EP80: Grief with Michelle Marlahan

Michelle and I are going to get together and we're going to put our big pretty brains together and talk about everybody's favorite topic grief, everybody loves grief. So if you're new here you can go meet Michelle at episode 20. And the reason that I want to talk about grief is because in November of 2020, my best friend died. And I feel like I have  I've had a lot of loss in my life, like from death and Michelle has always been like a super anchor for me. And she's helped me so much that I thought, you know what? We got to take these conversations  to the pod because as our friend Glennon Doyle says  grief is the price that you pay. For loving people and being loved in your life. And so at some point, even if you're, everything's cool with you now, at some point you're going to experience grief.

Show links:



I'm so glad you're back. Hey friends.  I have Michelle Marla Han here and I interviewed her in episode 20, all about her self-care journey and today, and for the next 10 episodes, Michelle and I are going to get together and we're going to put our big. Pretty brains together and talk about everybody's favorite topic grief, everybody loves grief.

So if you're new here you can go meet Michelle at episode 20. And the reason that I want to talk about grief is because in November of 2020, my best friend died. And I feel like. I have  I've had a lot of loss in my life, like from death and Michelle has always been like a super anchor for me.

And she's helped me so much that I thought, you know what? We got to take these conversations to the pod because as our friend Glennon Doyle says grief is the price that you pay. For loving people and being loved in your life. And so at some point, even if you're, everything's cool with you now, at some point you're going to experience grief.

And so Michelle and I want to be there when you need us. So if you don't need us right now, somebody, you know does. And if you do need us right now, we're sending you big hugs. So Michelle tell our friends why are we talking about grief? You and me? Well, I think in part, because I don't know of two people who get more excited to talk about grief, first of all, I know I'm so excited.

I've been so excited to talk about grief with you.  And I think we do have. Unique experiences. We each have our own experiences with grief that are actually really different from one another too. So we kind of cover a lot of territories and we have a different perspective than the kind of mainstream medical model approach to grief, which is, you know, needs to be cured and fixed and not talked about and moved through as rapidly as possible.

 You know, we're going to debunk a bunch of these myths throughout this series, which I'm super excited to do. And then I also have additional training, creative grief training, which really just means how to get at your grief and your emotions either through your body. You know, the things that live in you that don't have words, but they're still like hiding out and or through quote-unquote, creative.

 Tools and exercises. So again, that kind of non-verbal way that we can get at what we're feeling and not to even healing the word healing can be kind of Trevor triggering because that again insinuates that there's something wrong with you. When really grief is a natural and healthy response to loss.

 But more, I call it integration, like how can we integrate so that whatever the experience has been, the loss, we don't get over it, move on, you know, have like the I'm releasing this forever and moving on now kind of thing. But it's like, no, who am I now with this? Because it is a part of me. I will say, I think we just lost a bunch of people they're like, but I want to get over it and I want to be released.

And I would like to very much put it in a box and I'm here to tell you, friends, I hear you. And it does not work that way. We tried that before we tried that in many generations and what they found is that shit doesn't work. So we're going to be talking a lot about what does work. So why am I talking about this?

 Like I, I gave you my most recent reason why I talk about grief, but the, but from a professional standpoint  When it comes down to it, a lot of grief work is really deep self-care. And there's so much crossover between hundred percent guilt-free self-care and grief tending. So I'm like, Oh, that's what I do in my work.

That's what I do in my work. That's what I do in my work. And that's who we are.  We come to this, we're not mental health professionals. We are not doctors, but we are people that have experienced grief and we are super nerds that are like, I'm experiencing something. And therefore I must read every book, attend every class and try to apply all that we've learned.

Okay. Anything else that you want to touch on here? Well, I would add to that, that we are both practitioners of yoga and, you know, yoga in the biggest sense. Not necessarily that we're getting on a mat and making funny shifts with our bodies all the time.  But like the practice of yoga is a practice of awareness.

It's a practice of presence as a practice of deepened relationship with self it's, a practice of wholeness. And you know, in that too, well, we can't just show up to part of our experience or.  You know, accept only parts of ourselves to be whole means all of it. And I think the practice of yoga or any practice of mindfulness.

 Also really lends itself to this grief work as well, because when we can be more present aware of what we're feeling honest about, what we're feeling, not so scared away by what we're feeling, because we know all things pass, even sensations, even deep emotions, like nothing stays the same.

