Grief can be a hard experience to navigate because nothing can really prepare you for deep and emotional loss. It’s something that everyone will have to experience at least a few times in their life and each person’s experience with it is going to be different.
In today’s episode, host Calan Breckon is joined by special guest Addison Brasil to talk about his journey with grief after the lose his brother to cancer, find his father from suicide and survive a fatal event that killed a dear friend and left him needing to relearn how to walk and deal with a brain injury. After 13 years in the grief arena, Addison has learned a thing or two about grief and shares what has helped him in his new book “First Year Of Grief Club: A Gift From A Friend Who Gets It.”
By the end of this episode, you should have at least a few more tools in your belt that can help you navigate grief whenever it might come up in your life.
Guest: Addison Brasil
- Get the book – First Year of Grief Club : A Gift From A Friend Who Gets It
- @addisonbrasil / @sharemygriefclub on Instagram
- @thegriefguy on tiktok
- Free messages to help you honour the journey: TEXT GRIEF CLUB to +1 (323) 431-9241
– Connect with us –
All right. Welcome to gay men going deeper, a podcast series by the gay men’s brotherhood where we talk about all things, personal development, sexuality, and mental health. Today I’m your host Calan Breckon. And I have a very special guest Addison Brasil with me. We’re going to be discussing grief in today’s episode, and I’m really excited to jump into it and learn more about this topic with all of you as Addison shares his story with us,
Addison Brasil is a writer, speaker conscious brand builder and producer Addison’s work as a mental health advocate in grief lived experience expert brought him to the realization that as he entered his twenties, he was at one of the statistically most dangerous intersections of mental health. That being a member of the LGBTQ community, as well as identifying as male and that, and that was without knowing in the next 10 years,
he would lose his brother to cancer. Find his father from suicide and survive a fatal event that killed a dear friend and left him needing to relearn how to walk and deal with a brain injury. After 13 years in a grief arena, Addison has shown back up with his new book first year of grief club, a gift from a friend who gets it now,
a bestseller on Amazon. So welcome to the show Addison. I’m so glad that we could have you. How are you doing Good. Thank you. I mean, I feel like with that intro, like I can just, you know, sit back and you know, the work is done. Yeah. Right. The work is never done. If I’ve learned anything doing this podcast,
the work is never done. If anybody was hoping to hear different, when it comes to grief, they can just exit now. Right. I saw actually I saw what was this like a meme, I guess, was a meme. And it was showing this thing about grief and it had this ball inside of this bottle and it was like, the grief never gets smaller.
The bottle just kind of grew around the grief. And I think that that was like a beautiful kind of like understanding of like, it’s never going to quite go away. It’s always going to be there. You just build more of yourself around it so that it doesn’t take up that major part of you. So in saying that, tell us more about you and your story and you know,
this kind of, we’re talking about grappling with grief today. So just kind of lead us through your story. When did it kind of start and how did that all take off? Yeah, no, of course. So, yeah. I mean, I mean, you hit the main points there, so I’m sure that creates a natural interest for people.
The truth is I, yeah. I never intended to have anything to do with mental health or grief or to be honest, I always thought that I would, you know, when I moved to LA, I moved there to be in film and as a writer and an actor, I thought, you know, my life was always going to be too boring to not just do fiction,
to not have, to make up stories, really connected people, but I was always really driven by, you know, just being a kid and just being in a movie theater. And there’s just those moments when something’s happening on the screen. And no matter how misunderstood you may feel, you just have that like breath where you’re like, ah, someone gets me.
And that, that feeling is just what drove everything I ever decided to do, whether it was dancing at the highest level, writing, acting, even like some of the impact work. It’s always, if you kind of look at it, it’s just always very story-driven, I’ve just always been driven by story and reacting to it. But as it happened in the midst of sort of getting to live this amazing life that I’ve gotten to live,
my brother did get diagnosed with a nonverbal brain tumour in high school, which immediately shifted my entire reality. I mean, it just brought the idea of grief, even being a potential thing to come into my world. And, and there’s something about that out of order. He was my younger brother and he had a terminal illness. And so there was so much during what you can imagine is where you’re finding yourself anyways,
during high school. So, so much of, of my high school experience was coloured by that. And he did pass away when I was 19. So I actually went to school for my first year. And at the end of my first year, I did lose my brother to the brain tumour. And from that at the age I was at, and just sort of like where I was at,
I really jumped into doing into perfectionism, into overachieving, into, you know, I really sort of attacked the grief in that way. I was on scholarship at the time, dancing, 14 hours a day at school. I went back to school within three weeks. I started a nonprofit organization with, and for my brother that would continue on after he passed.
And I was like, very, very passionate about that. You know, I just, I look back and I was this 19 year old, bringing together all these people and having these events and doing this stuff. And I’m just like, why did anyone listen? I was like, like how, how did that happen? You know, but it was just at the time.
So obviously my response to what was going on, that was just what I was going to do. And I don’t really remember thinking two ways about it. So that, that kind of in its own way became its own vice, you know, overachieving and whatnot. So I got to go off and, you know, still live my dreams. And the weight of that was very difficult,
especially at breaking points, you know, this idea that my brother also had dreams and, you know, wanting to be a standup comedian and do all these things. And then I was sort of getting to literally live mine out, you know, for, for the years after, but I got a survivor’s guilt. Yeah. Yeah. And again, just,
I don’t know, just so weirdly specific and unique to the relationship, my brother was like, so, so loving and so outgoing and so not afraid to walk into any room and just connect with people and make himself known and make jokes, even if they were bad ones, you know, like, you know, he, he had an energy that I definitely didn’t have.
And I think there was a sense of guilt around like, I wasn’t even like sort of that front, front facing and forward of like he was ready to take on the world kind of thing. And I was retracting and I think that’s where a lot of my, my guilt came from. And so I leaned, like I said, heavily on like achieving and like,
you know, look at this paper, look at this organization, like, look, you know? Yeah. So I think that was definitely my first vice, which considering I was in, you know, university or college at the time, not a bad advice. I got this, I have been worse off of the way I was feeling from all of that.
But yeah, so, so I finished school and I went off to start dancing professionally and I fell a lot more into like the choreography side and directing. And I always had this pole from very young, whether or not I would follow more of like the acting and writing route or dance. And they came down to the, how long my physical body was going to support one or the other.
And so obviously it made sense to do the thing, well, I could do it, but I came home in the midst of that about four years after my brother passed. And my dad had recently gone through a divorce and we had been slightly estranged, our grief processes didn’t exactly align, which I used to feel weird kind of saying, but I’m getting more comfortable with that because it’s just,
you know, very human. And I got to a point where I was working in Florida and I was doing my first job and, and the things he was saying to me and the things he was sharing with me about how I should live my life. Just, I could see that there was no way to thrive through the grief and sort of what I was drowning in if I was taking this advice.
So we had sort of stepped away from each other. And, and then I came back to Toronto and T had recently got a divorce, a second divorce and we reconnected and we got extremely, extremely close. And just, my dad learned how to text, which meant my phone went off like every 10 seconds with these like cryptic, like little messages and whatnot.
And we finally had the relationship that I kind of like had always been longing for, which is like, just really, really nice. Unfortunately this was 10 years ago. And although I had concerns about sort of the changes that have been made in his life and sort of certain things, you know, mental health wasn’t being talked about the way it is now,
we weren’t trend signs of anything. You know, it was just kind of, especially in like a Portuguese Catholic family and the patriarch. I mean, it just like, we weren’t, we weren’t by any means like a stoic, you know, macho type family, like at all, like we were very encouraged to be emotionally intelligent and to express ourselves,
but that, that doesn’t forgo the lack of education that my father would have had around mental health point blank, especially being a, you know, 10 and 20 years ago. And, and yeah, my, my dad, he, he was suffering silently from what I understand with depression. And by the time I kind of clued into it, it was towards the end.
