Grief Trails

Loving Well (Even When We Can't Save Someone) with Author- Dr. Kelly S. Thompson

February 07, 2024 Kelly S. Thompson Season 2 Episode 39
Grief Trails
Loving Well (Even When We Can't Save Someone) with Author- Dr. Kelly S. Thompson
Show Notes Transcript

Joined by writer and author Dr. Kelly S. Thompson, she shares openly about the tumultuous relationship she had with her sister Megan while her sister struggled with addiction, and then about reconnecting prior to losing Megan to cancer. Her story is layered with complex emotions and is one so many will relate to. 

Kelly is the author of the following:

Still, I Cannot Save You, A memoir of sisterhood, love and letting go (Feb 14, 2023)

Girls Need Not Apply: Field Notes from the Forces (2019)

You can find her here: 

kellysthompson.com
kelly@kellysthompson.com

www.facebook.com/KellySThompsonWritingandEditing

Twitter: KellyS_Thompson

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Thank you so much for listening. Wishing you well on whatever trail you find yourself walking today.

Hello, and welcome back to the grief trails podcast. I am your host, Amanda. Kernaghan from remember grams. A small business dedicated to helping you support those in your life. Experiencing grief. I hope you'll consider sending someone a personalized card or gave support box. Shipping within the us is always free. And we treat each order with special care paying attention to every detail. I'm so excited to introduce today's guest. Kelly S. Thompson author of still, I cannot save you a memoir of sisterhood love and letting go. Which we will discuss today as well as her first memoir girls need not apply about sexual harassment within the military. Kelly is also a mentor in the master's in creative nonfiction program at the university of King's college. I purposely saved this interview with Kelly to be aired this week so that it would fall near my little brother. James says birthday. James would have turned 30 just a few days ago. And one of the reasons I connected with Kelly story so quickly was not just that she had lost a sibling, but that her sister, Megan had something in common with James. She also struggled with addiction. Now James and Megan stories diverge and are different in a multitude of ways, but Kelly shares this part of Megan's story just as openly as she does every part of her story. A story that is layered with some very difficult things. I truly think anyone who has loved and lost a family member will enjoy Kelly's book. But especially if you've ever loved someone with all the complexity that an addiction brings. And especially if you have ever lost someone far too young to cancer. And especially if you have loved someone who has ever been abused. This is a story for so many, and I'm honored to share it with you here. Like Kelly's book, title still. I cannot save you. Almost everyone who has lost someone, tragically has wished they could do just that. Save them. Change the outcome. But when we realized we could not, I hope we can look back at the ways we loved them. Something Kelly does so beautifully here. Let's take a lesson.

Kelly:

My sister and I grew up in a military family in Canada. So when I was born, actually, my sister had cancer at the time. She had kidney cancer when I was born. So I was supposed to be born on her birthday, which was July 18th, but I was actually induced several weeks early because she had chemotherapy. The week I was due. Wow. My parents still like to say I wasn't a mistake, but I feel like, I don't know if anyone's like, I really could use some more kids while I'm going through this whole shebang, but, my sister was that sister you dream of in a movie. She defend, I was so shy and chronically sad. I, I didn't know how to move in the world in a way that had joy or that levity that kids often have. And Megan did and because we grew up in a military family. People are always transitioning in and out of your life. And. She was so good at making new friends and I was like standing off in the corner like where's my sister? And she always welcomed me in even though she was three years older Which you know when you're getting into ten is probably not great hanging out with your seven year old sister because I was so anxious as well. She would take All this time to make up stories for me at night. She was really patient with me when I would just be like sobbing before bed. Cause I was anxious to go to bed and I was anxious about school. And I was anxious about what I was going to eat for lunch the next day. She was the most patient person in the house with me. But it really changed with puberty for Megan. You know, it was, we used to joke as we got older that. We both had really bad self esteem and we dealt with it really differently. Megan was like, I'm going to be whatever men want me to be. And then they will love me. And I was like, I'm going to achieve whatever I can to make a list of credentials that makes me feel good about myself. And I don't know if either of us were particularly successful. But as she hit puberty, she really was willing to do anything that anyone introduced her to, so she really quickly slipped into drugs quite young, you know, like I think 15, and just stayed there, and escalated, and escalated, and escalated. The worst was crack cocaine for quite a while, and then opioids. So, she eventually did a methadone clinic, and that wasn't until we were, oof, she was almost 30. Oh, wow. And so, We didn't talk, really, for about 15 years. I just, we, we talked, but it was so rare, and she called me when she wanted or needed something. Mm hmm. Yeah. And I was so, I was so tired. Mm hmm. And I was also an officer in the Canadian Forces myself. I joined when I was 18, after 9 11. And my security clearance was at risk because my finances were so bad from helping her and helping her and helping her midnight phone calls, you know that the parents who are like, Oh, you know, Kelly, you're so hard on your sister and it was like, No, you're just blind that she's addicted to everything under the sun. Those were dark times.

