This episode is part of a series looking at how the approach to supporting grieving children has or hasn’t changed over time. We’ll be talking to people who had parents die in different decades, starting in the 1940’s. We’re hoping to discover how parents, kids, and other adults such as teachers and coaches reacted to children after a death.
Cathy was just 5 and a half when her mother died of suicide. While she knew her mother died, Cathy didn't fully understand what happened because the death wasn’t clearly explained to her. As a teenager and into her early twenties, Cathy filled in the gaps of the story with new information. Information and that enabled her to make more sense of her mother's death and how the grief continues to be part of her life, 40 years later.
This is the first in a series on how the approach to supporting grieving children has or hasn’t changed over time. We’ll be talking to people who had parents die in different decades, starting in the 1940’s. We’re hoping to discover how parents, kids, and other adults such as teachers and coaches reacted to children after a death. Did they talk about it? Avoid them? Act like nothing had happened? We know that even today, in 2018, children are often shielded from the truth of someone dying and as a result, left out of the collective grieving process. Sometimes this happens because people think children are too young to understand and a lot of the time it’s because it’s really painful for parents and caregivers to be present with children’s grief.
Today’s guest is Dean Conklin. Dean is one of two volunteers at our program for grieving children and families that started over 30 years ago. That translates into thousands of hours spent listening to and playing with children and teens facing the heartbreak of a parent or sibling’s death.
Dean came to this work like many volunteers, with his own story of loss. In 1945, when Dean was just 8 years old, his father died in a work accident.
Is it grief or typical child or teen behavior? Most parents and caregivers will have this questions at some point in their grieving child's life. Dr. Kitty Huffstutter, LCSW joins us to talk about ways parents and caregivers can best support their child's grief while also setting limits and responding to big behaviors. We explore the idea of a recovery environment, finding the right time and place to problem-solve, and the importance of identifying natural and formal supports for both caregivers and children. Parenting and grief can be extremely hard work and if you're seeking more support in the form of therapy or counseling, please reach out for resources. You can email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or contact your county's mental health program. If you or your child is experiencing a mental health crisis, please call 1-800-273-TALK (8255), or text HOME to 741741.
To learn more about Dr. Daniel Siegel's work, check out his website.
When we are grieving there can be emotional hot spot days throughout the year. Some of these might be known quantities like a birthday or the anniversary of the death or diagnosis. Others are unexpected - random moments and days that catch you off guard and bring the grief into stark relief. How we approach these significant days can be as unique as we are. In this episode, we hear from a variety of people about how they navigate these days. It's not a recipe for how to do it the right way, because there is no right way, but just a variety of ideas and perspectives. Thank you to everyone who contributed to this episode!
Five years ago Sarah was 23, doing what a lot of 23-year-olds do - working, hanging out with friends, starting life as a "real" adult, and living at home with her mom and dad. Then on a totally average day in May, Sarah walked into the house to find that her mom had an aortic aneurysm. The paramedics came and she was rushed to the hospital where she died later that night.
How do you go from being in one world - the world where your person is alive and washing dishes and folding laundry and calling your name down the hall - to another where this person no longer exists in their physical form? How do your brain and body and spirit even begin to make sense of that?
Sarah talks about the extremely close relationship she had with her mother and how she worked to bridge this before and after world of grief.
Heat Smith's mother, Jan, died of cancer almost 18 years ago. Heat, who was 25 at the time, became her mother's full-time caregiver. We talk about their intense and complex relationship, how Heat honors her mother's memory, and what it's been like to become a brand new parent without her mom.
How do we hold intense joy and deep sorrow at the same time? This was the question facing singer-songwriter Licity Collins as she celebrated finalizing the tracks for her debut album, One Girl Town, on the same day her mother died from Alzheimer's disease. Licity talks about the complex relationship she had with her mother and what it was like to chronicle her grief in real time as part of her Open Diary project. To learn more about Licity's music, her Open Diary project, and purchase her album, One Girl Town, visit her website.
How do our early experiences with attachment and primary attachment figures inform and influence our grief? With her signature combination of humor and insight, Pearl Waldorf, MA, joins us to talk about the ways in which grief shows up in her counseling office and how an understanding of attachment states can support people in grief.
Pearl Waldorf, MA is an individual counselor in Portland, OR. To learn more about her practice, please visit Pearl Waldorf Counseling.
Who Died? was created by Aimee Craig to give voice to the memories of those we carry with us. Each episode is about one person's life and death as told by a loved one. Episode 5 is a conversation with Phyllis DeCristofaro about her father Filipo (Philip). More information at https://www.whodiedpodcast.
Just as she was on the verge of publishing her first book, Suzanne Anderson's husband died of suicide, tossing her into a very dark and difficult abyss. Her entire life was changed by this tragedy and she turned to the same self-care and support practices she taught as a writer, speaker, and leadership innovator. These practices enabled her to be present with each of the emotions and experiences connected to her grief. We talk about the shame and stigma associated with suicide and how she worked to dismantle both as she grieved her husband's death.
