What it was like to euthanize my greyhound (by Steph)
Video of Steph spreading Mac's Ashes
Beth's post about grieving after her father's death
Living Loved in Grief (by Beth)
Questions for Reflection
In each episode, we offer you a few prompts to think about how that day's conversation applies to you. You might pause the podcast and answer them right then and there, but if you keep a journal (Steph and Beth both do), feel free to download and print a PDF of the Questions for Reflection we've made just for you:
Landscape or Portrait
1. Reflect on a loss in your life. What was your grieving process like? Was it linear?
2. Every loss leaves a hole. What have your strategies been fulfilling the hole?
3. Does experiencing one loss make it easier when you suffer another loss?
4. As you think about a loss or losses in your life, what did the restart process look like for you?
Beth Demme (00:03):
Welcome to the Discovering Our Scars podcast.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (00:06):
Where we share our personal experiences so we can learn from each other. I'm Steph.
Beth Demme (00:09):
And I'm Beth.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (00:09):
I've been in recovery for 16 years and am the author of Discovering My Scars. My memoir about What's Done in the Darkness, eventually comes to light.
Beth Demme (00:16):
I'm a lawyer, turned pastor who's all about self-awareness and emotional health because I know what it's like to have neither of those things.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (00:22):
Beth and I have been friends for years, have gone through a recovery program together, and when I wanted to start a podcast, she was the only name that came to mind as co-host.
Beth Demme (00:30):
I didn't hesitate to say yes because I've learned a lot from sharing personal experiences with Steph over the years.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (00:35):
We value honest conversations and we hope you do too.
Beth Demme (00:38):
On today's show, we're going to have an honest conversation titled, "Restarting Life After Loss."
Stephanie Kostopoulos (00:43):
Then, we'll share a slice of life, and the show will close with questions for reflection. We will invite you to reflect on the conversation in your own life. Welcome back Beth.
Beth Demme (00:51):
Welcome back, Steph. It's been a minute.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (00:53):
Just a minute.
Beth Demme (00:54):
Stephanie Kostopoulos (00:55):
Just a little bit.
Beth Demme (00:56):
We took our first break in-
Stephanie Kostopoulos (00:59):
Pause, I called it a pause.
Beth Demme (01:00):
Okay. This isn't like Friends where we're like...
Stephanie Kostopoulos (01:02):
Beth Demme (01:03):
... "We were on a break."
Stephanie Kostopoulos (01:04):
No. No. I called it a pause specifically because one, I thought it was cute pause, like a podcast, audio and you pause it. Then, also I wanted to make sure you knew I didn't want to stop it completely.
Beth Demme (01:16):
We've been on a pause...
Stephanie Kostopoulos (01:17):
Beth Demme (01:18):
... for a few months, actually.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (01:21):
Beth Demme (01:22):
We're back now.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (01:23):
Beth Demme (01:24):
We're back. We're back in the podcast studio. The board is back. The sign is back. We're back.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (01:30):
Yes. I think our last episode was kind of a rushed episode that we hadn't really put planning into really. The last episode was really, January was a tough month for us.
Beth Demme (01:43):
Yeah. Yup. It was called Life Not According To Plan.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (01:46):
Yeah. We talked a lot about that in that episode. A big thing that happened was the passing of my first dog ever, my greyhound Mac. She had really had an impact on my life for the four years that she was in it, and I just needed some time to reflect on that and grieve. I needed time for the grieving process, which is a lot of stuff we'll talk about today. I guess, we could say the pause was because of me.
Beth Demme (02:14):
Yes. Let's say that. No, I mean, I think that definitely the loss that you suffered, losing Mac, I do think that that prompted the pause and then we kept checking in with each other, "Ready to restart?" "No, not yet. Nope. I'm good. No, not yet." Then, I was like, "Well," there's a lot happening in my work because it's Easter. It's Holy Week. It's all of that. Anyway, it got extended a little bit.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (02:41):
I mean, I think it's important to take pauses and to allow those pauses. I think that's something that a lot of times, I feel like it's all or nothing.
