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Straight Talk Recovery – Episode 8: Grief


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Transcription of Episode 8: Grief

Adam Kostiw: Hi, and welcome back to another episode of Straight Talk Recovery. Today’s episode number eight is going to be on the topic of grief. So welcome again to Straight Talk Recovery with Adam Kostiw and Raymond Moore.

Raymond Moore: Hi, everybody. So it’s nice to be back. We haven’t done one in a little bit to that time of year vacations and all of that good stuff. So I’m happy to come back and dive right back into this and talk about a challenging one to talk about – grief. I was thinking throughout this particular episode, we not only touched grief but look at bereavement and grief and the differences between them and the similarities between them and so on.

So I think really and we spoke prior to the podcast about it, one of the things we really kind of connected with is the use of the Kubler Ross model. For those of you that are not very familiar, what that is, is basically it breaks down grief into steps or five particular common things that people tend to go through during the process of grief and bereavement.

So, yeah, I think I’ll just lay them out really quickly. Denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. And typically, it’s believed that many of these are experienced during the loss of something in your life. So I think before we really dive into the meat of everything we should really look at what grief actually means.

Adam Kostiw: And so if we’re going to be honest to ourselves and to the listeners here, I think, you know that on occasion we open up a little bit about our personal lives here. And so as we pick this topic, we discuss this topic. We ourselves struggled with the idea of, is this a topic we wanted to talk about today? Because of the personal connection to it in our own lives.

As you know, we spoke about earlier, again, Ray, I hope you don’t mind.

Raymond Moore: Not at all.

Adam Kostiw: Me and Ray actually experienced similar losses this year. We both lost our mothers this year. And so that is something that we ourselves have been working through. So this topic is hitting home for us in more ways than one.

Raymond Moore: Most definitely, and, I think we’ve kind of been a little bit open with the listeners and sharing a little bit about ourselves, again, all in an attempt to have people understand that it’s normal, what they’re going through. I mean, we sit as clinicians and, you know, we teach this stuff. We teach how to get through various things in our lives.

But we are human at the end of the day, and we experience all of these things. And I thinkit’s always helpful to hear other people’s experiences. That was pretty devastating, at least I remember for the both of us working so close to each other. And I think was it a week and a half or something?

Adam Kostiw: Yeah, it was only like two weeks apart.

Raymond Moore: In the span of time that we both lost our mothers. So for me, at least with the grief and I look at the Kubler Ross model here and I’m just like bang on just absolutely bang on to where it is. Four years ago, too. I also mentioned this. Been sharing this with Adam as well, is I experienced the loss of my father four years ago, which is fairly interesting because it wasn’t up until actually this year, the anniversary of his passing, that I hit the acceptance stage.

It took about four years for me to really kind of accept that the end result of everything and be able to process through the feelings and be able to remember him more fondly, despite the fact I don’t have all the best memories that something within me and something inside of me has has has healed. Right.

And much of that is the grieving of him. I know a lot of times for me, it was about denial. Definitely, for me, I really stuck in the anger stage, I think, for a very long time. A lot of past resentments, a lot of this, but eventually processed and got through a lot of them and ended up at the acceptance stage. And it’s not easy. And one of the things you’re going to hear about grief is that there’s no proper way of grieving. There is no follow these steps to whatever. It’s just a process that has to happen. And I think we’ll get into that a little more.

Adam Kostiw: Yeah and I think it’s important to add here is, we hear it in social media, we hear it in popular media, all different forms. As you know, there are five, seven, all these different steps. What’s got to be clear is not everyone hits every step. Not everyone does the steps in a specific order.

For myself, I know that when I look back and I have a clear mind on it now, is not denial. I thought to myself I never had denial after my mom passed away. But I actually realize right now is my denial happened before she passed away. My denial was in the last 24 hours before she was going to pass away. And one moment I actually knew that it was coming, but, yeah, that’s the part where my denial came in is. The head says one thing, the heart says something else at that moment in time and trying to reconcile that.

So, again, the steps in which way they happen, that’s not important. Right? It’s the process that you’re going through. Ray mentioned earlier the difference between, we hear these words, we hear grief, we hear bereavement. We got you know, just to be clarifying to everyone grief is the thoughts, feelings, behaviors that are connected with that loss, where bereavement is the period of mourning and bereavement is different for everyone. Right.

