How to Navigate Grief and Loss with Ashley LeMieux

00:00:00    Alyssa

You're listening to Voices of Your Village. This is episode 262. I got to hang out with Ashley Lemieux and chat about grief and loss and what it looks like to navigate those. I think this is an especially tricky time of year where a lot of grief can come up and we can almost like be reliving loss. I have followed Ashley's journey for a long time and have found bits and pieces of myself in her journey sometimes mirroring the same timelines. And I want to let you know that there are a bunch of things in here as we're talking about grief and loss that might be triggering or hard to hear. And if you are not in a place for that, hit pause. Come on back when you're ready and know that this episode will be here for you with you when you want some tools to navigate that grief and loss. All right, folks. Let's dive in. 


00:01:07    Alyssa

Hey there. I'm Alyssa Blask Campbell. I'm a mom with a master's degree in early childhood education and co -creator of the Collaborative Emotion Processing Method. I'm here to walk alongside you through the messy, vulnerable parts of being humans raising other humans with deep thoughts and actionable tips. Let's dive in together. 


00:01:26    Alyssa

Hello, everyone, and welcome back to Voices of Your Village. Today, I get to hang out with Ashley Lemieux, she is a grief expert who finished her master's in science with an emphasis in grief and bereavement when her daughter was a newborn. Which like, Ashley, how? How is that something you take on when your daughter is a newborn? What is this? She is a best-selling author. She's the founder and CEO of The Shine Project and the host of the podcast, Healing Her. I have been following you in your journey for years, Ashley. We've had way more overlap than I think you know. So it'll be fun to get to dive into a lot of that today and kind of what's come up. And I'm excited to learn about your journey through grief and how it's informed where you are. Thanks for joining me today. 


00:02:16    Ashley

Oh my gosh, thank you so much for having me. I'm so excited to have this conversation with you. 


00:02:21    Alyssa

Me too. What got you here? How, why are you like, you know what, I have a newborn, let's dive into a master's program. 


00:02:29    Ashley

Okay, I actually love this question. Because when I started my master's program, I didn't have a newborn yet. So I think to set the stage for this whole conversation is I'm going to tell you a little bit about my background with grief and then how I got to this point where I was finishing my master's program with my newborn. And because that brings us to where we are today. But I  like to go back to 2020. And I know that we are all so sick of talking about that pandemic year for so many reasons, but it also kind of brought this equalizer into all of our lives where if we say the word 2020, all of us are like, we feel something, right? Because it was hard for everybody. It was the year that everyone connected in a way because we all had our own difficulties. So in my personal life, I was pregnant and we moved into our new house the same week that the pandemic shut everything down here in Arizona, and I remember a couple days after moving here we, I felt really sick, but it was also scary to go to the doctor or the hospital or anything because there was this new thing that no one knew about and so I just kept saying okay it will pass, I'll get better, it's safer for me to stay home and just let this ride out... but by midnight I couldn't move and I was screaming in pain and my husband had to call the ambulance to come and get me and they rushed me to the hospital and the very long story short is they found out I had gone septic which at the time I didn't realize and I'm glad I didn't realize yet the severity of sepsis but you, a lot of people lose their lives to it. When you're pregnant, it's very dangerous. People lose limbs, go into kidney failure. It's a whole, it's really scary. It's a whole thing. And they told me that it was the first day that the hospitals also were closing off outside visitors. So I would need to be admitted without my husband. The baby at that point was okay. And so I was like, okay, I can get through this. But also I felt so lonely just going in there by myself and I was in the most pain I've ever been in in my entire life. The long story really short is that we ended up losing our baby boy due to my sepsis and I had to deliver him all alone in the hospital and meanwhile my body's shutting down and I'm in the hospital for a couple of weeks and when I got out that is when this really heavy grieving process started. When I had to come home from the hospital without my baby, with a body that I felt so betrayed by and so unsafe inside of. In a worldwide pandemic where all of us were alone and we weren't connecting and there wasn't the support, I couldn't go to my therapist for support. I couldn't go to my family's house. I couldn't do these things that normally in grief we need to be supported. The next year was difficult and we weren't getting pregnant and we ended up starting fertility treatments, but no one could tell me why we weren't pregnant. And it was during that time where I felt so lost and so desperate in my life. I felt like I wasn't the same person anymore. And I was getting nervous that, well, what if my dream of being a mother again, what if that doesn't happen? And I just spend the next decade of my life trying to make that happen. What happens if it doesn't? And then I'm just sad. And then I just regret having not lived my life or how can I still find joy while also hoping that this thing happens that I don't have any control over? So it was at that time that I decided I was going to go back to school, that we would pause our treatments because it was sucking the life out of me. Anyone listening who's going through fertility treatments or who has in the past, I send my heart to you because every single thing you do is just wrapped around this timeframe of when's my cycle starting? When am I going in for shots? Did it work? Did it not work? Like that consumes your life. And I wanted something else to also be able to consume my life. And from my past experiences through grief, I was an expert in grief because of my personal life. And I also wanted to be able to better help walk people through their own grief. So I decided I would go get my master's in mental health and wellness with an emphasis in grief and bereavement. And then after starting that program, a month later, we found out I was pregnant. And that was so surprising and beautiful and joyful. And also right, like I've learned that grief has all the emotions and that word and becomes so important because we feel happy and sad, we grieve and we feel joy. But that is why I finished my master's program with a newborn. And here we are now. 


