How to Breathe Through Grief | Claire Bidwell Smith

Claire Bidwell SmithHave you ever lost someone so close to you that it felt like a piece of your soul was ripped away? Like the pain would never end? Or, maybe it wasn’t a person, but rather a pet. Or a chosen-family-level friend. Or even a job or community. Grief is not just about death, it’s about loss, and we all experience it. No one gets out clean.

When we experience profound loss, it can turn our world completely upside down. Many of us would give anything to avoid living through such anguish. But my guest today, Claire Bidwell Smith argues that hidden within grief is an incredible opportunity for growth and meaning. And, she also dives into why no one in the early part of that journey can or should think that way, but over time, it can become something very different. Transformative, even.

Claire is a licensed therapist and author of the new book Conscious Grieving: A Transformative Approach to Healing from Loss. Recognized as one of today’s foremost experts on grief, she strives to provide support for all kinds of people experiencing all kinds of loss, fueled by her own experience losing both parents at a young age.

In our conversation, Claire shares how fully engaging with your grief and leaning into the pain, rather than avoiding it, can lead to deep personal transformation. She explains the 5 different types of grief we all face, which I’d never heard about before and it gave me a powerful reframe, from the expected loss of a loved one to the unexpected grief that comes from a major life change or more ambiguous or complicated losses that you feel deeply, but others can’t see. She offers insights into how to healthily process complicated grief when relationships are less than perfect. We also discuss the importance of grief rituals and finding community, as well as carrying your lost loved ones with you through embodying their legacy.

You can find Claire at: Website | Instagram

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photo credit: Karen Pride

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Episode Transcript:

Claire Bidwell Smith: [00:00:00] We’ve been very naive about how complicated grief is in general and how long grief lasts in general. So to put these stamps and labels on grief is sometimes helpful. And then sometimes it’s, you know, we’re just finally catching up in some ways to what grief really just is. What we need to do is make a little more space for different versions of grief, different time periods for grief, different formulas for grief. There really isn’t a quick fix for it or a one size fits all.

 

Jonathan Fields: [00:00:30] So have you ever lost someone so close to you that it felt like a piece of your soul was ripped away, like the pain would never end? Or maybe it wasn’t a person, but rather a pet, or a chosen family-level friend, or even a job or a community. Grief, it turns out, is not just about death. It’s about loss. And we all experience it. No one gets out without it. When we experience profound loss, it can turn our world completely upside down. Many of us would give anything to avoid living through such anguish. But my guest today, Claire Bidwell Smith, argues that hidden within grief is an incredible opportunity for growth and meaning, and she also dives into why no one in the early part of that journey can or should even be thinking that way. But over time it can become something very different, transformative, even. Claire is a licensed therapist and author of the new book Conscious Grieving A Transformative Approach to Healing from loss. Recognized as one of today’s foremost experts on grief. She strives to provide support for all kinds of people experiencing all kinds of loss. Fueled by her own experience losing both parents at a very young age. In our conversation, Claire shares how fully engaging with your grief and leaning into pain rather than avoiding it, can lead to deep personal transformation. She explains the five different types of grief that we all face, which I’d actually never heard of before, and it gave me a powerful reframe from the expected loss of a loved one to the unexpected grief that comes from a major life change, or more ambiguous or complicated losses that you feel deeply but others can’t see. She offers insights into how to healthily process complicated grief when relationships are less than perfect, and we also discuss the importance of grief, rituals and finding community, as well as carrying your lost loved ones with you through embodying their legacy. If you’ve experienced loss or are worried about how you might handle it in the future, this conversation will give you a profoundly new perspective on grief. So excited to share this conversation with you! I’m Jonathan Fields and this is Good Life Project.

 

Jonathan Fields: [00:02:41] It’s interesting. We’re living in a time where I feel like the word grief has taken on different contexts and different meanings, and I think an interesting starting point would really just be to ask the question, what are we actually talking about when we’re talking about grief?

 

Claire Bidwell Smith: [00:02:57] Hmm. That is such a good question. What we are talking about when we’re talking about grief, I really think is a series of emotions that come with change. I think we’re talking about change a lot when we’re talking about loss, and that is something we are often resistant to. And there are so many feelings that come when things change and when things fall away, and when our identities shift because of change externally and internally. And so I really think it’s the series of emotions that come up around that. Sometimes it’s fear, sometimes it’s relief, sometimes it’s exquisite anguish. Sometimes it’s just like a dull sorrow. You know, there’s so many different kinds of emotions that can come. But I really think that the entry point is change. For a long time, grief has been relegated to the loss of a person, which is what we mostly think about when we think about grief and when that happens, when we lose someone we love, someone we’re close to. It’s not wanted, it’s not something we invited or sought. And so in that way, I think that there is a huge shift that comes that’s quite painful and unexpected. Sometimes, even if the death itself was expected, what comes with it is really is really difficult. But we do grieve for all kinds of other things, even when there’s a positive change. You know, if we’re moving across the country or we take a new job and we’re leaving a beloved old job, even if we know that this is positive change, there is still some grief around letting go of things.

 

Jonathan Fields: [00:04:23] Yeah. I mean, no doubt, you know, it’s interesting, the thing that came to mind as you were just sharing that in the last year, we had a kid who graduated college who had a fantastic time in her final year especially. And it’s so exciting. You’re so proud. And it’s like opening up a chapter and there’s so much possibility ahead of you. And at the same time, it was like I had this immediate transference back to me leaving college like decades earlier and remembering the feelings of a sense of of wonder and possibility. But also, just like I may never see a lot of these people again, I may never be back in this place for years, if not ever. Yeah, and it is interesting how I feel like often we have this sense of loss that simultaneously coexists with a sense of possibility.

 

Claire Bidwell Smith: [00:05:09] Mhm. Absolutely. Yeah. I think that that’s a really great example. You know, it’s very bittersweet and a lot of ways and it’s the end of an era, you know you’re you’re excited to see your child go off but you’re also going to mourn. And that we went through that ourselves too.

 

Jonathan Fields: [00:05:24] Yeah. It occurs to me also and we’re having this conversation on, God willing, the back end of a really brutal four years in the history of the world. And while a lot of people lost individuals, there was a bigger loss that I think so many of us had, which is this sense of this is the way that the world is, and that we can kind of count on the fact that we can wake up tomorrow and it’s going to look relatively the same. And the blink of an eye that was gone. Does that in your mind? Is that a form of grief also?