Which we're going to talk about. I think in our next episode then it doesn't get so scary to think like, Oh, but I wanted that big forever releasing ceremony. And I think what makes that. A real trap is that it doesn't work. Like you said, that doesn't work. And then we end up feeling like shit, I failed at my big release dancing ceremony.

And so now what, instead of just, you know, there is no releasing this forever. There's just, who am I now? And what do I want to carry forward? Well, there's no feeling at that. You can't fail at that because you're making it up.  I wanted to throw that in there. I like that. And also is it, since I have to mention Bernay Brown, please be on my show.

 And every episode, my favorite quote from Bernay Brown, the first time  I heard this, I felt like somebody had taken a two by four and smacked me on the top of my nose with it. I mean, that is not the most visceral feeling that you have, like, Oh, and it was a surprise attack, but check this quote Bernay Brown says.

We cannot selectively numb emotions. When we numb painful emotions, we also numb positive emotions. Vulnerability sounds like truth and feels like courage, truth and courage. Aren't always comfortable, but they're never weakness. And I think that we as Americans have this idea of like, if you show emotion that somehow you're weak and it's actually the opposite.

So this idea that instead of having this closure, we should definitely get rid of the word closure.    When dealing with loss, because we don't have it. What we have is a change. We have a, before we have an after, yes. It's like a chemical reaction. Like you can't in a chemical reaction, you can't put the ingredients back in their singular form.

They are forever changed. And that is how it works with grief too. Amen. So that's both good news and bad news. Again, a bunch of people just went, fuck this I'm outta here. I want an easy answer. And everybody else was like, Oh man. Okay. So this is where I want to say, pull up a chair and sit by the people who are like it's okay.

Because  us too, like, we've been there.  Over and over. So one of the things too, that I think we should get out in the open, straight away here on episode 80, which is again, number one in the grief series is we're not just going to be talking about grief in terms of somebody that we love has died.

What other kinds of losses are there? Michelle loss comes in every. Shape color, form size.  You might have a loss feel, a deep sense of grief and loss from retirement. I mean, it's as exciting as that is for so many people. You look forward to it. You got the date on the calendar, you do the X off, leading up to like, it's so exciting.

And yet there's a lot of loss around that. And people can be surprised by the grief that comes. So that's just one simple example of. Someplace that we might have judgment around our grief, even something like that, especially when it's culturally, like everybody, that's the thing you've been working for.

But what they don't understand is like, yeah, but I'm losing my identity. As a person who does this thing, I'm losing my purpose. The reason I get up in the morning status, I'm losing my paycheck.  I'm pretty sure after you retire, you might die. So right. There's all of this. Like I'm gonna like tip toe up on my own mortality.

If I retire, like that's some pretty deep shit that most of us don't think about. Cause we're too excited about no longer having to go to the job that maybe we. Perhaps wanted to give up earlier in our lives, what we're like, but we did it. We've done the thing. And what do you mean I'm now having these residual feelings and damn it.

Am I failing at retirement?  And if we can have both, we can have the feelings of grief and we can be absolutely out of our minds elated.  There's always, we used to think and used to be really popular to say you could only feel one thing at a time, right? You can't feel.  Cheerful and grateful.

Well, you can, you, you can feel grief and gratitude and joy and  excitement about being like retired or getting married or having  an extended family  situation where, you know, you're a doctor, you have a baby or. Somebody moves in. Like there are even these things that we think are so joyful and that's all they should be.

    No. Everything's so multi contextual and the tight dimensional. What I was thinking when all of those things that you said are, it's like, it's  there's a sense of loss. When you are closing one chapter of your life, say as a single person, and then transitioning to your new life as a married person, or going from being a non-parent to a parent or closing out one kind of career for another there's.

It's like those before and afters. And I have to tell you. I feel a lot of things at the same time. And I will say that I experience a plethora of emotions in a single day, sometimes in a single hour, because I'm a very complex human or I'm bonkers or both, whatever. It feels a little bunker sometimes.  You're a deep feeler.

I am a deep feeler. I am a deep feeler.

That was a big sign, man. That was big. That was a big, that was paused. That was  so some of the other types of grief that I think we, or types of loss  that are worth mentioning, and this is by no means exhaustive  loss of a dream  Loss of place. So moving again, that kind of goes along with this before, after like, Oh yeah.