00:07:55    Alyssa

And here we are now. I'm so deeply sorry for so many parts of this. I too miscarried. I lost our little one in February of 2020. And it was a miscarriage that went on for four months. My body wouldnt stop bleeding, but I was non -emergent in the name of the pandemic. And so I couldn't get in. I got in for a D&C in May. 


00:08:21    Ashley

That's unbelievable.


00:08:22    Alyssa

We found out January 31st and I got in for a D&C in May.  And so watching your, I remember texting Mike at one point and Mike is Ashley's husband and was just like, oh, my heart was aching as you guys were moving through your journey. And I was like, oh, I'm feeling so much of this with you, because we were in our own journey of it. And we'd had years to even get to that pregnancy, right? And so just like the fertility world is so common and so isolating at the same time. And then I had one period and I got pregnant with my now toddler. And that was its own whole thing, right? Of like, had a D&C in May, found out I was pregnant July 4th and was just like, whoa, like how-- what does it look like to trust your body? What does it look like to hit that baby's due date and be pregnant with another baby and feel that both/and of like excited that I'm pregnant with this other baby and I was supposed to be giving birth right now? You know, like I'm so grateful that you have shared so much of your journey publicly because this world can feel so isolating that it in weird ways, even though I was like alone and a lot of it felt less alone, you know? 


00:09:48    Ashley

Yeah. I think that grief has this way of internally telling us or making us feel like we're the only ones going through it. 


00:09:57    Alyssa



00:09:58    Ashley

That's what- the feeling of grief. It's like this longing for something. It's like this feeling of homesickness to a place or a time that you can never return back to. And that feeling brings just these heavy feelings of loneliness. So when we're able to connect, when we're able to share stories, when we're able to talk to other people who have been through what we've been through, even though, and I always say this, even though the details of our lives are all very different from each other, the feelings that we share, those are the same, and that's what helps connect us as part of this wild human experience where we can just kind of take a breath when we see someone else say, hey, this happened to me too. It's not just you. And I also think that that is helpful because one of the things that grief tells us is that guilt piece. One of the processes of grief that we go through, one of the stages that we cycle through is this guilt piece. Guilt is actually this feeling that our brain makes us feel because we want to feel in control of a situation. Guilt tells us that, you know, it's our fault. We're the ones to blame so that we can feel safe living in an unpredictable world and then tell ourselves okay well if I just do X, Y or Z differently in the future then it's safe for me to do this thing again and it won't have a bad outcome again and I think that that part of grief too feels so isolating and so then when we see other people go through it our brains kind of click and it's like oh it's not just me there's nothing just inherently wrong with me. This is part of the human experience where we lose things and people we love at no fault to our own, maybe this isn't my fault. And I think that that's one of a really big reason why sharing and connecting is so important and healing in the grieving process. 


