May 10, 2023

Rachel Woodruff - Suddenly Losing Aaron

Rachel lost her little brother Aaron in a motorcycle accident in 2002. She was really close to him, as he was the only full brother and her sibling that she shared a childhood with, so receiving the call was a heartbreaking and pivotal moment in her...

Rachel lost her little brother Aaron in a motorcycle accident in 2002. She was really close to him, as he was the only full brother and her sibling that she shared a childhood with, so receiving the call was a heartbreaking and pivotal moment in her life. 

The first few weeks after Aaron passed were a blur for her. Rachel felt a mix of emotions, because everyone expected her to be strong for her parents and to deal with all the funeral arrangements for her brother. Two months after Aaron’s death, she felt desperate as she couldn’t control the fact that Aaron had died. She was trying to fix her grief, which led her to attend her first group meeting at one of The Compassionate Friends chapters in Atlanta.

In this week's episode, Rachel shares about her and Aaron’s story, the before and after of receiving the call that changed her life, and how she has been dealing with her grief. Rachel also talks about how she doesn’t resonate with the words “acceptance” or “closure”, so she prefers to acknowledge her brother's death.

Season 3 is brought to you by, 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]

  • Rachel and Aaron’s story [00:01:38]

  • The Call [00:03:54]

  • Dealing with grief after Aaron’s death [00:07:26]

  • Family dynamics after Aaron passed [00:22:40]

  • The Compassionate Friends [00:33:11]

  • Acknowledging Aaron’s passing [00:40:06]

  • Being a facilitator in The Compassionate Friends [00:47:13]

  • Advice for Surviving Siblings [00:54:38]

For full episode show notes and transcript, click here

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Website | The Compassionate Friends Non-Profit Organization for Grief

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[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. 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. Bye sips A virtual platform for you, the surviving. To commemorate and honor your sibling relationship, visit sips 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.

[00:01:07] Maya: Today I have another incredible guest with me. Her name is Rachel Woodruff. Rachel, welcome to the show.

[00:01:14] Rachel: Thanks for having me. I'm glad to be here.

[00:01:16] Maya: I'm so excited to have you here. I met Rachel locally here in Atlanta, which is always exciting for me. I met you through the Compassionate Friends. Rachel is an incredible facilitator for the siblings group here and today Rachel is going to share the story of her brother Aaron. So Rachel, I'm gonna hand it over to you. So you can share your grief journey and the story of Aaron.

[00:01:38] Rachel: Okay, thanks so much. So my brother Aaron was killed in a motorcycle accident June 22nd, 2002. So I always kind of have to think about how many years it's been. It'll be 21 years this June. Like most of us, I remember that day, like it was yesterday.

[00:01:58] Rachel: I remember getting the phone call and you know, my response to that and I remember what happened after that. I mean, just that whole series of events, even though it's been a long time. My brother was my only full brother. I do have two half sisters. They're a lot younger than I am, so he was the one that I was raised with.

[00:02:17] Rachel: He was the one, I had a shared childhood, shared background. All of those things, you know, that we have with our siblings, you know, and so when, when Aaron died, it went from. Being Rachel and Aaron to just Rachel, and I didn't know what to do with that. What do I do with just being Rachel? What do I do with not being that older sister to Aaron, even though I had two younger sisters and I love my two younger sisters, it's just a different relationship, and I wasn't raised with them like I was with Aaron.

[00:02:47] Rachel: So Aaron was killed in a motorcycle accident. As I mentioned. He was living in Colorado. I was in Atlanta at the time. I had moved here probably two, maybe three years before he died for graduate school. And then I got a job and stayed here and I was, I'm from Colorado, so that's where I moved out here from.

[00:03:08] Rachel: So Aaron was in Estes Park, Colorado, which is a popular area. He went up there on a Saturday evening. Motorcycle riding with a friend of his. They went out for dinner. It was a beautiful Saturday evening in June, so they went out for a motorcycle ride in the mountains. Aaron was riding a motorcycle that he had bought about a week or two before, and then hi, a friend of his that was with him was riding his other motorcycle.

[00:03:32] Rachel: So both the motorcycles belonged to Aaron. They had their dinner and on the way back they were crossing over for anybody who maybe has been to Estes Park, but they were crossing over a dam, so it was a straight. You know, very visible straight road. And so Aaron was speeding on his motorcycle. There was a vehicle that was coming the opposite direction that he was going.

[00:03:54] Rachel: So he was heading east at that point and there was a vehicle heading west, and that vehicle wanted to make a left hand turn and they made a left hand turn in front of him and it was basically a head-on collision. Aaron died at the scene. That was on a Saturday evening, and I got the call from my dad.

[00:04:13] Rachel: That Sunday morning, my dad said to me, Aaron and Todd, his friend Todd, this is how much I remember this. Yeah. His friend Todd, I don't even know Aaron's friend Todd, but I remember Todd's name. Mm-hmm. , Aaron and Todd were motorcycle riding. They went to Estes Park. On the way back, Aaron got in into an accident and he didn't make it.

[00:04:32] Rachel: And my mind went, I don't know Todd. I don't know Todd. So this is meaningless to me. This is nothing I this because I didn't know Todd. My brain was saying this isn't happening. because I don't know Todd, so not very logical , but that's where, that's where my brain went,

[00:04:50] Maya: and that's where all of our brains kind of are when we get the call. Like I had no idea when I first put that episode out and called it the call that like almost every single person I've talked to, every person I've had on the show has the call story. So yeah, we're not thinking in in that right state of mind at all. I think that completely

[00:05:07] Rachel: right. And I relate to everybody's. About that call. And I love that you did a, a full podcast episode on that because I think it is such a heartbreaking moment, like the most heartbreaking moment of our lives. It is that pivotal moment that that changed everything. You know, there was a, there was a, before that call and then after that call, and those are two different periods in my life.

[00:05:32] Rachel: And sort of wrapping your head around that call and getting your brain to. You know, realize, okay, this is really what my dad is saying and I can't, you know, just because I don't know, Todd, doesn't mean Aaron wasn't with Todd and they weren't motorcycle, or, you know, sort of coming to that realization is, is it's really profound.

[00:05:53] Rachel: It's really, really hard. And I think our brains obviously, you know, have a mechanism to protect us. You know, hence the, I don't know, Todd, this isn't happening. . Yeah. Cause I can't even fathom it happening cuz it's too hard for me to realize that, that this happened. It was really that day That was, like I said, that was a Sunday morning when my dad called.

[00:06:14] Rachel: That Sunday I had actually, so Aaron died eight days before his, his 27th birthday. So he died on June 22nd. His birthday was on June 30th. So that Sunday, I already knew what I was gonna get him for his birthday. He was a bit eccentric. He was a character. He loved bow ties like the old fashion. Bow ties and he, I love this right. He didn't work in an office. There was not like, he didn't need to dress up for anything. Yeah.