And, and I’m going to skip because I don’t know how to tell the story without it being four hours long. But I, I found my father after his suicide in July of 2012. And obviously in that moment, my entire life changed. It was literally the visual of everything that’s never supposed to happen happening. And for the next four to six years to present day,
my brain would have to work at making sense of what I saw the relationship that I was grieving, just like the loving relationship without suicide or any of that being a part of it. And I’m sure we’ll put a trigger warning in the, in the description for this episode. Unfortunately, that’s something that just kind of comes with me, but, but yeah,
so that was the first time where words like PTSD and compounded grief. And that was the first time where it’s, you know, it started to compound in, in retrospect, my brother had this sort of beautiful death. I mean, we, we knew what was happening. We knew it was coming, of course, you know, and, and only in comparison in retrospect,
but, you know, we were all able to surround him, you know, for his final moments. Literally we were all in the room with him, this beautiful deck. And then, you know, four years later, I’m having this experience of like being completely shocked by sort of the most horrific thing I’ve ever been through. And it would be so long of having to deal with the trauma of it and the situation of it before I got access as just a son to losing my dad,
there was so much that was going to have to happen in a mental health avenue when it came to the PTSD and the flashbacks and everything that I was going through. But so I went out into the world, I got my extraordinary artist visa. I moved to LA I, you know, I kind of see a pattern here. You know, I went and,
and kind of decided to go and try to fix it all and, you know, build a new life and go what, and do whatever I could, mental health wise to, you know, fix what was going on with me, which was just, you know, a lot of flashbacks and just these kind of really highs and lows of when the grief would hit and when I couldn’t get around it or what couldn’t put away.
And it just sort of kept getting bigger. It felt like, and it was supposed to be going away, was supposed to be something I could fix cause otherwise, how could all these other human beings be walking around? We’ve all lost people. It didn’t, it didn’t make sense to me. You know, it must be something that we get over and we move through.
And I think in a lot of ways, I thought that I did fix it in those four years, four to five years. I, you know, I did a lot and I definitely got out of constant fight or flight. And I think to me that I was confusing that with my grief, I thought, you know, we’re good now. We’re not constantly worried that I’m going to have like a flashback or,
you know, these sort of I’d have these PTSD sort of reactions. Every time I would try to process the image of my father when he died and that it was my actual father who I knew and loved. And like, as a human, every time my brain would try to sort of put those two images together, I’d actually have like a physical,
like, like little reaction, you know, I forgot the scientific name for it was, but it was literally like my body rejecting, you know, no does not that idea. And it would sort of shut everything down. And so that’s very hard to do when obviously you’re going to think about that so often where every time, and then obviously this is when Netflix starts to build and just like non-stop conscious consumption,
except it wasn’t that conscious. And you know, you’re seeing these triggers all the time and I’m just, you know, I had such great support system around me during all of that, and which is the most magical part, but it was just constantly getting texts of like mad men episode. This don’t watch this don’t watch Joe. Cause they knew like that it,
that it really could shift an entire week to a month for me if I was triggered and I wasn’t ready. And this is kind of before I had a real sense of grounding tools or any kind of mindset training around what I was dealing with. But needless to say, I did kind of get to this balance, you know, and I was in LA at the time and young and having fun and it just all seemed like it was going to be great and we could put it all the way and you know,
where’s my Oscar because obviously that’s what happens next. Right? It’s that like sort of moment of bad stuff happens. And then, you know, what happens next and, and things were good. And, and, and for the first time in 2018 people were just like, wow, I, you know, I didn’t think I’d ever really talked to you again.
Like, I didn’t think I’d hear your voice like this. Like, it just you’ve really come through something. And I was celebrating that big time. And in fact, I, I went out to celebrate with a friend. We went to a concert and then we decided to go out dancing after. And, and on the way home, we got into a very bad accident that killed my dear friend.
It was actually the anniversary on the 15th. So yeah, yesterday or the day before. So sorry if it’s a little fresh at the moment, but yeah, we got in this accident, I was knocked out and then woke up and, and my friend didn’t make it. And, and I then was hospitalized and it was months of relearning to walk and dealing with a brain injury and just like the most intense concussive syndrome.
I mean, I couldn’t even like, it was like light sensitivity, hearing anything. Like I was basically lying in a bed and staying like in the dark or, you know, with covers on for, for a long time. And this was right at the point where I thought, you know, it goes up from here, right. And it was the biggest and hardest challenge that I would ever face because it came with this,
this physical aspect. I had always been able to move. I was like avid Barry’s bootcamp, shameless plug, like, you know, like I, I, I always moved to get through things and then I couldn’t move. Literally. I had to sit in all of it and the pain just became so much. And there was a whole new element of PTSD that came with it.
And it just was the most challenging point of my life. And it got to a point where I entered a suicidal depression and I had to enlist everyone and everything available to me to try to make sure that I was still there for my family on the other side of it. And I kind of just had this moment where I had nothing left to lose.
So I looked up and was like, Hey, if you get me through this, I’ll go back for the others. But she got to get me through this. And I remember much like the moment when I started the organization or, you know, anything else I’ve been involved in. Like, I, I really meant it, you know, I,
it was a deal and, and, and I did come through it and, and, and I kind of, for the first time with this mixture of the mindset training I was doing with my coach at the time, and then finally getting the appropriate care as far as physical therapy and whatnot, I, I ended up sort of six months after that moment in the midst of building a mental health startup fully out of pain,
you know, back to running back to all the things they said, I would never be able to do without pain and sort of living and breathing and taking chances on love and being in the world again, which like just for anybody who’s ever been in a true, you know, suicidal depression or that close. I mean, it’s just like, in my mind,
it’s almost like there’s a glitch. And the only way I can describe as sort of, you know, a lot of effort on the community that I had around me, a lot of effort from myself, but then like magic. It’s kind of like when people describe their big break in Hollywood, there’s just, there’s gotta be that element of pure luck that it just didn’t line up at the darkest moment.
In that moment. You know what, like I just kind of got this. There was always this little bit of magic from day one that there’s always this thing I can’t describe where yeah. It kind of gets really dark there and I kind of fade out, but then I wake up again and I have this, you know, this, this chance to kind of go on.
So that’s kind of the story of the grief. And what I always like to say is that now take like a big, like container of like laughter love, hope, like getting to go all the way through the Groundlings in LA and living my dream and being deeply connected with family and friends and everything, and like, pour that on and let it like,
you know, sit in between all of, all of what I just, because I think what I’m realizing as I like to do this book to her, and I talk about it more and more is like, what’s actually wild about my story. Isn’t those three plot points in that I was sort of just to the left of death and experiencing them. What’s wild is that,
you know, I always did still laugh. I always did still hope. I always did still show up and that drove me. And that that’s such a, a reflection of the people that were around me that like, I just, you know, deeply connecting with stronger than fully disconnecting at any of those moments. And that’s the magic, that’s kinda,
that’s what it was. I’m smiling because I’ve never said that properly before. So I’m like, wow, that’s the magic pool. So I’m just letting that sit in. Yeah. Yeah. It’s the, you’ve had the full spectrum of human emotions like multiple, multiple times. So there is a lot, which is why today we are talking about grappling with brief because you are very familiar with it.