00:12:01    Alyssa

I agree. And I think you're right. I think like shame lives so close to grief and that like I failed, my body failed. I am failing. I did all these things wrong. And by hearing other people's stories and finding connection, it can shift actually to like, oh no, this is potentially a part of the process. And I think, you know, we know that our brains are designed to keep us safe. They do an awesome job at trying to make this happen. And part of that, for our brains, is trying to avoid hard feelings to say like, that doesn't feel safe. It feels uncomfortable to be in discomfort. And it's a process to learn how to be in discomfort, how to allow hard things to exist without trying to shame them away, without trying to run from them, without trying to hide from them. And gosh, when we were in like March of 2020 and we're a couple or a month or so into the miscarriage at this point, it's not stopping, everything shuts down. I was like, maybe we should move to Maine. And Zach, my husband, was like, sure, sure. I don't think any of this is going to change if we move to Maine, but sure, we can explore it. We started house hunting in Maine, right? That idea of I can run from this. I can run from this grieving process is my go-to nervous system reaction usually is flee. And I'm so good at it. And so for myself, when I start to notice those like desires to run. That's when I have now become my markers of like, oh, we need to be. And gosh, it's hard. 


00:13:49    Ashley

Oh, it's so hard. That's, that's my go to also is how fast and how far can I run away, whether that's physically or whether that's even emotionally, from myself, or my marriage, or how busy can I make myself with work? 


00:14:08    Alyssa

I'm so good at it, Ashley. 


00:14:09    Ashley

I'm so I'm so good at that. Oh, you want me to fill my schedule? I can fill my schedule and I can fill it with things that don't even matter, but I can make it matter because that feels better than having to sit and feel how I'm feeling. But the problem is, is that you can't outrun it. You can never run far enough or fast enough. And here's the thing though, that society teaches us, and it's not our fault that we feel that way, right? Because we have been taught from a very young age that grief is something to get over. It's something to be fixed. And you know, in, in the workplace, even we see this mirrored as bereavement policy in the workplace. On average, you can lose someone in your immediate family, and three days later, you are expected to get back to work, to keep producing at the same level, to show up as you were before your world was rocked just three days ago. I mean, that's just like a holiday weekend. 


00:15:17    Alyssa

Yeah, totally. It's not even a full vacation, 


00:15:21    Ashley

Not even a full vacation. And so that's what we've been taught about grief. But what I have learned is that what if grief isn't something that we fix, but it's something that we learn how to experience. And as I have invited that thought into my life and that relationship with grief, that is what has helped facilitate a healing process that cannot come if I'm just trying to run away from it. 


00:15:54    Alyssa

A hundred percent. A hundred percent. And I think this goes beyond grief when it comes to hard feelings for us, but certainly grief, that we are taught that we're not supposed to feel that hard thing. And you're supposed to, I wrote in the book, but that I'd given a presentation at one point years ago to 40 parents and 38 of them when I said, what do you want for your kids when they grow up? 38 of them said, I want them to be happy. And listen, if there's a world in which Sage and this little girl could just feel happy all the time, sign me up. If there's a world in which I can only feel happy all the time, sign me up. But it's not how we're designed to live. It's not how emotions work. It's not how our nervous system works. But I think so many of us have been conditioned to think we're only supposed to feel the easy, good feelings. And so when things like grief come up, we're like, I'm failing because I'm not supposed to be feeling this way. And I think when we learn how to be with grief and experience it, it allows us to get back to feeling the good stuff, the easy stuff, all that jazz. So let's walk folks through like, what is the messiness of being in grief? 


