Episode 12 – Peter’s Letter + Brief Thoughts on Grief

January 27, 2023

I’m wondering if any of you remember the name Peter. I spoke of him in episode two of Dear Constance called Loving Letters. For the benefit of those who didn’t listen to that episode or haven’t yet listened to that episode, let me give a brief update.

Loving Letters – Episode 2 – was about re-discovering a letter that I had written to an 11-year-old child, my friend Charlie. I appreciated seeing my letter, and it reminded me of a letter that I had received from this man named Peter together with a book on grief when my father died tragically in a car accident.  I had this idea of sending the letter back to Peter so he could see how kind he had been. I photocopied it and carried it around for months together with a letter in my head. Fast forward to today, and I finally got in touch with Peter to get his address. He has no idea about the letter, nor about the podcast, and I got his address.  So again, I’ve photocopied his letter and I’m writing long hand on the backside I’m off to the post office now to mail the letter I wrote  and I wanted to share it with you.

New York City, January 25th, 2023.

Dearest Peter, One day last year, I was stopped in my tracks when I opened a book on grief and found your letter. At the time I received it. I very much appreciated your acknowledgement of my unexpected shattering loss. Losing my father was my biggest fear come true. Years of anticipatory grief, suddenly real. Surreal. He was my most loving cheerleader, my lifelong mindset coach, and my wisest advisor. His love language could be complicated at times, but his affection was unwavering. I was, however, yet numb and in the very earliest stages of my walk with grief, when your book and letter arrived at my door.

Rediscovering your handwritten letter, that day meant far more to me than the day I received it.  It landed in my heart. I could see and savor your words and the gesture itself in all its loving generosity. I was gifted a glimpse of your heart. It was also an occasion to acknowledge how far I have come in learning to walk  with loss and grief. I have since lost my mother and my beloved only sister, Pam.

So, here’s the thing. I think it’s beautiful and important that we are reminded of our own oft- forgotten acts of kind. And I had the idea of sending your letter back to you. In fact, I have been carrying it around for months on end together with this letter to you in my head.

I hope you’ll enjoy listening to a different version of this story, which I shared on my podcast. Dear Constance, it’s called Loving Letters, episode two, From My Heart to yours, Constance.

Wow, that was emotional for me. It feels like a full circle moment.

I want to close this episode by talking about two things. One is Anderson Cooper’s amazing podcast called ‘All There Is’. It’s eight episodes. I cannot more highly recommend it.  He stumbled into this podcast project and it was a catalyst for so many things – for him to reconnect with his own grief, for him to stop hiding and to show up in his full humanity in a way that is – well, it’s simply stunning. It’s a glorious piece of art. That’s all I can say. In fact, I sent a note to my college roommate, Lisa, and I said, This is a loving nudge to listen to Anderson Cooper’s podcast ‘All There Is’. If you haven’t already listened, trust me it’s well worth your time. She and her husband Fritz absolutely loved it and thanked me for the nudge. So consider this a nudge to you, whoever is hearing this, to listen to that beautiful podcast.

I have a lot to say about loss and grief and all of the loaded things around it and the rituals or, in the case of America, lack thereof of any sort of an understanding or teaching and sharing about how we behave in the face of loss and death and grief. I think as a culture we in large part fear it, feel uncomfortable with it and get all up in our head about what’s the right thing or the wrong thing to do.  Having lived in Europe for over 20 years, where there is a lot more ritual around it. Having experienced a lot of loss myself, it’s something that’s very near and dear to my heart. I so appreciated Anderson Cooper having the courage and the generosity of heart to show up and talk about things, and open a conversation that is sorely needed here,

I’ll end with the conversation I had again with my friends Lisa and Fritz the other night. As you know, we had enormous losses during Covid. There are so many people out there, all over the world, who had a lot of trauma and who were denied by nature of the circumstances the opportunity to grieve in a way that is comforting. One of my fears is that a lot of people may feel like they can’t really talk about it too much because they are ‘air quotes’ one of many who lost loved ones during Covid. And while everybody needs to process grief and loss in their own time and in their own way, I think almost anybody would confirm that talking about it, sharing it, and having your loss  acknowledged is a critically important part of the healing process.

I want to end with this. It is never, ever inappropriate nor too late to acknowledge someone’s loss. . The acknowledgement of pain and loss is a critical part of the healing process.

I’m going to end here. That’s all for now. Until next time, from my heart to yours.

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dear Listeners,

Friends say I live my life out loud. That’s because I’m a curious, adventurous person and, as an appreciator, I simply love to share what lights me up. Consider this is your invitation into my fun, multi-faceted world.

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