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How do you process the death of a loved one?

This week, we talk about the recent death of Drew’s grandfather and work through some larger questions about death, like how people experience and process it and how we remember those we’ve loved and lost.

From the episode:

  • 01:00 : Jesse talks about his grandparents and how difficult it is to process seeing loved ones on a decline, especially when you’re younger.
  • 02:50 : Drew talks about his great grandparents, sharing some of his memories of them and talking about their deaths.
  • 06:25 : The conversation shifts to what impact their deaths had. Jesse talks about how death impacted him and how he wondered if his response was “inadequate” compared to others.
  • 07:40 : Drew talks about the death of his grandfather Aron and how people in his small town contributed to his memory by sharing what he meant to them.
  • 08:50 : Is a person is really just a collection of what people remember about them?
  • 09:30 : Drew talks about how the memories and traditions you carry about a person feel a lot like ghosts. Losing parts of the memories of a person feels like losing them over again.
  • 11:00 : Discussion about the “second death,” the thought that you really die when the last person on earth remembers who you are. That’s why so many people set up remembrances to keep the memory of a person alive.
  • 12:00 : Are you really the same person day-to-day?
  • 13:00 : We often craft the narrative about a person, especially when the real narrative is harder to live with, and those stories that we tell ourselves about a person are usually the ones that linger.
  • 14:00 : It’s difficult enough for living individuals to summarize who we are… it’s no wonder it’s so difficult trying to capture the essence of a loved one who has died.
  • 15:00 : There’s a “be with” factor, a quantitative measurement, that helps to build and to amplify those memories.
  • 15:40 : Drew talks about finding his grandfather the morning that he died. He talks about how he processed his grandfather’s passing — the thoughts, the emotions, the shape of his grief.
  • 17:55 : Drew talks about being in the room when his first grandfather passed away, the sacredness of the moment.
  • 18:30 : The discussion shifts to “transition moments” when a person is born or dies, moments that are hidden to the living behind a veil.
  • 19:15 : Jesse talks about his mother-in-law passing away and the beauty of expressing love by being as present as possible with someone on their deathbed as they slip away.
  • 20:15 : People tend to turn their face away from the reality of death, but that does a disservice to those who are in the throes of it.
  • 20:45 : Drew talks about how different people process death differently, based on their worldview and what they’re expecting and hoping to see. Jesse mentions that humans are drawn to finding patterns, so looking for patterns isn’t surprising, especially on a loved one’s deathbed when people are feeling a sense of powerlessness.
  • 22:20 : “Tell me I’m a good person.” Being faced with our own mortality is a lot to process.
  • 22:50 : How do you remember the people that you love?
  • 24:05 : Jesse talks about how practically to remember those who have died.
  • 25:00 : Drew talks about triggers that bring remembrance. Holidays are full of memories. Objects can be too, Drew talks about a pocket watch that belonged to his great grandfather.
  • 25:30 : Jesse shows so artwork from his Uncle Edward as a way of remembrance, as if he was telling him something about his life.
  • 27:40 : Drew talks about how the living are the lucky ones. A good reminder to go out and live.

Listen to the episode:

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