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    102nd Intelligence Wing Wellness Podcast for March 15, 2021 - Move your grief

    102nd Intelligence Wing Wellness Podcast for March 15, 2021 - Move your grief

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    Audio by Airman Francesca Skridulis 

    102nd Intelligence Wing   

    On this episode Ms. Jill Garvin, Wing Director of Psychological Health, speaks with Ms. Sue Andersen about suicide loss and resources for grief management. Ms. Sue Andersen is the board president of the Samaritans and a certified yoga teacher. She hosts classes and workshops helping those who’ve experienced loss to 'Move Your Grief'.


    Jill: hello everybody this is Jill Garvin I am the director of psychological health for the 102nd intelligence swing today for our wellness podcast I have a guest and her name is Sue Anderson I know Sue from the samaritan she's the board president of the samaritans she's it's a local support organization they have a crisis line we've talked about it on this podcast before they have several support services groups around suicide loss. Sue is also a yoga teacher and coach working with people who have experienced loss and that are grieving she offers a lot of yoga classes and workshops and we'll talk a little bit about how she got into that and at the end of the podcast we will give some information around some of the workshops and classes she has to offer and for the 102nd as well. Sue is also a suicide loss survivor who lost her son Ian and so i've asked her to share a little bit of her story and things that might have helped her along her grieving journey and again it's always important for us to have this conversation here at the 102nd as we try to reduce stigma and encourage people to seek help as quickly as possible. so welcome Sue thank you for being here today with me.

    Sue: thank you so much Jill

    Jill: yeah if you don't mind love to hear a little bit about about your son Ian how old was he when he died

    Sue: he was 25 and this was nine years ago this april and it was a shock you know he did have some some issues mental health issues very stressed but you know we never expected that he would die by suicide and at the time uh he was living in Rhode Island and we were here on the cape so you know there was a lot of it was it was an interesting time I would say because people down here on the cape where we were living didn't know him and so but everybody that we knew in Rhode Island you know where where we had lived previously of course knew him but I found probably a month after he died a resource that was an online forum called the alliance of hope for suicide loss survivors and one of the first recommendations that I got from somebody there was a breathing exercise and it was about you know inhale to a count of four exhale to account an inhale to a count of three exhale to a count of four and the idea was to you know just first of all that keeps your mind busy when you're saying when you're counting right but also just keep that regular breath because you get breathless you know in grief and stress and anxiety and I found that just so so helpful and then after that I began taking a yoga class locally and I had done yoga previously actually encouraged by my son but mostly that was from an exercise standpoint and now I was um going to the classes really for more about the breathing and the meditation so it was that's that was how I kind of got into it and that as I mentioned the the breathing was one of the first things that I found incredibly helpful at the beginning of the of my grief journey

    Jill: I think almost every the last few podcasts we've had we've actually talked about breathing techniques and the benefits to our nervous system and stress and anxiety so yeah another great example of how it could help you through such a traumatic time

    Sue: right right and it's I guess you don't really think about because we don't think about breathing because that's what we do but you notice when you're when you start these other breathing techniques how you know you're you really open up your chest opens up for example you know your lungs open up a lot more and one of the things that I noticed about me was I would describe to people probably the first year or year and a half maybe longer that I had a cloud stuck in my chest that's what it felt like you know and so the breathing you I could feel every time you know a little bit of an opening a little bit of an opening you know so that was you know it was really profound and really helpful for me

    Jill: yeah it sounds like it thank you for sharing that yeah I i am curious I don't know it's it's a difficult subject but just what were some of your reactions and how did you deal with them in addition to the breathing and the reason I ask is you know a lot of people think that you know grief is very linear and we go through these certain stages and that's not true you know it's messy it's different for everyone and so I try as much as I can here to sort of normalize whatever your reaction is is normal given to the abnormal event or whatever the sudden loss that happened

    Sue: yeah absolutely I mean I am i'm an outgoing person so I like connection with other people but for me initially I did not want to go to any kind of groups it just wasn't something that was it didn't feel right you know it didn't settle right with me right away and so I just did one-on-one counseling which was which was very helpful to me and I did a lot of reading you know of just all kinds of different books about grief

    Jill: yeah I was going to ask ask you about that as well because I like to give people recommendations of books that might be helpful are there any that stand out to you that are helpful with grief

    Sue: with the the one and i'm i'm going to forget the name of it but there is a book that I got right away before I tell you the name of it I just want to say that one of the things that happens to it happened to me and I think happens to a lot of people that are grieving is that you can't concentrate so getting a book sometimes you can't read it or you're not absorbing it your mind's not there right there is a book that is by I believe her name is Martha Whitmore Hickman and it's a men it's meditations it's a very small book you know footprint is it's a very small size but it's short little meditations that you daily absorb exactly daily meditations I think it's actually called daily meditations for grief and that's one of the first books and that is a book that I give to people that I know that have of are grieving because I feel like that's something that you can you can retain you can absorb that information

