Bereaved But Still Me

A Look Back at 2019

December 05, 2019 Michael Liben Season 3 Episode 13
Bereaved But Still Me
A Look Back at 2019
Show Notes Transcript

This is a look back at the Heart to Heart with Michael episodes that aired in 2019. Host Michael Liben reviews Season 3, the Guests and provides excerpts from each episode. Special thanks to all of our Guests:  Nancy Jensen, Peter Pugliese, Julie Joiner and Brittany Ramos, Danny Mack, Ron  Glenn Kelly, Alden Solovy, Hannah Sherebrin, and Dr. Sandra Schatz. Thanks, too, to C Jay Anderson for being a Guest Host and conducting an insightful interview with Michael Liben.

This look back showed how Season 3 really was about how we can find healing in the process of our grieving. It also showed us that grieving is really another way of loving those who have passed. We hope that this episode helps you in your own grief process.

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spk_2:   0:09
Welcome to your friends to heart, to heart with Michael. A program for the Braves community. Our purpose is to empower the community with information and support. Well, it's December and time once again to break our prime rule. Never date the program. The reason is simple. These programs are archived and ours fresh. Now is when they were first aired. But as I said, it's December and we'd like to take a look back over 2019 to see where we've been and what lessons we might have learned along the way. First, some interesting facts we promised guests from around the world and the world did not let us down, providing us with guests from across the U. S. A. Canada and Israel 2019 featured more professionals than ever before, and this year we branched out into a second language with our first ever Hebrew language program. 2020 may future more programs in Hebrew as well as our first program in Arabic. Our goal is to reach out to a CZ many people as possible. So if you would like to host or guest in the language of your choice, please let us know because the sky really is the limit. We opened in January with our producer and graphic artist Nancy Jensen. In an episode entitled Release Relief and Peace, Nancy talked about how she continues on after the loss of her daughter Jessica. Jessica had been sick all over life, and so Nancy suddenly found herself not on Lee without her daughter, but also suddenly without the work that had defined so much of her personal life in caring for Jessica.

spk_0:   1:31
You know, for a while I did have killed that I was moving on with my life and doing things that I never could do before. But one of my sons taught me something very important. After his sister died, it was like his time to live because of her anxiety, because noise bothered her because of all these things of her being so sick the last five years of her life. My sons did not invite friends over. They did not have parties, the exact and they didn't go out much. And so once she was gone, my middle son, who was, um, going into his judiciary year of high school, he was like, Mom, can we invite friends over? I said sure. Really? Yeah, sure. Are you sure? And I'm like, Yes, I would love it if you had friends over. And he was like, Wow, we can actually do this now And they start having game night every week on I loved it. We'd have up 14 15 kids here. That's great, Having so much fun. And at first I kind of felt guilty. But then I thought, You know what? They put their lives on hold, and Jessica is safe. She's happy. She's hold ill. And I don't need to worry about any of her anxiety issues or medical issues. And it was wonderful having all these the youth in my home having fun. So, yeah, he taught me a lot. Bye. By doing that,

spk_2:   3:11
February featured my boyhood friend, Peter Puglisi, who I had not seen in 47 years, some 10 years previous. Peter lost his wife of 20 years to cancer and was left to raise two teenage girls on his own. Just before the first broadcast, his oldest daughter married, and now Peter himself is on his way to marrying again.

spk_3:   3:29
That's the kind of person she is. She knows that. You know, she's not here to replace her. She's following her right and there's a big difference. And it's not just terminology. There's a big difference because,

spk_2:   3:41

spk_3:   3:42
I can say

spk_4:   3:42

spk_3:   3:42
is no competition,

spk_2:   3:44
so you can't give up. You can't lose what you had. But you can have something now.

spk_3:   3:49
Exactly, exactly. And we'll make new memories. And we are. We're doing a lot of words. We spend a lot of time together, and, um, it's just great. It's just great. I mean, if you would have asked me 10 years ago what I, uh, feel this way about another woman and being this kind of relationship, I would have said You're crazy But I have moved on and I have healed to a point where I understand this relationship on guy. Understand the relationship I had with Linda and the tour you surely exclusive. It's not one against the other. It's that was then, and this is now. She'll always be with me. The relationship will always be with me, but you know, like my kids said, Hey, you know, I'm still a relatively young guy and I shouldn't be alone and it's great that I found someone that feels like me, and we can have that kind of relationship.

