Podcast: Embracing Grief Podcast-https://embracinggrief.buzzsprout.com
Lori Mitchell has always been a deep listener and empath. People seem to easily open up to her and find ease and freedom in her presence. With encouragement from her parents, she joined the teaching profession immediately out of college and learned quickly how to reach struggling students academically, behaviourally, and emotionally.
Creating interventional support for disadvantaged students became her passion.
After the loss of her younger brother, Lori’s ability to create a safe environment for students to be accepted as they are, and in turn flourish, only grew. She not only understood trauma, she had lived it.
When Lori met her soon-to-be husband, her spark for adventure and enthusiasm for life reignited. They welcomed two boys into the world while stationed in Belgium. They settled in Washington state after her husband retired from Army Active Duty in 2017. The following fall, he died. Since then, Lori has been solo-parenting two wonderfully active, fiercely independent, grieving children.
Lori’s depth of knowledge in child development and intervention has allowed her the insight to help her children find positive ways to express grief, cope with separation anxiety, and to feel safe and loved.
With her children’s needs and her own energetic capacity in mind, Lori began to reinvent her life. She turned toward work that allowed for flexibility in schedule and workload. She works as a Certified Digital Marketer, and now, Grief Coach. Earning her Grief Coach and B.R.E.A.T.H.E. Facilitator Certification through the Confident Grief Coaching program has allowed her to realign her work with her passion for helping teens, children, and their parents.
Hear more about Lori’s experiences and perspective on the Embracing Grief podcast, which she co-hosts.
Lori sees herself as a compassionate guide for moms who are living with layered and complicated loss while raising their children solo.
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Welcome to The Grit Show, growth on Purpose. I'm your host, Shawna Rodrigues, and I'm happy to be here with you as your guide for all of us growing together as seekers and thrivers. Lori Mitchell has always been a deep listener and an empath. People seem to easily open up to her and find ease and freedom in her presence. She found her way into teaching and learned quickly how to connect with students struggling academically, behaviorally, and emotionally. After the loss of her younger brother, Lori's ability to create a safe environment for students grew and flourished. She not only understood trauma, she had now lived it. When Lori met her husband, her spark for adventure and enthusiasm for life reignited. They welcomed two boys into the world in 2012 and 2014. They also got to celebrate her husband retiring from Army active duty in 2017. Unfortunately the following fall, he died. Since then, Lori has been solo parenting two, wonderfully active, fiercely independent, grieving children. Lori's depth of knowledge in child development and intervention has allowed her the insight to help her children find positive ways to express grief, cope with separation anxiety, and to feel safe and loved. Lori's since has earned her Grief Coach and Grief facilitator certification through the Confident Grief Coaching Program and co-hosts the Embracing Grief Podcast. Lori sees herself as a compassionate guide for moms who are living with layered and complicated loss while raising their children solo. As we enter the holiday season, I ask Lori to come on our show because I felt she might be a wonderful voice for all of us as we look at the holidays grief and how we handle it during this time of year. So thank you so much for being here with us today, Lori. I'm glad we have you.Lori:
Thank you for having me. That was a beautiful intro.Shawna:
Thank you. I know you have such, such a layered background and I was hoping to capture it in a way that we could help folks know who is here to chat with us. So as we start our conversation, I would love to chat a little bit more about the holidays and about holidays and family traditions. Do you have any family traditions around the holidays?Lori:
We do, um, my, you know, little family with my boys and my husband. We were actually in Belgium when my children were born. So typically we would always go to, you know, visit with my parents on the holidays and my grandparents. Um, but when we were in Belgium, we were a whole, ocean away. And, um, what I found is that I loved being home all day. As a kid. As a kid, we traveled to both my mom's side of the family and my dad's side of the family. So it was a very like, rush, rush, rush. Very exciting. I loved seeing all of my family, on the particular day, but then when I experienced this other side of things, seeing my kids, you know, having just this calm, relaxed day where they could be whoever they needed to be after the chaotic morning,Shawna:
It's truly been something that I have been trying to recapture. Because I think for me, the biggest part of the holiday is allowingShawna:
people to be who they need to be because it is a really chaotic time and sometimes you kind of hit, hit your limit and you just need to unwind. So, a tradition that we kind of have is that we stay home. On the holiday. We usually play games. Somebody gets a board game somewhere along the line that we have to try to play. Um, but then we have the board games that we enjoy as a family and we just spend time cooking and relaxing and enjoying each other.Shawna:
