Grief and Light Podcast

Grief and Resilience: Tools for 'Bouncing Forward' after Loss with Blair Kaplan Venables

June 25, 2024 Nina Rodriguez / Guest: Blair Kaplan Venables Season 3 Episode 40
Grief and Resilience: Tools for 'Bouncing Forward' after Loss with Blair Kaplan Venables
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Grief and Light Podcast
Grief and Resilience: Tools for 'Bouncing Forward' after Loss with Blair Kaplan Venables
Jun 25, 2024 Season 3 Episode 40
Nina Rodriguez / Guest: Blair Kaplan Venables

In this conversation, Blair Kaplan Venables, a grief and resilience expert, shares her personal journey of resilience and how she turned her pain into purpose after experiencing multiple losses, including the loss of both parents and a pregnancy. She discusses the concept of resilience and defines it as 'bouncing forward' from a challenging experience.

Blair also introduces the Navigating Grief Framework, which consists of five tools she developed to help others navigate their own healing process. She emphasizes the importance of strengthening the resilience muscle and highlights the role of community and rituals in the grief process.


Blair is a grief and resilience expert, and the Founder of The Global Resilience Project. Her expertise has been featured in media outlets, including Forbes, CBC Radio, Entrepreneur, and Thrive Global.

She is the host of the Radical Resilience podcast, a motivational speaker and bestselling author, specializing in helping people strengthen their resilience muscle, and guiding grieving high-performers with her 'Navigating Grief Framework'.

USA Today listed Blair as one of the top 10 conscious female leaders to watch. The International Association of Top Professionals named her "Top Grief and Resilience Expert of the Year" in 2024.

Her life story will be showcased on a new show called “My Story” airing on Apple TV+. And she is on a mission to change lives and spark transformation, with a goal of empowering 88 million people by August 2025.

Nina Rodriguez Social & Website


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Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

In this conversation, Blair Kaplan Venables, a grief and resilience expert, shares her personal journey of resilience and how she turned her pain into purpose after experiencing multiple losses, including the loss of both parents and a pregnancy. She discusses the concept of resilience and defines it as 'bouncing forward' from a challenging experience.

Blair also introduces the Navigating Grief Framework, which consists of five tools she developed to help others navigate their own healing process. She emphasizes the importance of strengthening the resilience muscle and highlights the role of community and rituals in the grief process.


Blair is a grief and resilience expert, and the Founder of The Global Resilience Project. Her expertise has been featured in media outlets, including Forbes, CBC Radio, Entrepreneur, and Thrive Global.

She is the host of the Radical Resilience podcast, a motivational speaker and bestselling author, specializing in helping people strengthen their resilience muscle, and guiding grieving high-performers with her 'Navigating Grief Framework'.

USA Today listed Blair as one of the top 10 conscious female leaders to watch. The International Association of Top Professionals named her "Top Grief and Resilience Expert of the Year" in 2024.

Her life story will be showcased on a new show called “My Story” airing on Apple TV+. And she is on a mission to change lives and spark transformation, with a goal of empowering 88 million people by August 2025.

Nina Rodriguez Social & Website


Send us a Text Message.

Support the Show.

Thank you for listening! Please share with someone you love.

Want your story featured in a podcast episode?
Please contact me via IG @griefandlight, via email at

griefandlight (00:00.046)
And I used to define resilience as bouncing back from a challenging experience. You're never the same when you go through something. And so resilience is actually when you bounce forward from a challenging experience. It's the act of bouncing forward. You just lost your loved one. Now what? Welcome to the Grief in Life podcast where we explore this new reality through grief -colored lenses. Openly, authentically, I'm your host,

Nina Rodriguez, let's get started. There is a force woven into the human spirit with the power to get us through unimaginable adversity time and time again. Today we're exploring what it means to be resilient, how we can strengthen our resilience muscle, and what role it plays in the grief experience. Our amazing guest, Blair Kaplan Venables, is a grief and resilience expert and founder of the Global Resilience Project.

Her expertise has been featured in media outlets, including Forbes, CBC radio, Entrepreneur, Thrive Global, and many others. She is the host of the Radical Resilience podcast, a motivational speaker, a bestselling author, specializing in helping people strengthen the resilience muscle and guiding grieving high performers with her navigating grief framework. USA Today listed Blair as one of the top 10 conscious female leaders to watch. The International Association of Top Professionals named her

top grief and resilience expert of the year. Her life story will be showcased on a new show called My Story, airing soon on Apple TV Plus. And she is on a mission to change lives and spark transformation with the goal of empowering 88 million people by August 20, 2025. I am thrilled about today's conversation with our guest. Welcome to the Grief and Light podcast, Blair. Thank you so much for having me. This is such an honor. It's an honor to have you. I mean, that doesn't even begin to cover.

the fullness and the vastness of your personal story and professional story, but it gives everybody a glimpse of everything you've been able to accomplish both professionally and personally, and your story is nothing short of amazing. Listeners will have a lot to gain from this conversation, so start wherever you'd like. Yeah, thank you. So I'm just going to go back to my childhood for a minute. I'm the daughter of a man who lived with addiction and a child of divorce. My dad and I were very close.

griefandlight (02:24.11)
And when I was seven, my parents split up. What I didn't know was that my dad was battling the demons of addiction. What I thought was that my dad stopped loving me. And so growing up, I had a lot of mental health struggles, abandonment issues. I couldn't understand why my dad would tell me he'd be at my birthday party and not show up or pick me up for family time and not show up. And

So I carried that with me into my adult life. And in my 20s, my early 20s, I was given the gift of forgiveness. I had the pleasure of attending a personal development weekend. And the tools I was given there allowed me to forgive my dad and accept him for who he was. And so in my 20s, I actually got to develop a beautiful relationship with my father. And I got a second chance, which I didn't ever expect to have.