Beth Demme (02:51):
Stephanie Kostopoulos (02:52):
I think we hear a lot about burnout, people getting burnout because they just go, go, go and they don't take those pauses, and then, it just all crumbles. I guess I didn't want that to happen, and that's why I made that tough decision to pause the podcast because I didn't want to not love it anymore.
Beth Demme (03:10):
Stephanie Kostopoulos (03:11):
I still wanted in my life, but I wasn't ready to have it in my life during that time. I also really didn't want to make the wrong episodes. I didn't want to be in the wrong mindset to make episodes that I'd look back and be like, "That wasn't the time for that," or something like that.
Beth Demme (03:28):
Also, sometimes it's good to have something in your life and then miss it to remember that, "Oh yeah, this really is something that I put time into because I value it."
Stephanie Kostopoulos (03:36):
Beth Demme (03:37):
Why don't you tell us a little bit about what your grieving process was like. What has this four months been like for you?
Stephanie Kostopoulos (03:43):
I definitely went through the grieving process and was very conscious of it. I would say, obviously, I've had a lot of loss in a lot of ways in my life. I think to be human is to have loss in some capacity, and loss can be more than just a person or an animal. It could be a job, it could be your house, it could be just, there's so many things that loss can be that can relate to having to go through the grieving process.
For me, I was definitely very conscious of it. It didn't make it easier that I was aware that I needed to go through the process, but I had a lot of sessions with my psychologist. I normally meet with her once a month, but I met with her more often. I also had a, we talked about this in January, I had a big ski trip planned for February. It was like 10 years in the making.
Beth Demme (04:41):
Yeah. I know.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (04:42):
My ski trip was one week after Mac passed away. I am starting the grieving process, but then I'm going to go on this huge trip in a foreign, not foreign location, but in Utah, yeah, foreign location.
Beth Demme (04:57):
[inaudible 00:04:56], actually, I have to interrupt you to say that when my son Peter, when he was in third or fourth grade, he came home at the very beginning of the school year, super excited, "Mom, Mom, we have an exchange student." I was like, "You do?" I would think I would've heard about this. I think I was room mom or something. I was like, "What do you mean in exchange student?" "He's from Utah."
Stephanie Kostopoulos (05:19):
Beth Demme (05:21):
Yeah, a foreign land indeed.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (05:23):
Oh my gosh. Wow.
Beth Demme (05:26):
You went on the ski trip. How was that? Was that good? Was it?
Stephanie Kostopoulos (05:27):
It was, yeah. We haven't talked about that. I did love my ski trip. It was hard in a lot of ways emotionally, because I still was obviously going through the grieving process. I went with my friend Jason. He's a really good friend. I told him at the beginning, I was like, "I'm probably going to be crying a lot and going through this whole thing." Just so you know, he was like, "Do what you need to do."
Beth Demme (05:54):
Stephanie Kostopoulos (05:55):
It was great. I definitely am glad I had it planned. There was no way I would've done it, whether I would've never planned that to do right after, but it was definitely a good thing, I think ultimately. Then, after I got back from my ski trip, I actually got a infection in my finger and had to be on antibiotics and got sick. That was on top of the grieving process was not fun either. I just basically just let myself feel my feelings and I learned, I mean, I knew before, but I learned that the grieving process is not like a, I'm on step one, no, I'm on step five and now I'm on step one again.
Beth Demme (06:39):
Stephanie Kostopoulos (06:40):
It's not a one and done kind of thing.
Beth Demme (06:44):
I wish it was. I wish it was linear. If it was like, "I can feel that I'm moving from denial into anger, that's good. I'm making progress and I'm two thirds of the way to being done," but that's not how it works.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (06:57):
Yeah. There's no timetable, which is all always annoying too. It's like, "I will give you three weeks. Done. It's done. Why am I sad? Why am I sad?" I will say Dr. Jill recommended a book to me. It's actually an old book. It's from the '80s or '90s and it's not a publication anymore, so maybe I shouldn't even say the title. I did get a used copy on Amazon. They are out there, but it's called, How to Survive the Loss of A Love.
