Episode 6: How To Be With Someone Who Is Grieving, with Jen Downer

Nurturing Habit, a podcast about deeply nurturing yourself. Episode 6 with with Jen Downer, photographer, about how to talk to people who are grieving.

Jen Downer is a photographer in Portland, Oregon. In her words, she’s a photographer “who is on a mission to celebrate families and individuals as they are. She strives to give people a comfortable experience, while capturing their moments, connection and spirit.” Having spent some time on the client side of her camera, I can say with authority that she does all of those things.

I didn’t invite Jen on the show in her capacity as a photographer, but as someone who has walked through a lot of grief, and has some things to say about how people interacted with her during those time, in both good ways and ways that left a lot to be desired. In this episode, we talked about how to go beyond, “I’m so sorry,” how to really connect with someone who is deep in grief, and if you are the one grieving, how to help people communicate better with you.

If you’ve ever been unsure what to say, or felt like you said something that just landed not well, this episode should help you in those encounters in the future. While we don’t offer any simple answers, there is a lot to think about here and insights that will help you figure out your own go-to scripts for these conversations.

Listen to Episode 6 with Jen Downer now by clicking the little arrow in the play bar below (if you don’t see it, reload the page), or head over to iTunes or your favorite podcast player.

Do you still have questions about how to communicate with someone who is grieving? Leave a comment or send me a note and let me know!

Here are links to some of the things we discussed in this episode:

You can find Jen and learn more about her photography work here:

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Episode 5: Be Okay With Being Messy with Andrea Scher

In this episode of Nurturing Habit Podcast with Andrea Scher, we talk about separation, divorce, parenting separately and grieving in front of your kids. We discuss how it is OK to be messy, because that's part of being human, hurting, and healing. Find complete show notes at the link.

Andrea Scher is the creator of Superhero Life, a hub for learning how to “use our voices, share our superpowers and live life in full color.” She’s a photographer, artist, life coach, mentor, podcaster and a mama to two young boys. I have long admired Andrea for her openness and vulnerability in her online space and in person. She’s real and fierce and curious and always looking for where the magic is.

I asked Andrea to come on the show for this series because she and her husband recently separated their lives, and I wanted to get her perspective on living through personal grief while also having a public way of being in her work. What followed was so much more than that. It was a conversation where we discussed the stress that having a public persona can create, how hard it is to know how much to let our kids see when we are dealing with hard personal stuff, how completely normal it is to be messy sometimes, and how important it is to connect with others, especially when we are hurting.

Listen to Episode 5 with Andrea Scher now by clicking the little arrow in the play bar below (if you don’t see it, reload the page), or head over to iTunes or your favorite podcast player. What did you learn from this episode? Send me a note and let me know!

Here are links to some of the things we discussed in this episode:

You can find Andrea at these links:

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Episode 4: Living Gently With Your Grief with Nancy London

Nurturing Habit Podcast with Doña Bumgarner, Episode 4: Living Gently With Grief, an interview with Nancy London

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I met Nancy London at a writing retreat called Writing As A Passageway Through Grief, Uncertainty And Change last year. She was so wise, loving and nurturing in that space and with me individually that I knew I wanted to talk to her as part of this podcast series.

Nancy, like Jamie in Episode 2, has worked as a hospice social worker and also in private practice. She is a writer, and was co-author of the first edition of Our Bodies, Ourselves (such an important book in my adolescence!) and later a resource book for older moms called Hot Flashes Warm Bottles: First-Time Mothers Over Forty. She is also a teacher, having led women’s and mom’s groups and is now starting a series of classes for women in Santa Fe about embracing the shadow – hear more about that in the interview.

Nancy’s story includes losing her father at a young age, and then, years later, having to face the fact that she had not fully grieved the loss and could not continue the work she wanted to do, supporting others in grief, until she worked through her own. In setting about doing that, and spending time with the dying and their loved ones, she has come to a gentle and loving relationship with grief.

That perspective, that we can sit with grief in love, was one piece of wisdom took away from this conversation. We do not need to fear our grief. It will always wait for us, until we are ready to be present with it. As Nancy says, “We don’t ‘get over’ our grief. It is an energy, not an enemy.”

The other is this: To be able to be with someone deep in grief, you have to be able to be in touch with your own pain. Until we feel safe with our own dark and hurting places, we cannot fully support others when they are in pain. But when we face our grief, know our tender places, we become better partners, better parents, better friends, and better citizens in a world that is filled with a great deal of pain.

Listen to Episode 4 with Nancy London now by clicking the little arrow in the play bar below, or head over to iTunes or your favorite podcast player. What did you learn from this episode? Send me a note and let me know!

Links to the things we talked about in this episode:

Be prepared for the hard conversations.

Holding_hands_200

You want to protect your kids from the hard stuff, but sometimes you can't. When you can't shield them from the impact of illness, death or grief, the best thing you can do is help them to understand and process their emotions. But know you don't have do go into these hard conversations alone.

Download a resource list with 24 books for kids on grief, death, or when a parent has a serious illness.

These stories can help guide you through helping your child, and yourself, through these tender places.

