April 12, 2023

Nickky Wise Neff - Multiple Sibling Loss

CONTENT WARNING: Please note that this episode contains depictions and stories of siblings lost by suicide, homicide and/or domestic violence. We understand that some people may find these triggering, activating and/or disturbing. There’s a lot to...

CONTENT WARNING: Please note that this episode contains depictions and stories of siblings lost by suicide, homicide and/or domestic violence. We understand that some people may find these triggering, activating and/or disturbing.

There’s a lot to unpack in Nickky’s sibling loss journey. First she lost her big brother Glennn who committed suicide, then she lost her older sister Lisa in a car accident, and most recently her brother Alexander to a homicide. The most challenging thing for Nickky has been letting go of the guilt that has come with every loss. She felt so alone in her grief journey, that she decided to found Saitada, an organization that helps with grief and loss support to those that have lost their siblings, or their parents to either cancer, homicide or suicide.

In this week's episode, Nickky shares about her family dynamics before her brothers and sister passed, how she has moved forward in her grief journey, what made her found Saitada, what a grief doula is and how she decided to start getting educated to become one, and she also shares some advice to younger surviving siblings.

Episode sponsored by Saitada, an organization that provides support to those that have lost their siblings or parents to homicide, suicide and cancer. 

Season 3 is brought to you by SibsForever.org, a virtual platform to commemorate and honor your sibling relationship. Create your free profile and start building beautiful commemorative web pages that can include photo and video galleries featuring you and your sibling.

In this episode I’m covering:

  • Intro [00:00:00]

  • Family dynamics [00:02:08]

  • Nickky and Glen’s story [00:06:58]

  • What happened after “The Call” [00:14:50]

  • Losing Lisa unexpectedly [00:24:58]

  • Losing Alexander to homicide [00:33:44]

  • No one wanted to take care of anything [00:53:18]

  • The story of Saitada [00:58:09]

  • Death doulas [01:05:57}

  • Advice for Younger surviving Siblings[01:09:10]

For full episode show notes and transcript, click here

Connect with Nickky

Facebook | Nickky Neff

Facebook | Saitada

Instagram | @saitada_grief_loss_support

Instagram | @crzredhead

Connect with Maya 

Website | The Surviving Siblings 

Instagram | @survivingsiblingspodcast | @mayaroffler 

TikTok | @survivingsiblingspodcast

Facebook Group | The Surviving Siblings Podcast

YouTube | The Surviving Siblings Podcast 

Patreon | The Surviving Siblings Podcast

Twitter | @survivingsibpod

✨Get The Surviving Siblings Guide HERE


[00:00:00] Maya: Welcome to the Surviving Siblings Podcast. I'm your host, Maya Ruffler. As a surviving sibling myself, I knew that I wanted to share my story, my brother's story. I lost my brother to a homicide in November of 2016, and after going through this experience, I knew that I wanted to share my story and his story.

[00:00:27] Maya: It's time to share your stories now. The Forgotten mourners, the Surviving siblings. The story that is not told enough. Season three of the Surviving Siblings Podcast is brought to you by sips forever.org, a virtual platform for. The surviving sibling to commemorate and honor your sibling relationship.

[00:00:49] Maya: Visit sips forever.org today to create your free profile and start building beautiful commemorative webpages that can include photo and video galleries featuring you and your sibling. Now let's dive into the episode today. I have another incredible guest here with me. Her name is Nikki Wise, Neff. Nikki, welcome to the Surviving Siblings Podcast.

[00:01:16] Nickky: Thank you, Maya. Good to be here.

[00:01:18] Maya: I'm really excited to have you here. We've got a lot to unpack in your sibling loss journey. You are a multi loss story, which is a story that was asked for by many of our listeners, many of our surviving siblings and people who wanna support surviving siblings, like parents and friends.

[00:01:39] Maya: And I do think it's, uh, an important story to tell, and you've gone through different losses with, with each sibling, which is quite significant. And you are also providing a platform now to help with grief and loss, which we'll get to at the end. But first I wanna dive into your story. So tell us a little bit about.

[00:02:02] Maya: Your family, the family dynamics before you lost your first sibling in 2001.

[00:02:08] Nickky: Okay. Um, I have collectively, I have five brothers and five sisters before my siblings passed. Um, my parents divorced when I was two, so we all grew up majority separately, um, until I was a teenager. So, um, you know, my mom did remarry once and they have other siblings from that.

[00:02:30] Nickky: And so we're just kind of a, I always say a convoluted family tree, so. There's his mind, ours, everybody . Yeah. You guys are a big, you're a big family. Yeah. So tell

[00:02:43] Maya: us a little bit about what your family looked, this big family, what you guys kind of looked like in 2001 because you lost your first brother, or the first loss, I should say, Glen, by suicide in 2001, which is a, a big topic now that we're talking about.

[00:03:02] Maya: I'm so glad that we are talking about this. Not glad that it's happening, but it needs to be talked about. Right Nikki? So tell us a little bit about what was going on in your family at the time and then lead us into, to Glen.

[00:03:14] Nickky: Okay. Um, I had moved from with, I live in Wisconsin. I had moved from Wisconsin to Michigan, which is where, um, almost the whole entire rest of my family that died.

[00:03:24] Nickky: Um, I was pregnant with my youngest child, my daughter, and um, and just kind of living day to day out there and. . It was a struggle over there, but I had my dad and my siblings that were over there, so it was great. Um, but it was, yeah, a struggle as well, . But my brother and I, um, Glenn and I were very close.

[00:03:48] Nickky: Um, I felt we were very close. Um, he's been in and out of prison the majority of his life, um, since he was about 15, I believe. Uh, but we always, um, since I was about 15, had kept in contact with writing and visits and, and all that kind of stuff. And, um, in it's 2000 or 2001, um, he had gotten out of prison and, um, was not really following what he should have been doing.

[00:04:17] Nickky: He wasn't going to parole visits and stuff like that, so he was absconding. Um, and he had said, you know, I'm never going to go back to prison. I'd rather die first. And so, um, there was that, um, But I don't think that it was ever his intention to actually shoot himself and not be here any longer. Um, and he did that about, he did it a month before I had my daughter.

[00:04:46] Nickky: I ended up having her a month early because of the, all this stress from it. Um, but you know, that's unfortunately it's life for a lot of people. Um, Suicide is a, like you said, it's a huge thing, um, that is not really brought to the forefront as much as it, it really needs to be. So

[00:05:07] Maya: yeah, that's why I, I really appreciate you, um, sharing and opening up about Glen, and we're gonna continue to talk about that a little bit more.

[00:05:15] Maya: But to highlight what you just said, Nikki, this is suicide has been around a long, long time. This is not something that just started happening, um, but I feel like it's become like almost a spotlight or, you know, things have been shown upon it. Um, definitely pandemic brought it a little bit. We, we talked more about mental health and I feel like in the past, you know, in 21 and 22, losing the quote unquote celebrity to buy suicide, you know, and some people say unlive, which I'm gonna ask your opinion about both of that in a second, both of those terms.

[00:05:52] Maya: But I feel like when those things happen in the public eye, it, it. Kind of forces us to look at it. And I find that to be a, a good thing I do, because I, I think it's sad and tragic and I'm, you know, so sad that the, these people were lost by suicide, of course. But we need to remember, and I think when these things happen in such a public area, we need to remember that this happens to people we know that are right, right next door to us or right down the road from us, or like our inner schools, communities, whatever it is, right?

[00:06:25] Maya: And so that's why sharing these stories, it, it's so important.

[00:06:29] Maya: How, just a, a question so we can kind of paint context here, Nikki. How, um, what was the age difference between you and Glen? Um, I believe five years. Okay. Okay. Yeah. So, Glen, I, I could understand someone not wanting to go back into the system, and that's not a life that you wanna live, but it sounds like he had some struggles throughout his life.

[00:06:54] Maya: Yeah. What were his, what were his main struggles? Kind of tell us a little bit about Glen.

[00:06:58] Nickky: You know, I, I didn't, we didn't grow up together. Um, my family, my parents, um, didn't have a good relationship with each other after they divorced. So, um, I didn't see my dad until from when I was four, till I was 15. So I didn't really have any relationship with my other siblings until I was a teenager.