 

Claire Bidwell Smith: [00:05:54] Yes, 100%. I think we’ve finally really started to recognize that kind of grief. We’ve been talking about it more and more. I think we began to talk about grief in new ways during the pandemic. But as we hit this four-year anniversary of it, I think that there’s vestiges of it that we’re not even recognizing still that remain. But what’s interesting to me is that the way you kind of phrase that about kind of life as we knew it, you know, disappeared. But that happens too when we lose someone we love. And what’s interesting to me is I see a lot of anxiety occur within within the grief process. And I’ve been writing about that for years. I was 18 when my mother died. I was just starting college, and it was a similar experience to the pandemic. Life as I knew it was suddenly gone. You know, the person who held our family together, the person who was my go-to for everything was suddenly gone. And I didn’t really know what the landscape of my life looked like anymore, with her not in it. And I think we experienced similar things in the pandemic, that feeling of just total uncertainty about the future, you know, what does it look like now and who are we now and and what is to come? And everything that you had thought was going to happen or look like is gone. And so I think that that’s a really interesting thing that I saw happen worldwide for so many people.

 

Jonathan Fields: [00:07:18] Yeah. You brought up the connection between grief and anxiety. I know your last book actually was largely dove into that. Take me into that more, because I think it’s a really interesting relationship, because I feel like even before the pandemic, the prevalence of generalized anxiety had been slowly creeping its way up and up and up and becoming much and much more pervasive. And then something like this hit. Talk to me more about the relationship between grief and anxiety.

 

Claire Bidwell Smith: [00:07:43] It’s a really interesting relationship. I think it’s really multifaceted. There’s a lot of reasons that we can develop anxiety after a big loss, or have our anxiety go up in levels after a big loss. Some of it is due to these changes that occur. Some people, when they go through a big loss, they will have to change jobs or their finances will change, or they lose child care partners or, you know, everything physically even changes, not just the emotional landscape. And that in and of itself can cause anxiety. But then there’s also the reckoning with our mortality. I mean, many of us who go through a big loss, maybe we’ve never been through one before. Maybe we thought we had acknowledged that death was down the road at some point, but we hadn’t really felt it or experienced it. And so suddenly you’re looking at at life through a new lens. Safety and certainty can go out the window a lot of times with a big loss. And that causes anxiety, some kinds of trauma that come with loss, you know, seeing someone through a traumatic death or a long illness can be really difficult and give you a really different sense of the fragility of life and of yourself and other loved ones. Um, couple that with just kind of our, our culture at the moment, all the technology, all the social media, everything else that’s causing anxiety, politics, war, the environment, there’s so much going on. And so it’s all kind of ripe for so much extra anxiety that comes on.

 

Jonathan Fields: [00:09:10] Yeah, that makes so much sense. You know, as you’re describing, that part of what’s going through my mind also is that when you use the phrase safety and security, and when that goes away or when it’s, you know, like when, when it’s seriously dented, which I think it has been for almost everybody in some way, shape or form, I feel like different people respond really differently. Some people look at that and they’re like, wow, like, life is fragile. Life is like, we’re made no promises. I need to actually be the person I want to be, do the things I want to do, like show up the way that I need to show up, that I’ve always been afraid to, and others do the exact opposite direction. In your experience, is there a more common sort of default to that, or is it really just all over the place? Depending on who you are and what your history is?

 

Claire Bidwell Smith: [00:09:53] I think it’s all over the place and I think you can inhabit both realms. You know, I think it can be incredibly liberating to go through a loss that kind of pares everything down to its essence. You know what matters to you? What do you care about? What do you want to do with your life now that you kind of have this new understanding of it, it can be terrifying and also incredibly freeing to go through. And so I really see some people inhabit both. They’ll become more anxious, yet also more liberated in terms of who they want to be. And then you’re right. And then there’s the two sides of it as well. Some people really go into some very anxious spaces, and I think for those people, there’s also a part of themselves they begin to explore. That has to do with finding a new framework for which to understand themselves. Life meaning if they’re not willing to to ask some of those really big questions, they’re going to stay in that state of anxiety.

 

Jonathan Fields: [00:10:50] The way you’re describing it, finding a new framework is interesting. Not too long ago, I had the chance to sit down with Dacher Keltner, who’s one of the leading researchers on awe. And one of the way he describes the experience of awe is like, you have a model of the world, and the experience of awe in some way shatters it, and you’re left to essentially, you know, put together the pieces to form a new model because the old one just doesn’t exist anymore. So it’s interesting that the way he’s describing awe, it sounds also really similar to the way that we’re describing elements of grief.

 

Claire Bidwell Smith: [00:11:19] Absolutely. I think it really does shatter your understanding of the world, and it changes your belief system whether you want it to or not, and whether you resist it or not. It really begins to. I have seen people lose someone really close to them, and it seems almost impossible for them at some point not to wonder where are they? Can they see me? What happens when we die? These really big existential philosophical questions that they may have never asked themselves before. And I think that that is a part of the grief process as well. It’s a really interesting part, but I think it’s difficult for so many people who don’t have any kind of pre-existing framework or have stepped away from a framework that maybe they had growing up.

 

Jonathan Fields: [00:12:00] Which is interesting too, because for a lot of folks, the framework that they had growing up was in some way, shape or form, spirituality or religion, faith. And that kind of said, this is the way that the world is. Here are the rules by which we live. And at the same time, when someone passes on, here are the ways. Here are the steps for grief. Like, you know, like if you’re Jewish, you sit shiva. It’s like there’s a process that tends to accompany those. And as more and more people leave organized religion and faith, I wonder if you’re seeing that have any impact on people’s ability to access some sort of, you know, like. Context for how do I do this thing?

 

Claire Bidwell Smith: [00:12:42] No, I really am seeing that a lot. I think that people are lacking ritual. They’re lacking community within their grief. They’re lacking kind of role models and historical evidence that they would have otherwise been able to kind of lean into. And I think we’re seeing it so much more in our younger generations, which might explain some of their anxiety as well. And so there’s been this really big proliferation of grief books and writing and work lately. And I think it’s because, you know, we’re becoming more non-secular.

 

Jonathan Fields: [00:13:12] No, That makes so much sense to me. Your newest book, you make this distinction, you sort of create these categories. Well, you didn’t create them, but you sort of you map them. These five different types of grief anticipatory, complicated, ambiguous, disenfranchised, collective. Walk me through each of these a little bit, because I’ve never seen it sort of broken out this way. I thought it was really fascinating.

