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Dec. 29, 2022

REPLAY: Honoring Memories, Overcoming Life's Challenges: A Story of Grief, Growth And Empowerment | Matt Gilhooly

REPLAY: Honoring Memories, Overcoming Life's Challenges: A Story of Grief, Growth And Empowerment | Matt Gilhooly

This is a REPLAY of episode 11, launched in May 2022. I wanted to share this episode again for new subscribers that have yet to hear my story and the WHY behind The Life Shift Podcast.


This is a REPLAY of episode 11, launched in May 2022. I wanted to share this episode again for new subscribers that have yet to hear my story and the WHY behind The Life Shift Podcast.

 

In this episode, we flipped the script so I could tell my story. Throughout the first batch of episodes, the guests (and listeners) asked when I would tell my story. So, in this episode, my first guest, Christin Lindley, leads the conversation as I share the pivotal moments that shaped my life and eventually led to The Life Shift podcast.

 

As a child, Matt faced his mother's sudden and unexpected death. At just 8 years old, he had to grapple with the grief and sadness that comes with such a tragedy. He was also forced to adjust to a new life in Georgia, where he had to start school as "the new kid." Despite all this, he found comfort in his grandmother's love and support. Unfortunately, she eventually got a lung cancer diagnosis, and it became clear that her time was limited. On her 82nd birthday, they had a wonderful celebration surrounded by family. During this time, they had an honest conversation about their relationship and expressed gratitude for each other. After she passed away, he took time to process his grief and come out on the other side with clarity. He realized that he had been living his life to other people's expectations, but now he could live authentically for himself. He learned that it's okay to be sad but also happy for the experiences you shared together. Grief is something you never get over, but it's important to process it to move forward in life.

---

Matt Gilhooly is a creator - podcaster, communicator, and educator. He is the creator, producer, editor, and host of The Life Shift Podcast. Spurred by his life-altering experiences, Matt helps others share the stories of pivotal moments that changed everything forever on The Life Shift Podcast. Matt has self-published over 10 coloring books on Amazon and released a children's book that celebrates individuality and confidence, "I Can Be Anyone: A Soul's Journey," in June 2021. Matt earned his master’s in mass communications from the University of Florida in 2022 and an MBA from the University of Central Florida in 2004. He believes that we must take time to support the people around us to achieve success. 

 

Resources:

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Connect with me:

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Website: www.thelifeshiftpodcast.com

 


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Transcript

[Christin Lindley]
I'm Christin Lindley and this is the life shift, candid conversations about the pivotal moments that changed lives forever, This is my friend Matt, how are you?

[Speaker B]
I'm good, it's so interesting to hear someone else say it.

[Christin Lindley]
Did you like that?

[Speaker B]
I did and it was very professional of you.

[Christin Lindley]
I mean podcasting is a visual medium, right? I've got my mat outfit

[Speaker B]
on, I have my

[Christin Lindley]
hoodie, I have my johnny cupcakes poster, I'm fully embracing the host, so what are we gonna do today, matt?

[Speaker B]
So we're now about a dozen episodes into the life shift podcast and I've been having these amazing conversations with people about the pivotal moments that have changed their lives and throughout most of the episodes, I've alluded to different things that have happened in my life and I can't tell you how many messages I've received from friends of mine or other listeners saying, well when are we going to hear your story?

[Christin Lindley]
Yeah, I think even I asked you that, yeah,

[Speaker B]
you asked me early on guest number one, so this is what we're going to do today. So Kristen is going to kind of lead the conversation and we'll see where we go and I will share the hosts story.

[Christin Lindley]
I love it. Yeah, I think when we were talking, you know, I even said, I said you know you have quite, you have quite a story, I know little bits and pieces of it. I was there for a, you know, a tiny small amount kind of on the periphery and I said when you're ready to tell your story, let me know because I'll interview you. So I'm excited. I hope I do a pretty good job. You've been doing great. But yeah, why don't you? I don't know where you want to start, but why don't you give us kind of, that's okay. I mean, I didn't know where to start. Give us a background where where do you want to start kind of pick and feel, feel, feel where you want to go.

