Everett's spent the last few years trying to access and process the emotions that come with grief. Emotions that he learned to push aside when he was 12 and his father died. Emotions he didn't know how to make sense of in his early twenties when his brother died. Emotions he was better able to feel and express to when his grandmother died just this past winter.
Grief doesn't happen in a vacuum and that is particularly true for those who have aspects of their identity that are marginalized by others. For Everett, growing up poor and being trans are two of these aspects that add layers to his grief. Layers that those who don't carry these aspects never even have to think about.
Note: this episode mentions suicide. If you or someone you know if struggling, please reach out for support.
National Suicide and Crisis Lifeline: 988
Crisis Text Line: text HELLO to 741741
Valenca Valenzuela, MSW, was born on Día de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) which seems fitting for someone who grew up to hold space for people before and after a death. Valenca is the Volunteer and Group Coordinator at Dougy Center, supporting children, teens, young adults and their adult family members who are grieving a death. As a death doula, she supports people who are facing the end of their lives. She is also an instructor for the Going with Grace program, readying others to do similar work.
Valenca comes to this work as someone with a lot of lived experience. When she was 16, her father died of cancer. As an adult, she was with her grandmother at the end of her life. A trip to Ireland to connect with her maternal lineage solidified her passion for working as a death doula and starting conversations about end of life.
Valenca shares about what it was like to be 16 and grieving for her father, what she’s learned from working with kids and families in our peer grief support groups, what it means to have a "good death," and ways we can all be better prepared for end of life.