[00:06:43] Maya: But it just, his flair, like his thing. I love that .

[00:06:46] Rachel: Yeah, that's exactly it. And so I had seen at a local shop and he loved butterflies and he loved the color purple. He was just, you know, and I had seen these bow ties with butterflies on him and I was like, I'm gonna get him a butterfly bow tie for his.

[00:07:01] Rachel: And I was planning to get it that day so that I could get it in the mail so that he would, you know, he would receive it by his birthday. I still went and got it because I couldn't not do that. You know, it, I just, I couldn't not get him that butterfly bow tie for his birthday, but actually I ended up donating that bow tie to the Compassionate Friend's Conference for their conference store that they do every year.

[00:07:26] Rachel: So anyway, so I felt like after. In that first week, actually probably the first two weeks, like I was just having an out of body experience, and I think I've heard a lot of people talk about that sort of phenomenon and that sort of feeling where we just can't relate to the world around us. Everything looks weird.

[00:07:48] Rachel: It's like I was living in an alternate universe. I couldn't understand people like, why would you, you know, how are you laughing? How are you just going about your life as normal? There's nothing normal. And just doing daily things was like just beyond my comprehension and music, certain types of music like I hear and I was like, it would just felt like nails on a chalkboard.

[00:08:10] Rachel: Like I couldn't stand it. So all these really, these reactions to grief and to this sort of loss that. We don't seem necessarily intuitive, you know, why would this song bother me? Like, it's not anything I, I don't know, you know, it wouldn't have bothered me two weeks ago, but now it's like this horrible sound and I can't stand it.

[00:08:31] Maya: No, I, I understand what you're talking about completely and I'm sure a lot of you listening are connecting with this as well. And it like took an extra step for me because my brother was a musician and I like, could not. Listen to music at all or any band that sounded anything, like anything he had ever created.

[00:08:49] Maya: I remember sitting in a lot of silence, so I'm really connecting with this part of your story. I connect with a lot of your story because my brother was 27 when he was murdered, and so I'm like, oh my, like I remember us meeting. I'm like, wow, we have a lot in, in common in in this. But like you said, I find that as surviving siblings, we.

[00:09:06] Maya: Connect in one way or another with the stories, and the call is always a, a, you know, beginning connection I find too. But yeah, I, I love that you're bringing this up though, Rachel, because music was like, oh God, I don't wanna hear this. And like, there would be like one lyric or something and I was like, oh, I'm set off.

[00:09:23] Maya: I can't listen to this. Like, oh, going to the grocery store, like having to get things to survive. Like it was like, In a Twilight Zone episode or something like, the world was different, and I'm like, so I think a lot of you guys can connect with this too, because it's what I realized to be normal.

[00:09:39] Rachel: Yeah. Yep. It's so interesting. And music. Yeah, like you said, the, I think music can just touch us emotionally sometimes. And so I remember for the longest time, Christmas music, like particularly. Like choir type music would just bring me to tears. And it didn't really remind me of Aaron necessarily, but I think it's just that, that really emotional reaction and it just, it and so, so things like that, just things that I would not have, you know, before having this experience thought were related to grief.

[00:10:15] Rachel: You know, and I, I just have, have also learned through the compassionate friends in meeting so many siblings, . We all have things like that that either trigger us or things that sort of dig into our grief a little bit that we wouldn't have anticipated. And sometimes we don't even associate it with grief, you know, like why would I, why would that song, you know, be related to my grief?

[00:10:40] Rachel: But especially I think in the first few years, Everything is related to our grief. I mean, oh yeah. It just, you know, even things that, that aren't obvious. So it's been a journey for me. You know, it's been, it's been many years. I, I miss Aaron, I think about him and it, it's hard to believe that it's been almost 21 years.

[00:11:01] Rachel: That is really difficult sometimes for me to even comprehend that because I remember him so clearly. And, and I do wanna say that when I was early in my. There was a point where I felt like my grief is what I had left. Like, you know, this is in the first couple years after Aaron died, I was afraid to let go of any part of my grief, even the most painful parts.

[00:11:23] Rachel: It's not that I was trying to be sad all the time necessarily, but I just, I just didn't, I, and I was doing things for myself, like going to compassionate friends and reading, and I was in therapy, but I also at the same time, didn't wanna let go of any of the griefs, even the painful part, because I felt like, This is what I have.

[00:11:42] Rachel: This is what I have of him. And I now realize being this far into my grief, that sort of letting go of those parts of my grief doesn't mean letting go of him and doesn't mean that he's still not a part of me and with me all the time. And that. . I don't still think of him and remember him because those were some of my fears early on too.

[00:12:04] Rachel: Like, I'm not gonna remember, you know, I'm not gonna remember what he sounded like or what he looked like. So, you know, and Aaron died before social media and before some of this, you know, everything was sort of electronic. So I do have, which I'm so fortunate to have, I had a vhs, actually it wasn't even vhs.

[00:12:24] Rachel: It was one of those tiny little camcorder cassette. That I had to transfer to VHS and then I got, and then I paid to have it transferred to D V D and now we need to pay to have it transferred to, you know, digital. Digital, exactly, because I don't wanna lose it. But it's a video of me and my brother, and it was probably, maybe, Six months or so before he died at the Denver Aquarium with his daughter.

[00:12:51] Rachel: So my brother has a daughter. She was four and a half when he died, and she was around four at the time of this video, or not quite four. She was probably almost four. And I, so I just, I, I love and my brother loved his camcorders. He loved taking video of. You know, his, of course his daughter, and then I was there.

[00:13:09] Rachel: So we did this anyway, so I have this, so I keep transferring it to different types of media so that I don't lose it, but I don't have a lot of that, you know, because it just wasn't as, as widely available and and common as it is now. So, But even aside from that, I do remember, you know, what he looks like, what he sounded like, you know, the way he, I don't know his, his personality, the way he reacted to things.

[00:13:34] Rachel: I think, I know that over time, memories maybe fade a little, but, but what I was worried about was just losing that all together, just kind of forgetting and that's not the case. So I'm, I'm really happy, you know, that that's not the case. And, and hopefully, You know, brings hope to, to people who are earlier in their grief.

[00:13:56] Rachel: I

[00:13:56] Maya: think I am so glad that you're bringing this up, Rachel, because you are over 20 years into your grief journey. As we know. It's a lifelong journey, and I think this is a fear that I hear all the time. In, you know, groups in Facebook group, like all over the place, right? Just all of us who have lost a sibling.

[00:14:15] Maya: We have that fear. And I personally went through this as well. I'm like, again, connecting to this with you, being years behind you, my grief journey. But I remember it really hit me. I was always kind of, that fear is like in you and it's really, I, I hope we're inspiring all of you listening because it's not a good thing to be focusing on.

