You're always fine

Grieving life’s unconventional deaths

October 17, 2023 Even Health Season 1 Episode 13
You're always fine
Grieving life’s unconventional deaths
Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

Have you ever stopped to ponder the depth of grief you felt when a relationship ended? Or the profound sense of loss when you gave up a lifelong dream? Join us, Kristine and Lauren, as we unpack the often overlooked, deeply affecting "deaths" that aren't physically terminal but are emotionally shattering. Together, we'll examine the emotional toll of these unconventional losses - the end of a dream, a relationship, a job, or even a lifestyle.

We've both personally navigated these stormy waters of unconventional grief, and we're here to share our stories and insights. We understand that closure and healing are not always a straight path. The second half of our chat emphasizes the importance of honesty with oneself, the transformative power of allowing oneself grace, and the strength to seek help when stuck. Get ready for a compassionate exploration that redefines grief, brimming with hope and resilience, and packed with real-life experiences and reflections that offer a fresh perspective on life's losses.

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Speaker 1:

Welcome back to You're Always Fine A space to show up for yourself and embrace the mess that lives underneath. Because, let's be real, it's exhausting always being fine. So grab your headphones and allow yourself to listen, laugh and even cry, because you are not alone. And we aren't always fine, and that's okay.

Speaker 2:

We are back with another episode of You're Always Fine. I'm your host, christine, and I'm Lauren. Okay, so today's episode is all about grief, but not the grief that comes from literal deaths, the kind that we don't really always talk about, the unconventional deaths. I'm ready to jump right into this one, lauren.

Speaker 3:

Let's get those jazz funerals started.

Speaker 2:

Okay, I have to ask what is a jazz funeral before?

Speaker 3:

we dive in. So you know, in New Orleans when they have like a processional, they have it's called a jazz funeral and it's like the really like colorful. It's almost kind of like seems like a celebration, you know, or it's just it's their way or a way there that they have a funeral procession and I think it's kind of cool because it's something different. I'm not used to seeing that. I'm used to seeing like the processional of cars and like the hearse, you know. So this one it's like there's dancing, there's like family members are gathered around, there's like a band, like a jazz band, like playing walking like down the street. I don't know that it's for every funeral, but like that is a thing there.

Speaker 2:

So funny. We just at the time of this recording, we actually just got back from a retreat, a work retreat in New Orleans. We must have missed. We must have missed the jazz funeral. But when we were creating this outline I know that there were so many things that we could have talked about and so many names that we could have used. But what I loved most about unconventional deaths as a term was that it really spotlighted for me the gravity of what someone is experiencing with the word death, while also kind of nodding to it being more than just one type of death. So for me, I define unconventional deaths as all the deaths that occur in life that aren't end of life but maybe the end of something or the transition of what we have known into something that we have yet to know. I don't know. Laurie, can you go ahead and give us some examples of unconventional deaths?

Speaker 3:

Sure, I mean so things like kids leaving the nest, you know, if they're going away to college for the first time and you're finding yourself like losing that status quo, loss of who you were before you became a parent. You know, I have some friends that struggle with this the loss of a job, the ending of a relationship, the loss of a different version of yourself, the loss of friends after a breakup, the loss of a lifestyle, the loss of your health, or maybe you're just missing a different version of yourself. It could also be the death of a dream, like sometimes when you just really try to fit that square peg into a round hole and it just still doesn't work out. Like that's a death of a dream, you know and I will say this though, because I know there's a lot of connotation that gets drummed up around death because of its finality, but I will say that sometimes you're not ready to let things or people go just yet, and I would liken this to a quote near death end quote experience. So sometimes that maybe just looks like taking a pause or a step back from a situation to reevaluate if this needs a fricking Vikings funeral or renewed commitment.

