Friday, April 16, 2021

Podcast: Grieving and Radical Honesty

Must read


 

Is there a correct way to grieve? What if you lose an estranged family member with whom you have unresolved differences? In today’s show, Lisa discusses the death of her grandfather, whom she wasn’t close to, and how she has mentally and emotionally processed it.

Join us for a closer look at the grieving process and how there is no one way to handle death.

(Transcript Available Below)

Please Subscribe to Our Show:

The Psych Central Show Podcast iTunesThe Psych Central Show Podast on SpotifyGoogle Play The Psych Central Show

And We Love Written Reviews! 


About The Not Crazy podcast Hosts

Gabe Howard is an award-winning writer and speaker who lives with bipolar disorder. He is the author of the popular book, Mental Illness is an Asshole and other Observations, available from Amazon; signed copies are also available directly from Gabe Howard. To learn more, please visit his website, gabehoward.com.

 

 

 

 

Lisa is the producer of the Psych Central podcast, Not Crazy. She is the recipient of The National Alliance on Mental Illness’s “Above and Beyond” award, has worked extensively with the Ohio Peer Supporter Certification program, and is a workplace suicide prevention trainer. Lisa has battled depression her entire life and has worked alongside Gabe in mental health advocacy for over a decade. She lives in Columbus, Ohio, with her husband; enjoys international travel; and orders 12 pairs of shoes online, picks the best one, and sends the other 11 back.

 

 


Computer Generated Transcript for “Grieving and Radical HonestyEpisode

Editor’s NotePlease be mindful that this transcript has been computer generated and therefore may contain inaccuracies and grammar errors. Thank you.

Lisa: You’re listening to Not Crazy, a Psych Central podcast hosted by my ex-husband, who has bipolar disorder. Together, we created the mental health podcast for people who hate mental health podcasts.

Gabe: Hey, everyone, and welcome to this week’s episode of the Not Crazy podcast, I’m your host, Gabe Howard. And with me, as always, is Lisa Kiner.

Lisa: Hey, everyone, today we’re going to think about how Mitch Albom said death ends a life, not a relationship.

Gabe: Lisa, I want to give you my sincerest condolences on the loss of your grandfather. How are you and your family?

Lisa: We are fine, thank you for asking. Are you being sarcastic?

Gabe: I am not being sarcastic because. 

Lisa: OK

Gabe: I know that you and your grandfather didn’t get along. I think the audience is probably like, why?

Lisa: We didn’t not get along, we just didn’t really have much of a relationship.

Gabe: And that leads us into our show topic, right? And that leads us right into your quote as well. We always have this idea that that death is final, right? Death is final, 

Lisa: Death is final.

Gabe: But it’s not. Because your memory lives on, your people who knew you live on. For example, you had unresolved issues with your grandfather. You had unresolved feelings, whether good, bad, positive, negative. They’re unresolved. They didn’t just stop. His memory didn’t just end. For example, even though your grandfather has passed away, we’re talking about him right now. That’s the very definition of not final.

Lisa: Immortality via podcast.

Gabe: Well, yes. It or I mean, why do people talk about history? If death is final? We should never have to consider history because after all, all the people that did it are dead. So therefore, it has ramifications. Right?

Lisa: Right, I would agree with that.

Gabe: So therefore, death is not final. That’s my point.

Lisa: Well, the point I’m making is, one, my grandfather was 92. He’d gone much longer than the average. And two, we were not close. We have never been close. So when you say, oh, I know you have issues. Well, no, I don’t think so. I think I had more. I know this sounds cold. I think I have more apathy than anything else. I mean, 92-year-old people die. That’s how it is. I know it makes me sound evil.

Gabe: I don’t think that it makes you sound evil, I, it’s your truth, right? It’s just it’s not a thing that you hear very often.

Lisa: It’s not something you can say out loud because people get really nasty about it.

Gabe: It is interesting to me, I believe very firmly, that everybody grieves in their own way, and I don’t like it when somebody has a loved one who passes away, whether it be a spouse, a child, a father or even a friend. And everybody is judging the way that that person reacts to it. First and foremost, that’s how they’re reacting in public. You have no idea. Maybe they’re acting stereotypical once the door is shut. Right? I mean, it just we judge everybody by what we see in public, but we compare it to how we act in private.

Lisa: That is a good point, I had not thought about that, but I always just I think one of the reasons people, police, how you grieve is because they see it as disrespectful to the dead person. The time to respect them was while they were alive.

Gabe: Well, not only is the time to respect them while they are alive, but consider this for a moment, I’m going to use myself as an example. I have now passed away, Lisa.

Lisa: OK

Gabe: Now I’m going to assume that you are sad about this, because I’m not 92. I want to be.

Lisa: Ok, again, I realize this makes me sound like the ice queen, everyone thinks it’s evil. He was 92 years old, he had a career, he had family, he lived his life. It was his time.

Gabe: You’re focusing on the complete wrong point, the point that I’m making is that I am now dead, right?

Lisa: Ok, OK, sorry. Go back to the Gabe dead thing, got it.

Gabe: Yeah, I don’t, you can tell that Lisa feels very strongly that she’s doing something wrong because she keeps defending herself even in the midst of a very obvious joke.

Lisa: No, I don’t feel no, I don’t feel like I’m doing something wrong. I realize that I get a lot of criticism for this attitude.

Gabe: And the reason that you said you feel that you get criticism is because people feel like you’re disrespecting the person who passed away, yes or no?

Lisa: It’s not a yes or no question.

Gabe: Yes, it is it’s a yes or no question, do you feel that that’s why people are criticizing the way that you are grieving? Because they feel that how you grieve is showing respect or love or something towards the person who passed away? Yes or no?

Lisa: Yes, I think it’s a large part of it, but not all of it.

Gabe: OK, and now we go back to my example. I am now dead, OK? Right. I have passed away. And Lisa, you are going to feel sad about this, yes or no? 

Lisa: Yes. 

Gabe: And let’s say that somebody criticizes how you feel sad about this. They decide that Lisa is not appropriately grieving, displaying emotion, whatever word you want to put there. They’re on top of Lisa and upset with her because they feel that it is disrespectful toward me, the person who passed away. You follow so far. 

Lisa: Yes.

Gabe: I want to go on record as saying that when I die, however Lisa chooses to handle this is correct, because Lisa is my best friend. I want her to get through my passing. And the last thing I want is for the people around her to jump on her and tell her that what she’s doing is wrong. She’s got enough to deal with, I mean, literally the greatest person she ever knew in the history of time.

Lisa: The most substantial influence, yeah, far surpassing anyone else.

Gabe: Has just passed away and it

Lisa: Yeah, you are my muse.

Gabe: I do kid, because death is one of those things that if you don’t add a joke every once in a while, it’s really, really hard for people to comprehend. But I just think about the people who have died in my life. And I can only imagine that if people were mean to me over their passing or judgmental or whatever word you want to use, I don’t think that they would feel very good about this. These are people that loved me literally their entire life. But even more importantly, Lisa, I just think that it’s your choice. Like, it’s a very personal choice on how you handle it. And I don’t really think it’s anybody else’s business.

