depth questions about their life. We long to hear their advice and know how they would respond to events in our lives or the world. Sometimes though, we discover something about the person that we never expected. We learn information that leaves us shocked, disappointed, and angry. In this episode, Matthew shares his story of finding out a secret about his father, who died of cancer in 2009.

 

Oct 21, 2016

In this episode, the last in our 3 part series on grief after an overdose death, we talk with Liam who was just starting middle school when his brother died from a heroin overdose. Now a junior in college, Liam talks openly about what he experienced when the death first happened and how grief continues to be a part of his life. Liam shares suggestions for teens and their adults on how to talk about the death and provide ongoing support. 

If you are looking for a peer support program for teens in your home community, you can search here. For more tips on supporting grieving teens, check out this resource from The Dougy Center.

Oct 16, 2016

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

Oct 10, 2016

Based on numbers from the National Institute on Drug Abuse, heroin overdose deaths increased by six times from 2001 to 2014. In one state it is estimated that heroin overdose deaths jumped by 85% in the last two years. With this huge rise in overdose deaths, there is little out there on how to best support those who are left behind. Parents, children, siblings, partners, family members, and friends are left with broken hearts and so many questions. 

This episode is one in a 3-part series about grieving when someone dies of an overdose. We talk with Jessica whose younger brother died in 2011. In our conversation we discuss what it's like when you didn't know the person was struggling with substance use along with the challenges of talking about the death with well-meaning others. 

Be sure to listen till the end for a special post-script by Jessica. 

Aug 2, 2016

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! 

Body/movement –

  • 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
    • Knitting
    • 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.

Mind –

  • 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
    • Meditating
    • Crosswords/word searches/Sudoku/other games
    • Debating

Emotional/spiritual/social –

  • 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:
    • Meditation
    • 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 awhile

To find more formal grief support in your community, visit our website to search for help near you.

Jul 5, 2016

Whether it is a murder, murder-suicide, or a being killed by a driver under the influence, violent death adds multiple layers of complexity to grief. Jana and Joan discuss what children and teens may experience, along with suggestions for how to help. For additional information, refer to our Tip Sheet: Supporting Children and Teens After a Violent Death and our interactive workbook for children. For help with talking to children about mass shootings and other large scale tragedies, we have two resources written by The Dougy Center's Senior Director for Advocacy and Training, Donna Schuurman, Ed.D., F.T. 1) Dear Lily: a letter to a 12-year old in response to America's most recent tragedy and 2) Talking with children about tragic events.

May 26, 2016

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. 

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