LC - Lisa Corduff Rebrand 2023-06

CwL on the road Ep 6 – Active griefing with Julie Zarifeh

LC - Lisa Corduff Rebrand 2023-19

In 2017, the unthinkable happened to Julie Zarifeh. Not only did she lose her husband to pancreatic cancer, but 16 days later her oldest son Sam (aged 27), died tragically on a rafting trip.

Whilst she’d had three years to prepare for her husband John’s death, the sudden expected loss of her son hit hard. Julie knew what she had to do. Get out into the world and live. And so she did.

This is a powerful story of finding joy and continuing to function alongside moving through unimaginable grief. 

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Lisa: I’m so excited to be sitting here with Julie Zarifa. I have only heard your story very recently, but apparently, this is a very famous story over in New Zealand. Here in Australia, I wasn’t aware of your story or your book and I haven’t read it yet, but I have done lots of reading and lots of listening to you share your story, particularly what happened in 2017 and then how you handled it on the back end. For everybody who hasn’t heard of Julie. She is the author of Grief on the Run how Active grieving helped me cope with devastating loss. Julie, thanks for joining me on the road.

Julie: You are very welcome. It’s lovely to meet you.

Lisa: As soon as I heard this concept of active grieving, I needed to know a little bit more about it. But to kick off, can you just share with my audience, who might not be familiar with your story, what happened in 2017?

Julie: Sure. November of December 2017, you look back and hindsight is a fine thing, but I was just a happy wife, mother, psychologist, living a good life and great family. Three kids, a lovely husband, lots of fun family holidays, et cetera, et cetera. Sadly, if we go back to 2014, my husband, at the age of 57, was suddenly, out of the blue, diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. So for anyone who’s dealt with or been touched by cancer, which we probably all have now, it is a game changer some cancers are recoverable from. Unfortunately, pancreatic cancer isn’t one that people live very long with once they’re diagnosed. So we knew from that age, from Paul being 57, myself being 54, that our time together was going to be less. And we just went hard out and condensed sort of what had been meant to be 30 years of retirement into three very mostly positive, fun years of traveling around New Zealand in a van, exploring, doing all the things that Paul wanted to do before his life was sadly cut short. So by the time Paul passed away, he was ready to go. We were ready to let him go. He’d lived as good a life as he possibly could, living with a terminal illness, and myself and my three children, Sam, Jarrett and Christie, who were 27, 26 and 24 at the time, had grieved in advance and we were ready to go on with our lives, whatever the new norm looked like. The tragedy to this story, Lisa, is that 16 days later, my eldest son Samuel, at the age of 27, was drowned in a rafting accident in New Zealand. He was a PE teacher and he’d gone on an end of year excursion and sadly, Mother Nature got the better of their excursion. And Sam lost his life. So as you can imagine, the double whammy of husband and son within 16 day period was really pretty much enough to render one in the fetal position.

Lisa: Yeah, it’s massive. And you say, as you can imagine, but I don’t know. I don’t know if I actually really can imagine that because the amount of loss would have been massive. When I heard this story, I actually wondered, and you alluded to it, when you shared just then about the difference between grief that you are processing or preparing for over a period of time, you knew an end of sorts and then a beginning of sorts was coming with your husband. But then the shock of your son’s death and especially I saw a lot of the press around it at the time. It was a really big deal and there were lots of questions around. It was quite public. Was it just like one big grief shit sandwich or was there a difference in the grief that you experienced for your son and for your husband?