To learn more about Suzanne's work and her book, The Way of the Mysterial Woman - Upgrading How You Live, Love and Lead, visit her website, Mysterial Woman.
In Episode 4 of Who Died? host Aimee Craig talks with Brandi Maxell about her mother.
Music written and performed by Lida Husik.
What do schools need to consider when someone in their community dies of suicide? There are many decisions to make that require compassion and care. How will they share the news? What kinds of emotional support are needed? As a school, what are ways to remember and honor the person who died? Donna Schuurman, Ed.D., Senior Director of Advocacy & Training at The Dougy Center, shares ideas and suggestions for school administrators, teachers, and counselors faced with creating a supportive response plan when someone dies of suicide. For additional tips and suggestions for schools when someone dies, listen to Episode 35: After A Death - 5 Tips For Schools
You can also read our Tip Sheets:
Supporting Students After A Death - Tips For Teachers & School Personnel
Supporting Children And Teens After A Suicide Death
If you or someone you know is struggling with thoughts of suicide, please reach out for help. 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or text Help to 741741
Music was written and performed by Leila Chieko.
When it comes to finding the right avenue of support in grief, it can be hard to sort through the options. How do you decide between a peer support group or individual, family, or group therapy? Our guest, Matt Modrcin, LCSW, specializes in individual, couples and family, and group psychotherapy. He has over 30 years experience as a clinician, educator, and trainer, he is a member of the American Family Therapy Academy and the National Association of Social Workers. He received both his M.S.W. and Ph.D. from the University of Kansas School of Social Welfare. Jana and Matt discuss similarities and differences between peer support and therapy and identify ways to decide which (or both) is the right fit when someone is grieving.
Music written and performed by Leila Chieko and Doctor Turtle
Doctor Turtle/“Which That Is This?”
From the Free Music Archive
Who Died? was created by Aimee Craig to give voice to the memories of those we carry with us. Each episode is about one person's life and death as told by a loved one. Episode 3 is a conversation with Lida Husik about her mother, Selma. More information at https://www.whodiedpodcast.
Some people are private in their grief, some are more public, and some put their grief onto large public murals. Artist Max Collins joins us to talk about his powerful work creating murals for and with people in grief. Max is collaborating with this year's Celebrate Silas, a family-friendly, non-competitive 5k run/walk in Portland, OR (Sunday, 3.4.18) started by Jodie Brauer in honor of her baby Silas who died a week after his first birthday. Max is collaborating with Jodie and Celebrate Silas to help participants create their own mural of a loved one who has died. Max and I also explore east coast vs. west coast grief and discuss if there really are any differences.
Music: “Which That Is This?” by Doctor Turtle
From the Free Music Archive
Music: “I Thought of Pills” by Lee Rosevere
From the Free Music Archive
Who Died? was created by Aimee Craig to give voice to the memories of those we carry with us. Each episode is about one person's life and death as told by a loved one. Today's conversation is with Karol Collymore about her mother, Julia. More information at https://www.whodiedpodcast.
Sue Klebold is the mother of Dylan Klebold, one of the two shooters at Columbine High School who, in 1999, killed twelve students and a teacher, and wounded more than 20 others before taking their own lives. In our conversation with we explore how current day mass tragedies continue to affect her. We also look at how tragedies like Columbine occur - and how someone's thinking can become suicidal and homicidal. Before publishing her book, A Mother’s Reckoning: Living in the Aftermath of Tragedy, Sue spent 15 years excavating every detail of her family life, and trying to understand the crucial intersection between mental health problems and violence. Instead of becoming paralyzed by her grief and remorse, she worked to advance mental health awareness. Sue is donating all author’s profits from her book to organizations that promote brain health and prevent suicide.
Kimberly Warner's father died in a car accident just before she graduated from high school. Two decades later, a DNA test revealed he wasn't her biological father. Eager to understand more about the mystery of her beginnings, she began a search for her biological father, only to find out he disappeared in a sailing accident when she was ten years old. Unfolding this part of Kimberly’s history continues to be a complex and poignant adventure of self-discovery, threading together universal themes of identity, belonging, family secrets and the strange, unconscious pull of DNA that encourages us into our fullest expression.
One aspect of grief that rarely gets mentioned is losing someone twice- once in a life-altering circumstance and again when they die. This feeling can arise from a variety of circumstances including substance abuse, mental illness, the personality changes related to a physical illness, or other situation where there is a radical change in a relationship long before someone dies. For people left behind, this can add a complexity in understanding their feelings of grief. Our guest Caraline's older brother Bobby died of mental illness in 2016, 10 years after being diagnosed with schizophrenia. Six months after Bobby's death, Caraline had an epiphany. She realized she never dealt with her feelings of grief surrounding his diagnosis. A realization that would serve as a major turning point in her grief.