So I want to trace back to something that you actually hadn’t really brought up yet was, you know, you self identify as somebody in the LGBTQ community. And how did that play in to the subtleties throughout this grief period or throughout these, you know, points in your life? Because I know that a lot of people out there, how do I,
how do I say this? There can be grief associated with sexual orientation because you’re grieving the idea of the life that you thought you were supposed to have, or this idea that like, you’re never going to have this, or you’re never going to be this for other people in your life. So how did that play into your story as you went through these experiences?
Absolutely. Yeah. You know, it’s, it’s interesting. I’m, I’m really lucky in the way that we are brought up. I I’ve written an essay on this before, but like I always say like at our table, like, especially with the way my mom brought us up and, you know, we just ate dinner at our table, no matter who you brought to dinner,
we just say dinner, bring a boy to dinner. We didn’t agree with girl dinner, eat dinner. You, you know, bring somebody, it didn’t matter. We just say dinner. The only question my mom ever had growing up was whether or not they could still pass the mashed potatoes. So I got to grow up and that’s really loving, liberal,
you know, experience of, of just what could be. And I think, you know, my siblings and I, we always had this sense of like openness and fluidity, but at the time, of course we, we didn’t really talk about it. And I had the beautiful experience of sort of fitting in with my fluidity into the norm as well.
Like I had high school girlfriends that I like truly loved and like, you know, truly was very physically attracted to. And, and we had these deeply connected relationships and, you know, had all like, sort of the like straight boy problems of like getting in trouble with my mom for, you know, like it was just like the whole, the whole thing.
So like I had that openness and I had like a, sort of a different experience of, of always drowning and acceptance. Cause I knew there was more which like, sounds so privileged to say drowning and acceptance. But when someone says to you can be whoever you want to be, and there’s so much to you, there’s also sort of like, you know,
it’s almost like suffocating because, because I had this fluidity, I also, I think I, I secretly wanted them to tell me to get in the box and stay in the box and, you know, because I, I could have done it in it. It could have been easier. And, you know, there was always just this other side of me that everybody was like,
you know, love who you love, but you’re always welcome to kind of explore that openly or privately or you know, that that’s there. I think it’s important to say too, for anyone listening that, you know, through my mental health advocacy work, I’m obsessed with the Trevor project. I’ve done a lot of work in men’s mental health, did a whole startup there.
You know, I’m actually gonna go after Trevor’s medic. My friend works at Trevor’s branch of like in a bigger way, because you know, there’s just so much that keeps me up at night around that. But, but you know, the statistics do say that like someone who’s an LGBTQ youth is four times more likely to die by suicide. And then I know from all my work and men’s mental health,
that three out of four suicides are men and men. I think it’s 80% of suicides are men. So before I told you any of that story, if I had just been standing there as the Addison, that was in 2008, you know, as a late teen going into becoming a man, I was out of very dangerous intersection when it comes to mental health,
just by being, you know, just by being who I was in society and who I was trying to be in this societal norms that come down with that. And I think that’s not said a lot like before any experience, but whether you accepted or not, whether you outdid or not be able to anything like that, we’re sitting at just such a scary intersection.
Like every gay man who listens to this would have been at that intersection, you know, of suicidality. So it’s, it’s only in retrospect. And like, as I write my memoir that I’m like, whoa, like that’s so imagine finding that out. And then the story begins, you know, that’s where, that’s where you’re sitting. So it is kind of like the,
the enemy of the story. I don’t have like one person that was always trying to keep me down, you know, throughout this, the enemy of the story is just literally mental health and resilience or a lack of resilience, like whether or not I will be able to overcome those odds that were sitting there before one death before compound deduct, before PTSD.
So it’s, it’s very interesting, but like I do find that that grief, like you’re saying, it does go hand in hand. There’s so much about having to honor just what is with grief. And I think that goes hand in hand with sexuality and I think that they can also, which is something people don’t talk about a lot. And I think it’s important to say on,
you know, a gay men’s podcast is they can also become intertwined and it can become complicated and destructive in the way that sexuality gets involved in your grieving and how you’re sort of trying to disconnect emotionally. So maybe you’re connecting more sexually or, you know, whatever the mix is, you know, it’s, it’s also interesting to me and I openly say this that,
you know, I, I couldn’t seem to not kind of be interested in the next woman in my life when I was younger. And then I lose my brother and I lose my father. And I know I have this fluidity within me, and I know that I have that side of me and suddenly, you know, male attention is so important to me,
you know, male intention, male dynamics, where I can be involved, but maintain my power where no one can hurt me. But like, so it, you know, you can get a therapist involved. I have I’ve paid the, the thousands of dollars, but I mean, just from saying that out loud, I think a normal person can start to put together how intertwined everything we do and sort of these grief processes can be it’s,
it is brain science, but I don’t, it’s not brain science. It’s like, well, this happened. And now I, you know, I need and want this so badly, you know, in life. And, and that’s one thing that sort of, I was looking back, of course, I didn’t know in the moment, but I was this,
this master of vices. I was kind of too smart to be dumb in a way, like, I, you know, I’ve overachieved just enough. And then I drink just enough. And then, you know, I’ve used, you know, casual sex or whatever. It was, all these things just enough to kind of create this balance where I was never having to be head-on with my trauma and my grief,
but I was doing it masterfully because, you know, by the time you’d catch on to it, you know, what are you going to do? Walk up to me at a charity event and be like, I think that I’m running and said, you know, I think you’re losing it. Or, you know, I think you need help. And it’s like,
so it was confusing for me, like, cause I was like, but I’m still able to do all this. So I’m must be fine. And this song let’s be normal. And as much as it is normal to go through that, what’s not normal is, is how much you’re doing to not honor what’s going on. And so I think anyway,
I don’t have to, you know, become a third grade teacher here. I think anyone listening, especially this podcast sees the parallel and how, you know, grief lives within you. And it’s something that will eventually have to be very truthful for you to feel authentic and like you belong again and not isolated by just the experience of being yourself, you know,
it’s so yeah. Add the layers of that feeling normally. And you know, and I will say like, we did have that beautiful table where everybody could come, you know, at growing up, but everyone else’s table was not like that. And I only, you know, 14 years ago walked out in the world and was like, if I have a choice in this,
or like, you know, if I’m going to sit at these other tables, not the way it was, it is now, you know, and that’s obviously we all know, but for the younger listeners, like it, I love it. I think it’s amazing now that how celebrated gay men are in business and arts and entertainment and, you know,
you have things like the out 100 and like, it’s, it’s, you know, to be honest right now, like the diversity part of it is, is a plus, which is like incredible. Like, you know, that’s just not something that, that seemed like it was going to happen outside of my house, you know, at our dinner table,
in the world, even in Canada, obviously more so in the states when I moved there. But, but yeah, it just, it just wasn’t something that, that you thought was going to happen. So I think for me, the difference was not so much of like a, I have this thing that I’m fighting and it needs to come out as within my fluidity and my grief,
I was constantly lost, like, who am I? I just need to know who I am so that I can support myself so I can show up for myself so I can give myself every fighting chance to be here against these odds, you know? And it was just a true confusion. And I guess it, in retrospect, it wasn’t a confusion.
It’s like, you can’t define a human being, you know, that’s like, I was trying to just be like, tell me exactly who you are, Edison, so I can fix this. And it just, you know, and I really thought that, that I could do that. And obviously the takeaway of my life. And so far, I’m not trying to have any bookends here,
you know, a lot of living to do, but is that, you know, grief and mental health are not something that you fixed. There’s something you honor. And, and that’s what ended up going on the back of the book, because I just wanted to make sure, even if you bought the book and it just sits on your table, that you’re constantly reminded that this is not something you’ve fixed.
And I, I think as you said, the parallel for sexuality, I mean, so many people go down that pathway of, I can fix this. I can fit in. I can, you know, whatever the, I it’s like, I don’t even want to give energy to the limited beliefs because I just feel like we’re going the right way.
