Emma G Rose | His Name Is Nicky




The ripples of loss reach far and wide within a family unit; often in ways, we don’t expect. Emma shares the impact the death of her cousin to suicide has had on her life and that of her family.

Emma has found solace in writing her grief in the thirteen years since her cousin Nicky’s death, publishing three books since that time.

Suicide leaves those left behind having to navigate the displaced anger this type of loss often leaves in its wake. Emma shares how her family grieved together and how this loss, which left a gaping hole in their lives, has somehow managed to bring them, as a whole, more together. They talk about the hard issues and what matters to them as if they’re talking about the weather. Which, as the creator of this podcast, is my hope for all of us – that, as a society, we can begin to talk about grief like we talk about the weather.

Reach out to someone you know or love today and, as Emma shares, if they need to, they will reach back. It often takes someone to extend the hand of compassion first. Will that be you?



Victoria Volk 0:08
This is Victoria of theunleashedheart.com, and you’re listening to grieving voices, a podcast for hurting hearts who desire to be heard. Or anyone who wants to learn how to better support loved ones experiencing loss. As a 30 plus year griever and advanced Grief Recovery methods specialist, I know how badly the conversation around grief needs to change. Through this podcast, I aim to educate gravers and non Grievers alike, spread hope and inspire compassion toward those hurting. Lastly, by providing my heart with yours and this platform, grievers had the opportunity to share their wisdom and stories of loss and resiliency. How about we talk about grief, like we talked about the weather? Let’s get started. Thank you for tuning in to grieving voices. Today’s guest is Emma G Rose. She is an author, publisher and host of the indie book talk podcast, she started writing her first novel as a way to cope with her cousin’s death by suicide. Today, she’s getting ready to publish her third contemporary fantasy novel about people living through difficult situations, including near death experiences, suicide and grief. Thank you so much for being here. Happy to have you. Yeah, no problem. Let’s start with your grief writing journey. And where that begins,

Emma G Rose 1:34
I guess, to really tell this I have to go back to before the grief incident. So I’d always wanted to be a writer my whole life. As soon as I figured out that books were a thing that people wrote, they weren’t just magically created. I wanted to be a writer. And so I was that kid who was always scribbling in a notebook, I was reading all the time. And I started a bunch of different drafts of books as a as a kid in like middle school in high school age. But I’d never finished anything, to a degree that I felt like it was ready to be sent out into the world. And then I was 20. And I got a phone call that my 17 year old cousin, had died by suicide. And of all of the people I knew in my life, if I had had to list, the people who were at least likely for that to happen to, he would have been right at the top of that list. Like it just was completely out of the blue to in my,