[Speaker B]
Yeah, So, you know, as everyone else hasn't, we want to make these, these conversations and so I didn't really do a lot of planning or figuring out exactly what I wanted to share. But I feel that there are two main pivotal moments in my life that shifted my life drastically in different ways. And so I guess it starts at the first one and really kind of where I was and what was happening. So, you know, I was, I was living in massachusetts. I was a young child and my parents were divorced. So I was regularly visiting my father. My mom had main custody of me. I would see my dad every Wednesday, which yesterday we were talking about you going and getting Mcdonald's for your son.

[Christin Lindley]
But

[Speaker B]
I mentioned that every Wednesday I remember going to Mcdonald's with my dad and that was a treat because that was part of the custody agreement was the Wednesdays and every other weekend. And so I would regularly see him and I kind of had this dual life happening.

[Christin Lindley]
When did your parents get divorced?

[Speaker B]
See, I don't know what I remember about their divorce is really the day they signed the papers and I remember being at the business park wherever this was. I no idea and I don't even know if this is true, but this is what I remember and I must have been five or six maybe and I just remember being outside throwing my winter glove up in the air and catching it. Like that was my, that's all I remember of that. And I believe that was the day of like signing the divorce papers. But honestly, I don't really remember or have too many memories of my parents being together. I feel like I was always a product of the kind of dual family piece where I mostly lived with my mom, but I visited my dad regularly. I was part of that family had my own bedroom and all that stuff there as well. So that was kind of what my life was looking life. But in 1989, in I believe in May of 1989, my dad got a job opportunity in Georgia. And so we lived in Massachusetts, obviously I lived with my mom and so he took the opportunity to go there and I think he thought it was just going to be kind of a temporary thing and kind of get a leg up at his company. It was with the same company. It was, they were, I think operating a new department or something And so he was down there in May of 1989. I went down my first airplane flight. I got to help, you know, set up and and do all these things and explore Georgia which is 1000 times different than Massachusetts and

[Christin Lindley]
Georgia is very different from Massachusetts. I have to imagine two

[Speaker B]
opposing accents as well, which is always interesting as an eight year

[Christin Lindley]
old.

[Speaker B]
So he moved down there and you know, I came back and was with my mom over the summer and then my mom and her boyfriend at the time decided that they were going to go on a second annual motorcycle trip to colorado. I think I think it was cross country and was with a bunch of other friends. These are you know, kind of upright Hondas. They weren't, it wasn't like a Harley group or it wasn't, you know, like a crotch rocket, whatever we want to call them these days just to paint that picture. They were more

[Christin Lindley]
Yeah, yeah, exactly. Yeah. So

[Speaker B]
this was the second annual trip that they were going on and for some reason I just didn't want her to go and I remember like fighting her and arguing with her as an eight year old just like, no, I don't want you to go. I don't know why, I mean it's just a selfish eight year old. I don't know what was happening in my mind but I do vividly remember telling her I didn't want her to go.

[Christin Lindley]
Yeah,

[Speaker B]
yeah. And so because she was going on this trip, which I believe was supposed to be maybe two weeks or something. It was a long ish trip and again, these are eight year olds memories. So I don't really know how long it was supposed to be. But because of that I would go down to visit my dad and kind of have a summer vacation in Georgia before school started and spend, I want to say maybe like close to a month there to, you know, visit obviously the custody component but also allow my mom to have some single mom time, you know, So she was on the trip, I was with my dad having a great time in Georgia. We were planning to go to Disney and do all these things from Georgia. And I remember september 1st which was labor day that year, 1989. I was at like the daycare or something. I don't know if it's called daycare. I must be summer camp type daycare. And my dad's boss's wife walked in and I was confused because it was the middle of the afternoon. Normally my dad would pick me up at like six, you know after work, whatever that was and she was there and I was like what? And she like picked me up and basically took me back to my dad's office. And I mean, I don't know what I was thinking. I don't really remember too much about that, but I remember walking in my dad's office and he closed the door and he just looked at me and he looked like devastation on his eyes and he tells me that this is probably the worst thing he's ever had to say in words in his entire life. And he basically told me that my mom had been in a single vehicle accident with her boyfriend, they were in buffalo new york and hit an oil slick and the bike went and they went and she was rushed to the hospital and she ended up dying in the hospital, you know, multiple injuries and and those kind of things that you would kind of expect from a motorcycle accident. Yeah. So that was that instant pivotal moment that changed an eight year old's mind in so many ways. I think that moment is the reason that the life shift podcast exists because of the trajectory um that it put me on.