You know? So like, but I think we all know them intimately and with a few deep breaths, you know, you know, what comes up in that way. And, and so in a lot of ways I can see how, you know, you’ve just made me see very clearly how this book could also benefit anyone. Who’s sort of grieving the loss of themselves,
of what they’ve always known of what they’ve always, you know, put out there and showed up as. Oh yeah. And that also comes in the form of, I know I’ve worked with many people who are going through the coming out process and there’s a grieving for the person you thought you were, or the person you thought you were supposed to be.
And now moving into this exciting part of your life, where you get to honor those feelings, you get to honor that authenticity of yourself. And there is grief that comes along with that because there may or may not be people who continue being to be in your life because of that, because of you being your authentic self. And so it plays out in many,
many different ways and all, all the things you just said were so beautiful and just shout out to therapy because therapy is amazing and that there’s Coaching and find your people that work for you. If it’s not working, it’s like a relationship, you know, it has to be because I think there’s a danger to that blanket because then you show up and it’s like,
if I, again, if I’m not fixed in these sessions, then you know, it is a working relationship and you do have to also state what you intend to get out of it. And one thing that I would say is make sure that the treatment, the plan is for emotion-based the end of lessons. We’re going to have actual tools that we’re going to use based on what was said to shift mindset,
to, you know, my that’s the coolest part of my story is that on the cusp of dealing with my dad’s estate, right before the accident, I put my hands up in the air. It’s like, I’ve talked to God three times. The time that I said I would go back for the others. And then this time where I said I needed help.
And then one very, very angry conversation after my dad passed. But, you know, I just said I needed help. And I got on a plane the next day. And the person sitting next to me is who has been my, my mentor and my excellence coach, Jennifer Merrifield, she’s from Toronto total chance meeting. And it was like, I asked for help.
I got on the plane to deal with the worst thing I was dealing with at the time. And she was sitting beside me and it was like this fires. And, and that, I do have to say, like I had a mental health mix tape that involves everything, you know, from like healing techniques to therapy, to coaching, but getting that mindset training,
getting that full rewiring of how I operate in the world, I was not built to overcome or even deal with these losses. I was not, I was built to go right into a victim mode and it just, it, it would have ended the way it almost did, you know, if I hadn’t had this whole team and, and there’s just so much to the way we’re approaching things,
because unfortunately like these do things have these things do happen, especially when it comes to grief. I, we will all grieve this loss of something meaningful. At some point, the pandemic has proved that, you know, our, our normal lives have been taken from us, whether it’s in a big way or a small way, not that measuring serves us,
but you know, like we’re all going to deal with the loss of something meaningful. And it’s sort of not built into our mindsets at an early age of, of how to do that. And especially Around the language. Yeah. No Learning or knowing the language. Yeah. No, absolutely. So, yeah, it’s just, it’s, it’s such a mix and you really find your mix,
I think is what I would say to people. And, and if you go to therapy and that specific experience, doesn’t do it for you, which again, it’s not something that would be fixed in an hour. It’s something that you’re just honoring, what’s coming up in. Someone’s helping you to facilitate that. If it hadn’t been explained to me that way a lot earlier,
I think that, you know, my perspective going into it would be very different. You know, what you think, what this is. And because we think of a doctor, like it’s going to fix the problem and then we get to resume. And what we really need is a team of people that are going to help us achieve resilience by helping us honor everything we’re taking with us,
you know, unfortunate Learning from like learning the language and learning how to move through that experience because of their experience with their expertise on it. And I just wrote down when you’re talking, like for me, therapy is not fixing it. Therapy is learning how to feel it. And that’s like, it’s learning the language of your feelings and your internal self.
And like, what that really truly is because we don’t grow up learning these things. At least my generation didn’t grow up in thirty-five. I didn’t grow up with these things and these ideas and like, you know, how to describe what I’m truly feeling and how, you know, I’m angry about something it’s like, well, are you truly angry about it?
Or are you upset about something? Like, what is the deeper meanings underneath that? The surface level, you know, emotions that you’re feeling. So for me, therapy is the language learning the language of feelings and how to actually truly feel them. And not only that, but also how to process those things and how to move through those things in a forward motion to integrate that into your life moving forward.
So it’s, it’s been a huge, huge, and plus therapists can just see things that you can’t see cause you got your blinders on. And they’re just like, what about this over here? And you’re like, oh yeah, I forgot about that. Just thought I’d leave it over there. Well, absolutely. And even if somebody who did grow up,
like I did have therapists growing up, like I said, I had that, that experience. You still learn very quickly that that’s still not how the rest of the world is playing. And so the same thing when I did the men’s mental health work, I still learned outside of my house very quickly of what the world thought masculinity was. I still learned very quickly whether or not the things I was taught in therapy were going to work in a business setting 15 years ago.
Like, no, you know what I mean? Like we’re getting, we’re just getting there now. Like we’re just seeing the big corporations really, you know, with grief and mental health start to really make room for human beings to, you know, work and be in these places of work and actually thrive. But, but yeah, so it, it is one of those things.
Cause I hear that a lot, especially from, from other gay friends, you know, it’s like, oh, if only I had just started therapy and it’s like, yeah, it’s just like the world also wasn’t ready. So, you know, yes, I had it and you were there, but then you still were sort of living that double life of like,
you know, having, so it’s, it’s, it’s so nice that I hope that it’s really coming along. You know, just the fact that these conversations are happening obviously means that it is, you know Yeah, they are. And then we have people like Bernay brown out there. Who’s like just has so many years of research and like is, cause I’m a very like analytical,
very like methodical type person. I I’m a very, I’m a big thinker. And so when she explains things and goes through things, she’s always about the data and the science and you know, the research that she’s done. And I appreciate that because it allows me to integrate it easier and understand it on a different level than if people just talked about the feelings or talked about the things I need to understand,
like, why is this leading to this? And where did this come from? And where is the proof that this is actually something that somebody is experiencing or how somebody experiences it. So I really appreciate and love her work because it just constantly opens my eyes and my understandings of how the world works. I want to go back because we are talking about this,
you know, lack of education and language around grief. Was that a big component in you going through these experiences, because you just said that you had the access to therapy and you had the access to that. So you grew up having more of that education and that language around your grief or was it still very much a learning experience? Yeah, I mean,
yeah, nothing would have really prepared me far, like in that sense. And I think because like childhood therapy is sort of of the moment, I, I was the first person in the neighborhood to like have a divorce going to a Catholic school, like in a small town, you know? So I, I think it was always very driven by what was going on.
And now obviously again, only in retrospect, do I see like what a grief process, like, you know, all these losses of what’s meaningful and you know, so it is there. No, I absolutely felt when I first really had to grapple with grief in a way that, that not only I was very aware of, but it was publicly aware.
He lost his little brother hold to watch how this person like survives and moves in the world. Oh, now his father as well, you know, like it’s, you know, there’s this, I was sort of an audience member too, in that way of how does this work? How does this move forward? But I definitely felt when those things happen,
just like all of a sudden I was dropped into a country where I didn’t know the language and not only did I not know the language from my internal dialogue, I didn’t know how to speak to me presently. I didn’t know how to speak to my inner child about what had happened. I didn’t have any language around how to prepare other people for what I was going through.
I just thought I was supposed to get over it and fix it. And, you know, and hope that I don’t mess things up and tarnish relationships by the time that happens, you know? And I just felt like I was sort of playing in a casino all the time with all of these emotions and what was coming up for man. You know,
I didn’t know when I would have an outburst of anger or a flashback or, you know, whatever it was a where grief would just totally take me out. And I understand that that is your wedding or that is your big day, your special day. But I also just like cannot move today is the day where my body is physically showing me what I’ve lost.