Emma G Rose 2:34
in my experience of it, it just you know, it wasn’t like, we saw signs, you know, people talk about, Oh, I saw this and that. And of course, in retrospect, there were a few things. But it’s hard to tell, sometimes as a teenager, like the difference between normal teenage angst and like there’s something really wrong here. So as his cousin who lives in a different state, I didn’t see it. And it completely shocked me. And started kicked off probably the hardest week of my life, which was flying, to be with the family and be it the week and the funeral and all of that stuff. And that all of that process that ritual, helps to helps you to kind of cope in the short term. But it’s just the very beginning of this long journey of dealing with a situation. And my situation was a little complicated in that I this was this happened in March, in the fall, I was scheduled to move to Japan. So very quickly, after this loss, I moved to the literal other side of the planet, and was as far as I could possibly be and still be on planet Earth, away from my family. So I did kind of fell back on old habits and started writing a lot. And at one point this, this scene kind of popped into my head this, these two characters talking to each other, and they were teenagers. And this is where it gets it actually gets a little lighter. There’s these two teenagers and they’re arguing about whether or not they’re dead. And I don’t know where this came from. Exactly. It was just like one of those scenes that sort of falls into your head all at once. And I knew that they were that they were dead, but that they weren’t sure. And that they were arguing that’s what they were arguing about. And I got up from the book I was reading and I went and I wrote down this scene. And it sort of evolved from there into a story. I eventually wrote my cousin into the story, the whole that whole first novel deals with a journey through the afterlife. And so I was able to write him post suicide. And as a person dealing with this decision that he had made, he was both incredibly challenged. and comforting to write that because it was a way of saying he’s not gone forever, right? He’s just kind of in a different place. And for me and for my family, when I share the story with them, it was really comforting to know that like, there was another place, I made a home for him. And this is where he was. And we all knew where he was, he’s in this afterlife place. And he’s okay. And so when I wrote this, and it was, again, you know, very challenging, there were many drafts, I removed the scene, I put it back, you know, there was a lot of that happening. But when I shared it with family, people who have known Him, they kept saying, to me, this is really comforting, this made me feel better. This, you know, somehow changed the way I thought about this so that I could feel like, okay, I can move, I don’t want to say move on, because that’s never real, but to move forward in this feeling, and not just be kind of stuck in this place. So hearing that, I knew that this story needed a wider audience, because we weren’t the only one. Sadly, we’re not the only people who have dealt with this situation. We’re not the only people who have lost someone to young, we’re not the only people who have lost someone to suicide. We’re not the only people to be struggling months and years later with the ramifications of this act. So I wanted to put it out into the world. And even knowing that that was true, knowing there were people out there who needed it, I still sort of dragged my feet for years. Because first of all, there’s all the complication of getting something published, you know, it’s not a super simple process, always. And depending on which avenue you choose, I originally went with the traditional publishing route, I was querying agents I was sending out, you know, cover letters saying like, this is what the books about and do you think you can sell this? And most people said, No, we don’t think we can sell this. A few said, this is incredibly intriguing. But I don’t know where to put it. It was just it was it was a weird story. It bothered people that the whole thing happened in the afterlife. It bothered people that like it was funny. It’s a legitimately funny book, because they’re teenagers and teenagers are hilarious. But it was also dealing with these really heavy issues. So that was this weird balance. And I finally ended up independently publishing it, starting my own publishing imprint, putting the book out into the world. And it took me 10 years from the time of my cousin’s death to the publication of the book, but I think it was a well spent 10 years and learning how to deal with all of this. And the process of publishing the process of getting it out into the world has helped my grieving process. And as I continue to write, I continue to, to find layers of this grief. So the most recent novel, The one that’s coming out in July, is assembling Ella, and that is a story of somebody who 11 years later is dealing with the loss of her brother. So it was it enabled me to look at some of the things that people don’t understand about long term grief. And the times when, you know, I mentioned my cousin, and people go, and they kind of cringe, and they don’t know what to say next. And or they’re like, why are you still upset about that, which is my favorite response, because I’m still upset about that, because he’s still gone. And it’s still awful. But I found myself kind of telling myself the story that I should be better, where even it was a few months before the final draft of this book. So I had sent it out to beta readers, which is like the first readers who kind of give you feedback, and I had sent it out to them. And so I was kind of in this place where I didn’t have anything to do right this second. And it happened to fall during the anniversary of my cousin’s death. And I found myself thinking I should be I should feel better than this. I shouldn’t be so sad about this. Still, it’s been this many years. How am I still so upset? How am I How was it still await? You know, March, as soon as the month of March starts. It’s like I’m holding my breath. And I actually called my mother and I said, Why am I still so upset, and she said something that actually sort of it was true, but it was also kind of devastating to hear, which was, The anticipation is worse than the day because you know what’s going to happen, you know, that this awful thing is going to happen, and there’s nothing you can do about it. And so every year, like the week, the few days before, is really, really hard. And I’m learning to reach out to people, you know, to talk to my uncle, who has been amazing, you know, he lost his son, and he’s just, he’s found ways to turn that grief and that loss into connection. In many ways. He’s a role model, too. You know, we do different things. We do it in different ways. But ultimately, we’re both trying to say you are not alone. And this should never happen to anyone else ever again. And whatever we can do to save people from that or to You know, bring them forward just a little bit to know like, you’re not alone. You’re okay. And there’s all these people that be really upset if you left, that, that outreach that, you know, remembering that you’re not by yourself is like the biggest thing. It’s, it’s everything in this. And that’s why I write books, not only to remind other people that they’re not alone, but to remind me, because people come out of the woodwork. When I when I share these books, and I share these stories. I get emails, I get direct messages on Twitter, I get, you know, these log messages on Instagram saying, I read this book, it changed the way I think. I read this book, I realized someone else gets it. I heard you speak. They haven’t even read the book. I heard you speak. And I understood. You know, I felt something. That’s why I do it. I don’t think there will ever be a time when I’m over it. I don’t think you ever get over grief. You’ve lived with it and you live through it. And it’s okay to not be over it. It’s expected because you never don’t love that person. You never are happy they’re gone. So you’re always grieving in some way or another extend you a hug. Thank you.