Lisa: Well, people are judgmental and nosy.

Gabe: Yes, people are judgmental and nosy, but let’s assume the best of intentions. You said you feel like they’re doing it to defend the person who passed away. So on some level, you appreciate that, right? Because the person

Lisa: No.

Gabe: Who passed away is in your circle as well. Don’t you want them to have people who stick up for them?

Lisa: No, because they are dead, they don’t know the difference. Where was all this love and respect and sticking up, etc., where the person was alive? They are now gone and have very little care about what is happening after the fact. I think it has a large component of judgy and nosy because people police grief constantly. Everyone feels like you should feel a certain way. You should act a certain way. I don’t know. It makes them uncomfortable if you don’t and people do not have any compunction about telling you to your face that you are wrong in how you grieve all sorts of relationships.

Gabe: I’m glad that you said that because I want people to hear that because death is hard enough and we do all mourn it and grieve it in our own way and having people follow you around and telling you that you’re wrong, it’s just it’s very bad for your mental health. You’re already not doing well, right? Somebody that you knew, somebody that you had an existing relationship passed away. And it doesn’t matter if that’s a coworker or literally your closest friend, loved one parent, grandparent, etc. Death has a reaction. It has a ripple effect. Have you ever worked somewhere where a coworker passed away? You only knew them at work. It hit you, right? It had a feeling in your chest. You didn’t just say, well, he wasn’t my family. Right?

Lisa: Well, there’s an element of your own mortality and discomfort with that.

Gabe: You come off so cold, Lisa,

Lisa: I know.

Gabe: I just I said that somebody that you knew died and you just made it about yourself. You’re not this cold as a person.

Lisa: It’s my podcast.

Gabe: No, sincerely. I know you’re uncomfortable and you’ve now got like your, what is it? Your cackles up. You’re trying

Lisa: Hackles,

Gabe: To be very defensive. But

Lisa: Hackles.

Gabe: I mean, I don’t know words, but no, sincerely, I just said a coworker, somebody that you worked with everyday died. And that feels very different than if, say, your mother or father, grandparent or child or spouse passed away. 

Lisa: Right.

Gabe: And your response to that is, oh, yeah, I don’t care that they’re dead. It reminds me that I’m going to die. You’re not this cold as a person.

Lisa: Why is that how you’re interpreting it? You’re asking me why it is someone might feel uncomfortable or unhappy. You don’t think that’s a component of it?

Gabe: I do think that’s a component, I just

Lisa: You don’t think discomfort with the concept of death or the afterlife or your or discomfort with your own mortality or the idea that nobody wants to die? We all want to live forever, and we all kind of think that we’re going to live forever. You don’t think that’s a component of this feeling that you have when this person has passed? You don’t think that’s a component of that feeling?

Gabe: I do think that’s a component of that feeling and as an example, that is what you thought of and there’s nothing wrong with that.

Lisa: I don’t know, you seem to be pretty judge-y, telling me that there’s something wrong with that?

Gabe: No, I wasn’t telling you that there was something wrong with that, I was surprised that that’s the first place that you went. I know you very well, Lisa, and I don’t believe that that’s the first thing that you think. I have seen you run into traffic and risk your own life to save other people. I have seen you sit with people who are in harm’s way or dying or in trouble. I once watched you spend 30 hours to return a stray dog to somebody. And I refuse to believe that the makeup of that person honestly feels in her heart of hearts that when somebody dies, it’s just a reminder that she’s going to die and she could give a rat’s ass that they’re dead. I’m wondering, is that a defense mechanism on your part? Is it a oh, I’m not going to focus on the person who’s dead because that’s final and over so that that way I can move past it. And the reason I bring this up is because I think a lot of people do this and a lot of people get unnecessary shit when it’s just a defense mechanism and they’re wonderful people. I want to be clear, Lisa. You are a wonderful person and I’m not criticizing you in any way. But you have to admit, it sounds very cold when I say, hey, a coworker dies, you’re like, yeah, I don’t care. It just reminds me of my own immortality or mortality,

Lisa: But see, you’re adding.

Gabe: My own mortality.

Lisa: You’re adding, though, I didn’t say, oh, I don’t care, I said part of your discomfort is. Why’s it got to be all or none? What’s with this black or white thinking?

Gabe: Because that’s how people feel about death, for example, you just said death was final, absolute the end. What’s with your black and white thinking? 

Lisa: Death is final.

Gabe: Oh, death is very much not final.

Lisa: Don’t go there, don’t go there.

Gabe: So let’s talk about that for a moment,

Lisa: Let’s. Let’s discuss the existential plain, Gabe.

Gabe: No, no, no, let’s let’s let’s actually OK, yes, one of the things that I think’s trips people up when they’re grieving and they’re mourning is this idea that death is final. I don’t believe that death is final. I think that death is final in that you can do nothing more to influence the future because you are no longer part of it. However, I believe that the past very much influences the future, and the people in my life who have passed away are still influencing me based on stuff they did when they were alive. They just can’t clarify or contribute anymore. I think that part of the grieving process is recognizing that their memories still live on, their lessons still live on. You keep saying that death is final. I do not believe that death is final in that we still remember and react to things that our

Lisa: Ok, yes.

Gabe: Loved ones or people that we did

Lisa: But, but you’re mixing. You’re mixing together things. When most people say death is final, they’re stating a almost a religious belief. They’re talking about their belief in the afterlife. And you’re talking about something else.

Gabe: Religion does not believe that death is final.

Lisa: Well, exactly, that’s my point. When you sit there and say, well, death isn’t the end, you realize that almost everybody interprets that as a statement of religious belief.

Gabe: That’s my point, though, everybody interprets it differently, but that interpretation seems to rest on the person whom they’re talking to, because you didn’t grieve correctly, you didn’t react correctly. You’re not handling it in the same way that I do. And I’m trying to explain that we all see it very differently. Religious people see it differently than atheists. Atheists see it different than religious people. And even the religions can’t decide. You know, some people go to heaven, some people go to Nirvana. In the religion that I was raised in, we have a limbo. It’s all very different and very personal. And I think that this sort of judgment, this sort of assuming that everybody is going to handle this the same way. I just think it impacts the mental health of people who are going through grief almost more than the grief.

Lisa: Yeah, I would agree with that. People are very judge-y and nosy and people are inherently uncomfortable with death, and when people don’t know what to say, they either say nothing or they say stupid stuff, stupid, unhelpful stuff.

Gabe: Well, that’s very interesting. At the top of the show, as you remember, I said my condolences on the loss of your grandfather and you very snarkily said, are you being sarcastic? Well, I.

