Episode 27 – Understanding the Factors and Impacts of Grief and Loss of Baby Boomers

In our daily lives, we cannot foresee the things that might going to happen whether it is good or bad. Sometimes we always wonder if someone we love might suddenly disappear permanently on this earth and we also always get agitated and deny that fact but we have to deal with it and be ready for it especially for the Baby Boomers. Some of the oldest Baby Boomers have already experienced and handled these kind of situations but others who are in the transition of becoming a Baby Boomer needs to understand and how to deal with these factors and impact of grief and loss because all we know is that we will encounter these situations when the time comes.

The Booms Day Prepping panelists come together to discuss this significant issue in order to enlighten and provide knowledge to the Baby Boomers.

Transcript

Wayne Bucklar: You’re listening to Booms Day Prepping, the Baby Boomer podcast where I’m joined by my co-host, Dr. Drew Dwyer and the panel of Baby Boomers – we have with us Glenn Capelli, Amanda Lambros, Bron Williams and we’re missing our regular panelist, Brian Hinselwood this week, he’s off in Vietnam, holidaying. This week, we’ve got a serious topic, we’re having a look at grief and loss and I’ll leave it to Drew to lead us off.

Glenn Capelli: Good day, pleasure to be here.

Amanda Lambros:  Hey.

Bron Williams:  Hey, how was everybody?

Dr. Drew:  Hi everyone. Good. Welcome, thanks. We’ve got a bit of a smaller panel today which is probably more intimate and more touching and focus because the subject matter today listeners is a subject matter that’s very focused. It has a lot of emotional intelligence factors and characteristics around it and of course we’re talking around grief and loss and particularly for me and I know for Amanda and probably Bron in the room will be the theories and the evidence-based science around grief loss because for me, as a professional and a clinician counseling and so forth and nursing in this domain for I say Amanda as a sexologist and a qualified and registered counselor as well and Bron in the pastoral counseling and services of grief and loss and Glen of course as a teacher of adult education, we all have an interest in this because many, many, many of the people we touch and connect with are affected by grief and loss. And why I brought this subject to the table today is because Boomers and Baby Boomers specifically will find themselves at some point in the transition of being a Baby Boomer and aging and moving with their aging trying to understand or deal with the factors, and the impacts, and the stigma and the stereotypes that would sit around the understanding, or the theories and the things that sit with grief and loss. So I’ll begin by sitting and establishing some of the science for us so that the listeners understand and without apology, we will stick to a bit of science here because as I say, you’ve got to mix the grief and loss process with the understanding of empirical science. What we know as evidence and is real should be shared, and translated and transformed because this is the information that grounds some stability for counselors, for therapists, for people who work in the industry, teachers in particular too to transfer knowledge, to support people, to be informed so that the impacts of grief and loss are not so profound on individuals because they can be. So I’ll begin by explaining that grief and loss as an experience for people is very normal. It’s very much of our makeup of our human psyche because we are human beings and we have an emotional attachment from our heart to our brain. And there are many models and theories that have attempted to explain the complexities and processes of grief and loss and I’ll step through some of the major people. Of course, we would have the “Theories of Freud,” he’s “Model of Bereavement” sits in here. So Freud, of course, psycho, a mentalist and psychologist and sitting in that domain emphasizes the idea that grief is about personal attachment. So bereavement, or loss and the grief that sits around bereavement is the theory that stresses that grieving individuals are searching for an attachment that’s been taken from them. So the individual has an attachment to something but that attachment has been just cut off, ripped out, taken away very suddenly as a traumatic experience. And he describes the “mourning” as a detachment connected specifically in Freud’s modeling to a loved one. The melancholy feeling that escalates in people and suggesting that when mourning goes wrong, the mourning process gone wrong, the melancholia or the melancholy feeling escalates, and triples and snowballs and of course, melancholy is seen as a profound presentation of depression involving a complete loss of pressure in almost everything that they are connected to. So it may begin with the loss of a loved one but then eventually, if it’s not dealt with the melancholy explodes, it becomes more profound, it moves into a depression and then it starts to involve the loss and the experience of loss and the pressure of loss around everything a person is attached to. So the process of mourning for odd states is very important and the process of supporting  is viewed as a task to rebuilds ones in a world, to re-establish a connection to what is your new normal. And the death of a loved one can be resulting in individuals losing the sense of identity which is very much in the work of a scientist called “Frankl” who publishes in his work of attachment and identity and it suggested that in the grieving process, bereavement as a process through mourning is about the act of letting go of multiple attachments. So death, or grief and loss can be a process through Freudian, and Frankl and Cecilio theory that we actually use it to let go of other losses, if that makes sense. And so as a scientist, I look at this and as a counselor, I look at these theories and I know other, we’ll get Amanda and Bronwyn’s opinion here as counselors in a minute. But when loss is accepted, the ego, the spiritual ego for me, the ego is said to be accommodating loss and allowing bereavement to take place because bereavement is the passageway to search for new attachments in the new norm. So that’s the more or less the simple process of the Freudian model and how Freudian attach the human being to the subject. Now, let’s just discuss that model for a minute. Amanda and Bronwyn, Amanda first and then Bronwyn of course, where do you sit with that Freudian Model of Grief and Loss just as a science before we move into personal stuff?

Amanda:  As a science although it is a bit dated, it does make sense like there’s nothing that isn’t common sense about it. So there’s something that you’ve lost, there’s an attachment to that loss, that thing is no longer there. So from a scientific perspective, it makes a lot of sense and I know it is quite dated.

Dr. Drew:  But I use it as a base foundation and I want listeners to understand this conversation Amanda and I having, philosophically, when you study philosophy and you start to really entrench yourself in his thinking. If you do a PhD or anything like that masters, you end up being forced academically to go back and look at the foundations of Aristotle, and Socrates and Freudians and the pre-researchers, the people who built the foundation are important to bring forward now because in a moment, I’ll move to Kubler-Ross and a few other people but but it is dated, yes. However for me, this is the subject I want to have now in the first five minutes, it’s a real, it’s that early science that helped us to establish for people like Freud that we are connecting to the human being here.

Amanda:  Yes and that it’s a normal and natural reaction to loss is that when something or someone dies that you feel that bad, yes someone is no longer here and someone has died but that there’s also that feeling and so that attachment is actually really important to understand and I think you know, that’s a great foundation to start with.