Victoria Volk 11:06
Thank you for sharing. I think your mom had it right? Because it is it’s the anticipation that is almost worse. And all the work that I’ve been doing and podcast episodes I’ve recorded with Grievers. It is a similar story of the week of the month of the day before the day of even days after it’s it’s when self care is really superduper important, and especially in grief. That is that’s your hope, especially maybe early on. So what did help you? And when did this happen?

Emma G Rose 11:40
This was 2008. So it’s been 13 years.

Victoria Volk 11:46
Yeah. And it’s been 13 years, friends. Yeah, there’s no timeline, right? 30 plus years, my dad’s been gone. There’s no timeline, the chairs still empty. My son’s gonna graduate in two years, I’ll probably think about my dad and how I wish he would be there, right, like life events keep going on and that person is still gone. That doesn’t change. So the grief changes, but the missing doesn’t. Right. And I heard the same thing. Well, she you should be over by now. Yeah, well, I’m not a stuffer like you. Because the people who are saying that are stuffing their emotions, excuse me, they’re stuffers. They’re either turning to the bottle turning to relationships, turning to Facebook or reality TV or something that makes them feel better for a time. And they’re not really addressing what’s going on. And it catches up with people. Eventually, it does. So what helped you I’m circling back to the question now, what helped you and is continually helping you, other than writing because not everybody’s a writer, right? When the time gets closer, and when March because March is my month too. So

Emma G Rose 13:02
I mean, writing is like my primary coping mechanism for most things, but outside of that, reaching out to family members, and just saying like, I’m not okay, you know, sometimes I send my uncle just like a heart emoji. I did on my cousin’s birthday this year, like the day before his birthday, I just sent that. And it’s that little moment of connection. And when you’re grieving, it’s really hard to connect with people, because you want to sort of call yourself inward and protect, you know, you want to protect that thing that’s hurting, which is you. But it really does help to reach out and just say I’m not okay, and to acknowledge that out loud and not feel like you have to be smiley and fine when you’re not. That’s huge. For me, one of the kind of sweet things that my uncle did, he took some of Nikki’s old T shirts, and he cut them up, and he wrote his name and his birth and death dates on them. And Nick had always wanted to travel. So we took the t shirt of pieces of T shirts to just random places. I was in Japan. So he sent me one and I left it in a temple in Japan. And, you know, my my family went out to camp that a camp that they’ve been to several years in a row and they like tied onto a rock and dropped it into the lake. And it was all those things that remind you that the person is not here with you, but that they were and that they’re still part of what you’re doing. We still talk about him regularly. You know, it’s not there’s no taboo against bringing him up. My uncle will joyfully tell stories about the hilarious and ridiculous things that my cousin did. He was, you know, the class clown, the funny kid who was always getting up to something and those stories are told and that I think makes a huge difference to and not not avoiding because yes, it makes us sad, but it also makes us happy because my favorite author Terry Pratchett has a quote. Do you not know that a man is not dead? Well, his name is still spoken. And I think that continuing to speak someone’s name is not only a confirmation that your grief is valid, and that this, you know, it’s not like this bad feeling that came from nowhere it had an origin. And that origin was the love of someone, you don’t grieve someone that you didn’t have some sort of feeling for there. That’s just you know, a name on a paper somewhere, but somebody that you grieve as someone that you loved, or sometimes didn’t get along with really well and had complicated emotions around, or they evoke something in you. And so what you’re grieving is not just the person, but also everything around them, the you that you are, when they’re around and the way that they fit into your relationships in your world. We are eight cousins, a boy and a girl and each family. And Nikki is a part of that, even though he’s not present with us anymore. And so he comes up and we talk about him. And that makes a huge difference.