Mandy:

Yeah, it really takes a toll. It takes a toll on your psyche. And especially, you know, if your sister was only 15 or so and she started, that means you were only 11 or 12. I was 12. 13. Yeah. And I mean, that is a crucial time, in our own development, and to be constantly hyper vigilant and worried about our sibling and are they going to be okay and what are they getting into and just. I think it takes a bigger toll than people realize on the other children who are in the

Kelly:

house. It does. And especially because I was already so obsessed with achieving and perfection. And then I didn't have her as that stabilizing line of a Kelly, you're going to be fine. Don't worry. I'm with you to suddenly like, I don't know where she is. I don't know who she's with. I don't know what she's doing. One abusive, horrible partner after another. Oh, it's devastating to watch someone you love break themselves and to know that you can't do anything about it. And I think that was the hardest thing was it was really divisive for my family too, in terms of my parents, because my parents just enabled her and bailed her out over and over and over again. And I just wouldn't, I was so, I was so struggling with my own mental health, especially, you know, once I'm in my. Twenties and I'm in the military and I'm having a horrible time and I'm being harassed at every corner and I'm so miserable. I didn't know how to keep going while it was like, you know, they say you got to put on your own oxygen mask. It was like I needed my own and there just wasn't enough air to keep her going at the same time. I needed her to do it herself, but she acknowledged that when she got older, which was pretty amazing on her part. You know, to have that awareness. And so special to

Mandy:

be able to have that recognition for you, to have that validation that she understood where you were coming from and why the two of you became so distant in that time. Not everybody, I think, gets that kind of

Kelly:

closure. You know, I, 100%, and I write about it in my, in my book. We had been. You know, spending more time together because she got clean, and then she had a child, and she loved being a mom, it's all she ever wanted, and she was about to get married, and we have this night where I take her out, but our relationship is pretty surface level at this point, you know, it's kind of like, we're both a bit nervous to trust one another, but she was so She wanted it so bad and I was at a point where I was like, I don't need you anymore and I'm scared to let you back because it always burns me. And my parents were so quick to forgive her and there was a part of me that was really bitter about it, which I realize sounds super childish, but it was like she broke us and I was, I was so angry, which was my own judgmental. Crappiness, you know, like I, I hadn't done my own work yet and read enough about addiction to understand enough either, but we got into the car that night and she was all emotional because she's a little bit drunk because it's our little bachelorette party for two people and we get in the car and she is like, I was so horrible to you and I lied so much and I stole from you and I was, I'm so sorry I wasn't there all the time. Wow. And every other apology she'd ever given was always qualified somehow, like, but I was depressed, but I had low self esteem and I was like, eat ice cream like the rest of us, you know, like this is how we go with it. So that night changed us forever. Wow. It was, it was like both of us owning how horrible we'd been to one another. And you know, when you're young, you're just so self absorbed. Like at that point, I'm in my late 20s, she's in her early 30s, we've, we learned and we learned, yeah, we learned, and we worked towards educating ourselves to be better people, and it let us meet up in the middle. That was a pretty beautiful thing. Yeah, I love that.