Lisa: Well, because you know me, if you were a stranger on the street who said, oh, I’m so sorry. I’m not an idiot, I do understand social norms, the reply I would give is Oh, thank you so much. Yes. And then you say something like, well, you know, it was his time or, well, yes, we all miss him very much. Oh, he was such a good man. Whatever the correct response to a stranger saying that would be “Oh, thank you so much.” But you happen to know me and you happen to know that I really didn’t have much of a relationship with my grandfather. So when you say it, it comes off to me as maybe you’re being sarcastic because you happen to know the relationship I had with this person.

Gabe: Now, your relationship with your grandfather was strained for a number of reasons, one of those reasons was because your grandfather was an alcoholic.

Lisa: Yes. I don’t think it’s fair to categorize it as strained, because strained implies that there’s this heavy level of activity on both ends, I would say that again, more of an apathy thing. I really didn’t have much of a relationship with my grandfather.

Gabe: You spent every holiday with him

Lisa: Well, yeah, but in the company of other family. It wasn’t just him.

Gabe: You act like you hadn’t seen him in years.

Lisa: No, no, I saw him all the time.

Gabe: Exactly.

Lisa: But it’s not like outside of family get togethers where there’s tons of other people there that we were you know, we didn’t call on the phone or write letters individually to one another or anything like that.

Gabe: You’re Facebook friends.

Lisa: He was strangely the biggest social media user. He was the first person I ever met who was on Twitter. I don’t know why. I don’t know what was up with him and social media. Anyway.

Gabe: Lisa, I don’t want to get in a semantics argument with you, whether you call it strained, whether you call it apathetic, whether you call it you just didn’t care. The words are really irrelevant. The fact of the matter is, is that your relationship with your grandfather was not good. And now that he has passed away, this is influencing how you’re going to move forward, how you’re going to grieve, how you respond, how sad you are. And I think that the audience would like to know, OK, well, what did this man do to you that that made you dislike him?

Lisa: Nothing, and I didn’t particularly dislike him. He was an alcoholic, he and my mother certainly had a strained relationship. Absolutely. And of course, that trickled down to us. I think when most people think of grandparents is because of that bond you formed with your grandparents as children. All the cartoon versions of grandparents with the love and the hugs and the candy and the gifts and the going to grandma and grandpa’s house. And we didn’t really have much contact with my mother’s parents when we were kids, because he was an alcoholic and mom didn’t want him to be around us if he was drunk and he was always drunk. So I think that’s probably one of the reasons I have kind of this apathetic thing is that I didn’t really have that grandparent bonding thing going on with my mother’s parents. Now, I had that with my father’s parents plenty. No problem. I had plenty of grandparents. I was not lacking for grandparents. But if you don’t form that bond in childhood, I think it’s not like you’re suddenly going to go do it when you’re 30

Gabe: Lisa, are members of your own family giving you shit for how you’re responding to your grandfather’s death?

Lisa: No, because I’m not an idiot and I can absolutely police it and most of them don’t listen to this podcast, so I should be OK.

Gabe: When you say police, do you mean you’re lying to them, you’re pretending that you’re sad?

Lisa: I would not categorize it as lying, but yes, I certainly am going, oh, yes, this is so sad. Yes, yeah, I don’t really feel this way, but again, I’m not happy the person is dead or anything. I just don’t particularly have strong feelings about this.

Gabe: I understand the whole concept of just because you don’t want somebody to eat at your table doesn’t mean that you want them to starve.

Lisa: Right, right.

Gabe: And I get that you weren’t rooting for anything bad to happen

Lisa: No.

Gabe: To him. Just its life moves on. Not much has changed for you.

Lisa: Yeah, almost nothing has changed for me.

Gabe: Do you feel bad about this?

Lisa: Only because this, of course, has had an impact on my mother, her sisters, this is having an impact on other members who I do care about and love and have an ongoing relationship with. But as for him, yeah, you know, whatever. There were plenty of other 92-year-old men who died that day. I’m not particularly worked up about any of them either. 

Gabe: Lisa, in some ways, you’re one of the most mentally healthy people I know, you have excellent boundaries. You’re really good at managing your family. I look up to you in this way.

Lisa: This is in part just a function of the people, you know, but yes,

Gabe: Yes, but

Lisa: I’m mentally healthier than you.

Gabe: But we’ll talk later.

Lisa: Low bar, anyway.

Gabe: But a lot of people feel very badly about this. When the people come up and criticize how they grieve, they don’t have this devil may care cavalier attitude that you have. It impacts them very much. And they feel like they’re bad people for this. How did you get to this point? Do you just not care what other people think? And this is just like a a skill that you developed?

Lisa: Is this your first day? Oh, for God sakes.

Gabe: No, I’m being serious. A lot of people would feel very, very badly. People constantly feel that they’re not grieving right. And the people are criticizing them. And that makes it worse. And you’re just like, oh, just ignore it, which is literally the equivalent of just lose weight. Just cheer up, just make more money.

Lisa: I know.

Gabe: Anybody listening to this, they may want to be you, but they don’t know how to be you. And every time I ask you a direct question about how can people manage this in their own lives if they’re going through this and they feel this way, your answer seems to be, well, stop it.

Lisa: Unfortunately, I don’t have a better answer. I don’t know, maybe part of this is just inherent personality. In general, I don’t care that much about what other people think. I certainly don’t care as much as you do.

Gabe: Well, nobody can care as much as I do, I have an anxiety disorder, paranoia, I care what everybody thinks all the time, always. In fact, I can tell that somewhere in the world, somebody who has never met me is thinking something negative and now my whole day is ruined.

Lisa: That is true, actually, it’s very sad.

Gabe: It is very sad, but, Lisa, sincerely, people listening to this, they feel bad that they are not reacting correctly. What advice do you have for them to move forward?

Lisa: The same advice that I have for everyone if someone says to you you are doing something wrong. You must analyze this. Are you doing something wrong? If the answer is no, then who cares? You don’t need to listen to this person who tells you this. You know, in your heart that you’re good. You don’t need to listen to this person. Stop listening to them. But if you’re in your heart, you think I am doing something wrong, then change your behavior. So when people say you’re making me feel guilty, OK, no, you can’t make anybody feel anything. If you feel guilty, it’s because, you know you did something wrong, because if you didn’t do anything wrong, you can just dismiss this person.

Gabe: So you’re saying that you would like you would do a chain analysis and you would evaluate it, you’d be like, OK, this is this is how I feel. This is what the person is saying. And you would back it up and see if they intersect in any way.

Lisa: Right, and if they don’t, then you can safely ignore them.

Gabe: Lisa, I know that in your particular case, with your grandfather, the closest members of your family, for example, your mother are apathetic like you are, but

Lisa: I don’t think that’s fair to say.

Gabe: You said that your mother and you had the same response to this.

Lisa: I never said that.  I wouldn’t say that my mother is apathetic about this if for no other reason than because she cares about the reaction of her sisters.

Gabe: Have you told your mother how you feel about this, or are you pretending that you have more deep investment to save your mother’s feelings?

