WPP 030: The Scholastic Art & Writing Awards with Tendo Mutanda and Darius Atefat-Peckham

Exploring grief through creativity provides a really valuable experience. Students can learn more about themselves through the creation process. And it does take a certain level of bravery to submit the work for evaluation because that might not necessarily be the reason why you created it. But I invite creative students who are coping with grief to do that very thing, which is to submit their work to us. By participating in the program, by opting your work in for the New York Life Award, you expand the community of teens openly discussing and coping with grief.
— Tendo Mutanda
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This week I talk with Tendo Mutanda and Darius Atefat-Peckham about the Scholastic Art & Writing Awards. Tendo is with the Alliance for Young Artists and Writers, which runs the program, and Darius is one of the student winners for poetry, and is winding up his term as one of just five National Student Poets before heading off to college in the Fall. Darius lost his mom and brother in a car accident when he was just three years old, so we talked about his experience with grief and what poetry has meant to him over the years, including how his poetry style has shifted over time to incorporate joy along with grief. Tendo and I talked about the awards program for both artists and writers, including who can participate, and how. We also talked about the New York Life Award, which creates a space for teens to explore grief in their art or writing.

I hope you enjoy my discussion with Tendo Mutanda and Darius Atefat-Peckham.

Links & resources for this episode

Scholastic Art & Writing Awards - website, Facebook, Instagram, & Twitter
Darius Atefat-Peckham - Instagram
The New York Life Award
Find your local affiliate partner for details & deadlines on how to enter
National Student Poets Program - website and Facebook

More links for listeners

Get my guide “What I’ve learned about widowed parenting”
Widowed Parent Podcast discussion group - sign up here (free) - first Sunday of each month
Jenny’s interview on the Life Through Transitions podcast


What is your biggest challenge as a widowed parent right now?

Call our voice mailbox at (669)257-3434 and leave a message. Or, answer this quick one-question survey. I’ll pick the most interesting questions and challenges, and hunt down experts to address them on upcoming episodes.

WPP 029: Megan Lisk reflects on losing her dad at age 9

If you have kids, ask them questions about it, talk to them. Don’t just like leave them to grieve and mourn on their own. Especially if they’re really down, you might want to ask questions and ask if they want to go through some therapy or something like that.
— Megan Lisk
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I have a very special guest in the podcast studio with me today: my daughter, Megan Lisk. Megan is 12, and her dad -- my husband -- died when she was 9.

And for what it’s worth, it was Megan’s idea to be my guest on the podcast this week. I was lamenting the fact that various circumstances had left me with no episode ready to go this week, and she said, “you can interview me!” I figured, why not? It was great for me, personally, to be able to have this sort of in-depth discussion with her. The kind we don’t normally have in the day-to-day busyness of normal life. It reminded me of my discussion with StoryCorps and the New York Life Foundation last time, about their Road to Resilience project, and the space that it opens up for parents and kids to talk about their loss and their loved ones. I hope that our discussion today might inspire you to sit down with your own kids and talk about your experiences, too. You can even record your conversation in the StoryCorps app if you’d like. You can listen to episode 28 for more details on that. And, I hope that hearing first-hand from a 12-year-old who lost her dad might be of use to you as well.

I hope you enjoy my discussion with my daughter, Megan Lisk.

Links & resources for this episode

Megan’s Cards for Cancer
Swedish Medical Center Foundation
Naomi Wadler’s speech

More links for listeners

Get my guide “What I’ve learned about widowed parenting”
Widowed Parent Podcast discussion group - sign up here (free) - first Sunday of each month
Jenny’s interview on the Life Through Transitions podcast


What is your biggest challenge as a widowed parent right now?

Call our voice mailbox at (669)257-3434 and leave a message. Or, answer this quick one-question survey. I’ll pick the most interesting questions and challenges, and hunt down experts to address them on upcoming episodes.

WPP 028: The StoryCorps Road to Resilience Project

Road to Resilience is a project in partnership with the New York Life Foundation to record the stories of kids grieving the death of somebody who is important to them. It’s really meant to give them a space to talk about who they are and share their grief stories and grief journeys, and memories of the important person in their lives.
— Perri Chinalai, StoryCorps
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I had such a great discussion with Perri Chinalai of StoryCorps and Maria Collins of the New York Life Foundation for this episode. StoryCorps is a nonprofit based in New York, and basically, they bring people together – regular people like you and me – and have them talk with each other to record and preserve their stories and their life experiences. And when I say “preserve their stories,” I really mean just that – anyone’s recordings can be archived at the Library of Congress and available for generations to come.