Julie: Yeah, no, it’s a really critical question, that one. And it’s taken me a while to work it out. So many mixed feelings and mixed emotions because by the time Paul did pass away, I felt like I was pretty much grieved in advance. We’d had three years of preparation for thinking about what life might look like for me going on as a 50 what was I by then? 57 year old single woman. It wasn’t in the game plan, obviously, but we’d talked about it. He had actively encouraged me to go off and spend some time almost practicing, if you like, practicing what it was going to be like being a woman on my own, traveling and what have you. And so we felt obviously very sad and bereft, but also we felt that we sort of had the permission to go on and live this new life and felt liberated, I guess is the word. Sort of liberated from the three really hard years of knowing and not knowing exactly when the event was going to happen, but anticipating that and then suddenly, okay, there’s a new slate here to be drawn on and what does that look like? And I did, I felt almost excited and liberated that I was free of that. It sounds awful, but the burden of grief and could embark on whatever the next chapter was. But Sam’s passing tragically. Whenever you suffer an acute loss, it’s tragic anyway. But just the fact that it came on so closely on the heels of Paul’s death was unfathomable. And I really did, for literally 24 hours, wonder how I was going to continue.

Lisa:  I mean, the loss of a child that I just your eldest boy. And I saw so many pictures of him just look so full of life and looked like that classic PE teacher of just like up for adventures, surfer guy, all of that sort of thing. You looked like you had a super active family and a family that was out and doing things. What a gift for your husband to almost help prepare you for life on your own. That really gave me a choke in my throat and the death of my former husband. It was a shock even although we kind of thought that maybe there was a chance that something might happen, but that nothing kind of prepared. It was a shocking thing to have happen. Now, as a psychologist, you have a textbook understanding of this stuff. How did your journey through grief perhaps differ from what you maybe had expected? Did anything take you by surprise? And can you talk us through what you and your two surviving children decided to do with your grief?

Julie: Yeah, so I do think being a psychologist stood me in quite good stead. I talked the talk for years, helped a lot of people through adverse circumstances, and so I knew the theoretical and academic side of what might work for grief. On top of that, I’d also been unlucky enough to have had a few life experiences myself up until that point that also built kind of an inbuilt resilience and those include actually losing my brother. Can’t remember the date, but he died at 37 of a brain tumor. So sort of that was a big deal in my family of origin. And then, of course, for anyone listening, we had a massive earthquake here in Christchurch, which literally rocked everybody’s world. So we had years of rebuilding from that. So I’d had a few adverse experiences already that you get through, you learn what works for you in terms of picking yourself up and carrying on. So I do think that the combination of both the kind of learnings of a psychologist and then my life experiences to that point made me probably very quickly realize that there were two ways to go here and one was sink, literally sink. The second was to just pick myself up and work out the way forward, whatever that was going to look like. Actually, I felt that I had a really strong responsibility to mirror as optimal coping as I possibly could to my two remaining children who had also been absolutely who at that age, in their kind of mid to late 20s, expects to lose dad and revered big brother in the space of two weeks. And as you alluded to our family of five, we were great. We were active, we hung as a group, did lots of overseas trips together and everything. And to go from five to three in that time period was devastating.

Lisa: Yeah, I mean, there’s just no words. And it’s actually the reason why I just feel like I almost can’t read your book and why I just want to talk to you and get all the tips. Because sometimes I find I’m just dealing with so much of my own and my kids grief and all of that sort of stuff that I just can’t take on other people’s stories just make me so sad and so overwhelmed. But you decided to do something. I mean, it was sort of a little bit radical, I’m sure, from for the other people in your life. They were maybe like, what is she doing with those kids.

Lisa: Can you tell us about some of what you actually did?

Julie: Yeah, so, first of all, I’ll just come back to the reticence about reading my book, and I have to say that lots of people have felt the same. They’ve thought, how can I possibly read this tragic story and not be just overwhelmed and sad? But the truth of the matter is that yes, definitely, the background story is sad and that is the kind of initial part of the book, but the majority of people have read it and sort of I’ve had these beautiful messages, just saying how much it’s actually been really inspiring and uplifting and given them hope in the fact of what I did go on to do. Don’t feel like that because I think it definitely moves people. But then the take home messages, I’ve been told, are quite inspiring.

