I'm Moe Provencher, host of the grief/relief podcast.
Beware, I'm not in any way a mental health professional…I'm an audio engineer, I'm a musician, and I've lived and worked in Seattle for 19 years. You might not always find expert advice on grief recovery here, but you will hear authentic people sharing pieces of their core, and I hope that brings us all closer to one another.
There are some great podcasts out there creating conversations about death and depression and sadness with plenty of humor thrown in…but the niche I'm looking to fill is exploring loss experiences in many other forms - because my personal grief experiences aren't mainly informed by death.
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The last several years brought me a huge share of distinct emotional traumas - and death was surely a presence at the outset. The younger brother of a dear friend, a man I'd known almost 20 years, passed away very suddenly and traumatically. Two other extraordinary people, best friends of some of my closest friends, each passed away suddenly and horrifically as well. My communities were devastated. Three other people dear to me were diagnosed with cancer. I lost an important friendship, and had a series of health problems that landed me in various hospital rooms getting chest xrays and ekgs, desperate to find and diagnose what I was sure had to be cardiac disease. I was sexually assaulted by a doctor during a routine colposcopy. And I split up from my partner of almost 11 years - a woman who had been the singular most important person to me for nearly a third of my life.
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Grief can be defined as "conflicting feelings caused by the end or change in a familiar pattern of behavior" as well as a "multi-faceted response to loss."
My grief manifested physically. I suffered from terrible insomnia. I lost 25 pounds in 7 weeks. It was chaotic. I was confused. I felt free. I had fun. I was unhealthy. I was in shock. I also couldn't make sense of why I was suffering so badly, when these terrible things had happened mostly to "other people.” I told myself, "it could have been worse." MY primary people hadn't died, I hadn't been raped, I don't have cancer. A divorce is just a divorce, it happens all the time, and people survive, right?
Around this time, I read Viktor Frankl’s Man's Search for Meaning and was struck by this passage in particular:
"The attempt to develop a sense of humor and to see things in a humorous light is some kind of trick learned while mastering the art of living. Yet it is possible to practice the art of living even in a concentration camp, although suffering is omnipresent. To draw an analogy: a man's suffering is similar to the behavior of gas. If a certain quantity of gas is pumped into an empty chamber, it will fill the chamber completely and evenly, no matter how big the chamber. Thus suffering completely fills the human soul and conscious mind, no matter if the suffering is great or little. Therefore the "size" of human suffering is absolutely relative."
The chambers of my heart were completely filled with grief from all of these losses, and it brought me some comfort to feel that my suffering was valid.
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And eventually, I was able to set about doing the work of beginning to heal. I’m lucky. I had the means to help myself, and a community to help when I didn’t. I started therapy for the first time. I opened my heart in new and vulnerable ways to the people who loved me the most. I was taken care of by those people, even though I felt for the longest time that I was just taking and taking, and not able to offer much in return.
And what happened next was simply that time passed, and things shifted in startling ways. I discovered that being blown open and broken gave me an opportunity to rebuild myself into a better human being. I'm stronger than I've ever been. I love to laugh, loudly and often. I'm enjoying a super fun sexual revolution. I'm writing and playing some of the best music of my life. And things are still very very hard. I struggle. Grief has physical, cognitive, behavioral, social, spiritual, and philosophical dimensions…and I hope with this podcast I can share some of these transformations I've had with all of you, through conversations with people who are willing and able to share their own stories. I believe we find peace and laughter and fun and healing from being present with each other. This is grief/relief…and we're gonna feel it together.