Are We There Yet?
What Is Grief?
When I started to Interview Peter Rukavina for this episode, I had no idea we were going to be exploring such overarching questions about grief. The story of raising his daughter Olivia after her mother died is extraordinary because of Olivia's intersectionality. Olivia is autistic and came out as trans in the wake of her mother's death, so her experience of grief, and Peter's, were multi-layered and complicated in ways I had never considered previously. Listening to Peter talk about raising Olivia throughout the many years of his wife's illness, I was struck by his clarity and even-handed thinking around grief. He is careful not to make assumptions about Olivia's emotional life and is mindful of the opportunities as well as the challenges that loss and grief have afforded him.
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Special thanks to Josephine Wiggs for the intro and outro music, from her album "We Fall."
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28. Season Finale with Grace Muller48:54I'm so pleased that my daughter Grace Muller was able to come on the show for the last episode of the first season. Grace is an artist and a junior at Bennington College in Vermont, so we sat down to record while she was home for the holidays. It's a more casual, less edited conversation but we went deep into the ways that she understands her relationship to grief and I had no idea where the conversation would go. But it went in very interesting directions from talking about how she responded to loss as a toddler and small child to the difficulty of grieving a romantic partnership as an adult. We got very silly at the beginning and the rest of the conversation maintained that joyful spirit, which was a great way to end the season.I'm taking time off before the next season to organize my list of guests, so if you would like to be invited as a guest or have ideas for people I might invite on the show please reach out to me. I am always looking for teens and young adults, but anyone who feels they have a perspective on the topic that they would like to share.You can DM me @annbfaison on Instagram, find me on my substack, or contact me through my website.Please consider subscribing to the podcast on whatever platform you use or on my substack: I'm ListeningSpecial thanks to Josephine Wiggs for the song "Time Does Not Bring Relief" from her album "We Fall."If you would like to support the show you can become a paid subscriber on Substack. Thank you!
27. Grief Is A Learning Process39:05This week I speak with Elise Gaul, a therapist specializing in grief and loss who works in multiple modalities including EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitizing and Reprocessing) therapy. Elise explains why EMDR works well to address "covert grief," a term she coined for the parts of childhood grief that can profoundly affect a person's life, often without their awareness. Her stints as the executive director of a grief center called Peter's Place and the director of Camp Erin, a bereavement camp for children led us to talk about what parents and caregivers can do to minimize the long-term negative effects of grief on kids. I loved Elise's attitude about grief as a learning process and her curiosity and interest in working with adults to try to unlock some of the negative beliefs that childhood grief can create. To learn more about Elise and her work please visit her websiteTo read Elise's fascinating article on Covert Grief that led me to invite her on the show read this blog postTo learn more about EMDR visit APA or EMDRIAPlease take a moment to rate and review the show or leave comments on my Substack "I'm Listening."Special thanks to Josephine Wiggs for the intro and outro music from her album "We Fall."
27. Lost and Found36:44I'm thrilled to have my son Skops Faison and his friend Sean Dillon on the show to talk about the grief that results from coming out as trans or nonbinary. Skops and Sean are both seniors in high school who came out to their families as trans during the pandemic. There are many parallels in their stories and many contrasts as well. The conversation was wide-ranging in terms of the many losses and gains that come with identifying as gender nonbinary. We talked about losing family, watching parents grieve their expectations of who their kids are, and the different advantages and disadvantages of being identified by others as male versus female. I was fascinated to learn so many things I'd never considered about straddling those different social groups and identities through middle and high school. As always when talking to teenagers or young adults, I feel very optimistic after hearing how articulate and aware they are of what they are going through.I open the discussion with a reference to the book Lost & Found: A Memoir by Kathryn Schulz Please take a moment to rate and review the show or leave comments on my Substack "I'm Listening."Special thanks to Josephine Wiggs for the intro and outro music from her album "We Fall."
