Terri is a long time friend and colleague. We have taught together several times and I am always impressed by how her knowledge of death, dying and grief has helped the people in our sessions.

Dr. Terri Daniel is a hospice and hospital-trained spiritual care provider and end-of-life educator.  She conducts workshops throughout the U.S. and teaches SPIRITUALITY AND BEREAVEMENT  to chaplaincy students at the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley, California. Terri  is also the founder of The Afterlife Conference and the Ask Doctor Death podcast, and is the author of four books on death, grief and the afterlife.
Terri had no idea what she’d be when she grew up until she was in her early 50s, when her son Danny died at age 16 after a long struggle with a rare metabolic disorder.  Danny began communicating with her after his death, and his  guidance — in this world and the next — changed everything. Starting out as a hospice volunteer, Terri went on to spend the next several years in academia, pursuing degrees in Religious Studies and Pastoral Counseling, and also launched The Afterlife Conference, which is now in its 11th year.

Over the years Terri has helped hundreds of people learn to live, die and grieve more consciously. Her work is  acclaimed  by hospice professionals, spiritual seekers, therapists theologians, and academics worldwide. You can find her at www.SpiritualityandGrief.com, and of course at www.AfterlifeConference.com

 

Transcript

 

Brian Smith 0:01
Hey everybody, this is Brian back with another episode of grief to growth and today I’ve got with me my friend, Dr. Terry Daniel. Terry and I have known each other for I guess a couple of years now. Our passkey Krause and we’ve taught several classes together. And Terry’s a fascinating person gonna be really interested to hear his story, but I’m gonna introduce her dr. Terry Daniels, a hospice and hospital trained spiritual care provider and end of life educator. she conducts workshops throughout the US and teaches spirituality and bereavement to chaplaincy students at the Graduate theological union in Berkeley, California. Terry is also the founder of the afterlife conference, and the ask Dr. Death podcast and She’s the author of four books on death, grief and the afterlife. Terry had no idea what she’d be when she grew up until she was in her early 50s when her son Danny died at age 16. After a long struggle with a rare metabolic disorder, Danny began communicating with her after his death. And his guidance in this world of the next changed everything for Terry. She started out as a hospice volunteer, she went on to spec spend the next several years in academia, pursuing degrees in religious studies and pastoral counseling. And she also launched the afterlife conference, which is now in its 11th year. Now over the years, Terry has helped hundreds of people learn to die, live, die, and grieve more consciously. Her work is a claim by hospice, hospice professionals, spiritual seekers, therapists, theologians and academics worldwide. And you can find Terry at www spirituality and grief calm, and at www afterlife conference calm. So with that, I want to welcome Dr. Terry Daniel. Hey, Brian. Thank you, my friend. Hello. Hi, everybody. Really nice to be here. Yeah, Terry, it’s good to see you, again, haven’t talked to you in a while. So I’m looking forward to having this conversation with you. But sorry for our audience that doesn’t know you as well as I do. Tell me how your journey started?

Terri Daniel 1:49
Well, I started out as actually a very mystical and spiritual kid, I was always really in tune with my dreams, I was always getting messages and having feelings and all that. But I’m not a psychic or a medium. I preface my story to say that I was always kind of in tune with that stuff. I was always super fascinated by religion and spirituality, I was raised essentially with no religion. My parents were secularly and socially Jewish. But when I was about 16, I decided to read the Bible, just because I was curious about what all the fuss was about. We didn’t even have a Bible in my house, I had to go out and buy one. And I was I knew immediately on reading it that Oh, yeah, you’re not supposed to take this literally, you’re supposed to read between the lines and interpret everything. Then when I was 19, I read the Tibetan Book of the Dead. And books by some of the really popular mediums in those days, this was the 1960s, late 60s, and just kind of got on this spiritual path. In terms of what I do now, if you fast forward a whole lot of years to in my 40s, my 10 year old son was diagnosed with a rare life threatening illness, and given five to 10 years to live. And he died at 16 and began communicating with me very clearly and in great detail 30 minutes after his death. So from that, I wrote my first book, a swan and heaven. And I felt like all my spiritual preparation that I had done all those years, was really just leading me up to that to, you know, having to deal with the death of a child. Because I had so many sort of Buddhist leanings, I believed in reincarnation, I believed in soul contracts. And when he was diagnosed, and everybody around me was freaking out and falling apart. And I was too, of course, I still had this other feeling about it, which was, oh, what an interesting plan we apparently have, together, he’s gonna die at 16. And I do all this spiritual stuff, and there must be some connection between those two things. And so along with the grief and the fear, and all the sadness of losing him, I also had this other thing going on, which was curiosity about the spiritual and metaphysical meaning to all of it. And that really helped me not become devastated by grief, but to kind of become friends with grief. And kind of walk hand in hand with it. Yeah, so so you had this this spirituality before and you have this this studying of death and the afterlife and all that, but then when Danny died transitioned, is that when you started the academic aspect of it, because I know you

You kind of like went fast forward, and everything did well. So when Danny died, you know, I mean, he had a long illness, he was disabled severely for the last half of his life. And so it was a long process of preparing for his death. And at his actual death, he’s the first person that I ever saw die. And of course, I was at the bedside, not when he took his last breath, I was actually vacuuming the house, when he took his last breath happens often that way. But the process of being with the person as they’re dying, especially in the active, dying phase, when they’re really not fully in their bodies, is so mystical and beautiful. That after I went through that with him, I thought, I want to do this some more, I want to be in that space with people. So I became a hospice volunteer, but I couldn’t really do that until a year had passed. Because with hospices, they don’t let you volunteer, until you’ve been 13 months out from your loss. So I started as a hospice volunteer. And I started witnessing people, the dying people and their loved ones, having really deep existential questions about God and afterlife, and all of that. And I really wanted to talk to them about that. But as a volunteer, we’re not allowed to have those kinds of conversations with people because it’s just too iffy. In in a hospice setting, because you never know if a volunteer is going to, like, evangelize and try to save their soul or you just, it’s just not safe to let volunteers do that. Only trained people can do that. So I said, I want to do that. So I decided to go to college at age 56. And I got a first I got a bachelor’s degree in religious studies. And I did that so that I could understand what people were thinking and believing around death. And so I could understand the different perspectives of different religions. And then I realized I want to be a hospice chaplain. So I did chaplaincy training, and got a master’s in pastoral care, and did a bunch of internships. And during the chaplaincy internships, I realized I didn’t actually want to be a chaplain, because I’m a better talker than a listener. And I decided I wanted to be a teacher. So then I went to school some more and got a doctorate. And now I am really in a place that I love. I’m now teaching chaplaincy, students who are going through that same path that I went through. I teach death, dying and bereavement. I teach a course called spirituality and bereavement, and another one spirituality and chronic illness, and doing one on spiritual care for marginalized communities. So it all happened, you know, I was said to somebody just yesterday,

if my son hadn’t died, and introduced me to the experience of grief and loss,

I wouldn’t be where I am today. I don’t know what my life would be like, but it I feel like it wouldn’t be as productive and meaningful and useful in the world and in the culture as it is because he died. Yeah, you know, it’s really interesting how Thanks, Brian. Yeah, yeah, it’s interesting how those things work out. And I know for myself, when my daughter passed, I was like, This is the worst thing that could ever possibly happen. And when people say something good can come out of it. I was, I would say about nothing. Nothing good can come from this, but we just have to trust and allow time to kind of bring to us what we’re supposed to be doing. And and, and what you’re doing now is just like, phenomenal. And you said you wouldn’t be doing it if it weren’t for Danny for Danny dying. So what have you learned, you know, you, you went through the experience of grief, and then you then you did the high academic thing. So what did you learn from your academic studies of grief and death and dying? Well,