This was great because, like I said, there's so much loss, types of loss, and this really does is very overview in the sense that it doesn't relate to a person dying or this, it could really help with any kind of loss, but it was very on the nose with feel your feelings, things like that, but it's going through being in those places, it was refreshing to read that and reassuring. That was helpful. Just writing a lot and going to see my therapist and just talking with friends.
Also, for me, part of the grieving process was making videos. I did make videos about Mac, Mac's passing. I made three videos. One is the euthanasia where you actually see Mac take her last breath, and there's two camps. There's people that are like.
Beth Demme (08:20):
I will say I haven't been able to watch it there.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (08:22):
I will say I have watched it so many times. That may seem crazy, but it helps me. It does help me to see that process, but it's weird because I can watch it on video, but my memories of it are different than what I see on video.
Beth Demme (08:34):
Oh, that's interesting.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (08:35):
Yeah, because I remember very specifically, I'm looking at her eyeballs, just me and her, and there was other people in the room, but I'm just, me and her zoned in and I was crying. My tears were going down, rolling down to my nose and then dripping onto her nose. You can't see it at all in the video, though. Then, I had to keep blinking my eyes so that I could look at her eyes because I was like.
Beth Demme (08:57):
To clear away the tears.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (08:58):
Yeah, but you can't really see that in the video, but that was a very clear thing to me remembering. For me, it was really helpful to, part of the grieving process was to edit those videos. Then, I did publish them and I did put a lot of warnings on them so people knew, dead dog. There are people that have comment, most of the comments are very encouraging or just thankful that I shared it and sharing their stories of their dogs passing and things like that. I just thought it was something that might be relatable and safe, shared space, whatever.
Then, I made a fourth video, well, I guess I made three main videos and then I made, I just did a kayaking video a couple days after Mac passed, and then I made a video spreading her ashes. My bro, Daniel, who we had on, who's our last guest, who had actually, Daniel...
Beth Demme (09:49):
Stephanie Kostopoulos (09:50):
... What Men Think.
Beth Demme (09:51):
Stephanie Kostopoulos (09:52):
If you want to know what they think, listen to the episode.
Beth Demme (09:55):
Every stereotype you've ever imagined is true.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (09:57):
It's true, at least for Daniel. He came up from Orlando, drove up from Orlando to spread the ashes with me, which was so sweet. I wanted him to come up for that because he happened to be in town the first time I saw Mac run. We both got to see her run together and he made a video about that. I wanted to spread the ashes where we saw her run. Then, I intercut the spreading the Ashes video with that original video. I had this vision of that as a video, and then I was able to make it happen. That was pretty cool.
Beth Demme (10:30):
I can imagine that reading that book, how to Survive the Loss of a Love that it was helpful and like you said, reassuring because when we're going through something hard to have it normalized to be like, "Okay, other people have gone through this too, really does help." In fact, it's one of the reasons that we wanted to start the podcast to talk about things that people don't talk about, because it's helpful to know that we're not alone in what we're going through.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (10:56):
You know what was interesting is when I was going through this process, and like I said, I've gone through the grieving process before, but I feel like this is the most I've ever gone through it because Mac was like a thousand percent part of my life, everyday life. My life revolved around Mac. That might sound a little much, but it wasn't.
Beth Demme (11:16):
It was just perfect.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (11:18):
That's why I think four years was probably the right amount because that would probably been too much if she had lived longer. I was thinking about some of the last times that I was grieving, and it reminded me of COVID because that was such a long grieving process of grieving the life that I once knew, but we were all going through that together.
Beth Demme (11:39):
Yeah, it's different because that was collective. I mean, people talk about it as a shared trauma or collective trauma, but losing a love, you losing Mac or other types of loss, that's personal, that's individual, and it can be isolating and lonely because you're the only one who can do it for yourself and with yourself.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (11:56):
I noticed that. I did notice with COVID, we all were kind of bummed out, and then with Mac, it was like, why is everyone else happy?