    Sue: other books that I read um that were helpful one is by um Annie Lamont andi it's help pray some I can't remember the last word but it's three words in the title um and then there were just other you know grieving loss of a child there's another book that I really like I believe it's out of print it's called seven choices and that book I found extremely helpful you know later on in in my grief probably the second second year or third year

    Jill: yeah

    Sue: was extremely helpful so I think for me it was a it was a mix depending on what the you know what felt right I did eventually go to grief groups I got involved in some suicide loss day kinds of events and activities survivor's day activities I did walks and you know gradually I had to find different ways to work things out you know one of the things that was also helpful to me was to was rituals so for example you know my son was engaged at the time so I had all of these ideas of life events you know that I would be participating in with him or you know that weren't gonna happen so I actually did a little ritual to to let go of those things where I you know went to the ocean wrote things on paper and threw it in there so those kinds of things you know were very helpful I think you have to find what works you know to get the the most important thing is to get is to move the grief out and and that's going to be journaling helps you know I do a lot of writing and then a lot of moving you know

    Jill: I liked what you said around moving you know and it never of course goes away and you never get over it but the importance of moving through it and working through it and learning how to deal with it and that's how a lot of people will develop post-traumatic stress disorder because often some of us want to avoid those feelings and and we do things to distract like drinking or spending or or doing other things that don't allow us to to move through those really uncomfortable feelings and eventually yeah that can really turn into something you know complicated grief and much more and much more serious so it sounds like you found what worked for you and helped you move and things that brought you comfort and a little bit of not resolve but you know just allowed you to to sit with the grief a little bit more

    Sue: yeah and you know I think I heard this description of grief being like a river where sometimes things are free-flowing and sometimes there's the log in the middle that that dams everything up and you've got to figure out a way to get rid of that log so you can be you know you can be fine for an hour or a day or whatever you can you know laugh and then you why am I laughing you know so there's there are a lot of things that you experience but I think it's important at least for me it was important to find ways to release the grief out of me whether that was talking or writing or physical movement or breath work and then sharing with other people I think is is really really helpful you know not to be afraid to do that

    Jill: I was going to ask you that about connection and the importance of that and if you met other mothers and other parents that had lost children and that had lost children to suicide so that's a very powerful support to help you in your grief it sounds like

    Sue: yes absolutely and my actually two of my college friends both lost children one as a young boy and the other one her son was 18. so they were there for me as support but I also found just um you know people that were uh just in just grieving in general or or had lost someone but maybe they were further along in their grief that were you know very comforting it just it's it's nice to make that connection because then you feel like you can talk to somebody I think no matter who you've lost in your life it's nice to be able to connect with somebody that has a similar experience sometimes you don't want to or either you don't want to talk about for example I might not want to talk about my son with people that maybe are you know like they're they don't want they're nervous about hearing about my son even if I want to talk about something that was fun you know or funny about them whereas other people might be more open because they've experienced something it doesn't frighten them so it's scary you know to people that haven't experienced grief to you know or something like a loss of a child to be talking to somebody who experienced that so they get nervous about it you have to I don't know kind of give people a little bit of a break

    Jill: yeah i've talked to a lot of different grievers that you know will share something like that and they know who's uncomfortable with it you know they'll be at the grocery store and see a neighbor somebody they've known forever and they just turn and go the other way because they don't know how to bring it up and maybe it's going to make you feel worse maybe it's going to make it worse you know so people don't say anything and they avoid it it's always one of the things i've done here too is try to offer suggestions for people on what to say to others that are grieving and even what not to say we have here at the 102nd a lot of our members have worked here for a very long time and they've known each other for many years and and their families and so there's naturally been been a lot of loss as well and so yeah I try to just give people a little bit of information on here's what you can say and here's what isn't so helpful to say was there anything that somebody said to you or that you could suggest it is not helpful to say especially like I know how you feel that's a big one

    Sue: well and this wasn't appropriate for me because ian was my only child but I remember one of my college roommates um she had cancer she died young we were in our 20s and I remember her mom telling me that people were saying to her well you have two other children and you know the mother was it was like what you know so right people try to mean well but they don't you know they don't sometimes really realize what they're saying um I think just you know asking how are you today

    Jill: yeah

    Sue: you know not not the general like oh how are you but like how are you doing today gives you know the person the opportunity to say oh i'm you know today's a good day

    Jill: right

    Sue: or today is a bad day you know something like that the other thing that's um I think is nice to do is you know and this is of course depending on how well you know somebody but you know is to talk about something that happened that was you know funny so the person that um that you're grieving the person that left you know oh my gosh remember this funny thing that happened or give you the opportunity to talk about that because i'm talking about something that funny that happened with you know with my you know best friend or my son or whatever somebody who's passed away and and then you you know you would be able to say something too so just having that opportunity to talk about the person I think is important but not talk about don't feel like you have to talk about the sadness

    Jill: right the death you can talk about their life yeah

    Sue: yeah and and again sometimes that's hard you have to kind of gauge what you know what's happening

    Jill: what would you say is i'm sure there are many things but what do you miss most about about Ian and what do you remember the most