Lisa: Well, it gets rave reviews and I have heard you sharing a lot of the positive psychology stuff in there and the tips for well being and all of that sort of stuff, which I know is just so helpful for people, because just like you had that 24 hours of, how am I actually going to do this? I remember feeling exactly the same. I remember hearing that Nick had died. He was overseas at the time. And then just thinking, literally, how do I tell my children that their dad has died? How do I do that? How am I even going to get through that? It took about a month to have his funeral, so we had to expatriate him. There was all sorts of things and I can remember waking up thinking, how does someone go to the funeral? How do I get my kids ready for their dad’s funeral? They were only little. They were nine, seven and five. There are those moments where you just think, actually, how is this meant to happen? The world kind of shifts on its axis.

Julie: Absolutely.

Lisa: And nothing’s ever the same. But what I think I often get told the same thing is that people find it inspiring to see someone go through hard things and be able to move through. For me, I had wanted to escape, get away. I mean, I was looking at the Green School in Bali and moving us there for a year. I just wanted to go and then I couldn’t we couldn’t go anywhere. I live in Melbourne, so just like New Zealand, we had serious lockdowns, and so now we’re going off on this adventure. But you did it very quickly and you did it dramatically. You did some pretty huge things.

Julie: I did. So what had happened, Lisa, was that actually knowing that Paul was likely to pass within a given time frame, we sort of had the heads up from the doctor that things were. He was unlikely to see the end of that year, 2017. What I did in advance was actually know, intuitively that I was going to need something, some kind of goal or something to look forward to, to concentrate on, to cope with the initial stages of being bereaved being a widow, how to start redefining myself, what that looked like. So part of my thing in life has always been probably to use some form of combination of physical exercise and adventure and travel. Other kind of keywords for Julie and I just saw this we ad in the paper, and it was actually, ironically, from a Melbourne company actually advertising for people who might be interested in walking the Camino de Santiago, which is a thousand kilometer pilgrimage across the top of northern Spain from one coast to the other. In the April of 2018, they were advertising for people who might be interested in walking. That for the purposes of a documentary. And I honestly, to this day, it wasn’t being part of a documentary or film that appealed to me. It was more the fact that here was this walk where I knew I’d have companions, where I knew there’d be an itinerary set, and they were mixture of Kiwis and Australians, and it just kind of yeah, it spoke to me. It ticked a few boxes. And the other part to that is that I don’t know if you have, but I’d seen years before the movie The Way, which is also about the same pilgrimage, and it had really spoken to me. I’d had it penned as something that I wanted to do at some stage in my life. So it just seemed like he was some kind of epiphany, saying, this is something you must do, and went through the process of applying. And so that was before Paul passed. It was pre-arranged. That is what I was going to be doing in the following April, May. And then, of course, when Sam passed away, it was, you know, and I wrote to the organizers and just said, look, here’s a heads up, this is what’s happened. And they wrote back and said, oh, we totally get that. You need to pull out. And I said, no way. It gives me even more impetus to do it. So there was never any question, and I didn’t want to go ahead with that. So knowing that that was happening, Paul did die at the end of November. Sam was in mid-December. That 2017. And I just intuitively knew that I needed to take my grieving elsewhere. I felt like you I felt I needed to escape, be a little bit anonymous, but I kind of knew the ingredients that would work for me to help me recover. And they involved, as I say, travel, adventure, companionship, physical exercises, those four kind of key criteria. So I looked at what was happening out there in the big world and somehow managed to get myself onto a cycling trip around Sri Lanka in the February of that year. Headed off on the Camino in March, April of that year, came back. I’ve had a bit of taste of things and wanted to take my two remaining children over to Paul’s, kind of as close as we could get to his birthplace, which was actually Palestine. So we headed to the Middle East and had a bit of a trip of feeling as close to his roots as we possibly could. And then I topped off that year by running the New York Marathon because the justification for that was that I’d paid for a year’s worth of travel insurance and waste not, want not. And I was also pretty fit. I was as fit as I’d probably ever been. So thought, well, there’s another bucket list item, why not do it? And so I did.