00:17:13    Ashley

The messiness of being in grief is allowing yourself to feel all of the things. And I want to tell you something that most people spend their entire lives avoiding, which is also the number one thing that we must do when we find ourself in grief. And before I share this, I also want to say that it's important to understand that grief isn't just death. It's not just losing someone. It can be loss of a job. It can be loss of dreams. It can be loss of yourself. Let's say even you are a mom and that's something you always wanted. And also you feel like you don't know who you are anymore and you miss who you used to be, right? Or maybe you lost a job or there's a big move. Grief shows up in so many places, but we don't actually know how to label it. And so we don't a lot of times know that what we're feeling is grief. So the number one thing that all of us need to do in order to help ourselves move through the messiness of grief is to acknowledge our feelings. And that sounds so simple, right? It's like, okay, Ashley, that's all you got? But here's the thing, most of us don't do that. Instead we numb or we run or we turn to substances or shopping or dieting or more work or more bad relationships or whatever our thing is so that we can do anything else but acknowledge how we're feeling. That's what the majority of us do. And the thing about grief is that you can try shove it down, but it's going to pop up in one way or another, whether that's a physical ailment in your body and getting sick, whether that's temper, whether that's a cycle that keeps repeating itself, whether it could be so many ways that it pops up, which is why acknowledgement is so important. But then we kind of have to rewind because a lot of us don't feel safe to feel our emotions. I think that, you know, that's one of the things that happens in grief when trauma is associated with it. Trauma is a sense of unsafety, you feel unsafe to feel, you feel might feel unsafe in your body, or in your home or, or just existing in life in general. So then when you're going through those hard emotions, how do we create a safe space where we can acknowledge how we're feeling. And we feel like we're allowed to do that. So there's first, there's a few things, just tangible things that I like to start doing right away. And the first one is with that acknowledgement, even changing thoughts and saying things like I am safe, I am safe, I am safe in my body, I am safe in my home. And if you're not safe, in those places, then we know that the next step is seeking professional help, right? Is reaching out to people who can help bring that safety and there's so much power also in therapy and having a professional walk alongside this with you so that you can have a toolbox full of things to help keep you safe as you are starting to acknowledge and process through these emotions so that then you can continue on doing things like practicing mindfulness or or practicing these breathing techniques, or your body scanning, or mindful eating, things that help you be in the present moment. But if we don't feel safe to be in our present moment, it's really hard to move forward. And I think that for a lot of us, that's where the messiest part of the grief comes in is how do I create a safety net where I feel like I'm allowed to do this hard thing of trying to feel these emotions so I can heal through them. 


00:21:19    Alyssa

Yeah. I think for myself, one of the things that's been the most challenging is emotional safety within myself to do that, right? Because the grieving around the both/and is often the hardest for me to allow. I should just feel excited that I'm pregnant with this other human and that emotional safety that, Alyssa, you're still lovable and you can still feel excited and you're still worthy of that excitement as much as you're worthy of grieving the fact that you were expecting a baby right now, right? Or one for me has been like, as this little girl is growing, knowing like there's a grief that I will enter, that I entered when I entered parenthood, that I'm so excited to be a parent and gosh, I miss sleeping in on a Saturday or only thinking about myself sometimes or whatever. And looking at like, yeah, when we go from one to two kids, that there's going to be moments of grief in that, that I can feel both gratitude for this other babe in our lives and grieve the family of three we had and the routines we had and the time we had and all that. And so that for me, the emotional safety within myself often comes up as the hardest part about allowing grief to exist. Another one, on this book tour, another one that recently came up on the book tour, someone was asking about what if you're doing this work with your kids and your partner isn't, right? And I was like, I think at that point, it's taking time to allow yourself to grieve the relationship you envisioned for your child and your partner first, because we can only control ourselves. We can model, we can do a whole bunch of things. But I think a lot of us coming into parenthood, we envision certain relationships that our kids are going to have with our co-parent, or our partner, or our parents or their grandparents, et cetera, that maybe we didn't have that we wanted, or maybe we did have, and we'd love to see repeated. And then allowing that grieving process of, well, that's not their story here. And for me, those like emotional safety components of grief, that like, I can feel the both/and. Grateful for this partner of mine and this co-parent and grieve the loss of the relationship I envisioned them having with my child. 


00:23:56    Ashley

Yes, and I think that that's something that, you know, we don't really talk about often. There's also this thing that happens in any big life circumstance. And then especially as you, if you enter motherhood and are raising a child where a lot of times it can also bring up past grief. 