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Episode 3: Giving Back as a Way To Heal with April Stearns

The Nurturing Habit Podcast with Dona Bumgarner and guest April Stearns :: www.nurturinghabit.com/episode3

After walking a hard path in life and beginning to heal, it is so easy to never want to look back at that place again. But this week’s guest, April Johnson Stearns, found that not only looking back, but standing firmly on that path to hold the hands of other walkers, has been a deeply healing decision for her.

April is a writer and the founder of Wildfire Community, home of Wildfire Magazine. This is the digital magazine she created for young women survivors and fighters of breast cancer after she herself survived breast cancer five years ago. It is a platform for survivors and fighters to speak their own experience – each issue is filled with essays, interviews and photographs of and by reader-contributors.

In this deeply open and honest conversation, April and I talk about our shared experience of being diagnosed with breast cancer while mothering a young daughter, and having to carry the burden of our child’s grief and fear as well as our own. April also talks about how she came to create Wildfire and how it has grown, as well as the surprising benefits it has brought to her life.

Though this might seem like a particularly heavy episode, know that we also stray into conversation about tattoos and how both of our daughters love to steal and play with our “foobs” (what April calls her “fake boob”).

Here are links to the resources we talked about in the episode:

  • There are several different kinds of breast cancer, each of which has a slightly different kind of treatment and chance of re-occurance. You can learn more about types of breast cancer here. 
  • Elizabeth Kubler-Ross, a Swiss psychiatrist, developed a model known as the five stages of grief, that grew out of her work with terminal ill patients. Her model was introduced in her book On Death And Dying in 1969.
  • Wildfire Magazine is a reader-generated, subscription-based bimonthly digital magazine for young women survivors and fighters of breast cancer. The magazine was founded in 2015, and the first issue, PHOENIX, came out March 2016. The magazine is dedicated to helping women in their 20s, 30s, and 40s discover a life they love after a breast cancer diagnosis. You can read the best of 2016 collection or subscribe to the magazine. Use code NURTURE (all caps) for 20% off your subscription.
    • The essay we talked about in the interview: Homecoming.
    • Another of April’s essays that relates to the episode conversation: The Jerk In The Mirror.
    • I also wrote an essay for the inaugural issue of Wildfire, called Not Quite Alive. You can either subscribe or  register for a sample issue, which will also give you access to the issue archives for a few days. Not Quite Alive is in Issue 1.
  • After the recording ended, April and I had a conversation about a summer camp that her daughter has attended a couple of times and is finding really healing. It is called Camp Kesem, and is a camp specifically for children (ages 6-16) whose parents have been diagnosed with cancer. You can read more about this wonderful organization here. 

Listen to Episode 3 with April Stearns now by clicking the little arrow in the play bar below, or head over to iTunes or your favorite podcast player to subscribe or leave a review.

Be prepared for the hard conversations.

Holding_hands_200

You want to protect your kids from the hard stuff, but sometimes you can't. When you can't shield them from the impact of illness, death or grief, the best thing you can do is help them to understand and process their emotions. But know you don't have do go into these hard conversations alone.

Download a resource list with 24 books for kids on grief, death, or when a parent has a serious illness.

These stories can help guide you through helping your child, and yourself, through these tender places.

Spam is not nurturing. Your email is safe with me. Powered by ConvertKit

Episode 2: Finding Peace in Loss and Change with Jamie Van Zanen

Episode 2 of the Nurturing Habit Podcast with Jamie Van Zanen and Doña Bumgarner

In Episode 2, I’m interviewing Jamie Van Zanen, who is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and also my sister. Jamie worked in hospice for a decade, supporting the dying and bereaved through end of life transitions. During that time she endured her own loss, and in the interview, talks about how experiencing the end of life of someone very close to her gave her a new empathy and perspective with her hospice clients.

More recently, Jamie has begun working with clients at the other end of life – prenatal and postpartum moms and families, and has a special interest in working with women struggling to conceive.

Jamie’s experience at both ends of life gives her a really unique perspective on the universality of grief for loss and change, and she has some really excellent advice for caring for yourself, whether you are a caregiver for a dying person or a baby, or are experiencing some other kind of grief.

Links to things we discussed in this episode:

To play the episode now, just click the triangle in the player bar below or load up the episode in your favorite podcast app.

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Episode 1: Nurturing Ourselves Through Grief

Episode 1 of the Nurturing Habit Podcast with Doña Bumgarner.

I believe that nurturing ourselves first is the foundation of everything else we want in our lives. This podcast is an exploration of how exactly we nurture ourselves, and how we might be able to do it better.

In the very first episode of the Nurturing Habit podcast, I tell the story of how I got here – to the beginning of this podcast – and what it will be about.

Season 1 of the podcast will be about nurturing ourselves through grief, and in this episode I explain why this is an important topic to me, and why I’m starting here.

Talking about grief can be uncomfortable, but is so so important.

Ready to listen? Just click the little triangle in the play bar below, or load up the episode in your favorite podcasting app.

Want to be notified as soon as the next episode is available? Sign up below.

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