I learned a whole lot and I learned things that I wish more people would learn. We You know, one of the first things I learned was that most of the people who are out there talking about grief and teaching about grief today don’t have adequate training and don’t actually know what they’re talking about. And there’s a lot of really bad grief advice floating around out there. And let’s go back a little bit. right about the time when I started the undergrad program. That’s when I also started the afterlife conference. And that sort of ties in to how when I learned about grief, so

very early on

this national bereavement group for brief parents that compassionate friends which I’m sure you know of

They were having a conference in Portland where I lived. This was 2009. And I had just written my first book about communication with my son. And I pitched them and said, Hey, can I come and you know, do a presentation about after death communication? And they said, Absolutely not. We don’t allow that content. Or it’s very upsetting to our parents. We don’t allow anybody to talk about anything spiritual or talking to dead people. We don’t do that. So I got really upset. And I said, Well, if they’re not going to allow that at their conference, I guess I’m just gonna have to start one of my own. There were no other afterlife conferences back then. So I started this, and I reached out to people who at that time were well known in this field who had written books like, for example, Bill Guggenheim, who all your listeners know. Yeah, wrote Hello from heaven. Sandy Goodman, I had a book called Love never dies very well known. Lula grande was another guy can’t remember all of them at this point. But

I called them and I said, Hey, kids, let’s put on a show. And he became the founding members of the afterlife conference. So one of the first things I learned about grief and loss, is that there wasn’t enough of a forum out in the world for people to approach it from a spiritual, metaphysical, non religious perspective. Yeah, I think that’s really interesting, Terry, as you said, when you just said that very last part for spiritual, metaphysical, non religious perspective, because we could go to a traditional pastor or priest or whatever, and they can talk to us from a religious perspective. Or we could go to a traditional grief counselor who may not believe in the afterlife. And I think that’s, I think that’s what’s missing is that person that can talk about it from a metaphysical spiritual perspective, but not a religious perspective. And I know when I went to see a grief counselor briefly, it was just, it didn’t help me at all. Because the guy there was no talk about where my daughter was, or what the plan was, or anything like that.

Yeah, so that Thank you. That was You’re right, Brian, that’s so you need some job description, some person who can talk about it from the metaphysical perspective, and the psychological perspective. And that’s what you want in a good grief counselor that has the psychology background and knows the grief research and all this stuff, and also knows the myriad of afterlife scenarios and different ways that people might look at it. You know, they’ve done a lot of studies in the field of grief research now on does grief counseling help? And the conclusion is no. Right? And and for different reasons than you might think. I mean, one reason is exactly what you said is counseling generally doesn’t include a spiritual component. Most counselors and therapists are not trained in spiritual care and spiritual work. But the other reason it doesn’t work is because

grief is not a disorder that needs to be treated.

So really, all counseling does, and it’s good. This is a good thing is it gives you someone to talk to who will who is interested in listening to you. Because, you know, as we all know, our friends and family cannot hold our grief, they can’t, they don’t want to hear about it. You can only talk to them about it up to a very limited amount of time. And either they get very uncomfortable, or they get very upset and they start to grieve and feel pain, too. And then you have to take care of them. Yeah. Right. So we can’t rely on friends and family to be our grief support system to that degree. So counseling is great for that. But

it doesn’t provide a treatment, because grief doesn’t need treatment.

Brian Smith 13:56
Yeah, yeah, I think that’s really important. What you just said, yeah.

Terri Daniel 14:00
Yeah. Now grief does need treatment when it gets into complicated grief. And so complicated grief is is nowadays literally a diagnosable disorder. And it’s, there’s all this criteria of what constitutes it. There is even a time frame, but we don’t really pay much attention to the timeframe. But for example, if you lost an aging parent, let’s say your 90 year old mother died, this is a normal, unnatural, unexpected death, your grief response would be within certain boundaries of normal for such a loss. Totally different than if your five year old kid gets run over by a car. Right, right. But in a normal death of an aging parent, you know, six months later, you should be pretty much stabilized. Right? functional, enjoying life again, having healthy relationships. Creating your new life. If three years after that death, you’re still depressed. And I hear from people all the time who say things to me like my mother died 10 years ago, I still can’t believe she’s gone. I can’t live without her. That’s complicated grief.

Brian Smith 15:15
Yeah. Yeah. Yeah, I think that’s a really good point. Because I’ve seen even with, even with the passing of a child, even though it’s different from a parent, you know, I went to some of these grief groups that you talked about, and I won’t name the groups. But what did some of these groups and someone 10 1520 years after the child pass is just as bitter as they were the day that they passed, and it’s gonna take longer with the child to get there. But it should, you should be able to make some sort of progress in 10 or 15 or 20 years,

Terri Daniel 15:43
you should make some for to sort of progress in two or three years. Yeah, no matter how tragic the death is. And you know, you and I both know, people, Brian, whose children have died in a horrible, tragic, violent ways. And we hear these stories every day. And so this is why the diagnostic criteria for complicated grief is kind of full of crap. Because it says six months, yeah, and I know that if your child is killed in a drive by shooting, you’re not going to be stabilized in six months,

Brian Smith 16:13
right? No, because

Terri Daniel 16:14
everything in your world changes not just your role as a parent and your relationship with a child. But, you know, that has like social and political elements to it, you know, there’s just so much around it. So the point being normal grief, doesn’t require a therapeutic intervention. Mm hmm. And that’s why grief counseling doesn’t generally work. I mean, I’d love to see all the grief counselors out there, get some spiritual training, along with doctors and nurses and everybody else.

Brian Smith 16:47
Yeah, that’s all I really like about, you know, working with uteri, because as I said, when I when I think about traditional grief counseling, which is basically when the past at least was your your loved one has gone get over it move on with your life. I just don’t think that’s satisfactory to most people, again, especially with a parent, maybe an aging parent, or grandmother or something, but especially when it comes to like the loss of a child, I think people need more than that to hold on to,

Terri Daniel 17:13
or the loss of a spouse, you know, at a young age, your 35 year old wife, I mean, all these things. And we just part of the problem is we don’t have these tools. In our culture, we’re very death avoidant culture, we have almost no meaningful rituals around death. So if you go to, you know, most in almost all indigenous societies, and pretty much anywhere outside of the Western, Judeo Christian world, you’re going to find really beautiful processes for facing death, or going through the loss dealing with the grief, finding, meaning, having a spiritual practice, that incorporates that meaning into the rest of your life, we don’t have any of that here, we have a funeral, which for most people is really meaningless. Because if they’re do it through their church, or some tradition that they’re not really bought into all that much, it becomes really meaningless. And people are in shock when they’re planning a funeral. And they’re not really paying attention. And there’s so many different things that we can do. Other than that, to learn how to be with death and loss.