00:24:14    Alyssa



00:24:15    Ashley

As you are walking your child through their own childhood, some of your own childhood wounds. I mean, if that and that's another reason if we try to shove it down, it's gonna come up and a lot of times that can trigger I mean, motherhood can trigger a whole lot of feelings that we've been processed through and then especially if we haven't processed through something that a way that I like to think about grief is, imagine you're walking through the world and all you see, you see through like a binocular lens of green. That's how you experience the world. Everything is green. So when you go out to the street, the sky is green, or the plants are green, or everything that you are viewing your life through this lens is that color, then something unexpected happens. And it gives you this totally new lens. And maybe that lens is blue. And now you go back outside and the sky is blue and the plants are blue and the street's blue. And you're like, this feels so weird. This feels unsafe. I'm used to seeing it be green. I don't know how to experience it this way. It feels unfamiliar. It feels too new. I don't feel like myself anymore. And with grief, a lot of times we try so hard to go back to seeing green. We don't want the blue anymore. We want what was familiar. We want the old lens. But with grief is that it changes you. You can never go back to how it was before once you know what you know now, once you've experienced that loss. And I'm not saying this as a doomsday. I'm saying this as, okay, well now how do we experience a life where we're going to have grief throughout our life? So for me, it's like, how do I marry those two things of this old lens of green and this new lens of blue coming together? I don't even know what color that makes. Is it purple? I don't know. I should have looked that up. Whatever green and blue make, right? Now is how can that be our new lens in which we create this feeling of safety, in which we experience this newness and how we interact with the world. And it does not mean that what we have lost is worth this new lens. In fact, what we have lost, it sucks that it was lost. We would do anything to get it back. But the hard reality is that we can't. So now how do we move forward with this new experience in life and stopping trying? So many of us think that healing means I'm going to get back to how it was before without acknowledging that we can't. 


00:27:08    Alyssa

Yeah, it's a part of us now. 


00:27:10    Ashley

It's a part of us. 


00:27:11    Alyssa

Yeah, and I love that, Ashley, because I think it's this, it's allowing that discomfort into the transition of what is, right? That acceptance part of what is. And I think for some folks, acceptance can feel like we're giving in. 


00:27:30    Ashley

Or that you're like okay with it. 


00:27:32    Alyssa

Correct. Yeah, and so we keep, just fighting like hell to like get back to that other thing that then we end up in living life in that space, right? Our lived experience then day-to-day is trying to not be in what is, and it's a hard way to live. It's exhausting to fight every day trying to not experience what is. 


00:27:59    Ashley

It's an impossible way to live. I think also that's why so many of us are burnt out. 


00:28:05    Alyssa



00:28:05    Ashley

We are exhausted and those feelings are so real and valid. And I love what you brought up about acceptance. A lot of people, especially in the grieving process, think that acceptance is this one final act and that suddenly means that you're over it, that you're okay, that you've somehow climbed the mountain and have found yourself on the other side. Acceptance can be a daily process. Heck, if you are me, sometimes it's an hour by hour process and it never means that I'm okay with what has happened, but acceptance is an acknowledgement of life being what it is and then accepting it as it is and then figuring out how you're going to move forward with what life has now given you, instead of trying to change it, instead of trying to fit back into the box, instead of trying to numb it. And that's when healing can really start being facilitated. I honestly believe that that acceptance piece is kind of the first step moving forward into what healing can look like. 


00:29:16    Alyssa

I agree. And I think a huge part of healing is the coping aspect of, all right, then how do I, in our work we often separate sensory regulation from emotional regulation, or we look at sensory regulation being the body, the nervous system. And that's where we're like, in a panic attack and you feel it, or you're feeling all the feelings internally. And then what it looks like to regulate that nervous system, whether it's hitting the gym, or it's taking some deep breaths, or it's doing certain coping activities, we call them coping strategies. We separate coping strategies from mechanisms, which are those numbing agents. For me, like Facebook Marketplace, I don't even need to check out. I'm just like, is it still available, right? Like that's all I need. But like, those are those numbing agents where it's gonna surface back up. Our strategies being like regulating our nervous system so that then we can be with the emotion, but with our whole brain, right? Like with access to all of our tools that when we're in a dysregulated state, we don't have. And I think when we're looking at grief, this is such a huge part that like, when you have that acceptance of like, okay, and you can build the body awareness of I'm in this, what am I feeling? Then how do you regulate that nervous system? And what helps? What have you found that helps you regulate so that you can access all of your tools and allow yourself to be in grief without being consumed by it? 