Beth Demme (12:05):
The world goes on, yeah.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (12:06):
Why don't they know about this?
Beth Demme (12:08):
Stephanie Kostopoulos (12:09):
It was strange to be back in that space. Obviously, I've been in that space before, COVID of being sad and not other people being sad, but it was an odd thing to realize, "Okay, yeah, this is normally something that is for me and not for the world," but how about you? Have you gone through the grieving process with anything or someone you lost?
Beth Demme (12:32):
Yeah, I actually have had a lot of death in my life. When I was 13, it was a few weeks before my 14th birthday, my oldest brother died. Now, he was older, he was 13 years older than me. We were not best friends, but he lived at home still. We were definitely a big part of each other's lives, and that was really hard.
The only person that I had lost before that was a grandparent, but they had been sick. It was a really different thing. He died in a really traumatic way and a very unexpected way, and that kind of rocked the whole family. That was a different kind of experience. Then, my freshman year of college, my best friend from high school who had also actually lived with my family for a while, she died in a car accident, a single car accident.
Then, a few years ago, my dad passed away, and that was probably the hardest one so far, even though it makes sense that you don't outlive your parents, but I just have felt his loss probably more than any of the others. That idea that everything in your world has changed, and yet the world just marked us on. It's like that. I remember that even with my brother, because we were kind of huddled up at home, spending time together as a family, and people would come and see us and bring casseroles, which I remember thinking, "Why are people bringing us food?"
Now, I understand. It was so that nobody in the family needed to cook. I get that now, but people would randomly stop over. It was 1989. It was before cell phones. There's just a lot about it that is really crystal clear in my memory, even though it was a long time ago. One of those things is how, for everybody else, life just kept going. I also had that feeling when I was working as a chaplain in the hospital for that six months in 2021, because people are enduring incredible traumas and losses every day, and we don't even know.
I remember being surprised at how many people died every day in the hospital. I didn't know this was happening. Well, of course it's happening. It's part of life. That can be jarring to realize that life goes on and that life is normal for the rest of the world, and everything for you has changed.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (15:09):
Those are three very big moments in your life and life changing things. Do you remember what the grieving process looked like for each of those?
Beth Demme (15:19):
When my brother died, my feeling of it as I look back is that I really wasn't allowed to grieve, that there was so much grief already in our family that there wasn't enough room for me to grieve. Everything just got stuffed down and it waited for me for a long time until I got back around to it. I mean, that's like, I've talked about this before, but when my kids were toddlers, I was a really, really angry mom, and I didn't know why. When I went to therapy and was unpacking it, it all kind of traced back to that experience and how that grief was waiting for me and the fear that that grief generated.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (15:59):
How many years was that, because you were 14?
Beth Demme (16:03):
He passed away in 1989, and I started seeing a counselor in 2007.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (16:11):
Beth Demme (16:11):
A lot of years.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (16:12):
Beth Demme (16:15):
I mean, I don't know, was that 18 years, maybe more?
Stephanie Kostopoulos (16:20):
Beth Demme (16:20):
That's a lot of math. It just waited and waited. Then, in between, my brother died in 1989, my best friend, Veronica, died in 1994, that one was different because I had gone off to college and we had lived apart at that point for almost a year. Also, we were actually best friends in middle school, and then we ended up going to different high schools. I don't know. We just weren't as, she wasn't somebody that I talked to every day. Again, this was before cell phones. I lived three hours from her. That was different too.
One of the big things I remember from that experience is obviously as soon as I found out that it happened, I went home and I actually went to her grandparents' house. I had a letter that I had written her, because we would write letters because again, it was the early 1990s. My letter had, it was there. It was on the table. She hadn't gotten to read it yet. That was really weird, really hard. Just being with her mom as her mom made funeral arrangements and things, seeing how differently she grieved from how my parents grieved, was interesting to me.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (17:26):
Was it better or worse, or just different?