That is so wonderful. With my fiance, we have it where we go home, we're from the same hometown, so it makes it a little easier. So when we travel, we are four and a half, five hours from there. But we travel for either Thanksgiving or for Christmas, but we rotate which one each year and we have the other holiday to ourselves. And it's so funny cuz instead of doing something big and fancy for ourselves or gathering with friends and doing something, we're like, let's do nothing. And I think the pandemic, once our relationship has been during the pandemic, which kind of facilitated that, but we found that we just like to be able to chill and do nothing. So I definitely second that a tradition of doing less is a good tradition. It's nice that to start actually enjoying the people. The quiet instead of the hustle and bustle, cuz a lot of the holidays is a lot of hustling and bustling.Lori:
And I'm someone who I kind of take on whatever energy is around me.Shawna:
Um, and I just had this aha moment. It was just my husband and I and Max was little, and it was just the three of us, on Christmas day. And, I got like a cup of, I think it was a cup of eggnog. I'm not even sure. And my husband and my oldest son were taking a nap and the Christmas tree was on and I had music and I was just sitting by myself and my own little peace, you know, with my little family around me. And it was all cozy and warm and I'm like, This is amazing. I've never had this on a holiday and this is amazing.Shawna:
Yes. Yeah. I gotta take those moments and appreciate them. I like that. So for you listening right now, find your moment this holiday season to find those quiet moments where you get to actually enjoy the calm, enjoy the music and the lights on the tree and the, the quiet pieces that are the beautiful parts of it. I love it. So I wanna hear more about your alignment and revisioning, cuz I know that was part of your process with you shifting from your career and your work as a teacher as things shifted after losing your husband. Can you talk a little bit more about that realignment and revisioning of what your life was and to be able to accommodate this new shift for you?Lori:
Well, it didn't come initially.Shawna:
I think, I mean, I know that the pandemic had a huge part in that because my initial reaction was, I'm not gonna let this destroy us. I'm not gonna let this change us. We're gonna get through this, we're gonna be fine. And I kind of went into like hyper independent, super mom mode. I'm gonna keep everything perfect. Everything's gonna be fine. We're gonna keep moving, and if we keep moving and keep doing all the things that we normally do, everything will be okay.Shawna:
And that was exhausting.Shawna:
Um, yeah. So fast forward to life in pandemic teaching. I got a role as an interventionist. We moved Across the country. I was working as an interventionist and the pandemic hit. And initially that job was really about trying to find where my students wentShawna:
everyone went home. But some, I mean, we had some students in other states, we had some students that we couldn't get ahold of. The following year, because of the nature of what was going on in the school year, I actually moved into a full caseload teaching. And worked with the virtual school because I knew that the schedule was gonna be unpredictable. Nobody really knew what this school year was gonna look like. And I had two small children who, because of their trauma, had difficulty with transitions, they needed consistency and routine. And that was kind of just not going to happen for the school year. And my youngest child was starting kindergarten, so it was a big deal. I knew that I needed to be able to work from home just in terms of like juggling schedules and everything. I took on a full caseload. At one point between the three of us, we had 14 zoom meetings. I was managing 14 zoom meetings in my downstairs. We each had our own little separate space and I was like perched so I could see everybody and make sure that, you know, people were getting where they needed to be and kind of somewhat on task. Um, cuz I was the task master, right? We're gonna do what we're supposed to do and we're gonna keep moving and everything is going to be fine. And, and then the district that I was in wanted all teachers to come back to the school building. Um, and it was a hybrid model. Uh, so it was like some days some kids were there, you know, kids were going like half the time. So like kids with last names A through L were going on certain days. And then kids with last names N through Z were going on other days. But they wanted teachers to also come in and. I didn't have any students who were going to be in the building. None of my co-teachers were going to be in the building. My principal wasn't going to be in the building. It was just this, we want to be able to say like, all of our teachers are back in the building. And I had this added layer of, there's no room in daycares.Shawna:
Like Covid is full swing. I don't know how I'm supposed to be physically two places at the same time. And to be honest, at the time this was super difficult. It felt so heavy and so awful. And it felt like I was, I was choosing between like my identities.Shawna:
Right, because I took on as a teacher, I grew to love this job. It became part of who I was. I loved my students. I loved the work that I was doing and, and I had to my, my babies, right? Um, and it was like I was being forced to choose between who I was going to take care of. And essentially, it wasn't until I physically couldn't be two places at once that I realized this isn't workingShawna:
and it's not sustainable. Um, because I was still in kind of the survival mode of grief. I hadn't allowed myself to grieve because I was too busy making sure my kids weren't permanently scarred for the rest of their lives. Getting them everything that they could possibly need. Getting them intervention as soon as I could and kind of putting off my grief because I was gonna take care of everything. And it kind of all just showed up that this is not working, this is not sustainable. I'm really burnt out, I'm exhausted. I can't physically do one more thing. I can't physically do one more thing. And, and that's kind of when I decided to leave teaching. And I left right before the fourth quarter. Cuz it was, there was a line drawn in the sand and I said, I'll finish the school year if I can continue doing the job that I'm doing, that I've been successful doing all year long. If I can continue doing that, I'll stay till the end of the year. But if you're going to force me to change what I'm doing to just be in a closet teaching.Shawna:
Uh, I can't, I can't do that. I can't do that to my family. And so that was kind of, they're like, okay, well good luck.Shawna:
Wow. It's amazing you were able to do all of that, right? To be able to balance all that and do all of that to begin with, and then to have to make that choice, but to then realize it probably wasn't the best thing to be sustaining even as it was.Lori:
Yeah. Uh, it, and it was a difficult, it took me weeks, it took me weeks to make the decision. And I remember there was one evening and I was just sitting and there was no noise. And I suddenly realized it had been hours that I had just been like sitting on my couch. And all of the, all of the things just swirling around in my head. Uh, trying to weigh the pros and cons and figure out what it was I was going to do and what it meant,Shawna:
to leave. And I, at that time, had every intention of returning to teaching. It was going to just be a break.Shawna:
A temporary shift to make things work since it couldn't work the way that it was currently.Lori:
So where are you at with that now? Where do you think you're at with your path now?Lori:
Yeah. It's, it's interesting because since that decision. I've taken so much action and been so intentional about where I want to be as a person. Where I want my family to be, what I want to be doing, what kind of impacts I want to be having in my daily life. As well as, trying to create a vision of the future that I now understand that teaching though I loved it, it was insanely draining to me. And by consuming myself with helping, you know, 155 students, I didn't have to do any work on myself.Shawna:
Now the thought of going back to that, I know that I would lose this sense of peace that I'm creating now. I think once we attain some sort of peace And quiet and calm in our lives. If we've never had that, I think we get insanely protective of it. Because we know what it looks like to not have it. And it's like, I just wanna hold onto this and I wanna work to keep things the way they are. Yeah. And so now I, I mean, I get to go to all of my kids' functions at school. I get to volunteer to like read stories. Um, my kids come first, you know, I get the note saying, we need pictures of this, this, and this. And I'm like on it immediately. It's not like a last minute, oh shoot, I forgot to do that. And frantically trying to, you know, get something done so that my kid's not the only one without whatever they're supposed to have. Um, you know, it's just, it's really nice to be a mom first. That's really what my kids need at this point. it's actually been a huge, it's been something that I'm still learning to identify with, is being a mom who works from homeShawna:
not like a career mom, like a woman who has a career, who is also a mom,Shawna:
that's who I identified with before. My job was super important. My career was important, and my work is super important now, but I also have this perspective of my children are only going to need me in this way for a limited amount of time. And that job for me at this point in my life is the number one job. And so my identity as a mother is really taking the forefront, and that has taken a great deal of work to get to that point.Shawna:
That's amazing you found that and be able to get that in place. And I think there's also an element for people who have experienced trauma and grief and loss that sometimes the busyness and the overly involved stuff is a good way to kind of put that stuff away. And I think that right now with the holiday seasons that sometimes people don't realize. Keeping themselves overly busy is a way to avoid some of those emotions and avoid some of that until everything comes crashing around them and they kind of hit a wall with it all. And so it's kind of one of these hard things of trying to recognize like that there is some something to be said about that quiet and finding that space and to be able to make those decisions about what is best for you and for moving forward and how that can be hard to do. So do you feel like it was easier, with the grief process, once you had more space, or do you feel like having yourself be busy kind of helped you get to that next phase with the grief?Lori:
So, Left teaching and it became very clear. That I hadn't allowed myself to grieve yet. And so I intentionally, that was what, that was my goal. Um, a year ago. A year ago, my goal was to finally just allow all of the feelings to almost invite grief in, in a way that I could only do because of the way I'd set my life up.Shawna:
and, and because of that, because I allowed all of that to happen, my grief isn't gone. It's not something that just leaves us. Um, I think as we heal layers, other layers appear to be healed. There's a model of grief. The tonkins model of grief, shows, you know, grief is kind of this constant, uh, piece of us, and the grief doesn't get smaller. We just learn and grow around it. So our ability to carry it changes. And that's really the model that speaks the most to me because my grief hasn't gotten smaller. It just feels different. It's still there. I'm, you know, I still have days when it feels like it was just yesterday that this happened. But I have tools now and I have an understanding now that allows me to feel grief and cope in a way that I couldn't before.Shawna:
That model makes a lot of sense. You hear things about like if you carry a glass of water and you're holding that way from your body that like your arm wears out and it's hard to carry it. And then you know, things about like the backpacks that are designed to keep it close to your body and in a different way that's easier to carry things and, and it feels like that with the way you carry it and where you place it in your body and how it fits with you can make it easier to carry, but it doesn't change how big it is or what it is and how your life has changed because of it. It's just a different way of being things and that your life does change and you have to accept that your life does change for the loss of a person. Life is different after that and you can't pretend that it's not, even though you try really hard to just double down and do things twice as much and twice as hard to pretend like it's not gonna change anything, that it does actually change and you just have to kind accept that.Lori:
Yeah, and At different points, depending upon how I'm feeling during the day, if someone were to say this to me, I'd probably wanna like throat punch them. But there is, a freedom that comes with loss. Because there's an opportunity to reinvent part of yourself. That perhaps wouldn't have existed. So, and again, if someone had told me that, you know, four years ago I would've been really pissed off, I would've been like, that's an awful thing to say and I hate you and I hate this and I hate all of it.Shawna:
Yeah. Cause you have no desire to reinvent yourself. You were happy exactly where you were, what you had. You have no desire to reinvent anything.Lori:
No. And you know, if I wanted to reinvent myself, I would, you know, this didn't have to happen for me to do it. It's ridiculous. Um, yeah. But with perspective and with healing and with an intentional, like, I don't want to feel like this. I don't want my life to look and feel like this every day from here on. So what am I going to do about it? How do I want my life to look? How do I want to feel during the day? How do I want to move forward with my grief, not move forward from my grief, because that's impossible.Shawna:
and I think that attitude of how do I move forward from my grief? This idea of having an ending is almost like this search of a timeline. When is it going to end? How do I make it end? I want, you know, the 15 minute sound bite of grief. I don't want the actual, like what this is. and so that perception of how do I move forward with my grief? How do I want my life to look? Knowing that this is gonna be part of it, um, has really helped me shape what I wantShawna:
and acknowledge and be grateful for the freedom and the perspective that I have now, especially since it is very clear, I lost my brother was 21, my husband was 36. And you just get this understanding that yes, I could live, I want to live to be an old lady like my grandmother. My grandmother's 93. And I want to live that long. But also I might not get to, so what do I want out of this life and how do I get it?Shawna:
Yes. That's so important. With your, your kids and helping them kind of understand this piece. Cause I also think that's a challenge too. Cuz losing a partner is something, I have not experienced and is definitely a different level of weight. I've lost my mom and I have friends who've lost parents. Parents have lost siblings, and that's really challenging in itself. But with kids, when they lose grandparents, when they lose parents, when they lose siblings, like helping kids understand that when the adults around them are trying to outrun it instead of learning how to carry it. Like how can you teach a child to carry it when the adults around them are just trying to outrun it or pretend it doesn't exist. So you have unique perspective because of your work with kids as well as your kids yourself. Can you talk a little bit about how as adults we are when we have kids around us who are experiencing grief and how we can help them with that?Lori:
I am so thankful that I had the background that I had, and I worked with the students that I did. Because I don't know how I would've, I don't know how that would've looked. Um, my youngest child especially really, really struggled. At first he didn't, but it's because of his age. So, my husband died, 14 days before my youngest son's fourth birthday. So he was three when his dad died, he turned four. And his perception of permanence wasn't developed. Right? So there was no understanding of never.Shawna:
Right? Like daddy's never coming back. You know, we're never going to see him again. That understanding wasn't there. So it was, probably it was three months that almost every day my youngest son would say, maybe Daddy will be there when we get home. And I understood, and I knew that this wasn't meant to be triggering for me. This wasn't meant to be upsetting. This was his little beings, like hope that one, maybe his dad would be there,Shawna:
maybe what everyone was describing wasn't really real. Um, and also he didn't get it. He was processing and understanding and so what he needed, Was one not to be crushed, you know, he, he needed support in processing and understanding that himself. And so my response was generally, I would usually have to take a few deep breaths.Shawna:
and I can, I can totally understand why this would upset a parent and why a parent would react in anger or in like, I've told you a million times. I don't know how to tell you again. Right? I totally understand how that could happen. But because of my background, I knew what was going on and I was able to respond in a very compassionate and patient way. And I'm so eternally grateful for that. Because it was, you know, well we've talked about this, and I was always very, very careful of using, The language, you know, daddy died, he is dead, right? Because phrases like passed away.Shawna:
We lost someone for a child they don't understand that it's too abstract. Right? Well lost. Well lost in what way? Let's go find them.Shawna:
Um, and so I was always very careful about that too. Well, you know, we talked about this. Daddy died. He's, he's probably not going to be at home. In fact, I know he's not going to be at home. And he would usually respond with, well, maybe he will be.Shawna:
And I would say, well, yeah, I guess we'll wait and see.Shawna:
And, and it, it, it was months. But he finally got there. But when he did, when he finally understood, That's when his separation anxiety went into full force. And let me tell you, this child shook the shame. Any, any form of shame I ever had was shook right out of me because the way his grief and pain came out, um, there was no way that I could be embarrassed by his behavior. I could only just want to comfort him and love him, and respond empathetically and compassionately. And I'm very, very thankful that the other people in his life at that time also had that perspective. Because it's very easy to comfort a crying child, a sobbing child. It is very different in comforting a child who throws things and yells and can't calm down and kicks and screams, and cannot express what they're feeling because they don't have the language or understanding of what's happening. and so that was much harder than the question of, you know, will daddy be home when we get there?Shawna:
this is so much harder. I'm very glad to say and it amazes me every day how well adjusted he's become. And we've worked through so much of that. It's not gone forever. But because he's been reassured and because he has learned tools to cope and because he knows unconditional love, because of that unconditional love, he has grown so much and he has a reassurance about him, um, and an understanding that allows him to express what he needs, how he's feeling in a way that's not destructive. This child would say, I'm not sad. I'm not sad. He didn't cry for over a year.Shawna:
we had to teach him to cry. And by we, I mean counselors and teachers and, you know, all of us work together. Because his behaviors were not an indicator that, you know, he was, there was bad parenting. His behaviors were not, bad quote unquote. Right. His, his behaviors were because of his pain. And, I think, and this is just my perception, I think that he thought if he wasn't sad, you know, anger was a way to shield himself from part of the pain. Right. Part of the vulnerability. If I'm not sad, I'm fine, and then what would happen is just like adults who, you know, I'm fine, I'm fine. I'm just gonna keep moving. I'm just gonna keep myself busy. I'm just gonna go to work. I'm just gonna hide myself in whatever I can. Just like an adult, it would just, it would come out,Shawna:
it would, it would work its way out. And, and for him it was in very just really difficult ways.Shawna:
Definitely. And the more you, you push it down, the more that it, it comes out in other ways. And those emotions are so challenging to identify an experience. And so with your, your training with grief work, is there tools and stuff to address that?Lori:
Yeah, absolutely. Some of the things that we use with grief coaching is, reenvisioning, right? Re-envisioning. And I'm not saying like I have a 10 year plan. I'm like, you know, next week I want it to be betterShawna:
Right? Today, today was really hard. How can I make tomorrow better? And a lot of that is, Simple things like write three things down that you're grateful for. And it can be really little things like often I'll be like, I'm grateful for peppermint tea. You know, small things. I'm grateful that we live in a safe neighborhood. It doesn't have to be these big things. But when you start recognizing things you're grateful for, or things that you delight in, you begin noticing them. And, it does make things feel less heavy because you're starting to see the light in other things. A lot of the big work is reframing our thoughts. I've experienced, and I know a lot of people who are. You know, grieving, especially intimate loss, there's usually feelings of guilt, there's feelings of regret. There's, you know, I wish this could have been different. And anger especially people who are grieving, a death by suicide. There's unknowns and, it adds another layer. So being able to kind of capture those thoughts and then really start to question themShawna:
and then almost build a story that you can live with. Because a lot of memories, a lot of what we talk about, a lot of what we relive in our minds are, the stories that we know and we've held onto. And the stories that I tell my children are really gonna be the stories that they know about their dad. So the stories that I choose to focus on and the stories that I create for the ones that I don't have an answer to those shape how I think and believe and feel about really my every day, and especially about my grief and the whole situation. I also think that this idea of loss and this idea of never,Shawna:
really makes the whole feel bigger and emptier.Shawna:
And when we can create small honoring practices and rituals that connect us to our loved one, that invite our loved one to be part of our life now, um, can really. We're not gonna fill the void, but I think there's comfort there. Something that my kids and I do. and it's, it, especially during this time of year, you know, when we say holidays, our big stuff starts right before Halloween. Halloween was my husband's favorite holiday. He could always show up at that time of year for us. Um, and you know, you walk around and see families trick or treating together in their, you know, family costumes. And it's a reminder that part of our family, you know, he's not here physically.Shawna:
You know, I personally believe that he's here and he's facilitating things in ways that he couldn't when he was on this earth. So we would generally pick family themed costumes. So that's one of our traditions that I've tried to carry on. Um, my oldest son loves getting out his dad's decorations and putting them up. Um, and it's just part of how we stay connected. And that continues for all holidays. But, uh, one, one practice that kind of works through all of those is we have a candle. Um, my kids don't light it themselves. We do have battery operated candles too, but, to have a candle lit when we're missing him, and it always stays in the same spot. And there is just something about the light. And the glow of a candle. Um, that just makes us feel his presence a little bit. Um, you know, it's like, it's like, like I said, inviting, inviting him in. And I think there's like life, life to light, you know? There's a little bit of life to light. Yeah.Shawna:
And giving space for that. I think that that's an important thing. Lori and I spoke a little before we started recording and talked about, um, cuz like after I lost my mom, my realization that it's been more than a decade since we lost her. And it was something that, again, I had that thing that it would go away at some point in time and it doesn't go away. It just comes up at different times and still surprises me sometimes where it comes up and feels like it's still so fresh. And to have something like that, to be an acknowledgement of that, and I will have days that luckily my. Current partner and I've had previous partners that will get that. I will have days where I will just like start bawling and be like, I miss my mom, and it's amazing how it can just come from nowhere.Lori:
Yeah, absolutely. And I mean, I've talked a lot about my husband, but, um, my brother was 21 and, and that loss was like the rug ripped out underneath me. I did not know that someone. That I could love that much, that was a part of my life and my world could, could be gone. I did not know. I did not know. And, and that because of all that I learned, um, and also it was, it was 10 years, um, between the death of my brother and the death of my husband. And I understood that though 10 years had passed, I still missed my brother as much as, you know, I missed him. I missed that he wasn't there for my kids births. I missed that. He's not that fun uncle. You know, teaching my kids that things that I wish they wouldn't learn, you know? Um, and having crazy adventures. And so when my husband died, I had an understanding that I would miss him. I will miss him for the rest of my life. I will miss him every time my kids meet a milestone. You know, we will be missing him for all of it. but I also knew that because of my kids' ages, we couldn't just put it away. It wasn't going to go away.Shawna:
Time does not heal all wounds. It takes a lot of work and a lot of intention and a lot of talking and sharing, to heal a lot of those layers. and so that's kind of what I went right to work, trying to do.Shawna:
Yes. Yes. And that candle's beautiful way to share with each other that you're missing him and to have that piece, to have him still there. And I think that there's probably people listening that have lost somebody this holiday season are going to see somebody this holiday season who's lost somebody. And to be able to have that way to acknowledge and connect on that loss and to be able to remember somebody. Acknowledge that I think is one more beautiful way. So when people talk to you after your loss of your husband? Cause I feel like people don't know what to say and they dunno how to acknowledge and do that. So can we give words to, if somebody's listening who hasn't experienced that, or they have experience but they still don't know what to say to somebody else, what are some of the things that they, they can say to kids or to, to adults who have lost a parent or a partner or a child? Like what are some of the things you can say?Lori:
Yeah, this is a great question. Um, first of all, I want to let people know that even with the best of intentions, what you say may not be received in the way you want it to be. And that's okay. That is okay. Part of your job as a person who loves someone who is grieving is to accept them in whatever way they can show up. Um, and sometimes our best of intentions are just not received in the way that we meant. And, you know, with some healing, people might, you know, realize that. But I think one of, one of the things to avoid is that at least statement,Shawna:
Yes. Oh, good point. Very good points.Lori:
anything that follows at least, is probably just better unsaid. cuz those, those can rub the wrong way really quickly. number one, acknowledge that this is terrible. This is really hard. This is really difficult. you're not alone.Shawna:
You're not alone. Even on days when you feel like you're all alone and it's heavy and it's lonely, you know you're not alone. And this is the point where, you know, instead of saying if you need anything, let me know. That's one of the moments. Like, give them like, here's what how I'm willing to show up for you. So if you're the person who's like, listen, if it's 4:00 AM text me, you know, if you're feeling alone, please call me and I will make sure I show up for you. If you need anything at the grocery store, let me know. And if you're at the grocery store, check in. What do you need? Um, cuz a lot of times, like processing grief takes an extreme amount of energy. And it's like you have brain fogs, your brain's not even working. So if that blanket statement of like, if you need anything, please let me know. one, I'm not gonna remember that you said that. Right. And two, I don't even know what I need. I don't even know, I wouldn't even know what to ask for. So, if you're the person who's like, I'm willing to buy you milk once a week, like, do you need milk? Like, that's how you show up. You know, I had friends, and this is kind of getting on like what you can do, but, random cards, the person who calls once a week, like, I'm not tracking that.Shawna:
It's not, it's not until years later that I realized you called me once a week. Every week for the first 18 months. Right? I'm not tracking it, but, that's, how you show up for someone. So what to say, one, acknowledge that this is really awful. Avoid the at least statements and then, you know, give comfort, love, and if you wanna help give like tangible something like, I'm willing to,Shawna:
That's beautiful. And I dunno if this helped or not, but I sent cuz I remember when I lost my mom and when I've gone through stressful times. I can't track messages, I can't track anything. And so when I send messages to somebody who's lost somebody, I say, you don't need to respond to me, but know that I'm here if you need me and write me back if you want something. And I should do better offering something specific. But like I will say like, do not feel like you need to respond to me. And if you have somebody who's lost somebody and they don't respond to you, don't you dare take it personally. Don't you dare remember that. Because the capacity when somebody's like actively in loss and trying to address what they're going through, like they don't, they don't have the capacity for that. And so that's one of the first things I say is like, do not add me to somebody. You need to, to text back because that's the last thing you do worrying about right now that, and I usually text versus call. Cause I feel like that's something you could ignore easier if you need to.Lori:
Yeah. And I mean, since you know, we're talking about the holidays, if, if you're offering just been the holiday with someone who is definitely, if it's like very early on in the grief process, um, something that can be super helpful is having a safe space for that person to go when they just need a minute, you know? And. Like before the event even happens, providing that will give so much comfort that the person might actually show up. not wanting to do social things is, actually, part of my work has been an understanding of I need to do better with making connections, local connections and friendships, and I need to work on it. Like, I need to show up, I need to reach out. I need to, this is something I want in my life. so I need to be taking small steps every day to maintaining that. early on I didn't, like, I didn't even know that I needed that. I didn't wanna show up, I didn't wanna go anywhere. I'm like, I don't even, I barely have the energy to take a shower. Like, I don't, I don't wanna get dressed and like, go to your brunch where everybody's looking cute and I'm just like, why am I here?Shawna:
So if you are inviting people to those events, if you're hosting someone, um, like let them know like, we don't care. We don't care if you come in your pajamas. Like, we just want you to be there. You don't even have to talk to anybody. Just come, let us love on you. Let us feed you. And then you can leave super early. Just come and stay for 20 minutes and that would be enough for us.Shawna:
Here's a secret room where if you bring a book, you can go sit in that room and read or be by yourself and we'll let you lock the door andLori:
Yes. The people who came to my mom's funeral and their hotel room had a separate bedroom and they invited me back to their hotel room to go take a nap in that room at my mom's funeral. I still remember which friends those were and I did take a nap in there. Thank you. To this day for that, cuz that was what I needed, was a place to take a nap.Lori:
yes, for sure. Um, it's like everybody's gonna need a minute.Shawna:
Mm-hmm. Yes. That makes a big difference. Yes, this is helpful. So for folks, like what's a takeaway that we can, um, give people? I think the takeaway about how to honor people who are dealing with grief this holiday season, I think is a big takeaway. To be able to think of their one friend who has a loss I think that's a hard thing too, cuz during the holidays I didn't even remember what was my first Thanksgiving without my mom until I had a breakdown at work and realized, oh, that's why I'm having a breakdown because this person is freaking out over their second Thanksgiving without their grandfather and it's my first one without my mom. No wonder I'm breaking down right now. But, um, so to remember who your friends are who've lost somebody this past year and give them some acknowledgement and space because the holidays are typically a time where that resurges a little bit. So to be able to do that possibly. Is that something we can give as a takeaway for folks or what are your thoughts,Lori:
Oh, for sure. Yeah. Especially the space like, like here I made you cookies. I left them on your porch.Shawna:
Yes, yes. You don't have to talk to me and you don't have to see me. Let me give you the space for this. Yes. But I'm acknowledgingLori:
something that was very, very helpful to me. my husband died at the beginning of November, and so Thanksgiving and Christmas, like, I don't even really remember, I'm gonna be honest. Um, but my mom, my mom's friends at work wanted to help with shopping and so I just gave them like, some ideas. I actually think I started a list, you know how you can do like shopping lists and, um, and my mom helped me out and they basically like got together and just made sure that the stuff was bought and sent it to my house. And then I actually asked, I'm trying to remember that actually. Um, that year, I don't think I wrapped presents, but I dunno who did Cause I, somebody wrapped presents and it was amazing and thank you you're listening. Um, but the following year I actually asked, my morning nanny. I'm like, listen, can I just have stuff sent to your house and will you just like take care of it, And she did. And it was amazing. And it took this huge pressure and weight off. Um, so that is something too, like, hey,Shawna:
Offer out the gifts. Yes, yes. You didn't even have to, it's a time thing. They didn't even have to buy the price. Just offered out the gifts for them. So they have one less thing that they had to think about. Yes. That's brilliant. I love that. So, yeah, so offer those things. Connect with people who've experienced loss and offer those things for them. I love it. And if you're somebody who has experienced loss, don't hesitate to ask somebody to do those things for youLori:
That's actually, yeah, sorry, I didn't mean to interrupt, but that's actually part of the program is learning and taking action in and engaging your support system, um, and learning how to like, write down things as you notice things that you need, like keep the list and then start asking. And it's so difficult. It was so difficult for me. It's one of the biggest, biggest obstacles of my life is asking for help. Um, yeah. So that whole like, let me know if you need something. I'm not gonna do that because then I would have to admit that I couldn't do it all on my own.Shawna:
Yes, exactly. Exactly. Yes. So as we wrap up, what is something that you do for self-care? Lori what do you do? Take care of yourself.Lori:
Um, it's interesting because I actually did this this morning.Shawna:
was, and this happens, I think a lot people who are grieving. Um, even years later, I was feeling just completely untethered this morning. Like, just lost. Like I can see all the things I have to do. I am not able to take action on any of them. I can't focus. And so I just, I knew I needed to pause, like the answer was not crawl in bed in the fetal position and not do anything. Like, we're gonna do something, we're gonna do what we can do. But I paused, I did some breathing exercises. It's so like, I know it sounds so cliche, but I lit a candle. I put some music on,Shawna:
you know, I made the comfort space and I was able to move forward, but only because I took that time to pause and get centered and get grounded and, you know, I, I'm like, well, if I can do these two things, if I can do these two things, it'll get me started. And it did, and I was able to have a productive day. So,Shawna:
nice. So breathing nice music candle and narrow to two things to start so you can get on the right page. I love that. That's beautiful. That's wonderful. And here on The Grit Show, we have the Color of Grit is our series of coloring books. And so we offer each of our guests as a thank you for coming and sharing your wisdom with our audience. We offer you your own coloring book. So would you like the, so we offer yes. So either, um, vintage Mermaid, a Magnificent Ocean, or you've got this, which is inspirational quotes. Which one would you like a copy of?Lori:
Um, I would like inspirational quotes because we all need some.Shawna:
All right, we're gonna get you a copy of the inspirational quotes. I'll get your mailing address so you can have a nice little surprise in the mail for you this holiday season.Lori:
Well, that makes me so happy.Shawna:
Well good. We, we like that. We want you to be happy. That's perfect. Well, good. Thank you so much for being with us today. I really appreciate you sharing your wisdom and we need to get people connected to you for some your, you do one-on-one grief work and you also have a program coming out in January with a class. You wanna talk to us a little bit about that and tell them where to find you.Lori:
Sure. I actually just started, with my cohost an Instagram account. At Embracing grief.life. And that's the name of our website as well. And so you can find my one-on-one coaching option at my website, and I'm gonna be creating a course on creating conversations with children about death and grief using picture books. Something that really helped my children is having the object so they didn't have to have the words. So it could be, can we read this book? And it was a book that always reminded them of their dad, or it was a book about grief. And so we could read it together and it would start a conversation or they would say, you know, can we light daddy's candle? So they didn't have to say, I'm missing dad. I'm feeling sad. It was, it was the indication, the object kind of gave the indicator that maybe we needed to do some quiet work together and, and share some stories and talk and get some.Shawna:
I love that. That's beautiful and I think that's great for adults to know to help with kids. Because again, the adults kind of wanna run from grief sometimes. So to have something that they can help with, the kids can have something that they can move through at their pace. And to have that as an object, I love it. Especially too when you have the candles that you just turned on. That's perfect.Lori:
Coming soon, like very soon, I'm gonna have a, a list of my five favorite children's books, and that'll be available on our website that you can download. It's coming very soon and, and the course will be out in January.Shawna:
Perfect. Well, we will have the links to the website and the Instagram on the show notes so you guys can all find Lori there and also the link to the podcast so that they can learn more and check out the podcast. When do you guys release your episodes?Lori:
you're much better about being consistent about releasing episodes than we are. It's usually biweekly. I try to get them out Thursdays and Sundays, so we do a full episode. we usually release on Sundays, which isn't a typical day for podcasts to be released. But it's, it tends to be a family day and for people who are grieving really close family members, sometimes Sundays are kind of difficult. And then I try to do what I call the grief brief, which is just a few takeaways and some resources. and I try to release those really short bonus episodes on Thursdays.Shawna:
That's great. Thank you so much for being here, Lori. It was wonderful. You had a lot to offer.Lori:
Thank you, Shauna. I really enjoyed it. Um, I always like sharing my story and helping anybody that I can through this process.Shawna:
It's important. Thank you. I hope you're finding ways to enjoy yourself this holiday season and taking moments just to yourself, as we talked about a little earlier in the. It's kinda important to do that amongst all the hustle and bustle. If you're interested in getting coloring pages as part of that process, you can always go to our website, TheGritShow.Com and get you your copy of our free coloring pages, or you're also welcome to grab some coloring books as gifts to those that you are buying for this season or for yourself as part of your rituals as well for self care. I'm glad you joined us and in case no one's told you lately, you are the only one of you that this world has got, and you've only got so much time to do the things that you care the most about and that are important to you. So make sure to prioritize those. I look forward to connecting with you again next Tuesday. Until then, take care.