Brian Smith 18:29
Yeah, you know, that’s one things I’ve really learned working with you as, as we’ve taught over the years, is this. The importance of rituals, and the fact that we don’t really have any in our culture. So I’ve seen you bring these rituals in, and they’re always coming from somewhere else. Because our culture is kind of like, I don’t know, if we had the one time we forgot them or what but there’s really, there’s not much, you know, and we don’t talk about that. So it’s and then the rituals I’ve seen you provide the people are so uplifting and so helpful and, and help people because you’ve got a process that you know, we get, and we I think we have a tendency, I was listening to someone talk this morning about when their father killed himself. And the mother came and just said, Okay, well, we’re just gonna, we’re not gonna talk about this, except in like, 1970, we’re just not going to talk about we’re gonna move on. I think there’s still a lot of that in our, in our culture, we just don’t understand how to talk about grief. And that’s what I really appreciate about you know, what you’re doing with your with your podcast, and all the things that you do.

Terri Daniel 19:28
Well, and I appreciate that about what you’re doing, Brian, you know, you just you’ve put yourself on this public forum that is addressing all this stuff. And I don’t know how big your following is, but I hope it’s really really, really big because you have a lot of really great stuff to share. Yeah, you know, it’s interesting. It’s interesting how you said that it’s like all those ceremonies and stuff that I do do come from somewhere else, all of them 100% never found one from modern America, and even if you Look at you know, pre America, like, you know, the history of basically Anglo Christian white people is what we’re talking about. And you know, the people who settled here, for example, okay, so we can go, we’ll go back to England, and Europe and Rome. And it really was the onset of Christianity or really monotheism, you know, the Hebrew tradition that really started taking all that stuff away. Yeah. Because prior to the Old Testament prior to the Hebrews, we had these pagan cultures all over the Middle East and the room, oh, there’s no roman empire that time but, and they had beautiful traditions for death and birth, and reproduction, and honoring nature. And all this stuff and the Judeo Christian culture, just strip that all away and wrapped it up in Scripture stories.

Brian Smith 20:55
Yeah, you know, I was talking to I was working with a couple over the weekend, it was on the 31st. So it’s the day of the dead, you know. And they’re, they’re in San Francisco. So they said, but they showed me the altar that they had built and the food that they laid out and all this stuff. And I said, Well, I didn’t realize that, you know, that was a big thing in San Francisco. They said, well, there’s a big Mexican culture, I guess, there. And so they were doing this, I was like, What a great ritual to have that, as we’re going in. And as I described it, we’re going into the darkest part of the year. Now we’re going into Halloween, and we just change the clocks for and we’re coming into Christmas, and everything’s getting darker, and a lot of us really dread that. But the way that they were talking about it, it’s like this is when the veil gets thinner. This is when we feel closer to our loved ones. It was just a beautiful way of looking at it. That unfortunately, didn’t come from our culture.

Terri Daniel 21:42
Well, and you know, we’re really came from it’s interesting, because Halloween, it’s funny, just this last Halloween on Saturday, I actually performed a pagan wedding on the front. It was so wonderful. where it came from is the ancient European pagans. Yeah, who had a festival called sawin, which celebrated exactly what you said on this date. November 1, basically, is the day according to their tradition, when the veil was the thinnest, and the dead people could just kind of really come through. And so that’s where that started. The Catholic Church got hold of it, and turned it into All Saints Day. And then Hallmark greeting cards got hold of it didn’t tell the win. But there are many among us who recommend and then of course, it became the day of the dead in the Latin cultures. Yeah. And they have a mix of the Catholic version with the indigenous Aztec, Mayan stuff. That’s your ancestry. And that’s what you see on those Day of the Dead altars. But they still believe that the dead come through on this day and you open your door to your house and you give them food. And candy. That’s what it that’s what ends and little kids are going around dressed up like skeletons and ghosts and collecting candy. And they have no idea why.

Brian Smith 23:04
Yeah, and that’s the thing. And she did mention sewing because one of the one of the people in the couple, she is pagan. So she mentioned solloway, and then even All Saints Day, but we don’t really it’s not in our culture is that really taken that way, I guess it’s just become a silly thing just become was just put on the costume or walk around to get candy. And there are a couple I was working with their son, it just passed early this year. So this is their first time going through this. And it was just so you know, so meaningful to them. And it set up this altar and everything. And it just it just changed everything. I think the way that they were looking at it that was really healthy. And have

Terri Daniel 23:37
that to have something like that does change everything.

Brian Smith 23:41
Yeah.

Terri Daniel 23:42
Yeah. And and most people don’t have that, you know, they might, like in the Jewish tradition, you light a candle on the anniversary of the person’s death. Hmm, that’s it. Yeah, that’s, that’s, I mean, that’s what I grew up with. And there are deeper traditions than that. But in most modern Jewish families, they don’t go any deeper than that. I don’t know what they do in the Catholic tradition. I don’t know what they do in the evangelical tradition. I know evangelicals have really long funerals that lasts all day long. Yeah. What do they do in a year?

Brian Smith 24:16
Anything? There’s really, there’s really not much that I know of. And I know, as you and I, you know, we’ve worked together we’ve been teaching we show people the altars that you and I both build, yeah, the response that people give when they see the altar that we have to honor our ancestors are children, for Narcos, our children who have passed and how we keep that as part of our lives. I think it really helps people say you realize there’s something that they’re missing if they don’t, if they don’t work with someone like yourself, and learn these things that you’re teaching.

Terri Daniel 24:46
You know, do you want to show your alter on this recording that we’re doing right now? Would that be?

Brian Smith 24:52
I don’t have it available right now.

Terri Daniel 24:53
I do it would take me a minute to find it though. So I’m okay. Well, if you want me to

Brian Smith 24:58
go ahead and look for that one. You’re talking while we’re while we’re, while you’re looking for that. But yeah, I think, you know, the, like I said, Terry, what I’ve appreciated about working with you over the years is just there’s so much written richness that we can bring to this, that I think people don’t really realize is even available. And that’s what, like the afterlife conference you’ve been doing it for is you’ve just, I know, we missed it last year. So is it the 11th one that’s coming up?

Terri Daniel 25:22
This would be in 2021. It would be our 11th one, which is just amazing. I can’t even believe that it. It’s been going this long. And boy, does that make me happy?

Brian Smith 25:33
Yeah, yeah. Well, there’s, I think there’s a real need for and you’ve got, you got a training coming up this weekend. So you got something coming up really soon?

Terri Daniel 25:41
Oh, yeah, I started, um, a couple of, I guess it was just a month ago. I’m online grief support group. So you know, people aren’t going to their groups and their therapists or anything anymore. So I’m now doing every other Sunday. Basically, just a support group, except we’re doing it on zoom. So I just finished one session of it, which was for four sessions, which is over. And now starting on this Sunday, November 8, we have four more and that one is themed to the holiday season. Okay, so that’s our holiday season one and people can find that on spirituality and grief.com. Okay. And here I found and, and we do an in this, we don’t just talk like people usually do in support groups, we actually do ceremonies, and I do have them build an altar as part of the process. And I actually found the videos. Brian, do you want? Do you want me to share them?