[00:07:21] Nickky: Um, and then I did, um, But he was, he was my big brother, you know, and when I had kids, I was so glad I had a boy first, because I feel like every girl needs a big brother. Um, they're your protector, you know? He was always, you know, well if this happens then I'll take care of it. And, you know, so he was, he was my protector regardless of whether he was physically there or not.

[00:07:49] Nickky: I had his words, you know, that he would take care of it, not worry. And so, you know, he was just, I think every girl needs a big brother. .

[00:07:59] Maya: I love that you're saying this because that is so true. So little sidebar. First I get, so my brother, of course, was exactly three years younger than me. We all know this, right?

[00:08:10] Maya: You guys all love the story now. Um, and I used to, Try to pretend like he was my older brother sometimes, because he was like a foot taller than me and a lot more intimidating in those ways. Right? And I'd be like, yeah, well my brother. And so I always want an older brother. And then, as you guys have heard, if you haven't, go back and listen to it.

[00:08:31] Maya: On season two, episode 10, I had, uh, Caleb on, and Caleb really became this bigger brother, cuz he actually is older than me, uh, that I never had. So, you know, loss in life is interesting because we, our relationship got really deep when he lost his brother, as I'm sure. But I connect with that and I think a lot of you guys will connect with, um, the older brother and the protector.

[00:08:54] Maya: Um,

[00:08:54] Nickky: yeah. And now one of my younger brothers, um, we're only a year and a half apart and he's like, well, I'm your big younger brother. And so, you know, , ,

[00:09:03] Maya: I love that. Yeah, I think it's, I think it's definitely a thing and I love that you had, uh, a boy first and you can connect with that. It, there's a lot of meaning behind that.

[00:09:12] Maya: So, I know this is painful, but going back to 2001 with, with Glen and him dying by suicide. Kind of tell us as much as you feel comfortable going back to that day, um, when things happened and how you found out. Nikki, tell us a little bit about that.

[00:09:33] Maya: We hope you're enjoying this incredible episode of the Surviving Siblings Podcast. I'm your host, Maya Ruffler. We'll be back in just a minute. After hearing from our incredible sponsor, Chitana is the Celtic goddess of grief and mourning. Who better to help you along your grief journey? After losing her youngest brother, Alexander to a homicide, and both her parents to cancer as well as two of her other siblings, Nikki felt like there was no one out there that understood what she was going through.

[00:10:07] Maya: So Nikki created a place where there were other people just like her. Surviving siblings, forgotten Mourners. A place where whether you have lost yourself in your grief journey, need some direction, or just need a little bit of support so you can find your place and feel a little less alone. chita.org is your place to find grief, support, resources, death, doula services, victim advocate services, and grief care package.

[00:10:40] Maya: You can also find Shta on Facebook and Instagram for daily grief messages and additional awareness material. Shta is a place where you are not alone. So visit shta.org today.

[00:10:59] Nickky: He had come over to my house, um, and I asked my boyfriend at the time, my daughter's father, um, to tell him that I didn't feel like it today. Um, I was, you know, seven months pregnant. Um, I, it was like seven o'clock at night, eight o'clock at night, and I was just over the day and he would come and he was very gregarious and a lot of energy and he would get my son riled up and he was six at the time.

[00:11:28] Nickky: So I was like, no, you know, we're not doing this today. Um, because there was school and it was September and. So my boyfriend told him, you know, yeah, not today, blah, blah, blah. And my boy, my brother left and he went to, um, his wife's house. He had gotten married while he was in prison. Um, they had been together off and on for quite a few years.

[00:11:51] Nickky: Um, and I guess, um, there was, they got into an argument. Um, Glenn had told me before that she was physically aggressive towards him. Um, and I, I knew he had a gun and I knew he shouldn't have had a gun, but I, I, I, I knew, um, and that's something I feel a lot of guilt about. Um, but he, they got into some kind of altercation, um, and.

[00:12:26] Nickky: He shot himself, or whether it was a situation of, well, you know, why don't you just kill yourself? Go ahead, do it, do it. You know, we're, we don't know. And we will never know. Um, she's obviously, his wife is obviously not going to say anything about it. Um, we don't have a continued relationship with her at all.

[00:12:46] Nickky: Um, they didn't have children together, anything like that. Um, but the morning that I found out, my, uh, my boyfriend actually lived with my dad and I lived in a separate apartment, and he called, he's like, Hey, you know, your dad's gonna be over in a little bit to get you, be just, just hang out. And I'm like, why?

[00:13:06] Nickky: You know, what's, why I, I'll drive over. I have my car. No, we don't want you to drive. And I'm like, yeah, well, you need to tell me what's going on. And so that's how I learned. He told me, you know, well, I'm sorry, but your brother is dead. And I'm like, excuse. You know, I mean, I only live like two miles from my dad, so I just got over there right away and.

[00:13:24] Nickky: Yeah. And you know it. Yeah. ,

[00:13:29] Maya: that was, yeah, that was your call. Like we all talk about, right. That was the call. And what a unique situation where it was your boyfriend telling you about this, and you answered one of my questions already, whether your brother had children or not. And you know, I, I always feel like there's mixed emotions behind that with families, right?

[00:13:49] Maya: I mean, my brother did not have children, and there's sometimes when I. He did. And sometimes I'm like, oh, well they didn't have to go through this, so. Right. You know, it's like mixed emotions on that. Yep, it is. Yep. And I'm sure you feel the same way about Glen's situation. Yep. Right. Yeah. Yeah. So

[00:14:04] Nickky: in, and, and that is

[00:14:06] Maya: just so difficult to know that your brother is in a tumultuous relationship and then there's, I mean, you're self men's pregnant and you're powerless.

[00:14:15] Maya: And when you've got a, a strong-headed brother, trust me, I'm like, raising my hand here. You know, I know they're not, they're not gonna listen. They don't listen. Right. So they're gonna do what they're gonna do, but finding that out is tough. And, and you don't think that, Mean, what they say about those things when they're like, I can't do this again.

[00:14:38] Maya: Or, you know, fill in the blank like you were saying. So I think this is a very important story to tell. So tell us a little bit about what that was like driving over there and what happened in the subsequent days. Nikki, as

[00:14:50] Nickky: much as you can. Um, I, I was just, so it's the first like big loss I had experienced since I was like 13 years old, we're 12, 13 when my grandfather died.

[00:15:03] Nickky: But that was of cancer. And yes, he was young, but it was like a, it was your grandpa, you know, I mean, and it mattered, but this was my sibling, my brother. Um, and to find out that it was so like sudden and horrific and I just, The whole family. I remember my sister, my youngest sister, she's like, don't touch me.

[00:15:27] Nickky: Don't, don't touch me. You know, she didn't want anybody to touch her. And I just, my heart broke for her and for my other siblings. And, um, cuz she was close to Glen as well. And it was just, it was awful. And, um, to see how my son was affected by the death. And, um, you know, I let him go to the funeral and stuff.

[00:15:50] Nickky: And looking back now, I'm like, oh my gosh, I should never have let my six year-old go to this funeral because it impacted his life forever. Um, but

[00:16:02] Maya: it's just like you, you

[00:16:04] Nickky: hold onto whoever you can. And my son being a single parent, he, he was the thing I held onto all the time.

[00:16:14] Maya: He was your support. He was like, you know, he won you, you were, you felt, I'm sure, and still feel like you were losing your protector.

[00:16:21] Maya: Like you said, the older brother, the protector. And so you're naturally gonna lean on your son like that makes sense. And I think we make decisions, and we talk about it a lot here on the podcast, and I'm sure you talk about this all the time too, Nikki, that the decisions you make right after a loss like that, sometimes you look back and me like, oh God, I wish I wouldn't have done that.

[00:16:41] Nickky: Or like, right. Cause you're, you're in the fog. Right, right. It's not always how healthy choice that you make. My son is young. He was young, you know, I'm like, but my boyfriend was providing support for one of my other brothers at the funeral. And so I'm like, I am alone in this group of my family. I feel alone, but I've got my son, so we're just gonna sit here and cry together, , and, you know.