It feels like my ribs are being broken and my heart is literally being squeezed and I cannot move, you know, but I wasn’t saying any of that, I was just taking the hit and saying, you know, I was sick or letting them think I was just, you know, not coming, you know, because it, there’s also a part of it that you don’t want to let anyone know that that it’s that bad.
And then it gets that bad. Yeah. Because we don’t want to be perceived as weak, especially as men in today’s society. Weakness is the only thing as a man, you were not supposed to be perceived as, so it’s like, how do you then allow yourself to experience that human, the humanness of those experiences of, you know, not being weak,
but feeling your emotions and allowing yourself to experience what you’re told. You’re not supposed to experience. And then be like, okay, well, do I hide this? Do I not hide this? What are people going to think? And it’s just like, you’re just a human having the human experience, but you know, how do you convey that to other people Like a Santa Claus complex?
Because I was so young and I had so many close friends and family members that were all sort of the same age. There’s this idea of like, I don’t know, subconsciously, I just didn’t want them to know how bad it really was to be the brother or the son, or to have seen what I’d seen or what I’d gone through. I just like ventrally,
they’re going to grieve. And they’re going to know they’re going to have the long nights. They’re going to beg God for something that can not happen. They’re they’re going to go through these things. And so why tell them now, you know, why look them in the eyes and tell them now, which is so funny because we’re saying like you’re not prepared,
but then I, myself, when I first came up against it, the first thing I wanted to do was protect everyone around me from the reality of how difficult it really is to grieve, especially like, I mean, we’re T we’re talking, you know, everyone’s like, oh, you wrote a book. And I’m like, yeah, 13 years later,
13 years in the grief arena, 13 years of experimenting of getting to know myself, of finding language of, you know, communicating. And this is someone who is actively a part of their process. Like after the accident, my job was to stay alive for two years full time, you know? So I was just in it fully. And then also like when I went on to build a startup,
it was a mental health startup. So my work depended on me understanding these things and I still feel lost at points, you know? And it’s not to say that it’s hopeless in any way. It’s just that it is an active process. And the sooner you can get to the point of accepting that this is something I wake up with every day and I built a relationship with every single day.
And that’s okay, because that’s just how every morning starts just like opening your eyes or brushing your teeth. I wake up, I kind of acknowledge my relationship with who I’ve lost and what I’ve lost. And I know very quickly how today is going to go and what I need to do to nurture where I am today in that grief process. There’s days like this,
where, you know, I only have a few minutes if I talk about my brother, Austin, I know that I am going to cry my eyes out because today I am not an advocate. I am not an author. I’m a brother. And that is my baby brother. And I wish that never happened. And so there’s, there’s times where I’m like,
okay, okay. Okay. So how do we, how do we honor this? Like, what do we bring in? What, what are we doing today to not push it down, but to live with it, to stand beside it. And to also kind of be courageous, like you said, in a very brave brown way about letting the people around,
you know, that that’s where you’re at, and these are your boundaries and this is how you’re, how you’re moving forward for today. So we, we so badly want, especially with grief to like, make it like these permanent things, I’m better. Or I’m good. I’m sad now for X amount of time, because we, cause then we feel like we can sort of like,
you know, plan up And down. It’s like I have every year, this happens with death anniversaries, the days leading up, it’s like, oh no, no, no. And I’m just, it’s crippling grief and anxiety and all the emotions that come with it. And then the day happens. And on the day I have the best day ever because it’s,
it’s the lead up, you know, but I’m, I’m making all these arrangements. Yeah. I’m not going to work on that day. You know, it’s, it’s, it’s the anniversary and I just don’t know how I’m going to feel. So, you know, and then meanwhile, it’s all the days leading up to that day that I didn’t take off.
And then on that day I’m like, yeah, I can work. Right. Like, you know, so it’s, it’s, That’s the work that you’ve done to get to that place. That’s you learning the tools, learning the language, learning how to move through process that, and it’s, you know, honoring the experiences that you went through and,
you know, by doing that, by, by doing the work in that regard, you then can have the strength and the power to prime other people on how your going to possibly be. So then they can understand that experience. I, I recently had that girlfriend, her mom passed away just before Christmas and I’ve known her since, since like middle school.
Like we go way, way, way back. And she’s one of my dearest friends. And I finally got to see her for the first time in Vancouver. When I went home to see my mom who had just been diagnosed with cancer, who had just like gone through surgery. And like, I hadn’t seen her in four years and that’s what my friend’s mom had died from.
And so, you know, worlds had collided. And when I was with her, she’s a very spiritual person and she does the work and we had this really beautiful conversation of like how, you know, she has these new friends and these people and, you know, one of these, she had an interaction with one of them and then she then has to go and think about it and process it in order to then have the next conversation with this person and be like,
look, I understand this is the experience you had with me, but I’m still deeply in grief and processing. And so I don’t know how I’m going to show up. And I just need you as a friend of mine to know that in the back of your head, that I’m not always going to be there. I’m not always going to be on,
I’m not always going to be available. And this is part of my process and part of my honoring my experience. And, but it takes so much consciousness or conscious effort and realizations and kind of like self knowingness to be somebody who can express that. Because if this is something somebody is experiencing, especially around grief, we don’t learn these things growing up.
So it’s taken her years and decades of, you know, doing the spiritual work to get to a place where she has that, the tools and the knowledge to use that language. But most people are just running around, bumping into each other, getting pissed off and angry and upset because they’re assuming the other person should know how their inner world is going.
But people won’t know that unless you honor yourself and then kind of prime them on how that experience is going to go. And life is just messy. Like there is no. So we’re saying like, even if you were taught everything, which I certainly was not in any way, like, you know, I just was saying that I did get to go to therapy before the age of 18.
That’s all I was saying earlier. Even if you, you know, you went to grief school instead of high school, you know, that’s kind of why I never claim to know anything about anybody else’s grief processes, because it’s also no matter what, no matter how prepared you are, no matter, you know, if you’ve sat with the monks and you know,
you have all your modalities and you know, your toolkit and you’re ready for when life or the loss of life happens, you know, we can have all those things in play, but it also comes down to the exact timing and the exact moment that that relationship ends in the physical form. Did you have a fight the day before? Where were you?
Like what, you know, there’s so many things that you will then have to kind of unpack as you go for years to come, when you’re ready in a delicate way, in a compassionate kind and curious way to yourself. You know, there’s all these things that, that you, it, it’s totally different if my dad and I are on a boat having the best day ever,
and he has a heart attack then, you know, finding him after suicide. Like I did. Yeah. Either way, I’m dealing with the loss of my father, but like the grief process, that results from that, it’s almost as if I wouldn’t even have been grieving the same person, the grief that surrounds their memory is completely different right down to the timing.
So, you know, one of the hardest things to do is to let go of the idea of like being prepared for this in any way, but being willing when it does happen to really go along for the journey of it, you know, and, and be, you know, like I said, in the book, I just keep reminding everyone.
Cause it’s, it’s all experiments in the book. It’s just, you know, weekly experiments that for some reason worked for me along my journey and I stay with them for a year. And it’s from the level of appear. I’m not a doctor, I’m not a grief counselor. I’m, I’m not looking into the arena, I’m in the arena with you.
And it’s just like, if we were at the gym and you thought my arms looked good and you’re like, Hey, what do you do with your arms? You know? And it’s like, just as a friend, I, you know, I’m not taking on the liability of if you hurt yourself doing what I do, you know, but here are,
you know, here’s what I would offer. And, you know, I just, for so long froze, anytime somebody was like, I’ve just lost somebody or I’ve just lost something or calling me and saying, oh, I have a friend who’s just lost their parent. Would you talk to them? And I’m like, yes, I get it thematically that like it’s similar.