So for some, the bereavement process is shorter. For some, it goes on for a much longer period of time. Right, so we know that I myself earlier in my life, I lost my first wife who passed away, and the grieving process there and the bereavement process there was different than, say, my own, If I’m going to relate to my own family is my mother, who lost a husband of 40 some odd years where I lost a wife of 18 months. Right. The bereavement process, yes. The grief was there and heavy, the bereavement length? What was different? It’s different for everybody.

Raymond Moore: Definitely. I want to go back to denial and thank you for sharing that. I mean to put that out there it takes a lot. With denial I know I’m still kind of in the healing process of the loss of my mom. It’s quite timely and perhaps maybe even the healing process of my mom has allowed me to kind of close that book and move on with my father. So I know with my mom, I’m still kind of in the denial phase. Right. I’m still kind of teeter-tottering in between denial and anger.

And I know with denial, for me, a lot of times, it’s just kind of going through my week and I fly through my week at a million miles an hour. And sometimes I just stop and be like, hey, I’m going to go check my mom on Friday and then be like, oh, wait. And then kind of realized what has happened, right?

Adam Kostiw: Yeah,

Raymond Moore: For me, like my dad, I kind of like you very much. I think the grieving process for me, with my father, started long before. Due to the fact I lost him to basically the effects of alcoholism, you could kind of see it coming. You kind of prepare yourself the best that you can. But with my mom, it was very sudden. I mean, you know, the circumstances with my mom, she had a very kind of unexpected stroke and just went completely downhill very, very fast.

And for me, she was invincible. I mean, as intelligent as I am, I never thought she would die. I know that sounds absolutely absurd, but that was my mom. She was my hero. Honestly, I just never thought that as being a thing. Right. But nevertheless, where I sit now. It’s kind of like anger. Now I’m looking back and I’m kind of like, well, why didn’t she take better care of herself? Why did she smoke all those years? Why didn’t she better take care of her emotional and mental health? She was always about her kids, you know, so there’s some anger still kind of happening. Like why did you spend more time focusing on other people and not yourself, because if you focus on yourself, you’d be here for us.

So I’m kind of going through all of the processing that goes along with it. And one of the things I realized, which is vastly different than my experience with my father, was the amount of compassion that I’m giving myself to get through this process, to understand who this person was to me, how much they mattered. And because they’re gone, that will never, ever change the impact that, that person had on my life. And that is never going to stop the fact that I’m forever going to be grateful that even though she’s not with me in the physical sense and I like to identify as being more of a spiritual person, that she’s always with me one way or another.

Right. I truly believe I’ll be sharing this with you, Adam. A few days ago and even today, I’m on my own little personal journey now, kind of trying to take better care of myself. And I think through the kind of suffering. And I want to come back to that a little bit later, because I think it gets looked at in a very poor way. But through the suffering of this process, it’s actually inspired me.

It’s almost like, this energy has came into me as a result of what has happened to my mom and in my heart, I like to believe that this is kind of like my mom taking over again and preventing me from making those same mistakes like she’s done her entire life. Right. So I think the denial process is absolutely the first step. It’s the shock, the disbelief, it’s the rationalization. It’s all of that. So for those of you that may have had a recent loss out there, whatever you’re going through, go through it. I mean, that’s the best advice I can give you. Allow yourself to be angry. Allow yourself to be upset. Allow yourself to go through whatever it is you’re going through. Give it time.

Adam Kostiw: Right. And that’s where I wanted to add to. When we’re talking about anger and what I recognized from clients I’ve worked with, but also personally is, that they talk about anger. We talk about that anger and some of the examples they use that, you know, angry at them. But there’s a lot of anger at ourselves. So for those people who have been dealing with, say, an elderly parent or someone who’s been on the decline for significant part-time or someone who’s taken up a lot of their resources. Right.

They have that thought while the person still alive is like, oh, it’s a pain, it’s this. And then all of a sudden, you know, something happens. That person’s no longer there. And all of a sudden there’s that guilt and they’re angry at themselves because, oh, my goodness, why wasn’t I better at that time? Oh, I was terrible. I feel guilty about this. And there’s that portion of it as well that falls under anger.