I invited StoryCorps to talk with me for this episode because they have a special project right now to bring together grieving parents and their kids to talk about their loved ones, and their experiences of loss. New York Life – which has a longstanding and deep commitment to the field of children’s bereavement – partnered with StoryCorps on this project. I’m so happy they were able to join this discussion to talk about the Road to Resilience project, as well as many of the other projects they are partnering on, and the childhood bereavement resources available on their web site.

Some of the things we talked about include:

  • What is the StoryCorps Road to Resilience project, and who are their current partners;

  • What it means to families to be able to have these conversations with each other;

  • How families near New York City, Houston, Portland, Louisville, Baltimore, and Traverse City, Michigan, can get involved with the first 6 organizations partnering on this project;

  • The toolkit that StoryCorps will have available in Fall 2019 for additional organizations to utilize;

  • The StoryCorps app that anyone can download to record their own stories;

  • Tips for conducting a StoryCorps-style conversation in your own home;

  • Why it is so important to New York Life to support the field of childhood bereavement;

  • Additional bereavement resources that New York Life offers free of charge on their web site;

  • The Coalition to Support Grieving Students and their Grief Sensitive Schools initiative; and

  • Some results of the recent childhood bereavement study conducted by New York Life.

We also have a special treat for listeners: we get to listen to two of the StoryCorps Road to Resilience recordings, including the new animation just released this week in honor of Father’s Day. I think this project is fantastic, and I’m so happy to highlight what they are doing and how you can get involved.

I hope you enjoy my discussion with StoryCorps and the New York Life Foundation.

Links & resources for this episode

StoryCorps
Find StoryCorps Road to Resilience recordings and animations here
These segments were produced by StoryCorps for the Road to Resilience Project, in partnership with the New York Life Foundation.

New York Life Foundation
achildingrief.com - Bereavement support resources from New York Life

Coalition to Support Grieving Students
National Center for School Crisis and Bereavement
Alliance for Young Artists and Writers
National Alliance for Grieving Children
Judi’s House - Denver, Colorado
The Dougy Center - Portland, Oregon
Bo’s Place - Houston, Texas
A Caring Hand - New York, New York
Hosparus Health - Louisville, Kentucky
Roberta’s House - Baltimore, Maryland
Michael’s Place - Traverse City, Michigan
The Tristesse Grief Center - Tulsa, Oklahoma

More links for listeners

Get my guide “What I’ve learned about widowed parenting”
Widowed Parent Podcast discussion group - sign up here (free) - first Sunday of each month
Jenny’s interview on the Life Through Transitions podcast


What is your biggest challenge as a widowed parent right now?

Call our voice mailbox at (669)257-3434 and leave a message. Or, answer this quick one-question survey. I’ll pick the most interesting questions and challenges, and hunt down experts to address them on upcoming episodes.

WPP 027: Haley Brown on Camp Kesem for kids affected by a parent's cancer

The purpose of Kesem is that we’re creating a space for kids to be kids and have this opportunity that they don’t have throughout the rest of the year, because they’re not necessarily connected to anyone else that’s going through what they’re going through. With that in mind though, part of what’s special about camp is that it’s really truly a summer camp in the essence of all of those outdoors experiences, all those really fun activities. But there’s one of the days in the week where we really acknowledge why we’re there. And that’s called the empowerment ceremony.
— Haley Brown
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I had a great discussion with Haley Brown for this episode. Haley is the outreach coordinator of the Seattle University chapter of Camp Kesem, and she lost her dad when she was 12. Camp Kesem is an organization with chapters at college campuses all across the US, and these chapters run free summer camps for kids and teens with a parent affected by cancer. This includes kids with a parent who died of cancer, a parent who survived cancer, or a parent currently being treated.

We talked about:

  • What Camp Kesem is, and who it’s for;

  • Activities at camp, including “typical summer camp activities” such as boating, swimming, and crafts;

  • The counselor-in-training program for older teens;

  • How college students can get involved in organizing or being a counselor at camp;

  • Programs other than summer camp that Camp Kesem chapters run throughout the year;

  • How to find a Camp Kesem chapter near you;

  • Haley’s experience and reflections on losing her dad to cancer at age 12; and

  • What it means to her to volunteer with kids affected by a parent’s cancer.

If you have a kid ages 6-18 and your family has been affected by cancer, I’d encourage you to check it out.

I hope you enjoy my discussion with Haley Brown.

Links & resources for this episode

Camp Kesem
Seattle University chapter of Camp Kesem

More links for listeners

Get my guide “What I’ve learned about widowed parenting”
Widowed Parent Podcast discussion group - sign up here (free) - first Sunday of each month


What is your biggest challenge as a widowed parent right now?