Lisa: I love it so much. And it’s hard to understand grief when you’re really in it or how you’re actually moving through, even although I might have thought that there were times I was very consciously allowing myself space to grieve, let’s be honest, I also have done some hardcore distracting from the grief because it just felt too much sometimes. And also, I had three little kids, I had a business to run. All the things I heard you talk about different types of distractions and that there are distractions that heal. And also you described grief as you put it in a box, I’m paraphrasing your word, so you put it in a box. You knew that it was going to have its time, that the box was going to have to open at times, but you could be living your life and then allowing that box to open when it was ready to open. But you didn’t give yourself this significant period of dedicated to mourning and grieving. You went out and you were living your life to its I mean, to the max, let’s be honest.

And so I’d just like you to talk to that a little bit more because it spoke to me. After Nick died, four days after he died, I had actually booked the kids their first overseas holiday to Bali with me for my 40th. Nick and I had separated. He was actually an alcoholic and we’d separated at the start of the year. He died nine months after that. And I was like, I don’t know how I’m going to turn 40. Let’s just go to Bali. I’ll take the kids got them passports, it was all very exciting. And so when he died, I thought, well, do I stay here or do we go on this trip? I didn’t know what to do. I wanted someone to tell me because I wasn’t sure, because I was like, there is no rulebook here. And I decided to take them. And it was the best thing that I ever could have done, because what I learned in that moment was that grief and joy can coexist and kids certainly can’t keep themselves in a particular emotional state forever. They want good times, but you also have to allow space for the big emotions and for the grief. But it was really good because for me, I thought, well, we can still live a life, have the worst thing happen, but still have good times. Is that kind of what you mean by have grief in a box? And it comes out?

Julie: Absolutely. And it’s not until I started writing Grief on the Run that it all kind of came together as a story, because I’d spent years at university learning, amongst other things, that the traditional model of grief was Elizabeth Kubler Ross’s model of grief, which is a very defined model of grief, and there’s no room in it whatsoever for joy. So it’s five stages of grief that are supposedly orderly and predictable and you go from shock to denial to acceptance to whatever. I can’t remember the order, but I just thought, that’s just rubbish. Like, I did not want to embrace that model whatsoever. I suppose part of me was like, I’d had three years of being quite curbed anyway, in my natural personality, which is actually quite fun loving and frivolous. And so, as I say, when Paul died, it was that chance to kind of think, well, let’s find Julie again, and then know here’s, having to cope and accept Sam’s tragic death, it’s like, oh, is this just going to render me the third member of the family to go down? Or am I going to actually take this by the horns and do what I know is going to help me recover? It was all too overwhelming to even contemplate setting aside time for grieving, that it was just too big. It was such a massive, massive hole in my heart that I just knew that actually I had to get busy distracting. And I knew the grief would come when it was when there were times of when memories pop up or when you’re tired or when you listen to songs, but it doesn’t have to preclude actually keeping on living, finding joy and finding what’s going to help you continue to function as happy as possible, productive human being.

Lisa: Yeah, I love that because I think at times I have thought maybe I did just distract myself. But what I’m finding is, and I’d love to know, because this is now six years on for you, do you look back and think, yeah, good choices, Julie? Or do you look back and think, wow, grief has surprised me? Certainly that five steps or five stages. I know anything that’s too prescriptive I just think is a bit of a joke these days. Everything’s more nuanced, it’s all gray, no one has the same path through anything. But do you look back and think, is there anything that has surprised you about your grief journey?