So just because there are these different categories, there are different ways those categories get felt within the person. Like we said, guilt, right. Is a big one that we struggle with, you know, should have I spent more time. Right. So there’s those oh, I didn’t pick up that phone call or I didn’t go see them as often. Or when I did call them, I made it a really short phone call because you know what? They were irked more and more during that time.

Well, yeah, that is what happened. We can’t change that past. Right. But as Ray said, it’s about being better to yourself, giving yourself a break, allowing yourself to offer forgiveness. Your own forgiveness is such a big part of this process too.

Raymond Moore: Well, most definitely, and and I think that’s kind of like the the the later stages of my process, with my father as well. Right. For me, I’ve always kind of had this because I’ve been in the field for a while now. I have that Superman complex. So I kind of figure that I could have went over it and drastically changed my mom’s life. And she becomes the spiritual giant that, you know, like I kind of had.

And then even my father, who died of alcoholism, I mean, my kind of my forte is working with people with substance use disorders. Right. So like why couldn’t I get to the Kingfish himself, fix his depression and he can move on with his life and be hunky dory like me? Right.

So I think the biggest is when I stopped and actually looked at myself and said, you know what, you’re human. Allow yourself to experience what it is that’s happening and then move forward. So one of the other things I want to kind of get off on to another area of grief as well, is the that grief can happen in many different situations.

It’s not particular to people. You can also be grieving a loss in your life, because the most easy way to understand grief is essentially loss, that you’re losing something significant for you. So one of the biggest issues I find with grief is that word becomes very challenging, is that it’s one of those things in your life that you really can’t think your way out of. Right.

The loss of something may feel like you’ve lost control. You may feel like there is absolutely no way of action of fixing something. Grief is, it what it is. I mean, we have the term in the psychotherapy world, radical acceptance. And when things happen, they happen. A lot of times we can think our way out of situations. A lot of times we can justify, rationalize all those beautiful words that we use to get out of a situation. But grief is one of those things where you just can’t you got to radically accept the situation for what it is. Yes. Build from it. Yes, learn from it. But ultimately, it will not change the source of what that loss is. If that makes sense.

Adam Kostiw: Right. Absolutely. And like you said, loss comes in so many different aspects. And from the mental health field is we see things such as loss of identity, where all of a sudden we see a person lose their job or a person no longer can do something. And they’ve held that as part of who they are.

Well, they grieve that as well. Right. So there is the loss in our own selves that we have to deal with. So we see that. People getting depressed because, they’ve lost their job and they were, say a first responder for all their lives. And now they’re not that person and they’re now searching for that new identity. Well, they’re grieving the loss of the old. But the radical acceptance is now about who they’re going to be, who they want to be and how to get there. Right.

And that’s where a lot of help comes in, is asking for help. Grieving doesn’t have to be a solitary process. And too many of us spend so much time alone in the process, holding down the feelings, holding down what’s going on with them and not sharing with the people closest to them.

Right, and so all too often we hear, you know, say in a couple’s relationship. Well, I’m trying to be strong for this other person. Well, you’re grieving as well. Right. And grieving actually does work better together. We talk about whether it’s addiction or whatever, it’s about support groups or where do you get your support? Or do you get that care that you need for yourself? Well, the people around, the people you surround yourself with, they can’t be there for you if you don’t let them know what’s going on.

Raymond Moore: Definitely. Definitely. And me, I mean, you know a little bit about my background. I think, you know, a lot at this point. But ultimately, I did not really come from an environment where you talk about your feelings and that kind of stuff and, you know, the timing of when the deaths of our mothers happened. It was interesting how we kind of found each other and we were very supportive of each other and made it very clear that you know what, these two guys that absorb a lot of stress, that deal with a lot of people’s pains, so on and so on. We’re able to stop for a second.

And honestly, I’m not going to comment for you, but I know for you like this kind of sounds terrible. But honestly, like I’m kind of glad I went through it with somebody. I saw this man I respect in front of me That was also kind of going through a similar struggle. And I think this is the power of support groups as well, is that you sit there and you know that there’s somebody right now that understands on some level what it is you’re going through, and especially if you’re one of those, like you said, those people that have that identity of being the tough guy never gets to him.