Mandy:

Yeah. And I can see why you put up protective barriers around yourself in that time and were hesitant to connect fully again because We learn over time when you give and give and give, and then the same thing happens. It's difficult to, once somebody is making a change, to fully embrace it because you're protecting yourself from the pain of it all happening again. But I'm so glad that you and Megan were able to reconcile and you were able to be a part of her baby's life. And I know after that reconciliation, things. Took a downhill turn. Can you share what happened from there?

Kelly:

Megan married a partner who, like almost every other partner she'd had, was just not a great person. Very abusive, very chronically abusive in a multitude of ways. So that was really hard to watch, and it was hard to, again, not be mad at her because I was seeing my nephew and hearing my nephew say things to me. I don't think my dad likes me very much, you know, when he got a bit older, and it's like, what do you do with but then Megan, what it was a pretty horrific year when I think about it, my husband was and still is in the Canadian forces was deployed overseas for a year. And during that time Megan was pregnant. And. Had been quite sick and, and in and out of hospital a few times with, with bowel obstructions, which she had been with her first child as well. But we thought it was just another bowel obstruction because she had kidney cancer, so she had a lot of scar tissue in her gut where the baby's trying to grow. But it turned out she got diagnosed with cancer the day after the baby came quite early. And the baby was hiding a very large tumor of a very rare form of cancer. They now suspect that cancer was caused by all the radiation she had as a, as a child. And on the same day, I also found out that my odds of having children were very slim and my husband's overseas and not home. You know, I go to visit her in the hospital and I'm trying to just like, and, and this is my favorite scene in the book, actually, because I go to visit her and I'm trying to make her feel better and I'm going to dye her hair and I'm going to, and we laughed and we had like this great time and I see my niece and I think this is why we keep going right? Like we keep going because there's this next generation and you want to give them all the things that you didn't have. And I keep seeing my niece and my nephew and thinking, you know, They're going to have each other and then it all just exploded. The cancer was terminal. It was a year of treatment that was really fruitless, which realistically knowing the kind of cancer we knew, I knew, and my mom's a nurse, so my mom knew, but it's like, we didn't talk about it. So it was this year of. really horrific treatment, major surgery, and all of this while she's just being so, horrifically abused. And once she died, about 16 months later, she died So she leaves behind a four year old and a 16 month old baby, and I find all these recordings on her phone of her, of her husband saying things like, I'm gonna, I'm gonna make sure they don't remember you, and why don't you just hurry up and die, because this is just like a waste of my time, or you know, we're trying to plan her funeral with her, and he calls one day and says he's really tired and isn't going to make it over, and it was just like, I don't know what was worse, the fact that she was dying, the fact that I knew that when she was gone, they would very much limit my access to them, or watching her die while having that grief layered a million times by not being loved the way she, so, like, all she wanted in life was to be loved well, and I couldn't, it was like that was the thing I couldn't feel for her, and I think that broke me.

Mandy:

the unfairness of it, and not that life is in any way fair, but for someone to go through over a decade of fighting an addiction that could have taken her life at any time, right? And, and then fought her way back to sobriety. And then she had kids and became a mom and, and reconciled your relationship and to feel like. We made it, you know, we got through all of this terrible hard stuff together and we're here and then to be dealt this blow that that takes it all away again. I imagine that was very, very difficult. Did you have anger when it came to that and feel like the universe just not not a

Kelly:

just place? No, I think, you know, we're a family of cancer. My mom's had cancer. My mom has multiple sclerosis now that's very advanced. My dad's had cancer. Megan had two kinds of cancer. I think my idea of that kind of fairness or karma paying off in some way, these are just horrible life things and we try to keep going. Even, you know, when she died and people would say, aren't you glad that you, like, reconciled with her so that you don't feel bad now that she's gone? I would have been devastated to lose her at any point, but I felt very comfortable with the choices I was making at the time and I feel comfortable with the ones that I made at the end because regardless they were all made in love, you know, like I loved her really well. And I think that's all we can really do is you love your people well, and it's never going to turn out like we hoped it would. Do I wish we had more time? 100%. But man, did we ever make that time? Magic. I miss her. One

Mandy:

of the, I know.