Julie: The unpredictability of it has surprised me. So I guess I felt, and I still do for the most degree, feel, that the best possible thing I did for myself was taking control of the grief rather than it controlling me. So I do feel like I switched it on its head and thought, right, I’m going to manage this in my way, rather than be a victim of the grief. That said, don’t get me wrong, there have definitely been some times that have not been quite as effective as managing that efficiently. So there’s definitely been two or three probably quite memorable times in the last six years where it has all become a little bit much and I’ve slumped a bit in mood and wherewithal. But fortunately, because those things did work so well for me in the first couple of years of grieving, I’ve had those to fall back on. Thought, what were those ingredients? What helped? And I’ve just been able to up the ante on the exercise, on the adventure, on the companionship, or strong connections on the things that do get us through.

Lisa: And can I ask, because I have this feeling, I think I don’t know what it’s like over in New Zealand, but certainly in Melbourne after those years of lockdowns, and there’s so much burnout at the moment in the world, and there’s just a feeling of unease. I don’t know. I’m up here in Brisbane at the moment. It’s the first leg of our trip. We lived here for five years, so I’ve been retracing steps and showing the kids the old houses that they used to live in. I mean, Nick was alive. We were here for him to work up here. It’s been really emotional, actually. He’s everywhere up here, which is beautiful and hard. But anyway, people here have had a very different experience of the COVID years. The lockdowns weren’t as intense or as enduring. People in Melbourne are still really affected, school refusal. But also I have this sense that people have kind of unrealized grief, that they actually lost a lot. A lot has been lost over those years and we haven’t kind of recognized it as grief that needs to be felt. I don’t know if it’s true. It’s just my observation that there’s a sadness or there’s a loss that hasn’t been processed or even just acknowledged as what it is. We’re all just trying to get back to daily life and get back to all the things, but people kind of still aren’t okay. I don’t know if you see grief as being a part of that mix. I know you did the work with the earthquake, you did some research at that stage into all of that and how those sort of big events impact people. I’d love to know your thoughts on what you see as a bit of a societal impact of the COVID years.

Julie: Look, I think you’re absolutely right. Ironically, I’m finding so I work now part time in clinical practice as a psychologist, and look, just about every session I have sort of the underlying diagnosis, for want of a better word, is a grief model. People might present obstensively about relationship difficulties, but it boils down to there’s some kind of grief and loss there. Loss is fundamental to so much adversity in terms of what was it that was good about your life or what was it that you enjoyed doing that’s changed and why? And I think COVID has so much to answer for in that respect. So the world became very narrow and it’s only now that we’re seeing that expanding again. But there’s still a lot of fear. So we went through fear, we went through social isolation, we went through relationships that were impacted by that sheer sort of horrible thing of having to live together 24/7 with family members, whatever. There was so much change and loss and adversity. And I think you’re absolutely right. People now just think they’ve got the permission to sort of get on with life, but they’re often not acknowledging the impact those three years of unprecedented change has had on families, on businesses, on everything. So with any type of therapy, it’s like as you can draw out that realization, it’s actual real permission to see that as a formulation for what’s changed and how do we move on from here. Yeah, and it’s not something that needs medication. It’s a normal, natural, human response to loss and quite sustained loss for a period of time.

Lisa: Right, yeah. I mean, how did it affect you as someone so active and adventurous and into travel? You struggled.

Julie: I did. I mean, missed that buz of post traumatic growth because I really do feel in those two years after losing Paul and Sam, that I grew a lot as a person in many ways and that was quite exciting. Or I could define myself again and even as a better person, I think, to be honest. And then suddenly that was all curtailed by having to toe the line and obey all the rules and living on my own. So that was quite lonely and not even able to see new grandchildren, that sort of thing was a lot to process and we’re out the other side now. But I think we do all have to acknowledge individual, idiosyncratic kind of circumstances of COVID and the impact it had.

Lisa: I agree. I just feel like the world needs a really big cry and a really big hug and then some sort of adventure. I just got to the point this year I just felt so flatlined and I was like, well, things are good. It’s not like it’s bad, but something needs to sort of shift. I heard this term chaos magic, and it’s like when sometimes there’s just nothing else for it but to throw everything up in the air and just see what kind of lands. For some reason, I just thought, I’m ready for something to shift. I don’t quite know what it is. And the getting away new sight sounds, just seeing things from a different perspective felt like the antidote and so created a bit of chaos magic.