He’s just, go, go, go. That in that moment, I mean, this was my hero. I mean, for the sake of making this very clear, this was my mommy, my mommy. This was I told you this for the first time in my life, I used to hear therapists always say, find that inner child. And honestly, I was like, that’s some Oprah stuff, right? Like, I really don’t get that. And I think I shared with you when I did get the news of my mom dying, when I finally cried, I actually was crying, mommy, mommy, mommy. And not mom or whatever. Right.

So I think in that situation, the connection with you and the having that person that was essentially for me was saying, it’s OK, you’re human. Right. And I found that you soothing kind of comforting me through the process and made it a lot easier for me. Like definitely it was a lot easier this time than it was for my dad, despite the fact my mom was my hero. Right.

Adam Kostiw: And what you’re saying I relate to so much is the fact. I was going through this with you as well and for myself, and it made it easier. What has come out of the process and again, we were talking about support, and that is well.

Me and Ray have been friends for a while. And I want to speak for myself is I found myself so much closer to Ray now because of that, because of the openness, the honesty, the vulnerability that we showed to each other. Two guys, who consider themselves their macho or, you know, the the the leaders. And all of a sudden we’re talking about stuff that if I know if I’m going to be honest, if I really haven’t talked to another guy. The same way heck, to have Ray to open up about certain things that are very specific that we could talk about.

It was so helpful having another person because you know what? Different people. Different roles for you at times, too, Right. And that and that’s what I found. And so now, you know, to say that, you know, me and Ray are much closer, that’d be an understatement for sure, for me.

Raymond Moore: Yep. And this is what I think like I mean, we’re going to hear about this a lot, because I say this to basically everybody I work with. And I think it’s because it’s become like my mantra is that, you know, regardless of how powerful you are, your status, how you think of yourself, how others think of you. At the end of the day, the most powerful thing we all have in our own respective lives are our emotions.

And if you don’t deal with those emotions. And again, I’m like a broken record with this. They will beat you down. They will beat you down. So if you don’t deal with this and you don’t find other people to talk to, what you’re going to do is you’re going to find other ways of coping. That leads to the substances and other behaviors that are not healthy, that allow us to cope.

And what that does is it basically causes what’s actually happening with us and where we are in our life and not where we are on our journey or whatever you want to call it, to basically deal with a problem that you’re not dealing with. So having that support of having those people, making those connections, allowing yourself to not be tough for one second, because I think definitely being tough is being able to be like, hey, Adam, you know what? I’m hurting.

Right. And not be concerned of what anyone else is going to think. I mean, if you’re tough, you should be able to do that if you are running from your problem, I think by definition, it actually makes you weak. Right. So, again, if there’s people out there that may be struggling with something grief of any sorts, I mean, one of the things, Adam, this is kind of I’m going to go off on a bit of a tangent now, but absolutely beautiful.

I remember one time working with a client in group, and for the life of me, I could not get him to understand just the basics of addiction. Right. And he said, I don’t know what you’re saying, but all I know is I feel a great deal of grief. And I was like, OK, great. So maybe there’s some sort of trauma happening from it. Like, we’re on to something here. Right? And he goes, no, no, no, I’m grieving the loss of my drug. And I was like, you know what? I was like like, what the hell is he talking about? Right. Like, I didn’t I wasn’t thinking about it in the moment. And then he started to describe it. He’s like, my drug allowed me to feel comfortable.

My drug allowed me to feel this sense of love. My drug allowed me to get up and not be so hot. And he started to really romanticize the psychoactive nature of what the drug actually did to him. And I was thinking to myself, my God, that’s brilliant. That’s brilliant. Because now what he was left with was he wasn’t left with that drug anymore. He was now left with those uncomfortable emotions, not feeling comfortable and basically the opposite of everything he was seeking. And now he is truly legitimately grieving the loss of this one thing that was helping him.

I think once we got through everything, he realized it really wasn’t helping him. But nevertheless, he was grieving the loss of something that allowed him to cope with what was actually happening with him. Right. So. Grief can take many different heads. It can take relationships. I mean, that’s a whole podcast in itself, grieving the loss of a past mother or whatever it may be.