 

Claire Bidwell Smith: [00:13:31] Yeah, I think it’s helpful to really be able to understand grief in different ways. Anticipatory grief is the grief that we feel when we know a loss is coming. So maybe thinking about empty nesting or you have a family member with dementia or you know, you’re, you know, you’re going to leave a job, or maybe you yourself have an illness that you’re facing. Um, there’s an anticipatory grief that comes with knowing how much losses is ahead. And that kind of anticipatory grief is is complicated. You know, it brings a lot of anxiety because there is that uncertainty and there’s not a definite date sometimes with some of these things. And so you’re often swimming in the sea of what ifs and maybes and thinking about things that haven’t quite happened yet, ambiguous grief and disenfranchised grief. Those are really for grief and loss that are not as recognized. You know, pet loss, divorce, illness, racial disparity, you know, so many different places that aren’t necessarily being recognized by our culture. And so those are hard ones to carry, too. I think that grief is already pretty lonely and isolating. And then when you’re carrying some of those, when no one else can recognize them and see what you’re carrying, that can feel sometimes confusing, you may feel shame and doubt around some of those.

 

Jonathan Fields: [00:14:49] Yeah. As you’re describing those also like one of the things that’s kind of my mind I’m curious about is loss of ability. You know, like like most of us, at some point as we get further into life, like, like if we’re fortunate to, we will lose some ability and some of that may be visible, but oftentimes it’s invisible. Or we may be struggling with some sort of chronic dysfunction or illness or disease or pain or suffering in some way that others aren’t aware of unless we actually proactively make them aware of. And yet, like internally, we’re dealing with that loss all day, every day is with that sort of fall under these umbrellas of ambiguous or disenfranchised grief in your mind.

 

Claire Bidwell Smith: [00:15:26] Yeah, absolutely. I think any kind of grief that isn’t recognized by those around us is that ambiguous and disenfranchised grief. I do really feel that it helps to find communities in which we can talk about our grief and loss and feel seen by others who understand it or are going through something similar. Again, it is really lonely. I think so many of the people that I work with, they have a lot of questions and confusion around their grief process, and they often think that they’re doing it wrong and they want to know, you know, what am I doing wrong? And how do I do this? What’s the answer? Is there a formula and there isn’t a quick fix to grief? Uh, it’s frustrating that grief can look so different and feel so different in so many different losses. But it’s also true. You know, each loss and each kind of grief that you experience is going to be different from the last. You know, if you lose both parents, the grief that you feel for each one is might feel really different depending on the relationship, depending on the age you are, depending on where you are in life, all of those kinds of things. And so finding ways to just be able to recognize and talk about that grief with other people who understand. But when you carry something all day, every day by yourself, you show up at work or you show up in your family and no one’s really seeing this grief that you’re holding, you begin to doubt it for yourself and you try to push it away. And when we do that, it always kind of backfires.

 

Jonathan Fields: [00:16:51] Yeah, I can’t imagine that’s got to be a good thing. Um. Complicated grief.

 

Claire Bidwell Smith: [00:16:56] Mhm. You know, we’ve been talking a lot about complicated grief in the kind of psychological realms lately. We’ve been talking a lot about extended grief, and there are so many versions of grief that become complicated or extended. I think when we have a loss that is complicated, maybe you were not close to the person for a period of time, or maybe there were things that were unresolved, and maybe you were in a relationship with someone who was somewhat abusive or very abusive, and yet you lose them. There’s a complicated grief that goes with that. And I think that that kind of grief takes more work because there’s so many layers to peel up. There’s so many things that you kind of have to work on. Before you can even get to the pure, raw grief. You have to sort through the relationships, sort through the manner in which things played out, sort through guilt or regret, and that extends the grief process in a big way. But I also think that we’ve been very naive about how complicated grief is in general, and how long grief lasts in general. So to put these stamps and labels on grief is sometimes helpful. And then sometimes it’s, you know, we’re just finally catching up in some ways to what grief really just is.

 

Jonathan Fields: [00:18:13] Yeah, I think in some ways, you know, everybody has heard, you know, the five stages of grief, which I know are now hotly debated about whether it’s accurate or not accurate or useful or harmful with a lot of differing opinions. And but what it seems like a lot of folks are coming around to now is this notion like you’re describing, is that like there are going to be commonalities and we can create these broader buckets anticipatory, complicated, ambiguous, disenfranchised, collective. But those are you know, it’s like looking at a study and saying, you know, like most people experience this, but most people isn’t they’re not you. Right, right. You know, and it’s like we’re getting back to the fact that, well, actually, the way I may need to do this may be entirely unique to me and that that’s actually okay. I don’t need to look for the steps and then make sure that I’m checking the boxes of those steps.

 

Claire Bidwell Smith: [00:18:57] Yeah, I think that that is what made the five stages of grief a little bit challenging, right? I think that one of the things that people love about Elisabeth Kübler-Ross five stages denial, anger, bargaining, depression, acceptance is that they’re formulaic. And people really often want this quick fix for their grief, right? They’re in so much pain or anguish, or their lives have been so disrupted that they’re like, great, there’s five things I just need to go through, and I’m going to tick these boxes. And then they quickly find that those don’t really work in that order necessarily, or for them necessarily. And so we’ve stuck with them for so long. But I understand the appeal of them. But I think that what we need to do is make a little more space for different versions of grief, different time periods for grief, different formulas for grief. There really isn’t a quick fix for it or a one-size-fits-all, which I think can be disappointing to a lot of people. And we’ve had so many displays on television and movies about what grief is supposed to look like. You know, we have these depictions of the dark room and the sorrow and the maybe the anger, but that’s not always what grief is like for everybody.

 

Jonathan Fields: [00:20:09] It’s interesting. Right? Because if somebody gives you like, here’s the formula. Like there are these five stages. First you do one, then you do the next and the next. And then I could see this scenario where somebody is like, okay, so I’m in one. It’s awful. I’m in two. It’s a little bit better. I’m in now, I’m in four. I’m so close to the end. Right. And then they wake up the next day and they’re like, I’m feeling everything that’s in one.

 

Claire Bidwell Smith: [00:20:31] Yeah.

 

Jonathan Fields: [00:20:31] Which is like then you’re layering on not just grief, but what’s wrong with me? Like then it’s shame.

 

Claire Bidwell Smith: [00:20:37] Like, no, I know that’s what I see all the time. So much shame. So many people are come to me and they just say, I’m doing this wrong. Something’s wrong. It’s not like it looks on TV or it doesn’t fit into these stages. I must be doing it wrong now.