[00:14:37] Maya: Right? So if you can kind of get that relief from someone like yourself, Rachel, who's over 20 years in, I'm over six years now. It's, you're right. They don't fade. They're still there, but there's some, like, you don't think about as much, but the really important ones, they're there and you know, you do have things that you can remember them by, so it, you're going to remember them.

[00:14:55] Maya: They're in your life forever, which is a beautiful thing. And that was such a relief, but you're fine for me, was when I started to freak out. I was like, oh my gosh. Which I've shared. And that was part of the reason why I was like, okay, I gotta do this pod. Like I gotta put it all out there, do this podcast and share.

[00:15:10] Maya: And part of it was because I didn't wanna forget, you know? And then, you know, the majority of it was in honor of my brother and to help others, you know, I was like, if I can help one person and now here we're helping a lot of people. But you know, that was kind of always eating at me over those years and you're fine, is when I really allowed myself to feel it.

[00:15:29] Maya: I was like, you have fear. How do we move forward or move past this fear? And that was my. Of quote unquote dealing with it, I guess, or an outlet for it. And I'm so glad I did that. And I think everybody should. And I think that's amazing that I love the story of you taking, cuz I have so many VHSs of like my brother and I as like kids and I want all that, you know, to be digital.

[00:15:51] Maya: So I I love that. I think a lot of people can connect with that too. I, I love that and I love that you have it of his daughter and

[00:15:57] Rachel: like, oh, what a beautiful. Yeah, it really is a beautiful memory. And you know, I have, of course I have photos, but most of my, none of my photos were digital. So I found myself, you know, after Aaron died, of course, putting together as many photos of as I could find of him and you know, me and me and him and you know, I had photos growing up, but then even photos in our young adult lives.

[00:16:21] Rachel: And I remember there was one, and then all of it was film. So I have negatives. And I found this one negative and I could not find the actual photo anywhere. And I was like, and I was like, I really, I have to get kinda obsessive about it. I was like, I have to get this photo, I have to get, it's a great photo of me and my brother and, you know, I had the negative and I never was, for some reason I was never able to find that photo.

[00:16:46] Rachel: So I, I don't, I don't know what happened to that one, but, you know, so I, I did try to collect all of, you know, all of that sort of stuff. I. , you know, after Aaron died, went through this, like I wanted to share his stuff too. So I gave a lot of things to friends, to his friends and other family. And now I that, that's one thing I maybe wish I had sort of taken a breath and waited a little bit.

[00:17:11] Rachel: Cause now I'm like, oh away. All that stuff. But I wanted to share because it was my way of like, the more people that have things of his, the more he's gonna be remembered, I guess is kind of, you know, what I was trying to do. I don't think

[00:17:24] Maya: you're alone in that, Rachel, because I think a lot of people, you know, and I think that's a really, really good piece of advice for all of you listening.

[00:17:32] Maya: And if you're early in your grief journey, like kind of take a beat, take a minute, think about it. Because you may be like, gosh, why don't I give that shirt away? Or why don't I give that guitar wear? Why don't I give that bow tie with, you know, I mean, it's like, it's a beautiful sentiment because you want to share.

[00:17:48] Maya: Your brother with the, or sibling. You know, we both lost brothers, so we're talking brothers today. But it's the same thing. Right. You know, and I think we wanna share because that makes it real. It makes it real that this Right, you know, person in our life, our sibling exists existed and will still exist in a, in another way.

[00:18:06] Maya: But I, I think that's why, and I can connect with that too. I'm sure you guys can as well. I. Connect with that, but I think it's important when you're in kind of the fog and what you're talking about, like you feel like it's not real. Take a second because you may want, may go kind of wanted to keep that bot.

[00:18:21] Maya: Cause I remember this really great memory of me and Aaron , right? What I mean?

[00:18:24] Rachel: Yeah, right. That's exactly it. You know, so it's, but, but we're making decisions in, in not just grief, but in those early stages of grief, which, You know, there should be a different name for that segment of our grief. Like, I don't know what that would be, but because we're just not, you just, you can't think logically.

[00:18:46] Rachel: You can't think ahead. You can't think in terms of. Am I gonna regret giving this away? Do I want this or is there somebody else I, I wanna give this to like, you know, you're like, I know in my brother's situation, you know, he had an apartment, he didn't own a house, but we, you know, and me, it was me and my dad, we had to clear his stuff.

[00:19:05] Rachel: You know, I know some people maybe don't have to do that right away, but we had to do it right away. And so we had to make decisions about what to do with things and, and that was, Hard. Um, my brother didn't have a whole lot of stuff, but the stuff he had, he took really good care of. He had a lot of pride in the things he owned.

[00:19:26] Rachel: Like he bought a mountain bike and he wouldn't just buy like the entry level mountain bike. He had to buy like the $2,000 mountain bike or whatever. But he took really good care of, of his things. And an interesting story related to that. He had a backpack that, you know, that he used for everything commuting and, and.

[00:19:45] Rachel: And the backpack ended up with my mom. And about a year after or so after Aaron died, I went out and visited my mom and I found the backpack not being taken care of. And I was so mad and I'm just So, this is the thing that's so interesting, right? Like it's just a backpack, but it is not just a backpack.

[00:20:10] Rachel: Yeah. You know? And I was like, you have lost your privilege to own this backpack or have this backpack in your possession. I know. Get the backpack. And I still have Aaron's backpack and I still use Aaron's backpack and. I will always have it and you know, and I take care of it because he took care of his things and he would, he would not have liked the way it was not being taken care of.

[00:20:34] Rachel: Mm-hmm. , sorry, mom. It's true. You were not taken care of . So, but it was not just a backpack to me it was Aaron's backpack that he would've taken care of and. so it's now in my possession so I can take care of it. .

[00:20:47] Maya: I love that. And I, a lot of you guys will connect with that too. I understand that. And I also understand what you're talking about when it's like, cuz my brother had roommates and we had to go into the, which I shared on season one and I, you know, was left out of that.

[00:21:00] Maya: It was my parents and so they were scrambling and they weren't, of course, as parents weren't in the right state of mind to really figure out what to do with his stuff and same kind of situation my brother. Free spirit didn't have a lot of stuff, but he had to have the best, like he had to have the best guitar, he had to have the best, you know,

[00:21:16] Maya: So things like that. But so I, I connect with that too. But thank you for sharing that about the backpack because first of all, How special is it that you have that, but you are so channeling Aaron and like, no, we, we take care of this. We take really good care of these nice things. Like I love that and I love that we're able to do that.

[00:21:36] Maya: And I think that's really important as a message for all of you listening and surviving siblings, that that was an important thing for you to have. But we kind of channel our sibling. That's how they live on too. We, we know what they would want and how they would continue their life. Yeah, that's, that's what gave me the courage to finally tell my story.