Dr. Drew:  And it’s a great scientific base for counselors to work with. So as a Baby Boomer, if you’re experiencing anxiety, depression, emotional stuff and you’re thinking, “Well hang on a minute, no one’s died.” This is a connection just being a human being and I’m gonna ask Bron to have a say in a minute though, this is that Freudian understanding of psychology and the human brain and the connection to emotion which is backed up I mean Frankl is a recent scientist, Cecilio, Humphrey and Zimpher, these are people you can research to do this. They bring that Freudian attachment in, the science tells us we’re connecting here but that melancholy, that feeling, that emotion, that thing you’re getting is natural human being and it is associated to allow us to mourn, and to build or detach from other stuff – loss of a job, loss of a friend, loss of a life.

Amanda:  Loss of, loss of heaps of things, tangibles and intangibles.

Dr. Drew:  Loss of youth, aging, empty nesting. So, I’ll move across a bit more spiritual, Christianity spiritual, a pastoral area, Bron what do you got to say about this?

Bron: I love the fact that we have knowledge-based and empirical studies around grief, loss, bereavement. But the reality is that we’re human beings who are bereaved, who suffer loss, who are experiencing grief and I think we must never forget that and that grief, and loss and how we experience it changes from experience to experience that some days, you are overwhelmed and you sometimes have an epiphany in the midst of your grief and you go, “Okay, I’ve got to this point and if ain’t right I’m done.” Two weeks goes by, three weeks, a month and you find yourself back at that place and you thought you think, “Why am I back here? Why am I not done with this part or why am I still be visiting that?” And I think whether we say it’s layers and we’re going to a deeper layer or we’re just still allowing ourselves to feel a loss. And I think we need to allow ourselves to feel that loss for as long as we need to feel the loss. And my own personal experience of dealing with my own loss and bereavement has been that the loss remains. Even when I’ve come to terms with it, the loss is still there and they will still be moments of griefs, decades on.

Dr. Drew: And in the science, if I move a bit of theory and I know listeners probably going you know, it’s a bit all science-based but it really needs to be. I think Baby Boomers need to understand that as you transition, you experience your life and as you experience death, mourning, as you experience the loss, I mean the older we get, my grandma-in-law actually used to say to me when she hit a 90s, “Oh well, what’s the point? All my friends are dying off. The only thing I get to attend these days are funerals.” And this is an itself as an experience of aging, getting older and realizing that these are grief and loss cycles that people are going through.

Glenn: I think all the science stuff around that you’re talking is important and it’s knowledge that we need to know. But grief is certainly Bron was saying, grief is a human thing, is the humane thing. And I’d just like to start off by reading a little piece that I wrote straight after my dad died, Jack Capelli, smartest man I ever knew, left school at the age of 11, a wonderful musician and carpenter. And this is what I wrote and I think it says something that touches at the heart of what grief is for me and hopefully, it resonates for other human beings, “May we all know the blessing of the pain of too much tenderness at some time in life.” It means we have loved deeply. “May we all know the ache of grief, the quiet moments when we crawl to a corner to sob,” it means we have been touched profoundly. “May we all know the emergence from the fatal curl to stand again and live our moments better,” it means we have learned from those that we love. “Living life in appreciation gratitude and humility for the example set for the lessons gained” and I think for me, it’s the heart, and soul and core of grief that because we have loved and we’ve allowed something that has been, or something that was or something we had that we no longer have, or something that we yearned for that wasn’t fulfilled.

Amanda:  And I think it’s also important Drew to understand like people say, “Well, how prevalent is this?” And I said, “Well, the bonus is this is the one job that I’ve been in that’s completely stable because the prevalence of mortality is a 100% worldwide.” Everyone is going to die eventually, everyone is going to experience some form of loss numerous times throughout their life. So it’s really important to understand the basis of it like the foundations and then why people study this, why it’s important to understand and maybe, how you can make less of an impact when loss does occur?

Dr. Drew:  And this brings me again, I’ll step back to the science part and now we look at more modern theorists and we go to Kubler-Ross Grief Cycle thinking because what we do understand moving from Freudian theory across and keep evolving into this and Amanda might want to say something around here because Amanda has a disclaimer to make about her position that she holds within an institute. But before she goes there,  just to say the Kubler-Ross Cycle is the grief cycle model is useful as a science because it gives us a perspective and understanding of our own emotions and how other people emotionally react to personal trauma, change, loss, grief, irrespective of the cause, and in respecting of the driver, the reactions need to be understood.

Amanda:  And I think I will give the caveat, so my disclaimer is that I’m also the Executive Director of the Grief Recovery Institute of Australia and New Zealand. So I kind of live and breathe grief and grief research and I go out and I speak on grief and train people in grief and loss. And I think one of the biggest issues for me is kind of breaking down the perception of Kubler-Ross because a lot of people understand, “Oh, there’s five cycles of grief.” But they have to understand that that study was done based around people who were diagnosed with a terminal illness and she followed those people diagnosed with a terminal illness and said, “Now, tell me how you’re feeling, da, da, da.” So DABDA which we know is Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression and Acceptance, those are specifically to the person who’s been diagnosed with a terminal illness.

Dr. Drew:  If I can say that, they’re quite linear.

Amanda:  So they are and Kubler-Ross also said, “You don’t have to go through all five, it could just one of them. They’re not strategic and that you have to go progress through them in order.” And I think a lot of her teachings behind her theory weren’t really well understood when someone grabbed her study and published it and said, “Here’s the five stages of grief, you have to go through these five stages in order to be through grief.” And it’s like, “No guys, that’s not at all what it is.” It’s five components of loss that you might experience when you yourself are diagnosed with the terminal elements.

Dr. Drew:  Again, it’s not that it’s outdated. This is the beautiful thing about science, it’s questionable, it’s revisible, it’s remodeled, it’s redone. Kubler-Ross’ theories still sit very strong, they’re very good theories. What we do understand now is that when they did the theory, it was quite linear in its trial, in its approach, in its outcome. What we do understand about it, it is correct theory however it’s more fluid and so the result is that most people don’t progress through the stages so linear in an orderly manner. They actually experience them at different stages depending on the impact of the day, the week, the month, the visitor, the person that come into contact with.

Amanda:  Absolutely.