[Christin Lindley]
It makes me teary because I'm a mom. You know, I can't imagine, sorry, give me 1/2. I can't imagine your dad having to do that. You know, like I feel for you. And yeah, that's hard.

[Speaker B]
I honestly think selfishly. I think that moment was harder for my dad than it was for me because my dad was, you know, in his thirties or something like that and understood, right, what that meant. But as an eight year

[Christin Lindley]
old,

[Speaker B]
I don't think you understand the the finality of death, right? Most.

[Christin Lindley]
Yeah,

[Speaker B]
so I think he remembers that moment far more vividly than I do. Um and maybe that's part of you know, blocking trauma and and such as a

[Christin Lindley]
kid. Yeah. Yeah, I mean I your poor, I mean clearly I have sympathy for you because that's awful. Like I cannot imagine being eight we talked about and when I was telling you my story having like the rug pulled out from under you and having to do that at eight years old, I mean that it completely changes your life now. You have to live somewhere else. You have to be with your other parents as your primary parent, you're going to a different school. I mean that is awful and hard and it had to have been bewildering to you and then for your father, I mean like yes, they were divorced but he he had to have still had feelings towards your mother in terms of like this is still the mother of my son, you know, she's still someone that he cares about even if they're divorced. Like how oh and now the two of you have to navigate this new relationship of father and son without your mom and grieving in that way and that that I mean to say that the life shift is such an underwhelming phrase for it. You know, it's man that's awful and it's, it's nice to hear you say like this, I get it. Like that is the moment that makes everything else come to fruition. And like this project that you're working on because of course you would understand moments where people go into a completely different trajectory and want to investigate that because it's such a, it happens it's life and it's such an interesting um amazing story.

[Speaker B]
It's interesting at 41 to look back at it and seeing what I did with it because as you point out, my life completely changed because I no longer was going to live in massachusetts, right? I was no longer going to see any of my friends again that I had made. So now I got to move to a new state new school, new friends and massachusetts had their terms for the school started later. So when my mom died on labor day school starts in massachusetts after Labor day. But in Georgia it starts in like mid august. So everything had already started. So you're that first of all you're the new student that comes into the class whose mom just died who has a boston accent, you know, and all these pieces where you just like stand out when the only thing you want to do is to blend in.

[Christin Lindley]
Absolutely. Yeah, you don't want to be when you go through that as an adult, you don't want to talk to everyone about it as an eight year old. I cannot imagine that I can't imagine going through that. I can't imagine trying to process that and just like on a day to day basis because you don't have the you don't have the communication tools at eight to tell people, I am not comfortable talking about that. I am still grieving and I don't even know what that means because I'm eight. But

[Speaker B]
I mean honestly people that are our age don't have a lot of the communication tools to do it either. Which is what I learned for sure. Yeah. And I think it's important to point out what you mentioned because I think that shift from my father was just as drastic because you know he did not have primary custody of me. He was living in another state. He wasn't prepared right. Who can be prepared to take on 100% responsibility for a child and also help them through the grieving process while also grieving.

[Christin Lindley]
Yeah.

[Speaker B]
So I don't think we did a very good job of it. I will say that I will say that this was early, I mean it was late 1989 into the 90's 2022 is a lot different than 1990 is as it relates to open emotions or grieving or mental health or any of those components.

[Christin Lindley]
Yeah, because I hear your story and I want to scream like I hope he immediately put you into therapy, but probably not because people aren't talking about therapy on a day to day basis the way they are now, you know, that's just not and talking about your feelings and talking about how grief is complicated and yeah, my gosh.