Victoria Volk 15:55
I think your uncle sounds like a really good mentor. And he’s leading by example. I love that story with the T shirts. It’s beautiful.

Emma G Rose 16:04
Yeah he’s done a lot to both remember Nikki as an individual person, but also to help other people who might be going through similar struggles. So he started in Nicky’s remembrance, he started the Nicholas wind Fernandez Scholarship Fund, which gives a scholarship it’s not a huge scholarship. You know, we’re not millionaires here, but it’s a scholarship to kids who went to the vocational school that Nicky was attending. So that exists. But we also did the out of the darkness walks, which are fundraising events for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. And my uncle got really involved in suicide prevention programs in the state of Massachusetts, which is where they’re from, he worked actually with the select the state legislature to get suicide awareness training into schools, which was interesting, because when he started, they asked him to talk at what would have been Nikki’s graduating class. And just before he went on stage, they said, Oh, don’t say the word suicide. And so that, don’t say that word that comes back to the same thing of don’t speak their name, because you’ll make someone’s that Don’t say that word, because you’ll put it in their heads. You’re not putting that idea into anyone’s head. They already have the idea. But when you bring something out into the open, you demystify it, you take away some of the some of that feeling of no one understands no one’s ever been where I am, no one gets what I’m feeling, all of that is connected, the grief, the suicide, all of that is something you have to talk about, and mental health as a stigma. Those are things we have to talk about, and we’re getting better now he can go into a school and give a talk specifically about suicide prevention. And no one thinks that’s weird, but 13 years ago, don’t mention the word.

Victoria Volk 17:49
Tell us about Nikki and the impact he had on you.

Emma G Rose 17:52
He was the the youngest of my cousins, and only my little brother is younger than him. So he’s the youngest of my cousins. And he always had sweaty hands. Some people just do and he always did. Oh, he always wanted to hug you. So get this, this stereotype that like a 1314 year old boy is not going to come hug his female cousin when she walked out the door. Nikki was not he you know, yeah, your hair, give you a big hug. He loved to play video games. He loved to play sports. He did baseball and football and all of that stuff. And he was very much that the life of the party, the class clown kid, the one who came up with the funny prank. He was also he takes after my uncle, he was a bit of a daredevil, you’d have to stop him from doing things like can I jump off the trampoline into the pool? You know, he was that kid? Yeah, to be on watch, because he would get into trouble. But he was just the sweetest person. You know, he was legitimately wanted people around him to be happy and joyful. And he he was that himself for the most part. And I associate the color green with him because he wore it a lot. And so we all wore green for a long time afterwards, their particular shade of green. Yeah, it was my baby cousin. And in some ways, you know, I don’t didn’t know him as well, as I wish I did. You don’t realize until somebody has gone that. Like all the things I wish I knew. I couldn’t tell you what his favorite song was, you know, or my uncle had to tell me some of the things he hoped and dreamed about? What did you want to be when he grew up? And you know, where did he want to travel? All of those things. Like I didn’t necessarily know that because I was 20 and he was 17. And you know, the younger you are the the more those ages matter. And he’s changed our lives since then. I think certain members of our family are much closer than they would have been otherwise. We make more of an effort to be present for things because we’re all very aware that you never know when the last time you’ll see someone will be so you know say I love you go to the event even if it’s boring. Don’t make the effort to do something even if it can only be, you can only go for 30 minutes before work. Okay? It’s better than nothing. Yeah, he was just a really happy kid. I’m so sorry. Thank you

Victoria Volk 20:16
Was the family I was so open and vocal with each other before this happened to?