spk_0:   4:40
You know what? I think

spk_2:   4:41
you deserve that. I think you've suffered enough. I really D'oh. I mean, all of us who've suffered loss, you know, we all have something to say about it. Well, I have something to say about each other's loss, but

spk_0:   4:50
I think you know you deserve

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a break. I think you deserve something good to happen to you. And I'm not taking what your kids are wonderful, okay? And your daughter getting married is wonderful on your son in law's wonder. But you deserve something for you. You deserve something. You just need that. I think it's totally okay you want compact. You

spk_3:   5:05
appreciate saying that

spk_2:   5:07
in March I spoke with Britney Ramos and Julie Joyner to bereaved mothers who found their own healing by helping others hell. Together, they organized retreats for families who have lost Children, during which they share stories and sorrow, but also make new friends who can uniquely understand their loss. You obviously have found a sense of healing the two of you through your own work and through the things that you do, and you have a sense of healing that involves the whole family. Give me a story about how that happened at the retreat, how you helped somebody else.

spk_0:   5:36
I think, as the retreat started, um, there was a song that I wanted to put in, and we played that song, and that was kind of the start of our weekend. It was an emotional song that we could all connect on, and throughout the weekend it went from complete strangers. But in that instance of knowing that we all had the same pain, just that comfort of being around each other, You just know each other on a deeper level than you can connect with most people. And so as you could see families opening up and sharing and husbands saying things that maybe their wives have never even heard them open up about and just the healing process as we could see it happening with others and their families. That was very awesome for us

spk_2:   6:43
in April, we mix things up a bit when guest host CJ Anderson interviewed me about my feelings on the loss of my daughter Leo. I spoke about life from death and the importance of organ donation and how even in death, you could turn your negative into somebody else's positive.

spk_0:   6:58
Does it give you comfort knowing that Li l really lives on and four other people?

spk_2:   7:03
This was a decision where life and death were no longer a part of it. In terms of Li l. She was gone so we could give life to somebody else. So a If you save a life that in Judaism is the most important commitment of all, you can throw away all the other commandments. If it'll help you save a life that's important,

spk_0:   7:21
that is so important. You're absolutely right.

spk_2:   7:23
There's no better way to immediately and with great significance to memorialize her that that giving life from her to somebody else is the best way to memorialize er at number three, quite frankly, is apparent, any part of her that can still walk around. I'm happy with that. Yeah,

spk_0:   7:41
but that's an amazing feeling to know that, you know, out of all the loss that is there, that you know, she did make a difference. And she is making a difference not only in those four lives, but those four lives of those families also, and that's a wonderful gift that Lee El has given to this world? Absolutely. We

spk_2:   8:01
wish we didn't have to do that, but we didn't have a choice, really. And once that once that part of the equation was mood and there was nothing for us to do there it was the easiest decision we could possibly make, and above all, you know, do

spk_5:   8:14
the right thing.

spk_2:   8:16
In May, I met with Danny Mack, a man who calls himself a happy ologists. Danny is a theologian, philosopher, motivational speaker, life coach, spiritually healer and an expert in rock and roll. His latest book. If grief is a game, these are the rules makes us look at grief in a realistic and sensitive way. Danny speaks of the need for someone in grief to rediscover happiness.

spk_4:   8:38
I have found out that what grieving people want more than anything else is to be happy again. And they feel like happiness will never be there. They feel like this is the way I'm gonna be the rest of my life. And so what I began to do along with my study of grief, I began to study about happiness and how people can can have in their life that could have grief, and that can have happiness. It's like a railroad track that's going and on one rail of the track in your day, you can experience sadness on the other rail of your railroad track of life. You could have happiness, and people can experience sadness and happiness all in one day, sometimes in one hour. And so I part of what I do is helping people get through the grieving process that I helped them rebuild their life so they can find happiness and allow grief to be a part of their human experience.

spk_2:   9:44
One of the things that I hear from people is that from the moment of grief until some point later on, they feel like they can't get happy, that they don't want to get happy, that they feel guilty if they accidentally get happy. So how do you do this? You bring them together, the two concepts that you can at the same time experience both joy and grief, and that somehow from now on, they're going to have to live together. How do you do that?

spk_4:   10:08
One of the things that I do is I do grief support groups and in the grief support group. Having everyone shared their experience and talk about their experience, it begins to normalize the grieving process. And then I slowly began to point out to people they're already experiencing grief and happiness at the same time

spk_1:   10:38
Tonight, Forever by the Baby Blue Sound collective. I think what I love so much about this CD is that some of the songs were inspired by the patient's many listeners will understand many of the different songs and what they've been inspired. Our new album will be available on iTunes. Amazon dot com. Spotify I love the fact that the proceeds from this CD are actually going to help those with congenital heart defects. Home Tonight forever. Hi,