Lisa: No, I don’t need to pretend for her. She won’t be offended by it.

Gabe: Ok, but what if your mother was offended by it, would the

Lisa: Then I would pretend.

Gabe: You would pretend and do you feel that that pretending is the best policy? I don’t really think there’s a wrong answer here, but every answer, of course, has a pro and a con.

Lisa: Well, there’s two sides to it, there’s the effect on everyone else, and then there’s the advantage to you. Pretending to have a deeper emotional investment than you do, perhaps makes other people feel better. It makes them not as sad. They don’t have to deal with it. And if these are people you care about and you have that ability, why wouldn’t you? Someone they care about just died. You don’t want them to have to deal with you. Why wouldn’t you do that if you could? And then in terms of the benefit to you, it’s that you don’t have to listen to any criticism. So it’s win win.

Gabe: The reason that I don’t think it’s win win is because, of course, the less you tell those closest to you, the less they know you. If you pretend that you care in this way, it does mean that your mother should reasonably assume that you care and therefore she might take steps to make you feel better. Because she cares about you, her daughter, and now she’s using emotional energy where none is needed because you gave her misinformation. But of course, you also do run the risk that if you give her the correct information, she expands energy in trying to get you to do something that you don’t want to do. How does that work? I mean, what’s your, what’s your general thoughts on that?

Lisa: I think this is part of the social contract and there’s a pro and con list for every interaction. You talk about pretending as if it’s a negative thing. You’ve never pretended to care about something that someone else cares about that you don’t?

Gabe: I do it all the time, but I have a level. I never pretend to care about something I don’t care about for you.

Lisa: Yes, you do.

Gabe: That’s not true. Name one time that I have pretended to care about something for your benefit and don’t say, well, you go to musical theater with me. I don’t pretend to care. I tell you that I don’t like musical theater, but I absolutely, unequivocally will escort you because you are my best friend.

Lisa: Well, this is the equivalent.

Gabe: Well, but it’s not. You don’t say, I don’t care that grandpa died, but I’ll pretend to care for your benefit. You actually pretend to care. You convince people that you care.

Lisa: No, you’re looking at this completely wrong. This is the equivalent of when you’re telling me all about your new backsplash. Yeah, I’m really not invested in your new backsplash. I don’t care about your backsplash. Your backsplash is not interesting to me, but it’s interesting to you. And I know that you care about this and you want me to say, oh, that’s nice and admire it, etc. The benefit I’m getting back is just like you said, you don’t want to go see that musical, but it makes me happy. So that’s a good trade for you. You can sit there and whatever, and because it makes your friend happy. It makes you happy when I ask you about your backsplash, even though if you died tomorrow, I would never care about this backsplash ever again or any backsplash for that matter. The thing that I’m getting out of it is the happiness or joy or whatever that it gives you. So this is the same thing. And we all do this all the time. When people come up to you and talk to you about boring subjects that you don’t care about, but you can tell they care a lot and it makes them happy, or at least it makes them more comfortable if you pretend to care. This is the exact same thing. It’s not different just because you’re applying it to death.

Gabe: I don’t think those are analogous at all.

Lisa: Why?

Gabe: First off, I do think that you care about my backsplash because you know that it’s meaningful to me and

Lisa: Exactly,

Gabe: You care about things that are meaningful to me.

Lisa: Yes, exactly, and this person is meaningful to the person you are talking to, even though it’s not meaningful to me, it’s meaningful to them.

Gabe: But you are pretending to grieve, you didn’t pretend to be excited for my backsplash, you just politely listened and you gave me your honest opinion on what you thought about it in my kitchen. You didn’t pose with a selfie. You didn’t take home samples. You didn’t tell me that I should give tours. You didn’t tell me that I should. Oh, my God. That’s the greatest backsplash

Lisa: There’s levels, there are levels, and I’ve certainly done stuff like that in the past for things I don’t care about on your behalf, and you have for me as well.

Gabe: I don’t think that’s true. I have never once lied to you.

Lisa: So why are you? Lying has this inherent negative connotation.

Gabe: I have never once pretended for you

Lisa: Yes, you have

Gabe: When.

Lisa: Really? I am getting new flooring. How often have we been talking about this flooring? You’re telling me you care about my flooring?

Gabe: Yes.

Lisa: Of course you don’t care. You don’t care. It’s not going to be on your feet. What do you care? You care because you know I care, because you’re being polite and giving me that outlet.

Gabe: Once again, I just don’t think this is the same thing.

Lisa: I think this is exactly the same thing, I don’t understand why you don’t think this is the same thing, and frankly, I don’t even know that I can explain it because it’s so obvious to me that this is the exact same thing that I don’t even know how to tell you.

Gabe: The reason that it’s not analogous is because grandpa belongs to both you and your mom. The floor only belongs to you. That alone makes it not analogous. You’d have to find something that we both, in theory, should care equally about.

Lisa: No, why would you assume that my mother and I should, and incidentally, why are you using the word should, should care equally about this person?

Gabe: I said, in theory, should care equally about the.

Lisa: But why in theory? Why at all, why is that a thing?

Gabe: Because otherwise, you wouldn’t be doing anything wrong. If it’s well understood that you are supposed to care less about your dead loved one than another person, then there’s no reason to tell you that you’re grieving wrong. That person couldn’t possibly understand it after all.

Lisa: No,

Gabe: Because there are two separate relationships.

Lisa: That is well understood, everybody expects you to grieve more for a spouse or a child or a parent than you do for a second cousin.

Gabe: I disagree with that completely, I think that they expect you to grieve differently. I don’t think it’s a more or less I think it’s a differently and once again, your example is about something that I do not own. I do not live in your house. Like you said. I don’t even walk on your floor. It’s well understood. Why don’t we talk about something that we’re buying together? Why don’t we talk about the logo for our podcast? 

Lisa: OK.

Gabe: What if you found out that I lied to you about that logo where I convinced you that I loved the logo and that it was a great logo and then you found out later on I just told you what you wanted to hear. I hate that logo. Wouldn’t that upset you?

Lisa: But

Gabe: You’d be like we designed it together.

Lisa: Do you hate the logo or are you just?

Gabe: No, no, no, I love the logo, the logo is fantastic.

Lisa: No, no, not the actual logo, it’s an analogy, Gabe. But do you hate the logo or you just don’t really give a f**k, you just don’t really care all that much about the logo. But you could tell that I’m heavily invested in the logo. So you will put your time and effort into this because

Gabe: Right, and then what I’d say

Lisa: And, incidentally, think that might have actually happened with our actual logo.

Gabe: What happened with the actual logo is that you told me that you didn’t care and I could decide. 

Lisa: Right.

Gabe: See, you didn’t lie to me. According to you, what you should have done is pretend that you had the same level of excitement about the logo as me. But that’s not what you did. You told me that you didn’t care. I could pick. Right. So therefore, no lie.

Lisa: Every situation is different.