[00:21:53] Maya: And so I love your backpack story because that's so like your brother coming through you. Ilove that. Yeah. That's not beautiful. Yeah. So I, Rachel, I

[00:22:02] Maya: do wanna go back for just a second because we're trucking along. I wanna go back for just a minute because I know a lot of our listeners always like to

[00:22:09] Rachel: cure what happened right after

[00:22:11] Maya: the loss of your brother.

[00:22:12] Maya: And again, something I share with you, my brother, it was a Saturday when I got, I got the news, you got it on Sunday, but it happened on a Saturday as well. So again, it's kind of eerie, in the moment. So you went to purchase the bow tie. Love that part of the story too. You have so many beautiful moments in such tragedy.

[00:22:30] Maya: Did you go out to Colorado or what, what happened between kind of you and your parents and the family? What was the dynamic there and, and the evolution right after

[00:22:40] Rachel: Aaron passed? Yeah, so I will say that some of that is a little fuzzy to me, so I, I remember, I pretty much remember, but there are some details that, you know, it was such a painful time and like we've already said, we feel like.

[00:22:57] Rachel: Our brains are kind of in a fog and we're living in an alternate universe. So there are parts of that that are a little bit fuzzy for me. But yes, I did go to Colorado, I think, and this is, this is where it gets a little fuzzy ish, I believe. I flew to Colorado on that Monday. And I flew into Denver and rented a car and drove about two hours to where my mom was living.

[00:23:19] Rachel: And I, I remember I stayed with my mom and my dad flew in, and other family members flew into Denver. We did have a memorial service and I, I do remember being in the funeral home. and making selections, which, you know, what, what do you want in the program? What kind of, you know, and, and Aaron was cremated, so do you want individual urns?

[00:23:44] Rachel: And like all of these things that just throw you even more into a fog because you're like, why are we even talking about this? This is not what I wanna be talking about. We're thinking about we're doing, but I, and. I think, you know, maybe a lot of siblings can relate to this as well, that as the sibling, as the surviving sibling, as the child of the parents who have experienced this loss, I felt like a lot of that came to me.

[00:24:17] Rachel: A lot of the decision making. My mom could not function to make a decision. So the funeral parlor director was looking at me to make decisions and my dad, you knew it was a little bit more. I think able to make some of those decisions. But I did feel like a lot of it was, was put on me to decide, you know?

[00:24:37] Rachel: Well, and, and my dad was asking me, well, do you want this earned? Do you want this? And I was like, I don't want an urn because I don't want my brother to be dead, so no, nothing for me. Thanks. But wait, yes. I guess I should have something. I mean, it was just like, in my brain. Just it, yeah. Trying to make decisions about something that you do not want to be making decisions about because you don't wanna even acknowledge that it's happened is it was really challenging.

[00:25:03] Rachel: We did a memorial service and I vaguely remember some of the people who were there. One thing I do remember is a family member, and I can't remember it. So these, these are the details I say that I get so fuzzy on, but a family member was coming in at the airport. They were having some trouble or something with their flight and like, again, none of this was online at the time.

[00:25:25] Rachel: I was making phone calls and so I called the airline cause I was trying to get some information about when they were coming in and ended up in a huge fight with the person on the other end of the phone. And I, that's not like me, that's not something I normally do. Yeah. I don't get that vibe from you, Rachel.

[00:25:43] Rachel: No. . But, and, and I don't remember why cuz it was probably nothing. It could have been. that they said something like, why do you need this information? And I freaked out on that, like just freaked out. So I remember having like, I mean it was ridiculous like screaming match or something with this person, which of course then I, you know, was like, didn't get the information I needed cuz then this person was upset.

[00:26:06] Rachel: And I think in retrospect, that actually taught me a lot. I remember that experience. Now when the tables are turned and somebody's maybe reacting in a way that I wouldn't expect them to react, you know, it's always kind of in the back of my mind, what is happening in this person's life, because I wonder if that person would've been different or reacted differently or been maybe a little more patient with me.

[00:26:31] Rachel: I don't know if she knew that my brother had just died, and I'm trying to get my family members in town for his memorial service, but of course I didn't say that. I just started like freaking out. So things like that. So we had a, the memorial service. I wrote a, I guess a, a eulogy of sorts. I did not read it.

[00:26:50] Rachel: I had somebody else read it and I remember greeting people at the service as they came in and talking to people and family members. And you know, I had some of my friends who didn't even know Aaron came to support me. You know, they were local. They came to support me and at the very end, after all the remarks had been made.

[00:27:13] Rachel: It's weird, like I didn't even feel it coming. It's like when you trip and fall and like you didn't even see what you were gonna trip over and you fall and like, you know, have a really bad fall and break your nose or something. That's kind of how it happened. All of a sudden I just had a total meltdown.

[00:27:30] Rachel: Mm-hmm. and I was like sobbing and I was on the floor. I didn't see it come like, I didn't even know it was gonna happen. It just was all of a sudden there and people were. Running over to me and trying to help me and get me up and get me in a chair and, you know, and that lasted a couple minutes. I was like, no, no, I'm okay.

[00:27:47] Rachel: You know, I'm okay because that's also not really like me. I'm, I'm not emotional in public. Like all, a lot of my grieving is very private for the most part. And so for me to have a breakdown in front of people. Now, obviously the situation was my brother's memorial service, so Right. But that was really, Just, just unexpected for, for, for me to do that.

[00:28:10] Rachel: So I remember that. And really after that, I, I actually don't remember a whole lot. I know I came back to Atlanta. Of course, being a sibling, we don't get, it's, you know, I didn't get a lot of time off work, . I pretty much had to go right back to work and. . That was really difficult as well, because I needed time during the day to myself, to, to grieve, to cry if I needed to.

[00:28:38] Rachel: My coworkers were, some of them were fairly understanding for about, I would say two months. Mm-hmm. , and then it was like, okay, you're fine now. Right. So I remember the first work related travel I did. After Aaron died, and it was two or three months after he died. And I remember saying to a colleague, okay, I said, okay, I think I'm ready for this now.

[00:29:05] Rachel: I'm not sure it's gonna be really hard. And she was just like, what are you talking about? She was like, Oh really? Is this still about your brother? Like, and you can't travel, and I'm like, traveling takes a lot of energy. It takes concentration, it takes organization. All these skills that I don't have right now during grief, I can't remember.

[00:29:28] Rachel: anything. Actually, I carried a little notebook around with me for probably two years to write things down in, cause I couldn't remember anything. Like my whole brain was just taken up with grief. I think that's when I started to realize I can't, may maybe being an open book, just sort of out in the world, you know, maybe I need to save these kinds of thoughts for my compassionate friends group where people don't think it's crazy or people understand and relate and, you know, support me in these, these, you know, sorts of thoughts.