Beth Demme (17:28):
It was just different. She was a single mom. She didn't have maybe the same kind of support network. Her emotion was very outward and public, which is different from how my parents grieved.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (17:45):
Beth Demme (17:45):
Yeah. Even at the time, I didn't judge it. There was no judgment there. It was just like, this is interesting. This is different. Then, with my dad, I knew by the time when my dad died, I had learned by that time, that grief wasn't linear and that I was going to have to go through it. I couldn't stuff it down. I couldn't ignore it. It wasn't going to go away.
Immediately, I started seeing, actually, I went and saw my pastor first and talked through some things with him, and then it just was a different process because I was a different person at that point and really let myself feel it. I remember waking up day after day, he passed away on February 28th, and I remember waking up day after day for weeks and feeling the weight of my sadness until 8 or 10 weeks later, and I woke up and went, "I don't feel the weight. I don't feel the weight." I still miss him, still sad, but I don't have that weight laying down on me. Does any of that track with your experience over these last few months?
Stephanie Kostopoulos (19:03):
Yeah, I don't remember just waking up one day and the weight is gone, but it was definitely, I started to feel like I was on the other side and I didn't want to jinx it because again, I know it's a process that can go from 40 back to three, but I did start just to feel better and just to feel like not just this overwhelming sadness when I thought of Mac. It was probably maybe a week or two weeks where it was, I had just started to feel better, and then it just was, again.
Then, I felt like during the grieving, I didn't feel like I had the capacity to really do anything. I make DIY videos for a living. I also have started to make kayaking videos because I love to kayak, and I was making videos about my Greyhounds because I love my Greyhounds, but I had zero desire to make any videos about my greyhounds.
Honestly, I still haven't made any more Greyhound videos. I actually recorded one two weeks ago and I had it almost done editing, and I was like, "Eh." Because I felt like it was too much of a middle ground of still little sad, a little bit excited, but I was like, I think I want my next video to be just like, boom, fun. As we're sitting here today, we, in fact, have two greyhounds in this room with us, which is...
Beth Demme (20:34):
Stephanie Kostopoulos (20:35):
... pretty, pretty epic. I have my dog, Tosh, and then I am keeping my friend Stephanie's dog Niles, and he looks kind of like Mac.
Beth Demme (20:45):
Yeah, they're very similar color.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (20:46):
I did give you a warning, Mac is not back.
Beth Demme (20:49):
Yes, that was good.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (20:50):
I did not get adopt a second. I have him for the weekend and I'm very excited about it. I do think I might make a video called something like, My Weekend with two Greyhounds or Living With Two Greyhounds Again, something like that. I don't know. I've started to take some footage. I'll get some footage today when we're doing our podcast also, so I can add that to the video. They are literally just sleeping because Greyhounds.
Then, I wanted to make a video, I think, I thought of an idea of following my dog for a day and just, I follow Tosh because she doesn't follow me. I was like, I'm just going to follow her everywhere for a day and see what happens.
Beth Demme (21:26):
It's probably going to really confuse her. She's like-
Stephanie Kostopoulos (21:28):
I know. She's going to just keep looking behind her, which I think would be a great video. I think my next Greyhound video is just going to be something fun. I have made some more kayaking videos since, but I was posting two videos a week just because I wanted to, and it was fun. I'm doing that sometimes and sometimes I'm not, and I'm okay with that. During that grieving process, I had no room for anything else. It just was all of the things that I once loved and did, nothing brought me the happiness that it did before.
Once I did feel I was towards the end of the grieving process, that's when I was like, I'm going to make this video. I'm going to do this. It just felt like that's how I knew I was ready to restart and I was ready to get back into things. We actually had a brunch together maybe a month or two ago, and when we talked, because I was like, "I really miss Beth, but I'm not ready for the podcast, but maybe we can see each other. Can we be friends outside the podcast?"
Beth Demme (22:29):
Stephanie Kostopoulos (22:30):
Can we talk without recording? What?
Beth Demme (22:32):
We were friends before the podcast. We should be able to figure that out.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (22:35):
It's been so long that we've been podcast friends that it's like, and I refer to you as my podcast co-host. Even during this time that we've been on a pause, I've referred to you as that way because to me, if you have a title that's higher than a friend.