And it was great. Like he would come visit me. I lived in one part of Canada. He lived in a different part. He walked me down the aisle at my wedding with my mom. But at the end of 2018, our worlds were rocked and we learned he was terminally ill. You know, living with severe drug addiction for 40 plus years, he wasn't a beacon of health and he had COPD and lung cancer. And so,

Yeah, learning he was terminal was really hard for me because I finally had him back in my life. And now I knew his life was going to end. And so I felt very lost and I didn't know how to manage it. And so I started actually sharing our story of his addiction, my forgiveness of him and our resilience to anyone who would listen. And what would happen was I'd get feedback.

Ler, that was such an inspiring story. Like, I'm gonna go fix things with my dad before they die. Blair, your story inspired me to get a therapist. Your story inspired me to choose sobriety. And what was really special is that people would also share their stories with me and say, you know, you've created this safe space. I've never shared that with anyone. And so I said, dad, what if we write a book and we gather stories of resilience from around the world?

griefandlight (04:35.31)
and we bookend it with your story and my story so when you're no longer here, we can still help people. Beautiful. So yeah, so March 2019, I started the Global Resilience Project and little did I know it was just the beginning of a very challenging half a decade. So now my dad is terminal and he's dying. I start this project and I'm going to list off a high level of what happened to me between announcing the book and getting the book out. My grandfather,

who was like my dad died. That was sad. On the way home from his funeral, my husband and I got in a car accident and I got a concussion. A few months later, my husband almost died. He had a heart attack and quadruple bypass surgery. He was in his early 40s. The pandemic happened like that. It has its own level of grief and all the things. We struggled with fertility this entire time.

We were told we probably couldn't get pregnant. So, you know, grieving the idea of being a mom, that was, it was challenging and I came to terms with it. But about a year after Shane's heart attack, we ended up falling pregnant. Falling pregnant, that's such a funny term. We were pregnant. But unfortunately we miscarried. And then three weeks after the miscarriage, my father -in -law suddenly died after a three week battle with cancer.

And then three months later, my mother suddenly died after a three week battle with cancer at 62. And then our father, or as me and my sister's dad died in the same year as our mom, 360 days after her. The book finally came out a few months after my dad died. It became a best seller. And what I realized was that although I had such profound loss that I ended up starting a global movement and

We also launched a podcast and we created this safe space for people to share their stories of resilience in various capacities through events and our books. And anytime I have a conversation with someone and what I'm really realizing now in the wake of deep grief, because now I feel like I'm out of that deep vortex is that I'm able to turn my pain into purpose. And so here we are.

griefandlight (06:57.55)
Here we are. That is a very high level overview. I've known a little bit more details about each of those events, but for the listeners, if you've heard any of the previous episodes, you know that most people usually deal with like one to three losses, and here we're talking about more than five in a very short amount of time.

And we sometimes discuss like anticipatory grief and sudden loss and acute grief and traumatic grief. There's an element of all of this in each loss throughout your life, especially recently. So I'm very sorry for all of that. Obviously you've turned it into something beautiful that lights the way for many others. So thank you for that. But that journey is not easy. And that journey is deeply personal. So at what point did you feel it just becoming something so much better?

bigger than what you initially sought out to do. So after I launched the first book, I felt like I went through a war, you know, holding space for 50 people to share their stories of resilience, having this big commitment to them while navigating such trauma. I felt very burnt out and I got the book out. I felt like I limped across the finish line. You know, I went on this big media tour because our book was featured in another book and

We ended up on a billboard in Times Square and I got to walk some red carpets and it was all very exciting, but I was still in like very deep grief. And I felt like I was just surviving. And so I was like, I don't think I can do another book. Like, I feel like I was like, I don't know. And then I started thinking about it and the book came out in June and then that October, Shane, my husband and I went on our first vacation since before the heart attack and the COVID, the COVID and everything. The COVID, yeah. The COVID.

And my mom came to me in a dream. Wow. And she was telling me how proud she was of me. And I was getting ready to publish the second book. Wow. And I woke up and I was like, I felt like reinvigorated and refreshed. And I just thought about it. I'm like, you know what? Like, that's the right thing to do. And I want to do it. And I didn't just publish a book. Like we have a podcast and we have a dark humor merchandise line that we launched. And

griefandlight (09:11.406)
You know, we are a social enterprise and we donate to various causes and we provide safe spaces for people to share at events. And, you know, we're making a big difference in people's lives. Like, and I felt very inspired and I was, that's when I realized it's a movement. And when you say we, you're talking about you and Alana, your sister, correct? Yeah. Yeah. And I also sometimes refer to me as we, but I think it's. Maybe myself and I. Maybe, yeah, no, like us.

Yeah, so I realized that we started a global movement and we, as in anyone that's been involved with the community. So my sister Alana is our mental health director. She's a child and family therapist. And it's been a really cool experience to work on it with her. And also everyone involved, whether, you know, my graphic designers to someone who shared a story to someone who's just provided support. It's a community effort.

It is a community effort and I love that you get to walk this path with your sister as well. I would assume that part of you gets to heal together at sisters and move the grief through the work that you're doing. So I think that's really, really, really beautiful. And you've created some really cool rituals, maybe intentionally, maybe unintentionally, but I know you had grief week earlier this year. So could you tell the listeners what that is and tell us how it went this year? Yeah. Okay. So let me back up. So our mother died on the date of February 23rd.