[Speaker B]
Mhm. You know with that, my I think I was required to do like school counselor or something along those lines, maybe not required, but it felt required. And at that point you don't honestly, you can't really do therapy until you're ready to do therapy in my opinion or you've at least processed enough to understand what you need to do and just recently I think or you send it to me or I sent it to you this, that there was a new york times

[Christin Lindley]
video

[Speaker B]
and it was, I don't know was it Swedish? Maybe, I don't know what it was, but it was, it was a documentary. It was like a 20 minute documentary about grief camp. And what I found so interesting about it is is was Children, maybe 62, 12, maybe at most, maybe 6 to 10. And they went away to this summer camp essentially with people that had similar stories to them that they didn't feel like they had to put on a face, they could be sad, they could talk about it with someone that understood and the whole time that I watched this chris and I was I was crying because I was like, imagine if eight year old matt was able to go to that summer camp, where the heck would I be right now? Because my grief journey was long For this was like 20 years. It took me I want to say. So I'm jealous of that grief camp as morbid as it sounds.

[Christin Lindley]
No, I mean, be jealous of it and also be proud that it exists. I mean people probably who went through similar things as you as kids came out of it going this can't there, there's something better than this, There's something better than I've had a parent or sibling or loved one die. And then I'm thrust back into society and expected to act like a normal kid. The other thing that strikes me too, that is so different about your story than the stories that have been shared so far on the podcast that I've listened to is you know, you were a kid and when you're a kid so much is out of your control and now you're dealing with the loss of a parent which is way beyond your control. And you also have you have no say in how you want to process that or what you want to do and don't want to do. You still just have to follow all the adults directions and how just like no wonder your grief process was so long. You you you couldn't make any decisions about anything. I mean clearly you couldn't have changed the fact that your mom had this accident, this tragic accident, but you also couldn't make any decisions on how and when to process that or what resources to find even if they were available to you. You were just having people making decisions for you because you're eight. So it makes sense and it's awful. But it makes sense that it would take you so much longer to process and to go through that because you have, you have no control. Whereas you know, and all these other stories that I've told and that your guests have told, they've been adults when things have happened. So they've been able to choose which as much as they can, how they want to do things what they want to do next.

[Speaker B]
It's interesting though, because I talked to my friend marty and his mom passed When he was 12 and our stories are so different even though we were both Children. And I think it stems from the fact that, and I don't want to word it like this way, but I'm going to, the only thing that changed in his life was that his mother died and

[Christin Lindley]
his parents were still together.

[Speaker B]
His parents were still together. He didn't have to move, He lived in the same house, went to the same school had the same support group around him and so I think when I talked to him, I was like, I admire how you were able to go through the normal steps of of what you needed to do. And I realized at that moment what made my shift so big was not necessarily the fact that my mom died, but rather my mom died and then every snowball effect that came with it because of the circumstances of my family.

[Christin Lindley]
Yeah. Your mom died in 50 other things happened as a

[Speaker B]
result.

[Christin Lindley]
Yeah. So you didn't have, I mean similar but not clearly you didn't have one life shift happen. You had a whole bunch just like I was saying like it was like bam bam bam bam all in a row. You know you had dude that was like a week of, I mean when did you have to move? Did your dad immediately take you home and pack up all your stuff and bring you back or how did that process? Do you even remember?

[Speaker B]
Yeah, I remember a little bit. I remember I remember pieces of that week because you know she died in another state. So there's a lot of, you know you have to get the body brought back and then you gotta plan the, you know the mass and the viewing and the burial and all these other things and I remember flying back, I don't remember how quick it was. I remember flying back and I remember my dad and I going into the house that I lived in with my mom and kind of tagging all the things that I wanted to keep or bring, which is a whole other story that most of it didn't make it to Georgia because my mom's family decided they were going to have a giant yard sale and sell all that stuff. So there's that. So a lot of like the comfort pieces that I wanted to bring with me did not make it and I don't know if that had any impact necessarily, but I just remember that. But

[Christin Lindley]
of course it did okay, stop right now because the fact that you remember it, yes, it had an impact. Okay, sorry.