[00:17:08] Nickky: Yeah. . Yeah.

[00:17:11] Maya: I think a lot, a lot of people will relate to this, Nikki, and a lot of you guys listening I'm sure will relate to this because, you know, and I think it's important to give yourself some grace and forgiveness or relieve yourself of that shame or whatever you're feeling. And I, you could speak to that because you were doing the best that you could at that time and with the tools that you had and when finding out that kind of information, like there's no perfect way to deal with something like that, right?

[00:17:40] Nickky: Yeah. Yeah. Unfortunately there's just not, um, and you don't at that time being, as you're in this kind of fog, you don't even realize if you're making a healthy or an unhealthy choice at that time. Um, great point. You just, yeah, you're just trying to push through and get through it. Um, So you just, you do what you need to do to just get through every day, you know?

[00:18:04] Nickky: And, uh, it took me a long time to get over the guilt. I felt about not telling my dad that my brother had a gun, you know, because my dad's like, now if you knew, why didn't you say anything? I'm like, because he was my brother. And he asked, he said, don't tell anybody. I didn't think he was gonna do anything with it.

[00:18:22] Nickky: I mean, , you know, it, it's, it seems to be more of a guy thing with guns a lot of the time. And it's just, I was like, okay. It never occurred to me that he would use it for something violent, like ending his life or, you know, anything else. Um, so it, yeah, it took me a long time to get over that guilt and realize that that's not, that's not my fault.

[00:18:46] Nickky: It wasn't my fault. Um, you know, even if he would've come in and talked with me that night, that doesn't mean he wouldn't have still gone to her house and it had this experience anyway. because I felt guilty for that, you know? Well, if I would've just had conversation with him like he wanted to, he'd still be here.

[00:19:04] Nickky: Well, no. No, he probably wouldn't. So, you know, I

[00:19:10] Maya: think, you know, you're over 20 years into your grief journey with Glen. We're getting to, we're getting to the next ones, but I think it's just really important to highlight a lot of what you just said, Nikki, because I think so many of us deal with that.

[00:19:25] Maya: Again, you know, just to say the, the shame and the guilts, all of those, you know, negative emotions, it's okay to feel them. It's natural to feel them, but it's not healthy to hold onto them. So it's really a, a beautiful gift that you're giving to everybody listening. And to myself to hear you say, like, I've come to the point where, you know, I've realized like that wouldn't have changed this, this wouldn't have changed that, and like, You know, you're the younger sister.

[00:19:50] Maya: If you would've told your parents or your dad that he had a gun, like would he have just hid it from you? Would he lied to you? You know, there's a lot of que it's gonna lead you down. Another Allison Wonderland, like rabbit hole. Rabbit hole, . Right, right. So, you know, I think that's, that's really difficult.

[00:20:06] Maya: But before we move on from, from Glenn and we never move on, we move forward. Right. So we're gonna move forward in your story, but I'd like to ask you a couple things. Dealing with suicide specifically, because this again, like we said, is such an important topic. There's a lot of conversation around, you know, verbiage and how we talk about this.

[00:20:28] Maya: Which again, that happens when we start to bring light to things that need to be talked about. Should have been talked about in a million bajillion years ago. Right? So how do you feel about it? Because for so many years people say committed suicide, um, took their life. Um, now people are saying that that's very triggering, and I can understand how that would be.

[00:20:51] Maya: Definitely. Um, and so people are leading more towards the path of like, died by suicide or, you know, another term is unlived, which I'm, you know, I understand that term, but like I'm kind of trying to wrap my head around saying that personally because I just heard it for the first time last year. Um, how do you feel about those different terminologies and what is the way that you kind of, you've told us a little bit about how you express Glen, but what, how do you feel comfortable now that you're 20 plus years into your journey with Glen?

[00:21:23] Maya: What, what are the terms that you're comfortable with and what's your opinion on this? I'm really curious.

[00:21:27] Nickky: Um, I will usually say, you know, well, my brother committed suicide. Um, because not everybody always needs to know, you know, the nitty gritty details of, you know, well, we don't know. Well, we might know, but, you know, um, or I will say, you know, he killed himself.

[00:21:43] Nickky: Um, and I know it's triggering for people, um, you know, because words can be very harmful. Um, but I think unlive is kind of ridiculous. Um, if that's just my personal, no, just wonder

[00:21:58] Maya: why I, your opinion, because everybody, it's very interesting as I'm diving into the topic of suicide a little bit more and finding out the opinion of people that have actually gone through it.

[00:22:07] Maya: So it's interesting. So, What, just, if you wouldn't mind diving just a little deeper into that, what is your opinion? Why do you think that It's, for me, hearing it, I think that as many people, I don't feel like the masses can understand that as much. Right. Like, we ha it hasn't made sense yet, but that's my reason for it.

[00:22:28] Maya: And I think that's why I say because I didn't experience this personally. Um, I just always say, oh, they died. Died by suicide. And I feel like, you know, if that is triggering for someone, please let me know and tell me. But hearing it straight from you, straight from the experience, you know? Yeah. Are you feeling that way about that on a live terminology or, but I'm respectful of everybody and how I feel, but yeah.

[00:22:52] Maya: Right. I think

[00:22:53] Nickky: that, I feel like the unlived. Evolved more from, um, being acceptable on social media. So you meant get a ban or, you know, um, things like that. Because again, words cause issues. Um, so there's certain platforms where you can't say those words because you'll get a ban or whatever. Um, and I just think that that's how that evolved.

[00:23:18] Nickky: I don't think it ever would've come about otherwise. It's not a natural thing to say, well, he unlived himself. It's not natural. Where, where in life has anybody ever said that before? You know? So I just think it's a workaround for me. That's what I feel like it's just a workaround so that you can get your point across without losing your platform to get your point across.

[00:23:41] Nickky: So, yeah, I, I think

[00:23:42] Maya: you nailed it. I think that it is an evolution of social media. And being able to express this. And I think it's, you know, I, I, again have mixed emotions about it because I'm like, we should be able to say, oh, we wanna say it's a social platform, but I also understand there's children on these platforms and like, I don't want little babies seeing that kind of stuff,

[00:24:01] Nickky: you know?

[00:24:01] Nickky: Exactly. Yeah. So

[00:24:02] Maya: I get it and I get both sides of it. And like, if the generation that's coming up now, you know, I'm, I'm 36, so like, this is new to me. Um, but I try, I try to stay in the know of these records , but no, and also stay respectful, you know, if some people doesn't, don't like the word trigger or you know, suicide and, you know, but that's why we always put trigger warnings on, you know, certain episodes and stuff.

[00:24:24] Maya: But, um, definitely wanted to dive in that with you, into that with you. And so thank you for being so transparent on that and sending lots of love to your family and Glen. But let's continue to move into your grief journey cuz this is what we're really sharing here today, Nikki. And you lost. Yet another sibling.

[00:24:44] Maya: But you lost Lisa in 2005. So four years later, give or take right. To a car accident. So you're still deep in grief and Oh yeah, this happens. Walk us through that story please. Um,

[00:24:58] Nickky: my, my brother Jason, um, he and I have always, we're both my mom's children. Um, so we've always, we, we grew up together. So we were, um, going from Michigan or from Wisconsin to Michigan, um, for a Christmas gathering.

[00:25:14] Nickky: you know, we saw everybody and then, you know, we were home maybe a day or two, and I got, you know, my dad called me at work, um, and I happened to work with my mom and he's like, oh, I need to talk to your mom. I'm like, why are you calling my mom? You know, , you guys don't even know. At that time, they didn't even get Aand that well.

[00:25:36] Nickky: So I'm like, why do you wanna talk to mom? He's like, I just need to talk to your mom. I'm like, all right. You know? So I transferred him. He talked to my mom, and my mom called me. She's like, Hey, I need you to come down here. I'm like, cool, no problem. I come down there and she's like, I'm sorry. She was like, but Lisa just was killed in the car accident.