 

Jonathan Fields: [00:20:52] We’ve talked a bit about what grief is. Where do we get it wrong? I mean, is there an experience where people are like, oh, I’m grieving or I’m in grief, but there’s really something else going on that’s sort of like a common misconception.

 

Claire Bidwell Smith: [00:21:04] I think where we get it wrong is trying to rush through it. I think we get it wrong that it should be tidied up within a few months or even a year. Sometimes grief lasts much longer than that. You lose a child. You’re not just one and done with grief after a year, you know that’s a grief you’re going to carry with you for your lifetime. I think we get it wrong in terms of not having enough rituals around it, not having enough community around it. I see a lot of healing occur when people do find rituals to rely upon communities to engage with and talk about their grief with. But what it looks like today, most of the time, is you lose somebody and everybody shows up. In the first few weeks. You have a few rituals, the memorial or Shiva and the first few weeks, and then it’s kind of over and you’re back to work and you’re supposed to just kind of be getting back to your regular life and back to normal, when in reality, a lot of people, their grief doesn’t even set in for the first six months. You know, they’re still processing that this has happened. They’re experiencing life changes or having to deal with tasks and administrative duties. And then the real grief begins to set in at the same time that everybody is expecting them to be back to normal. So then they start expecting themselves to be back to normal. And that’s when they start pushing the grief away. And when we push the grief away, we’re bottling it all up. We’re not really sitting with the stuff that needs to be processed and explored.

 

Jonathan Fields: [00:22:31] Yeah, and I know this is one of the things that you write about in the book is the the notion of engaging with the grief. And I want to dive into some of the ideas around, like how we might engage in a way that actually is helpful. But, you know, it also brings up the question of is the ability to engage with grief in a healthy and constructive way privilege that some people just don’t have. Or if you’re working three jobs, you know, and just trying to get by and supporting a family and a partner passes, you can’t stop working. And you may not have the resources to sort of like. So I guess part of the question is, is the ability to navigate grief in a way that is holistic and healthy and constructive as much as it can be. Is that the domain of certain people but not others, or does everybody have access to this?

 

Claire Bidwell Smith: [00:23:21] I do believe everyone has access to it. I think that there is a privilege level, of course, where there are people who can afford to take time off and go to expensive therapists or, you know, do all kinds of self care for themselves in grief and take time to just be with themselves during that kind of process. That is a very privileged place from which to deal with your grief. However, I think there’s a lot of ways we can engage with it. I think that even if you’re working a lot of jobs, even if you have a busy family, that you’re taking care of a lot of obligations, there’s still time to meditate for five minutes, write in a journal for five minutes, seek out an online community at no or low cost that can help you during a lunch hour. You know, get through some things. I think the main thing to engage with about grief is just to make space for it. Making space for it is talking about it, acknowledging it, trying not to just carry it without ever talking about it. You know, that’s that’s when things really go awry. If you can even make, you know, I tell my clients, you can schedule your grief sometimes if you need to set aside some time on a Sunday morning or a Saturday afternoon when you don’t have as many obligations and sit down and open up the grief, you know, open it up by looking at photos, by playing music, by talking about your person.

 

Claire Bidwell Smith: [00:24:40] And bring the grief on cry, you know, rage. Do whatever you need to do. It really does help you go back into your life and take care of the regular day-to-day things when you’ve made a little space for it. But I do a lot of group work in the grief work I do. I do retreats and groups and online groups and seeing people come together, even just for an hour on a zoom and talk about what is going on with them for their grief. Then they can go back to their job as a teacher, or go back to whatever it was that they were doing prior to jumping on a zoom in their car for 45 minutes. It really helps. It really helps them kind of be able to hold it in a different way, as they do get through their days.

 

Jonathan Fields: [00:25:22] I mean, you just shared two ideas, which I think are just I want to make sure that they land, you know, like there one is the idea of scheduling. Like here’s a window, which I think is really powerful. And then the idea is like, don’t do this alone. Like find some sort of community where you can share this experience on the scheduling one. I’m curious also because I’ve also heard this for anxiety, sort of like, you know, like if you’re in a spin cycle, you basically like set aside 15 minutes a day and just let it out and journal on it and speak it and cry and do all this stuff. Like process it in that context. You know, it often can be helpful for people. From what I understand, it doesn’t mean that it entirely goes away or you won’t have it in other moments. But I feel like there’s almost like a tipping point and it helps lower the water in that, well, a little bit. So, you know, it takes a little bit more to get you back to that point with grief as you’re describing this. I had this flashback a number of years ago in conversation with Liz Gilbert, who lost, who had recently lost her partner. And she described to me, you know, like being months down from it. And she thought she was kind of okay walking down the street in the East Village in New York. And she described what she called a carve-out moment. She was like, literally, she’s walking down the street, her knees would buckle and she would be sobbing. And so I’m curious about the notion of, okay, so scheduling grief, take a half an hour or whatever it is every day and just be in it, completely immerse your in it. But that still doesn’t negate these random moments where it’s just going to completely hit you, does it?

 

Claire Bidwell Smith: [00:26:53] No, it definitely doesn’t. I think it does help. Like you said, that tipping point, it lowers the water a little bit when you are because if you’re not making any space for it, those tip-over moments are going to be much bigger. Your knees are going to really buckle. But you’re right, it doesn’t take away from that entirely. There’s always going to be triggers that arise. You might see somebody who looks like your person, or you might hear a song when you’re at the store, you know there’s something might happen that just kind of brings you to your knees and really brings all of that grief. But if you’re already in a place where you are making space for it regularly, you’re getting more comfortable with it, right? I think that’s the thing. I have so many people tell me they’re afraid to start crying because they fear they’ll never stop. They’re afraid to open the door to their grief. But I think if you’re keeping the door open on a regular basis, you’re not as afraid of it. And so when those big waves of grief come on, you kind of know how to ride them a little better. Does that make sense?

 

Jonathan Fields: [00:27:50] Yeah. I mean, I think it does. It’s sort of like it’s it’s like grief exposure therapy to some extent right?

 

Claire Bidwell Smith: [00:27:56] Yeah

 

Jonathan Fields: [00:27:56] It’s not willfully, but it is what it is. And sort of like the more I’m curious from your from a therapeutic standpoint, is it the type of thing that you’ve seen where the more you allow it, the more you just completely feel it and then realize that I don’t want to say you get through it or there’s another side to it, but that you can find a way to sort of like come back to a place where you’re whole enough and you’re, you’re okay enough to step back into your life to a certain extent, that the more that you do that, the more that your brain starts to learn, oh, I can do this and that. That’s a helpful part of the process too.