Brian Smith 26:43
Yeah, go ahead. Okay. Why don’t you share screen?

Terri Daniel 26:45
All right, hold on. Oops, hold one second.

Just a minute.

Okay, put this down here. And I will share my screen.

Okay,

Brian Smith 27:01
there we go.

Terri Daniel 27:03
Okay, so the first one we’re going to look at is Brian Salter, which he made for a class that we taught together a couple years ago. Can everybody see that?

Brian Smith 27:12
Yeah, I could see it. So for anybody who’s listening to the podcast and not watching on YouTube, I’ll go I’ll explain as we go through, but go ahead and pull it

Terri Daniel 27:19
has your voice on it, too.

Brian Smith 27:20
Does the meditation alter where I sit every day and meditate and think about my daughter, Shayna, who passed away at this point three years ago, and also to bring peace to myself and kind of recenter and try to reach higher states. On my altar. I have a Jesus statue. I bought this at a little local shop thinking it was actually a Buddha. And thought was really cute Buddha. When I got at home, I looked it up and found that it’s jeiza, who’s a Japanese figure, who is a someone who watches over children who cross the other side to keep them safe when their parents aren’t there with them. Jesus is also revered by people who are spiritual seekers as he watches them on a spiritual journey. So that was a fortunate synchronicity that I bought that statue thinking it was actually a Buddha. This is a candle like the light candles when I meditate. This is the year as a compassionate Buddha. I saw the statue on a TV show, I had no idea what it was, but it just really called out to me so I googled it and found that this is actually Buddha, who is showing compassion for the for the cares of the world or for the sorrows in the world. So I found this statue on eBay. And I love it because it’s used and it’s actually kind of worn you can i can tell where it’s been handled. So I love that my capacitor Buddha statue is made out of wood. This is my Krishna statue that my older daughter bought for me because she knows I just love looking at God in different forms. I believe God has many different facets. So I like the look at different ways of it, of looking at God. This is the ganache that my same daughter bought for me when she was on a trip in New Orleans. This is a keepsake box that a friend of mine made for me shortly after Shayna passed. And in the box she placed for heart shaped rocks and gave me some other things that she had made for me. But she went to the beach and found these rocks and they represent myself my wife and my two daughters. Also in the box is a crystal that someone who became a friend of ours. Shana after she passed she came to him. He didn’t know us he didn’t know Shayna. But she came to him he reached out to a mutual friend and she contacted me and he told me that Shayna had contacted him and asked me to him to give me that crystal. Also when I find feathers and other keeps say things like put it in the box and keep them there. This is a pair of sandals glasses like to keep something Shane is close to me. When I’m doing a meditation. I feel like just nice having something physically close to me. This is an amethyst that I picked up when I was in Colorado for the properties of am with this plus I just like the way it looks and purple is my shape. My favorite color is also Shane’s favorite color. This is my incense burner This is my altar itself. I love it found us on Etsy. Actually, a guy makes it by hand. So I love my altar. This is something that my daughter gave me. So I pondered this when I’m sitting here, doing my meditations. And I’ve got some prayer beads that a friend of mine gave me which I use on occasion. So this is my sacred space. So they come to every day to do my meditations. And to, I guess, escape the cares of the world.

Terri Daniel 30:33
Yeah, yeah. That’s so that’s so wonderful. I’ve seen it so many times, and I never get tired of it.

Brian Smith 30:38
Yeah, it’s while looking at it now, because it’s been two years since I did that. And it’s changed a little bit, but I still sit there.

Terri Daniel 30:45
Wait, hold on. Where’s that coming from?

Brian Smith 30:51
All right, we’re back.

Terri Daniel 30:52
All right. Oh, I didn’t know that. You turned it off. Okay.

Brian Smith 30:55
All right. So let’s look at your altar.

Terri Daniel 30:57
Okay, you want to see my altar? Okay. I just hope we don’t get that thing again. Okay.

Because that happens on YouTube, doesn’t it? It just the,

Brian Smith 31:05
the autoplay starts

Terri Daniel 31:06
the next thing. Okay, so let me share my screen again. And now we’ll look at my altar reminds

Okay, share sound. Okay, here we go.

This is my grief healing altar. And starting on the far left, that you can see that little piece of paper that’s in the white frame. That is a page, a little torn page from the Bible that blew into my garden on the wind during the Santa Rosa fires, and it is Matthew nine on one side and Matthew 10. On the other side, which is a long story, I can send you a link to an article about it. It was a very powerful message from the divine little gold Patil here. That is my son’s ashes. And that’s a picture of my son. And there’s a little collection of healing stones that I use for chakra work and meditation. There are two candles, both of them have significance one was given to me by a important shamanism teacher of mine. And a little colorful one on the right was given to me by by son’s hospice nurse. And there’s my shaman rattle there in front of the candles. And this little beautiful white statue of an angel was actually made by my son in school when he was about six years old. He always kind of had a sense that he wasn’t going to be here long. So these are the things that are on my altar right now. They change periodically, depending on what I’m working on. But I think this is a good example of an altar that is very personal and very spiritual. having to do with my own personal, transformative experiences on my

Unknown Speaker 33:21
spiritual journey.

Brian Smith 33:25
Yeah, I think that i think that’s great. And I love your altar, and I love that everything has meaning and everything has a story. And it’s in there and that thing about altars when we’ve taught people before it’s like, it’s, it’s personal to you, whatever you want to put there, because sometimes people so what should I put on my altar? It’s like, whatever works for you, right?

Terri Daniel 33:42
Yeah, well, in my classes that I’m teaching now for the chaplaincy program, the people in these classes. They’re such an interesting group. I’ve got a Buddhist monk and a Jesuit monk, and a Catholic priest. I have a medical doctor, a funeral director, a couple other Buddhists, a Baptist pastor, I just have like such an interesting group of people. And so these are people who’ve done a lot of spiritual work. But they’ve never most of they’ve never really done altars like this. And so I assign this to them, you know, their assignment is to make an altar and send a video. And they do such an incredible job, they put so much into it. And what that says to me is that we need this, our souls are just starving for this. And I’ll tell you a very sad story. My sister and her husband just got a cute, sweetest little dog about three months ago, and she just got hit by a car and died the other day, and they’re just devastated. And it was really kind of horrible how it happened. And so the first thing I told my sister to do was make an altar in your house and in The way you do that with a pet is you take their bed, and all their toys, and their bowl and their color and all their stuff, and you put it in a corner of your house. And that becomes the place where you do your grieving, it takes your grief, which is so big, and it puts it in a smaller space in a container. And that’s what the altar does. So this little space, you know, she made this little space with all the dogs things and of course, her cats walk over there and lay down and go and sleep on it. Because the energy is there. And so when you’re just really suffering and you’re crying, and you’re just miserable, and you can’t get a breath, you just go and you sit in that space with that altar and just be with it. Yeah, just one little simple thing. They also have a lot of trauma around this dog getting hit by a car. So I told them and, and her husband was there, when it happened, she came a few minutes later, they eat and the husband has this image in his mind, of the dog breaking free of the leash and running into the street and bam getting hit. That’s the image, he has my sister’s image, if she comes running down the street, and her husband is sitting there at the curb, just crumpled up and sobbing, holding his dead dog. So each of them have a different visual imprint. And so I told them to each draw a picture of that imprint, that is keeping them awake at night that is driving them crazy, that visual that you can’t stop seeing, yeah, right, each drawing your own picture, don’t show it to each other, it’s each your own personal thing, and then go out in the backyard and dig a hole and bury it in the dirt together and give that image and that the intensity of that pain, you give it to the earth and let the earth hold it for you. Because the earth is so big and strong, and it can transform the paper will decompose and become nitrogen for the soil or whatever. And that way you get it out of your body into a representational form. And you put it into the world of Spirit through the earth. So those are the kinds of things that you know, none of that exists in, in our current culture, it’s all borrowed from somewhere.