[00:25:52] Nickky: What? What? You know, I just, I couldn't, I just couldn't. Um, and Lisa and I were not close. Um, we had a very animosity in our, a lot of animosity in our relationship. Um, , and I don't know if that's just from, we didn't grow up together or, or what it was, but we just, we couldn't get along well. But after I had my daughter and I was living in Michigan, she was like, she was like my older sister.

[00:26:24] Nickky: She is my older sister, but she was like, you know, hey, um, my daughter was very sick

[00:26:29] Maya: when she was born.

[00:26:30] Nickky: Um, you know, do you need a break? Let me take her for you. Hey, cool. You know, it, it was wonderful. But she stepped into the older sister role a little bit more.

[00:26:39] Maya: Yeah. Yep. And you know what? She

[00:26:41] Nickky: was a fantastic aunt.

[00:26:44] Nickky: A great aunt, um, and, you know, but we just, we didn't have the best relationship unfortunately. Um, but she was such a great person. I just wish that, that, uh, you know, life hadn't taken her so soon because maybe we could have been in a better place eventually, as I grew up and, you know, was older, and she's six years older than I am, so.

[00:27:11] Maya: How so how old? I'm sorry? How old was she when she was in the accident? Nikki, I, ,

[00:27:20] Nickky: I don't know. Um, , she was in her

[00:27:23] Maya: early thirties. Yeah. Okay. Um, cause she was born in

[00:27:27] Nickky: 69 and she was killed by, in car accident in 2005. So, um, and she had three little kids. Um, and so that was, that was hard for them. That was so hard for them, um, to lose their mom and, uh, you know, so they went to live with their fathers and my youngest niece went to live with my dad and my stepmom and so, yeah.

[00:27:55] Nickky: So that

[00:27:56] Maya: is an, an interesting part of the story too, Nikki, because they were, it sounds like the children were

[00:28:01] Nickky: split up. They were. And that was, um, my oldest niece had already been living with, um, Her uncle because it was in a better school district, in a better area. Um, so, but the younger two had been living with my sister still, and they had separate dads.

[00:28:18] Nickky: So, um, my nephew's dad, um, took him in and, um, unfortunately he, he lost his dad as well too. Um, not that, not that long after. . Um, my youngest niece then grew up with my parents, um, just, and I, I don't know why, honestly, I don't , but it would've been wonderful if they could have all stayed together because they were such, they were close and they still are.

[00:28:48] Nickky: But it would've been great if they could have all stayed with my, my dad and my stepmom. That would've been wonderful, but Sure.

[00:28:55] Maya: Yeah. Well, that, that's like a happy, happy, like silver lining to it. At least they're all still close because we're talking about siblings on here, so like that's our hope. And they just went through a traumatic loss, like, oh my God.

[00:29:08] Maya: Yeah. And then to be split up like

[00:29:09] Nickky: that, right. I mean, they were, the two younger siblings were both still in the same city, and my oldest niece was half an hour away, so they weren't that far apart. But you're not growing up together anymore. Absolutely. It's a entirely different thing. . Yeah. It

[00:29:26] Maya: really, it really is.

[00:29:27] Maya: And, and we know this, right, this is what we talk about here on, on the show is, you know, the significance of being around your siblings. So they went through a lot too. This is a real, multi, multi law story. It really is. Yes, it really is

[00:29:40] Nickky: too. Yes. So tell us a little bit

[00:29:42] Maya: about, like, now we know that the family dynamic after, uh, Lisa's passing, but, um, tell us a little bit about after that phone call, I know the children went to different homes and that's so difficult.

[00:29:55] Maya: What was it like for your parents and what was it like for you and the whole dynamic between all of you and the days coming after that was, you know, was there a funeral for her? Like, tell us about your grief process and did this bring all of this, the, the grief. About Glen again too. Did you feel like you were kind of going throughout all of it again?

[00:30:16] Maya: I'd love to know all of that for, for everyone listening.

[00:30:20] Nickky: So after, okay, so after, um, after Glen died, I had also lost my best friend about a year later to homicide. Um, and then three years late, two years later, I lose my sister in a car accident. So it was just like, it felt so quick to me, you know, like significant people in my life were just gone.

[00:30:40] Nickky: Um, and we had funerals for Glen and for Lisa. Um, Lisa's was great. I love the funeral home . I know it's a weird thing, but I love the funeral home. They had, um, you know, a TV up with pictures of her and it was just beautiful. Um, and everybody talked about, you know, how she would, she always made tamas and they were so good , and you know, she would give them to her neighbors who, who were older and weren't cooking for themselves as much.

[00:31:10] Nickky: She took care of them. And, you know, she was just, she was a great person. Um, and it was really hard on one of my younger brothers because they were extremely close. Um, so he really struggled with that too. And it's hard to see your siblings struggling. Um, you know, so, but yeah, you know, it's just, it all just kept happening.

[00:31:35] Nickky: I always say life has the audacity to continue moving forward when you just want it to stop , you know, you just want it to be like, okay, just, just hang on a second. I'd like to breathe just for a minute. But life has the audacity. They keep going day by day. .

[00:31:53] Maya: I love that. I've never heard of that before.

[00:31:56] Maya: Like people talk about that, you know, when I'm discussing, um, loss and, and going on this journey and they talk about, oh, my life just kept going on and I was stuck. But I love your, your quote audacity . That's so cute and so true. I love that. Oh my gosh. But it sounds like Lisa was a really, and is a really beautiful person.

[00:32:18] Maya: I'd love to speak in both tenses because I think it's super important, right? We can all relate here on that. Um, and she sounds like a beautiful, beautiful person. And I, it's, it's, that's two sudden losses and then your friend as well, so it's like, yeah. And you know, they always say it like happens in threes.

[00:32:38] Maya: It really did for me too, because I lost my brother, which I shared. I lost a friend in February, so it was November or February, and then the following year I lost, um, someone to an overdose who was a really, really good friend of mine and my brother. So he was like, okay, three, like, am I done? Am I done? And I was done for a little while, but, um, now it's just, you know, it is what it is when it happens.

[00:33:00] Maya: And you, you cross that bridge when you get there. But for you, that was not the case. So you, you had a little break, Nikki, bless your heart. And then we get into the story of Alexander, who you lost quite recently. This was in 2019. So again, losing, you know, you lost Glen and you lost Lisa, and you, you know, the universe, God, whatever you believe in, gave you a little bit of a break, but.

[00:33:32] Maya: Tell us about Alexander and Hi, like a little background on him and like his story and, um, this is I think how we initially really connected because of homicide and it's very difficult.

[00:33:44] Nickky: Yeah. Right. Um, Alexander, um, my parents adopted, or my, my dad and my stepmom, um, adopted Alexander. He is actually my nephew.

[00:33:57] Nickky: Um, he was one of my older sister's children. Um, my sister that's still surviving, my older sister that's still surviving. Um, and my parents adopted him and he, he was such, to me, he was such a light. Um, he was just, you know, this blonde kid that, you know, is just running all over the place and there's only a four year difference between him and my son.

[00:34:25] Nickky: So they were very close as well. So it was, you know, um, but. He was just such a great kid. Um,

[00:34:34] Maya: he, he struggled a lot though, um,

[00:34:37] Nickky: especially after Glenn and Lisa passed. Um, he struggled a lot and turned to drugs and, you know, had been in and outta jail as well, kind of a thing in our family. Um, , but he left home then at about 17 and just kind of went everywhere.

[00:35:01] Nickky: You know, he went to Florida, he did, he did what he wanted. He lived the life that he wanted to live. He, you know, followed Burning Man and the Rainbow Gathering and all these things. And, um, he was very, just very out there and goofy. Um, and then, The relationship that he had with the family wasn't always the best because when you're on drugs, um, and if you've had somebody overdose, you prob you are probably familiar with the everything that happens.

[00:35:32] Nickky: Um, you know, he was stealing from my parents. He was stealing from the siblings that, that he grew up with because again, my family all lives in Michigan and only my brother, myself and one other sibling are in Wisconsin. So we still didn't grow up together. But his siblings there experienced, you know, all of that with him there, and he stole from them.