Beth Demme (22:48):
Stephanie Kostopoulos (22:48):
I have friends. My mom's not my friend. She's my mom, right?
Beth Demme (22:52):
Stephanie Kostopoulos (22:53):
That's a bigger title. Then, podcast co-host, that's a big title. That's why I always don't say.
Beth Demme (23:00):
Stephanie Kostopoulos (23:00):
I don't call you my friend, I call you my podcast co-host.
Beth Demme (23:01):
I mean, there is only one.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (23:02):
Beth Demme (23:02):
Only one podcast co-host.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (23:04):
Unless we had four podcast co-host, but-
Beth Demme (23:06):
Well, that would be...
Stephanie Kostopoulos (23:07):
That would be too many voices.
Beth Demme (23:09):
Stephanie Kostopoulos (23:09):
People would be like, "I can't understand who's talking."
Beth Demme (23:11):
No, truly. I love to listen to audiobooks, and I just tried to listen to a book and I had to just abandon it because...
Stephanie Kostopoulos (23:19):
Beth Demme (23:19):
... there were six characters and they each had a different narrator, and...
Stephanie Kostopoulos (23:23):
Beth Demme (23:23):
... in theory, that would make it easier, but really it was just like, I can't keep track of all these people, but luckily it's also a show on Amazon Prime. I just watched it and it was a great show.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (23:33):
Okay, great. It's easier when you can actually see the voice.
Beth Demme (23:35):
Yeah. In that case, video was better than audio.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (23:39):
Podcast problems. Oh, no. Yeah.
Beth Demme (23:42):
Restarting after a loss takes energy. It takes emotional bandwidth. It sounds like you know it when you experience it.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (23:53):
Beth Demme (23:53):
When you start to feel like I described it as, "I woke up and I didn't have that weight on me," and you described it as like, "Maybe I want to make a video again."
Stephanie Kostopoulos (24:00):
Yeah. I don't think there's one answer to when you're ready. I've been on a mental health journey. I think that's something that you would know if you listen to the podcast, it's what we talk about, but even though, I'm very on top of my mental health, it was freaking hard to go through the grieving process. I was sad and I was, some of my old things were coming back and that's when I was meeting with my therapist and was just like, "This is not cool. I had dealt with this. Why is this still coming back?" She's like, "Because this is hard."
I think the thing that I always continue to learn is you have to go through it, and you have to allow the time and not just be like, "I know that this is a thing I need to go through," but not really allowing yourself to go through it. I think there's an intellectually knowing, I need to grieve because of this, but then there's actually allowing the space and the messiness of it also. It's not just going to be just a perfect easy thing, even if you are on top of your mental health in the best ways. At least that's what I learned. It was still messy and hard, and I was really sad. I mean, there was days where I would just be, I'd have good days and bad days, and I wouldn't know when those days are.
Beth Demme (25:18):
Stephanie Kostopoulos (25:19):
I wouldn't wake up and be like, "This is the best day," or, "This is going to be my bad." I would find out pretty quick, but it wasn't I couldn't schedule it, and I'm a scheduler.
Beth Demme (25:27):
Stephanie Kostopoulos (25:27):
I just didn't, that was hard too. I will schedule grieving today, but then, it would just find me.
Beth Demme (25:34):
Yeah, or you schedule a normal day and then you're like, "I actually can't do this."
Stephanie Kostopoulos (25:39):
Yes. Then, yeah. I started to schedule what would be nice if I can do it, and being okay with not doing it. I did start doing that, and I was okay with it. I allowed the space. I didn't beat myself up because I knew this is what I needed.
Beth Demme (25:57):
Do you think that you knew better how to let yourself grieve or how to endure the grieving process because you had been through it before in other ways?
Stephanie Kostopoulos (26:09):
I honestly think this is the hardest grieving process I've gone through. I've had people in my past die, grandparents and fairly recently grandparent and aunt, and they were hard, but they weren't people that I saw every single day and that were ingrained so much in my life. It was hard in a different way. I would say, yes and no, but overall, I think the fact that I lost Mac is probably going to help me with future grief.