And so my sister and I and my mom, our last vacation together was like right when the world was shutting down and we went to Palm Springs. Cause we live in Canada and we are, you know, we flock to the heat. And so Alana and I decided, okay, on mom's first, you know, angelversary, the annual, you know, the day we'll be in Palm Springs. Let's be together. But then our dad, he ended up dying February 18th. And so we couldn't go for February 23rd. Like it just.

we had to push the date. And so Alana and I had a conversation and we're like, let's just always be together over these two dates, cause it's only six days apart, the 18th and 23rd, I think it's six days, bad math. And let's always be together and somewhere warm. Cause it's really, really advantageous to be warm and sad than cold and sad. Like underweather to lie by a pool and be like sad and warm than like freezing.

griefandlight (11:32.11)
And where Alana lives, it gets to minus 40 at that time of year. Wow. Celsius, yeah. So I don't know how it started, but we just started calling it Grief Week. So our first annual Grief Week, we went to Palm Springs. And we just called it Grief Week. People are like, what's Grief Week? it's like the anniversary of our parents dying. And what we decided for our first one is we went to Palm Springs. And I'd never been to Disney. And so between those anniversaries, we decided to go to Disney. It's like,

between the two saddest days on earth go to the happiest day on earth. I love it. But yeah, we rented an Airbnb and it was actually like an Airbnb nightmare and that's a whole story for another time. But after that experience, my sister and I realized we need to be somewhere where people make our beds and feed us for grief week. And so we're like, let's just, you know, cause everyone's like, what is grief week? Cause that's just what we started calling it. And we're like, it's kind of like spring break for grievers, like for sad people. And so, and like it's.

So we are always together and warm. And so for this year, our second annual grief week, we went on a cruise. We went on an Eastern Caribbean cruise. We got matching shirts made that said grief week 2024 with pictures of our parents on it. And like, you know, everyone on the, you know, the cruise, you meet people and you sit down with people and everyone's like, your sister is like, what are you, you know, what are you celebrating anything? We're like, yeah, their parents died. We're here to like be sad together. Right. And you know, we just really had really beautiful conversations and.

So the name came naturally. So for us, it's an annual thing. We're going to do it probably a cruise again for the third annual brief week. And it just depends on like when it falls in the calendar and like, you know, maybe it's not always a cruise, but if it's not a cruise, it's probably an all -inclusive because we do know that we need people to take care of us. And I'm very independent. So like for that one week, it's like, okay. No, a hundred percent. I love the idea. I love the concept. I love that you've turned it into a...

blossoming tradition. And I love that you get to spend time together. I 100 % agree that we as grievers, especially on those heavier, you know, calendar dates, deserve to be and can benefit from being taken care of. There's nothing wrong with saying that. And I think it's super beneficial, especially at a time where it's like, you know what, sometimes we need to be carried, at least for these really difficult times. Yeah. And I think like, so it's not just being on the cruise. Like, first of all, I'm sober. As soon as I learned my father was going to die, I just realized that I had to.

griefandlight (13:55.214)
cut out substance from my life because I couldn't navigate his end of life with even like a glass of wine would trigger my anxiety. And so for me, I'm now I'm like five and a half years, almost five and a half years sober. And so I'm not looking for a party. I'm not looking to escape. I'm looking to be present. And like, I am an entrepreneur and I work hard and I work a lot and I'm very reachable. And so I need something that's for me.

And I do, I really do prioritize like daily self care, I have daily rituals, things like I do for myself, but to really honor those dates, my sister and I decided we got spa rooms, like I guess every cruise ship is different, but we got access to like saunas and steam rooms and like, it's like adult only down there and there's an adult only deck, cause like we, neither of us have kids and I love kids, but like Grief Week, I don't need to be around a bunch of like partying adults and screaming kids if I don't have to be.

And so we were very like protective of what we did. I think it's beautiful. And on the sobriety front, I know that that has a very special story with how it started. So if you don't mind sharing that. Yeah, I am. you know, I should pull it up. Do you want me to read it to you? OK, please. Yeah. OK, give me a second. I'm just going to pull it up while I tell the story. So my dad, like I didn't know as a kid that he lived with addiction. Like I again, like I said earlier, I thought he stopped loving me.

And that wasn't the case. He and I got to really know each other when I forgave him. And I started to really understand what addiction was. Like I never really understood it or took the time to understand it. And I learned he loved me this entire time. And every so often, like I would be like, I gotta go to therapy. And he'd be like, why do you gotta go to therapy? I'm like, well, dad, you kind of effed me up a little. Like I think you had a bit of trauma. yeah, yeah. Sorry about that. Like.

But I never really got like a formal apology. But so I made a decision at the end of December, 2018. I was like, you know what? I'm going to cut out alcohol until my dad's end of life at least, because I can't navigate it like this. And alcohol was a bridge to bad decisions. Like Canada, our drinking age is a little younger, but I've been drinking since like junior high. You know, like by the time I became 18, which is our legal age in Manitoba, I started using my real ID and all the bouncers where I had VIP were like, your name's Blair.

griefandlight (16:16.334)
Good one. Yeah, right. So anyways, so I wasn't like this is my like, as of tomorrow, I'm done. I was like, okay, New Year's will be my last time for a while. So I, you know, was proactive. And so I had a really big night. A lot of fun. No regrets. But I woke up the next day on January 1st, 2019 to the following letter. Dear Blair,

I want to take a moment to start this year of 2019 to write a brief letter of apology to you. In the mid 1980s, I became a drug addict and as a result became an awful dad. I apologize for all of those times that I failed to arrive to pick you up for family time. Your mom dressed you up and you waited patiently at the door for me to arrive, but I never did. I repeated this awful traumatic event over and over, not realizing you were too young to understand.

I had no excuse for keeping you waiting and wondering why your dad never showed up. You were the most important person in my life and those moments tore me apart emotionally and I continued to numb myself with drugs to ease that pain. I humbly and with guilt and remorse asked for your forgiveness for the wrongs and bad choices that I made in your formative years. Love, dad." So it wasn't really, in that moment I was like, I probably can never touch anything ever again, but.