 

Claire Bidwell Smith: [00:28:32] Yeah, exactly. It’s about learning how to carry grief. You know, how to carry it for a long time, perhaps. And so the more used to it that you become of riding those waves of it, of letting it in, you do start to realize, oh, I can completely break down and sob and howl like an animal on the floor for 45 minutes, and then I can actually get up and make dinner. And I did that last week, so maybe I can do it again this week, you know? But the first few times that that happens, it can be so frightening, so overwhelming. This is another one of those places where anxiety sets in, because sometimes you don’t even know yourself in grief anymore. Can you trust yourself to go to work and not have one of those breakdowns? Can you trust yourself to get in a car or, you know, be in your marriage or take care of your kids and you know, you don’t know when you’re going to have one of those kind of breakdowns or who you are all the time anymore. And that can be really anxiety-provoking.

 

Jonathan Fields: [00:29:23] Mhm. Yeah. I mean it’s a it impacts your identity in no small way and I actually want to deepen into that. But before we get there, because I want to close this loop of sort of like letting it flow at the moments that you need to let it flow. It’s going to hit you in random contexts like you described. It’s going to hit you at work when you’re home with your kids or your partner, or out with friends or at the gym, whatever it may be. How do you approach advising somebody to sort of prepare those around them to understand what’s happening and be with them in a way where you feel like you can feel what you need to feel and express what you need to express. And they feel like they understand how to just be there with you and they understand what’s going on.

 

Claire Bidwell Smith: [00:30:09] It’s a good question. You can only prepare people so much. There are some people who really can’t stand to see others in pain, or they really want to tidy up your grief, or they want to try to fix it, and there’s not really going to come a place where they can hold that space for you. I see this all the time and hear about it all the time from the people I work with that, you know, even family members can’t. They just can’t allow them to sit in that pain. They’re constantly trying to fix it or trying to offer them some positive ideas. And you know, well, at least this or think about that and you’d be grateful for this. So you’re always going to have those kinds of people in your life. And I think again, this this goes back to the idea of community finding people who can. And allow for that space for you. Who can see you, who can just let you be where you are? And your grief is really important. Sometimes those are family members and close friends. Sometimes they’re new people, sometimes they’re strangers. You meet in a grief group or, you know, at work. Even when you share about going through a loss, there’s a saying about in grief, strangers become friends, and friends become strangers because there are people that really have a hard time with other people grieving.

 

Claire Bidwell Smith: [00:31:20] And it’s one of the secondary losses that I think comes with other big losses. You start to really kind of shift everyone that you’re connected to, um, who can show up for you and who can’t. That said, to answer your question properly, I do think that you can tell people you could send a text message or an email or tell someone to their face like, hey, I’m really going through this with my grief. I feel like I’m doing okay with it, but there are definitely moments where I’m struggling and this is what it might look like. And this is how you can show up for me. You know, either just hold space for me when I’m crying, or come over and hang out with me, or distract me, or help me talk about my person, share memories with me that you have. There are ways we can definitely do that, and I think there are people who will show up, and especially if you can tell them a couple of things that they can do for you, please come empty my trash every Tuesday. You know, whatever it is, people like to try to help.

 

Jonathan Fields: [00:32:15] And if you give them some idea of like, hey, this is what’s going on, kind of it’s almost like expected. And then here are a couple things that like, would be okay to do or even welcome to do in these scenarios. So that because I think so many people probably back away, not because they don’t want to support somebody who’s in grief, but because a they’re probably reminds them of their own potential for loss, and B they just don’t know what to do. And they’re kind of terrified of saying or doing the wrong thing and actually making things worse.

 

Claire Bidwell Smith: [00:32:45] Mhm. It’s true. They’re always afraid to say the wrong thing and there really isn’t a perfect thing to say. You know, I think you can say I’m here. I’m so sorry I’m here. Anything you need I’m right here. Um, just to be with somebody in their grief, I think is important. But a lot of times people won’t say anything at all. And I think that that hurts a lot more. They’re so afraid of saying the wrong thing. Or often they’ll say that they’re afraid to bring up the death because they don’t want to make the person sad. And then I hear all the people who are grieving say, what do you mean? I’m already thinking about it all the time. You think you bringing it up is going to remind me it’s already with me every moment.

 

Jonathan Fields: [00:33:24] I would imagine also that there’s probably a difference between people who have experienced profound grief in their lives, and those who haven’t yet. We all will at some point. It’s just it’s coming. And the way they respond, it’s almost like if you’ve been through it and you understand at least how it affected you, that you might show up differently. I’m curious whether you see that I do.

 

Claire Bidwell Smith: [00:33:47] It’s a terrible club that nobody wants to be part of, but once you’re part of it, you really do understand how it works. And and, um, I have sat in rooms full of people who have gone through profound loss, and I have felt more understood in those rooms than, you know, with close friends of mine. And I think that I think it’s really hard to understand it. I don’t fault the people who don’t. I think it’s just really, really difficult to understand it until you’ve been through it.

 

Jonathan Fields: [00:34:13] No, that makes a lot of sense. You use the phrase secondary loss, and this is in fact one of the things that you write about. So take me into this a little bit more, because it’s a really interesting sort of like quote, additional context for, for grief. It’s almost like piling on.

 

Claire Bidwell Smith: [00:34:27] Yeah. I mean, I think about a group of widows that I work with and all the secondary losses that they’ve occurred. You know, their social lives have changed their they don’t want to go out as much with all the couples anymore. Um, their finances have changed, their grandparenting lives have changed. There’s so many secondary losses that come with the loss of their spouse that other people don’t always think about. They recognize, okay, yes, this person lost their spouse, but they’re not thinking about all the ways their lives changed as well, and all the kind of tiny losses that they’re facing on a daily basis when.

 

Jonathan Fields: [00:35:03] It comes to those things. If you lose somebody and maybe that that person was a major contributor to your financial stability. Yeah. You know, it.

 

Claire Bidwell Smith: [00:35:13] Happens all the time.

 

Jonathan Fields: [00:35:14] Okay, wait a minute. So now all of a sudden it’s not just this person where there’s a vacuum. Now I’m both grieving that and then I’m grieving what I thought would be my secure stable, you know, like, everything’s going to be okay. Yeah. Financial life. And especially if you have people who are looking to you to continue to present, sort of like, you know, like that, that we’re going to be okay thing like if you’re a parent and you have kids.