I talked to my therapist about that, and she did say it probably will help you because of how deeply ingrained she was in your life. I do think, I mean, I think I'll never be prepared for someone to pass, but I do think I will probably be maybe a little bit more equipped because of how much I grieved with Mac, but how about you? Do you think that past grieving has helped with future grieving?
Beth Demme (27:03):
I want to say yes, but I also think no, because each loss is so individual and what you lose is so different that I don't know. I mean, I know that for me, understanding that there were stages of grief, but that they were not linear, was helpful to go, like we talked about, you read the book and it was reassuring, that helps me. Yet, the loss is still real and it still has to be processed. Maybe that's the way in which it makes it easier, is just that I was willing to give myself permission. When it happens again, I will give myself permission.
Actually, this really precious woman who became a friend to me and has been my friend for many years, she's much older, anyway, she just passed away and her funeral is a week from Saturday, and I'm looking forward to the funeral. I know that's such a weird thing to say, but it really helps me to know that she has been celebrated and that we have gathered and that we have kind of marked the moment. In that way, knowing past experience helps me to know that those things help me. In that way, past loss helps make current or future loss more endurable.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (28:27):
It's kind of interesting because a funeral is almost a shared grief experience because you're all in that same space. I would assume most people at a funeral for somebody, knew that person and has...
Beth Demme (28:38):
Stephanie Kostopoulos (28:39):
... some kind of connection. It gives you a chance to grieve on your own, but then also have that shared experience where you guys can grieve together...
Beth Demme (28:46):
Stephanie Kostopoulos (28:47):
... and celebrate, obviously, as well.
Beth Demme (28:49):
Right. It is still the, like you were saying about Mac was such a big part of your life, Lois Ann, this lady who passed away, she and I played Words with friends together every single day.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (29:01):
Beth Demme (29:02):
The fact that's how I knew that something, that her health had taken a turn because she went two or three days without playing. Then, I had to reach out and say, "What's going on?"
Stephanie Kostopoulos (29:13):
Beth Demme (29:14):
Now, every time I play Words with friends, even though it's been a little bit since she, it's been a few weeks since she passed away, and it's been even longer since she stopped playing, but I'm still like, "I don't have any games with her."
Stephanie Kostopoulos (29:26):
How interesting. Wow. The little things...
Beth Demme (29:28):
It's a little thing.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (29:28):
... that you wouldn't even think of, but yeah.
Beth Demme (29:30):
It's a little thing.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (29:32):
I know you said you don't think past grief necessarily has impacted future grief, but I will say, just from your examples of your three stories, you were on top of it when your dad passed.
Beth Demme (29:44):
Stephanie Kostopoulos (29:44):
You knew, uh-huh, I'm not waiting 18 years on this.
Beth Demme (29:46):
Stephanie Kostopoulos (29:47):
I'm not letting this sit and fester. Based on your examples, I do think, it didn't necessarily make it easier, obviously, like you said...
Beth Demme (29:55):
Stephanie Kostopoulos (29:55):
... but I-
Beth Demme (29:56):
You learn from it.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (29:56):
I think you learn. Yeah. I think every grief is a learning experience, and I don't think any of us really choose it. Sometimes, I guess. I guess you could choose it if you wanted to leave a job or something.
Beth Demme (30:09):
Right, but it is unavoidable or like a divorce, that could be a choice, but loss is an unavoidable part of life, and yet people really don't like to talk about it.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (30:20):
Yeah. I noticed that when I was going through losing Mac, a lot of people told me about losing their animals, and I had no idea. I mean, obviously it makes sense, people are going to be losing animals left and right because they don't live as long as humans, and we all have a lot of them through our lifetime, but people just felt like they could share their experience because I was going through the experience, but in general, I wouldn't have never known these stories because it's not something people talk about.