And you think that I’m the person who should talk to them, but I can be also a very scary in the area of reality in the sense of everything that I know about a grief process. And, you know, so it’s, it’s much slower than that. And, you know, I say to people once the flowers and the condolences and the casseroles fade away and that silence hits that’s when I’ll talk to them.
And I’ve literally wrote the book for that to start when all the formal stuff, which we were, you know, unfortunate didn’t even have that part of it in COVID for a lot of people, which is, region’s usually the Distraction part. Exactly. So you’re going right into the silence sometimes if, if that’s limiting your ability to gather and to honor somebody,
but yeah, that’s, that was the void is because every time someone would ask me, I would freeze. And I just couldn’t say like, sorry for your loss or my condolences. Like, I just, I couldn’t say these things because I just felt like this fraud, it’s like, you know, everything and you know, nothing like why are you not showing up?
And, and it was just, it was so much more complicated in that to a point where now, you know, it’s a 200 page book of how, how delicately I would want to be friends, somebody who’s starting a grief journey, or also, you know, I get this question a lot lately is whether or not this, if this has to find somebody as soon as their first experience in grief,
cause it’s called first year of grief club, but it can also be the first year that you decide to honor your grief and embark on experiments in doing so. And I say it again and again in the book, like if this doesn’t work for you, I’ll be the first one to help you throw it out. Like, that’s not this isn’t about me being an expert.
This is about you finding what works for you. And I think when you go back to like what you’re saying with a tool kit, we have this idea of like what a literal tool kit is like a hammer, you know, hammers nails into a wall. A screwdriver has, you know, has to work with certain screws, but there’s a lot of time and grief where you have to be willing to pick up whatever’s around you to get the nail in the wall.
You don’t have a perfectly formed hammer for years, the perfect tool. That’s great for you. And like, you know, won’t hurt you to use it and like won’t damage the wall. Like you don’t have that hammer for a long time, but are you willing to pick up a dumbbell? Are you willing to pick up your shoe? Like, are you willing to get the nail on the wall?
You know it’s so much of the journey before it’s ever this like, sort of, oh, wow. Okay. This is like, I’m at a point now, like I was saying where it’s like, oh, I’m waking up. I have to talk about grief today. This is how I’m feeling. I’m going to honor that. Okay. So I’m going to use this grounding technique and like,
you know, like Cory mascara, like meditation, like it’s like, I have all the things I’m going to do. Oh, it’s a lot of energy sitting. I’m going to work out. Like I know the mix and even knowing all that, there’s some days where I just go, well, I’m not going to do any of that. I’m just going to sit and sort of let myself suffer.
You know, we have these moments where then they honoring is the fact that you didn’t honor help yourself. You know? So it’s just always be willing to, and you may find eventually like going back to that metaphor like that, a hammer is not your tool of choice, even though it’s everybody else’s. But if you can still do the job and get it done,
like it’s about what your hammer is, you know, is very careful not to prescribe. These are the 10 things to get rid of grief. Or these are the 10 things to honor grief, even it’s, it’s just, everything has to constantly stay this experiment. It’s in the peace of finding that you’re always going to be in that phase of process and honoring,
and it’s a lot like dance. You cannot, there’s never a check mark in dance. Never like you will never be the best ballerina of all time. Like it just because the next day, how you approach the movement and how stretch it further stretches the potential of it. So grief is a lot like that, where there can almost be solace and just accepting that early.
I think where I was convinced there was a way to fix it. There was a finite amount of grief. There was, you know, this idea that it, this is something that I can do. Yeah. I’m going to get to this point and it’ll be fine. Like, it’ll just be the mark. I want to go back a little bit to talk about.
Cause we talked a little bit about COVID and how people we skipped that, you know, support community aspect of it and just went straight into like the dark quietness. And I want to talk a little bit about like the importance of community and support because that’s a lot of the work we do with the gay men’s brotherhood and, and the podcast we provide that safe community for people to be a part of,
if they’ve never belonged to a community before, or they’re just looking to be part of a community. So how important is having that aspect in a process like this for somebody? It is 100% the reason that I’m here, there’s no doubt. Yeah. I mean, that’s why I think you see this through line of every time I’m dealing with something that’s impossible or isolating on desperately trying to build community around it.
And a lot of times my sleepless nights were okay, there’s someone somewhere with less privilege, with less privilege, with less access to help with less of a support system, with less of a community, that’s going through what I’m going through. And that’s going to be a really long night. And I couldn’t even sleep thinking about that. Like just like,
there’s gotta be so many people who feel exactly like, I feel who don’t have my mother who don’t have my friends who don’t have the support system I have, and I know how challenging it is for me, even with all of that, you know? So I think it’s, it’s just so important. And, and the beautiful thing is that so many people now are so interested in building community and,
and kind of creating spaces where people can go. And I think that was one of the gifts of COVID too, is you could find these digital communities where any sort of fears around showing up physically in a space, because it can be very intimidating, especially if it’s driven by grappling with grief or sexuality or mental health, you know, it’s like as soon as you walk in that door,
you feel this sort of label of why you’ve shown up in the field. Everybody knows why you’re here and you’re here because we’re all here. So, And th th the fear of just going can sometimes to completely deplete, you know, getting the experience and I it’s, so it’s, it’s, it’s, it’s been really cool to see. And I spent a lot of time in a lot of men’s groups and facilitating a lot.
And with my time in the startup, and just really seeing how important it is just for us all to learn from each other’s experiences. Like it’s just, there’s nothing that just sort of validates that, like, everything that’s happening to me is completely normal in a way than to someone that you feel like is telling your exact story and sharing your journal, but they’re not,
they’re talking about their own life and their own experience, and just shows like how universal it is. You know, I’ve looked for every opportunity to build community around these things. And honestly, from a selfish gain at points, I just really didn’t want to do this all alone. And I didn’t want anybody else in a selfless way to do it alone either.
I think it’s just when I said earlier, the magic, like those sort of blackouts in the magic kind of kept me alive. It’s it’s community. That is 100% the magic. And, and it’s, if you’re listening to this and this is in any way, feeling isolating, or, you know, like, well, I don’t have a community.
So, you know, I’m doing this kind of feeling like, or anything like that kind of thing. I want you to know, like, I was the shyest kid in the room growing up and like, it took, it is also a skill you cultivate. And the biggest part of it yeah. Is, is just showing up and the community sort of begins to form around you,
which is the really cool thing showing up authentically. It’s like, you’re guaranteed, you know, two or three people in the right spaces. I mean, you’re not going to walk into like, you know, a bar at 2:00 AM and be like, let’s get vulnerable On vulnerability. You know, like, you know, again, like Renee’s examples, like,
you know, sharing your wax on Instagram. That’s not like that’s not what we’re talking about, you know, but showing up in safe spaces that have been created for that purpose, like what you guys have created, you know, that there’s so much safety to that. And so much builds off of that. And the friendships that come out of those safe spaces are just lifelong.
And there’s, there’s a deep connection that, that it’s not this constant upkeep because you both know what you know, you know, and it’s a difficult thing. And, you know, I call it my grief club, the people who really just get it, you know, and that’s obviously vent itself to the title in the book that we can all kind of be in this club and acknowledge it without it being something that we’re like constantly have to like physically gather around.
You know, I always say that being in community is been one of the biggest healing experiences of my life, because I very much was like the shy one, the alone one people perceive me as one way. But internally myself, I was like, anxieties. Like, I don’t want to, like, it scared me to be vulnerable enough to be in community.