Kelly:

I cry at every interview. And here I am. Yeah. No.

Mandy:

I get it. One of the parts of your book that I thought was interesting is you talked about how you and Megan coped with things differently. So she was more of an avoider and I can relate to that too sometimes, like I will avoid listening to a voicemail or opening an email because I know that it's going to bring stress and I feel like if I can just not look at it, then I don't have to deal with that. And then you talked about yourself and how you're. information gatherer and that helps you and you like to know everything. And so when that sort of collides, when it's her, it's her prognosis and her illness, and you so desperately want that information, but she wasn't ready to be talking about that kind of stuff. I, I can just imagine those two things feeling really difficult.

Kelly:

I think in a way though, it also made it an honor that she always wanted me at all the appointments to like my dad, bless his heart is, is like a bit of a pushy individual as a 35 year military veteran. And my mom is very like medical and clinical as a nurse. So sometimes you're like, geez, you know, there's emotion in this, which is her way of dealing with it. Megan and I were tender little hearts. And we used to, we used to say to each other, like, how did we happen? How did we happen in our two parents? Where do we come from? We made a lot of space for each other in those really terrifying moments to just feel how we felt. And I think she knew with me, you know, it was hard because with my parents, we were both trying to protect my parents from it, from an element. Like my parents are losing their child. And I try to think about like, what must that have been like with me? She knew she could just. Let it rip, you know, whatever it felt at that time, whatever was really scaring her, but it also kind of left me like, I had my husband who's pretty spectacular. But I often felt like I would just get to my dog and just bury my face in the dog and be like, I don't, I mean my husband was deployed for half of this horribleness, and you just kind of keep putting one foot in front of the other. But we definitely had different ways of approaching it, but I had to respect hers because she's the person dying and leaving behind children. And it also makes a lot of those really sticky conversations hard, like, Hey, your husband's horrible and abusive. Can you do something about it? But, but how do you ask someone to do something about it when they're dying and they just want to get to the business of dying, which is some hard work. Right. And I, Oh gosh, I keep when I, even when I talk about it and think back to it, I think. How do we do it? Like, how do we get to the other side still breathing? I don't know. Dogs. We do it with dogs. Dogs are the best. As I say with mine snoring behind me right now,

Mandy:

it is the best view while we're having this talk. He looks so

Kelly:

cozy. He's not living it rough over here. Yeah.

Mandy:

So how did you navigate that situation with her husband and are you able to start a relationship with your niece and nephew?

Kelly:

I don't think we navigated it very well. I have a lot of compassion for mental illness, a lot. I struggle with depression and anxiety every day. I talk a lot about it in the book. But sometimes I feel like we use it as a scapegoat for just not being there. Not behaving well. Since the book came out, which I knew was a risk, I have had very limited access to my niece and nephew. I actually haven't spoken to them since the book came out in February. Oh, man. I send gifts. I send a card every month. I send things for Halloween. I think they fear I will attempt to alienate. Them from their father, which I would never in a million years do right? Megan asked me to write this book though. And I I hold that as like the thing to keep me going because Sometimes I think she asked me to do it because she didn't feel like she could say the things that needed to be said But you know when my nephew's telling me things like I don't think my daddy likes me very much. They already know They are mostly raised by their grandmother By my sister's mother in law so I have to just accept the risk that I took in publishing the book, but I remember meeting with a editor once and the editor said, you know, bullies don't always get to win. And a lot of that darkness lies in the shadows and that's where my sister left it. And when I found those recordings, when I found evidence of physical violence. I refuse to be quiet and I owe that to her. I think my sister was really little, like physically little and I am not you know, I'm like five, seven, five, eight, I'm 170 pounds. I'm not tiny. Megan was five foot one and like this little part of a thing and I will go down protecting her protecting her legacy of just like. Of love. So, no, I, I don't get to see them very often. When I have seen them since Megan died, I am supervised, but I don't care. Supervise me. Like, I just, I want to play grocery store with them and dress up with them. And tickle them, you know they're now nine and six, which blows my mind. And