Call our voice mailbox at (669)257-3434 and leave a message. Or, answer this quick one-question survey. I’ll pick the most interesting questions and challenges, and hunt down experts to address them on upcoming episodes.

WPP 026: Fran Solomon from Actively Moving Forward on grief support for college students

The traditional grief support equation is a room full of individuals that are grieving, that are sharing their experiences and generally have a facilitator. And we have found that that is a brilliant model for children and adolescents, and even adults. It’s this 18-to-25 year old age group that has really matured out of that model and has not gone back to it. Our young adults want to be active. First off, they don’t have time — with today’s pressures, they don’t have time to plan that one-a-day, go to a center, sit down, have your feelings, and then disseminate back into their lives. They want to be very proactive. So we encourage our young adults to go hiking, to do a yoga class, to bring a potluck dinner to a location and have that dish be a dish that their loved one enjoyed. So it really creates an invitation to speak about their loved one and to celebrate them. So we are not the traditional facilitated group.
— Fran Solomon, healgrief.org and Actively Moving Foward
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I had such a great discussion with Fran Solomon for this episode. Fran is the founder of healgrief.org, which runs Actively Moving Forward, a grief support program for college students with chapters on many campuses.

Fran and I talked all about grief as it relates to college students, including:

  • The prevalence of grief as an issue for people in this age group;

  • Why grieving college students are particularly vulnerable;

  • The purpose of Actively Moving Forward, which is to support and empower grieving college students and young adults to actively move forward through their journey with grief;

  • The work they are doing on bereavement leave policies for students and the grief sensitive campus initiative;

  • Resources they have for college students, including a closed facebook group, webinars, and a young adult grief retreat;

  • The peer-based model that their college chapters use;

  • How to find out if your campus has a chapter, and the support they provide for starting new chapters;

  • Some examples of the “Kindness in Action” projects that their chapters do in celebration and in memory of loved ones; and

  • Some of healgrief.org’s other offerings, such as virtual candle lightings and the virtual “Before I Die…” wall.

I hope you enjoy my discussion with Fran Solomon.

Links & resources for this episode

healgrief.org
Actively Moving Forward
Find campus chapters or start a new one
Light a virtual candle in the Candle Gallery
Write on the virtual “Before I Die…” wall
Local & national resources

More links for listeners

Get my guide “What I’ve learned about widowed parenting”
Widowed Parent Podcast discussion group - sign up here (free) - next meeting June 2


What is your biggest challenge as a widowed parent right now?

Call our voice mailbox at (669)257-3434 and leave a message. Or, answer this quick one-question survey. I’ll pick the most interesting questions and challenges, and hunt down experts to address them on upcoming episodes.

WPP 025: Kris Marsh on struggling after losing her mom at age 19

My whole life I had heard people say, oh, you’ve been through so much, you’re so strong. You’re so amazing that you were able to move past that and rise above it. But what they didn’t understand — and I didn’t understand myself at the time, really — was that was my coping mechanism, to keep moving so that you didn’t have to think about it.
— Kris Marsh
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I had such a great discussion with Kris Marsh for this episode. I’ve had listener requests to hear from some people who really struggled after losing a parent at a young age. Kris lost her mom to suicide when she was just 19 years old, and she didn’t get the support that she now realizes she needed. She became, in her words, a “classic overachiever” in order to avoid dealing with her pain and loss. This continued until she approached the age her mom was when she died, at which point she couldn’t avoid dealing with it any longer. I’ll let you listen to Kris tell her story in her own words. She now feels strongly that grieving kids need support, and that just because they seem ok doesn’t necessarily mean they are. I’m so glad Kris was willing to share her story with us.

I hope you enjoy my discussion with Kris Marsh.

Links & resources for this episode

Motherless Daughters: The Legacy of Loss, by Hope Edelman
Motherless Mothers: How Losing a Mother Shapes the Parent You Become, by Hope Edelman

More links for listeners

Get my guide “What I’ve learned about widowed parenting”
Widowed Parent Podcast discussion group - sign up here (free) - next meeting June 2


What is your biggest challenge as a widowed parent right now?

Call our voice mailbox at (669)257-3434 and leave a message. Or, answer this quick one-question survey. I’ll pick the most interesting questions and challenges, and hunt down experts to address them on upcoming episodes.

WPP 024: Emily Irwin on mindfulness

One of the things that’s really difficult with loss is staying self-regulated, and being able to take care of ourselves and knowing what it takes to take care of ourselves. And mindfulness can have a really big impact on self-regulation.
— Emily Irwin
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I had such a great discussion with Emily Irwin for this episode. Emily is a therapist and a mindfulness expert based here in Seattle. It seems that mindfulness is all around us these days, so I thought it would be interesting to explore how it might be useful for us as widowed parents, as well as for our kids and teenagers.