[00:29:58] Rachel: Yeah. Oh

[00:29:58] Maya: my gosh. So much to unpack here, Rachel. Oh my gosh, . I can, I connect with so much of this and I'm sure you guys do too, so with the work situation, absolutely. I get it. You guys have heard my story. I was like, I couldn't even, you know, I mean my first like trip was to Mexico and that was like rejuvenating for me and I'm so grateful like that.

[00:30:17] Maya: I was able to do that for myself. You know, it was a little misleading cause I thought, okay look, I'll jump back into like a new work. And that was like the beginning of my entrepreneurial journey. But yeah, I was like, no. Okay, one week in Mexico is not gonna like fix it all Maya. Cause I'm kind of like a speed it forward person.

[00:30:33] Maya: But I connect so much what you're saying because as I've shared in season one, The only person that I would like shove myself in my office, cuz you're right, like work does not like if you're a bereaved parent, which we know is completely traumatic and we're not diminishing that at all. But this is traumatic and we don't recognize it.

[00:30:52] Maya: And that's a mission. I think both you and I are out to change and out to help. And. They just were like, okay, but like, are your parents good? Like you need to stay strong, like get it together. Like that was the mantra going on for me. And people just, unless you can through it, you just don't really get it.

[00:31:08] Maya: Yeah. You just don't. Yeah. And so I think you're giving like a, a really great example and story and wonderful advice I think. From both of us is like, just remember these people don't get it. Like they don't understand it. It's not like offensive, but it can feel, and I hear this from people all the time, and I'm sure you hear it even more than me as a facilitator, it's hurtful because you're like, this is so, so real.

[00:31:29] Maya: Like I'm not even in my world. So that's, that's one thing and I'm so glad that you shared that. But I wanna go back to your story about the urn really quick. Oh my God. When you were telling this, I'm like, I was

[00:31:42] Rachel: literally going back in time. It's

[00:31:44] Maya: interesting how we do this right when we share, and I remember being there and it was me and my mom, which is was ironic in my story because I was left by my family for like a period of time.

[00:31:56] Maya: And then I'm here and I so connect with you on this because. I could not, I did not pick out an urn that day for my brother, cuz we were splitting the ashes. And a lot of it went into the creek, as you guys know. But I picked one out for my dad, . I was like talking to my dad because he was a little bit of my rock during this.

[00:32:13] Maya: And I was like, dad, what do you want? And my mom even was like, you should probably handle that part for your dad. I remember telling her, I'm like, what do you want? I was handling everything and then it got to a point where being in there was so overwhelming I had to walk outside. Right, right. It like sinks in the reality a little too much.

[00:32:30] Maya: But I walked out with an urn for my dad, cuz I know he loves blue and they had a connection to the ocean. So it was like an ocean thing. But like later, I like ordered the urn that I wanted for my brother, which had a tree on it and stuff, but I wasn't thinking that way. It was too final. It was too intense and I had to be there for them.

[00:32:47] Maya: So I just, I was like going there in my mind. I'm like, gosh, I know. What that's like. And I'm sure a lot of you guys do as well, whether you go through cremation or to funerals like a traditional or whatever it is, you're kind of expected to be the strong one for your parents. And it's something we don't always talk about until it happens and that's a lot of, lot of pressure.

[00:33:06] Maya: So wanted to make sure we went back to that because Yeah. Oh, I understand where you're coming from there. Definitely do.

[00:33:11] Rachel: Yeah. Mm-hmm. it. It is a lot of pressure and I think. Where we refer to sometimes as the forgotten mortars, you know, people forget that or don't recognize that, you know. We're in a lot of pain as well, and I know I've shared this story with you, but I'll share it again because being part of the Compassionate Friends has been amazing, and I think we're really fortunate in the local chapter in my area that we have not just the parent groups.

[00:33:42] Rachel: So a lot of compassionate friends groups may just have a parent group depending on the size, you know, of the group and, and what sort of facilitation. You know that they have available, but we're really lucky with our local chapter to have a, a specific sibling group. And I share often in that group that just specifically for in my situation and my mom's situation, you know, my mom and I were talking about our grief once and she said, you've never lost a child.

[00:34:12] Rachel: You don't understand. And I said, that's right. You're absolutely right. I haven't, but what I know. That this is the worst grief you've ever been through, and this is the worst grief that I've ever been through. And can't we just, you know, support each other through our grief? For me, it wasn't useful to compare grief and say, you're right, you're going through a harder time than I am, so I should.

[00:34:37] Rachel: Not acknowledge my grief so that I can help you through yours. I didn't really understand that. I didn't understand why she wanted to, to compare, and, but, and I said that to her and she said, okay. She, and she did acknowledge that fortunately, you know, she did say, yes, you're right. He was your brother and I know you loved him.

[00:34:53] Rachel: But I think that that's another sort of common thing is that. Parent, you know, parents losing a child. You know, we, we just, we sort of rank it, right? We sort of rank these things. A parent losing a child is the worst. That's the worst. And I, and I don't disagree with that at all. I do not disagree with that.

[00:35:11] Rachel: But I think me losing my brother, I just still think that's the worst grief I've ever had. And it was very severe grief. And it's serious grief, and it's still grief. It's like you said, we just kind of live with this for the rest of our lives. You know, it never goes away completely. It changes, but it doesn't go away.

[00:35:27] Rachel: Like to, to tell that story in, in our group a lot.

[00:35:31] Maya: Yes. And when you shared this, I'm like getting a little emotional right now. I don't know what it is about season three, but you guys are like really getting to my like, core and my emotions. That means that, you know, I we're telling some really good stories here and hopefully you guys are connecting with this too.

[00:35:43] Maya: I think, you know, and I've said this a million times, and I'll probably say it a a million more, maybe I said this in group too, Rachel, but I think it's ingrained in us that like the worst thing that can happen is to lose a child that's ingrained like very young culturally, you know? And I think. You and your mom being able to openly talk about it like that and you being able to say that to her and then her responding in that way, even though she was like, you just don't understand.

[00:36:09] Maya: And like that was her grieving, but the fact that she was able to recognize like, Ugh, I think that's such a gift to you because you're right, comparing grief. Ugh. I've talked about it forever and again, I'll talk about it a million more times it. You, you can't. You absolutely can't because you know, no, you haven't lost a child, but you lost like your first friend, your first enemy, your partner in crime, your first, you know, fight your first, you go through all these things with your sibling and that's something that they potentially haven't been through.

[00:36:40] Maya: If you have a parent that's been through it, they're probably gonna understand you a little bit more. I. There's so many gold nuggets already in this episode, but that's a huge, huge takeaway I hope that you guys get from this because it makes me emotional because it really validates our loss and validates how we feel, and it is.