Beth Demme (30:49):
One thing that was really, really helpful to me after my dad passed away, and it's something that because someone offered me this, I now know to offer it to other people, but it was really, really helpful. Somebody reached out to me and said, "Let's get together for a meal." I was like, "Well, brunch is my favorite." We got together for brunch, and they were like, "I want to tell you stories about my dad, and I want to hear your stories about your dad." To create a space for that was really a gift. That was healing for sure to be given permission to tell stories and to be willing to hear stories. That was really great.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (31:29):
To be intentional about saying that too.
Beth Demme (31:31):
Stephanie Kostopoulos (31:31):
Because I think there is an element where, I know for me, I feel bad talking about my dead animal for so long where you feel like, this person doesn't want to hear anymore. To have that permission to talk about that, that was a good friend. That was smart. That was good.
Beth Demme (31:49):
Yeah. That was really smart.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (31:50):
That was a good set.
Beth Demme (31:51):
Also, I think it was especially helpful because when my brother passed away, all of a sudden, nobody in my family wanted to talk about him. It was too painful to have memories. I think that made it worse and also, is part of what was festering for me for all those years, was to not be able to cultivate memory and share our share stories. I would encourage that for sure, as part of the grieving process is to share stories.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (32:15):
Yeah. I think towards the end is when I realized I could look at pictures of her again and remember the good times, and that's what you want to remember.
Beth Demme (32:25):
Stephanie Kostopoulos (32:26):
You want to remember the person or the animal for who they were and what they had impact in your life, and don't think about the end. Think about that time that you had together. That's what I kind of realized. I can look at pictures and videos of her and I'm just like, "She was so cute."
Beth Demme (32:45):
Stephanie Kostopoulos (32:45):
In just the cutest little way.
Beth Demme (32:47):
I have noticed that it is becoming more common, or maybe I'm just noticing it more, I don't know, but on social media, I especially see it on Facebook, it could be a generational thing, but that people will mark the birthday of a deceased loved one, or they'll say, "It was this many years ago today that I lost you." I could see where that would be a turnoff for some people, but I just think it's so good. I think it's like, take this tool, take this moment to remember, and it's an invitation to me to remember with you. I like that.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (33:23):
Yeah, I agree.
Beth Demme (33:24):
I think if you don't like it, you can just keep scrolling.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (33:28):
Beth Demme (33:29):
That's always true on social media, but I've just been seeing that more and more, or noticing it more and more.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (33:31):
Yeah. Beth, we're back.
Beth Demme (33:41):
Stephanie Kostopoulos (33:42):
We have unpaused. We have pushed the record button again.
Beth Demme (33:47):
Which I just noticed today, it throbs until you press it. What's up with that? I never noticed that before.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (33:51):
I didn't design this board, but I think it does that to remind you you're not recording. Push this button.
Beth Demme (33:56):
Push this button. Yeah.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (33:56):
I will say, we have recorded an episode that the button had not been pushed.
Beth Demme (34:00):
That is true. We did a whole episode without recording it.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (34:02):
I wrote a button that says, "Are you recording?"
Beth Demme (34:04):
Stephanie Kostopoulos (34:04):
For the first button that I click, so that we know we're recording and don't have to record a whole episode and then do it again.
Beth Demme (34:11):
Do it again, yeah.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (34:13):
Why are we back? Why did you want to come back?
Beth Demme (34:15):
Well, I wanted to come back because I like having this time with you. I didn't want the podcast to be something that I lost.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (34:24):
Me either. I had lost enough and did not want to have to grieve the podcast. Maybe I want to come back because I don't want to go through the grieving process again.
At the end of each episode, we end with questions for reflection. These are questions based on today's show that Beth will read and leave a little pause between for you to answer to yourself, or you can find a PDF on our website.
Beth Demme (34:47):
Number one, reflect on a loss in your life. What was your grieving process like? Was it linear? Number two, every loss leaves a hole. What have your strategies been fulfilling the hole? Number three, does experiencing one loss make it easier when you suffer another loss? Number four, as you think about a loss or losses in your life, what did the restart process look like for you?
Stephanie Kostopoulos (35:20):
The Discovering Our Scars podcast is produced by Stephanie Kostopoulos and Beth Demme. Thanks for joining us.