25. It's Worth Digging Into The Past38:44In this episode, I talk with Fran Mason who lost her mother when she was 11 years old. It's interesting how different it was for her than it was for me because she was three years younger than I was when my mom died. Hearing Fran talk about going through early adolescence without her mom highlighted the difference it made to have three more years with mine. We talked about memory and how her perspective on her loss kept shifting as she was growing into adulthood. Fran is writing a book about her experience and shares how that process has helped her understand herself better. I appreciated Fran's perspective on her childhood which she developed through her writing and from rereading the journals she kept at the time. Fran's tendency toward practicality and optimism seems to have contributed to her ability to thrive despite having little emotional support while she was growing up.You can read more about Fran and her writing on her blog and her substack.To leave comments, please rate and review on Apple podcasts or visit me on my substack: "I'm Listening."Special thanks to Josephine Wiggs for the intro and outro music from her album "We Fall."
24. Sometimes We Get Stronger36:00Vanessa Fierstadt started a counseling practice called Kintsugi Grief Center that's near me in Pasadena, CA. I wanted to find out what drew her to work with people who are grieving and our conversation was wide-ranging and fun. As Vanessa recounted her earliest losses it was clear that her curiosity about grief both helped her heal and find her calling. I loved Vanessa's take on creativity as a way to help support kids in grief, the importance of conversations about death, as well as her focus on ritual as a critical piece of healing. We talked openly about depression too, which is an important, yet often overlooked layer of grief.You can find Vanessa on Instagram , Facebook , or LinkedIn or on her website Kintsugi Grief CenterTo leave comments please rate and review on Apple podcasts or visit me on my substack: "I'm Listening."Special thanks to Josephine Wiggs for the intro and outro music, from her album "We Fall."
22. An Eighteen-Year-Old's Perspective on Losing Her Dad44:58This episode took my breath away. Maddie McFadden lost her father Brad to cancer when she was fourteen and she has been through a lot in the four and a half years since then. From dealing with anxiety and depression, being in charge of her younger sibling, rebelling and fighting with her mom, Maddie learned a ton about growing up and taking responsibility for her choices. She talks about her anger and also her compassion for the adults around her who didn't appreciate all the weight she was carrying on her young shoulders. This conversation was deeply meaningful to me, remembering the challenges of losing a parent at fourteen and appreciating the hard work of forgiving myself and those around me for not understanding what I needed. It was profoundly uplifting to talk to someone growing up through some horrible circumstances because her perspective is so clear-eyed and hopeful. You can hear her hard-won faith in herself throughout our talk.To leave comments please rate and review on Apple podcasts or visit me on my substack: "I'm Listening."Special thanks to Josephine Wiggs for the intro and outro music, from her album "We Fall."
21. Losing a Sibling at a Young Age31:00This conversation is extraordinary in many ways. Laura Aviva is the only person I've interviewed so far who has lost a sibling, and her story is not what I expected. Laura was 23 when her brother Michael was killed at age 20. They were not teenagers, and Laura articulates how she feels she was already firmly who she was by the time he died. She talks about how her brother Michael was her "sage" and what he taught her about life and death, even before he died. He was not interested in living like other people. He took risks and chased adventures. Laura's unique attitude about her brother's life and the way he chose to live it is a testament to her love for him. I could tell there was a profound and mutual respect between them and what came through in our conversation was how many possible attitudes there are to take when someone you love dies.To leave comments please rate and review on Apple podcasts or visit me on my substack: "I'm Listening."Special thanks to Josephine Wiggs for the intro and outro music, from her album "We Fall."
20. The Woman Behind Comfort Zone Camp30:40Lynne Hughes is an exceptional example of someone who has tremendous strength and fortitude despite her traumatic childhood. Lynne lost both parents by age twelve and had to move in with extended family, including an uncle who refused to acknowledge her presence, let alone her grief. For Lynne, summer camp was a place to grow and learn to create lasting bonds with friends and have fun doing it. She loved being a camp counselor and grew up wanting to create a space for grieving kids to discover tools to manage their grief, strengthen their bonds with their deceased family members, and overcome the fears and insecurities that often result from the trauma of early loss. After hearing Lynne talk about all the free programs that Comfort Zone Camp offers, I was convinced that any child who has lost a family member would benefit from them and I signed up to volunteer.To find out more, visit Comfort Zone Camp's website.To leave comments please rate and review on Apple podcasts or visit me on my substack: "I'm Listening."Special thanks to Josephine Wiggs for the intro and outro music, from her album "We Fall."