And it was always the first step because I always just say, you don’t know what you don’t know, and you you’re afraid of the experience because you’ve not had the experience yet, but once you’ve had the experience and you do that multiple times, well, then that becomes a habit of that becomes a learned experience that you’re like, oh, well, I can do this because you know,
I’ve done it before, like going to Dodge ball for the first time. It sounds silly, but gay Dodge ball, the first time I joined, I knew I needed to make friends in the city. Cause I just moved here. I didn’t know anybody, but I had huge anxiety cause I didn’t know what to expect. But then I was met with a welcoming community and then the more I went,
the more it became at home at that, in that community, because I learned through the experience of going and you just, you heal through so much through experience in community. And we build up these big stories in our heads, especially when we’re not in community about how you’re going to be perceived or the flashback fears of being perceived before and not wanting to experience that again.
And like so many more people in this world want to celebrate you and enjoy you as a person than want to tear you down. And you can’t live your life in that one experience that you had. We got, It was introverts too. I just want to say that I found some of the greatest sense of community in places that you wouldn’t expect to.
Like again, always be willing to look at the definition of it because for instance, like I find a great sense of community. When I go to a movie theater to watch a movie, I go by myself, I’ve thinks that’s weird, but I love going to the movies by myself, but I’m not by myself. I’m with everybody else who has chosen in that time,
in that moment to watch it in a public place. You know? So there’s these ways of going to a comedy show, even if you’re alone, when you all laugh in unison, like as we’re able to like safely rebuild these things, it’s so important that we get back to that because watching the same movie on Netflix as everybody else is not the same,
there isn’t a sense of community there isn’t that connection. So it’s like, it’s like, where can you start to build, you know, where you feel held and safe and like, you’re a part of something, but maybe not. So head-on as to like, you know, sitting down in a support group and sharing like on the first day, you know,
so, or like you said, like with sports leagues or whatever, there’s, there’s so many like beautiful Trojan horses into how you kind of get into a conscious community. And I think, you know, sometimes it’s not just like the obvious I have to do this. There are like, just think of where can I be, where I’m having the same experiences,
others that I’ve chosen. So they’ve chosen. So, you know, there’s already that common ground where I can feel connected to other people seeing movie that alone got me through like half of my grief process, because a lot of the time also, like I just didn’t want to interact, not because I was afraid of it at this point socially, but because it was just too much,
but I needed to not be alone at the same time. So safe spaces where you can just have space, you know, yoga, meditation, like where you’re in a community of like-minded people where it’s not always about the social aspect or the talking either, you know, you can feel held in that. I think there’s so many different versions of what community are.
And like again, like grief, it can be this thing where you experiment and you know, how did I feel it scared in a good way? Like, you know, it’s usually scared in a good way. My whole improv training and career started off just being done with being too shy, to open my mouth. Like my brother and my dad always could,
you know, if I could improv a whole show based off one word, then I think I could like go back out into the world and start conversations, you know? So, But it’s the lived experience of going through that and then building that muscle, that muscle memory in your mind of having the experience that got you to that place. So it’s yeah.
Community is so insanely, so insanely important. So we have a couple more minutes and I just want to dive into one thing, cause we’ve talked a lot about the lived experience of being the one who’s in the grief. And I want to flip it and now talk a little bit about, you know, people who aren’t, the ones going through the grief and maybe haven’t even experienced that for themselves or a deep grief and who are on the outside,
looking at somebody who is experiencing that. And one of the things that I wrote down was just like how somebody can show up for that person. And I just wrote down this question, I can’t remember what you were saying, but I wrote down this, how do you need me to show up for you today? Because if you’re in that experience where,
you know, and this isn’t like bending over backwards for everybody in your life, kind of a thing it’s, it’s honoring the fact that somebody’s gone through something and they continue to go through something at a certain, you know, intervals. And it’s just like, okay, I know that this has happened. How do you need me as your friend to show up for you today?
And I think even just that kind of language and learning how to approach those things are so important. So what are some things that you know of, or that really helped you in, in that realm? So one thing that I would say, especially for this podcast is for anyone who feels like they’re listening to this and they just don’t, you know,
they don’t connect with William B, what grief is. And I’m like I said, if you, if you went into what I call the micro grief processes, which is not a measurement of, of big or small, it’s just that you, you know, you have to take a microscope and realize, oh, I have lost things that were meaningful to me.
And there’s these, these many grief processes that society is not, you know, tuning into, you know, one of the, my benefits was I had this very tangible grief process that like, obviously people expected there to be a great process to follow when they hear the news. Right. A lot of us are doing this silently. A lot of us are doing this with our identity,
right. So we never know also like without a death, even like how many people around us are grieving, but I would say many of us are very familiar with the idea or how it feels to be ghosted. That’s something that comes up a lot, especially in this community, you know, but it’s the most personal ghosting of all time. Yeah.
It’s just, and it’s permanent. And it’s the person sometimes that you would go to when you felt that way normally for support that has, you know, and that’s not, what’s been done and I’m definitely not using this in correlation with suicide. I don’t feel that way at all in the, in a literal sense, but that feeling, which I can tell by the way you nodded and the way you smelled immediately,
we all know that sort of, I have I’ve I feel like I don’t matter, cause I was not consulted in my entire life shifting, you know, and if we feel that way off of Tinder, you know, imagine a lifetime of a relationship with someone or something that’s so deeply meaningful and then feeling that just immediate cutoff and, and you’re just expected to.
Yeah, well you, yeah, that’s, that’s what happened, you know? So I, I, when I explain it to people my age like that, they, they seem to click in a little bit differently because everybody knows sort of that, like, you have to go through the process, even though, you know, it’s kind of silly sometimes,
but like that feeling of like someone chose not to be here with me, you know, it’s like, that’s kind of what it feels like for a long time, as far as supporting somebody in grief, my go-to is asking, what does support look like for you in this moment? Don’t try to be smarter. Don’t try to be overly helpful. Don’t try to figure it out,
let them be the expert of their experience, ask them what does support look like for you in this moment? Because it also empowers the person who’s grieving. If nobody asks me that, then I never even know what I need either. And then we’re just sort of in this, this tangle, you know, and when people did ask me that, I like,
like I said earlier, nine times out of 10, I want you to be here, but I don’t want to talk. I want, I want to not be alone and I want to be held in a safe space, but I, I know that I will just go hyper and just talk and talk and talk and try to figure out verbally Def,
which is just not healthy at a certain point. Right. So, so just asking, you know, what a support look like for you in this moment, I think is just the number one thing. And you’re supporting somebody. And I don’t know, I think there’s a lot of value in, you know, like you said, we can’t prepare for grief,
but I think it is something we all deal with. So it’s beneficial on both fronts. You’re going to interact with somebody sooner or later, that’s dealing and grappling with grief as well. So I think there’s something about becoming familiar with these grief processes and these grief books and resources that exist before you have to, I would say that like my whole drive for the men’s mental health movement was based on my story as to like encourage men to take the step before it’s absolutely necessary because it’s so different when you’re approaching therapy,
wellbeing, anything mental wellness for the first time, from a place of survival, if you can approach earlier. And I think it also just benefits in, in, in the way we support everyone around us and how they deal with their mental health and their grief. If we’re not learning about it in sort of the red zone of the moment of it happening and needing to be there or to help or to support,
you know? So I think intellectually getting our mind around it, knowing that the visceral and the individual experience of it for yourself when it comes to you will always change. But just, just from a place of wanting to be able to be more supportive. I think that Megan Levine’s book it’s okay to not be okay is like a wonderful reference for people who are not grieving for people who are supporting people who are grieving,
because even for people sort of in the midst, that book was like, now I read it and I nod and I’m like, yeah, she gets it. And she knows. And, but if I had tried to read that on day one or week three or three months in, it was, it was like learning a concept from, you know,
like it’s just, it resonates differently at different times. So I either had to read it before, or like, you know, sort of later into my grief process where it’s like, okay, I get what she means because I’ve lived the life experience of it. You know? So that’s why also I want to just show up kind of with something that was complimentary,
there’s also a new book that I think you would love. It’s called the grieving brain by Mary Francis. O’Connor it’s actually only on audible it’s co I think it comes up. Actually. I think it comes out today on St. Patrick’s day, Mary, I don’t know you, but here I am doing your promo on my book tour, but this book I did not know was coming out and I’ve been listening to it.