Glenn: A little bit of a sideways thing but there was a newspaper article decades ago that caught my eye, it was in the West Australian newspaper when I lived in WA and it said, “Iron rations of war for a child of war” and there was a little picture and it was a picture that really caught my eye, it was a picture of a youngster probably 2 years of age maybe, two and a half years of age and his name was Igor. And Igor was living in Sarajevo and Sarajevo was absolutely war-torn and his parents had packed a penguin-shaped backpack and they packed in at things of survival and some phone numbers, some food, some cans we could open the top and be able to drink out of them because his mum taught him how to do that. So it was a survival backpack to be able to get him through if something should happen to mum and dad. And it really resonated with me and it was before the days of computers so I ripped it out of a newspaper and I was working with long term unemployed youth and I read them this article, showed them the picture, walked around the room, showing them the penguin-shaped backpack and I said, “I think we’re all like Igor, we all need a backpack to be able to get us through this complex life we live.” What would you need in your backpack? And they answered initially with some practical things, “food, rope, a knife” one of those many prom knives, and the Swiss Army knife to be able to help us through. And then somebody said, music and then somebody said, love and then somebody said, hope. I believe that one of the models that you’re talking about is actually a model of life for our backpack of life. It’s our eagle backpack, penguin shaped backpack, in that backpack we need to carry. And it is the Kubler-Ross model that you’ve been talking about and I think it’s just a model of life, some things to understand how we react to every one of those DABDA – the Denial, the Anger, the Bargaining, the Depression and the Acceptance, how we do those things in life and not necessarily in that sequence becomes really important in how we step our way through life.

Bron:  And so maybe the fact that it’s not linear means that, “Hello, we’re human beings, we’re not equation.”

Amanda:  Because you know Bron, you’ve touched on something good there is because so many people go, ‘Am i grieving right?” Well, what is grieving right? “What is this societal norm or pressure that if I experience a loss, I must cry.” Well, no. You need to feel the way you need to feel to go beyond that loss.

Dr. Drew:  It’s very much a counseling session with me. I spent some time when I have the time to apply the therapy to people or with people is that my daughter tells me, “I’m not grieving properly or should I be grieving this way?” The first message I send to my clients is that, “Hang on a moment, I want you to understand very clearly. Grieving belongs to you and doesn’t belong to anybody else. It belongs to you, it’s yours, you own it, no one can tell you how to grieve or how to experience loss and the reaction you take is got to be well understood for you. My role here is to process that coping strategy and to give you coping strength and confidence to deal with it.”

Glenn: One of the things I say about grief is that there’s no measuring stick, there’s no score out of 9 or mine is a 9 out of 1- on grief and yours is a 2 out of 10 in grief. But there’s certainly people in my life who have had to grieve in ways that no human being should need to grieve. My friend, Walter Macaque lost his wife and his kids, they were murdered at Port Arthur as part of that slaughter that was a scar on the soul of Australia and you can forgive Walter if he emerged a really bitter human being and certainly, there would have been bitterness and certainly, there’s deep ongoing pain. But he learnt to live his life to honor those, the Alannah and Madeline Foundation in Australia and Beyond Australia now just wonderful works. I think part of the recovery from grief, if it is a recovery maybe it’s a discovery. Part of the discovery of grief is that we learn to live our life to one of those that are gone and we find some good way to be able to smile in their memory, dance in their memory, celebrate their memory, do good deeds in their memory.

Dr. Drew:  Bron, let me ask? And I’ve had these personal experience, I have used myself through trauma and loss. Do you think spirituality plays a role, I know it does, but do you think spirituality plays a role in all people to deal with grief and loss because I’ll bring out the statistic in a moment, it’s very clear and how this has been recorded and scientifically based in Bowlby’s Attachment Theories or anyone like that, Lindemann’s Grief Work, other scientists will discuss in a moment. But it’s very noticeable when people and I’m not saying they’re religious or spiritual, it might be a part of their life. They experience a traumatic and really burden of grief, or loss or burden, they of course will go to denial, anger, bargaining, depression, acceptance. Do people naturally swing back to spirituality, religion and all of a sudden, they find themselves back in a church praying to God and asking for forgiveness or “I’m here and God, I’ve got to go back to the church, I’ve got to go back to religion, I’ve got to get myself stable again.” Is this an issue that you think affects everybody or just people with the connection to religion?

Bron:  I think it really depends on your connection to faith, religion, spirituality. I think those who do have that connection now, I have absolutely no empirical evidence for this, this is just observation. I think those who have some form of connection to some form of spirituality are able to process their grief probably more easily than those who don’t because what I believe, grief and loss does is open you up to something bigger than yourself. And those who already have an understanding of transcendence regardless of what it looks like, there’s a sense in which grief and loss are almost a familiar space to them. And so people who maybe in childhood or their teen years had that connection to spirituality and they’ve moved away during their adult life. But then grief and loss may well bring them back to a spiritual pathway whether that’s going back to a church or reconnecting with meditation or whatever it may be. But I actually think that yes, it’s almost like you’ve needed to have that in the first place.

Dr. Drew:  There is some great research available. You can have a look at this data and there’s a fair bit of grey literature in it too but I will throw in now the “Born Agains.” And there’s some great statistics show and I have counseled them and I don’t know if you have to. But I’ve counseled some Baby Boomer Born-agains, they’ve all of a sudden re-gone back to God for some reason of trauma, experience, and grief and loss. However, they’re at my table speaking with me, they’ve reconstituted their life to go back to God to find Christianity. And basically, what they’re experiencing is they’re now back into a grief cycle, they’re angry, or confused or depressed because they thought changing to spiritual acceptance or going to God or being born again would make everything better. What they haven’t done is actually gone back and dealt with their grief and their loss.

Amanda:  Absolutely.

Bron:  I’m totally agreeing with you. Spirituality, faith can never be a quick fix. It’s actually not a quick fix for anything and particularly, not for grief. Grief I believe is a beautiful thing.

Dr. Drew:  I totally agree with you.

Glenn: But from it, if we learn to stand again and be able to live our life as an example of the appreciation of what we learned or an example of the appreciation of what we have wanted that it never filled the hole in our soul. So I’m very much agreeing with Bron that grief can be a beautiful thing and maybe we’re not really fully human until we’ve been through the experience of it.