And I didn't, I haven't. It wasn't like, okay, now it's forever. But as I got through the first year and relearned who I was and started to feel my pain, to heal my pain, it just got easier to not drink. And, you know, there's only a couple of times where I almost broke it. Like when Shane was in the hospital, I went to pick up food at a restaurant and I was standing at the bar and like people were doing tequila shots and I'm like,

I mean, it does feel good for us. Yeah, it's a good thing. Yeah, and I didn't do it. And then after my mom died, I was with some friends and I was just like begging them to share with me. And they're like, you work so hard at your sobriety, we're not letting you. I'm like, okay, fine. Thank God. Good on you. I mean, first of all, what a special gift to receive. That's so powerful. I was like tearing up and feeling chills as you were reading because what a powerful, powerful healing letter.

griefandlight (18:38.158)
to receive and I could totally see how that was marking the new beginning with your journey. A lot of people, myself included, turn to alcohol, especially when those, you know, that early grief hits and it does absolutely no good. Like, it's emotion, grief, alcohol is just not a really great combination. So, yeah, good on you to, you know, to forge that path forward and to stick to it. And in a way, I'm guessing it's also a way to honor him and his memory and his legacy and just...

saying, look, this doesn't define you. Like, yes, it was something obviously that he struggled with, but it doesn't define his love as a father. And we're flawed human beings. We're perfect in our imperfection. We're here to learn. So I think that's so special. Thank you for sharing that beautiful, beautiful act of love. Thank you. Yes. Growing up, even to this day, I get a lot of, you're so much like your dad, and the good stuff and the bad. And he, I like to call it wasted potential. And.

you know, he was a diamond dealer in the eighties. He brought a computer software program to the industry and no one else was doing that and doing appraisals of jewelry and selling diamonds for Stanley cup rings. Like he was very, very smart. And I mean, I didn't go down the diamond path, although sometimes I think I maybe should, or I should start a cat cafe. But anyways, I, you know, but I have like, I have his entrepreneurial spirit and his drive. So.

It's like, how do I nurture the good and manage the bad? Absolutely. And I want to touch on your entrepreneurial spirit in a little bit. Before that, you're of Jewish background and faith, and that's played a really big role in your belief system and how you dealt with the loss. And I remember hearing on your podcast, actually, this beautiful story about how the community rallied for you and your sister. I believe it was after your mom's passing. I don't quite remember what. Or what?

the date was, but there was some beautiful traditions that helped you through that very difficult time. So if you don't mind sharing a little bit about what that was like. Yeah, I think you're referring to Shiva. I believe so. Yeah, with all the food. The food and the traditions and the... So, I mean, Jewish death is beautiful. And I know that's very oxymoronic, but, you know, when someone dies in Judaism, they get buried, okay?

griefandlight (20:59.47)
What you need to know is that both my parents died in February in Winnipeg. Remember when I said it was minus 40? He goes, my mom and dad both died and with the windshield, it was minus 50. Like my dad, and you have to bury the body right away. So usually within 24 to 48 hours, our dad's was 48 hours because the ground was too frozen. And because it was COVID for our mom's funeral, we had to have only, we only had 10 people. We were allowed 10 pallbearers and 10 people.

and the pulperas had to stand at the car and like watch it live streamed. And it was just, we found a lot of humor and beauty in the pain. My sister and I are very good at that. And we actually, as we were walking up to our mom's graveside funeral, we noticed that the person who was live streaming it was actually her bar mitzvah DJ. And so we thought that was really funny. I'm like, what? Talk about a pandemic pivot. Those are the type of things that my mom would find hilarious. Right.

is where you sit around with your family after, and sometimes it's supposed to be seven days, sometimes it's one, family decides, and you sit around and usually there's an open house and people come twice a day to say some prayers and like share memories, positive memories of the loved one and eat, lots of eating. And so because it was like the height of COVID before the vaccines and like the rules in Canada were very extreme.

And at this time we had bubbles. So like me and Alana were now in the bubble and my aunt and uncle invited us into their bubble. So it was me, my aunt, my uncle, and my cousins. And people couldn't stop by. We did Zoom Shiva. We like got together on Zoom with our family and we did like, we did what we would do in person, which was really beautiful because we have family all over the world. Not the same, not the same. But people were sending us food. And normally like the people would sit like, be like, okay, we're going to send lunch this day and dinner this day and like,

you know, for about a week. People are sending like two weeks worth of food, but they're sending food for 50 people, not six. My aunt still has some food frozen in her freezer. my gosh. You know, so, but it's, it was really beautiful to like do that. And you know, it's really cool because my mom was a dental hygienist and she was about to hit 30 years at the clinic she was at. She had her space that she would,

griefandlight (23:15.598)
be her dental hygienist self in and it was her room and her work honored her in such a beautiful way. They put up a plaque of her right outside the room she's in, you know, with her face. Actually, they all take turns like on her birthday or her, the anniversary of her death or whenever they think of her, her workmates, they'll stop by her spot in the cemetery and they leave rocks and go visit her. That's priceless. Those are the acts of love and remembrance that we...

receive so fully and they stay with every little bit counts. Every time the community rallies around you, every little bit counts and it's so special. So I'm glad that you had that. And I know that you have defined, you have a definition about what resilience is. And I would like for you to share it with the, with our audience. Yeah, this is not the definition. You can define it however you want. And I used to define resilience as bouncing back from a challenging experience.

And I was actually doing, I've tried a lot of different healing modalities, some alternative, and I was doing some medicine work with some guides, and I was talking with them about what is resilience? Like, what is resilience? And I came to the conclusion that you're never the same when you go through something. And so resilience is actually when you bounce forward from a challenging experience. It's the act of bouncing forward.

I love that. And I'll be honest, I had an issue with the world. Yeah, with the world. I have an issue with the world. I have an issue with the world. With the word resilience, especially in early grief, specifically because a lot of people were like, you have to be resilient, you have to be strong, you have to be... And I felt like it was something that it was being placed on me externally.