    Sue: well his laugh you know he was he was a little bit of a jokester you know so that's that I remember very very demonstrative you know in love hug you know a person that liked to hug so I definitely missed that he had uh a lot of friends and but you know that i'm still friends with a lot of these friends which is really nice you know there's they're still in my life

    Jill: helped you stay connected

    Sue: yeah it helped me stay connected and I think was was good or is good for both of us you know certainly was good early on but yeah so that's that's what I you know miss and remember you know certainly

    Jill: yeah and I liked what you said about being able to share joyful memories and and more about their life not necessarily their death and other people sharing that with you because they knew him and that's a connection to Ian

    Sue: right

    Jill: so when somebody shares with you a funny story that is very nice for you and comforting for you

    Sue: right yeah exactly exactly sometimes I think it's harder for people that you know when you're in a community i'll speak in terms of losing a child when you're in a community that everybody knows you and knew your child then sometimes they don't know it's it's more it's an a more awkward situation they really don't know what to say because for me because my son no was in a different state people didn't know him because we moved here you know after he was a teenager you know it was in a sense a little bit easier because I didn't have people that didn't want to talk to me in the grocery store because they all they only knew me you know and and they knew me just from the neighborhood or you know a gym class or something like that you know they didn't really know me as the family that grew up in the kids in school and all of that kind of history so I think sometimes that's a little bit harder for people and it doesn't matter whether it's a child or a husband or a sister you know wife whatever I think sometimes it that is a little bit more difficult it just that i've heard from other people

    Jill: thank you for sharing that yeah that's helpful so it sounds like you started utilizing breathing techniques and you got into yoga and and learning how to be in your your body and and how and that really helped your grief tremendously and the other thing I want to talk about is I know that now you help a lot of others

    Sue: yes

    Jill: by offering what helped you to the community so can you tell us a little bit about your workshops and classes and how you kind of started doing that

    Sue: yeah sure so I practiced yoga for probably five years before I took my teacher training and over that time over the teacher training and as I began to teach different classes I found that I was drawn to classes that were maybe a little bit more gentle that were slower that allowed the participant the student to really just relax and you know have that opportunity to meditate and just you know kind of get into their own head you know and and have that find that time because we don't really get a lot of that time for stillness and silence and and that I saw was very beneficial to a lot of people as I got involved with the samaritans which was four years ago in april

    Sue: I also got involved in some other organizations that another organization here on the cape called sharing kindness and that kind began to shape a little bit more of these special classes that I was doing or workshops that were associated with or i'm sorry working with people that are grieving and combining the breath work gentle movements and restorative yoga to help people have that opportunity to um you know get um get some of that energy negative energy out with movement and then that relaxing uh piece of it and restorative so so that really over the last couple of years is where is where that's come in and i've taken a couple of additional trainings in that area to you know figure out what are the best poses to use and things like that so I have um on my website now i've got a page that's specific to grief and loss and it has resources there there's also another resource page that I have that has additional videos of classes recorded classes

    Jill: what is your website

    Sue: it's Sue Anderson which is a-n-d-e-r-s-e-n-yoga dot com so there are resources there and there's also weekly classes that I teach so I i teach two classes on zoom only those are wednesday night and friday morning and then I teach a class through a studio in sandwich that's on zoom or in person

    Jill:and any workshops

    Sue: I have a workshop that is going to be coming up the end of April the beginning of May and i'm still finalizing the date it'll be a two hour workshop called moving your grief and it will include breath work meditation journaling and that will be hopefully in hyannis i'm still getting the space signed on and open on also on zoom so it'll be in person and on zoom

    Jill:great and so are do these cost or are they free

    Sue: so the classes are between 10 and and 20 depending on the length of the class and the workshop does have a cost but that will also have some availability for free

    Jill: if somebody can't afford it

    Sue: if somebody can't afford it Yeah you know so we're working on that as well

    Jill: okay thank you I look forward to I know I want to do the workshop and your restorative class this friday and you also offered when we were talking earlier about doing something online for us here some kind of class

    Sue: absolutely yeah so if there is you know if there are a few people if there's a group if you want to do something once a month you know it's it's easy to set up something online you know that can be done really quickly it's just a you know figure out the time and you don't have to worry about location yeah i'm happy to do to offer offer class 30 minutes 60 minutes whatever okay sounds good

    Jill: good definitely we'll get some feedback from folks here I really appreciate your time and and I wanted to mention the samaritans again that they have a lot of different support groups and resources if you are a survivor of suicide yourself or if you've lost a loved one to a suicide they have some different things that they do and um and again that the crisis line is available and that's all on the cape is there anything else that I left out or forgot about that you would want to mention before we close up

    Sue: no I don't think so I i think we've covered uh a lot of territory yeah

    Jill: well I really appreciate you sharing your story with us and and telling us a little bit about Ian I think it helps a lot of people to share your experience strength and hope and and thank you for being here Sue

    Sue: you're so welcome thank you for inviting me

    Jill: Thank you. Bye.



    Date Taken: 03.15.2021
    Date Posted: 03.15.2021 10:50
    Category: Newscasts
    Audio ID: 65684
    Filename: 2103/DOD_108230287.mp3
    Length: 00:29:11

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