Gabe: I still showed you and you still looked at it, etc., but you didn’t convince me that you had the same level of excitement or love of said logo as me in order to spare my feelings.

Lisa: But according to you, when you said to me, oh, look, here are a couple of different versions of the logo. What do you think? Since I don’t, in fact share, I should have said, you know, I will not look about these. I do not care about this. Take this from my site. No, of course not.

Gabe: No, what you did say is it’s entirely up to you. That’s what you said. I don’t think that if your mother says, you know, I’m mourning your grandfather, you should say I don’t care about him. Remove his name from existence.

Lisa: Exactly.

Gabe: Get him from my sight.

Lisa: There’s not only these two things, there are many options at play here, all different levels.

Gabe: We’ll be back in a minute after a word from our sponsor.

Announcer: Interested in learning about psychology and mental health from experts in the field? Give a listen to the Psych Central Podcast, hosted by Gabe Howard. Visit PsychCentral.com/Show or subscribe to The Psych Central Podcast on your favorite podcast player.

Announcer: This episode is sponsored by BetterHelp.com. Secure, convenient, and affordable online counseling. Our counselors are licensed, accredited professionals. Anything you share is confidential. Schedule secure video or phone sessions, plus chat and text with your therapist whenever you feel it’s needed. A month of online therapy often costs less than a single traditional face to face session. Go to BetterHelp.com/PsychCentral and experience seven days of free therapy to see if online counseling is right for you. BetterHelp.com/PsychCentral.

Lisa: And we’re back with more Not Crazy.

Gabe: I just don’t understand why you’re categorizing politeness as it’s OK to lie.

Lisa: Why?

Gabe: If your mother wants to talk about your grandfather and you listen, that’s certainly not the same thing as you convincing your mother that you feel exactly how she feels.

Lisa: But I’m not doing that, I am not convincing anyone in my family that I care exactly how they do

Gabe: So you’ve let your family know that you don’t care.

Lisa: See, but that’s my point. Why do you think there’s only two choices?

Gabe: What’s the third choice?

Lisa: To be like, oh, huh. Yeah, yeah. Oh, oh, that is sad. Yeah, he’s gone. Yeah. Doing that.

Gabe: Knowing full well that what they’re gathering is that you agree with them,

Lisa: But.

Gabe: Silence implies consent. You’ve said that on this very show.

Lisa: Ok, so what would you have me do? For example, my cousins had much closer relationship with him than I did. They are grieving his passing. They have those fond memories of childhood with grandpa. Right. So when my cousins start saying, oh, that’s so sad about grandpa. I miss him so much. You know, we used to talk all the time and now I’m not able to talk to him. And I’m just so sad about that. Yeah, I haven’t talked to him like one on one in years. Am I supposed to say to her, you know, I don’t care about this? I didn’t ever call him for home remodeling advice. Why are you even mentioning this in my presence?

Gabe: Ok, but what

Lisa: What would you have me do?

Gabe: Two things, one, I don’t know why you’ve got to tell the truth in such a nasty way, you

Lisa: Exactly.

Gabe: Seem to think, no, stop. You seem to think that the truth can only be delivered in a nasty way. Every example that you’ve used, what would you have me do? Your example is the truth is just as mean as humanly possible. So

Lisa: So if.

Gabe: The doctor, upon telling the truth of your grandfather’s passing, according to your analogy, should have been like he’s dead. He is just dead. Dead, just dead. He’s never coming back. He’s dead. I mean, he’s telling

Lisa: No,

Gabe: The truth. So he must be cruel and mean.

Lisa: According to your analogy, I’m supposed to say something along the lines of I am not interested in this conversation, let us talk about something else?

Gabe: No, I’m not saying that at all. That is not what I said at all.

Lisa: Ok, so what am I supposed to say other than. Yes, yes. It’s so sad that he’s gone. What am I supposed to say?

Gabe: This whole thing started because I specifically said that when you agree with somebody like that, there is a connection that you are missing with them and maybe you’re OK with that, like with your cousins or aunts or friends or coworkers, etc. But what do you do? And this is a specific question that I asked. The specific question that I asked is, what do you do when you want to tell somebody the truth, but you know that it  will hurt them? What is the best way to tell them that when it comes to grief? And your response was lie anyways. There’s never any reason to tell the truth. And that bothers me. I don’t agree with.

Lisa: I don’t think that’s what I’m saying at all.

Gabe: Ok, so then answer this question exactly, your mother is grieving the loss of her father, your grandfather, you are apathetic. You want to tell your mother that you’re apathetic, but you don’t want to hurt her. How do you do it?

Lisa: There are two points to this, do not interrupt me. Number one, why do I have to tell her that I’m apathetic?

Gabe: That’s not the question that I asked. That’s

Lisa: Well, no, I’m saying.

Gabe: The answer to the question cannot be why do I have to answer the question?

Lisa: I told you not to interrupt and you’re interrupting.

Gabe: I understand that, but you’re

Lisa: The question is

Gabe: Politician-ing in the question. Just answer the question.

Lisa: You don’t know what I’m going to say yet, give me a sec.  So you don’t necessarily have to tell her that you’re apathetic. That’s not a requirement. You could just leave that out if you want to. And number two thing, you say something like, oh, you know, I wasn’t as close to him as you were or, you know, he really wasn’t part of my life in the way that he was yours. Or you say something, which I’ve often done, along the lines of, well, you know, he wasn’t so much a part of my life, but I can see how upset you are. I’m so sorry this happened to you. I’m so sorry for how you are feeling or depending on how close you are to someone, you know, I personally am not that affected by his death, but I’m worried on your behalf. You can say something like that.

Gabe: How do you handle that if that person fires back, what do you mean you don’t care? I thought you guys were close.

Lisa: What are they, idiots? Of course, we weren’t close. Who doesn’t know that?

Gabe: Once again, we’re offering advice to different families, and I don’t think it’s very fair for you to categorize the other way that families handle death as they’re idiots, that’s very dismissive.

Lisa: No, that’s not what I’m saying, what I’m saying, you have this whole thing about, well, this you’re not forging authentic connections.

Gabe: I don’t know why you’re mocking me, authentic connections are important.

Lisa: Any member of the family will know that I was not close with this person because they’re not blind. I guess if a family member said, oh, my goodness, why are you behaving this way? I thought you were close. At this point, you could probably just say no. Actually, we were not close. You were closer to him than I was. So-and-so was close with him. I personally haven’t seen him in X number of years. You can explain that you were not, in fact, close.

Gabe: It seems like the advice that you’re offering to people is that your family should know and if they don’t, they’re idiots.

Lisa: No, that’s not what I’m saying.

Gabe: You should lie to your family unless you get caught, in which case you should say it in the meanest way possible. I,

Lisa: No, that’s your advice.

Gabe: No, that’s not my advice at all.

Lisa: No, your advice is that whenever somebody dies, you have to immediately throw out every single thing you’ve ever thought.