Bron:  Oh good, because I think particularly in our Western society,  we medicate ourselves one way or another using a variety of different things.

Dr. Drew:  Sure, I love a good run.

Bron:  Whatever you like. But you know, we don’t want to deal with grief, we want to push it away and often we’ll go back to a church because we think, “Okay,  I’ll absorb some doctrine, I’ll absorb some Dogma. My mind will say, “Tick this box.” Now our heart is still grieving.

Dr. Drew:  The grief cycles begin. Amanda mentioned earlier, we have denial. So really Amanda, the fact of great denial is a defense mechanism, yes?

Amanda:  Absolutely yes.

Dr. Drew:  So why Amanda? Why would they do it? Why would people just totally go in denial?

Amanda:  Well, a lot of people just don’t want to believe that it’s happened – “Ohh, this can’t be happening, this isn’t true,” especially if it’s something let’s say an accidental car crash or something like that that ends up in traumatic loss and then they kind of go, “Oh well no, it couldn’t be them. It just couldn’t be, that’s not the way it happens.” Well, yes it is and unfortunately, that person is not coming back and if there was unfortunate enough that they lost their life or that they died, they’re not coming back. Well, maybe no, not maybe like it’s they’re dead, they’re gone, they’re not coming back. And so I think for me, the people I speak to they just live with this hope that maybe one day, they’ll see them again.

Dr. Drew:  It’s the denial because they don’t know the future?

Amanda:  Or that their future seems uncertain because it’s been so familiar with the person. Let’s say it’s your spouse of 30 years. Well, your future seemed very certain because you had hopes, dreams, and expectations, plans for the future, attending your daughter’s wedding or whatever it might be that now it just feels like all of that has been ripped away from you. So it seems so far removed of will now what because now, if my partner is not here to attend the daughter’s wedding with me, what am I gonna do? How am I gonna move on without this person?

Dr. Drew:  How am I gonna survive? Or, “I’m not ready to face this.”

Bron:  Well, that’s legitimate.

Glenn: Now sometimes, when I teach, I teach sideways, I believe in rhythm, I believe in music and I believe in physicality and I believe in contradiction. So we can sing a very sad thing in a very happy way. And one of the ways we taught the Kubler-Ross model and we still teach it and given circumstances is that I have a little song. Now, I must pre-frame this by saying that my voice has been known to cause grief, my singing voice that’s been kind of caused grief to human beings. But I’m working on it, I’m deaf in all upper registers, this just sounds I’ve never heard so when I sing at least the way my voice sounds okay. And here’s the DABDA song, “You and I we journey through, DABDA, DABDA and all we see and how we do, DABDA, DABDA, DADADABDA, DADADABDA, you and I we journey through, old DABDA day.” And I would have taught the audience and it might be a group of high school students, it might be a group at a conference or a convention from a particular association. But I teach them what DABDA stands for, that Kubler-Ross model. We talk about that it is a fluid thing but how you do DABDA and understanding DABDA becomes really, really important. Sometimes, I’m working with high school groups where there’s been suicide. Sometimes, I’m working with organization where there’s being challenged but I do think that the Kubler-Ross model is a model for life for not just necessarily for the grief state even though that’s how it came into being. We used DABDA with a particular organization because there was a CEO who had been absolutely sensational for this organization. In the five years, he’d been a leader, he had achieved all the goals, it really created the teamwork and an essence. But then there was a political movement against him at a board level and pretty well, the CEO was in figurative and metaphorical terms was knifed and he moved on. And it was just devastating for the people in the organization and really devastating for him too. But he was staying on board for another 6 months before being replaced. And at the convention, in the final conference of this CEO, I took the group through DABDA, “You and I we journey through DABDA, DABDA” and we all sang it and then I interviewed the CEO and talked about, “This has been a significantly traumatic event and it’s tearing the organization apart. When it first occurred, they were like, “It couldn’t be” and, “Surely, that’s not going to happen, no way in the world. So we hit that denial button. And if Kubler-Ross is right, then there’s some anger involved, some bargaining involved, some depression involved and some acceptance involved and if we get to acceptance. And he talked about how he’d love to get in the group to acceptance but he also talked about the fact that for the initial few months, he had no anger, he was in denial in many ways. He was very logical about accepting the answer and then his wife said to me that when I talk to him about this DABDA process and maybe we go through the organization that he actually then got angry about what was happening. And she felt that if he hadn’t have learned DABDA. then he wouldn’t have embraced the fact that he needed to go through some DABDA. There’s a band called, “Primal Scream” and my mate Susie Waldron loves some of their songs like they’re moving on up, but I just love the name of the band. Sometimes you got to do a “primal scream” in life, you got to get from your guts and get it to come out of your mouth and “Ahhhhhhhhh” and they had to go through the anger before being able to move on.

Dr. Drew:  That’s a real feeling particularly when you’re being wacked in the face with something out of the blue, traumatic and something that is not real. Look, this could be something listeners and it’s not simple but this could be something as focused as a diagnosis of stage 4 cancer, a diagnosis in the older person of dementia. And then of course, we may understanding it’s fluid, let’s discuss the stage of anger. People get angry Amanda with themselves and with others or just themselves or is the anger focused for some reason?

Amanda:  Usually, what happens is the anger is with themselves. So the person who gets diagnosed with cancer, “I can’t believe I smoked all those years, I knew this was gonna happen. Well, okay great.” And then usually what happens is later on in the diagnosis where you know definitely your terminal and this is going to be the end of life for you, you tend to redirect to that anger towards other people, really necessarily to distance yourself from them.

Dr. Drew:  And to blame?

Amanda:  Not necessarily to blame but to distance yourself to really do this you know, if they’re pissed off with me, then they won’t miss me once I die.

Dr. Drew:  Well because I find this interesting too because when I experienced myself and I then go back to research, I’d back to look a theory when I experience things in grief and loss myself which I’ve experienced a lot of trauma in my life, war, and nursing and so forth. So when people do something wrong to you, this is a very common thing I’m seeing particularly Facebook, Twitter and all this at the moment. People have done something underhanded or wrong to you and you’ve discovered it, confronted it or said something. Well, you haven’t discovered it but all of a sudden they’re being bad and they’re angry at you. But it wasn’t you that did it, it was them that did it. I explain this to people they ask me, “Why is this happening?” I go, “This is part of their grief cycle.” They’re gonna distance themselves from you and from the issue by blaming you and making you bad because you’ve done something wrong because they’re not going to be accountable in their grief cycle.