Mandy:

someday they're going to be adults and you're going to be there and they're going to be able to talk to you about their mom in ways that maybe they haven't been able to talk to other people openly. So you're giving them a

Kelly:

gift later. Yeah. I think they'll come find me. You know, when I saw my nephew in February, And it was right, I was actually in Ontario because my, my book was coming out. And so I was visiting my parents who lived close to the kids at the time. And, and my nephew picked up the book and he flipped to the back and he saw the photo of my sister and I, and he said, Hey, that's my mom. And I said, yeah. And then he says really suspicious, like, like, Auntie, did you just make this for Grandpa or are there more copies? So happy, he was already dubious, like, are you self publishing this in your basement? And I said, there are more copies. And he said, will you save me one? And I'll save him one. I know he'll come find me. I, I grieve that loss pretty bad. I think that's part of the thing is like the grief is just never, it doesn't, I mean, grief never ends for someone we love, but the layers and ramifications of it have kept going in such spider cracks that I'm just, gosh, it's exhausting. I'm a mess on this interview. I am sorry.

Mandy:

You know, I can relate when I talk about my story, I tear up too, and when I write, when I read, actually, my own writing about my story, I also cry when I read it, which is so sad. It's mind blowing to me, I don't know if you, sometimes, I wondered that when you were reading your audiobook, because you are the narrator of it, and I wondered if you had to do multiple takes, because when I sometimes read the hardest parts of my book, I start to cry. Which is so interesting that we can make ourselves cry with our own words that we've read multiple times. But we'll get back to

Kelly:

the book. Oh my goodness. Yeah, I tell ya, that audiobook. I mean, there were times I was often surprised by things I thought would be really, really hard, like the scene where she died and, and, and my scene where Megan dies, because I was also studying, writing about grief at this time. It was very important to me that that scene be really like in the moment. So it's really step by step and you're there. And I thought, Oh, this will be the hardest. It was not, it was little things like. There's this one line that it's such a special sort of pain to love someone you don't like very much. Yes. Yes. And I had to like, I had to walk out and go to the, and I, I mean, you're in like, there's 900 people who are there waiting on you, right? In an audio book, they're like, there's the producer. There's the, there's the sound booth guy. There's like the person who's bringing you water. There's the director. And I'm like, I need to go sit in the bathroom and sob for 15 minutes and then come back and sound like snot. But I mean, it's just, but also this is what makes stories palpable, right? Like this is why I love what I do. This wasn't my first memoir. Like, this is. This is where I feel at home because I see the power of change and I also see the power of what it means to sit with a story that is in some way like your own and to feel so validated by that. It's like, oh yes, I'm not the only person who feels this like really special hurt. Yeah, that's helpful. I don't know why it's helpful, but it

Mandy:

is. And I love that Megan, A, she knew you were a writer and she told you that she is your biggest fan and, you know, believes in you and the skill that you have with writing and wanted you to write this book. I think that in and of itself is really special. And I am wondering, when did you start writing this book or when did you know that you were going to write about this? How did that change? Like, did you journal more often because you knew you were going to eventually write about it and how much space did you need? I have a lot of

Kelly:

questions about this. Yeah, it remains a miracle to me that I was like, you know what makes sense in like the worst time period of my life to do more work. Yeah, I'll do that. I mean, it was, my first book was about to come out. It came out almost exactly a year to the day that Megan died. So, you know, most of the work you do on a book is. Like, after the six months before the book comes out, you're not really doing anything. The publicity machine is sort of doing its thing and you're just sitting there waiting. So, I was like in the middle of edits of the book while she was dying. And my publisher's like, we can wait, we can wait. And it felt so important to me. Like, no, I'm going to do it because I'm going to do it for her. But then, I was also taking a lot of notes at the time. Little jot notes. Because any waking time I had that was to myself had to be dedicated to work, because I was really lucky that because I'm an author, and a veteran who's injured, I have a lot of flexibility about where I spend my time. So I was able to be with Megan and my parents, but I didn't have a lot of time to breathe. And then, when you're so Sleep deprived. It's almost a joke. And you're so stressed. You could pretty much like not eat for the next six years. And then to also be writing this book. And then I was like, sure, I'm going to add another. So I wrote some chapters while she was actively dying. The one where she died, the act, the actual scene where she died, I wrote a month after, and it's one of very few scenes that changed almost not at all. There's also a scene where she had been losing a lot of weight, and it was the day we found out her cancer was terminal. And we go to Victoria's Secret to pick out a bra, and I see her in the mirror for the first time in a long time, and she's so thin. And I just like, I know where this is going. And that scene was also written very shortly after she died. And also almost didn't change at all. I think there was a really powerful thing that came from, like, writing while I was living it because the emotion was in my throat. And I might as well put it somewhere. And then sometimes that doesn't work, right? Like sometimes you're just so That's

Mandy:

fascinating because a lot of writers will say you need the distance before you can write well about it. Yeah, that's

Kelly:

fascinating. Yeah, you know, there were certain things I did need the distance, or a really great editor like I have, who would be like, Kelly, reel it in, you know, or Kelly, love you, know this was horrible, but this is really melodramatic and you gotta like cut this sentence. But I also really approach writing like work and I'm pretty non precious about things. So I can be like, look, this is, you know, I'm, I'm over the top here. I'm getting kind of cliched over here. But I also then was like. I'm gonna do a PhD. This was three months after she died that I applied, not even, two months after she died I applied because I got obsessed with reading books about other people's grief because I wanted to see an experience like mine and I couldn't find it. I couldn't find one where the person who died wasn't like perfect. Let's be realistic, like not everyone who dies is great and I wanted it really bad and it was hard to find. I found a couple, don't get me wrong. So then I got really interested in sort of grief narratives and narrative therapy. And so I ended up like signing up for a PhD out of it. And I, and then I, I now think, gosh, Megan would have just like fallen off her chair. She's the kind of person where she would have been like, I would have had this happen for me so that you could have had this. That's what she was like.

Mandy:

So you have completed your PhD since then?

Kelly:

Yeah. Maybe two years ago, a year and a half, two years ago, I think. You're, gosh, what is time? Where are we? It's the pandemic. It also messed me up. Yes. But yeah, so I think, I think I defended successfully in March, a year and a half ago, February, a year almost two. My gosh. Yeah. What is time? But yes, so I've been Dr. Kelly for a while now. Yeah. That's amazing. My dad now, amazing. That's, that's what my dad calls me, doc. Actually, my family calls me Muu, which now I'm gonna share with people. So my dad calls me Dr. Moo. Which is super professional. I love it.

Mandy:

Speaking of your dad, and your parents, how did they react to this book? Because this book is so deeply personal and talks about your family in ways that most people don't share

Kelly:

with the world. My parents are really supportive. This is all I've ever wanted to do my whole life. And when I joined the military, it was great. I think there was a calm for them. Like, okay, she's gonna eat. So that's great. And then I got medically released and I wrote about sexual harassment in the military. And that was a really hard book to write when your dad is a veteran. And I was very worried, for example, how he would take that one. And my dad, I'm not someone, I'm not willing to share my stuff with you to give you permission to cut things like that. That's not how I operate. And it's not how I incurred, because I also teach creative nonfiction at a master's degree program, so the integrity of my story that's my story and I know it to be mine is important to me. I have to trust my writing to do its hard work. Like, I have to trust that I'm going to be good enough at this where I'm going to show the nuance of people. Because You know, we contain multitudes. We're good and we're bad and we're nice and we're mean. And I think the fact that I look at my own ugly parts on a page helps the other people who are in the book to be like, I'm going to be looked at in the same light. My parents aren't always great. But my parents are also great. So they, my dad, we joke now has taken up the role of a biggest fan. He stole the poster from my first book and had it mounted and up in his garage now. And I tell you, he will hawk that book to you if you try to cross in front of his house, like he will sell it to you. So he's definitely like, he goes to every independent bookstore he sees and to make sure they have it. And if not, he tells them. You should bring it in. But my dad's like the marketing person you want in your corner for sure. But I also knew this would be a really difficult book for them to read. You know, it's hard enough to read a book where you're a character. It's even harder to read a book, it's even harder to read a book where a trauma you lived is played out. You know, it was very mysterious to them that I would choose. To linger in this story, you know, like, why do you want to write about it? Why do you want to sit with it when it was horrible the first time? Oh, I am mired in this anyway, is always my thing. I am here in this garbage in the murk of grief. Whether I want to sit and acknowledge it or not. I might as well barf something out about it and try to make some art and then hope someone else is going to take it and go, Oh, my heart is here somewhere, you know, and yeah. That's kind of the human experience, I think.