 

Claire Bidwell Smith: [00:35:37] Mhm.

 

Jonathan Fields: [00:35:37] That’s got to be just brutally hard.

 

Claire Bidwell Smith: [00:35:39] It’s really hard or even physical touch when you lose a spouse. You know, I was talking to a young widow the other day and she was talking about just physical touch. She hasn’t been you know, she doesn’t really have any like, you know, her friends. Hugger here, and they’re family. But it’s like she hasn’t even just gotten like a really good, close, intimate hug since her, since her husband died.

 

Jonathan Fields: [00:36:01] One of the things that you mentioned earlier also as a category, but you kind of dive into it a bit more, is this notion of complex or complicated grief and not all loss? If we’re talking about loss of a person, I would imagine that complicated grief can also extend to beyond people they’re paradigms and contexts. You probably feel pretty mixed about. You know, you could be leaving a horribly toxic job, that you feel terrible about it, and it’s like you can’t wait to get away from it. And at the same time, you’re leaving behind maybe ten years of, you know, like credibility and like building the resume and, you know, like building social currency and then stepping into the abyss, but especially in the context of losing somebody, where the relationship with an individual was really complicated. It seems like that is something that is more common than maybe I realized, and really adds not just complexity to the relationship that was, but complexity to the way that you grieve that loss.

 

Claire Bidwell Smith: [00:37:00] Absolutely. I have a lot of clients who have lost a parent with whom they had a complicated relationship with a mother or a father. Maybe they were estranged from them to a certain extent. Maybe it just was always complicated. And there’s a lot that’s left unresolved when you go through that kind of loss. They also feel some of that disenfranchised grief in some ways, because they feel like their grief is supposed to look like everyone else’s. And people who don’t really know them on the outside will say, oh, I’m so sorry about your mom. And it’s complicated. And they and they just have to say thanks, you know, without wanting to go into it necessarily about, well, you know, I hadn’t talked to her in ten years or whatever the case is, but there’s a lot of just kind of layer to sift through. You’re also grieving the relationship you never got to have. You’re grieving the kind of hope that you were maybe holding out on, that the relationship could change at some point down the road. And so all of those layers are things that you really kind of have to process and, and think about ways to work through that are really different than, than losing someone who maybe you were really close with and had a healthy relationship with.

 

Jonathan Fields: [00:38:10] Yeah. In this context of a more complicated relationship with the person that you’ve lost. But are there any sort of like general things that common things that you might think about, like, or reframes or, you know, when you’re trying to figure out, how do I process? It’s almost like, how do I grieve and simultaneously process the relationship that I had with this person that was really complex and maybe not good, where I can even get to a place where I feel okay grieving.

 

Claire Bidwell Smith: [00:38:38] Now that makes sense. I think first there has to be this processing of the relationship, because when someone dies, it really has come to an end in many ways. Not every way. I do think that we have extended relationships with the people that we lose, even after death. There’s internal versions of them. There’s spiritual aspects of those relationships that can continue. But we are really having to look at this kind of finality of this was the relationship, you know, that started here and ended here. And only when that really happens, you may have gone to therapy for years and processed this complicated relationship, but when the person dies, there’s a new there’s a new layer to it in which you’re really looking at the whole of the relationship the middle, the beginning, the end. And so there’s a processing of it that I think has to occur. And then there’s a grief that comes as well. And sometimes you can’t even get to that grief until you’ve processed some of the relationship. And then even with the grief, I think there’s lots of different areas of the grief that you can work through. So there’s you can grieve the relationship you didn’t have. You can grieve the good parts. If there were good parts of the relationship, you know, you can grieve some of the complicated aspects, the harder aspects of it. You can tease them apart, you can grieve them as a whole. There’s all kinds of things you can do with it.

 

Jonathan Fields: [00:39:56] So it’s almost like you can compartmentalize elements of it and process it in different ways.

 

Claire Bidwell Smith: [00:40:01] Mhm. And I think you have to with a complicated one. You know, I think we put a lot of pressure on ourselves to decide one way or another. Oh, I can’t grieve this person because, you know, it was a complicated relationship or my, you know, my dad was was abusive to me and I can’t feel grief for him. You can still feel grief, you know, you can tease these things apart. It doesn’t have to be so black and white. You can miss them and love them and hate them and resent them. And you can have all of these complicated emotions all in one bucket.

 

Jonathan Fields: [00:40:27] You know, it’s interesting because as you’re describing that, I’m thinking to myself, but yet but you can never resolve it with them anymore. Like that opportunity is left. But for so many people, there really wasn’t an opportunity to resolve it with them while they were alive, because there’s so much estrangement there. So. And nobody’s both people aren’t willing to actually sit down and say, let’s do the work together. So it’s something that is really on us to resolve, like now in their death. But also it was probably largely on us to resolve, even like during that person’s life, because it would never be processed by just having two people sit down and say, we’re. Ready. Let’s do this. I would imagine that’s pretty unusual, right?

 

Claire Bidwell Smith: [00:41:05] That rarely happens.

 

Jonathan Fields: [00:41:06] So you have to find these other pathways to do it. And yet, like a lot of what you’re describing is, I think the experience of somebody feeling like I was wronged by this person, you know, like call it a parent or guardian, whoever it may be. And we never got to resolve that. What of the experience of somebody where you feel like I was actually the person who caused harm, and I never made amends and I never saw forgiveness. I never did the like these things. And that person left with me never actually being able to sort of, like, unburden myself.

 

Claire Bidwell Smith: [00:41:38] Mhm. I think we see that one a lot, too. I think that there’s a lot of things that Elisabeth Kubler-Ross had a had a quote that said, guilt is perhaps Grief’s most painful companion. And I see people carry a lot of guilt and regret and remorse, whether it was their fault that it was a complicated relationship or they feel they made some kind of mistake or error, you know, at some point or towards the end, you see a lot of caregivers go through a lot of regret over, you know, ways that they handled things or didn’t because of the amounts of stress on them. I wasn’t there the night my mom died. I was 18, I was at college. I knew she was dying. My dad had called me to tell me that she was dying and that I could come to the hospital, and I stopped that night to see a boy. And my mom died while I was there that night at the boy’s house. And for years I wanted to tear my skin off with the amount of guilt I had and regret over not being there.