Amanda:  And then, they turn around and if you’re the person who’s been pushed away and you’re not understanding, “Oh this is part of it, this is why they’re doing this.” You go, “Fine, you know what, you don’t want my help? Nevermind, I’m not gonna give you my help” and you walk away and then what happens is that person dies and then who’s left holding all the crap that you have open the grief and it’s the person who’s left behind?

Dr. Drew:  Correct because they have made out you’re so bad and so terrible and you’re this and that the other, so you’re left holding that emotional bucket. Get to a good counselor like us. But anger, Bron,  I often see patients when I’m with them particularly, they reach a stage in their flight cycle of grief and loss and they do become angry with God. Why do you think that is?

Bron:  I like this one. I think because somewhere in whether it’s in our childhood or whatever, we’re taught in Western culture that there is this God who is in control of all things. And whether we go on as an adult to adopt a religious viewpoint, a religious worldview or not, that understanding is very foundational to our lives and so when something happens, we get people get angry at God because A: isn’t God supposed to be in charge of everything and if God is a good God, why does he let bad things happen and I think also it’s about being able to blame anybody, anybody other than either themselves or those that they love.

Dr. Drew:  And why not blame the ultimate being?

Bron:  That’s right because hey, he won’t answer back. It’s that sort of something, it’s not logical.

Dr. Drew:  Well I suppose if he does, you’re the next Messiah. I do see it, I do often see anger and anger with God and particularly and interestingly enough, I see with some patience people who are not or don’t class themselves as religious will at some point in every cycle probably playing God or bring the conversation up. And that brings me then to lead the conversation to the next and we are staging it, but it is part of the grief cycle. So bargaining, I see particularly in terminally ill patients that I work with elderly, dementia, Parkinson’s, cancer. A lot of these patients we wait, I wait for the subjectivity,  the subject observation is that staff or nurses will tell me, “Margaret is saying this or Bob saying that.” And I realize because of my notes, I can calculate it we’re in a cycle, part of the cycle here where we’re now bargaining. And they’re now traditionally bargaining to face what’s going on, to plead with God perhaps with someone to, “Stop it, take it away, change it. I’ll do what I have to do, if you give me this one last chance, I’ll change.” Why is the bargaining so much a part of the grief cycle, Amanda do you think?

Amanda:  I think personally it’s because acceptance is so hard to actually accept. You know, like it’s the whole, well if I just give you this, then I’ll do this. If I just pray a little more, then maybe you’ll find a cure or say that it’s not there or that, maybe the doctors wrote the notes wrong or it’s that last little glimmer of hope. And I think that’s where bargaining gets its hook into you. It’s a last little glimmer of hope because if that last glimmer goes out, then you know the end is near.

Bron:  I just wanted to whether it’s our innate desire to control everything. When we’re children, we can’t wait to grow up because we see that adults are in control because, hey they control us, when to go to bed and feed us and all of those sorts of things. So we make this assumption, I believe early on, we have this belief that once we’re an adult, we can control things and then we grow to adults or we realize that we actually can’t. But we spend so much of our lives trying to control stuff and I think the bargaining is part of that.

Glenn: Interesting Amanda, Bron and Drew, you’re talking about the bargaining aspect there. I’d like to put my bidding about why the bargaining is part of the human psyche. And it comes back to me to that thing that I talk about often that the human brain, alas, sometimes is a binary brain. Now, we need the binary brain when it’s fight/flight. When you’re in a dangerous situation, you need to get out of the way or fight back, you need to make an instant decision or fight-or-flight and therefore, it’s a binary brain. But that binary aspect then kicks in to make things good, bad, right, wrong and I think part of the bargaining is part of this primal thing that we go back to in terms of binary, “if you just do this, then I will do this, if you just let me get through this one, then I promise you I won’t do it again.” And I’ve never seen bargaining and another word for bargaining can be “bribery.” I’ve never seen it work really in the long term ever and in the short term that might work but then cause some dangerous precedent. So I think there is something in human beings that do go, “Just get me through this one and I will then do this. If I can get through this, then I’m promised I’m not going to have another drink again. If you just forgive me one more time, I’m not going to hit you anymore.” So there’s this trade-off and we’re never been very, very good at understanding, we trade-offs and that’s why some people can do pseudo-trade off and pretend that they’re brilliant bargainers and negotiators and maybe, even pull themselves presidents in doing so but there’s other layers to it. And that’s why I love the Kubler-Ross model, it’s not just about bargaining but that is one of the things to understand in our psyche – how we face denial and when it shows up in us, to recognize it, why does anger occur and spark? And then the bargaining, the depression, the acceptance is an incredible thing. My wonderful wife Lindy did a lot of work for “The Telethon Foundation” in Western Australia. She was with Channel 7 and would often be going in filming and interviewing youngsters who were in very dire medical straits and some of them, there was little hope of long-term life. But the incredible wisdom of some of these children, the incredible inspiration of some of these children in how they were able to accept and I don’t think it was because it was childlike and didn’t really understand, I think it was because it was childlike and they did understand. And maybe, that’s why human beings invent stories and some of the stories can be very comforting to us and that comforts us to be able to go in the next life or in the next cycle of life. There’s some whole stack of the planet that does believe in the reincarnate and whole stack of the planet believes in a heaven and then there’s different versions of those heavens. But I think for whatever way we look at life, grief teaches us to have an understanding of the appreciation of life to appreciate the things that we have and if we don’t have them and yearn for them to appreciate some ways that we can be the example of that thing that we’re yearning for that we can fill the hole in our soul.

Dr. Drew:  Yes, I also believe I do often see and I make note in my reflective journals when I sit with this. Sometimes, I do see the bargaining component of grief and loss transfer. So I may have a elderly patient in a trajectory of terminal illness, no more decision making to be made any more about treatment. Then the family has to come to terms, I do really find my patients come to terms very quickly with it but because they’ve come to terms very quickly with it and let’s go to the area of acceptance in the grief cycle. But unfortunately, the loved ones around them haven’t come to terms, they will then transition or take on the bargaining. The bargaining component is, “I’ll change, I’ll make it better if you give mum this one last chance, or if you can slow it down, or anger, or denial.” So the fluidity here in the grief cycle is very important when you see it transferring amongst people who are very close and emotionally attached. I see this very clearly as a clinician but bargaining also, I see it becomes very transferable very quickly that a loved one will want to bargain the grief and loss more because they’re not prepared for what they’re experiencing on behalf of the other person.