Emma G Rose 20:23
We’re, we’re pretty good at talking about hard things. I think we got better about it. I think, again, it’s sometimes it’s hard, you know, I was 20. So, the world you live in when you’re a teenager or a young adult, isn’t always 100% reality. But I do think that we were pretty good at being open and vocal, you know, we always said, I love you, we took pictures together, you know, but I just think that we’re much more willing to talk about hard things now. You know, it’s not uncommon for someone to say, Oh, I went to my doctor, and I now want anxiety medicine, and I feel so much better, you know, those sorts of things that maybe we wouldn’t have necessarily shared with everyone, you know, with the whole family. And I think my, my nuclear family, my parents and my brother, we are exceptionally good at talking about things like death, you know, we’ve had very open and honest conversations about what do I want to happen when I die? What, you know, who Who do I want making decisions for me? What do I want to happen to my to my body after I die, all of those things, that, again, people sometimes really struggle to talk about our I don’t want to say comfortable, but they’re not uncomfortable topics. They’re the they’re just as likely to come up well, cooking dinner, as you know, oh, did you see that thing on TV? Or what I’m planning to do next weekend? It’s, it’s becomes a very normal thing to discuss.

Victoria Volk 21:56
That’s very important. Do you think that I mean, was Nikki privately struggling? Did Nikki not communicate some things? Was there any indication that he was,

Emma G Rose 22:06
I think he communicated better, or more, more openly with his father, my uncle, and maybe even to a certain extent, my grandparents who live very close by, I think that I was more removed from it because I was further away. You know, we live in Maine, and third, Massachusetts, we see each other at special events and things and he was definitely struggling. He, you know, he’d had some diagnosis of some sort of depression or something like that. And, you know, and I don’t know all of the details, I know that he was sort of struggling and in the end, and but I, again, it’s so hard. And I think I want to acknowledge this because people who are beating themselves up about this, it’s so hard to tell when you’re when you’re outside someone’s head. Whether this thing that they’re dealing with right now, is this a end of their world sort of thing? Or is this I just feel bad right now, it’s really hard to tell. And sometimes inside your own head, you can’t really tell. So we did that. We did that. Like, well, what if we done this? And what if we’d said this, and if only we’d come home sooner if only you know, this hadn’t happened if only somebody had said this, that or the other thing. But I mean, you could have only all the way back to my uncle never met, who Nicky’s mother, and therefore, Nikki was never born. But I don’t want that. I’ll take this over that.

Victoria Volk 23:28
I’m curious and you don’t have to share. But I’m, you know, just for the sake of those listening, what I know about grief, as a grief recovery specialist is that it’s not just one experience that happens to us. It’s usually accumulation of experiences that takes us over the edge or we either implode or explode. What was Nikki’s life prior to this? Like had he experienced a lot of grief in his life?

Emma G Rose 24:00
I don’t know that I’m qualified to say, I know that he had, in some ways a difficult relationship with his mother. My, my uncle and his mother were divorced. And there was, you know, there was some tension there that we all knew about again, I mean, I don’t know the inside of his head. So I don’t know what thing you know what? Something that can be life shattering for one person might be a Tuesday for someone else. So I can’t say for sure. I do know that. My uncle and my grandparents were always present and loving and supportive. And yeah, they thought about stuff because everybody does. But ultimately, we have always known that they were there for us. And I can’t imagine that Nikki didn’t know that. But sometimes what’s going on inside your head just doesn’t No amount of outside support is enough, you know, you got to find that inside yourself to some degree. So that’s really, I guess the best answer I can give to that.