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my name is Jaime Al Croft, and I just published my new book, The Tin Man Diaries. It's an amazing story of my sudden change of

spk_1:   11:20
heart as I went through a

spk_3:   11:21
heart liver transplant. I can think of no better way to read The Tin Man diaries than to cuddle up in your favorite hearts. Unite the Globe sweatshirt and your favorite hot beverage, of course, in your hearts Unite Blow mug, both of which are available. The hug podcast network online store or visit hearts. Unite theglobe dot

spk_1:   11:44
you are listening to heart to heart with Michael. If you or someone you know would like to be a guest on Michael's program, please email him at Michael at Heart to heart with michael dot com. Now back to our program.

spk_2:   11:59
In June, we met with Honey Cedars from Haifa, Israel. Honey is a therapist who works with families who have experienced loss among her many techniques uses acro balance to form trust between parents and Children. Honey was also our first guest to do her interview again in Hebrew, extending the program's international reach. If all goes well in 2020 she will not be our last.

spk_4:   12:21
I decided to start Acro Balance is a therapeutic tool in the regular sessions in my clinic with parents and Children. And it was amazing because you wanna be a fly on the wall when you hear about Children and parents hearing for the first time that I'm an acrobat in stature and I want to teach them some acrobatic poses so Children can say all my mother is too weak. She can't hold me and the mother say what no of

spk_5:   13:04
course I'm strong.

spk_4:   13:06
Oh, a child can say, Ah, my my father will sure drug neo I fall Oh, do you want to kill me or they say, Oh, I can do that with my father, Not with my mother and the parents. They say, too, they say, Uh what acrobat? No, never. I never managed to holding. You hold him. Uh, so it's It's a great journey that that we're doing in the cleaning, Um, learning how to trust, learning how to walk with our body. Ah, balance ourselves on our currents. The family's always say that ever since they started to do Acrobat UN's the Relationship and in Into Home changed dramatically.

spk_2:   14:03
In July, I met with Ron Glenn Kelly, a motivational speaker, author and bereaved father. Ron works with businesses to understand grief in the workplace. He shows that how we deal with grieving coworkers is critical to their well being as well as to the business itself, and that the better a workplace understands the grieving employees, the easier it is to reintegrate into the work routine after loss. There is a huge economic factor right now. The studies were sure that it is over $100 billion in annual revenue loss due to the hidden, direct and indirect costs of grief in the workplace in the United States. That's and after that happened, one of the biggest losses for business. Whether it's here, whether it's there, is always gonna be unscheduled absenteeism now unscheduled absenteeism United States costs American businesses over $420 billion a year just in itself. But now the average bereaved employees going to take an additional 30 days of unscheduled absence from the workplace just because of his bereavement or her bereavement. Now, why did they take that additional absence? Because they don't feel safe and comfortable in the workplace. It used to be a comfortable home, but if it's indifferent or even hostile to their grief, and you know as well as I do when the mind is in trouble, the mind is going to seek a place of safety and comfort to process. It's trauma, is it not? So you wake up one morning and you're in a massive wave of grief. Um, you're gonna want someplace safe where you can process that grief until you get rid of that wave and wait for the next one to come. And if the workplace is not that safe place, you're liable to get to shelter in place that day right there in bed and not goto work. That's just one example of the direct costs of grief to the workplace. There's another study, and I'll be quick about this. Another study were 25,000 bereaved active employees. War interviewed. 85% of those who identified his manager said that after their loss for up to six months, they had major errors in judgment on the job. 1% of frontline workers who became injured and these are all cited statistics. 90% of workers who became injured on the job after a loss reported that injury was directly related to their grief. Now you're talking about worker's comp rate. Now you're talking about general and liability insurance. You're talking about a number of factors there. Now you want to talk about a workplace, it's hostile towards grievers, and you're talking about increase hiring costs and training costs and lack of production. In August, we spoke with Alden Sela V, a bereaved husband who writes prayers for a modern time, a prolific author, his prayers and poems have been used by religious leaders of all faiths and his insights into the human psyche or something we can all learn from.

spk_0:   16:43
That was part of me that felt that if I was to joyful, I was somehow taking away from my grief.