[00:35:56] Nickky: Um, he was living with my youngest sister and overdosed numerous times, and that was so difficult for their relationship. But eventually my family felt the need to just cut him off for their own mental wellbeing. Uh, and, and I don't blame 'em for that. I don't, I don't blame 'em for that. I understand it, but I can't do it.

[00:36:19] Nickky: Um, I couldn't do that to him. I couldn't leave him out there with what I felt would be nobody. Um, so I just, I, I couldn't do it. Um, but I understand why they did because you, you sometimes have to at a point, um, because he just wasn't healthy. He was not healthy. Uh, he was getting in lots of legal trouble and all that.

[00:36:44] Nickky: And, um, he ended up going to Texas where he got in more legal trouble. Um, , he, uh, got arrested for arson because he had been in a abandoned home and he had started a fire to stay warm and he started a fire. . What brought

[00:37:05] Maya: him to Texas? Was it just, uh, one of his things where he was like, I'm gonna go on my thing, or was it like a job or He was just like, I'm going to Texas.

[00:37:13] Maya: He is just going to Texas. Wow. Oh yeah. You know, he was,

[00:37:18] Nickky: Constantly without a home. Um, you know, lived down, he lived in San Antonio. He lived in a tent city, um, for quite a while. Um, but then he kind of just, he just bounced around, you know, everywhere. Um, and I just, things were going on with him that I was not aware of.

[00:37:40] Nickky: Uh, I thought he was sober and he was very not. Um, and I feel like the girlfriend he had for quite a few years, um, they just were very, Destructive to each other. They were not good for each other. Um, I know she misses him terribly, but they just, they were so unhealthy for each other, um, because she was an addict as well.

[00:38:06] Nickky: So, you know, two addicts together are horrible together.

[00:38:10] Maya: Yeah. Talk about lining a fire like we were talking about earlier. That's like a metaphorical fire. Yeah,

[00:38:15] Nickky: exactly. Yes. You know, and I know that she struggled a lot too, um, even now, you know, getting her life together and things like that. But, um, the last time they had been to jail, I think twice in 2019 already.

[00:38:32] Nickky: Um, and in February of 2019, he had, um, gotten arrested for possession, um, fraud and credit card theft. And she was arrested with him as well. She got out within like two weeks. Uh, he did not, um, he never went to court even, which is not the usual process of things. Um, and then, uh, just to go back to the, the other time he was in jail in Texas down there, he had, um, gotten some tattoos while he was in jail, um, because he felt like it would keep him safe while he was in Fair County Jail.

[00:39:19] Nickky: Um, and it did the first time. It absolutely did. Um, it worked to his advantage then. Um, unfortunately the second time it didn't. Yeah, it didn't.

[00:39:30] Maya: So it's, uh, yeah, I mean, he, he definitely sounds like a free, sweet

[00:39:35] Nickky: spirited person. He really is. And his, my brother and Alexander and my son were so close. Um, people thought they were actually like blood related when there's no blood between us.

[00:39:46] Nickky: Um, because they're both blonde and tall and just goofballs, just completely goofballs. You know, my brother would always, I one time ended a call with him very shortly, , because it was like, bro, hey bro, bro, bro. And I'm like, yeah, I'm not your bro and I need to go . Yeah, yeah. And now it's like you feel bad for things like that because I'm like, if I would just, you know, had more calls with him, you know, he could have rode all he wanted

[00:40:14] Nickky: So

[00:40:15] Maya: Yeah. But I think your message is really important with that, again, Nikki, because you know, we have to learn. And when I say like. You sh when people say you should or you need to? No, you have to. You have to get to a place where you can release that, release the shame, release the guilt, um, because you can't go back and change anything.

[00:40:35] Maya: But you can change what's going to happen in the future. And it sounds like him and his girlfriend were a little bit like a Bonnie and Clyde

[00:40:43] Nickky: up to no good . Yes, they were. Most

[00:40:46] Maya: definitely.

[00:40:47] Nickky: But I think it's,

[00:40:48] Maya: but you know what I, I know this is difficult to talk about Nikki, but I think it's so important that we tell these stories because we've talked about this on the podcast before and we'll continue to talk about it.

[00:40:57] Maya: Oftentimes people will just glorify the people that have passed and mean to remember that they're human. They're human, historically. Yep. They've made mistakes. They're a human being. Um, it doesn't matter if we agree with a certain view that they have personally, politically, you know, spiritually, whatever it is.

[00:41:17] Maya: Um, you know, I, I do find that tough personally, and I really connect to this part of your story. Um, not just because we are talking about homicide, but also because my brother was very much so that way too, as I've shared quite openly with all of you. And it's really important to me that I got to a place where I wasn't just glorifying him and saying all these things.

[00:41:38] Maya: No, there was a, he made a lot of mistakes in his life. He struggled with substance abuse and alcohol as well. Um, he had gone to jail as well earlier in his life. Um, he was still a baby 27, but earlier in his twenties, he was also in trouble for things that he didn't share with us. But that doesn't mean that he deserved what happened to him.

[00:42:00] Maya: Okay. And I think that's really where the core of these types of stories need to live. And that's why the story of Alexander and Andrea, how funny both a is. I just realized that Alexander and Andreas need to be told because just because you've made mistakes in your life, Does not mean that you deserve to be killed, go through a homicide, a murder, um, you know, now if they're harming another person and doing something, you know, that was, that would be a different conversation.

[00:42:29] Maya: But that's not the conversation we're having today. And I hope that it's empowering to our surviving siblings that listen to this. And sometimes I see this all the time, and I'm sure you do too, Nikki, um, where people feel like, oh, well I can't talk the same way about my brother. I can't talk the same way about my sister that all these other surviving siblings do, because, oh, they went to jail.

[00:42:50] Maya: Oh, they made a mistake. Oh, they, you know, they did this to my parents, or that, or whatever. It's not true. Like, we're giving you permission today to still talk about them because there's good in every person, and there's a story to be told. So, you know, I appreciate you being so vulnerable and sharing that about Alexander, because people, I noticed the silence.

[00:43:13] Maya: That happens with people right when they're like, there's some shame or whatever. And I, it took me years to get to the place where I was just like, I don't care. This is who he was. This is the good, the bad, the ugly, the sad. And it's, it's important. So I commend you for being super honest about that. So tell us about the experience, what we're leading up to.

[00:43:33] Maya: Yeah. An awful day. Um, tell us about him. So he ended up back in, in Bearfield jail. Mm-hmm. . Yeah.

[00:43:40] Nickky: Yep. And so he, this

[00:43:43] Maya: is, this is where we, we lost Alexander. So tell us a little bit about that and what you can tell us. I know cause it's so

[00:43:48] Nickky: recent. Mm-hmm. . So he, we talked every day. I put money on his books for commissary and for the phone calls and stuff like that.

[00:43:57] Nickky: We talked every day for three months. Um, prior to that, we did speak probably, Well, probably at least, I'd say between one and three times a month. You know, just checking in and stuff like that. Um, so I knew he was alive. Um, , I get that. Yeah. Mm-hmm. . Yep. But, um, so he was in Bear County Jail. Um, he, the morning of the 30th, he was involved in a verbal altercation, not a physical altercation, a verbal altercation.

[00:44:30] Nickky: Um, and they moved him to a different pod. Fine. That's fine. Um, they put him in a cell with someone who was already there waiting trial for a homicide. Um, my brother was there for a non-violent crime. Um, his bail was like $150. Um, and that's something that I still struggle with because. I'm like, I totally had the 150.

[00:44:58] Nickky: I could've bailed him out, but at the same time I didn't because he was known for not going to his court dates. And I was like, and then they're just gonna put a warrant out for him and we're gonna be right back in this position again. So I didn't bail him out.

[00:45:11] Maya: I, I get that Nikki, and I wanna say something here because I think this is important.

[00:45:16] Maya: I've had people comment and say things to me like, I feel guilty because I didn't for, you know, their sibling that's been incarcerated. It's mostly brothers. Sorry guys. We're not giving you the best. Same other, but it just, it kind of happens that way. So, um, but not to say there aren't women incarcerated.