[00:36:57] Maya: I mean, I can't imagine losing my own child after the pain I've been through losing my brother. I don't have children yet, but I can empathize with it because the pain of losing my brother is not something I'd wish on. Anyone, anyone. Doesn't matter what you've done. Would never wish it on anyone, so I'm so glad you brought that up.

[00:37:15] Rachel: Yep, yep. I agree. And that's one of the first things we say in our group. I'm glad you're here. I'm glad you found our group, but I'm so sorry for the reason and I would say the same thing to you. I'm so glad I met you and I'm so sorry that I met you because, because of the reason we met. Nobody wants to meet that way.

[00:37:33] Rachel: You know, we also talk a lot in the compassionate friends. Going back to, to something I think that came up a little earlier. About things that people say that are not helpful or are hurtful. We spend a lot of time in our group sessions talking about that and. I think sometimes people are well-meaning, sometimes they just don't know what to say.

[00:37:54] Rachel: Sometimes they're scared of your grief. I think people are, are scared because they don't know how to react. They don't know what to say, they don't know what to do, you know? So and I understand all of those things. And before Aaron died, I probably reacted the same way. I would not have known what to say sometimes, maybe I still don't know what to say, but I always try to sort of dig deep and think, okay, what really helped me?

[00:38:17] Rachel: and sometimes what really helped me was just somebody to say, I'm sorry, you don't have to explain it. You don't have to make excuses for it. You know, we talk, we talk a lot about, and, and I'm sure so many people can relate to, you know, things like God takes the good ones young or he's in a better place or, and or, you know, and then there's also this sentiment.

[00:38:38] Rachel: That. Well, you know, if Aaron hadn't died, I wouldn't have done some of the things I'm doing now, which is have made me a better person or a more well-rounded person. I was good enough. I was good enough.

[00:38:50] Maya: Thank you for saying that, Rachel. Because people will say that to me sometimes and I'm like, yes. Like, you know, maybe, you know, especially people who have strong faith or things like that.

[00:39:00] Maya: And like, that's okay. And I respect that and I, you know, I'm very spiritual. Like I believe in God and you know, that's, you know, we all have our personal beliefs, but I'm like, I love that you just said that. That's so perfect. Because I'm like, yeah, I was good. Like I was good, but I asked some interesting things, which you know, is what we're kind of talking about or told interesting things.

[00:39:18] Maya: And you know, I was asked a couple times like, would you go back in time and change it? I'm like, ah, yeah, I my rather here. Like of course. But at the same point, you get to a point in your grief journey where you're like, this is my life. And so I guess that's quote unquote acceptance. I don't know. I think you feel all the different things at different times and we can go into a whole other episode on that.

[00:39:37] Maya: Right. I love that you're talking about this and you know, obviously I know you talk about this in group, but yeah, there's, there's things that people say, and I'm with you, I'm, I'm all about that. If you don't know what to say, just say I'm sorry, or I'm so sorry. And I like when people are just like, I'm here for you.

[00:39:55] Maya: You know? And if, but if you say that, be there for them. Like, don't just say that . Right. But yeah, I think you're bringing up a really, really important point here because people just don't know they really. .

[00:40:06] Rachel: Yeah. Yeah. Something you just said made me think of another thing that I think about a lot, which is acceptance.

[00:40:14] Rachel: And we talk about this a lot in group too, and I've done a lot of therapy, so I understand acceptance and I understand the reason for it and that it's actually meant for me. It's, it's not meant for the person who, and I do use this terminology, the person who killed my brother. Because I didn't go into the details about the accident report, but based on the accident report, he cut into my brother's lane.

[00:40:37] Rachel: He says he didn't see him, and I don't believe that. I never have, and I still don't, but I know that that's supposed to be for me, it's not for that person. It's not, you know, it's really for my own emotional and mental health and wellbeing. I have never. Used that term for my brother's death. To me, it sounds like accepting the fact that he died, not so much accepting the fact that he died, because I think I do do that.

[00:41:03] Rachel: So let me rephrase. I think to me saying acceptance means it's okay that he died somehow. Like, like I accept that and it's not okay and it will never be okay. So I actually prefer to describe it. Acknowledgement. So I acknowledge that he died. I know that it happened. I'm not, I'm, I'm far enough in my grief journey.

[00:41:25] Rachel: I know that he's not gonna come through the door. I know that it's real. I acknowledge these things, but I've always been really hesitant to use the word acceptance. That's been really difficult for me. And honestly, I don't think that that has been detrimental to my mental health or my grief journey, or, you know, I feel like that's okay.

[00:41:46] Maya: I feel like I love that because that, you know, they say there's either five or seven, you know, stages or face. I, you know, you bounce all over the place. You know, I've heard people, they've sent messages in which you guys can always send us messages. We love that. But you know, there's people in, in groups and just all over the place with sibling loss where they feel so like rushed.

[00:42:06] Maya: Like they have to be like, okay, I'm in denial right now. I'm in depression right now. Like, ugh, some how it works, you know? But I connect so much with this racial because accept. was for, I guess a lack of a better term triggAarong for me cuz I'm like, I'm not gonna accept the fact that this guy murdered my brother.

[00:42:23] Maya: Right. So like when you were just talking about that, about Aaron, I'm like, oh my God, yes Rachel, yes, I get it. But what you're, how you're kind of rephrasing it. It makes so much sense to me. I do acknowledge that my brother. Has passed away. I do acknowledge that my brother was murdered. I do acknowledge that it was not right what happened, and I get asked a lot to rachel, you know, well, aren't you still angry, aren't you still the like, I don't live in that emotion anymore.

[00:42:53] Maya: But it's not to say that I don't experience that quote unquote stage or emotion. At times when I'm talking about it. So I love, love, love that you're saying, like, I acknowledge that this has happened because I think it's, you know, you're not in the fog or you're not you. Mm-hmm. , you've come into awareness and I think that's so much healthier because acceptance was always for me too.

[00:43:15] Maya: That was the most intimidating, quote unquote Yeah. Stage or terminology for me, because I'm not gonna accept the fact it was okay that this guy did this to my brother. I'm not gonna accept the fact that like my brother is gone at 27, like But I acknowledge that it happened. Wow. I love that. Look. Another just wonderful nugget for you guys to take away there because. . Yeah, I think that's huge. Sometimes just rephrasing things is so helpful, right?

[00:43:38] Rachel: Yeah. And there is so much emphasis on acceptance and, and I understand that, but for me it just, it didn't work. It didn't work for me. So I found something that did

[00:43:48] Maya: Yeah. Yeah. Ex acceptance and this whole idea of closure that I talk about all the time too. The, there's closure doesn't exist, but that doesn't mean they can't move forward, right? It's the same kind of concept. So I love that we have. Term in our kind of tool belt here for grief. Thanks to you Rachel. Acknowledgement. I love it.