Amanda:  Actually, I think you’ve hit the nail on the head with that one because oftentimes, what I find with my clients is that you’ll have a spouse who will say, “Well, we’ll try this other treatment” because if maybe this will give them more time or whatever it might be. And so to me, that’s actually a way of bargaining, it’s like we as a medical professional, you know this is not, there’s no additional hope.

Dr. Drew:  I think Amanda, it’s also a process of denial blended with the bargaining, “I’m not accepting the diagnosis so let’s go bargain and get another one and have a second chance.”

Amanda:  Absolutely. And so as you know I’ll breathe in some weird smoke or I’ll sit in a hot tent, these things that there’s no evidence based for them. But you know, if you give someone a glimmer of hope and even two extra hours to live and if that’s what they want, bonus. Then, let them have it but I think that is part of it and you do find a lot of family members who do that bargaining on behalf of the patient.

Dr. Drew:  So if we look at another stage of the Kubler-Ross’ Theory of the Grief and Loss, we go to depression. Now, depression for me becomes a very centralized clinical focus because it is a mental health diagnosis and it sits in a diagnostic framework for mental health work and I think it’s important, all mental health workers understand is that it’s not just as simple as looking at grief and loss and moving to the stage of depression and knowing they’ve got depression because I do not believe that everybody experiences it in a grief cycle. I think some people experience grief and loss without the depression and I do believe empirically that the denial, anger, bargaining is actually if you wrapped them up into another mental health application or diagnosis framework, it’s part of actual anxiety. So what we need to understand, I want listeners to understand, anxiety and depression are congruent. Their algorithm is very similar and there’s a correlation between the two. However, if we treat anxiety as a presentation first which anxiety is very much an outward expression of the emotion – the fear, the lost, “Oh my God, something’s what’s going to happen? I can’t control myself. Where’s this? Where’s that? Who’s paying for this?” A very, very experienced in a person in a nursing home and elderly person who’s lost, disorientated in a community, someone with dementia perhaps and that is an anxiety. If we don’t treat the anxiety, manage it, counsel it and do something to reduce and ameliorate its impact, it actually over a period of time turns into depression. Depression is an inward emotion, an inward feeling of “I’m no good, I’m bad. My own life is not worth living, I should be dead,” it’s an indication a person’s began to accept or loss or their borrowing down, also treatable and manageable in mental health and services and quite a natural normal thing that many people in society will experience. But in the stage of grief and loss, it sits and characterized as a feeling of sadness, and regret, or fear and uncertainty and an indication the person has begun to accept what’s happening. That can be true as a bigger bubble or a broader brush but I do worry that people particularly listeners saying, deaths in the depression stage, “He’ll come out of it and go to acceptance or he’ll come out of it and whatever.” If sadly mistaken, they can come in and out of this stage continuously for quite a long period of time. And without proper understanding and therapy to address it, it becomes detrimental to the mental health of the person. Amanda?

Amanda:  I totally agree with that and I think another way for just general public to be able to understand the difference, one of the main differences between depression and anxiety is anxiety is more like “think of it, future thinking.” So it’s worrying about the future whereas depression is more folk on the past. So not being able to, yes the impact of the pass and stuff like that and I think that’s actually really important to understand too. And even though now, only recently, grief has become a diagnosable issue. I think I have a problem with it because I don’t want people to go, “Oh well, dad died and I’ve been sad for 3 weeks, I should go and get a pill.” And it’s like, “No, you shouldn’t.” You absolutely shouldn’t it’s like you need to not isolate, you need to get out into the public and see some friends and talk about it and see a mental health professional and talk about your grief and loss but don’t run out and get a pill to dull the senses and your emotions because the minute you stop taking that pill, guess what those senses and emotions are coming back.

Dr. Drew:  I’m very much anti chemicals and synthetic intervention although they do have their place and I will support them when they’re needed when we have multidisciplinary and collaborative effect on the diagnosis. But I relate that Amanda straight back to a work of Lindemann, if you’re across Lindemann’s Grief Work and of course, there’s Lindemann’s and other scientists who works in the grief. I attached very closely to this as a nurse and a counselor and someone works in geriatric and elder care. I see my job and role and I impart this teaching to nurses and care workers to study a little bit of Lindemann’s work because the work there is a constitute of grief work, it’s working with grief, it’s an emancipation of bondage from the grief and loss. So it’s actually work that’s needed through emotional and mental health counseling and work to move away from the attachment and to build a new norm and get a new status and develop a new space that’s stable and comfortable for you and yet, still accepting the readjustment of what’s happened in the past. So for me, that’s a more balanced approach because that loss will never go away but we have a future ahead of us to get on with that loss and keep that as a new phase. So emancipation in Lindemann’s work is very important for me because we don’t want people to stay in the grief.

Bron:  Yes. Can I throw in a question here? Because I’m not a clinician, I’m just a person who’s observed life and I use my observations to help other people. And I wonder with this whole issue around depression as part of the grief stages. These studies that have been done, are have they been done across cultures or only within Western culture? And the reason I asked this is because I go back to what I said about grief being a beautiful thing but we don’t see grief as being a beautiful thing. In Western culture, it’s something we want to get over, we want to take a pill for, we want to deny, we want to run away from. And yet, I believe again from my observations that grief is much more accepted in Eastern cultures, it is embraced, the whole breathing process is much more outward and I’m just wondering whether our Western proclivity or living in our heads, living in that cognitive space of valuing logic and thinking over emotion means that we bring the tendency but a depression is something that is part, it’s a cultural norm for us. I’m not saying that other cultures don’t experience it, but I’m just wondering whether our culture actually exacerbates the depression that it is attended on grief because of our particular focus on not grieving and getting better and getting over it.

Amanda:  I’ll start with the first answer in that. With regard to research around the concept of grief and loss, considering it’s something that impacts every single person in the world, the research is extremely sparse compared to what it should be considering it does impact every person alive. And so there’s a lot of unknowns and unfortunately, that some of the research that is done is typically done in Caucasian, Westernized countries, that kind of stuff. So if they do look at culturally diverse areas, what they’ll do is they’ll look at a process of grieving for a type of person. So they might look at the wailing process that there are cultures that get together and they wail or they might look at a small people’s assets.