Emily and I covered a lot of ground in this discussion:

  • What is mindfulness, and what it is not;

  • Some common myths and misconceptions about mindfulness;

  • How mindfulness can be beneficial for widowed parents and their kids/teens;

  • Ideas for practicing gratitude, such as a gratitude jar or the gratitude toss;

  • Considerations for trauma-sensitive mindfulness;

  • What is neuroplasticity, and how it is something that benefits us through our entire lives, not just when we’re young;

  • How some early research shows that mindfulness has the potential to help improve teens’ resilience to stress; and

  • Tips for practicing self-compassion, and why it’s so important.

I hope you enjoy my discussion with Emily Irwin.

Links & resources for this episode

Mindful Schools
Hoberman Sphere
YouTube: Soul Pancake gratitude letters
YouTube: Mindfulness is a Superpower
10% Happier with Dan Harris Podcast
University of Washington’s Center for Child and Family Well-Being
University of Massachusetts Medical School’s Center for Mindfulness
UCLA Mindfulness Awareness Research Center
Susan Kaiser Greenland - website and Mindful Games activity cards
Episode 11 with Lane Pease
Episode 13 with Dr. Lisa Damour
Widowed Parent Podcast discussion group

Books discussed
10% Happier: How I Tamed the Voice in My Head, Reduced Stress Without Losing My Edge, and Found Self-Help That Actually Works--A True Story, by Dan Harris
Alphabreaths: The ABCs of Mindful Breathing, by Christopher Willard and Daniel Rechtschaffen
Altered Traits: Science Reveals How Meditation Changes Your Mind, Brain, and Body, by Daniel Goleman and Richard Davidson
The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma, by Dr. Bessel van der Kolk
Man’s Search for Meaning, by Viktor Frankyl
Meditation for Fidgety Skeptics: A 10% Happier How-to Book, by Dan Harris
Mindful Games: Sharing Mindfulness and Meditation with Children, Teens, and Families, by Susan Kaiser Greenland
The Self-Compassion Workbook for Teens, by Dr. Karen Bluth
Trauma-Sensitive Mindfulness, by David Treleaven
Under Pressure: Confronting the Epidemic of Stress and Anxiety in Girls, by Dr. Lisa Damour
Untangled: Guiding Teenage Girls Through the Seven Transitions into Adulthood, by Dr. Lisa Damour
Books by Shawn Achor
Books by Dr. Dan Siegel

Where to find Emily
Psychology Today profile
Facebook: @margaroad
email: contact@margaroad.com

More links for listeners

Get my guide “What I’ve learned about widowed parenting”
Widowed Parent Podcast discussion group - sign up here (free) - next meeting June 2


What is your biggest challenge as a widowed parent right now?

Call our voice mailbox at (669)257-3434 and leave a message. Or, answer this quick one-question survey. I’ll pick the most interesting questions and challenges, and hunt down experts to address them on upcoming episodes.

WPP 023: Tamarack’s Dr. Tina Barrett on Mother’s & Father’s Days and outdoor grief support programs

As activities or writing projects come up, gift-making for parents around these days, we can help prepare our children for what is the language you want to share. And even help a child come to an understanding that, yep, you’ve still got a mom, your mom’s not walking on the earth, that her body has stopped working. She died. And it’s okay to honor that she’s your mom, and what she looked like, and how darn much she loved you, and that she really liked Skittles and daisies and whatever it might be, that you all used to sing this one song together. It’s okay to still call her your mom and it’s okay that you cry when those activities come up and it’s okay to make her a card, and it’s okay to include her in pictures where you’re drawing a family picture. In the same way any of us claim relationships, you can still claim these relationships. It’s still your relationship.
— Dr. Tina Barrett
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I had such a great discussion with Dr. Tina Barrett of Montana’s Tamarack Grief Resource Center for this episode. Tina is a nationally recognized specialist in outdoor-based grief support programs. She co-founded Tamarack, and has run grief programs and camps for over 20 years. With Mother’s Day and Father’s Day right around the corner, I invited Tina to speak with us about ideas for approaching these holidays, and so much more. We talked about:

  • Tina’s dissertation and research findings on how outdoor-based grief support can be beneficial for grieving youth and adults;

  • Programs offered by the Tamarack Grief Resource Center, including grief groups, youth overnight and day camps, Women’s Rendezvous, Men’s Retreat, and Family Camp;

  • Why both Father’s Day and Mother’s Day might be hard, whether it’s mom or dad who died;

  • Practical ideas for honoring Mother’s Day and Father’s Day, whether you have young children or teens;

  • Tips on approaching school activities around Mother’s / Father’s Day, such as writing assignments and art projects;

  • Different grief styles, and how important it is to understand and recognize that people, including kids, grieve in different ways; and

  • The difference between self-care and self-indulgence.