[00:45:32] Maya: There are, but I hear this a lot where, where, um, comments like on my TikTok or Instagram or things like that and people will say, oh, I feel guilty because I didn't bail him out. I feel guilty because I didn't put money on his books. I feel guilty, like, you can speak to this because you went through this, but I think there's also potentially a part of you, because I know I felt this way when I at least knew where my brother was.

[00:45:55] Maya: Um, That $150 was almost like your peace of mind though, because you knew where he was. Right? Like, am

[00:46:02] Nickky: I on wait with that? Yes, yes. That is exactly right. I'm like, I know it's Bear County Jail. I know it's not a great jail, but he's there. I know exactly where he's at. Um, he can't abscond and run off, and then they put another warrant out for him and then he is back in jail for longer.

[00:46:18] Nickky: And it, it was like a vicious cycle that he established and I just felt like, okay, so he's here. They will give him whatever his sentence is and then we'll be done with this and it's gonna be fine. We'll move on from it. Um, you know, I was like, if it was my own. I wouldn't bail him out because you gotta, you gotta stop at some time.

[00:46:41] Nickky: You have to stop. Um, I had no problem putting money on his books or for the phone calls because I just, I wanted him to be able to have deodorant and toothpaste and shampoo and things, personal hygiene thing, and his stupid honey buns that he loved. , you know,

[00:47:02] Maya: I wanted him to, I know it's a

[00:47:04] Nickky: punishment, but I also didn't want him to be gross and disgusting.

[00:47:08] Nickky: Um,

[00:47:09] Maya: I don't, and you feel, and feel disconnected from his world too, which Right. I, I can understand. But yeah,

[00:47:15] Nickky: they, there's a lot of humanity from you while you're in there. And I, and I get it. And like I said, I know it's a punishment. I understand, but you're still a human while you're in there. And that's not acknowledged enough, is that you are still a human.

[00:47:28] Nickky: Whether you're an inmate, whether you are a felon, whether you've made a misdemeanor crime, you are still a human being and you deserve the daily life thing that everybody deserves. So, yeah.

[00:47:44] Maya: Well, I mean, especially for me, you know, when you're looking at someone who's, you know, done a non-violent crime like, and things like that, it just gets really hard.

[00:47:53] Maya: It's like grief, right? It's like when you start to compare things, it's, it gets, but with this, for me, it's just, it's a little bit different when you're dealing with people who. Can commit a homicide. And that's no big deal to them. Like it just happens versus someone who is going down the wrong path in life and just needs to be slapped back into, you know, cuz there's different, I mean, it's just so, it's such a gray area, it's so difficult.

[00:48:22] Maya: So I can understand your empathy and wanting to, um, you know, give him things that can make him comfortable, but also

[00:48:29] Nickky: be like, I'm not gonna pay that. I'll, I'll

[00:48:31] Maya: give him the hundred 50 bucks so you can, you know, get whatever you want, but I'm not gonna bail you out because you need to learn your lesson. So I, I can understand why you, for some time would feel like, you know, guilty about that or different things, but I think ultimately you weren't doing the wrong thing.

[00:48:47] Maya: However, we'll go back to him in getting reassigned to this particular gentleman because this gentleman was. He was waiting for a sentence. He's a convicted,

[00:48:59] Nickky: no, he had not been. No, he had not been convicted yet. Okay. Um, he murdered this gentleman, I believe the year before he murdered my brother and he was still sitting there.

[00:49:09] Nickky: They are still, I believe that family is still awaiting trial as well and that just makes me, it just disgusted. Um, um, but um, so they put Alexander in the cell with him with a violent offender. That should have never have happened. Um, not with the tattoos my brother had. Um, they should have done his classification better and they did not.

[00:49:38] Nickky: They just transferred him. Um, and he was not in the sal very long before. This person, he,

[00:49:49] Maya: he beat him to death.

[00:49:51] Nickky: He's, he stomped on his head until my brother was dead. He wrote in my brother's blood on this jail wall, the fell wall, and laid down in his bunk and went to sleep.

[00:50:06] Maya: And nobody heard this went to a

[00:50:09] Nickky: wow.

[00:50:10] Nickky: Not until there was my brother's blood pouring out from underneath the door, the cell door. Oh my God. Um, so to me that tells me they also weren't rounding every half an hour even like they were supposed to be. Um, because it never, I mean, how do you not hear that? You can't tell me there was no noise. You can't tell.

[00:50:31] Nickky: And see, and that's the thing I struggle with a lot, is that no one heard my brother screaming. No one heard. No one heard this. How does that happen? I understand the do the doors, the cell doors are metal. Get it. But how do you not hear that? How, how do you not hear that? Someone

[00:50:50] Maya: heard it. Yeah.

[00:50:51] Nickky: Right. Yeah.

[00:50:52] Nickky: And that's, yeah. Um, so because I live in Wisconsin and he was in Texas, they sent a sheriff to tell me, it was probably nine o'clock at night. Kim's your house. Yeah, Kim to my house. And I know that my neighbor, I don't remember a lot of it. Um, I remember him telling me, you know, is your brother Alexander Wise?

[00:51:17] Nickky: Is he in Bexar County Jail? And I'm like, yeah. And he's like, well, you need to call the Texas Rangers because your brother is dead. And I know my neighbor across the street said that I was screaming. I don't, I don't remember that, you know, cuz I know my daughter came out and she started, she fell to the floor and started screaming.

[00:51:37] Nickky: But he just gave me a piece of paper and said, I really hate doing this, these visits. And, and he turned and left and I'm standing there with a door open this piece of paper to find out how my brother died. I, I didn't even know what to do. I didn't even know. I just didn't know, you know? So I was my brother's next of kin because again, my family, you know, had, had stepped back from him.

[00:52:03] Nickky: Yeah. I was

[00:52:03] Maya: gonna ask, I was like, yeah, why are they coming to you? That makes perfect sense

[00:52:06] Nickky: though. Yep. Mm-hmm. , because I was his Mexican kin because my family had stepped back. And so I called the Texas Rangers and he's just like, well, this is what happened. And, you know, and it wasn't even like the, um, the details of it, even, I found those out later from, um, a lawyer and.

[00:52:28] Nickky: So it was just, this is what happened to your brother. This is, you know, he's at the coroner's office. Good luck. I mean, you know, that's, that's how it felt to me. Right,

[00:52:38] Maya: right. It felt very transactional. Yeah. And all, all you knew, just to confirm, so you all understand the story, is that he had been

[00:52:47] Nickky: beat to death, right?

[00:52:47] Nickky: Yeah, yeah, yeah.

[00:52:48] Maya: That, that, that's it. You didn't know the details and because it's quite graphic. Yeah. And yeah,

[00:52:54] Nickky: it is.

[00:52:55] Maya: Yeah. That's so intense. Yep. Oh my gosh. So did you go to Texas? What happened after that? I didn't,

[00:53:02] Nickky: um, I didn't because, um,

[00:53:07] Maya: this

[00:53:07] Nickky: caused a lot of conflict in my family. Um, my, by this time, my dad and my stepmom had been divorced.

[00:53:18] Nickky: Um, and I had called everybody in the family to let them know, Hey, this, this is what happened. And everybody's like, okay. At least that's how I felt everybody was. And I'm sure that's not, I don't wanna discount how my other siblings felt about it, but to me, in my head it was like, okay, well, you know, that's the lights that Alexander Cho, um, and no life should lead to that.

[00:53:46] Nickky: Um, but I had to get him, uh, out of the, the coroner's office. That became a point of contention between my dad and my stepmom. As to who was going to do it, who was gonna get his ashes, what was gonna happen, Alexander. And it came down to my stepmom. Um, she got him and then it became a conflict at the funeral home that, you know, I want Nicole to have some of his ashes because she's the only one that's had contact with him for the last five years.

[00:54:21] Nickky: I really think that she should, she should have that. And that was a big old no. Um, and uh, so my stepbrother is with my stepmom, or not my stepbrother. I'm sorry, I was scared. , I'm thinking stepmom up. My brother, his ashes are with my stepmom. And, and that's okay. I understand. I do understand it. It hurts. , but I understand how she has to feel losing three children.