Dr. Drew:  You only have to go to a “Maori Funeral” to experience this because it is extremely cultural, it’s wailing, it’s three days long. If you have never experienced this, it’s quite confrontational. Me, I love the process that they do.

Amanda:  And there’s different cultures around the world who do grief really I’ll say extremely well. And I would agree with you Bron, I think Western world’s don’t really necessarily do grieving that well because one, we’re not taught to talk about our emotions.

Dr. Drew:  I don’t know whether I’ve experienced some clients in the Baltic States or the Baltic countries where for example, the women are not allowed to show grief and when someone’s dying, the women wait outside, only the men go in and dah, dah, dah, dah, dah. Some people said, “That’s rude, that’s horrible, it’s sad,” I don’t know but that’s their culture.

Amanda:  So culturally, that’s appropriate for them.

Dr. Drew:  That’s how they deal with it. But it would be interesting to read some of the research of how those people as a society grow and develop and have the theories they have. But readjustment, if I can move myself back to Lindemann, it’s the readjustment of environment which involves. So for me as a nurse, it’s very close,  it’s emotional, its physical, it’s psychological, its socio-psychological and it’s an adjustment to life which should be brought in. To answer you specifically Bron, I’m very much Buddhist-orientated in my thinking and my lifestyle because I don’t see Buddhism as a religion as it is a way of life and understanding from the Buddhist perspective which goes across many cultures Buddhism. And that is it again, they see the grievement, the impermanence or they see this as a process of natural life, they see it very optimistically, they deal with it as a natural cycle of living because they don’t see it as an end and they look at mindfulness of post grief. So Buddhism actually encumbrance this beautifully because in the Buddhism theory or the teaching and the philosophy, they ask the people to accept the dying to accept the grief and understanding the loss and connect with it but to move forward and understand what happens after this because this is the next transition and this is the new being and the new life and this is what’s naturally meant to occur. And I like that because then it settles the grief, it takes over from the pain and it allows the emotional, physical and psychosocial space to be adjusted and keep moving forward. No part does Buddhism say, “Stay there” or no part does it say, “Forget and don’t keep going.” It says, natural rebirth, natural recycle, and very clearly says, embrace it, warmth it, own it and belong to it because it’s a part of all of us.

Amanda:  And I think that’s one of the important bits is that they see it as a normal and natural process that everyone’s going to go through. Now, the common sense is we know, it’s a normal and natural process that everyone is going to go through. But people just don’t want to accept that.

Dr. Drew:  And I think that was Bron’s point? Was it not Bron? Western education, modern society, ‘“Oh don’t die, don’t grief, don’t talk about death, don’t face death, don’t go there.”

Bron:  Therefore, we bring more problems on ourselves that we’ve been got to go to another professional to help us fix and we like that word “fix” but I’ve got to get better. But better is not actually being human.

Amanda:  And what is that definition of better? So for me, when it comes to grief and loss and obviously I’m ridiculously biased being part of the Grief Recovery Institute and so my view is the more open, honest and genuine you are with regard to how you speak about grief and loss and how you communicate with people around you, then the impact of that loss will be softened. It won’t go away, it will not be there but it’ll be softened. So if it’s like if I find out my dad is gonna die and I go out of my way to have my conversations with him and tell him how I feel and all those significant emotional statements I want to tell him, then awesome. When he does die, I’m not left holding, “God, I really wish I would have told my dad this or I really wish I should have dah, dah, dah, dah, dah.” And I think what happens is in a lot of times, grief especially the expression of grief is held so strongly because it’s of those, “I wish I coulda, shoulda, woulda done something different better or more while that person was still here.”

Dr. Drew:  Well, this is very much true part as I said, we would go back to Freudian theory if you want it.

Amanda:  Yes, brings us through back to attachment.

Dr. Drew:  And back to attachment and back the process of mourning and why it’s important to. Bron, you’ve got your question about cultures and the differences is I have a lot of Italians in my family and of course, the wearing of black traditionally through mourning is very specific to them. So why they wear black or why do people wear black as a process or an expression of mourning whether it’s a small process, we wear black to funerals in my family.  But for example, Nonna or Mama Loretta or any of my family members, the elderly, they’re still wearing black, post their husband’s death of 30, 40, 50 years, still in black, won’t change but it’s a message they’re sending that they’re in mourning, they’ll hold that mourning. It doesn’t necessarily change their life, they still get on with their life but the wearing of black is a mourning process to survive. For them it’s a survival and an expression that they are experiencing grief and loss. And many, many religions or cultures still do this and also for the women specifically because it’s a message to other men that they not on the market but that if you’re going to step in or come near, remember I’m mourning, “I’ve lost a loved one and if you’re going to approach me and talk to me and deal with me, you got to remember to take this into consideration.” In some aspects, I think this is a subtle, subjective and yet nice way of presenting someone’s mourning because it’s sending a quiet or a veiled message that, “I’m in mourning, I’ve lost and if you’re going to deal with me, please take it into consideration.” This class of Europeans that do this, a very witnessing to mourning, and death, and loss and grief and they use it in a specific way. So when you do see that older Italian, or Yugoslavia Greek person in black immediately the message is, they’re in mourning, be respectful, it’s something we need to be conscious about. And I actually connect and like that rather than hiding death, moving away from death and not bringing death into our daily lives.

Bron:  I just throw one last thing is because I’m realizing we’ve sort of probably getting towards the end of our time.

Dr. Drew:  We started like.

Bron:  Oh we did too, yes. Because of my conservative Christian background, having been a Salvation Army minister, I’ve experienced these things and observed lots from the Christian subculture that I actually believe it’s the Christian stories that we’re told of death and resurrection that is actually contributed to an inability I think amongst Christians to grieve well because Christian funerals have so often focused on, “Dear John has passed away but he’s going to a better place, he’s at peace now, he’s at rest now and because we know he’s at rest therefore, we should feel happy or we shouldn’t actually grief because we know he is happy.” And there’s a comes back again to not a denial of the loss but just as denial of the whole process. It actually really hasn’t happened because we will see Dear John again at some point in the future and I actually think the Christian Church has a lot to answer for probably on a whole other levels but that’s a whole thing.