Before, when I lived in whatever city  I just had a surgery recently and I, you know, there's just a lot kind of tied up in that. So any kind of health issue  diagnosis, surgery  those can bring up absolutely feelings of grief, feelings of. Of loss. There might be something that you've actually lost.

That's tangible that you can see or say, Oh, this is now different. Or it might be a lot more ambiguous, hard to describe, hard to pinpoint. And those are the ones that can.  We can set ourselves up for some shame or, you know, like you were talking about the judgment that might come up when we're, especially if we're trying to talk to someone else about that loss, you know, validate our feelings or just share that.

And if you get the kind of like tilted head room, like that can kind of put up some hairs on the back of your neck, maybe I shouldn't be feeling that way or people don't get it.  It's really important to feel heard and seen and validated.  You know, listening to something like this, finding a pal that you can talk to you finding a therapist.

I was just, I had a moment of like, there was another thing I wanted to mention as a loss. Oh. Like if you go out of business, like, or if you declare bankruptcy, Yeah. I mean, there's all these things that, Oh, the one I was thinking of, Oh, are you ready for this? This sounds so trivial until you're in it. And that is friendship change when you outgrow a friendship and then you end up friendship.

It's like, it's kind of like worse than a breakup. Oh shit. We forgot to mention breakups. Like if you break app or you get divorced or you're the person you thought was going to  marry somebody else, like all of these times, and then there's all of these like Hollywood portrayals of these losses.

There's a lot of ice cream and crying and we're going to talk so much more about like the symptoms of grief in. The third episode of this series.  So Michelle  we took notes. We had some brainstorming meetings, friends let's be real. And one of the things that we talked about was  some things that we need to.

Get our shit together before we have loss. And then we were laughing. Like, what does that even mean? So when I say to you, Michelle, what do you think people need to do before they have loss? What are some things that if you are going to create a checklist, Hey, you guys, we're going to create a checklist.

What would be on the checklist? Well, I think the top of my checklist would be a therapist. And I know  that might seem weird to find a therapist for a theoretical loss that you haven't yet had, but just. You know, asking around if you don't have someone you work with or know of, and trust, maybe a friend has someone, if you know someone who has been through a loss and they've worked with a person just having it one or two names, even  you know, just something to go to because when you're in it, And especially if it's, you know, really traumatic loss of a big kind of core central loss, our resources in those times are  very limited internally like brain resources.

So you want to just be able to go to that notebook and go, Oh, right. I don't. Okay. I guess I'm going to call Susie, right? Like that's. Kind of all you have available is not a great time to be doing research and  trying to viewing people interview, like you don't want to be doing that. You just want to be able to go to someone and know  that's, you're going to get the holding that you need.

Absolutely. And I would say in addition to that, maybe place a call. To your health care provider, maybe even asking your general practitioner to say, Hey, what are the mental health resources that are available to me? Do I need to talk to you? Do I need to talk to member services? Like what's the process?

Cause I will tell you, after my friend died, I did this. And then I was like, Oh boy, I. Can only place one phone call a day. And it turns out that me being on hold for any length of time really does my head in right now.  But I stuck with it partly because I was like, I'm really invested in providing this support structure for myself during this really traumatic loss time.

But also I'm like, I always tell my clients to get like, Their support team in gear before they need them. And here I am lacking on this very critical part and it's different because of the pandemic. Right. Because what I did when I had my ma my mom died six years ago, I went to an in-person support group.

Well guess what guys those aren't available right now. So I did some digging on the internet cause you know, I do love me some research and I found some resources. So Michelle says, talk to friends about finding a therapist. Also, you might want to take that step further and say, are they taking new patients?

What is the cost? How much is it to get in with them? Are they a grief specialist? Also, this is just a good practice. If you want to work with a mental health professional, they are surprisingly hard to get in with at first. So maybe don't wait for crisis in order to get those resources. So check with your insurance, check with your GP, check with your friends.

What other things do people need to get sort of on their radar? I think just even, you know, like I mentioned yoga and mindfulness to practice before, and I know this isn't necessarily. A resource, but  having your own some kind of self-awareness  self care practice around your emotions. And I'm calling that out because we, you know, we could categorize self care if we wanted to in lots of different ways, but it, whether that's journaling, whether that's  a movement practice, but, and, or talking to a friend, you know  not necessarily looking for that person to be your therapist, but just someone, you know, you can really be your full spectrum self with, and  Getting more comfortable with your emotions.