Gabe: That’s not what I said even remotely.

Lisa: When someone talks to you about how they feel about a death and you personally do not have those same feelings, I don’t see why you can’t just pretend they’re talking about their carpet. You personally don’t care about their carpet.

Gabe: Well, OK.

Lisa: But part of the social contract is that you pretend to care about their carpet.

Gabe: I can’t do that because they’re my family and they’re not idiots, so they already know that I don’t care, so they bring it up to me. Do I try to convince them that I do, in fact, care by doubling down on the lie and of course, in the aggressively mean way? Or do I tell them the truth when they ask me point blank if I care?

Lisa: Sure, tell them the truth, you know, I’m really not that invested in the carpet, but I can see that you really care about these options.

Gabe: I do, in fact, agree with that advice, but when I asked you to suggest that originally you just said that that was mean and that you should lie.

Lisa: Ok, see, sometimes if someone wants to talk to you about their carpet, it is rude to say I don’t care about your carpet, even in a nice voice. You know, I don’t care about your carpet. That’s rude.

Gabe: But it’s your carpet as well.

Lisa: It’s not lying to say, you know, I’m not really invested in this, but what do you think? That’s not lying.

Gabe: Once again, this whole debate seems to be hung up on you saying, well, you don’t have to, it’s not required, your family

Lisa: Right,

Gabe: Are idiots, be mean about it.

Lisa: When did I say be mean about it?

Gabe: I can’t get you to directly answer a question, and in fact, when I say.

Lisa: I don’t understand the question,

Gabe: Then say that.

Lisa: What is the question? Ask me the question. What’s the question?

Gabe: Families are very complicated

Lisa: Ok.

Gabe: And death is very complicated, and the grieving process is fraught with misunderstanding and challenges and issues that are hard to navigate for families. And oftentimes the family member that is behaving differently from all the other family members is the one that feels left out and lost and in some cases unfairly judged or criticized or put upon for their feelings. And

Lisa: Agree.

Gabe: You have that in your family. You are the odd duck in your family. And I’m asking you how you coped with it and still got through to everybody. And you gave some excellent answers, some excellent answers of how to avoid, et cetera. Those were all perfect. OK, what’s the flipside of that? What’s the advice do you have for people that don’t want to use that advice? And your answer seems to be the advice that you gave originally as the only advice that’s out there. There’s no second chance. If you don’t use that advice, you’re a fool. Your advice so far has been excellent. What advice do you have for people that don’t want to whatever semantic argument you want to make, don’t that want to mislead, lie, trick? My question is, what advice do you have for people that want to tell their loved ones how they felt about the deceased, knowing that their family will not like the answer, but they want to do it? Don’t say they don’t have to. Don’t say they shouldn’t. They want to do it. They want to tell their family, look, I don’t care that he’s dead.

Lisa: Do we have any explanation for why they want to do this?

Gabe: They didn’t like the guy. Maybe he was abusive towards them or she was hurtful to them and they, for their own mental health, are getting sick and tired of hearing how great the deceased was, knowing that that person hurt them in some very traumatizing way and also, not for nothing, they now look around at their family and they think, well, you’re clearly not on my side, considering that person is now a hero.

Lisa: In this scenario, does the surrounding family know the back story and are deliberately ignoring it, or does the surrounding family not know?

Gabe: No, of course they know and chances are this person was dismissive, emotionally abusive, abusive, etc. to them as well. For example, much how it was in your family, your grandfather wasn’t any nicer to the other members of your family. They just, for whatever reason, didn’t cut him off.

Lisa: I never cut him off, I just didn’t have a relationship with him, and it wasn’t that he was mean, it’s just he was drunk. What you’re describing is a family where the abuse is understood. Everybody knows about it and someone is actively denying the truth of the abuse to someone. So in your scenario, let’s say Uncle Bob abused Jimmy when he was a child and now Mary is talking about Uncle Bob. Uncle Bob has died. Mary and Jimmy are talking. Mary knows well that Uncle Bob abused Jimmy and is now saying nice things about Uncle Bob. 

Gabe: Yes.

Lisa: Your question is, what should Jimmy say to Mary about Uncle Bob?

Gabe: Yes.

Lisa: But again, Mary knows that Uncle Bob was abusive and she’s saying this stuff anyway. What she’s actively denying the abuse? She’s saying all of these nice things, even though she knows this back story?

Gabe: Yes, much like.

Lisa: Ok, but if someone is actually doing that, then they clearly don’t care about you or your thoughts or your feelings. No one cares about how Jimmy feels about this. Mary is being actively mean to poor Jimmy, so I don’t think Jimmy owes her anything.

Gabe: Well, first off, Jimmy doesn’t owe her anything, I’m saying that Jimmy wants to advocate for himself. He wants to remind everybody that, hey, this person wasn’t so great. I think you’ve forgotten that.

Lisa: Ok, well, why doesn’t he say that?

Gabe: Jimmy well can. I keep asking you, how do you recommend that Jimmy remind people that this happened and this is why he feels this way?

Lisa: Exactly that way, he says, look, I understand that you all had a different relationship with this person, but this is the relationship I had and therefore I don’t really feel like saying any nice stuff right now.

Gabe: And then how does Jimmy handle it when the family turns on him, because, for example, you didn’t choose to say that because in your words, your family would come after you.

Lisa: You are completely misunderstanding this.

Gabe: Ok, then please explain it better.

Lisa: Jimmy has three options, he can either just bite his tongue and wait for it to be over. He can get up and leave and not participate, or he can say, look, stop it.

Gabe: Again, I understand that there are multiple options. That’s but I want you to respond to the option that I’m saying that Jimmy wants to choose, and your answer to that is always, well, Jimmy can choose different options.

Lisa: I don’t think the option he’s choosing is a good one.

Gabe: That doesn’t matter. That’s not the question that you were asked.

Lisa: Ok, the question is, what should he say? He should say exactly what I just said. Look, I did not have that relationship with him. He was not a good person.

Gabe: Yes, I completely agree with you, how should Jimmy handle the fallout from that?

Lisa: What is the fallout?

Gabe: The family tells Jimmy that, oh, you’re just cold hearted. You’re reacting wrong. You’re not doing it right. Why don’t you care? Oh, he asked for forgiveness for that.

Lisa: So basically, what you’re saying is the family is abusive to Jimmy.

Gabe: No, I’m not saying that at all.

Lisa: How do you figure that’s not abusive? If I tell you how I feel about someone who’s died and this is your response to what I’ve just shared with you, how is that not a horrible thing on your part? A horrible, abusive thing to say?

Gabe: I just.

Lisa: So you’re asking me how Jimmy should react to the abuse he is now suffering from his family.

Gabe: I’ve personally witnessed your family do this to you and you do not categorize it as abuse, you categorize it

Lisa: You have never witnessed this.