I hope you enjoy my discussion with Dr. Tina Barrett.

Links & resources for this episode

Tamarack Grief Resource Center - Missoula, Montana
Tamarack’s A Camp to Remember info, 2019 youth camp schedule, and 2019 Family Camp schedule
Darcie Sims - Does Grief Come in “One Size Fits All?”
Camp Widow
Tamarack on Facebook and Instagram

More links for listeners

Get my guide “What I’ve learned about widowed parenting”
Widowed Parent Podcast discussion group - sign up here - next meeting June 2


What is your biggest challenge as a widowed parent right now?

Call our voice mailbox at (669)257-3434 and leave a message. Or, answer this quick one-question survey. I’ll pick the most interesting questions and challenges, and hunt down experts to address them on upcoming episodes.

WPP 022: Riley Elliott reflects on losing her dad at age 7

The one thing I would have to say about giving a parent advice on what to tell their child is that they don’t have to live with this guilt for their entire life. I would advise parents to still encourage their kids to be happy, and not make their parent’s death their identity. But I would also say that they need to acknowledge it because it is a part of their life. And they don’t have to be sad forever if they don’t want to be. Giving them that freedom, and that encouragement, is something that I was kind of told, and I think that hearing those words really did help me.
— Riley Elliott
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I had such a great discussion with Riley Elliott for this week’s show. Riley lost her dad to brain cancer when she was just 7 years old. As a widowed parent, I always think it’s helpful to hear the perspectives of people who are now adults and who lost a parent when they were a child or teenager. It’s not like it’s going to tell me exactly what my kids will go through, but it gives me a lot to think about and be on the lookout for, and helps me figure out how to support them better.

Riley and I discussed:

  • Wanting to feel “normal” growing up and not wanting to be treated differently because her dad died;

  • Finding it difficult to know what to say to new people about her family’s situation;

  • Gaining perspective, including wanting to get more out of life from an early age;

  • How her family has turned grief into action by getting involved in the brain cancer world;

  • and so much more.

I hope you enjoy my discussion with Riley Elliott.

Links & resources for this episode

The End Brain Cancer Initiative

More links for listeners

Get my guide “What I’ve learned about widowed parenting”
Widowed Parent Podcast discussion group - sign up here (free) - next meeting May 5


What is your biggest challenge as a widowed parent right now?

Call our voice mailbox at (669)257-3434 and leave a message. Or, answer this quick one-question survey. I’ll pick the most interesting questions and challenges, and hunt down experts to address them on upcoming episodes.

WPP 021: Marni Henderson: health educator, Life Reentry practitioner, and widowed mom

“To newly widowed parents: be very tender, kind, with yourself and give yourself what you need in that moment to be where you are. There’s nothing to fix. So often our culture and community tries to have us bypass and to get better and to function and to do well. Give yourself some tenderness and be kind to yourself and really honor where you are.”
— Marni Henderson
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I had such a great discussion with Marni Henderson for this episode. Marni is the founder of Coalesce Discovery and Sunrise Retreats, is a licensed health educator and a Life Reentry practitioner, and is a widowed mom herself.

Marni and I discussed her journey as a widowed parent, including:

  • How her husband told her before he died that it wasn’t her time to go, and this kept her going in the early months;

  • The decision to send her boys back to school after homeschooling them while her husband was sick;

  • How deciding to move became her first early step back into life;

  • How a school trip to Belize became a big “aha moment” for her and her boys;

  • Some tools in the Life Reentry Model; and

  • Developing Sunrise Retreats to create a space for widows to connect and to feel a flicker of hope – including retreats specifically for widowers and for those widowed by cancer.

I hope you enjoy my discussion with Marni Henderson.

Links & resources for this episode

Marni’s blog post: “What is your launchpad to creating life after loss?”
Coalesce Discovery - Belize retreats
Sunrise Retreats - Idaho retreats
Second Firsts, by Christina Rasmussen

More links for listeners

Get my guide “What I’ve learned about widowed parenting”
Widowed Parent Podcast discussion group - sign up here (free) - next meeting May 5


What is your biggest challenge as a widowed parent right now?

Call our voice mailbox at (669)257-3434 and leave a message. Or, answer this quick one-question survey. I’ll pick the most interesting questions and challenges, and hunt down experts to address them on upcoming episodes.