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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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Now displaying: 2016
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. 

Apr 25, 2016

Dougy Center staff member, Joan Schweizer Hoff, joins Jana to talk about the top 5 things school administrators will want to consider when a student, teacher, or staff member dies.

Top 5 Things:

  1. Delivering the news - How do you let the community know? What do you say/not say?
  2. The first days back at school - Suggestions for supportive activities.
  3. Memorial activities - What types of memorials do schools consider? Is it better to do something temporary or permanent?
  4. Identifying students who need additional help - Why it’s important to pay attention to all students, not just those close to the person who died.
  5. Ongoing support - What can your school do in the short and long term to be helpful to students and staff?

Additional resources:

Supporting the Grieving Student - DVD -

For samples of letters to send to staff/families and a school crisis response plan:

When Death Impacts Your School - A guide for school administrators

Tangible suggestions for teachers:

Helping the Grieving Student - a Guide for Teachers

 

 

Mar 23, 2016

There is a lot that goes unsaid in grief, particularly when it comes to dating after the death of a partner. Jana talks with Megan Devine, grief thinker, speaker, and author of the audio book, When Everything is Not Okay: Practices to Help You Stay in Your Heart & Not Lose Your Mind, about what comes up when grief and dating overlap. When do you know you're ready? How do you talk with your children? 

Be sure to check out Megan's website: www.refugeingrief.com along with her talk at the World Domination Summit, 2015: http://chrisguillebeau.com/megan-devine/ and a recent article on Huffington Post: www.huffingtonpost.com/megan-devine/armchair-analysis-was-you_b_5333660.html

Mar 11, 2016

As a child Rachel Stephenson learned first hand the pain of not knowing the truth about her mother's death. The secrecy in her family led to a disconnection with her remaining parent and added layers of confusion and fear. In this episode, Rachel joins Jana with suggestions for how to talk openly and honestly with children about grief and loss. 

Be sure to watch Rachel's TEDxCUNY Talk: Against Grieving in Silence - https://youtu.be/6zIFGl5tPQQ

and check out her blog Dear Dead Mother - https://deardeadmother.wordpress.com/

 

Feb 10, 2016

How do we talk with the youngest children about death? What words should we use? Can they even understand? In this episode Jana talks with Joan Schweizer Hoff about what helps (and what doesn't) when it comes to supporting preschoolers after a death. While children this age don't have the cognitive capacity to fully grasp the permanence and universal nature of death, concrete explanations, patience, and nurturing provide a foundation of support as they wrestle with understanding what it means when someone they love dies.  

For more information, check out The Dougy Center's Supporting Grieving Preschoolers Tip Sheet 

Jan 25, 2016

For those who are grieving, birthdays and anniversaries of a loved one's death can loom large. What we do to mark these days is as individual and unique as our grief and the relationship we shared with the person who died. In this episode, Jana talks with Jodie about how her family approaches the birthday and anniversary of her baby Silas's death. For the past five years, Jodie and her family have organized Celebrate Silas, a community 5K run/walk that bring friends, family, and the larger community together to honor Silas and his birthday. 

This year's event is happening on 3.6.16 in Portland, OR. If you would like to participate or contribute, you can register and donate here: www.celebratesilas.com

100% of your donation goes to The Dougy Center and is fully tax deductible.  If you cannot join us for the walk or run, please consider celebrating in spirit by making a donation to help us meet our fundraising goals.

 

Jan 20, 2016

The public and often sensationalized nature of a murder-suicide can overshadow the heartbreak and grief of those left behind. In this episode, Stephanie, a grieving mother and wife, joins Jana to talk about the deaths of both her husband and daughter. Stephanie's story offers ideas and suggestions for others facing similar losses. 

 

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