00:30:44    Ashley

One of the things that's really important to me is being able to move my body. And that has looked very different throughout the past few years of my life, right? So this is coming from someone who was in, um, recovering from sepsis and not really able to get out of bed for four months. So at first, it looked like me doing small little breathwork exercises in my bed, in my bed, because that's all I could do. Then it looked like me doing very simple yoga movements. Then it looked like me, you know, increasing those yoga movements. And then I got pregnant. So then I was just-


00:31:19    Alyssa

 Back in bed. 


00:31:21    Ashley

-Walking around, you know, and now I'm doing heavy weights at the gym, but being able to use our bodies as a way to help move our emotions is so important. And I, I think people sometimes, you know, when we talk about that, think that that has to mean well, that means I have to wake up early to go to the gym every morning where I have to- No. We need to not beat your body up. This has nothing to do and you know, I'm going to say something that's very different and contradictory to probably what a lot of people in the self help world you see say online, which is a lot of times we get this messaging of if you really want it, then you're going to wake up a half an hour earlier and you're gonna hit the gym and you're- No.  Moving our body for healing is the opposite of that. It's being able to tune in, and listen to what we need that day whether that's a walk whether that's breathing whether that's just sitting whether that's doing heavy weights at the gym whether that's running whatever that thing is I love asking myself the question what do I need today to process my grief so that doesn't just say stagnant inside of me which leads me to another thing that I do which is writing. Writing is this really beautiful healing cathartic exercise that helps us take our emotions from inside of us and put it somewhere else. And a lot of times our brains, especially in a healing process, our brains need proof that something is working or that we can trust ourselves again or that we can feel safe. And so a lot of those emotions I have, I put it on paper so my brain can read them and so that I feel like I'm not the only one carrying it around anymore. I also have started doing mindful eating, which mindful eating has nothing to do with me tracking food or diet or anything. What mindful eating refers to is, when I'm cooking, I'm smelling my food. I'm making this a full body experience where I'm there and I'm present. I'm tasting it. I'm listening to it. I'm interacting in a way where all of me in that moment is there.  And then I'm actively participating and not just shoving food down to try to get to the next appointment, but I'm nourishing my body. And I'm allowing myself to take a pause that says I'm important. And my nourishment is important. And I'm going to slow down and take all the time I need right now for this. So those are just three small things that I really try to do every day that helps me be able to hold my grief in a way where it feels supported and then gives it an outlet to move outside of me. 


00:34:03    Alyssa

I love that. And what I heard in there was like the slowing down. You and I were talking about how like, boy, can we fill a calendar so that we don't feel. And when we slow down, we allow ourselves to feel. And so for me, even like I have noticed for myself, one of the hardest things is saying, actually, I'm going to stay in bed a little longer. Just this morning, Sage, when he woke up, he was in his crib and Zach went in to get him and he was like, I want mama. And I was like, do you want to just come snuggle in my bed? I needed a little more time to just be. And so he laid and we snuggled and read books in my bed. But that's something I've had to practice. It's not just like, get up and go and move and do and be productive but really slow down has been a coping strategy for me that rest is productive. And rest for me is something I have to be mindful of. Otherwise, I don't prioritize it. For me, one of the things that has been so surprising about grief is that there are certain things that I envisioned were like, oh, I'll feel sad probably, yeah, around that due date or things that were markers, but it's those little moments where it sneaks up on you, where you're like, oh, I just walked by this human and saw this bow on a head and now I'm sobbing? And it just all of a sudden comes out of nowhere. And I think when we're looking at things like the holidays, sometimes we might expect like, oh, when I get to this day, I will feel sad that so-and-so's not here, that my dad who I lost isn't here, or that life doesn't look the way that I had envisioned it looking. But then you're like, oh, it was actually like the day we decorated the Christmas tree or like these random little moments that sneak up on us. And those are, I think, for me, at least the biggest doozies because I don't see them coming. 


