Grief podcasts: for those who don’t mind crying on a run or while power cleaning your bathroom

How to do I adequately convey my love for podcasts? It’s just not possible to sum it up in words. I started listening to podcasts years ago when a colleague, who is an ER doc, shared with me his favorite podcast he listens to while running, cleaning, etc. I pretended to know what the hell a podcast was, but retreated to my office to type in the words “What is a podcast” in Google. Oy. Anyway, fast forward to now and I not only listen to podcasts daily, but I listen to so many that I have categories. I love podcasts because A.) they allow me to easily explore my various interests. I listen to medical podcasts, business podcasts, running podcasts, and grief podcasts to name a few. B.) you can get valuable information in easy-to-digest sound bites. Some podcasts are hours (shoutout to Armchair Expert https://armchairexpertpod.com/) or less than 20 minutes (https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/the-simplicity-parenting-podcast-with-kim-john-payne/id1407320921). C.) you can listen while doing other tasks like cleaning your bathroom or cooking supper.

Photo by Malte Wingen on Unsplash

Today, I want to share one of the first grief podcasts I subscribed to, Terrible, Thanks for Asking https://www.ttfa.org/. Terrible, Thanks for Asking or TTFA for short, was started by a fellow native Minnesotan, Nora McInerny. I first learned about Nora when her husband’s obituary went viral https://www.startribune.com/obituaries/detail/51565/. I had a brand-new, still smells like a newborn, newborn and found myself reading Aaron’s obituary while nursing my baby at 3 AM. Perhaps it was the hormones, or the fact that I am a Highly Sensitive Person (it’s a real thing, seriously), but I found myself drawn to Nora and her story. Nora lost her dad, her husband, and had a miscarriage in less than 2 months. I mean, I couldn’t process that information, let alone be the one to live it. That is a tremendous amount of grief to throw at one person.

TTFA is a weekly podcast that introduces the listener to stories of real people, going through real shit. Sometimes the stories hit home personally, and sometimes they don’t. But every time I listen, I gain perspective on what people are going through on a daily basis. I also cry every episode. You’d think I’d stop crying after 100 episodes, but alas I will always be.that.person.

Why do I recommend TTFA?

  1. If you are someone who feels like you are struggling alone in your grief or life, you will come away understanding that there are many people grieving and living, just like you.
  2. You will learn about other culture’s and how they grieve. Nora interviews people from all walks of life and as someone who works in behavioral health, I find it interesting to hear how other culture’s support or don’t support grief.
  3. Shit gets real. There is real talk about grief. There’s no let’s-make-it-fluffy so others don’t feel uncomfortable. If you are someone that get’s super-duper squirmy when people talk about real emotions, I encourage you to listen. This will make you a better human. And friend. And colleague.
Photo by Caleb Woods on Unsplash

One last thing: if you are someone who is in the midst of grieving and suffered a recent loss, I encourage you to watch Nora’s TED Talk https://www.ted.com/talks/nora_mcinerny_we_don_t_move_on_from_grief_we_move_forward_with_it?utm_campaign=tedspread&utm_medium=referral&utm_source=tedcomshare

Did you know 1 in 5 adults experience a mental illness?

“Holy crap! Did that guy just fall?” Standing in line in front of me at the concession stand of a minor league baseball game, an older man collapsed in front of me.

It was the summer between my sophomore and junior year of high school and I was enjoying a night watching America’s favorite pastime. I, of course, had to get a cherry (the best flavor) ICEE between innings. I had a night off from my job as a certified nurses assistant at a nursing home and my summer sports practices, so I was going to indulge!

But in front of me, a man keeled over. Internally, I was freaked out, but I knew I had to do something. And then, my CPR training just took over. Those of us in line by him, got to him before the onsite paramedics, and began compressions. Thank goodness another man by us also had training in CPR and he and I took turns. Once paramedics arrived and transported him to the hospital, I went back to my seat. What they never tell you in CPR training is that if you ever have to actually use your training (and you’re not a healthcare professional), your adrenaline pumps so much that you can shake for awhile after. I shook so much I couldn’t even hold my dang ICEE! Driving home that day, as I thought about that man and my reaction, I vowed to myself that I would always renew my CPR certification whether I worked in healthcare or not. I could not even imagine how I would have felt if I had not been trained and that whole scenario played out. Would I have just stood there, helpless?

That was a physical crisis. Now what about a mental health crisis? 1 in 5 adults in the US will experience a mental illness. It doesn’t take much imagination to think of a group of 5 people in your life, and realize that that 1 of those people will be or could be living with a mental illness…or it could be you. What would you do if that person reached out to you for help? Would you know what to do? If you were trained as a Mental Health First Aider, you would recall the acronym ALGEE and recognize what you need to do to get that person help. No, I’m not talking about the slimy green crap floating on the lake! ALGEE not ALGAE. Much like CPR, ALGEE is an acronym for steps a layperson can take to help someone in a mental health crisis. Mental Health First Aid teaches these steps to anyone who wants to learn. I became an instructor for Youth and Adult MHFA in 2019.

Visit https://www.mentalhealthfirstaid.org/ to learn about Mental Health First Aid or to sign up for a class.

*All stats found at NAMI.org, 2020