Brian Smith 37:14
Yeah. And I think those things are very important and interesting, I love what you said that, you know, our grief is so big, and this way as a way of at least kind of making it into a manageable size. And I never really thought about that when I was putting my altar together. But you know, it does kind of feel that way. Right? That’s, that’s the place I go to. And you go there and you feel the feelings. That’s one of the really important things about grief tubes, you get to feel the feelings, there people to try to bypass it or ignore it, you got to get to process it. And it gives you a chance, a time of space to where I’m going to go process this for dinner for for a certain period of time, you know, and then and then when I get up, I can do other things, at least for a while.

Terri Daniel 37:54
That’s right, because you can control it. And you know, you feel no control you complete loss of control when you have a tragic loss. And so if you can create this little space and contain it in a container, then you can control when you’re going to really feel it. And when you’re not. And you’re like you know what, right now I’m really feeling it or right now I really want to feel it and you go over to your altar, you light a candle, you sit there, you talk to your loved one, maybe you write in a journal, you cry, you pray, sing a song, whatever. And then you’re done for the moment. And just like you said, you go back to work or whatever. And then when you feel the need to do that, again. You go there. I mean, that’s what churches and you know, places of worship are supposed to be for.

Brian Smith 38:38
Yeah. So

Terri Daniel 38:39
yeah, let’s make our own little church in the house.

Brian Smith 38:42
Yeah, that’s a really good point. Because I think a lot of people are kind of missing that even when we do go to churches become so generic, I don’t another word. It’s just not. For a lot of people. It just become so rote. There’s just there’s not much feeling to it. And it’s not really personal. So and the thing is, I guess what people know, you can do this in your own home and you can do it, you can do it every day. You don’t have to go somewhere else. You don’t have to go to a to a special designated, you know, holy place you can you can make a holy place in your own home.

Terri Daniel 39:12
Yeah, and do and do the proactive, very intentional work of interacting with the holy place. That’s why funerals are not helpful for most people because they’re rote, and they’re impersonal. You know, a lot of people who don’t have a church or a synagogue or a spiritual community. I’ve seen this happen with so many people. So somebody dies, and they don’t even know who do I call How do I have a funeral? And they’ll just call like, whatever religion they think they’re supposed to identify with. Because again, these are you know, unchurched people. Yeah. And they go, Well, you know, dad, dad was kind of Catholic. I guess he never went to church, but I’ll just call let me get the phone book out here and call the local Catholic Church and hire somebody to come to the funeral. That’s just Like terrible, but not many people. I mean, how many people listening know someone in your circle in your network that can organize and facilitate a funeral for you? Right? Probably not many. Right?

Brian Smith 40:13
Yeah, that’s a good point. Yeah, absolutely. So I know you have a Facebook group called Bad grief guidance. So what’s the What does that mean? And what’s an example of bad grief guidance.

Terri Daniel 40:24
So, um, so many people come to me, and YouTuber, and I’m sure you know, bereaved parents, who have gotten just the worst advice. And a lot of that advice comes from some of these groups that I don’t approve of it, these national groups with conferences and chapter meetings, and a lot of them have websites and Facebook groups. And these groups are led by peers, it’s peer LED, and the peers are other bereaved parents. But they are not, there’s no training required to become a chapter leader or a group leader, other than how to market your group, no requirement for any kind of education, or certification in grief, or trauma, or even group dynamics. And I have seen so many people be so broken by these groups, like you described, Brian, um, people have gone into these groups and seeing people who are been coming there for 10 or 15 years, who still say things like, I can’t get out of bed in the morning, I still can’t, except that my child died 15 years ago, and they’re still coming to these groups, and they should not be still coming. The idea of those groups is it’s not supposed to be your your life for the rest of your life. And, and people say to me, you know, I went to that first meeting of that group, and I saw that lady who’s been there for 15 years, and the first thing I thought was, I don’t want to be like her in 15 years. Is that the model that they’re showing me of where I’m going to be in 15 years, right, number one, that’s bad grief guidance right there. Having people like that, as a model, you should put them in a separate group, and not have them in the room with the new people coming in. Because you don’t want the new people to see that. Yeah. There is something online, anybody can find it. You can Google it, it says it’s 64 things I wish someone had told me about grief. And this was contributed by many people, and they made this list. And most of the things are pretty good. probably five or six of them are absolutely terrible things to tell a grieving person. One of them is holidays, birthdays and celebrations will be sad forever. Yeah, yeah. Another one that stands out is, no matter how much you think it’s gonna hurt. It will be a million times worse. Those are just the two that come into my mind. Mm hmm. Um, there are. Yeah, you know, you don’t say things like that to grieving people. You also don’t say things like God wanted another flower and his garden and all that crap. Yeah. But they’re so so I heard so many stories of people who really suffered behind these kinds of things, that I started this group on Facebook called Bad grief guidance. And people were joining up and telling me stories about the kind of stuff that they heard. And then people in religious families, of course, were hearing that God was punishing them. Or that, you know, their child who died, who was a drug addict or was gay or something, you know, is in hell. And all these and you know, the religious beliefs is a whole different category, right? of bad grief guidance. There’s also something and I don’t mind naming the names of these groups publicly, because I think people should know, there’s a group called grief share. I think it’s griefshare.org. And they, it’s a Christian group. And it’s they don’t really make that very obvious on their website, but there’s a tab on their website that’s called something like, why we grieve or how to heal from grief or something. And if you drill down in that website, it tells you the reason you suffer is because you’ve been disobedient to God. Hmm. And they actually say this to grieving people.

Brian Smith 44:21
Yeah. Yeah, there there is. And some of its most of its most of us, probably, well, meaning but you know, the other thing is, you and I were talking I know there’s this really common this five stages of grief, Oh, God, the people will come to me and say, well, which which stage am I and and what’s what’s my next stage? And so what what’s your reaction to the five stages of grief?