Speaker 2:

You know, I think that that's an interesting point because growing up, at least for me, grief and death they were very like, specifically reserved for physically losing someone, like a literal death, like even in grad school. I remember learning the grief process in my death and dying class and there was a very specific path. You know the five stages of grief and you went through them one through five, and I think we've evolved a little bit from that. Maybe we'll have to ask Bizzie, when she takes death and dying, to see if the curriculum is still the same, because I think grief is not linear, but not work. You know, there, like bereavement, can only be taken for you know certain people, you know very important relatives, or you know what, what do they call it? What is it called? Like your closest relatives? Yeah, like what is the word? Oh my gosh, the word is escaping me. The Initial, not initial. Someone give me the word here. No, okay, whatever. But you know it's like your mom, your dad, your sister, your spouse. Yeah, your immediate, immediate thank you. Wow, that really was. That was a struggle there yeah. You know, I feel like, even at work, bereavement can only be taken for your immediate family or taken as outlined by your employer essentially, which, like to me, just doesn't even make sense, like, if you think about it, like you wanna say that there's only three days of bereavement, fine, but like to then go ahead and say, like how you use those three days of bereavement is like next level, so, and that doesn't even include if you have multiple deaths in a year, or the death of a dog, which, or a pet, like those are all really big ones. And then, furthermore, out, you know, this concept that we're talking about today, which is these unconventional deaths that really don't allow you to be at 100% because you need to take a second, and I don't know. I feel like all of these are subtle messages that teaches us like not to honor these feelings or not to honor these experiences. I don't know. Was that different for you? Did you learn? Did you have like more definitions of death than I did?

Speaker 3:

Well, no, I mean, I'm a nurse, so death for me is like heart stops, brain activity stops, like you know that very literal sense. But I think you know, as far as what you said to, we kind of are conditioned in a way to not really have the space or time to honor those feelings or experiences. Yes, I think so. You know that morning process. I think there's a lot of shame in grieving outwardly, whether that's imposed upon you or whether it's like from other people or whether it's self-imposed, because it's a messy endeavor. Like think about, I don't know about you, I don't feel awkward when someone's crying or having a moment. I mean, maybe that's four years working in an inpatient acute psychiatric unit in a nerve-in environment. But I, you know, like grieving is just messy. It's a messy endeavor and it makes people uncomfortable. But should we deny someone's process for our sake, or should we give them grace and space to mourn, you know, because that mourning process really has to start with recognizing what this situation or person meant to you, so that you can really start to pinpoint that, those feelings and how you know. Maybe even further that, to further that like how this situation, relationship, job, et cetera, like how did it make you feel and what did you learn from it or them? Was the purpose fulfilled? Did you take it as far as you could, or did it just simply run its course? It gets okay to mourn the loss of something or someone that no longer is in line with your goals or In line with where you need to get yourself, you know, but I think it's also allowing yourself your own inner safe space to grieve and mourn.

Speaker 2:

So I think what you said there, though, is like I really want to drive that home which is like, a Lot of times when we don't know how to handle something like, even in literal deaths, like a lot of people don't know, like, how to handle right, but it's almost like there's this rule in which, like okay, well, this person dies, we give them space and grace for this, and it's extending that definition, I think, to providing that same space and grace for like, quite honestly, like the human experience, like, like you're saying, all these unconventional deaths of like and Transitions, essentially right, like, and giving yourself the time to Think that it's just as important as every other emotion or a literal death, because I think we do a lot of that self Sabotage when it's like oh I, you know it's not that bad, or I need to get over it, whatever it may be, we kind of impose that on ourselves, and then how can anyone else give us space and grace if we're not, like, even trying to extend that to ourselves?

Speaker 3:

Exactly, and you know you talking about those Layers of grief, so to speak. You know it's almost like a Like, a like molting, or like shedding that skin with from within, because sometimes that death really does start from inside of you. You know, and maybe, maybe this is a part of your mindset and is a A trant, and it's a transformation actualized as a result of shedding pieces of you that no longer serve your purpose. You know, I think there is something to be said, you know, especially when we talk about mindfulness. So much of that, because that's the only thing that's really in the locus of our control, you know is Grief in losing the person that you were when you were in the relationship or or situation.