And it did not acknowledge the severity of the pain that we were feeling and of the reality of the loss and the magnitude of the grief. So I became very resentful when people use the word resilience. And for the longest time, I couldn't pinpoint why. And I finally did some inner work and I realized that it's when resilience comes from within and it's something that's born within us, it does what it needs to do. And it's so powerful and it's transformative. I feel this is personal take, this is not law.

griefandlight (25:33.582)
But when somebody imposes it on somebody else, it could potentially lead to bypassing of their actual lived experience. So I love, love, love the definition of bouncing forward because you, yes, do you like life made you fall on your butt and then you get to figure, you get to define how you move forward. And I love that definition. And you've created the navigating grief framework. It's a very powerful tool. I'll let you do it all the justice and go through each of the five.

Yeah, and I just want to say something about the resilience before I go into the framework. So we all have a resilience muscle, and I don't know if I made this up or not, like maybe if someone else talks about it, but like in my head I made it up. But I'm not making full credit just in case someone actually made it up. But we all have a resilience muscle and, you know, it runs through every fiber of our being. You can't see it. But in times where we are navigating something like a loss, it's an instinct.

Like we are instinctually resilient. And resilience might look like getting out of bed and moving to the couch and putting one foot in front of the other. People think it's like a compliment, like, my God, you're so strong, you're so resilient, but we are in survival. And everyone is resilient. And some of us have had to go through more stuff than others. So some of our resilience muscles are stronger than others. And there are things you can do to strengthen them and we can talk about that later. But I just want to say that if you're listening to this or watching this, like,

You are resilient and you have a resilience muscle. And if life throws you challenges, I promise you, you will bounce forward. You will bounce forward. Just wanna put that out there. And I was healing out loud and I still do. Like if you connect with me on social, you'll see I'm very honest about my life and the good, the bad and everything in between. While I was going through all the things, I started getting messages. Blair, like, I just lost my friend. I don't know what to do. Or my mom was just diagnosed with terminal brain cancer and I'm gonna lose her. I'm gonna need your support.

And so what I started doing was putting together what I wish I had. Because when I learned I was pregnant and it was still early, but I was so excited, I told a couple of friends and like the reaction was, you might miscarry. So like I wasn't even prepared to miscarry until people were like, you're gonna be, you might miscarry. I'm like, what can't we just celebrate? And then like Dave dying, that was out of nowhere and that was profound, that loss. And then my mom's loss again, lertia cancer died three weeks later. She was told she'd be fine. Brish went into the hospital.

griefandlight (27:59.278)
Yeah, she went into the hospital and they're like, you have two weeks left to live and she died three days later. So I run a business. Like I can't just not do my work. Like I need, I didn't, I wasn't prepared. I felt my mom was going to live for 30 more years. So I decided to make a list of like what was helpful for me and become the expert that I wish I had because high performers like you and I,

when we're hit with something so like tragic, it's good to have a bit of a roadmap. Yes. Because I was just throwing, you know, I don't know if I can swear. I was just throwing, maybe with the wall, hoping it would stick. I'm like, I don't know. I was like, I just couldn't, I didn't want to be in this pain anymore. And I had to run my business. I'm like, what do I do? And it's like, nothing was working and things started to. So the framework, we can serve as a structured path to healing while acknowledging the unique pressures that we face as greeners.

And you can follow this process on your own or you can work with, you know, your team. This is, this process is available for free or I can help you navigate it, but grief isn't linear and neither is your healing. So the framework you can follow in whatever order, but I laid it out to spell the word grief. So there's five different elements. There's grounding in the present and I'll go through these in a bit more detail, but there's grounding in the present. Very powerful. Yeah. Yeah.

There's resilience, muscle rituals and routines. There's introspection for understanding. There's engagement with a support system and forward movement. This is not linear. These are just like the followments that I think are very important in bouncing forward from this. Grounding in the present, that's, you know, mindfulness. Figure out...

ways that you can add this into your life and that might just be going for a walk outside without your phone or maybe you start meditating or it's journaling, but practicing mindfulness and grounding is really important. Creating a routine. So having a routine allows you some structure. Grief often feels so out of our hands. It's not in our control. So when you have a routine, it allows you to put some sense of normalcy into your life amongst the chaos.

griefandlight (30:19.246)
So maybe your routine is you wake up, you have a candlelit bath. This is mine. I wake up, I have a candlelit bath, I meditate, I journal. Like that's my morning routine. Maybe yours is before bed, you have a ritual where you get into bed, you brush your teeth, you get into bed, you read. Whatever it might be, find a little routine and stick to it. And I believe in a daily gratitude practice. There's a bunch of science behind that about it rewiring your brain to see the world in a more positive way.

So resilience, muscle, rituals, and routines. So I think what's really important is to acknowledge your feelings. Like don't pretend you're okay when you're not. So when you recognize and accept the emotions that come with grief, anticipatory grief, adjacent grief, compound grief, all the grief, understanding that this is a natural and necessary part of the healing process, and it's okay to not be okay.

And it's okay to be sad, it's okay to cry, it's okay that you're human. And then expressing emotions, like finding those healthy outlets for emotional expression, like maybe it's journaling or art or talking with an expert or a trusted friend or family member, someone who maybe knows what you're going through. But expressing your emotions and getting them out of you is a really important part of the process. And then there's introspection for understanding.

This is when you reflect on the loss. This is maybe a bit further along in your healing journey, but it's when you allocate time to reflect on the loss and how it impacted your life and acknowledging the pain and the cherished memories of that person, of what your life was like, what your life will be like, and then your personal values, like reconnecting with your personal values and beliefs that may provide a sense of comfort and purpose. And I think what's really important about this is like,

Some of us don't have defined values and that's okay. This might be a really great time to think about what are your values? And I've gone through so much loss, like even before this series of events, like I lost my aunt when I was in my early twenties to ovarian cancer and that was very tragic for me. I was very close with her. And what I really realized during that process of Shiva was how important family, my friends are my chosen family, really valuing that time and making sure I prioritize my friends and my family in my life.

griefandlight (32:43.182)
So that was a value that came out of understanding, you know, the loss and that when my mom and my dad and Dave and the baby died, really learning that you're never going to have more time. So if you have an opportunity someday, yeah, right. Re -evaluating your personal values and coming back to them because it'll help you move forward and like this, the things you say yes to and the things you say no to. And then this one's really important, the engagement with a support system. You don't have to go through it alone.