00:36:01    Ashley

Yeah. Or we catch a whiff of the smell of cinnamon and we miss our person who was making cinnamon rolls on Christmas, or we're around the table together, and there's an empty chair that's not being filled or for whatever reason, whether that's because they have transitioned to the next life or because they've moved or because there was a breakup or right, like, whatever that looks like, the holidays have this way of bringing up emotions where we feel like there's a person who has left a hole, and it can be really hard to move through. Something else with grief is often when especially with the holidays when we know a holiday is coming up and we know we're going to miss someone or something we try to prepare for that. Often our own mind trying to keep us safe, the preparation, the anticipation actually causes more anxiety and more of a grief response than the actual day. There have been so many anniversary dates or holidays throughout the past few years, that I have just made myself sick over like preparing for the day or what am I going to feel or I'm so sad about it. And then the day gets there. And I'm like, Oh, I actually felt much worse leading up to this day just anticipating this moment. And I love that you brought up it catches us off guard. And and little things that remind us of things or people that we miss is a very normal part of the human experience and so through the holidays there are a couple things that we really focus on so that we can remember people we love and it becomes an active part of our holiday celebration. One of them is that we put a stocking up for that person and we leave notes for them. So for example for my baby Jace who we lost, if there are moments where I wish he was there with us or I wonder what he would be doing I - so even just like right now thinking about the holidays that are coming, um, and wishing he was here for it, but I will just write him a little note and I'll put it in his stocking. And then that question I have of what it can be like, or this memory that I'm kind of just like making up in my mind, it can live somewhere else. We also, uh, we celebrate Christmas. And so we have an ornament on our tree for him. And you know, there's just several different things that we do that incorporates people we miss into our holidays so that it also gives this very open place to talk about it and to talk about them and to share stories and especially if you have kids and it's a person they knew that can also be so helpful for them too to allow them to have a place to express their feelings and to know that their feelings are heard and valid because I also think that being a parent, when you're trying to walk through your own grief, and you have kids who are also grieving, that's another whole thing. And we can't and we are not supposed to shield them from the pain. Our role as their mom or their dad is to help them walk through it. And so creating those safe spaces where they know that they are allowed to talk about how they are feeling is the most impactful thing that any of us could do for our kids. 


00:39:32    Alyssa

Yeah, yeah, I couldn't agree more. And I think that when we're looking at things like the holidays are ways that we move through grief, recognizing that sometimes for the humans around us who aren't in a space where they're able to move through grief in this way, it can feel deeply uncomfortable for them. And that you are still allowed to grieve and take up space and allow your hard feelings. You don't have to mute them for other people's discomfort. 


00:40:07    Ashley

Yes. And I also found too, even though it can be and it is uncomfortable for so many people, when we are able to see others create space for their grief, it kind of just helps other people get a little bit more permission for them to hold space for theirs. Even if it's not in that moment, even if it's going to take a few more years, it takes a consistency in someone being able to see other people hold their own space to know that they're allowed to also. 


00:40:39    Alyssa

Yeah, it's a beautiful way to model. Ashley, thank you. Thank you for your work in this space and for continuing to be a guiding light, for your podcast where you're diving into so many of these conversations. Where can folks find you, follow you, learn more about the work that you're doing? 


00:40:58    Ashley

Well, thank you so much for having me today. I would love for you guys to come join our online community. You can find me on Instagram @ashleyklemieux and I promise my job is to help make grief feel accessible and not heavy. And so we add humor to it, which, you know, sometimes you just, you just have to-


00:41:17    Alyssa

You gotta. 


00:41:18    Ashley

Laugh so you don't cry and tell stories and things that help you feel less alone. And then also on my new top charted podcast, Healing Her every single Tuesday, we dive into deeper discussions about common feelings that you might have and why we have them and how we can work through them and we make it fun. So I hope to see you there. 


00:41:42    Alyssa

Awesome. Thank you so, so much. It's been lovely to get to dive into this convo with you and nice to go into the holidays with some of these tools in our pocket. 


00:41:51    Ashley

Thank you so much for having me. 


00:41:54    Alyssa

Thanks for tuning in to Voices of Your Village. Check out the transcript at Did you know that we have a special community over on Instagram hanging out every day with more free content? Come join us at, S -E -W. Take a screenshot of you tuning in, share it on the 'Gram, and tag to let me know your key takeaway. If you're digging this podcast, make sure to subscribe so you don't miss an episode. We love collaborating with you to raise emotionally intelligent humans. 


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