[00:44:07] Rachel: And closure. I completely agree with you. I don't like that at all. So one of my favorite, I guess, analogies or metaphors, I actually don't know what it would be, I think analogy. But anyway, one of my favorite sayings, I guess, that I actually learned through Compassionate Friends is that time does not heal.

[00:44:25] Rachel: It leaves a half stitched. Because another thing we hear a lot, I think along the same lines, its closure, is that time heals. Time heals all wounds. That's sort of a common sort of saying, but I really, really resonates with me that time does not heal at leaves a half stitch scar because it's like we've mentioned several times, this just becomes a part of who we are and it's always there and it is kind of like a scar.

[00:44:50] Rachel: So the feelings, emotions, those early grief days. Being all being 20 over 20 years into my grief. It is different. It is different. It's not that acute pain that I felt. It's not that. Overwhelming sadness and grief, but it's still there. Closure is is an odd term to me. Like, okay, I'm done with that and now I go, you know, but you're never really done with it.

[00:45:20] Rachel: You know, it's just a part of who we are. We just incorporated into our, in the compassionate friends, they say the new normal into the new, you know, life. And it doesn't mean that we're not moving forward. It doesn't mean that we. Healthy grieving that were, you know, just in denial. I just don't think those are the right terms.

[00:45:39] Rachel: At least for me, they weren't.

[00:45:40] Maya: I agree a hundred percent. And I'm sure most of you guys listening can connect and agree with this as well. And thank you for sharing that because I remember coming to group and hearing you say that, and I was like, oh. Another incredible person with another analogy, metaphor, whatever you guys wanna call it, but that's so true.

[00:45:58] Maya: I, ugh. Time heals all wounds. Like that one. And then when you said that, when I met you, I was like, yes, this works. I connect with this. Rachel, before we close, I definitely wanna talk about your role as a facilitator and compassionate friends, if you can tell us about, cause it's intimidating for some people to go to group, you know?

[00:46:19] Maya: Yeah, I, I hear that. You know, I, whether I'm on TikTok, Instagram, wherever I'm posting about it, I'll talk about group. Cause, you know, it's all virtual for a while. I'm back in person, so I'm so excited to come in person and interact with you guys, but I didn't find group. Later in my grief journey and didn't come in person, hello, six plus years until I wasn't an in person group.

[00:46:40] Maya: I love it because I'm an extrovert. You probably know this about me already. I'm not shy to tell my story or to listen to others, but I think it can be intimidating for other people if they're more introverted or if they're in the fog in that beginning phase where, gosh, you know, sending my love there.

[00:46:59] Maya: Tell us a little bit about when you first went and also kind of give some advice to people that are maybe a little apprehensive to doing group. Cause they might do therapy, they might, you know, dabble in some things, but they're not ready to go to group. I think group is incredible. So if you could share that, that'd be awesome.

[00:47:13] Rachel: Yep. Oh yeah. It is really, really hard. It's a hard thing to do. I started going to the Compassionate Friends. My first group meeting that I attended was about two months after Aaron. And for me it was desperation. I couldn't control the fact that Aaron had died, so I was just, I was trying to fix something. I was trying to control something.

[00:47:35] Rachel: I was trying to fix my grief. I don't know. I was doing anything I could to try to, I don't know. Fix it. So I found the Compassionate Friends online and I went to a group meeting. It was really scary. It's hard because you don't know the people. You don't know what to expect. You don't know anything about it, especially if you haven't done that sort of thing before, which I hadn't.

[00:47:58] Rachel: Our Compassionate Friends group does meet in a church, and for some people that could also be intimidating or not, you know, depending on how they feel about. , but Compassionate Friends is non-denominational. It's not a religious organization at all. It's not affiliated with a church. It, that's just where we go for our meeting space.

[00:48:16] Rachel: That's the only relationship is that they provide some space for us to meet. Mm-hmm. . So the first time I went to the group, it was definitely intimidating. I did go by myself. Sometimes people bring a friend with them and that is completely acceptable. If you have a close friend or another family member, whether it's a sibling or not, that would come with you, if that makes you more comfortable, that is a hundred percent acceptable.

[00:48:43] Rachel: Our Compassionate Friends group, it is geared toward adults. So I get that question sometimes. Can kids come? We really do try to keep it more in the adult age group. So I think our official policy is 13 and over, but we rarely get people as young as 13. Sometimes we have maybe a middle school, sometimes high schoolers, but it's mostly young adults, middle aged adults, you know, even people up in there, you know?

[00:49:13] Rachel: Maybe past middle, past little past middle age. So it's, it's really a variety of age groups, but it is geared toward adults. The, the advice I would give is if, if you're not sure you're ready and you want more information, reach out. Reach out to your local chapter. Most. I know our local chapter has contact information on the website.

[00:49:30] Rachel: I'm sure most local chapters do. If not all of 'em, you can always reach out. We also have a Facebook page, a TCF line of sibling. And you can reach out that way or connect with other TCF groups. I think, I'm sure most of them, if not all of them, are on social media. You can call. So I've, I've had phone calls and I'm always happy to talk to people and let them know what the group is like and what to expect.

[00:49:52] Rachel: And then, you know, you have to decide. And, and it is definitely, it's not for everybody, but I will say that most people who've come to our sibling group, they, they come in, I, I've had parents say, I'm gonna bring my daughter. And she doesn't wanna come. And I said, okay, that's fine. She, she can just sit and listen.

[00:50:12] Rachel: She doesn't have to talk. But 90% of the time, a person who comes in thinking they don't wanna say anything and they're not going to talk, and that is a hundred percent acceptable as well. There's no rule. They will talk because they'll hear something that resonates with them. They'll hear something that makes them wanna share, even if it's just share a little something, they'll hear something that inspires them some way.

[00:50:37] Rachel: My hope is that. I can say something that helps somebody in some way that somebody resonates with, so that they don't feel alone or they don't feel like, I thought I was the only one that thought that way or had that thought. Um, because you're probably not , but if you don't know that, you don't know that, and it feels like you're isolated and alone and you know that you're the only one thinking this way.

[00:51:00] Rachel: So, but it is, it can be really intimidating and really difficult. We usually say, try to give it three chances. So try three meetings. Each meeting is a little bit different. There are different people who come and that can change the dynamic. You know, if one meeting you don't hear something that resonates with you, maybe you will.

[00:51:17] Rachel: And the second meeting, and sometimes people come multiple times, sometimes they don't. But again, it's, it's totally, there's no rule. I'm also not, I'm not a professional. I'm not, I don't have. , any sort of clinical degree or therapy degree. I'm just there to give back from my experience and to to try to help facilitate discussion and like I said, hopefully share something that will help or resonate with somebody else.