Victoria Volk 25:09
I just wanted to just highlight though that exactly what you said is that an event can happen to one person, and it can feel like a Tuesday. And it can be an absolutely soul crushing thing to somebody else. And the divorce rate is quite high. And usually children are the collateral damage of that. And this is why too, I’m passionate about the helping children with loss program. It’s for the adults, especially with young children younger, even doesn’t matter the age really, but this is why I’m to I’m so passionate about the education of it, because when we as parents, Are you a parent, as a parent, and I have teenagers, I have three teenagers now it is I have learned the value of cleaning up my own shit. Really, I’m now gonna have to mark this explicit. But it’s the truth, it is the truth, because my junk impacts my parenting, therefore, will impact my children. And I don’t want my junk to interfere with their future. And so if you’re listening to this, and you are maybe getting a divorce, you already are divorced. And if that isn’t even your situation, maybe you’re estranged from the biological, other parent, whatever the situation is, maybe you’re adopt, you know, maybe you adopted children in your divorce, whatever, it doesn’t matter. This is why this is so important. Because when we start to clean up and sweep our doorstep, it ripples in our lives. Your uncle has started, he cleaned up his doorstep, he started, you know, and he’s making ripples in other people’s lives. Look at the influence he’s had on you and the impact and your grief, just by him leading by example, not just in the basics of life, but when it really matters. And when that when it comes to grief, because we don’t know what people are struggling with. But if you can’t allow yourself to ask the tough questions, because you’re afraid of the answer, where you can’t handle the answer. That’s your indicator that you’ve got some personal work to do. I’m getting off my soapbox now. I didn’t expect that. But it’s heartbreaking for me to hear these stories like this. And not just Nikki, it’s just one like it even you know that. We just never know what impact our actions have on others. Not that this is by any means your uncle’s fault. I am not saying that, or his mother’s fault. I’m not saying that. I’m just saying, what do you have to lose by addressing your stuff. And that potential is really high to be a lot, your future, your own future, your own potential, we sacrifice when you when you don’t address the stuff within you, you are sacrificing little bits of yourself. So what has your grief taught you? Because that’s that’s I mean, I’ve learned a lot. So what have you learned in your group?

Emma G Rose 28:29
How do I narrow this down? It has taught me that I am not alone have never been alone cannot be alone. Because there are there’s always another person in the world who has experienced something like what you’re experiencing. And if you reach out, they’ll reach back. That’s I mean, I’ve my whole writing career around that idea that if I reach out the people who need to, will reach back. And I don’t think I would have known that. If I hadn’t had this experience. I think it’s also taught me that life is more complicated than you think. So no single experience is like, Okay, this is everything or network, even something that feels like the ripples of an individual experience spread out through your life. When Nicky died, my brother, my brother’s much younger than me, my brother was 12 and a teacher at his school who also happened to have grief professional training, said that children will grieve as they grow. And I remember as a as a 20 year old I said, That’s stupid. He’s going to grieve and then he’ll just go on with his life, right? Because of course, I’d never had this level of experience. And I have learned that people do in fact grieve as they grow and sometimes they don’t realize that’s what’s happening. And so sometimes that and in some ways, this is what assembling Ella is about sometimes reaching a milestone. Everyone around you is like, Yay, we’re seniors. Isn’t that exciting? And you’re going my brother never got to be a senior. Why do I get To surpass him, my cousin never will get to be 21 years old, he’ll never get to have that ridiculous party that everybody has. And, you know, get into trouble. He missed that. And knowing that no single experience is all happier, all sad, nothing you experience in your life is all good, or all bad. It’s this balance of things. I don’t believe everything happens for a reason. I don’t believe that their fates out there making the world BS. But I do believe, and this has taught me that you can find lessons and and guiding principles out of even the worst things. And that if those terrible things happen, the best thing you can do is look for the lesson in them. Because you might as well learn something, if you have to go through this horrible thing, you might as well let it make you a better person, you might as well let let it connect you more to people, because the alternative is to let it break you down. And I don’t want to do that

Victoria Volk 30:58
I had a podcast guest once say I said in grief, and she had lost a child. And she said, when you lay you decay. Yeah. And I like to say that you’re already suffering, you might as well be suffering and moving your feet, taking action, baby steps, whatever you have to do to I had a podcast guest Yes, the who is living with metastatic breast cancer. And sometimes it’s just your goal is just to get out of bed. That’s it, just to get out of bed, and because when you lay you decay, I’ve just never forgotten it throughout your grief experience, which I totally identify with what you said, grieve as you grow, because I was eight. So that’s why I say I’m pretty much a lifelong Griever. But in your grief, experience, what has given you the most joy and hope for the future.