Gabe: Yes, I have, and you categorize it as, look, it’s not abuse, Gabe, they don’t understand, emotions run high. They see it differently. Disagreements happen. Families are complicated. By the way, I completely agree with you. All those things that you tell me are true, the fact that your aunts see your grandfather differently than you do and they tell you that is not them abusing you, it’s them disagreeing with you. It can’t possibly be abuse. When somebody disagrees with an assessment, they’re not abusing you.

Lisa: It depends.

Gabe: They just don’t think that grandpa being drunk his entire life was abusive and then telling you that is not them abusing you. And I don’t understand why you think that it is.

Lisa: Ok, but you keep flipping back and forth between this hypothetical scenario you’ve created and my family, these are not equivalents.

Gabe: Yeah, the hypothetical scenario is exactly your family.

Lisa: No, it’s not.

Gabe: Yeah, it is,

Lisa: No,

Gabe: Yes, 100 percent.

Lisa: No,

Gabe: 100 percent.

Lisa: Ok, I don’t know what to tell you. You keep flipping back and forth between these two things that are not comparable.

Gabe: They’re completely the same, the example that I’m using is an example of your family.

Lisa: My grandfather was never abusive to me.

Gabe: Being drunk is abusive, it just is. You’ve decided that abuse is only violence like hitting you. You can.

Lisa: Well, there’s other forms of abuse.

Gabe: Exactly.

Lisa: But, yeah, some sort of act of malice, yes.

Gabe: Right.

Lisa: So you think addicts being addicts is inherently abusive?

Gabe: I think that, unfortunately, the fallout of ignoring your family so that you can drink is that it causes them suffering. For example, by your own admission, your grandfather did not have a relationship with his granddaughter.

Lisa: Yeah, he made his choice.

Gabe: Right. He chose alcohol over you. I do see that as a form of abuse. I understand that you don’t. But, yeah, I look at my untreated mental illness. I look at my abuse of drugs and alcohol, and I look at the way that I treated you. I look at the way that I treated my parents, my family, my first wife, coworkers, friends. I was unequivocally abusive toward them. And anybody that says differently is just trying to make me feel better. I understand that there are extenuating circumstances with my mental illness, etc. But I had to apologize for all of them. I had to make amends for all of it because it was wrong.

Lisa: Ok.

Gabe: And I believe that the way that your grandfather acted toward you and towards the people that you love caused you trauma, I don’t see how it cannot.

Lisa: All right, so?

Gabe: But you’ve decided that your grandfather was not abusive toward you.

Lisa: I think there are a lot of levels, and this is a very complicated subject. In general, I would say that no addicts being addicts is not categorically abuse because, again, that’s what addicts do.

Gabe: So they don’t have to make amends.

Lisa: No, that’s not what I’m saying, I’m just I don’t know, I feel like the term abuse is very loaded and maybe is not the appropriate question for this.

Gabe: See, once again you’re playing a semantics argument, you know exactly what I mean,

Lisa: No, I don’t actually. Why don’t you define it?

Gabe: Whenever you’re dismissive of people that you are supposed to love, whenever you break promises, whenever you lie to, hurt, misinform, whatever word you want to use that causes pain

Lisa: Ok.

Gabe: To somebody who you are supposed to protect. Whenever you break a promise that is a form of abuse. I do recognize it’s on the low end. I’m not. This is the problem with spectrums. I don’t think that the type of abuse that your grandfather was guilty of is equivalent to a serial killer. That abuse is much, much, much worse. But I think that your mother would agree that he was an abusive father and so much so that she kept you away from him. You don’t think that has a ripple effect?

Lisa: You’re equating different relationships, though, parents have a very different obligation to their children than grandparents have to their grandchildren, or then you have to other members of your family. So what obligation do you feel that grandparents have to grandchildren?

Gabe: I believe that when you tell somebody that you love them unconditionally, that means you support everything they do. So when they have children, you must be willing to die for their children in the same way that you’d be willing to die for them. Could you imagine if your grandfather let you die and then explained to your mother, No, honey, I love you unconditionally. I just let your kid die. 

Lisa: OK.

Gabe: I don’t think your mother would say, I believe that you love me unconditionally. 

Lisa: OK.

Gabe: I believe that your mother would fully expect her parents to save her child. And I believe that you would, too. 

Lisa: Ok, so where’s the level, like, for example, parents are obligated to care for their children on a daily basis. Are grandparents obligated to do so? 

Gabe: No.

Lisa: OK, if you need a babysitter or someone to watch. Are they obligated to do these things?

Gabe: No, of course not.

Lisa: How often must grandparents see grandchildren to fulfill their grandparent-ly obligation?

Gabe: There’s no answer to that, and, you know, there’s no answer to that.

Lisa: Ok, well, but let’s follow it though then. So would you say.

Gabe: You had zero relationship with your grandfather.

Lisa: What obligation do grandparents have to grandchildren? Right. And you’re saying it is a form of abuse to shirk your obligations for your addiction. That when you choose your alcohol or your drugs over other people, that is a form of abuse. That’s what you’re saying.

Gabe: I am saying that when you choose alcohol over

Lisa: No, no, no. Is that what you’re saying? Yes, no?

Gabe: Yes.

Lisa: So when you miss your obligations to someone because of your addiction, that is abusive. But you’ve also just told me that grandparents do not, in fact, have obligations to their grandchildren,

Gabe: I didn’t say that.

Lisa: Then explain what obligation do they have. Wat obligations do grandparents have to their grandchildren? You just told me they have an obligation to save your life in imminent peril. OK, great. Yes, sure. What else you got? Are they obligated to spend time with you or are they obligated to take care of you? Are they obligated to give you money? What obligations do they have?

Gabe: I think they’re obligated to keep their promises, and I think that when their children want to keep their children away from you,

Lisa: Right,

Gabe: Then abuse happened.

Lisa: Ok, so they’re obligated to

Gabe: I’m sorry, I

Lisa: Stop. They’re obligated to keep promises, so therefore, if someone doesn’t make any promises, they have fulfilled all of their obligations.

Gabe: Yes, if you are a grandparent and you refuse to see your grandchild, you have fulfilled your obligations and are a good grandparent. That’s exactly what I’m saying.

Lisa: Ok, so this is why we’re doing this, this is reflective listening. So explain it to me. You cannot define for me any obligation that grandparents have that, for example, my grandfather did not meet. Therefore, how is that abusive? What obligation did he not meet?

Gabe: Your grandfather died and you don’t care. He did not meet the obligation where you love him.

Lisa: So grandparents are obligated to ensure love on part of their grandchildren.

Gabe: They’re obligated to have a relationship with you in some form. I do believe that, yes. And the very fact that he had none shows that something went very wrong. And I’m sorry that I don’t have, like, exact. You seem to want exact, but even America doesn’t have exact, you know, what’s the legal definition of pornography? We don’t know. But we know it when we see it. That’s the legal definition. 

Lisa: That’s a problem.