Terri Daniel 44:44
Well, it’s not just my reaction. It’s the reaction of the entire grief, support community and psychologists and academics everywhere, nobody uses that anymore. And what Elisabeth Kubler Ross did is she interviewed 200 patients in a hospital for her book, so it wasn’t actual research format. It was anecdotal just talking to people and getting their stories. And these were dying people. They weren’t grieving. They were dying. And she noticed that the five most common responses they tended to have were denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. And she put it in the book. I believe she did call it stages. But it’s not. It’s not official research. It’s, you know, it wasn’t done in proper research parameter. And so really, what she observed was that people were having these five reactions to facing their death. If you think of them as reactions or responses rather than stages, you can add another 500 to that list. Yes, exactly. Right. So like one response could be fear. That’s not on her list, guilt, remorse, perhaps joy and exhilaration, I’m finally going to die. I’m not going to be suffering from cancer anymore. There’s all these different kinds of responses. That’s how it should have been presented. But it caught on really big. And everyone latched on to it, because everyone likes to make lists. And it became really popular, and we all we know, now, there are no stages, there’s nothing sequential about it. You can go through the most tragic loss in the world, and never experienced denial, right, or bargaining. You know, anger is pretty common. Depression certainly is. So is acceptance. But you know, you could you could go through this, and not be depressed and sometimes not even be angry. So they don’t exist these stages. So what we have now is what we call tasks of grieving. And you can look that up. The researchers who develop that is Teresa Brando are a and do William Warden, who are de and these are the people who are formulating these new ideas now. And tasks are just about like, things you have to do to deal with your grief everyday, just like you have tasks, like you have to clean your house and put gas in your car, feed the dog. And the tasks are things like there’s one process called the six R’s letter R. And I’m not going to remember all six of them right now. But some of them are recognize the loss, which is you know, except that it has happened. And sometimes if someone dies, like in a war, or they’re estranged from the family or their missing person, you won’t see a body. And that’s hard. that complicates that task. If you don’t see a body because it’s hard to recognize the loss. Then there’s react to the separation, which is feel your feelings, scream and cry, do what you have to do. recollect, which is to sit with your family at Christmas and Thanksgiving, where there’s that empty chair where that person used to sit and talk about the person. Remember that Thanksgiving when she was seven years old, and she threw up on the table, or whatever, you know, bring them into the conversation. So many families will not talk about the dead person, especially if it’s a child. My own family would never talk about my son when we were together until I gave them permission to Yes, I had to teach them. I want to talk about him.

Brian Smith 48:35
Right, right. Yeah, a lot of times people will think why don’t want to bring it up because I don’t want to make her sad. You know, that’s, that’s another misconception, especially when it’s a parent is that a child? You know, pass? They think they’re gonna make us think about our kid. Like, we’re not already thinking

Terri Daniel 48:50
we’re not already thinking about them. Oh,

Brian Smith 48:53
yeah.

Terri Daniel 48:54
Yeah. And it may and what is really happening in there is it makes them sad. Yes,

Brian Smith 48:59
yes.

Terri Daniel 48:59
It’s really about them. And so then they get sad, then we end up having to take care of them. Because they haven’t done the proper, you know, grieving tools. So it is really important. My mother came up with the most beautiful idea a couple of mother’s days ago. She called me up and she said, here’s what I’m getting. Because my mother always gave me presents on Mother’s Day. And she said, here’s what I’m going to give you for Mother’s day from now on. I’m going to call you up and we’re going to just talk about your son for 20 minutes now. Wow. Isn’t that the coolest thing? Yeah, yeah. So I’ve passed that on to other friends of mine. So on Mother’s Day now. Well, my mom has died now. But you know, I’ve got this like phone network going on of all these mothers calling each other up and saying, I’m just gonna let you talk about your child. Yeah, minutes.

Brian Smith 49:47
Yeah, that’s great. So another question want to ask you because you know, you and I have talked about toxic theology also. So religious beliefs do they help or hinder the grading process the healing process

Terri Daniel 50:00
Depends on the belief.

Right? Yeah, you know, and the language is so iffy. Because if you have a spiritual belief in reincarnation, or you believe in the survival of consciousness after death, is that a religious belief? You know, so then we have to get into defining what’s religion? Yeah,

Brian Smith 50:18
that’s a great point. Yeah.

Terri Daniel 50:20
Um, but you know, we believe that

some part of our essence, our consciousness lives on in another dimension. And that is extremely helpful. You know, and, and, and hopefully, we can talk a little bit about mediums in that context. Yes. However, if your religious belief says that all suicides go to hell, and your loved one died by suicide, then that is not going to be a helpful belief and in the middle of your grief and everything else you’re going through, you’re going to have to struggle with that horrible idea that your teenage son is burning in flames in hell, forever, we’ll never get out. And then when you die, and you go to heaven, you won’t ever get to see him again. Yeah. So though it’s so it totally depends on the belief, there’s been some really good studies on that, if anybody listening wants to email me, go to spirituality and grief.com. And you can email me through there. And I’ll just tell me, you want to see some of the studies and I’ll send them to you. There’s really a good one that’s used a lot now on positive and negative religious coping.

Brian Smith 51:32
Yeah. Yeah, I think you made an excellent point. You know, it does depend on the belief. And you also another great thing you said was, where do we separate? What’s original religious belief? And what’s metaphysical spiritual belief? So that leads me to another question, because I’ve had people ask me this. So if I want to work with you, do I have to believe what you believe? Do I have to believe in the continuation consciousness? Do I have to do I have to have any particular belief?

Terri Daniel 52:01
Absolutely not. I mean, the people who work with me like my sister and her husband with the dog who died, they don’t believe in anything. Mm hmm. You know, and but they The funny thing about belief is, the ceremonies and rituals have no religious belief attached to them at all. Hmm. And that’s what’s so nice about them. And so I have given these rituals, like draw the image of your trauma on a piece of paper and buried in the earth, or the string ceremony. Have we done the string ceremony? Brian? Yeah, yeah, yeah, the string sermon, there’s no religion to that at all. And so even the most devout religious person will respond to that. Because their soul just says, Oh, God, I need this. This feels good. And the string thing I’ll show you just for your audience, really? Yeah, please is. So you get a little piece of string like this. And just you just take your pain, and you roll up the string and a little ball, and you cry. And you say, I’m so angry that that car hit my dog that my son killed himself, blah, blah, blah, you just talking into them, I’m angry at God, I’ll never forgive the drunk driver. And you just tell it into the string. And you roll it in a little ball. So it has a little piece hanging off like that. You tie it up. And then you take it outside, and you tie it in a tree, and you let it unfurl. And it just hangs there in the tree forever. As it decomposes, it becomes like the Tibetan prayer flags that blow in the wind and the sun, and they shred and tatter. And all the prayers contained in them are released into the universe. So doing a little thing like this releases your pain. And if I’m showing that to a person who identifies as religious with a belief in quote, God, I’ll just use God language. And I’ll say, just put it in here and give it to God. Hmm. And then hanging in a tree and just give it to God. Yeah, one word changes everything.

Brian Smith 54:05
Yeah, absolutely. Yeah, absolutely. So before we we started recording, we were talking about different types of grief. And we were talking about right now, it seems like everybody I’ve talked to is in some form of grief. So let’s talk about different types of grief.

