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 Complete, 50 Shades of Kale, and The Happiness Diet. Want to be part of National Kale Day on 10.5.17? Visit www.nationalkaleday.org
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
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.
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.
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
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.
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:
To find more formal grief support in your community, visit our website to search for help near you.
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.
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.
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:
For samples of letters to send to staff/families and a school crisis response plan:
Tangible suggestions for teachers:
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-
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.
and check out her blog Dear Dead Mother - https://deardeadmother.wordpress.com/
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
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.
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.
V was six when her father died from cancer, but it wasn't until two decades later that she consciously engaged with her grief. A seeming random encounter at a local craft store cracked open emotions she wasn't able to explore as a child, leading to an avalanche of grief she never expected. As an adult, V turns to art and connections with others who are grieving for solace and understanding.
"How do I tell my children?" When someone dies of suicide, parents and caregivers want to know how to talk with their children about the death. Jana and Joan Schweizer Hoff explain why it's so important to tell children the truth about suicide and offer concrete suggestions for how to talk with them. For additional information, please see The Dougy Center's Suicide Resources Tip Sheet
Under the best of circumstances, the November & December holidays can be stressful. Add in grieving a loss and they can feel completely overwhelming. In this episode, you'll hear suggestions for navigating this time of year and ideas for incorporating memories of those who have died into your holiday traditions. The Dougy Center's Getting Through the Holiday Tip Sheet and Holiday Plan Worksheet Jana and Rebecca refer to can be found here: http://www.dougy.org/grief-resources/getting-through-the-holidays/
The last in a three-part series talking with those grieving the death of someone when the relationship was complex, difficult, or challenging. Jana talks with Diana about her father who died after seven years of no contact with him. Her mother, whom she was very close with, died 13 years earlier.
This is the second episode in a three-part series about grieving when the relationship with the person who died was difficult or challenging. Jana talks with Ashley, whose relationship with her brother was very conflicted. In the year before his sudden death, they began to reconcile, adding another layer to the complexity of grief when he died.
Why do people die of suicide? Join Jana and Donna Schuurman for a discussion about this complex question.
Two prominent theories mentioned by Donna:
“Suicide is caused by psychache. Psychache refers to the hurt, anguish, soreness, aching, psychological pain in the psyche, the mind. Suicide occurs when the psychache is deemed by that person to be unbearable.”
Reference: Suicide as Psychache: A clinical approach to self-destructive behavior, (1995), p.51.
1. Perceived Burdensomeness
2. Thwarted Belongingness
3. Acquired capacity/decreased fear of pain of death
Reference: Why People Die by Suicide (2007).
Eleanor and Litsa from What’s Your Grief join us as special guests to talk about becoming a parent when you’re grieving the death of your own parent or sibling. Listen in for suggestions on how to help your children build a relationship with the memory of the person who died and ways to make time for your own grief and self-care.
Resources for talking with children and teens about death:
Article mentioned by Eleanor:
Book mentioned by Litsa:
The Disappearance is a memoir by Genevieve Jurgensen whose two young daughters were killed in a car crash. She seeks ways to help her other children, who were born after the crash, to know and feel connected to their sisters.
Have you ever struggled with the idea of finding closure in grief? Given grief’s ongoing and evolving nature, the search for final closure can be a misguided pursuit, one that leaves us disheartened and even ashamed. In this episode you’ll hear from a variety of grieving young adults as they break open the idea of closure and identify significant turning points in their process. You’ll learn about moments of clarity, confusion, new understandings, and what it's like when the sharp emotions rise up again. Thank you so much to everyone who contributed to this episode.
When someone dies, it creates upheaval in the support system, leading to unfamiliar territory in terms of how to help those with different perceptions and expressions of grief such as language, repetitive gestures or patterning, emotional disconnect, and searching behaviors. Although the outward expression of someone’s grief may be difficult to recognize, the need for their grief to be acknowledged and supported is universal. In this episode, Jana talks with Rebecca Hobbs-Lawrence, a staff member at The Dougy Center, about ways to support children and adults with developmental disabilities in their grief
Suggestions for supporting children or adults with developmental disabilities in their grief:
Acknowledge the loss by being present and responsive to their verbal and behavioral cues.
Affirm that they are not alone, name the support people they have.
Maintain a consistent routine as much as possible. Give a lot of advanced notice for when their daily routine may change or be unusual.
Facilitate activities or rituals that will acknowledge the grief. This can help children and adults to develop coping strategies and find ways to remember the person who died.
Finding Your Own Way to Grieve: A Creative Activity Workbook for Kids and Teens on the Autism Spectrum by Karla Helbert, 2012
Everyone Grieves: Stories about Individuals with Disabilities and Grief by Marc A. Markell, 2013
Helping People with Developmental Disabilities Mourn: Practical Rituals for Caregivers by Marc A. Markell, 2005
Lessons in Grief & Death: Supporting People with Developmental Disabilities in the Healing Process by Linda Van Dyke, 2003