You don't, and you're not alone. You feel alone. Grief is very isolating and very lonely. Find community. You know, there are support networks, family, professional counselors or therapists, podcasts like this, communities like the Global Resilience Project. You get to choose your comfort level. A friend of ours, his brother just died and I just sent them an audio book because it helped me, right? And that is, that's a step.

And then also helping others. Helping others has been such a key part to my healing. Like sending a book to someone who's going through such deep pain. And I understand that pain at a level and I wanna help. The Global Resilience Project is like my give back, my philanthropic work. It helps me heal to know I'm helping others heal. Considering a way to help others which can create feelings of purpose and connection and can be really therapeutic in managing your grief.

And then forward movement. Let's set some goals. Establish small, manageable goals to foster a sense of progress and accomplishment. I didn't leave the house for like two years. It was really challenging. So I set goals to like make sure instead of ordering groceries to go to the grocery store whenever I needed groceries, just to like get me out of the house when I felt ready, you know, stuff like that. And then adaption. Recognize and adapt to the new normal and understanding moving forward doesn't mean forgetting your loved ones. That's a big one. Yeah. Yeah.

but finding a new way to carry their memories of lost ones into the future. My sister and I both got our mother's signature tattooed on our arm. I don't know if you can see this. Yeah, beautiful. Yeah. But yeah, and we have our grief week. We have our own things and there's certain times where I feel my mom's energy. And you know, I think when you go through something so traumatic like that, the adaption to your new reality does take time, but you'll get there.

griefandlight (35:06.318)
and then finding a new meaning. So maybe explore new activities, hobbies, causes that can bring a new sense of meaning and joy into your life. You know, this is a big part of the healing process and everyone's loss is different, but you know, I was somewhat of a caregiver to my mom and my dad. My mom was like in a different way. I wasn't really a caregiver. It's very end couple days caregiver, but you know, I was a person and her oldest daughter and my dad, I was a caregiver. Like my dad needed a lot of support.

And so I got to reclaim my independence from that. And it was really interesting because I didn't expect this, but when my mom died, a part of my, like I live with anxiety, part of my anxiety died. And then when my dad died, another big chunk of my anxiety died. And it was, there was a part of me that was not, I don't want to say at peace, but there was a part of me that felt more peaceful.

in the sense of knowing that I don't have to, I'm not waiting for that call that my dad is dead. I'm not waiting for that call that my dad's evicted or that my, you know, he has no groceries, you know, and I don't know where my mom's came from. And I think it was just, I think it was just like very stressful end of her life, but yeah. Thank you for sharing the framework and for sharing so honestly, because.

It's something that's not often talked about, but there is a level of relief within, especially certain types of losses, ones that involve caregiving or some type of undercurrent of worry related to that person. When they pass away, there is 100 % a sense of relief for that aspect of the loss. And that's okay. And I want to normalize that so very much because same, certain things within my situation that was very similar to that. And...

Would I want the person back 100 %? Would I want the underlying current of worry and stress that came with that person? Absolutely not. You know, they come together. So at the end of the day, who knows what, you know, that's not an option for us. I was just going to say, like, I was talking to someone the other day and I was like, you know, I'm glad I never have to deal with my parents dying again. Good point. I never want to go through that again. Seriously. And I don't have to. Seriously.

griefandlight (37:29.614)
And I want to touch on the framework again, because I love what you did there. There's that acute early stages of grief that quote unquote surviving it, not quote unquote surviving it, is actually very tiny step. It's a lot smaller than people think. And resilience, like you said, could be this big act, but it could also be this, hey, put one foot in front of the other this morning. You got out of bed, you brushed your teeth. Good job. You're resilient. Like it is a muscle.

It looks different for everybody and it looks different in different states. Your framework touches on the needs of, in a way, each different stage because midway through your description, you were saying, hey, this is something for, like the introspection part might be something for later on. It might not necessarily be for like the very beginning when you're like, what day is it today? Did I shower? Did I brush my teeth? Right. And then the, you know, the one that the finding meaning aspect of it is huge because we get to define how we.

make meaning of our lives afterwards. And there is pun intended. It can be a sobering effect related to loss that I say it burns everything to the ground, everything we thought we knew, it burns it to the ground. And then you just say, okay, what I thought I knew doesn't hold water anymore. So what now? Right. And that could be extremely disconcerting, but at the same time, the other side of the coin, because it's two things at once, the other side of the coin is you get to redefine.

and readjust how you want. And that looks different for everybody. Knowing your values, that's very important because that's going to define what the next chapter of your life looks like. So thank you for this brain work. Where could people find it if they wanted to dig into that a little bit deeper? Well, that's a great question. They can go to theglobalresilienceproject .com. And they can get the book, which you just launched earlier.

I think it was last month. Look at it! Resilient 8. Also, my graphic designer is so good. Shout out to Ruth. But I actually put it in the back of our book. perfect. So the framework is actually included in the book. And this is the second one, I believe. Yes. So the first book is called TheGlobalResilienceProject .com. I mean, not dot com. I mean, that's the website. I mean, you know what I mean. But this is the first book.

griefandlight (39:48.75)
Yeah, this is the first book. And then the second one is Resilient AF, Stories of Resilience. And we're currently accepting submissions for our third book. Awesome, awesome. And it's like you say, each story lights the way for somebody else. We are the sum of our stories. We are meant to share our stories. I believe that we're here to witness each other's lives and grief. And this is how we navigate through. So your platform is very powerful for that. Thank you for creating it.