Emma G Rose 31:48
I mean, I’d have to say that the stories I get back from people, when I put when I share my grief experience, and people reach back and say, I understand I feel this, you made me feel better, you made me think about this differently like that, that’s the joy that comes out of this is that I experienced this. And it made us more empathetic people, it made us comfortable people for someone to reach out to if they’re hurting, because they know we’ve we’ve hurt they know that it’s safe to talk to us about these things. And as sad as it is when someone comes to you with a grief it, it’s also it’s also a relief to know that they have someone you know, they’re not having to navigate this, by themselves, sadly, have been there and have kind of blazed a trail and you can walk in those footsteps. So that’s been I don’t know what I would have done if I hadn’t written books like I don’t know how I would have dealt with it. This was my way. And I think other people are going to have other ways. You know, you could paint tour start a charity, or I don’t know, lay on the floor and cry. I mean, there there are lots of ways there are paths that aren’t this one. But for me, this was the only way forward. And if I had not written this the first book and not continued to write, I don’t know where I would be. It would not be here. Certainly, I don’t know where I would be

Victoria Volk 33:10
Writing gave you hope. It sounds like you’re not the first Griever to that found solace in writing. I’m sure to have one of them too. What else would you like to share today?

Emma G Rose 33:21
I think I just want people to know that I hope this has come across. But I will say it more explicitly. I want people to know that your grief is not wrong. And there’s nothing wrong with you. This is hard, it sucks. It’s sad. It’s feels meaningless and stupid. And why should anyone have to do this and whatever weird cocktail of emotions you get out of that, whether it’s anger or sadness, or any permutation of that, that’s okay. It’s okay, fighting those feelings saying I shouldn’t feel this way I should feel better, I should do this, that that is not going to help you. So it’s really okay to be sad. It’s really okay to not be okay. It’s really okay to block out three days of the month and say, I’m not working because I’m, I can’t because this is my observance. This is what I’m doing. That’s totally okay.

Victoria Volk 34:11
I like how you called it days day of observance, even like days of observance. It’s really observing how you’re feeling. It’s observing, you know, what would you have done with that person if they were here and maybe doing that thing? I like that, like I said that I did think of another question, because I know that the loss of your cousin wasn’t the only loss you had. But I’m also curious if you had grief yourself experiences prior to losing your cousin,