Terri Daniel 54:20
And right now, everybody is November 2 2020. Yeah, the day before the election, just for reference, and no matter what side of the aisle you’re on, you’re probably freaking out. And we’re grieving. What Brian and I were talking about before was, there’s a tight there are many, many types of losses that we have. So we have relationship loss, when someone dies, we get divorce. You have material or financial loss. If you lose your job, or your house burns down, you’ve lost something material, stock market crashes, whatever. There’s a roll r o l e loss. If you were a caregiver and the person you were taking care of dies, you don’t have that role anymore. If you were a wife and your husband dies, you’re not a wife anymore. So there’s all these different kinds, I don’t want to go deeply into it right now. But what so many people in America and in the world really too, because of COVID are experiencing his system loss, were the systems that were supposed to take care of us in our assumptions that were supposed to be taken care of by said, systems, they’re failing. And that could be the medical establishment, you know, medical research, you know, the Center for Disease Control, they’re, they’re not doing what they’re supposed to do. They’re not combating COVID, the hospitals don’t have enough equipment, they’re not doing their job. So it appears to some people on the government, I don’t even want to get into touchy politics here. But I think no matter what side we’re on, the elections can’t be trusted. The news media can’t be trusted, everything is not secure. And that there is grief around that the systems are failing us. Yeah. religious belief is also a system. So there’s this massive collective grieving going on in America. And after the election, regardless of who wins, millions of people are going to be grieving. On one side or the other. Yeah, it doesn’t matter what side you are just the energy of grief, like a dark cloud over the country. And anger and separation and division. It’s it’s heavy, heavy stuff. What do we do with that? energy?

Brian Smith 56:44
Yeah, that that is an excellent question. And I think it’s an interesting observation. Because you and I’ve been talking, you know, people over the last several months, and everybody I talked to, as you said, on both sides are all they’re all freaked out right now, as we’re like, okay, in a couple days, or a week, or however long it takes us to get the results of selection, at least 30 40% of us are going to be in deep grief, you know, we’re gonna be feeling like we just lost the system, that the thing that we’ve we’ve relied on. So I, you know, as, as people that help people through this, we, you and I have to figure out, you know, what do we what do we tell people? How do we how did we deal with that,

Terri Daniel 57:22
I think having community grief ceremony says a really good idea, you know, like, maybe on your next podcast, maybe we could even do this together, make it a ceremony and have everybody do one of these strings, and just, you know, to, to express our broken hearts, or we can also do a string for positive affirmations, our prayers, for healing for the country, any kind and, you know, it’s another thing that we don’t have in this culture is community grieving. But we kind of do, you know, like, when there’s a mass shooting, all the people come out and they lay flowers. Yeah, little memorials. That’s a beautiful thing. And I’m really happy to see people in America doing that. So maybe we should come up with some way to do that. For the election. You know, or just for, you know, the loss of, of safety. Yeah, in our society. And the thing is, we were never really safe, that we never that sense of safety was always the loss of the illusion of safety.

Brian Smith 58:27
Yeah, absolutely. Yeah. But there’s so much. I mean, as you went through some of those different types of losses, I mean, you know, my wife lost her job, you know, we lost our loss or health insurance. You know, there’s everybody, people going through all this stuff, people losing their businesses, you know, small business owners are going out of business. So there’s, there’s a tremendous amount of loss and grief right now. And people have not really been trained to have a, how to deal with it. So I think, you know, taking courses like yours that you’ve got coming up this weekend, even if you haven’t maybe had a loss yet, or if you haven’t had a loss of a person, just understanding the whole idea of grief as it relates to everything, and any type of deep loss that impacts as, you know, at a deep level.

Terri Daniel 59:15
Yeah. And, you know, another kind of loss that we’re experiencing is we lost freedom and autonomy. Absolutely. We’re not free to move about the world, like we were, you know, I mean, you could drill down on the on that list of losses and just find so many things. Another thing that’s happening, too, is relationships are breaking up. Not just because of politics, certainly because of politics. There’s been rifts and families, but even COVID one of my longest best friends that I’ve had for 50 years who lives two doors down is not speaking to me anymore right now. Because he just got he’s like excessively extreme about COVID. He still washes the cereal boxes when he brings them home from the grocery store. Okay, I’m not quite Hit that level, really mad at me because he thought I was too loose. About COVID Oh, wow. And you know, there’s this big split in our relationship. I mean, people are just going crazy right now.

Brian Smith 1:00:12
Yeah. Well, that’s Yeah, that’s the other thing is there’s there’s a loss of family I, I know two people that emailed me just within a couple of weekends ago that we’re friends with their fathers on Facebook, that have unfriended their fathers on Facebook, because because of politics, and it’s like, I, I can’t talk to you on Facebook anymore. Because because we’re on different sides of this political thing. So it’s a time of a time of the world really, you know, as recognizing, you know, what’s going on and bright lines being drawn in. I like what you said also, though, about the illusion of safety, because we do have this presumption that the systems are going to take care of us, you and I, that our kids are going to outlive us. And then we realized that was never promised to us. And that could that can be a big loss,

Terri Daniel 1:00:57
nothing was ever promised to us. And you know, that’s another thing that in the Judeo Christian way of thinking, is, there’s this idea that if you’re a good person, and you’re faithful believer, yeah, there’s a promise of protection, and safety. But of course, we know from the book of Job, you know, we just know from life, that there’s no protection and safety, that’s just gonna happen to you no matter what. And that’s why the religion designed it so that the promise is after you die, yeah, the promises in the afterlife, so we can’t show it to you now and your life, you’re gonna you’re gonna have poverty and sickness and loss and all kinds of stuff in this life. But if you believe in this belief, you’ll get your reward after you die. And that’s just such a bad belief. Because it’s, it’s been twisted into thinking that piousness and faithfulness can protect you, even in this life. I once had a woman I was renting out a room in my house, and this woman came to interview as a potential roommate. And I asked her for references, and she said, Oh, I don’t need any references. I’m a Christian. Yeah,

Brian Smith 1:02:12
yeah.

Terri Daniel 1:02:14
It’s like, Where do you get this idea, you know that you have something special, because your life is gonna fall apart, just like mine. And everybody else is so bad. If you go to the Buddhist way of looking at it. The idea starts out with Yes, of course, things are gonna fall apart. Mm hmm. And what we really do in our spiritual practice is learn how to go with the flow. Yeah, and how to be with the things because they are going to happen.

Brian Smith 1:02:38
Yeah, and that’s a really good point. And I like the way you put that about, you know, the promise, if there is a promise was for the afterlife. But people misinterpret that. And so many people come to me and say, What did I do wrong? or What did my son do wrong? Or why am I being punished? You know, I must have done, you know, something wrong, because otherwise wouldn’t have happened to me. And it’s such a hate to say it’s a juvenile point of view. But it really is, it’s about what’s what we’re taught in Sunday School, a lot of us that went up grew up in Sunday school, that if something bad happens, then surely you did something, to trigger it. And so that, that’s, you know, we talked about religion, good or bad, that’s an example. Or it can be very, very bad, because it really, people now they’re piling guilt on top of the grief, because you’re like, I must be responsible for this.