spk_2:   16:50
We've all felt that that guilt

spk_0:   16:53
guilt isn't wasn't exactly what I was feeling. It was more like, um, feeling that it somehow was not giving it. The Hebrew word is ca voted the honor that that the grief needed. And so

spk_2:   17:10
it felt wrong to be happy. For a while

spk_0:   17:11
that joy could be fully experienced because somehow it it diminished my grief. I don't know how word that differently. The breakthrough waas really understanding the truth of the matter is that I can hold joy in one hand and that can hold grief in another hand. And my joys don't get away from my griefs and my griefs don't take away from my joys. And once I had that breakthrough, uh huh, I realized that I have experienced broken mess, but I'm not broken. Well,

spk_2:   17:56
then I'm gonna ask you to read another one that combines so many of these mixed feelings in these opposite forces within us that we feel from time to time. One of the hardest things to pass through after somebody dies is their birthday. And you have a birthday prayer. You share that with us?

spk_0:   18:15
Yeah. Thank you. This is called Birthday Gnome. Or it appears in my book called This Grateful Heart and I'm gonna read it in Amy's name. There's actually a blank line in this to fill in either the name of the deceased or the relationship with the deceased. So I'm going to read it in her name. This empty space and time in my heart is yours, Dear Amy, It is the space for yearning, the space of memory The day your light came into the world a day of sorrow for what was lost Birthdays that will never be This day touches the depths of my grief and loss. This day touches a wound and makes it new God of generations Be with me and my family as we remember what waas and what might have been. We miss you.

spk_2:   19:13
In September, I spoke with our therapist Hana Sherbourne. Oftentimes we speak of thinking outside the box. But Hannah in her group therapy sessions, takes the box and literally throws it away. Let's listen to her tell the story.

spk_5:   19:26
And then what I do is I take a big ally, a box of crayons and I open it up and I say, Look at those. It's organized in here. Whatever the colors, it doesn't matter where they are, how they are, but but it's in the box. It's fine. It looks okay. And that's like And then what I dio is I take my hand and I get a big bang from the bottom and everything flies and and that is really and people have different reactions, and the reactions of people have are the same reactions that we all have. Four. A trauma there is. There is the the fight, the flight, the freeze, you know, people, um, either getting up immediately and trying to get things together. Or they are. They're they're kind of moving back on or they're freezing their frozen to the to the point. And then after a little bit, it's it's, you know, they start putting things together back in the box. That

spk_2:   20:41
amazes me.

spk_5:   20:42
I looked at

spk_2:   20:43
it amazes me that people get up in the middle and just start putting it back. You told me that the pre interview,

spk_5:   20:49
but they But they do because what is happening? You see the things on the floor and you realize because I don't do anything, I just sit there and they take and they put it back into the box and they're even looking. If they see that there is a space in the box, they look around and sometimes I look around and I pointed something that over there let's see. I can see one over there and they pick it up and put in the box. And they're very upset if they don't find if they see that there is a space and they cannot see any more crayons and we we we actually look around, and once they find it, they're quite happy. And they put it back and it's in. And I look at it and I tell them I look at them and say, Would you Is this okay? Does it look fine? Now? Would you like to change some things in here? You can You can if If it doesn't feel right to you, you can take it some crayons and put them in different places and so on. And once they finish that, some put some people do some people don't I say, OK, is it fine now? And they say, Yeah, fine.

spk_3:   22:07
I was five hours old when I had my first surgery.

spk_1:   22:10
The only advice I really give someone like that is to be there for your family.

spk_3:   22:15
This is life and you have to do it. You live it or you sit in a corner and cry.

spk_1:   22:19
I am in a Gorski and the host of heart to Heart with Anna. Join us on Tuesdays at noon, Eastern time on speaker R Block talk radio. We'll cover topics of importance for the congenital heart defect community. Remember, my friends, you are not alone. If

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you've enjoyed listening to this program, please visit our website hearts, unite the globe dot or GE and make a contribution. This program is a presentation of hearts unite the globe and is part of the hug Podcast Network Heart. Tonight, the Globe is a nonprofit organization devoted to providing resource is to the congenital heart defect community to educate and power and enrich the lives of our community members. If you would like access to free resource is pertaining to the CHD community. Please visit our website at congenital heart defects dot com for information about CHD hospitals that treat CHD survivors, summer camps for CHD families and

spk_1:   23:11
much, much more. You are listening to heart to heart with Michael. If you have a question or comment that you would like a dressed on our program, please send an email to Michael even at Michael at heart to heart with michael dot com. Now back to Heart to Heart With Michael

spk_2:   23:31
Kano returned to the studio for our October program, where she discussed her personal loss. She explained that whenever we face a new trauma in life, we must certainly relive and again resolve our previous traumatic experiences.

spk_5:   23:45
You'll remember what I said about the crayon box. You put the box back together. It's never going to be the same as it was before. And we're not that

spk_2:   23:55
where it comes. We're to get the need to go back and re process for years

spk_5:   24:00
when you when you get a new 12 as the new trauma is like giving the box again a bank from the bat from the back, huh? so everything spills out again.