But it’s important to understand the grief happens, loss happens, and the healing usually starts from that. I did mention suffering earlier. That’s often a word I use or sorry that I often hear people use after some sort of loss in their life. And I think it’s important to understand that a lot of growth comes through suffering, because for me personally, the whole issue with my dad took me four years.

I can definitely say I was suffering. Right. I was definitely suffering. And through that suffering came a great deal of growth, understanding and so on, because all the years he was alive, I was still mad at him. Right. So even after he died, I was still mad at him. It wasn’t until. Kind of went through that process, that suffering that actually kind of taught me that, you know what, I do have a choice here of how I choose to remember him, how I choose to feel or experience him, and that I don’t have to sit there and be like, if only he did this, this and this.

I could basically say that, you know what, there were some things that I really remember about him and appreciate about him. And at the end of the day, he was my father. And that meant something to me. And all of this I kind of learned through that suffering stage, I don’t know if I’d call it a stage, but throughout the process that suffering. So it’s important to know if you are out there suffering, too. Learn from that process to allow yourself to heal, but don’t stay in it. Do something.

Adam Kostiw: And that’s the piece I actually I’ve been thinking about I wanted to jump in on at some point, because we start off with the bereavement and of the different length of the process and stuff like that. And what you’re talking about is when you don’t work on that suffering and actually accept it or whatever you are extending the bereavement process, you may actually be pausing it in a way that you think, oh, I’m not even thinking about it anymore. I’m not doing it. But you know what? Inside your body is actually feeling it somewhere.

You’re actually still going through that and you’re just mentally checking out on that part. And guess what? How often do we work with people who have lost someone or lost something in their lives 20 years ago, and all of a sudden now it comes to the forefront and now they’re in the grieving process. Well, that’s still part of the bereavement, because all they did was put a pause on it. Right. Putting the pause on it, not dealing with the suffering is a pause. It will not just disappear. It’s going to come back. It’s actually going to run the course at some point in time.

And you are going to have to deal with it, whether you like it or not. You can’t hide from it forever. Little pieces will flip out here and there. And for some people, you know, it’s like the balloon popping all of a sudden, one thing. So one more thing happens and the explosion comes out. Everything is released at once, which is very hard to deal with. Right. So that’s why recognizing it and understanding that you are suffering and taking the time to actually look at what the suffering is about, what’s actually happening for you and processing it, is the only way to actually get through it.

Raymond Moore: Definitely.

Adam Kostiw: Yeah, so there’s so much more we can talk about grief, this is just scratching the surface. But before we wrap up, I want to do a little educational piece here for those younger listeners, which I’m sure there’s plenty of. And that’s you know, I’ll call this section Vocabulary 101, Ray. So for those who don’t understand what hunky dory is, it means he was doing okay. I was going to let that one go, Ray.

Raymond Moore: Yeah. Do you know what word I actually used yesterday? Sorry. This is totally off. But I saw the word scram. I haven’t heard that in years. Yeah, I’m sure I’m showing my age.

Adam Kostiw: So anyways, this brings us-

Raymond Moore: Sorry. I just want to wrap up again to people out there. And I think definitely with Covid and the many other things that may be happening out there, that there are people that are going through similar things as us. And I hope I hope that with this, particularly this episode, our experience, mine and Adam’s experience with each other and connecting with each other motivates you to go out and connect with somebody too.

If you don’t have that person you were close to. I mean, Adam’s desk is literally 10 feet away from mine. At the end of the day, there are groups out there, there are support groups. There are many different places. You can call us directly here, if you like, as well. I mean, at the end of the day, reach out, don’t do this alone. You’re going to experience and feel, but at the end of the day, talk to people and, you know, support each other.

Adam Kostiw: Right. That’s a perfect way to segue into the end here and just remember, everyone, the important thing that we end up with every single time is, remember, keep talking. And so this has been another episode of Straight Talk Recovery with Adam Kostiw and Raymond Moore.

Raymond Moore: Bye, everybody.


Other Episodes

Episode 1: Introduction

Episode 2: Anger

Episode 3: Relationships

Episode 4: Co-dependency

Episode 5: Self-Compassion

Episode 6: Virtual Addiction and Mental Health Treatment

Episode 7: Mindfulness

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