Emma G Rose 34:39
The only person I had ever lost before. Nikki was my great grandmother, which is a very different experience. She had been in a nursing home for many years, she’d had a stroke. She wasn’t herself and she knew she wasn’t herself. And so when when she died, it felt More of a relief almost to say like she’s not she had a full and beautiful life. And now she’s left us. And that’s very sad. And we were, of course, all very sad. But it wasn’t the same. There was no anger. With Nikki, there was a lot of anger. And it’s hard because it was a kind of displaced anger, like who am I mad at not really mad at him. I’m not I’m not mad at anyone. I’m just like mad that this is even a thing. I’m mad that this is possible in the world. I’m mad that somebody who had his his wake was like, there were people out in the driveway, waiting in line for like an hour to walk by the receiving line. His childhood orthodontist was there like that somebody who could have that big of an impact could choose to leave was very upsetting. And I was kind of angry at him. Let’s be honest. I was I remember sitting on the floor during the week with my little brother leaning against me and just being so angry at Nikki like, if he could see what’s happening right now. He would undo what he did. And so it’s very different. But the year Dickie died was actually really hard. Because it was the year everyone died, we lost Nikki and March, a close family friend a few months later, my aunt in law, I guess you’d call her died, complications related to her cancer, which she had fought breast cancer in one, but the treatments have weakened her heart and she died. So my last weekend before I moved to Japan, I went to a funeral. And then in December, my paternal grandfather who granted I wasn’t super close to he died as well. And it was just like that culmination. It was just saying after thing after thing, everyone died. And then I moved to the other side of the planet. And yeah, so Nikki is the he’s, he’s the focal point of my grief often. But there’s more than that, you know, it’s it spreads. And I don’t know, grief feeds on itself, right? You get into this like, like any other mental habit, when I’m sad, eventually, that’s where my thoughts go. And I think it was a very well ingrained mental habit by the end of that year, to grieve. To a certain extent, I think people are grieving now. I think everyone is grieving more or less right now, and may not be the loss of a person though. For some people, it absolutely is. But the loss of experience, the loss of a year or more of our lives in in the world that we thought we were going to have. Because ultimately, grief is about the experiences you miss. It’s the the relationships that didn’t happen. The the tribute didn’t go on. All of that is grief. And we’re all feeling that right now. So I think in some ways, this is the exact right time to be talking about grief. We need it really badly. We need these conversations. And we need them to be open and honest. And things we can talk about and acknowledge

Victoria Volk 37:42
I say too grief was our pandemic long before COVID was a pandemic. To be honest, grief has always been there in the fact is, is for example, two years ago, I attended a VA mental health summit, Veterans Administration mental health summit in I was in a room full of social workers. And I’m not dogging social workers, but I’m just stating a fact here and in aroma soldiers. And there was two soldiers that shared their experiences of coming really close to ending their lives and the social workers that spoke and in the breakout rooms where I attended other speakers not a once in the entire day was the word grief used not a once and that is the problem, because we’re not even addressing the elephant in the room. People I feel like yes, there are mental illnesses diagnosed, yes, that require medication that do require, you know, forms of psychosis, there’s all these things right, that medically can be legitimized on paper, and whatever. But where do these things begin? And how do they get to the point that they get to and knowing what I know about grief, trauma and Childhood Adulthood is childhood reenactments. I’ve said this several times on the podcast I’ll keep saying because when you’ve experienced trauma in childhood, and especially when you are a soldier and you go and deploy, that changes you trauma and childhood changes you It’s proven on a cellular level, it changes your brain chemistry completely. So grief is the pandemic and we just don’t want to talk about it. Like you said, talk about what you want with your body when you die. Like it’s like you’re talking about sweet potatoes for supper, right? Talk about how sad you’re feeling today because your loved ones birthdays coming up and they’re not here. Like it’s a recipe for mac and cheese. Like it’s the weather. Let’s talk about grief. Like we’re talking about the weather, make it normal conversation, because it’s normal and natural to grieve. Yeah. So thank you for the work that you’re putting out the conversations you’re having with people sharing your story, inspiring them and given them hope. Thank you for being here today.

Emma G Rose 39:58
Thank you for having me and giving me another place to connect with people

Victoria Volk 40:01
And where can people connect with you? If they want to find you.

Emma G Rose 40:04
You can find me at Emmagauthor.com. There’s all of my social media and everything there. So I am on a lot of the social media. And if you message me, send me a note. I will absolutely respond. So feel free to reach out. I love that. It’s why I do this work. Tell me your story. Just say hi. Hey, I heard you on the podcast, emmagauthor.com. And then, if you feel so inclined, and have any interest in publishing, you can check out the indie book talk podcast.

Victoria Volk 40:32
And I will put all of that stuff in the show notes. And thank you again for being here. And remember, when you unleash your heart, you unleash your life. Much love. From my heart to yours. Thank you for listening. If you liked this episode, please share it because sharing is caring. And until next time, give and share compassion by being hurt with yours. And if you’re hurting know that what you’re feeling is normal and natural. Much love my friend


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