Speaker 2:

We do that. Yeah, we're gonna take that from. I'm actually gonna go back, because I was in the right. I Thought I was an add-on, so I'm actually gonna. I'm gonna take it back or learn. I thought you did a really good job, but I'm just gonna go back and Go over this external thing and then probably mush it all together. Okay, that's good. Okay, you think we're good to start again learn.

Speaker 3:

Yes, where do you want me to start?

Speaker 2:

I'm just gonna say, yeah, I think there's layers of grief and there is like that external physical realm, but I think there's also mourning of that internal world and learning the person you were during a certain time period and knowing that like, for instance, sometimes I want like you you end up being Liking people's interests or being close to their like. There's so many aspects to that and then, when that ending comes or that transition comes, a version of you dies.

Speaker 3:

Yes, yeah, I call that shedding, shedding the skin from within, because sometimes that death stems from inside of you. You know, and maybe this is a part of your mindset, but that transformation Actualized can be a result of shedding pieces of you that no longer serve your purpose or like where you want to go or your goals. You know, there is something to be said about the very real grief in losing the person that you were when you were in that relationship or situation or time period and Giving yourself that space and grace to work through those emotions. But I'm curious, christine, have you like? What is your experience With an unconventional death?

Speaker 2:

because I know we all have them well, I think you kind of just hit right on it, lauren, which is like I Talk about this all the time. I I miss the girl I used to be before I was sick, you know, and to this day I think, I continuously grieve getting sick, and Part of it is because, you know, again, there's the there's no such like the five stages of grief are just, they don't go in order. And then other times it's just because it's in my everyday nuance, like I miss not having to think about whether or not this action like going outside in 90 degree heat and Running, or like playing pickleball or something like if that is gonna have a three-day effect, like I miss just the luxury of like leaving my house without planning about the four-day forecast of afterwards, and so like that's one. That's like some of the grief I have. And then other times it's like I'll look at pictures and I'll just, you know, remember, mind you, I love the person I am today. I think my sickness has brought me so much, but there's also, like I said, there's a free-ness to the pictures, you know. And then there's that over idealization of like a time period as well. So you kind of have to combat that too, which is like being like, yeah, well, she wasn't exactly that mentally stable then, you know, like because I had to bring myself down to earth a little bit and realize again and like kind of like correctly put it, the right amount of emphasis on it. But you know, there's so many intense feelings. I remember my therapist, kind of you know, saying to me that, like if I had to walk through the door of acceptance, you know, but what she didn't kind of tell me was that at different points I'd be asked to walk through it again, because for me I felt like I've always taken my diagnosis and like kind of done with it, put it in a place and move forward. But you know, when I change jobs it feels like another time it's put in my face where I have to explain to somebody why one day I can do something and the next time I cannot. It's again put into my face. And each time, you know, there's a valid reason to why, like, the grief is triggered. But I mean I didn't know when I got sick that there was this type of grief. I mean that sounds naive, but I had an experience to anything like it yet. And so I know for me that, you know, it's something I continue to struggle with and continue to try to like give space and grace to, because again, like I didn't know, it was even a type of grief and then when it came to light I again was ill-prepared, I guess, because I didn't realize that it was B1 that I continuously kind of came back to. So I feel like that whole like shedding from within and all that internal work you're talking about is the battle like I've been on since you know that and, like I said, I mean I can bring up a bunch of breakups as well, but like that's the one that's like most forthright in my mind. But, lauren, I know you also went through a really, you know, significant change recently. So, I don't know, walk us through kind of that experience, because oh man, I did so.

