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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.

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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 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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