 

Claire Bidwell Smith: [00:42:35] And I finally sat down and I began to write her letters all the time. And I really needed to say a lot. There was so much that was just constantly inside of me. Burning up to say to her and not having an outlet was just making things even more painful. And so when I started to write to her, it was really helpful. I was able to say all of the things that I really wanted to say. I don’t know if she could hear them. You know, it wasn’t about that. It was just that I needed to actually take them out of me. I needed to say them to her. So I think there are ways that we can work through some of that. I also had to do a lot of self-compassion and forgiveness work around that, and I also had to grow up and realize that I was 18 and I made a stupid choice, you know, and that we’re human. And it’s really hard to say goodbye to people we love. And it’s really hard to do everything exactly right.

 

Jonathan Fields: [00:43:27] And so many of the choices that we make, especially at that age, you know, they’re seemingly inconsequential in the moment. And it’s only after the fact that they become some of the most consequential choices that we’ve ever made in our lives. Right. But it’s only hindsight. It’s the circumstance that unfolded after that made it so we could have never like. Really? Yeah. It’s, um, you’re describing the letter-writing process. Um, Dan Tomasulo, who’s a positive psychologist, describes this process that he calls, you know, Marty Seligman. Kind of like the gratitude visit, a really popular thing. You like, think about somebody in your past who you know, has really made a difference in your life, who you never expressed it, and then sit down and write a full letter, you know, explaining how much they meant, and then send it to them or actually read it to them, call them up if you know. And then Dan said, but what if they’re not there anymore? Um, and he had a theater background in addition to positive psych. And so he created this version that he called the virtual gratitude visit, where it’s like, basically you sit in a chair and then set it at a blank chair across from you, and then imagine that person is there and write this same letter to them and read it to them. And then you sit in their chair as if you’re the one who’s had the letter read to, you know, he did this in the context of gratitude. You know, for a person who either you no longer have access to or who has passed, who you know, no longer with you. But I wonder if like something like that also you feel like would be an effective thing to do in order to do what you were describing. Like basically there’s all this angst that you’re carrying and create almost like this virtual scenario. You’d be able to express it.

 

Claire Bidwell Smith: [00:44:57] I have clients do things like that all the time, whether it’s in session, and I ask them to imagine that their person is sitting here and what would they say to them? Or I have them go home and write a letter and come back and talk about the experience of it. The letter writing is really, really powerful. It’s different from talking about it or talking out loud to your person, or saying it in your head when you really sit down, especially handwriting, and write those letters. Dear mom, you know there’s something that you really feel in that, and it’s okay that they’re not here. You really kind of can feel that you’re saying that to them. I love that that’s right in line with what I do and believe.

 

Jonathan Fields: [00:45:34] You said a couple things along the way also that without using the word identity, really spoke to the way that grief can change us on an identity level. And in fact, you use the word transform a lot. Um, you know, like when you speak, when you write and often offer grief up as this process that yes, can be brutally hard, but also that holds this potential for transformation a number of different ways. So take me into that a bit more.

 

Claire Bidwell Smith: [00:46:00] I do use the word transform and transformation a lot, and I believe in it. You know, I think for a long time we’ve looked at grief as this horrible thing and this affliction that we need to kind of get through and get over. But I think that there is a lot of really beautiful things to find within grief. I think it teaches us a lot about ourselves. I think it asks a lot of us. It asks us to think about things we’ve never thought about before. Uh, philosophical things. Existential things. Just what matters to us, who we want in our lives. Again, there’s some liberating aspects of it, you know, it can really help us kind of discard ways of being in the world or things we no longer care about in in light of this kind of loss. It’s a really hard thing to hear about when you’re in the beginning of a big loss. It’s really hard. You don’t want to hear about transforming at all. You just want your person back. You want to be out of this pain and agony. You want yourself back. You want your life to go back to the way it was. You don’t care about transforming. You really don’t. It’s something that comes in time and it comes in so many little bits and pieces that it’s almost upon you before you’ve realized, you know, after a while, all these little bits and pieces have occurred to really shift your identity and to change your view of the world.

 

Claire Bidwell Smith: [00:47:13] Um, I think there’s a real kind of letting go of ourselves and the and the person we once were when we lose someone else, and when we get to the other side of that through a lot of pain and fire and anguish, through knees buckling on sidewalks, you know, through, you know, losing finances and having to make all kinds of changes, all these secondary losses. There is a place we can get to down the road that really does. We look back and we reflect and we think, wow, I have grown so much and I have changed so much. And there’s a grief in that too. I mean, you know, you think, oh my God, my person never saw me become who I am now. And there are pieces of me now that are better than before. But again, that’s really hard to hear in the beginning. And I’m always aware of that and conscious of that and want to always kind of call that out. It’s like another part of that club that you don’t want to be part of. The people who’ve been in it for a long time know that there’s there’s some light at the end of the tunnel, but the people who are just arriving to the club, you know, we don’t talk about it right away, if that makes sense.

 

Jonathan Fields: [00:48:17] Yeah. I know for you, you mentioned your mom. You lost your mom when you were 18. And if I recall correctly, you lost your dad when you were around 25 as well. So you were young for both of them. Like super young. When you think about how that experience eventually landed in transformation for you, what did that look like?

 

Claire Bidwell Smith: [00:48:39] It was hard. They both got cancer at the same time when I was 14, and I’m an only child, and my mom died at 18 and then my father seven years later. I was his caregiver in hospice, and my mother had this very medicalized death that none of us faced. My father chose a really different approach and wanted to be very present to his death, and he asked me to be as well. And so he had a very beautiful death that I’m grateful for having been there for, and having him kind of walk me into it. It was kind of his last great gift as a parent. But then I was 25 and very, very alone in the world. And at a time when all of my peers were in a really different place. So I struggled for a good many years and that paring down began to happen. I was working as a writer in my 20s. I really wanted to to write books, which I have and I do, but I was working as like a travel and a food writer, and suddenly I just couldn’t do it. I didn’t care about these things, all these things that were, you know, seemingly really fun. You get to go stay in nice hotels and go to restaurants and review them. And I was like, I don’t care about any of this anymore. And I started to make shifts in terms of the work I did. I worked for nonprofits for a while, and then I decided to go back and get my master’s. And my first job out of that was in hospice, because I just kept seeking experiences that mattered. And so while I was still in a lot of pain and a lot of grief and sometimes feeling very alone, I was really finding things that mattered to me, and I was finding things that were meaningful. And there was so much beauty in that. And that was where the transformation really started to occur.