Speaker 3:

I have joked that 2023 has been the year of me and when I say me like, yeah, there's some good stuff that happened, but, holy cow, did I weather through some shitstorms with my castaway raft and I'm still here with my like tattered little sail, you know? But I experienced two very significant, very significant unconventional deaths, the first one being my divorce. I was married to my ex-partner for seven years, have known him for eight, and you know, I was at that near death experience phase, like three years ago, where I thought I want to get off this crazy train, but I wasn't ready. I wasn't ready, you know, and so the universe just basically said well, I've got to shake things up, otherwise you won't move, you know. And so it all came crashing down. I'm happy to say that we are still amicable. There is an obvious distance between us, but it was a peaceful passing, honestly. And but don't don't let that fool you to think that I'm standing here today like sounding the way I sound, because I had to go through it. I had to mourn the loss of the woman that I was in that relationship. That was not me, you know. That was not who Lauren really was. So then I just felt like I was living a lie, the death of a dream. You know, I'm a child of a twice divorce. I was just going to ask that exact question

Speaker 2:

was like did you experience? I feel like with these, these unconventional deaths there's, there's it's layered, but one of them being, you know, once you be once right, you have like a it's not a Scarlet A, but once you have a divorce right, Like it's, it's like you can't go back and like rewrite that or ignore should you, but it's still like. For a lot of people is a big thing. And also, I'm curious to know too about like communication patterns, like there's a comfort that comes whether they're great patterns or not great patterns. Like there's that person that you know you can always text and it sounds silly, like that. That is a really big, huge transition too.

Speaker 3:

Yeah, for sure, I mean. Yeah, communication styles, that's, that's a totally separate topic, but yeah, I mean. So that was, that was the first unconventional death and all the things and situations that came along with that. You know, and I'm still, I'm still grieving that. I'm still going through my grieving process, you know, even though that happened earlier this year, Lauren can you go back?

Speaker 2:

really quickly. Sorry, go back really quickly. And just I interrupted to like get in about the divorce thing. Like can you just go back to your point on that so I can paste that together? That like the death of a dream, the death of like yeah, yeah.

Speaker 3:

So, yeah, I mean I, there were a lot of deaths that kind of were wrapped up in the death of my marriage, you know, the death of the woman that I was in that relationship, a woman that I don't even know who she was, she I that wasn't. I felt like it wasn't me. You know, for the most part, not to say that there weren't like happy parts, but yeah, it was the death of this, this woman that I was the death of a dream. You know, I didn't. I didn't go into a marriage hoping or expecting a divorce, but being a product of divorce twice, I, you know that was something that heavily, heavily weighed on me. So I'm still going through that grieving process. You know it's it's a lot easier now. It's not linear. And then recently, as if, as if 2023 hadn't already thrown me a bunch of curveballs, already, I just said goodbye to a very dear friend of mine for, like, after a friendship of eight years, and it was for totally separate reasons. But I mean, that was hard, that was a hard one to let go of because it I just realized we were at such different places in our lives and the trajectory that my life was on and his is not, you know, and it just it's not, it didn't match up, it's not going to jive and therefore unfortunately he's not someone I can take like on this journey with me. But I can and I'm so freshly grieving that loss. But also, you know, it had to happen. It just it was just one of those things where it was just time to let both of those relationships go, because it just was a weight that was being carried on me.

Speaker 2:

You know, I think what makes these unconventional deaths also so tricky is death is very finite, right, and in terms of like you don't as much as we try to like we, you know, we write letters to heaven and we send balloons up and we try to fill that gap with death. Right, like it's you can't talk to that person anymore. You know, like, which has its own set of issues, but there's a unique set of problems that comes when you can just reach out, you know, like when you can just see how someone's doing and either, for whatever your reason may be to not or to, that that's its own type of grief, you know. Or when you see something come up on Facebook like you know, maybe your ex is reengaged or has a kid, or you know there's that's like another way that this is like stirred up, you know, because their life goes on. Or, like you know a job you can use the same thing with a job where it's like you leave a job and then, like they have something good, bad or indifferent happen, right, like everything moves forward and it's just without you in it, and so I think that that's another layer of this. You know, that really makes it complicated because you know, sometimes maybe there will be a place for like you can reinsert or you can reach out, but a lot of times there's not and that's a whole nother set of I think. So a whole nother set of grief is kind of sitting with the fact that like you were just, you were a part of like all the steps to get out there, but that doesn't mean that there's any space for you in the current version.

Speaker 3:

Yes.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, oh yeah. I think that's what also makes letting go hard, you know.