Julie: I’m very envious. It sounds absolutely fantastic.

Lisa: Well, you can come and meet us. Well, we’re just doing two weeks here in Australia. I have to be in Sydney for a work thing, but I needed to get out of my house because we had friends coming in and renting for us while we were gone, so doing a little bit of work here first and then Japan. My son’s really into Japan, so we’re going there first and then really we’re kind of going around the world visiting friends and family. I feel nervous about taking my three kids, they’re now 12, 11, and 9. Doing it on my own. I just thought, I’m not going to go and do something like you did, really, out there. We’re going to spend a lot of time in Europe. One of my best friends lives in Munich, so we’ll use her house as a bit of a base. But I’ve got family in Ireland, friends in Scandinavia, so we’re just kind of doing around and then a few weeks in Thailand, where we’ll adventure it up a bit before we come home in. Just think, I keep on saying people like, it’s so exciting. I’m like, I don’t know, but it’s something and I just needed something and I feel like I’ve got this beautiful golden period before my kids turn into teenagers.

Julie]: That’s true.

Lisa: And everyone just loves still hanging out with each other. They love hanging out with me. And high school isn’t too serious yet. My son just started this year, so it just felt like this was my moment. If I was going to do it, this is the moment. So I bought the tickets and four weeks later we got on a flight. So it was true chaos, but it’s courageous.

Well, as I said, it’s something I don’t know yet. Let’s just see what happens in five months time. I might just be so ready to crawl into my own bed and get them back to school, but I know look, I know it feels like absolutely the right thing. Before we finish or to finish, I’d love to know what you would share with people who are going through a tough time or a period of grief. Because people often ask me, I’m like, I don’t really know. I don’t know how I did it, I don’t know. But you actually have gone through and defined a few sort of key areas to focus on. I’d love you just to share that with us.

Julie: Yes. So coming back to that, you have a choice. You’re at a crossroad in life and what I have learned to appreciate more, and obviously I already did as a psychologist, but I think I can categorically say that each and every one of us at some point in our life will have some sort of major adversity. Whether it’s losing your partner, as we both have, whether it’s financial, whether it’s illness, whatever.

Lisa: We’re going to a diagnosis for your care.

Julie: Yeah, exactly. There’s going to be some losing jobs, losing businesses, so many things COVID, whatever. And so having really kind of realized that more and more, it’s like, okay, we have this choice. And it wasn’t again until I wrote the book that it all fell into place. Actually, that what I had, and I do probably at risk of flashing myself, do think a lot of it was quite intuitive. I’ve always known myself quite well, but I started writing the book and I thought, oh, this needs a bit of a structure, so it’s not all over the show. And I realized as I wrote that what I had done fell very neatly and nicely, not deliberately, but actually did fall really nicely into what we call the Five Ways to Wellbeing. And so that is a New Zealand Mental Health Foundation construct and it’s definitely not rocket science, but the five ways to well being that I then structured the book around, because each and everything that I did had fallen into one or across those categories, are, know, staying active. And I don’t mean undertaking massive global adventures, it’s just literally putting 1ft in front of the other, or keeping on dancing, keeping on playing tennis, keeping on some level of physical activity that just allows you to smell the roses and allows you to look after yourself and do all those good things for your body. They are new learning. So, again, we’re often stuck in a rut and we’re thinking what’s going to distract? What’s going to challenge our mind? So I think some sort of new learning is a really good goal to embrace, whether that be a language, whether it be a musical instrument, whether it be whatever that is. It doesn’t have to be academic, just some form of something that’s going to stimulate and take you forward. They are altruism, so giving, giving of oneself without necessarily expecting anything in return. So something told me I really needed to get into fundraising and I did. And I raised lots and lots of money for a couple of charities and I knew that Paul and Sam would have been proud of me. They are choosing what you focus on. So we all do have the ability to deliberately choose to focus on things that are positive and good in our lives and last but not least, I’ve lost one but I think I’ve kind of covered the gist and then ironically, as I then thought about what Paul had done was it connection? How could I forget?