Amanda:  I think you’ve said something really important there Bron is like you’ve mentioned that when this does occur that they’re going to a better place and so the people who are experiencing this, if you think well they’re going to a better place, that message right there is, “Well, what the hell is wrong with my place? Is my place not good enough for them?” So it starts that process.

Dr. Drew:  I don’t think it should be any standards put at it. But I’m a firm believer to being around death so much. I believe we don’t place enough walls around it. It seemed to be a cold place, grief of loss and I don’t attach to that very well. I would prefer to see grief and loss evolved in a modern society where it is a beautiful enrichment, natural path, yes it has grief, it has pain. Let’s not go so deep into the bar dark space and I love a good funeral that sing songs and enjoy someone who celebrates someone’s life but really I mean we have discussed this in other podcasts over few rules and so forth. But I think the message of the clear keynote today to the listeners is that grief and loss for me is a totally normal space and it’s something that we should adapt to understanding not to be afraid of, not to worry about experiencing and specifically, when you are experiencing all these know that you have somebody professional to go to because the science and the psychology is very well known now over this.

Amanda:  And I think that’s it is that a lot of people go, “I’m in grief, or I’m in mourning or I’ve experienced a loss but I’m afraid to tell other people like go and seek help, I’m afraid to help seek because what if they think something’s wrong with me.” And it’s like, “No, if you are experiencing loss, there’s so many great people out there who can help you move through it because it’s not easy to move through on your own.”

Dr. Drew:  And I think I believe Amanda that is the action but you do, I also come across people that will use grief as an excuse. And I don’t think that that is a safe place and a sound place for people to be because if we use grief and loss as an excuse for actions, for behaviors and for things you do again, you’re transferring your behavior, your action, your blame onto others to take acceptability and accountability for you. I don’t think that’s a nice place for people to be in or took people to accept, “Oh well, she’s grieving and she’s in loss so we’ll just let that happen.”

Amanda:  And I think one of the other things, we could talk about this first, we could talk about this for so many episodes Drew. And there’s so many myths around grief that we could touch on because I think that’s another thing is that people think, “Because I’m grieving, I don’t want to cry in public,” so they tend to isolate and the more you isolate, the harder it is to deal with grief.

Dr. Drew:  Which is the hardest issue I have with the older cohort of people, older Boomers and Boomer parents and of course, Boomers themselves looking after their elderly parents. We’ve got to be mindful that the isolation and behavior is very much attached to grief or loss. And we have to work therapeutically through the middle of that to get these people to be more enabled, more active, more focused and more coping with their grief and loss cycle which is very important. And so I want to just add in and I’ll get a couple for me, a couple from you, a couple from Bron the things that grief and loss are actually associated to. For me, I’ll give the obvious of course, death of a loved one and medical diagnosis of a terminal illness. Give me two of yours Amanda?

Amanda:  Moving, because there’s a lot of loss around moving and away from friends and family and stuff like that. So I think moving is a good one to actually acknowledge and I think loss of your identity of who you are when you transition from being a teenager, to a young adult, to a parent, to a grandparent. I think each one of those transitions need to be regarded as a loss.

Dr. Drew:  Bron?

Bron:  For me, it is the loss of a relationship particularly through divorce or through estrangement within a family.

Dr. Drew:  And I’m just going to add two more for our listeners to think about and that is losing your job, then the third one, losing your sexiness or your opinion of it or how you felt that way which would be a great post podcast for this session.

Wayne Bucklar: And once again, time has defeated us and as we draw to the end of Booms Day Prepping, our Baby Boomer podcast, let’s go around the room for last thoughts.

Amanda:  Absolutely. My final thought is really if you’ve experienced loss and you’re finding it really difficult to get through that, there’s plenty of people out there who are very willing to help. So please look up somebody and get some help. Don’t be afraid to get some help.

Dr. Drew:  Bron?

Bron:  I would add on to what Amanda said is don’t be afraid of grief and grieving. Grief is a beautiful thing, it is very much part of being a human being and if we embrace it, we discover things about ourselves that are also beautiful.

Glenn: Wonderful topic guys and and my farewell would be of course has got to go back to the jukebox and my dad Jack, his farewell song, the final song we played at the many songs in his passing, in his fun real, in his funeral as we put it this fun real, real fun of Jack, it was a closer walk with thee. Now, it wasn’t necessarily Dad wasn’t a religious man, he was a spiritual man in some ways, the spirit came to him in music and that’s why he chose a closer walk with thee and it had to be Pete Fountain, the Pete Fountain version and I had to have a little bit of swing to it and it’s just sensational. I mean for months after dad’s death as soon as I would hear that song and even now, if that song suddenly comes up on my playlist, the tears come to my eye, the honor comes to my dad. My mum, she had a hundred songs at her fun real but there one that he said had to be the final one was Gracie Fields singing, “wish me luck as you wave me goodbye” and that’s just the essence of mum, she was a blaze of glory. But I’d like to throw in talk of poems, and prayers and promises. I’ve been lately thinking about my lifestyle, all the things I’ve done and how it’s been and I can’t help believing in my own mind, I’m really gonna hate to see it in. And you see a lot of sunshine and a lot of good things on the way and you talk of poems, and prayers and promises. We lost John Denver too early but I think we learn appreciation in a poem, a prayer and a promise and one of the ways that we learn it to become more fully human is when we face, when we embrace the grief. Thanks team.

Dr. Drew:  And my final thoughts I think are going to be this and that is as a Baby Boomer, please be open and understanding and please connect with the fact that at some point as a normal human being in your aging process, you are going to experience grief and loss. You may not necessarily know what it looks like and feels like but I can assure you, rest assured there is plenty of people around that are well in position to support you when you’re feeling different, strange, depressed, down, sad, lost, confused. You’re probably experiencing the normal stages of grief and loss. Have some faith and get some support, seek out some counselling and connect with those that can help you.

Wayne Bucklar: You’ve been listening to Booms Day Prepping. This week, we’ve had a look at grief and loss. Important topics for us all as we get ready and prepare for that next stage for Baby Boomers, perhaps the final stage for Baby Boomers and we’ve reached that point in our lives where we attend more funerals than we do weddings. This is Booms Day Prepping, my name is Wayne Bucklar, thanks for being with us today.

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