Gabe: I’m not saying that it’s good or bad. I’m just grandparents have obligations to their grandkids. I’m sorry. They just do. What those obligations are will change based on age and health and distance. I can’t say how often. My grandparents lived 400 miles away, so I only saw them eight times a year. Your other grandparents watched you every day. Your father’s parents, they watched you every day. The fact that when your grandmother died on your father’s side, you cried. I watched you cry.

Lisa: Yeah, we were very close.

Gabe: And this gentleman passes away and you’re just like, I’m apathetic. I don’t give a shit. And then you’re faking to help other family members that frankly, you don’t think should give a shit either. Tells me that they did not meet an obligation. And you’re saying, well, there is no obligation. They don’t have to love you. I don’t agree with that. I’m sorry. I just don’t agree with that. And I do worry about why you think that’s OK.

Lisa: I take exception with you say faking, it’s not faking to say I do not feel sad on my own behalf, I feel sad on your behalf. How is that faking?

Gabe: Because you didn’t say that to every member of your family.

Lisa: Now, again, what words would I need to use?

Gabe: I want to say again, you are not required to do so, I don’t think that Lisa Kiner did anything wrong utilizing this method.

Lisa: That’s not what you said earlier.

Gabe: Yes, I did, I said that is an excellent method, I am OK with it. What if you don’t want to use it and you decided that that was a personal attack, that the only reason that somebody wouldn’t want to use it is because you were wrong? No, that’s a choice that you made for you and

Lisa: Ok, but

Gabe: You are right to use it. You’re literally doing this thing where you’re like, oh, I just got myself a big bowl of chocolate ice cream. And I’m like, oh, Lisa, that is an excellent self care technique. Now, if somebody doesn’t want chocolate ice cream, what do you recommend? Well, first off, they’re allowed to have chocolate. I know. I know. I agree. They’re allowed to have chocolate. But what do you recommend for somebody that doesn’t want chocolate? Well, why would somebody pick that? You know, I take exception to you saying that people don’t want chocolate. 

Lisa: Ok, so?

Gabe: No, I just give me some other flavors.

Lisa: Ok, but what are the other flavors in this analogy?

Gabe: I don’t know, I was very specifically asking you.

Lisa: I would say that if you have made clear to your family members how you feel and they are consistently telling you you are wrong and denying how you feel, I don’t know that there is any advice for you. You’re stuck. These people are not doing right by you. These are not people that are showing you the appropriate amount of family love. So at this point, you can decide if you’re going to tolerate that or not.

Gabe: But we’re all going to tolerate it, Lisa. And that is not the choice that you and I have made in our own families. And you and I do not think our families are abusive toward us. We just don’t.

Lisa: Never once has a family member said to me, oh, my God, you should really care more about this. No. No one has ever said that to me.

Gabe: In so many ways, I agree with you, as you know, we’re playing devil’s advocate because that’s kind of what we do to hash this stuff out. But this idea that just because your family is like low grade abusive or does stuff that you don’t like, you and I both tolerate this in our own families. And we argue back and forth on whether or not it’s abusive. But let’s go ahead and say that it is. I’m still not going to cut my family off. You’re not going to cut your family off. What do you recommend for those people in order to keep their family and their mental health?

Lisa: Limit exposure.

Gabe: Well, OK. But you can’t limit your exposure all the time.

Lisa: Then maybe you can’t keep your mental health. You know, if you’re saying, look, my family is abusive, but I cannot limit my exposure to them. You’re in a bad position. You’re trapped. I don’t know that there is any solution for you. I would say, why can’t you limit your exposure? Surely there is a mechanism for you to do that. We all decide what we’re willing to tolerate from our families. And some things you just roll your eyes or grit your teeth. I think everyone is making these same decisions all the time with their families. And once again, it doesn’t matter that this is related to death. It’s the exact same process.

Gabe: We have talked about this a lot, how to manage your family and manage their expectations, manage your expectations within your family, how to get along, etc., and I think you’re right. Do you think that the fact that it has to do with death adds maybe another element that puts people on edge and maybe that makes it a little more difficult?

Lisa: It makes it more difficult, but the concept is the same. It makes emotion higher, it makes it harder to do. But the base concept of you have decided in your mind what you’re willing to tolerate and what you’re not. Grit your teeth or walk away. There’s only two choices. You cannot control the behavior of other people. If they continue doing this thing that you find objectionable, is that a deal breaker for you? Are you out or are you going to find a way to survive it?

Gabe: Lisa, I really like the word that you use there: survive. Like it’s a big word on one hand because like you, you survive a car crash. You survive your cruise ship sinking, you survive COVID. But survival exists on so many levels. I mean, you survive with your mental health. You survive inside the confines of your family. You survive for 39 days on an island and you outwit and outlast and outplay. It can mean many things, but I think it’s kind of a powerful word and sort of that kind of thing that you say to yourself in the mirror to psych yourself up. I will survive my family. I will survive this. I will get through to the next stage. I think we are survivors. That’s a number one thing that I say about people who are living with mental illness is that we know how to survive.

Lisa: I actually was thinking about re-recording that line, I think survivor might be a little bit too strong because it does have this connotation of life and death and maybe it’s more of a get through or tolerate or live with or make the best of.

Gabe: But listen, when you’re getting ready to go and when you’re leaving your house, your bedroom, your town, your car, and you say I will survive, that feels much better than I will tolerate. So I

Lisa: There’s more drama to it, yes.

Gabe: But I mean, we need a mantra. We need a mantra to get through these tough conversations and these things that happen.

Lisa: The thing to get through it is to say this will pass

Gabe: Yeah, this will pass.

Lisa: Here I am with my family and frankly, this isn’t part of my regular life. My regular life is at my house with my chosen family and in my day to day life. This is just the aberration I go through for visits.

Gabe: Well, listen, this, too, shall pass and I will survive, it does sound better than this too shall pass. I will tolerate.

Lisa: Yeah, yeah, little drama queen, but OK.

Gabe: I mean, well, I am what I am.

Lisa: Yes, you are, and that’s why we all love you and I love doing the show.

Gabe: Oh, I love doing the show with you, too, Lisa. I am the author of Mental Illness Is an Asshole and Other Observations. There is time to get it for the holidays, so order it now on Amazon.com. Or if you want show stickers, you want me to sign it and you want a whole bunch of cool free swag, head over to gabehoward.com right now.

Lisa: Don’t forget to listen to the outtake and we’ll see you next Tuesday.

Announcer: You’ve been listening to the Not Crazy Podcast from Psych Central. For free mental health resources and online support groups, visit PsychCentral.com. Not Crazy’s official website is PsychCentral.com/NotCrazy. To work with Gabe, go to gabehoward.com. Want to see Gabe and me in person?  Not Crazy travels well. Have us record an episode live at your next event. E-mail show@psychcentral.com for details. 

 

The post Podcast: Grieving and Radical Honesty first appeared on World of Psychology.

- Advertisement -spot_img

More articles

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

- Advertisement -spot_img

Latest article