[00:54:52] Nickky: I mean, you know, um, her and I have never had a really great relationship, but I can't, I can't even begin to feel what she feels as a parent either. Um, but, but being the only person who had had contact with them for five years, I was like, you're taking this from me. You're taking my brother from me. How could you do this?

[00:55:13] Nickky: You know, there was no service held for my brother. There was no obituary made for my brother. Um, because at that time I couldn't afford to do it. Um, the obituary in Bear County, it was like $600 and I just couldn't do it at that time. So I felt very, like his life was not acknowledged at all, at any point.

[00:55:33] Nickky: So I think that what, that's part of what causes me to be real vocal about it, is because I'm like, you know, hey, Alexander was here. He mattered. His life matters. This stuff matters guys. Um, , you know, so maybe I can't have his physical ashes, but I have Alexander. So yeah. Thank you so

[00:55:55] Maya: much for sharing that.

[00:55:56] Maya: Really difficult part of the story too, because that's something we get questions a lot, um, about is fa family dynamic and talking about the difficulties. So your story really has an oral Nicky . It really does. Um, again, I'm so sorry for all of your losses, but I know Alexander is quite fresh. 2019 was just before the pandemic, which that's a fog in itself, right?

[00:56:19] Maya: I can tell. So, um, I, I can understand because I think. As I've shared so openly with all of you, there was a tremendous anxiety when my family left me for a week and, um, I didn't know where the hell they were, , what was going on. And I didn't know if I was gonna get my brother's ashes. Like it was like, I can't, it was so surreal.

[00:56:43] Maya: And then it, the drama ensued, as you all know from my story. And if, if you don't go back to season one, right, exactly. It's a wild ride too, Nikki. Yes. You know very well, but I know what that anxiety feels like and I know what that, you know, missing part feels like. And I was, that was one thing that I was glad that.

[00:57:05] Maya: The family could at least somewhat agree on. And everybody got to do what they wanted to do With my brother, you know, as

[00:57:12] Nickky: some, some, you

[00:57:13] Maya: know, most of them wanted it to go into the creek, which I visit every year. And, you know, my father and I are the only ones that like actually kept ashes. And I am the sole owner.

[00:57:25] Maya: My brother's actually at this way cause my brother eventually let him go out to see it, the sea, that they had a room together. But I totally get that. I get everybody's process now, six years later. But, and it sounds like you're, you're at that place too. You're like, I, you get it. Absolutely. It's not long you get it, but your way to, to remember him and to keep him alive is, you're telling your story today of course, but you've also founded Chitana.

[00:57:48] Maya: So do you wanna tell us a little bit about the Celtic goddess of grief, but you're creating a resource page and beyond, and I know this is truly an honor. Of Alexander, but also your other siblings too. So tell us a little bit about how you got the inspiration for the name and what we can look forward to seeing on the site, because I know it's,

[00:58:09] Nickky: it's just launching Well, so the majority of our ancestry is Celtic, so I was like, Hmm, I can find something, you know, and so that's, I came across that, uh, the IATA as a Celtic goddess of grief and mourning.

[00:58:25] Nickky: Um, but I

[00:58:26] Maya: didn't develop or

[00:58:29] Nickky: have a, a want to do something my own self until both my parents passed as well. Um, I just lost my mom almost a year ago and my dad almost two. Um, so initially my goal was to do the, like homicide support. There's not a lot of it out there at all. Um, regardless of whether it's for parents, siblings, anybody, there's just not a lot out there.

[00:58:55] Nickky: Um, and there's not a lot of. National like, or world, whatever, um, support for homicide victims. There are some like state by state nonprofits or organizations that help with homicide victims, but there's not a national thing. So I really wanted to do something like that, um, because there's P O M C, you know, for parents of murdered children, but there's just not, there's just not a lot.

[00:59:20] Nickky: And so that was my initial thought, um, was just homicide support. But then after losing my parents, I was like, there's more grief than just homicide grief. You know, I've lost somebody to suicide, to car accident to cancer now. Um, and I just need, I need there to be a place where people who have lost people from multiple issues.

[00:59:48] Nickky: Whatever, to go and be like, okay, look, I can look here and I can go there, and that's where I need, can get the support from. Even if it's not provided by me personally, um, by another organization or, you know, saying, you know, Hey, go listen to Maya's podcast, you know, it's really gonna be helpful. It'll help support you.

[01:00:07] Nickky: Um, I just want to make, I wanna have that kind of a community. That's what I, I want a community. Um, but I'm also going to, um, before my mother had passed, I had started taking victim advocate classes, so I'd like to finish that so I could be a victim advocate. Um, because my goal locally here would be that you don't send just a sheriff out.

[01:00:31] Nickky: You send a grief support person or a victim advocate or something like that, because the sheriff, the deputies, whatnot, they're just there to tell you they're not there to do anything after that. And you're left at the door. And so it's not acceptable. It's not an acceptable situation to me. Okay. I wanna

[01:00:53] Maya: pause here for a second, Nikki, and talk about this because I l like I, you shared a lot of this stuff with me before this episode, what you're, we are getting into with Chitana, but I think that part of your story is really important and also a great, um, source of your inspiration when the sheriff showed up and what, bless his heart, he's like, I hate doing this,

[01:01:15] Maya: Well, of course you hate doing it, right? You don't, you don't. I mean, it's like you probably don't understand. I hope you don't understand. I hope you haven't been through this, um, that what a depressing part of your job. What a challenging part of your job. And like, you have to walk away from someone who's going to be comp their life, like is being ripped out from underneath them.

[01:01:36] Maya: And so you. When they, you know, when sheriff's cops, all of them sign up for the gig, they don't always know that they're gonna be doing, they know they're gonna be dealing with difficult stuff, you know, sending all of them, you know, so much the, the ones out there that are doing a great job, you know, so much love.

[01:01:52] Maya: But you know, that is a hard part of the job. And so, You know, I, as you're saying this, I'm like thinking back on my experience and obviously I was, it was different. And I go into the hospital and then like the support they gave you is like detectives throwing stuff at you. It's like, it's very cold, it's very transactional and you're just trying to be like, am I in a dream or is this real life?

[01:02:16] Maya: And the most support they give you is like, they'll ask if you want like a pastor or somebody to come minister to come in the room. And I'm like, okay, well what if we didn't believe in that? What if we were a different religion? What if that's like, and it's also not, it's, I hate to say this because I am a spiritual person, but it, it's a more transactional thing cause it's not like it's someone that you've known.

[01:02:37] Maya: So I really wanted to like highlight this for a second because I think. awesome. And I think victim advocation is, is huge. It's one of the reasons why I went on to season two and I'm doing so much work here in this space because I think back when people like yourself are telling these stories, and I'm like, yeah, it was terrible if I had someone there.

[01:02:58] Maya: If you had someone there, you know, after that sheriff walks away, after that, detective walks away, that literally is like, okay, this is what's gonna happen. How are you feeling? How the end right thinking, I love it. Yep.

[01:03:11] Nickky: This is what we need to do now. This is what's going to happen now because you don't know.

[01:03:16] Nickky: I had no clue that even though they knew how he was gonna die or how he had died, that now he had to have an autopsy and now we have to get his body here and we have to, you know, it. Oh, you

[01:03:29] Maya: just, you have no clue. You have no clue. It's information overload and you're just like, what does that even mean?

[01:03:35] Maya: Right. You don't even know how to ask those questions. Right. So I love that you guys are gonna gonna do that and that's also a journey you're going down as well. Yes. Yeah. I

[01:03:42] Nickky: just want, I want there to be compassion when there is, is such a horrific thing that happens, whether it be homicide, car accident, whatever, you know, there needs to be compassion and not just, like you said, transactional.

[01:03:56] Nickky: Um, and not everybody is the same religion. Um, I don't personally believe in organized religion. I'm a more spiritual person, but not a religious person. Um, and I know even locally in my area, people have been asking for grief support that is not religion based. Sure. Because. , you don't, a lot of people struggle with that after death.

[01:04:23] Nickky: Um, so you just, I really wanna pro provide a space where you can come and I'm not like, well, God really needed that angel, you

[01:04:32] Maya: know, God really, you know, it just makes me, oh gosh, don't get me started on that one. Yeah, it doesn't. And you know, the thing is, I, it doesn't mean that I don't believe in God. And even if you aren't, if you're of another religion, that's okay.