Lisa]: Yeah, I can remember you talking about the people you met on the Camino trail and how important that was.

Julie: Each and every I met on all of those adventures there was new connections made and really heartfelt and sharing of stories and learning how to kind of let go of the energy vampires in my life and concentrate on the people that really I had a really strong connection with. So I discovered that upon writing that that’s actually what Paul also had done. He taught us a lot dealing with his terminal cancer. He just embraced it as positively as one can when they know their life’s going to be shorter than anticipated. And what he did also fell into those five categories. So anyone struck with a health condition would probably also get quite a lot out of reading the book and just thinking about the permission to kind of follow those sort of guidelines.

Lisa: And I just love that it’s not hard and complicated, and a lot of the times it is common sense, but in those moments, it’s actually hard to access common sense.

It’s just like you’re on some sort of weird autopilot and not much makes sense so to have a little framework to fall back on even if you’re not ticking all of the boxes ticking at even just one of those would make a difference.

Yeah, I can remember showing up on I’ve got Instagram and all that sort of stuff and through the COVID years sharing on Insta stories just weird dumb stuff and making people laugh and bringing music and all of that sort of stuff felt like community service. It helped me through COVID by showing up for other people and there is something really nice about that. Felt little, but now I get why it felt good and why I did it because I needed a reason to show up and to be helpful when no one really knew what to do or what we were needing.

Julie: Yeah, both the movie Camino skies and then that is the documentary which a lot of people get quite inspired by doing some sort of big walk for grief or for loss. And then through the book I feel like there are very few days I wake up without some sort of message in my inbox from some random stranger who my story has touched and that’s so rewarding.

Lisa: Yeah, I know. I really want to read it. I only heard about you just recently and so haven’t got it yet and now you’ve given me a reason I thought maybe it’ll just be a bit too much. This woman’s sad, sad story. I don’t know if I could go there. And now I just think it’s a book that we should all probably have on our bookshelf, because, as you said, the most universal thing about being human is that we will face adversity, we will experience loss and grief and just simple tools for how to navigate. That is awesome. And I especially love people who move beyond that predictable framework that we’ve all been fed and make it their own. I do believe that grief is a huge transformer. I can’t even remember who I was almost before all of this happened, before Nick died, because it’s just been such a huge catalyst. And I actually recently wrote my story, but to share in a spoken word format and I also found it hugely well, it gave me clarity that I don’t think I could have got any other way until I saw the story written on paper, until I knew what it was, that the story and mine is really around. I called it Harvest because I think in those moments where it just feels barren, like everything is gone, it’s the worst of times. You don’t realize it, but you are sowing seeds for the next phase and that you can then end up reaping a Harvest from. I mean, I have grown in so many ways. I know you talk about resilience psychology as well, and I feel like we get hardier through the hard times, but we don’t recognize it while we’re in it. It’s only now that I can look back and go, oh, there’s no way. Five years ago, I would have thought about taking my kids on my own around the world. I have proved so much to myself. I’m different now. I know I can go through hard things and be okay.

Julie: And I think, in an ironic way, we thank Nick and John for that.

Lisa: Right? It is a gift. When I was hearing you talk, I thought, wow, it’s not a gift.

Julie: It’s not the gift we wanted, but.

Lisa: It’S not the gift we wanted. It’s not the outcome that we wanted. But if we can see it as that, then we get to reap the Harvest from it, instead of just stay stuck in the absolutely, yeah. Oh, Julie, I could talk to you all day. I feel like we need a cuppa. We need to just sit here and chat all the things I think we.

Julie: Need to meet up once you’re back.

Lisa: Yes, that would be amazing. The kids haven’t been to New Zealand, so maybe we’ll come across.

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