[00:51:40] Maya: Well, I've seen you in action and you definitely do that. So yes, Rachel. But no, I really thank you for being so in depth and sharing that because we're, I feel like we're kind of pulling the veil off of the mystique of what it's like to go to group and what it's like to go to. Yeah, I, I think it's really important because I, again, like I said, there's so many people that wanna go, or they're apprehensive or.

[00:52:03] Maya: I love that you share that they can bring someone they're comfortable with. You don't have to say a word, but Yeah, I've seen this too, coming to to your group for the first time, but also in other groups, you know, the people that you think maybe won't share, they just open up. Because they hear something they connect with.

[00:52:21] Maya: And so I think, you know, in, in this part of our conversation, I hope that we're giving hope to all of you listening. Like if it's a fit for you, like give it a shot because you feel less alone. You're like, oh man, that person felt that too. Or you kind of take tidbits of everybody's stories and you connect kinda like we do on this podcast.

[00:52:38] Maya: And I think that's really beautiful and I really commend you for going two months afterward. Like, oh my gosh, I'm always blown away when people tell me. So early because I wish that I had known, but also I think we're all on our own path, and so I've learned to kind of accept that about myself. I think that's also a message I would give to all of you, and I'm sure you agree with me, Rachel, go when you're ready and go when it's something you know that you're a little open to.

[00:53:02] Maya: I don't know if you're ever ready for some of these things though. You just kind of have, you have a moment where you're like, I'm gonna go. I'm gonna go. I'm gonna do it. And you know, maybe you don't come back for a lure, or maybe you're like, yeah, I'm really into this. But it's different for every.

[00:53:14] Rachel: Yep. Absolutely. I a hundred percent agree with that. Don't force yourself, you know, to do anything. If you're right. You know, somebody might be waiting until they're ready. They may never be ready in the sense that they're like, yay, this is exciting. I can't wait. Yeah. But more in the sense of I've been contemplating this for a while, I think I can handle it.

[00:53:33] Rachel: That to me is more like the readiness. I think maybe I can give it a try. , right?

[00:53:38] Maya: And and they just kind of push yourself a little bit. And if you need someone to come with you or I think that's amazing. And that's what I really loved a about this group too, is that you guys are open to having that supportive person with you, whether it's a significant other, another sibling, a friend, whoever it is.

[00:53:52] Maya: I think that's really beautiful. Rachel, I mean, just the amount of information that we have gotten out of this. I, I hope you guys have gotten so much knowledge and just inspiration with over 20 years on your journey. And we know you have a lifetime to go with this, but I wanna ask you one question before we let you go, and also tell us where to find reiterate, where to find all these groups.

[00:54:14] Maya: If you could go back, I was asked this question, I'm sure you know this. If you could kind of go back in time over 20 years ago, what's something that you. Rachel 20 years ago would know like when you got the call or maybe right after you got the call, what's a nugget of advice, which I know you give all the time in group that you could give to these incredible surviving siblings that listen to the show because we're all over the place in our grief journey. I think it's an important thing to ask.

[00:54:38] Rachel: Yeah, I think that is such a good question and it's actually a little bit difficult to answer because I think, you know, I think that there are a lot of things, but I think, I guess one big thing I would say, Just, you know, try to let yourself be where you are. Maya, you had talked about how we put sometimes put a lot of emphasis on the dangers of grief, but I would say toss out all that out the window.

[00:55:06] Rachel: It's good background information and it's okay to have for reference, and maybe it's good for a therapist to have that information to be able to help you better. But as far as your own grief, I would say toss that out the window. Let yourself be where you are. Be patient with yourself. Understand that sometimes it's just one second at a time.

[00:55:26] Rachel: It's okay if you can't plan for your day or if you can't think about what you're gonna make for dinner or you, you like just one second at a time is sometimes the best we can do. And so I would just say let yourself be where you are and have a lot of patience.

[00:55:41] Maya: I love that. I love the one second at a time that's in, because that's really kind of how you're operating.

[00:55:47] Maya: I mean, yeah, in, in that time. I mean, gosh, it was like a huge achievement for me to take a shower hour or you know, or like actually go for a proper walk with my, you know, dogs. Cuz I adopted a second one, like right afterwards. What was I thinking? I don't know. So grateful. Cause I love them both to death, but oh my gosh, like, And, but you know, maybe subconsciously, like I did that so that I would Right.

[00:56:08] Maya: Do those things. So I love that you're saying one second at a time, because everybody's like, one day at a time, a day feels like a mountain. Like it feels like you're climbing Everest. So ugh. Again, lovely piece of advice. Rachel tell us, because everyone listening is from all over the place. Tell us where they can find their local chapters.

[00:56:25] Maya: Cause I've already told people like, Hey, this is where you could go. But we wanna hear it straight from our facilitator here. Where can they go to find more information about the compassionate friends?

[00:56:33] Rachel: Yeah, of course. So the Compassionate Friends has websites and they're also on social media, so I know that they have some pretty active social media.

[00:56:40] Rachel: So I don't know all the specific names, of course, of all the different chapters. But the, if you, if you were to. on social media and look for the compassionate friends. You would probably pretty easily be able to be connected with the national organization. And from there you could drill down to your local organizations.

[00:56:58] Rachel: The Compassionate Friends also has websites, compassionate would take you to the national website. . And then our specific, my local website is tcf And even if you're not in the Atlanta area, there, there are actually some resources on that website for siblings that that might be useful.

[00:57:23] Rachel: And then again, any, any surviving siblings are welcome to join the TC of. Siblings Facebook page as well, so, so those are some of the ways that you can get connected with compassionate friends.

[00:57:36] Maya: That's perfect. Yeah, and of course, we're gonna include all of that in our show notes, so you guys can just click and join and join us in Facebook. If you're not local to us or if you want to go in person, we'll put the main link there. But I was easily able to find local chapters. As I was mentioning before we started recording for a couple different people that were asking, they had no idea they had multiple chapters they could visit in their area, which I. Wonderful. So Rachel, thank you so much for sharing. Thank you for being here. Thank you for sharing your grief journey, and of course, Aaron's story as well.

[00:58:06] Rachel: Yes, thank you. Thank you so much for letting me share. Thank you.

[00:58:11] 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. 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. Until the next episode, keep on surviving my surviving siblings.

Rachel Woodruff

Rachel lost her little brother Aaron in a motorcycle accident in 2002. She was really close to him, as he was the only full brother and her sibling that she shared a childhood with, so receiving the call was a heartbreaking and pivotal moment in her life.
The first few weeks after Aaron passed were a blur for her. Rachel felt a mix of emotions because everyone expected her to be strong for her parents and to deal with all the funeral arrangements for her brother. Two months after Aaron’s death, she felt desperate as she couldn’t control the fact that Aaron had died. She was trying to fix her grief, which led her to attend her first group meeting at one of The Compassionate Friends chapters in Atlanta.