I know there's also some merch tied to that. So if you have some really cool sweaters, I'd say resilience AF and I've seen those so people can get those as well. Yeah, I'm getting on the website. my gosh. So sidebar. So yeah, I love the shirts. I wore them. I wore my sweater while I was on it. I was away for a month. I wore it every single day. It got really gross, but people would stop me in airports, hotels. I love your shirt.

Where did you get it? I love it. I'm like, great. And I actually met these two sisters who had just lost their sister right before we went on our Grief Week cruise and standing in the lobby, they both bought the shirt standing there and their sister would always say, resilient AF and they want to get a tattoo. So they bought those shirts and you know, it's, it's, that just kind of shows me that like the world just needs more cheerleaders. Like 100%. 100%.

I would say humble in the way that you approach all of the things that you do, because this is just one side of the work that you do and big picture work that you do. You also have your other business, which is in public relations. If you see her social media posts, you'll see she's been in billboards, she's been a fantastic speaker. You travel all over the world. I know you've traveled, I believe, to South Africa. So after everyone died, I had a midlife crisis.

and I helped open a children's center for at -risk youth in Ghana, Africa. Ghana, Ghana. Yeah, and then I went and tracked gorillas in the jungle in Uganda. No big deal. This is what I'm talking. We're barely touching the tip of the iceberg here. I highly encourage you to follow Blair's.

griefandlight (41:49.198)
account and work. This is how we get to move forward. This is how we get to love our people. This is how we get to process our grief and this is how we get to help others along the way. So I think it's beautiful work. I'm curious how you have seen resilience play out, like say on your trip to Ghana, right? Those are realities and adversities people are facing. What is the common thread that you've noticed in your personal experience and your work and, you know, your travels even? Well, resilience is definitely a spectrum.

And something that really, after the trip, it was an extensive trip. I was gone for five weeks, because I also went to Croatia. I came back in a severe depression. I felt like the things I saw in some of the places I was just made me question the way I show up in the world. OK. And...

learning that like my friend in Ghana needs $200 a month to pay bills and eat, where I have the same sweater and three colors that are $200 and like my consumption and like I was numbing my sadness with shopping, for example, and spending money where I could be saving lives. And so one of the things that really stood out for me was the level of happiness of the kids at the Children's Center. So we were in the Volta region just outside the town of Hohoi in a village called Wegbe.

They call it America town. And anyways, and these kids, they would go into the forest, chop down bamboo. Like these are 11 and 12 year olds, build fences, per glass, happiest kids playing, you know, not sucked into hours and hours of TV and whatnot. And the center has computers and has a TV, but like they're not at that level of addiction that we are in North America. And just seeing how happy people are there in a much more simple way of life.

also a lot more poverty and it just, I think resilience for them, it's like they're just naturally more resilient, but they're also not sucked into the Western culture of spending money and shopping and buying and buy more, add to cart, click, you need Aida beans, buy this, spend $300 on that. It really changed the way how I wanna show up in the world and the amount of work and impact I can do and have.

griefandlight (44:05.294)
really starts with changing my habits. There's a lot of people who need a lot of help and like, yeah, it's money or things, but you know, some of these people don't even know what they don't have. They're happier than people that have everything. Just the fact that we're connected through technology, but that also means that everybody has some form of access to our time can be very disruptive. What I'm hearing, right, I'm not speaking for them and I'm not saying this is how it sounds like just even being in nature, even being a little bit more disconnected.

allows you for more connection with community. And that is a lesson in and of it. We can learn to be a little bit more quiet and a little bit more in tune with ourselves and the outdoors. It's a big healer. And I believe in that so fully. Nature helps us co -regulate and get into the right kind of energy to move forward. I think that's very powerful too, the outdoors. And science tells you that. Like science tells you being outside regulates your nervous system, it strengthens your immune system.

reduces stress and anxiety. I mean, go hug a tree. Literally, yeah. Seriously. I'm like plant lady over here in my house. No, and it really does make a big difference. You know, we get to see how change and growth and it's just like some constant reminder that this is just the nature of life. As painful as it gets sometimes. And I'm curious with the different losses, right? Would you say that one loss on earth,

things you didn't know about your first loss or was each one kind of siloed individually? How was that for you? It was just so messy. Like, I don't even know if I can answer that. I can tell you that I don't ever want to go through such extreme losses ever again, but I will. It's natural. Like, we're going to go through, like, I won't lose my parents, but I, you know, I still have grandparents. I have aunts and uncles. I have friends. Like, you know, I have an in -law. But the one thing was that because it happened so close together, I almost wonder if it

better that it happened that way than me doing this healing, like healing and then down. And I don't know if there's an answer to that. Like I was just starting to feel okay when my dad died. Like I was starting to like leave the house and like wanna like go on dates with my husband. But the most interesting thing that happened was, cause all I ever wanted was to be a mom. And I never thought I would be a 38 year old sober, childless, parentless bird watcher, but this is my life.

griefandlight (46:28.11)
And yeah, and all I ever wanted was to have two kids. They were trying and trying and fertility challenges and then the miscarriage happened and I was like, okay, but now I know I can get pregnant. And then Dave died and my husband was like, I don't know if we should have a kid. Like my dad just died. Like, no, we got my mom. We got your mom. And then my mom died. But when I learned my mom was gonna die, the idea of being a mom died with her and never came back. And I waited a whole year to make sure like,

And Shane and I talked about it and I, yeah, like, so the most interesting that came out of all that was the thing I thought I wanted the most. I don't think I actually wanted the most. I think I wanted it to also have it as an experience with my mom. That was just the most profound thing that happened out of all those losses was, it was interesting. It is interesting. It reveals what's truly important.

quote unquote important at the time and that changes. That definitely changes, I hear you. Yeah, and it's so funny because so my mom was, so in our religion and our culture, you name your baby after deceased family members. Usually they're Hebrew names. So my mom's name is Sharon and her Hebrew name is Freida. And so she looks at me as she's like in and out of her consciousness and she's like, so are you gonna name your daughter? I'm like, Sharon? She's like, okay. But knowing, at this time knowing I'm not gonna have kids because it's like.