 

Jonathan Fields: [00:50:13] Yeah. I mean, it sounds like in no small way it led you into your vocation. You know, this became a central devotion for you. And it remained so for like, your life, it did.

 

Claire Bidwell Smith: [00:50:24] I love this work. People ask me all the time, isn’t it sad? Isn’t it heavy? And yeah, of course it is. Of course there are moments when it’s so sad, and the stories that I hear every day are really, really sad or scary. But also it’s so beautiful. It’s all about relationships and love. And I’m sitting with people every day in some of their, like, truest moments of humanity. You know, they’re just at their most raw version of themselves. And that’s an incredible experience. And there’s so much beauty in seeing how connected we are to each other, how much we love each other. It’s really profound.

 

Jonathan Fields: [00:51:01] Isn’t that so much of what we yearn for on a day-to-day basis, just to be actually seen for who we are and to be able to see others for who they are without all the shields and all the facades. And just to be raw and real, I mean, you get to experience that on a regular basis, granted, in a context that is also laden with a whole lot of other like deep emotion and loss and hardness, do you ever wonder whether there’s a way for us to access that level of connectedness on a regular basis, without having to be so brought to our knees?

 

Claire Bidwell Smith: [00:51:36] I would like to say yes, and I hope it happens. I know that everyone that I know in the in the end of life space and the grief space, people who do this work, and they usually come from it from a personal place like I have, we all have some of the most vibrant lives I know of, and we don’t take things for granted. And we those moments of connection that we have with each other, even if we’re just getting coffee, can become so meaningful because we walk in these valleys all the time with other people. But I don’t know, I like to I would like to think that we can.

 

Jonathan Fields: [00:52:09] You know, at the end of the day, it’s so much of this work is also about how do we tell a story of meaning in our lives and in the lives of those who we care deeply about. And then when they’re no longer there, how do we recreate meaning when so much of it was defined in relationship to people who no longer are with us? And that kind of brings us back to something you referenced a few times also, which is this notion of they’re physically not here with us anymore, but does that mean that they’re actually they, they we have to sort of like just cut ties and assume like they are actually in no way really accessible to us anymore. And whether you have metaphysical beliefs or spiritual beliefs that believe in the afterlife or not, even more broadly, you know, like, are there ways to carry carry them with us where, yes, we have to tell a different meaning story, but they can still be a part of it.

 

Claire Bidwell Smith: [00:52:58] I think it’s actually so important in the grief process to find new ways to continue that relationship and carry them with us, and I, I think that we make a mistake a lot in thinking that the relationship is completely over. I think there’s a period of time in the beginning when we have to kind of adjust to the physical severance of that relationship. They are no longer physically here. They’re not going to walk through the door again. We’re not going to be able to pick up the phone and call them. However, when we have had somebody in our lives that we were close to, there’s an internal version of them that we keep. It doesn’t have to be spiritual. You don’t have to believe in anything in particular to access that internal version of them. You know, I had my mom for eight. Teen years and I was so close with her. Even to this day, it’s been 27 years since she died. I can still think of like, what would my mom think of my outfit today? And I know what she would say. Like you’re wearing too much black, Claire. Like, you know, um. And I can hear her voice, and I can see the way she would say it. And that we have access to it all the time, you know, and we can go to them and we can still lean on them, ask them things, listen for the answer.

 

Claire Bidwell Smith: [00:54:04] There’s that version of being able to connect with them. And then there’s the making, meaning ways that we can as well. I met with a rabbi. I’m not Jewish, but I met with a rabbi for a year at one point when I was working on a book about kind of exploring different versions of the afterlife and how that impacts the grief process. And he explained to me that in Judaism, there’s not a big emphasis on the afterlife being this place that we go. It’s more about what have you left behind, what’s the legacy you’ve left behind? You know, what were the good deeds you did here? What were the things that you can pass on to your children and your grandchildren? You know, what can you embody of the people that you loved and lost? How can you pass on those traits and those those qualities? And I think that that is the most beautiful version of the afterlife I can think of. You know, I think of my, my father’s generosity and his his storytelling abilities and just bringing those things into the lives of my children who never met him is his afterlife, you know? How beautiful is that?

 

Jonathan Fields: [00:55:01] Yeah, very much so. And I know, um, you know, the notion of an ethical will I know is part of the Jewish tradition. I’m guessing they’re probably versions of it in other traditions as well, which is I’d never heard of. But I heard from Rabbi Steve Leder also kind of walks through this process of like, okay, so even if you’re not feeling like the end is near, you know, like at a certain point, if you’ve got people that you want to sort of like, here’s what I feel about these things that really matter to me behind. I think it’s such a beautiful thing to be thinking about, you know, at different seasons of life as well. And that’s kind of what you’re describing. Yeah. It feels like a good place for us to come full circle in our conversation as well. So in this container of Good Life Project., if I offer up the phrase to live a good life, what comes up?

 

Claire Bidwell Smith: [00:55:44] To live a good life means to appreciate that at one point it comes to an end. My father said on his deathbed, he said to me that life wouldn’t be so sweet if it had no ending. It was one of the last things he said to me, and it has always stayed with me, not because it was the last thing he said, partly, but also just the realization that if it just, if it never had an ending, we really, I don’t think would value everything that we get to, to find meaning in.

 

Jonathan Fields: [00:56:15] Hmm. Thank you.

 

Claire Bidwell Smith: [00:56:16] Thank you. Jonathan.

 

Jonathan Fields: [00:56:19] Hey, before you leave, if you love this episode Safe bet, you’ll also love the conversation we had with Megan Devine about feeling not okay after loss. You’ll find a link to Megan’s episode in the show. Notes. This episode of Good Life Project. was produced by executive producers Lindsey Fox and Me. Jonathan Fields Editing help By Alejandro Ramirez. Kristoffer Carter crafted our theme music and special thanks to Shelley Adelle for her research on this episode. And of course, if you haven’t already done so, please go ahead and follow Good Life Project. in your favorite listening app. And if you found this conversation interesting or inspiring or valuable, and chances are you did. Since you’re still listening here, would you do me a personal favor, a seven-second favor, and share it? Maybe on social or by text or by email? Even just with one person? Just copy the link from the app you’re using and tell those you know, those you love, those you want to help navigate this thing called life a little better so we can all do it better together with more ease and more joy. Tell them to listen, then even invite them to talk about what you’ve both discovered. Because when podcasts become conversations and conversations become action, that’s how we all come alive together. Until next time, I’m Jonathan Fields signing off for Good Life project.

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