And it is basically like scientifically backing everything that I have sort of found from a peer perspective and try to explain. So if you’re like me, which you said earlier, you are where you need that sort of science part as well. The, you know, my book in that book, I feel like are just like such an amazing like companionship, because sometimes we’re like,
okay, but what’s the science of what’s happening with me, you know? And I’ve, I’m such a nerd about that in this book finally, like goes into it specifically for grief, but I would definitely put that out. And, and also, I just want to say with my book, for anybody who does end up reading it, it really is meant to be a living,
breathing thing. I wanted feedback. I want to know what works. I want to know what doesn’t. I want to know if experiments resonated. I want there to be other additions and other volumes based on, you know, how I continue to progress and what I hear back. So keeping in mind that, you know, all of it is offerings,
unconditional offerings and, and how it works for you or how it shifts for you is just as interesting to me, because it can be a gift back. And from that place of community, from that place of being one of the grief guys, one of the people in the arena like that is the intention of it. It wasn’t to get grief, right?
The first time I wrote a book, you know, and to be like, this is, this is it guys. You know, That’s not how it works. That’s why Renee keeps putting out more and more books because it’s not just one thing, An example, it’s like a formal invitation to, you know, to play in the arena because, you know,
from per book to now, because she’s changed culture itself, the sociology of what she’s teaching and what she’s brought into the world has shifted. So, you know, we’ve evolved with Bernay. So it’s like that same kind of thing where, you know, I’m so interested in how, if we start the conversation this way, where it goes much like in the men’s mental health movement and the gay men’s mental health movement,
honestly, like, you know, there’s a whole nother, like, you know, sector and yeah, I just, what does support look like for you right now? Long winded answer. I just want to add, like, we’ve talked a lot about language and learning how to experience your feelings and emotions and language in, in regards to how it looked like in grief and Bernie,
his newest book, Atlas of the heart, that literally is what it is. It is explaining. I think she has 86 different emotions, feelings, and, and it just kind of unpacks all of that to learn the language that you need to learn in order to express yourself correctly so that people can understand it in a different way. Because if you say you’re angry,
that’s different than saying, like I’m disappointed, even though your anger is more of a cover for disappointment. So it’s a really, it’s another great tool for learning the language aspect of I actually, in my book, suggest that for one of the experiments, for them to read that book Manual on being, because we, you know, we don’t realize,
and, and she brings up such a great point, sorry, I’m such a nerd about this, and I know we’re wrapping up, but like that out of all the people that she interviewed, that they could, they identified three feelings, sad, mad, and happy, like, you know, and it’s like, whoa, that’s, that’s like really scary to like,
approach all of your humanity and like a deep grief process or a mental health challenge. Like, you know, with just that in your artillery about, you know, like it’s, there’s so much more and it’s so empowering to learn what you’re actually feeling and to be able to put names around it and to really start to differentiate, like, you know,
on the, in the book, I have like an emotion chart in, from mad, you know, it goes into 28 other emotions of like all the things that can be, you know, jealous, angry, you know, there’s just, there’s so much there. And so I love that book. I also suggested as a companion for when things come up or to read that book,
but read one emotion a day and just let it sit and digest it. And how does it fit into my life? I think that’s sometimes what gets missing in all of this is the lab that we, we all like to do lecture. We like to read, we like to take in information we’d like to consciously consume. Okay, great. Got it.
And then when it comes to being in lab, like, you know, like doctors have to actually then do surgeries and do procedures and like being watched and like, you know, the ranks up, I think like grief and mental health are exactly like that. It’s like you have to put in the lab hours where you’re applying what you’ve learned from Bernay brown to the first time you were truly triggered or truly challenged or truly,
you know, that’s sort of, which is beautiful. That we’re at a point where the majority are reading Bernay and then I think the next journey for us is like being willing to apply it. You know, The integration, I call it the integration of what you’re going through. Cause that’s how I look at personal development is like, it’s not like you’re just constantly going up this hill because like,
you can’t process that much. You have to go up the hill and then you have to kind of plateau and like integrate and then maybe you’ll drop down a bit and be like, oh, this is too much like I’ve entered. Like I just want to like, just do whatever the fuck I want for a while. And then still go down a little bit and then you start going back up and go,
okay, I need to check back in with myself. And like, that’s how it goes. It’s an ebb and flow and it’s it’s Hills. It’s not, you know, life is, we’re both, we’re, we’re both masterpieces and messes all at the same time and you got to integrate all of it and, you know, learn to love all the aspects of it.
And not just like these compartmentalize parts of it, you know, today has been incredibly enlightening. It’s been fantastic. You speak so eloquently about your experience and you tie everything together. So well, I think that our listeners are gonna get a lot out of this and I really appreciate you and your time, I just want to find out where can people know more about you,
your handles, where they can get your book. We’re going to have a lot of these in the show notes, but let everybody know where they can find out more information. Yeah, absolutely. And it’s an honor to be here and I’m glad you thought I was eloquent at 7:00 AM on Australian time. I’ll accept that I’m Addison, Brazil, Brazil like the country,
but spelled with an S on Instagram and the normal things and that normal things. And then this call to action needs work. But then my grief club.com is the place for the grief stuff. For the grief stuff. The book is available on Amazon worldwide. I’m so grateful that it’s, you know, slowly becoming a bestseller and people are finding it. And please,
please, please. Like I said, if you do pick it up and you do start experimenting in your grief, please reach out that my emails in the book, I started a tech service through there. I really, really am excited about the collaborative part of what comes from this. And yeah, I am, I’m accessible with boundaries, of course,
but I am the festival. And also I disclaimer that there are many, many people. I get messages almost every other day now of men using my pictures and scamming people on the internet. So if it’s not me, if it’s not Addison bristle, it’s not me. So if anybody is, you know, I speak a lot about mental health and a lot about grief.
So there’s a vulnerability to capitalize on there. And so I just, it’s so weird that I failed the need to start saying this, but please make sure it is me. We live in a different world and, and that you should, you know, the safe space I’ve created. I want you to make sure you’re in that safe space. I’ll make sure I link up the,
the correct one. So don’t worry. Don’t worry. We’ve got that there. Well, thank you so much for being here. It has been an absolute pleasure and to our listeners. Thank you so much for listening to gay men going deeper. If you like what you’ve heard, please go over to apple iTunes, give us a five star review. We love reading those.
You can also give us a star rating on a Spotify now, which is really great. If you’re watching this on YouTube, hit that subscribe button and hit that bell because it’ll notify you every time new episodes come out, which is going to be every Thursday and stay up to date on all the things that we putting out. And if you’re not a member in the gay men’s brotherhood on Facebook,
go and check us out. That’ll also be in the show, show notes for you to join our community. I think we’re up again, almost at 5,000 members now. So come and join in, in the conversation. It’s a safe space to kind of have discussions like we have every day that we do on this podcast. So thank you so much for listening and Addison.
Thank you so much for joining us today.