This is between learning she was gonna die and three days later. So I actually ended up getting a kitten and a beautiful ragdoll kitten and I named him after my mom and his name is after Freida, his name is Frey. Frey, that's awesome. my gosh, same with that. I feel like our fur babies are so healing in their own way and I just absolutely love them. I love mine as well. Yeah, the little thing. Saved me, he helped save me. Yeah.

They do. They really do. I read an article saying that the best therapist is a four -legged animal. It's kind of a four -legged one. Yeah. It's no offense to therapists because you have your absolutely important role as well. Speaking of therapists, I know that for as much work as you do and your entrepreneurial style of work, which is very demanding, I know that you also take time to take care of yourself, your mental health. You believe in therapy. And I mention that because I know a lot of people throw themselves,

griefandlight (48:55.214)
into work as a form of escape, which serves its own purpose. I'm not saying there's like right or wrong ways, but it serves its own purpose. At the same time, there is value in taking time to address your own situation, you know? So how was that experience for you? What's the value you see in that? Yeah, I mean, having a therapist of any kind or doing healing of any kind is really important. I mean, how long do you want to stay in an uncomfortable place?

Like you want your head to be a nice place to be in, right? Your heart, you want your heart to feel good. And so there are experts out there to help you. And so I'm always doing different healing modalities, trying different things from traditional, like I've done EMDR and grief therapy to, you know, this is black tourmaline that was given to me by a voodoo healer in Africa. And we did spells for two hours, like spells to protect me. You need to find what works for you.

So I do believe in traditional therapy. My sister is a therapist. Therapy has taken me to places I didn't know my brain could be. I didn't know I could actually live in a place that was happy inside my head. I just thought like I was doomed. And also I have rituals that help me manage my anxiety and my mental health. I have tools from therapists. I wake up every day like this morning before this. I've had a candle lit bath and I did some meditating and some writing.

And when I don't do those things, I know it impacts my day. And normally I work out in the morning, but I'm just healing from an injury. But I usually move my body, even if it's just for 20 minutes, I go for a walk up and down the street. Like I know what I need to do to take care of my health. So when you are ready, there are things you can do to move the needle and you don't have to go from like sitting on the couch, not doing anything to like, you know, running a marathon. But maybe you get up 10 minutes earlier and you journal or maybe you go to bed half an hour earlier and you read.

Like you do have control. And one of the biggest things that get in the way is TV and your smart phone. So, you know, putting your phone in if a room when you go into bed will stop you from scrolling for an hour. Yes, those practices anchor us and they're basically our saving grace when things start to spin out of control and those moments where things feel a little bit overwhelming. I also know that you set an alarm sometimes.

griefandlight (51:15.534)
to do a gratitude practice, I found that very curious because you not only anchor it for yourself daily, but over time, it just becomes habitual. Yeah, so it goes off every day at nine o 'clock and we list three things we're grateful for, so me and my husband or whoever I'm with from the past 24 hours. So, you know, to be like, I am grateful for my podcast interview with Nina, I'm grateful, or Advil, because I'm healing from my injury, right? Grateful for lunch with my friend.

whatever it might be, it's intentional. I do it at 9 p my alarm goes off, and there's signs saying that if you do that, you list three things you're grateful for at the exact same time every day for at least 21 days. The neural pathways in your brain get rewired to see the world in a more positive, beautiful way. And I've been doing this since 2016. And it's funny, because sometimes I get, like, if I'm really tired, I'll get into bed before nine. And so I'll make sure I do gratitude with my husband before nine, before I get into bed, but.

Nine o 'clock at the time for me. So that's one tangible takeaway of many here, but one of the tangible takeaways that you could implement right away and just anchor yourself to that moment of gratitude. I want to thank you, Blair, for your time. Tell people how they can get a hold of you and say whatever's in your heart. Yeah, I just want you to know that it's okay to not be okay and that you are resilient. And if you're going through a challenging time, you will get through it. Just keep putting one foot in front of the other because you are resilient.

And if you want to connect with me, my website is theblablaresilienceproject .com. You can find me there. And then on social media, my personal, you can find me on Instagram, Blair from Blair land or connect with me on Blay Den, Blair Kaplan Venomals. Perfect. So obviously I'll link those in the show notes. And as a final question before we close out. So for a second, closing my eyes, imagining you've reached your 88 million people at least.

you're there, you've reached your milestone, you're taking it all in, and you have a quiet moment to talk to your parents in spirit, what would you say to them? Now what do I do? I love it. I love it. What are you gonna do after you achieve that goal? Like, I don't know. I don't know. We'll get there when we get there. Thank you so much, Blair. It has been an honor, and I thank you for all the beautiful work that you're doing.

griefandlight (53:37.038)
for your resilience, for your strength, and for sharing your story and many others with the world. Thank you so much for having me. That's it for today's episode. Be sure to subscribe to the Grief and Light podcast. I'd also love to connect with you and hear your thoughts and your stories. Feel free to share them with me via my Instagram page at griefandlight, or you can also visit griefandlight .com for more information and updates. Thank you so much for being here.

for being you and always remember you are not alone.

Introduction: Exploring Resilience in Grief
Blair's Journey of Loss
Creating a Global Movement of Resilience
Grief Week: Honoring Loved Ones and Finding Support
The Need for a Framework for Healing
The Grief Framework: Grounding, Resilience, Rituals, Introspection, Support, and Forward Movement
Acknowledging and Expressing Emotions
Building a Support System
Moving Forward and Adapting to a New Normal
Finding New Meaning and Joy
The Role of Therapy and Self-Care
Gaining a Global Perspective
The nuance of each loss
Finding the Healing that Works for You
Gratitude Practice
Closing Thoughts