Mandy:

And there is something about writing that takes us back to some of those experiences and you kind of relive it in this weird existential way. And I think by revisiting it and by reliving it in your writing, you're healing parts of yourself and parts of your relationship with whoever you're writing about. In ways that I don't think are tangible that we can't always describe. So I agree. I have family who have said, I don't think I want to read. Your book, because I know what happened and it was sad and I don't want to go there again. And I find that to be just fascinating that we all deal with it in such different ways. And every way is okay if people don't want to, to think about the hard things. I think that's okay, but then you're right. There are readers out there who are going to hold your book and say, wow, yeah, me too. And, and feel seen in ways that they hadn't.

Kelly:

Absolutely. And I also, I would argue with my therapist too. I would say, look I can work through it here. I can work through it on the page or I can do both and they're going to serve each other. So you know, the very nature of narrative therapy of like we literally, when we write about something to better understand it, we create new neural pathways to get there. That blows my mind. But I also feel like in writing, I develop a gazillion times more compassion, not just for the other characters, quote unquote, in my book, but for me too, you know, like often in a grief experience, we carry some guilt, like I should have done this or I didn't say this. There's something about putting it on a page and sort of sending it out into the world where you go, I own this and it's okay. It's okay. I didn't do it all perfectly. None of us did. Here we are anyways. I sound like I'm much more zen about it than I really am in practicality. You look very zen about it. I, I think I do feel very comfortable with if there's anything that I feel like I took from it. You love well, you know, like I said before, I love well, I show my love well, and I did it before she died and I will continue to do it after in her honor.

Mandy:

Wow. Thank you so much for sharing Megan's story with us. I Thank you. I don't know. I feel like I know her and I know you in ways that obviously I wouldn't if I hadn't read your book. And I'm actually in the middle of it right now, so I can't wait to finish it. But yeah, I just think you have so much to give the world and, and I honor your bravery in putting it out there, knowing the backlash that could and did come from it in some ways, and knowing that it still has value well beyond that, and that it's all going to work out the way that it

Kelly:

should eventually. Thank you. And thank you for your hard work in this podcast. This makes a difference to people. When I was looking for. Varied grief experiences. This is how I found it, right? So I thank you.

Mandy:

Yeah, I think the more books, the more media, the more we bring this out into the light and talk about all the different kinds of grief and all the different kinds of reactions that people have to the experiences that are universal and human, then the better our society will be instead of ignoring it and pretending it's not there.

Kelly:

Think of how proud your brother would be. Thank you. I know the story you're taking to make new meaning out of it. I think that's

Mandy:

pretty special for Megan and James.

Kelly:

Yeah. Maybe they're hanging out together. They might be

I hope you enjoyed listening to Kelly. Share her story. I listened to her book on audio narrated by Kelly herself. And I felt like I already knew her before we sat down for the interview. But once we did the calm and deeply authentic way shared, left me incredibly grateful. Links to her books and social media sites will be found in the show notes for today's journal prompt. Right about the ways you loved your person? Well, like always let the writing lead you in whatever direction it takes. Thank you so much for listening, please make sure you subscribe, share this episode with anyone who could benefit from it. And as always. Visit remember grams. Anytime you need to send a little love to someone who is grieving. Thank you and have a wonderful day.