Terri Daniel 1:03:26
Yeah, and that is an infant tile way of looking at it. It’s exactly the way you learned it in Sunday school. And or interpreted it when you were five years old, in the mind of a five year old. And so most people get their theology at five years old. And then never think about it again, you just go through your life, and then you’re 35 and 45. And you still believe this? Because you’ve had no reason to change it. Yeah. until something shocks you into changing it, like losing a child, then you may start questioning that theology.

Brian Smith 1:04:00
Yeah, that’s, you know, that’s an interesting thing, too. Because there, there’s has to be something to knock us off that center, but we’re gonna, we’re gonna, we’re gonna, you know, it’s momentum, whatever you want to call it, we’re going to stay on something until it doesn’t work anymore. And that’s one thing about grief that a lot of times causes us to reevaluate, you know, reevaluate, reevaluate everything, right? We started saying, well, this isn’t working for me. And that’s when it can become a blessing. That’s when we can start to Well, that’s

Terri Daniel 1:04:31
because if you don’t reevaluate, then you’re stuck. And that’s how you get into complicated grief. So you reevaluate your relationships, your values, your spiritual beliefs, you know, you reevaluate your personal life, like why am I working at this job that I hate? Yeah, you know, I guess I don’t need to be here anymore. I don’t have this child to send to college. You know, maybe now I’m free to be an artist, you know, or something like that. But that’s kind of how it happened to me speaking of grief, to grow You know, I never would have thought that this is what I would do. But you know, before my son died, I was in a terrible, abusive marriage, I was obsessed with trying to keep that marriage together and suffering in that every day. I had no real power passions or interests in any sort of professional work, you know, I made it I was a writer, I made a living as a copywriter. I mean, my life was just kind of nothing. And now, it’s so full of meaning. And so that’s because I allowed things to shift. So what if people don’t allow things to shift? You’re going to see somebody who’s had a loss 10 years ago, and they’re going to be mad at God. Yeah, God was I had one client who told me this, two of his children died. And he said, when I became a parent, I only asked God for one thing to keep my children safe. And he didn’t do that. And I’m mad at God. And the answer to that is, you have to change what you think God is. Yeah. And if you’re not willing to do that, then you’re going to be mad, like he is not he’ll,

Brian Smith 1:06:14
yeah, that and you really have to start to change to change your perspective on the whole idea of death and dying and what it really is because if we get to we understand everybody that is born dies, every single person that is born dies, the only difference is how and when. So we get angry that God took our child that’s we’re really saying he took our child too early. we’re arguing with the timing, right? Yeah, they should have lived longer. And that’s that’s not for us to determine. And longer is not necessarily better. I mean, the more we start, when we really start to open up our minds and think about this thing here longer is not necessarily better.

Terri Daniel 1:06:53
Well, especially when you have a big view of what here is, yes, you’ve got like the 30,000 mile view from space, like what is here, earth, you know, this body is just like a stopover on this much bigger journey that goes on forever. This, if you believe that this isn’t all there is for our consciousness to experience, then you can see that bigger view and you’re not so attached to this. But if you think that this is it, you get this one life here in this city in this country with this family and this husband, and then the husband dies or something. I mean, that’s the end of the world. Yeah, because you think this is all there is. And again, this is kind of an Eastern versus a Western view. This is also something speaking of community grieving that is so interesting about climate change. And a lot of people don’t like me to say this. But the way people you know, people getting upset about climate change

is kind of just a form of that kind of attachment. It’s like, Hey, we’re here on the earth. We want it to behave the way we want it to behave. Climate change has always happened, the earth has heated and cooled and heated and cooled and, you know, planets blow up all the time. If you look at it from that big view. This is just a little rock floating around in the universe. And who are we to think that we have the control to keep it from dying? Hmm, we do have control about taking care of it, we can certainly treat it better. Yeah, you know, but in the bigger picture of things no matter what we do, sooner or later, it’s going to die. Because it’s the thing that was born to Yeah, that’s a good point. Yeah, we do we have this attachment, you know, and I go back to religion, because you know, I’ve talked a lot about religion over the years, I think about when I was a kid, I’m like, Okay, well, if we really believe that heaven is our home, and Heaven is so much better than Why are we sad when people go there?

Brian Smith 1:08:52
You know, it’s like, shouldn’t we be happy?

Terri Daniel 1:08:55
Have you ever asked that question of your, your pastor when you were a kid, or I’ve probably

Brian Smith 1:09:00
gotten all kinds of trouble in Sunday school? Because I would always ask, you know, those types of questions, you know, and and, yeah, it’s interesting how people are talking about near death experiences No, back to religion. Again, I was interviewing someone. And when people have near death experiences, a lot of time they get kicked out of the churches. They’re like, we don’t want you talking about that. I’m like, Oh, yeah, we’re supposed to believe in all that stuff.

Terri Daniel 1:09:23
Right? You’re supposed to believe in that. But your, your near death experience has to include Jesus and pearly gates. Yeah. And if it doesn’t, then you get kicked out of the church. One of my favorite Sunday school questions that somebody told me he asked when he was a kid, talking about the 10 commandments, thou shalt have no other gods before me. Mm hmm. The kid says, You mean there are other gods?

Brian Smith 1:09:46
Yeah, yeah. Let’s talk about that.

Yeah, that’s, that’s, that’s, that’s one of the questions I would have asked to Yeah.

Yeah. Yeah.

Well, Terry, it’s, it’s really great catching up with you and I could talk about talking about this stuff. All day long, but what I want you to let people know where they can reach you find out more about you. I know you’ve got some some stuff coming up short term, you got the afterlife conference coming up again, hopefully next spring. So let’s talk. Let me let people know what’s going on in your life.

Terri Daniel 1:10:14
Well, the afterlife conference, we are planning to do it live in June, but it probably won’t happen that way. So it’ll be online. Again, we did it online in 2020. And it was great, and I loved it. And I’d like to do it that way every year if I could, but I’m contractually obliged to the hotel to do it there this year. I don’t know what’s going to happen there. But go to afterlife conference.com join the email list and you’ll get all that information. I’ve got this grief group starting on Saturday, go to spirituality and grief.com for that. And if you’re interested in professional development, I’ve got a thing coming up in January, called the conference on death and bereavement studies. There are seven CE credits for social workers, nurses, etc. That’s a day long online seminar and also a class coming up in a certificate program for spirituality and mental health. Lots of stuff. So go to spirituality in grief, calm and you’ll find everything there.

Brian Smith 1:11:19
Yeah, and I would recommend people to join Terry’s newsletter because you’re always sending out you know, information about and I get that through spirituality and angry calm right. Sign up.

Terri Daniel 1:11:29
Yeah, we’re afterlife conference.com any place you can subscribe and so it’s a newsletter that goes out once a month called the afterlife advocate.

Brian Smith 1:11:37
Yeah, yeah. Great, Terry. It’s good. It’s good. catching up with you again, looking forward to everything you got going on and hopefully work together soon.

Terri Daniel 1:11:46
Thank you, my dear. I love you to pieces.

Brian Smith 1:11:48
Alright. See you later. Bye.

Transcribed by https://otter.ai

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