spk_2:   24:15
So everything you've done, you have to go through again.

spk_5:   24:18
So you have to reorganize yourself. It's not necessarily everything you've done, but you've no already, in a way howto gather it up because you've done it before. So you're not new at it, so it's perhaps more familiar. It's like riding a bicycle. You never forget how to ride a bicycle. But But, you know, if you fall off a bicycle, you get back on and

spk_2:   24:50
there's that moment of rebuilding. Sure,

spk_5:   24:52
and if you fall again, you again have to remember how you got back on the bicycle again. But maybe it's a little easier.

spk_2:   25:04
In November, we closed the year with Dr Sandra Shots, who works with grief and trauma in the American military. Among the many things we spoke about was the question of post traumatic stress. When a soldier returns home,

spk_0:   25:16
I'd like to start by talking a little bit about what post traumatic stress disorder is. Okay. Our brains have a part called the amygdala, and that is what's in charge of the fight or flight phenomenon. So when we feel threatened, either we're going to protect ourselves. We're gonna get ourselves to safety. So that's the signal. Oh, that's kicking the anxiety to make that happen. Now for most of us. Let's see, I'm on my way to work and I get into a near car crash. My *** will shoot up into high gear. But then, when I realized I'm safe, it'll come back now and again, however, a soldier in a war experience that a Michaela goes into high gear, and it doesn't really have the opportunity to go back to low gear. So let's say you and your buddy we're out doing a mission and your buddy should get blown up. You don't get the luxury of stopping and mourning the loss. You have to keep going forward with the mission. When you're done with the mission, you might go back to the base. You might have a chance to talk to the chaplain or maybe a coworker, but tomorrow you better be ready to go full speed again, as if it never happened. But it did happen, so you have to learn how to cage that up and control it. Bottle it up so that you can function now. The Mikola stay stuck in high gear and you leave the war zone and you come back here in the United States and your spouse is expected in the same person who left. But you come back in. Your Magdala is in high gear. Now there's things.

spk_2:   26:53
What about how long? How long can it stay in high gear? Like, uh,

spk_0:   26:57
we're talking about the cases where it doesn't come back now. So you're home with your family. And yes, you and I would observe that they're safe, but they don't feel safe because the big deal is still in high gear. So they're driving along the Highway 35 in Texas, and they see a McDonald's bag along the side of the road. Now, in a war zone, something as innocuous as a hamburger bag could be a roadside bomb. So it's really a matter of life and death that you avoid that. So here you are, driving along in the S. U really be with the wife and the kids. You see that crash big. You slam on the brakes sort of your vehicle because to try to affect your family and drive off, I'm just thinking you're absolutely nuts. It totally makes sense for a peaky s perspective, what you're doing. So, yes, you think you're doing the right thing and you're shocked to learn that your spouses and kids think you're being stifling and overprotective and you think you're just being realistic.

spk_2:   27:54
So here we are December. And what have we learned? We've seen a variety of different circumstances of grief. We've seen that for all of us. Despite the similarities, it is still a tremendously private experience that we take with us into our daily lives. We're not. Everyone is totally sensitive to or even aware of our struggles. But despite that, we've seen that sharing grief is still an excellent way of lightning, that grief that we will have something to share. And more importantly, we all have something to learn from the sharing we've seen that life is a constant reordering of things that lost remains a part of who we are. And as we move along, it becomes one of the factors that helped define us. Grief is not something that ever really ends, but we can find peace and we can find a way to bundle our grief and take it with us along the way. as we continue through life. What is clear to me at least, is that there are many strategies from which to choose. And that's the thing we must choose to continue. We must, as the Bible says, choose life. And in so doing, we find that moving on is not moving away. Life is there for our loved ones to see through our eyes that love continues and that we are obliged to go on living and loving with and for them I wish all of us here of happiness, a year of healing and true peace. I am thankful for the guests who joined us all the people who create heart to heart With Michael and Dworsky, Nancy Jensen, Rachel Greene, Bam volunteers from around the world Patri on supporters who support makes this program possible, and all the friends and family who support our endeavor to bring a small ray of light to those who need it. It is no accident that all of our team here is bereaved. For who else understands us best? I'm Michael even, and this has been hard to heart with Michael for 2019. Thank you for your time and

spk_1:   29:42
support. Thank you again for joining us. We hope you have gained strength from listening to our program. Heart to heart with Michael could be heard every Thursday at noon Eastern time. We'll talk again next time when we'll share more stories.