 It's just a key piece of, it's a key piece of being human.  And then I think we can kind of skate by until we come into something like loss and then were like our, Oh my God. This is  really hard. If we haven't practiced being with all of our emotions and really being honest with ourself about our emotions.

Yeah. And I would say if you're like what, I already have a yoga practice and you're used to going to the studio and doing a power Vinyasa, maybe grief. Isn't the time that you're going to be exploring a more  enthusiastic yoga practice, maybe during grief is when you go towards. And again,  I'm ready for everyone to go.

Hell no, that sounds terrible. The quieter practices like yin or restorative yoga or yoga nidra, all three of those practices have helped me tremendously when I'm feeling those like  overwhelming feelings of being really tired. We're going to talk more about  The symptoms of yoga or the symptoms of grief again in the third episode, but like to maybe even Google, if you've never done yoga nidra before, maybe you Google it and be like, what is, what are those crazy gals talking about?

And I will tell you those crazy gals are talking about the practice of yoga. Yoga nidra is what the army use to help returning soldiers deal with PTSD. Like it is some  deep. Deep work that when you see it and look at it and hear it, you're going to go. But somebody is just laying there and somebody saying some words and the answer is, I know, and the army, one of the most conservative  institutions in this country was like, this shit works.

 And then also exploring this. And when we say mindfulness, we're talking about maybe exploring some meditation, I of course use the Headspace app and they should always be like, why have we not offered her a sponsorship yet?  But I've also been playing around with the calm app. Michelle has a YouTube channel where she does.

Really lovely meditations on her channel on YouTube called it's all yoga.  But again, getting into this idea of it's like feathering your nest before you bring your eggs into it. Like you want to get it to be nice before you need it. Yes. Yeah. Yeah. And one other thing that I was thinking of along the lines of  You know, getting insurance info  and that kind of business is if you have employment that offers some kind of bereavement leave can be good to just, you know, just know how much time you're going to get if you get time.

Yes. And another thing to explore is Googling bereavement. Plus your city, Dane. Because a lot of  hospice providers in counties are non-affiliated with hospitals. And so you can get in to, and even if your person didn't die in hospice, even if your person is far away, hospice does a lot of bereavement work within community.

So they'll have like grief support groups or art therapy support groups, or sometimes they even offer low cost or no cost.  Grief counseling with licensed professionals because  the whole idea is like grief  needs like a safety net. So it's like  you're, it's almost like you're on a trapeze between feelings and between the before and the after, but there's a big safety net underneath so that you can safely let go of what was before to get to what is after.


We're doing the thinking thing again, anything you want to add on the, who we are.  If you're going to get your shit together for your grief, getting shit together, what do you need to get together list? I mean, I think some of it too is just. Knowing that you can't really get it all together because you can't know what that's like until you're there.

And so it might also just be. Acknowledging and knowing that you can't control everything and you can't hurt ducks very well, or, you know, it's like, there are things you can do to prepare some pragmatic things that are just good to know, and we don't want to make it sound like. You know, you're going to be completely ready.

And then when it happens, everything is gonna fall into place and you know, it's going to be smooth and easy.  That's not what we're trying to say. We're just like, you know, there are some things you can find out that make it a little bit lighter when the time comes and it's inevitable. I mean, again, you know, it's a healthy, natural response to loss and loss is a part of every life.

As we talked about all kinds of loss. Comes in so many shapes. So absolutely man, we are going to create this checklist. So if you are somebody that is early in grief or, you know, somebody who's early in grief, we're going to give you at least a little bit of a roadmap so that you can start building your support net.

So that you can transition and obviously we'll even leave some blank spaces at the end so that you can be like, and then I did this and then I did this because here's the thing, not everyone has gone through this, but we all will. Eventually every one of us is going to lose something or someone that's significant that creates that sense of before and after.

And we just want to help you build that support team. Yes, we're here for you. We're here for you. So you can find Michelle  at her website, which is www Michelle Marla, hand.com. There you go. And you can find [email protected] and you can find all the information, including our, get your shit together.

It’s never too late to start your year. This is how we plan ours...

Enter your name below, and I'll send you my short video series (totally free!) to support you on your self-care journey right away!