Speaker 3:

Yeah, of course. Of course, because I mean you're grieving something that really truly isn't gone, like it's not, like it's poof, you know cremated or buried down, you know in the dirt, you know it's still usually something that's, that's a living, breathing thing or person, and so it can be a weird space to live in in that unconventional death. But something that like I don't know for me, like I think about. For me, because my personality is, once there is a quote, unquote death, there's no need for me to open the lid of the coffin and keep peeking in it. It's a double-edged sword, like it's helped me sometimes, but then sometimes I've been called cold-hearted for doing it. But there's just no need for me to look back on that, because I look at these unconventional deaths as deaths. They are final for me. It just is not going to do or serve me well to keep this person or situation in my life. That's where I think about when I was in a hospice rotation and I got a call to come and witness this death, and it was a patient and his wife. They were college sweethearts and they were 65 present day back then. I went there not really knowing what to expect because I had never seen anybody die. I was still a nursing student, but it was so transformative for me because I got there and as I got there, he was in the throes of actively dying and he was doing what was called agonal breathing. That's when, basically, it's just you're gone for all intents and purposes, but your body is still just trying to hang on. The hospice nurse looked at the wife who was there in bed with him and it was just very methodical. It was like a perfectly orchestrated dance. There was no chaos, and the nurse said to him she's like he's still holding on. At that point she grabbed his hand and she looked at him and said it's okay, I'm going to be fine, you can let go now. As soon as she said that, he took his last breath and believe me, I am not a religious or God fearing person, but there was a palpable peaceful stillness in that room and I felt so privileged that that was my first death that I watched. I say that and share that with our listeners and with you because, honestly, that's how it feels for me. In letting go of those situations or those people that no longer are a part of your metamorphosis, it will make you feel lighter so that you can begin to heal and find that peaceful haven.

Speaker 2:

I like the idea that we can create a peaceful transition for ourselves, because I think there's an honoring and a processing that comes with that, even if it's not something necessarily that we have taken the active action on, like if you have gotten fired or if you're being pushed into maybe ending a relationship that you didn't end, or whatever. I like the idea that, no matter what the situation is, that you can create a peaceful transition for you. You're in control of that. I like that. There are so many great ways I think you can do that. But, lauren, before we started recording, you had one that I just absolutely loved. I was wondering if you can share your kind of tool especially. I think this tool is really great for either the prepping of or maybe if it's one that you didn't expect or see coming. Can you tell listeners a little about that?

Speaker 3:

Yeah, just a quick phrase a eulogy, vigil or burn after reading. What I mean by that is analyzing this unconventional death, in that process of recognizing what it meant to you. What do you need? Keyword being there you, what do you need to start that process of grieving? Is it a reflection? Is it writing letters to this person or this situation, having discourse with yourself or with trusted peers or loved ones, things like that, so that you can help the process along in letting go, so that you can get closure. Sometimes it's cathartic to write that letter or write that eulogy or set a vigil If it's a letter especially. I've definitely done this where I've written something that was just angry to just get it off of my chest, and I've burnt it and watching the flames safely. I'm not out setting fires, I'm not an arson. I've burnt it and just watching it consume those words and those feelings. It feels like my healing rises from those ashes. Sometimes, if I need to be a little more patient, am I setting that vigil and just giving it a remembrance? It's all about you and getting your closure and what you need, because this isn't about anyone else other than the timeline that you move through.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, I want to underscore a few times Closure is something that you can give to yourself, which I think is something we often forget. Be honest with yourself about what you need in these unconventional deaths and then give yourself the space and the grace to heal and transform.

Speaker 3:

Absolutely 100%.

Speaker 2:

If you enjoyed this episode, please take a moment to subscribe and leave a review. It means the world to us. Until next time, mind your health. Seriously, you're fine. You're fine because you have the power to access your place of peace anytime you need it. However, if you get stuck, we're right at the palm of your hand to help. Discounter show notes for this week's source list, recommended content and cabana live group schedule. We'll catch you next week for a brand new episode of You're Always Fine.

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