[01:04:44] Maya: Um, you know, for those of you who are religious and listening to this, like that's not what we're saying. It's not what you need to hear at the time. You may come to that conclusion at some point in your life where you're like, you know what? It was time for him to get his wings, if that's what you believe in.

[01:04:58] Maya: But that's for you to decide. That's for you to come to the realization. You don't need somebody telling you that stuff. You need somebody telling you, okay, how are you doing? Where are you right now? This is what happens next. This is what you can expect. Oh, you don't know what's going on right now.

[01:05:16] Maya: Totally normal. You need

[01:05:18] Nickky: rehabilitation call, you know? Yes. Yep. You know, if you need help, if you're just freaking out and melting down, call me. I'm there. Not a problem. So, so that's, yeah. Part of the victim advocate journey, but also part of, I'd like to, um, I've started to become, um, educated as a death grief doula.

[01:05:37] Nickky: So I think that that is a very fascinating aspect of

[01:05:43] Maya: everything. You know what, I don't even know what a death doula does, and I was gonna look it up before our talk about, I was like, no, I wanna hear it from Nikki so she can tell all of us. I've heard of a doula before, but what does a death doula do?

[01:05:54] Maya: Tell us about this. I think this is interesting. Yeah. So

[01:05:57] Nickky: the last, the last year of my mom's life, I stayed with her and took care of her. Um, so I had started researching, you know, ways to. Help her through, help myself through my siblings. Um, and I came across death doula, or death midwife, or end of life practitioner.

[01:06:19] Nickky: And I'm like, well, what in the world? And, uh, cuz to me, a death or a doula is, you know, bringing you into this world.

[01:06:26] Maya: That's what I thought when I saw that. I was like, ah, she's gotta explain this. Yeah. So it's a death doula is taking you out.

[01:06:34] Nickky: Somebody's sitting with you, um, sitting with you in your grief, sitting with you in your life.

[01:06:39] Nickky: And it's, it's different than hospice because it's not a medical thing. It's a spiritual, a compassion and empathy thing. Um, you know, to sit with somebody and with their family as they're passing, because sometimes you just need somebody to sit with you. You don't need 'em to talk even. You just need somebody to sit with you.

[01:07:03] Nickky: Um, you know, but it even goes beyond that, um, as too like. Natural, more like herbs and stuff that help, you know, with, I don't even know how to explain it. And I'm really making it bad. . Well, and I think like,

[01:07:21] Maya: now that I understand, because yeah, when I hear like doula, I think, oh, I think birthing more natural and you know, spiritual and aral and you know, all of that.

[01:07:32] Maya: Right? That's the same.

[01:07:33] Nickky: Yep.

[01:07:33] Maya: Yeah. So like, now that you're saying this, I kind of think, okay, so it's like we come in this way and we leave the physical role this way too. So it's supporting that. But I think you said something really interesting about, you know, sometimes you just need someone to sit with you.

[01:07:46] Maya: Uh, yeah, absolutely. The times that I just needed someone to sit there. Right. And I

[01:07:52] Nickky: think that's, that's so you don't, wonderful. Yeah. Yeah. You don't necessarily need somebody to talk or touch you or hug you or anything. You just need somebody there with you to sit and to witness what is happening and what's going on.

[01:08:06] Nickky: And. So

[01:08:08] Maya: yeah, . So Nikki, you've had quite a few losses and like recent too, losing your parents is a whole other podcast and a whole other ballgame too. But I really commend you for what you're doing and creating this community. Before we talk about where to find, um, Chitana and you, I know you're all over social media, which is also easy to connect with.

[01:08:32] Maya: Um, if you could kind. Go back and give us some advice. Um, there's gonna be lots of you guys listening here that are surviving siblings that have experienced multi loss or suicide or an accident like your sister or you know, like your youngest brother. Um, a homicide. What is a, a, a nugget of advice that maybe you wish you knew with each one of these passings or some, some big piece of advice you could kind of give our amazing listeners that could help them along the way?

[01:09:05] Maya: Because I know I share stuff all the time and I'm like, I wish I had known this and that, so Right. Definitely might hear from

[01:09:10] Nickky: you. Right. And, and it's gonna sound redundant, um, because I've heard it before, but I had never heard it until my brother died. Um, it's okay to not be okay. Um, it's okay to freak out.

[01:09:23] Nickky: It's okay to ball. It's okay to scream. It's okay to feel like you are devastated and can't go on. It's okay. It's okay if you don't feel like that. If you are okay. Yeah, it's okay. Um, and if you just, if you just look, there are so many people out there that will give you support because you're not alone in finding or in going through this.

[01:09:50] Nickky: Um, unfortunately. Death is a part of life, regardless of how it occurs. Um, you know, we're born to die. Um, but it's just, yeah, .

[01:10:04] Maya: Yeah. No, I think it, it's actually a book too. It's okay to not be. Okay. Yeah. Yeah. So it's actually a book. So I love that you're bringing that up. But yeah, you know what, I think us, it's a human experience, right?

[01:10:15] Maya: That we realize that, you know, yes, we're born and we eventually die. And those realizations happen at different times in your life, and it's typically when you experience a loss. But I think in your message, I think it's really important that we highlight too. We're also here to continue living and how do we honor these people?

[01:10:33] Maya: And I, again, I appreciate you creating another resource and sharing your story because your story is a very complex and difficult service. So thank you so much, Nikki. I really appreciate that. Tell us more about, uh, Chitta, where we can find it, website and where we can find you. And we'll put it in the show

[01:10:49] Nickky: notes too.

[01:10:50] Nickky: I am on shai.org. Um, and it's s A I T A D a.org. Um, I'm also on Facebook under Shai, um, and Instagram. Um, and I believe my Instagram is Shai Lost and Grief Support, though. Um, the one I have on Facebook right now, the group is homicide support, but I would like to eventually evolve that into different groups for different, what you need, you know, um, what people need.

[01:11:23] Nickky: Um, but. Yeah, I'm everywhere. . Yeah,

[01:11:27] Maya: you are. You know, I, you're very active on Facebook, so if you guys wanna interact with Nikki, that's, that's usually where I find her ,

[01:11:33] Nickky: Kathy, Instagram, uhhuh. My Instagram's really

[01:11:36] Maya: great . That's awesome. Yep. So we'll tag that in the show notes. Um, and I love the evolution of Chii too, that you're, you know, you're branching out in all the different aspects of grief that you have personally experienced, because y like we said, you've been through suicide, you've been through a freak accident, um, with your sister.

[01:11:55] Maya: You've been through homicide and more with your parents, so you're gonna connect with so many of our listeners. I hope you guys got a lot out of this. Nikki, thank you so much for being here today, and thank you so much for founding Shai.

[01:12:07] Nickky: Thank you, Maya, for letting me come and you talk about it. I really appreciate the space that you give to people to give them more hope.

[01:12:16] Nickky: I think.

[01:12:17] Maya: That is absolutely our goal. So thank you so much, Nikki. It's been a pleasure having you here.

[01:12:25] Maya: Thank you so much for listening to the Surviving Siblings Podcast. If you enjoyed this episode as much as I did creating it for you, then share it on your chosen social media platform. And don't forget to tag us at Surviving Siblings Podcast so that more surviving siblings can find us. Remember to rate, review and subscribe to the podcast.

[01:12:48] Maya: And don't forget to follow us on all social media platforms. We're on Instagram, Twitter, and TikTok at Surviving Siblings Podcast. All links can be found in the show notes, so be sure to check those out too. Thank you again for the support. Until the next episode, keep on surviving my surviving siblings.

Nickky Wise NeffProfile Photo

Nickky Wise Neff

Nickky has lost 3 of her siblings. She lost her older brother Glenn to suicide, her sister Lisa in a car accident, and most recently, Alexander to homicide. Dealing with the loss of multiple siblings has been a hard journey for Nickky. This inspired her to become a certified grief doula and to start Saitada, where she helps provides support to those that have lost their siblings or parents to homicide, suicide and cancer.