[Speaker B]
But I remember the, you know, my, my dad's mom had to take me to get, you know, a suit and the thing, I remember going shopping for that and we were having trouble. She, she liked to tell this story. I don't know if she liked to tell the story, but she would tell the story of when we had to go to the shoe store to get like dress shoes for this eight year old who never had to dress up in his life before and the guy was giving all these options and and she was frazzled too because she was pretty much like best friends with my mom. So it was a lot and they were like super close and probably why I ended up being really close with her, but she used to tell the story that as this guy was bringing out all these different shoes, she just like blew up on him and she was like, look, I don't care. This kid's mom just died and I just need a pair of shoes and good

[Christin Lindley]
for her.

[Speaker B]
She felt bad because she didn't mean to take it out on this guy, but it was like, none of this matters, none of it matters right now. You know, if it has tassels or you put a penny in it,

[Christin Lindley]
it doesn't matter. Yeah, yeah, they need to fit and he and they need to be comfortable end of story. I

[Speaker B]
remember that, remember that prep. I remember the wake which is the kind of the viewing uh and I remember the, it was, we didn't really have a mass, it was just in a funeral home, we had that and that was super awkward for me. I I don't know that anyone teaches you how to behave at one of those things when you're a child and the person that you talked to like a week ago is in the

[Christin Lindley]
casket.

[Speaker B]
But I remember in the middle of the priest or whoever it was, whoever was talking, I just walked up to the casket and just like stood there and then like I started saying things and my dad got super uncomfortable and it was just very awkward situation and I don't know that you're supposed to teach someone what to do or if that's okay, but it stands out as like as this 41 year old person like what the, what are you doing? I remember that and I remember I remember the burial and in all those moments, but everything in between is kind of just, I don't, I don't know what people were saying, I don't know what people were doing. I just remember that kind of those little pieces of that week before we went back and then I just had to start the new life. You know, it's like, okay, close that chapter start third grade who I had the best teacher that I'll always remember. And I think it's just because it was at that pivotal moment in which she was kind of the caretaker for most of the day. Right? And yeah, so that

[Christin Lindley]
was, you know, did she know what had happened?

[Speaker B]
Yeah.

[Christin Lindley]
Yeah.

[Speaker B]
Actually I wanna say maybe 10 years ago I was in Georgia and I contacted her and we had breakfast together because she made such an impact and she's, she seemingly still remembered me and I think it's mainly because like how often do you have that situation? Right.

[Christin Lindley]
Yeah. It sounds like, I mean as much as you can't be prepared for something like that period, it doesn't, it doesn't matter how how your parents can plan for worst case scenario, which again, I'm a parent, so you're constantly thinking like worst case scenario, what's gonna happen, You can't plan for that. There's no way, there's no preparing that. There just isn't. But it sounds like post this tragedy, Your grandma definitely was a big advocate for you and so was your third grade teacher and it sounds like your poor father. I mean I, I feel for him so strongly like it sounds like he was doing the best he could to keep everything together and he, and how is he supposed to know any better? Like, like, you know, like part of me is like, you know, why did he move you and he should have kept you where you lived and kept you in the same, not, maybe not in the same house, but at the same school. So at least could have had your friends. But how a how was he supposed to do that logistically and how is he supposed to know that like you

[Speaker B]
have to make quick decisions and we talked about how we were both just doing the best that we could with what we knew how to do and you know, we were navigating this this brand new world and he, we made mistakes and that's right. We had the support of his mom and my grandmother was just, she was the sounding board. I'm sure for him, I don't know for sure, but I'm guessing that he would call her regularly to be like this happened. What do I do

[Christin Lindley]
now? Yeah. And where did she live? Was she in?

[Speaker B]
She was in massachusetts. Yeah. And normally I would imagine that when I was with my dad, he would call my mom and she would be like, this is what you need to do when he's doing this. You know, like whatever it may be. So I'm sure that, that, that my grandmother was that sounding board for him and for me, she, I mean she jumped in full force. She was living in massachusetts eventually she moved closer to us probably, I want to say maybe 33 or four years later she left everything behind because she knew that my dad still needed some assistance and just helping me with a mother figure and having that balance. So yeah, we, we, we bonded hardcore. Um, and I think she became my mom in that sense, she became someone that I just looked to as that mother figure that I was going to get that motherly advice from, we were going to have a great time and she, I think she felt exactly the same way we were. We were like at times best friends, talking about things that grandchildren and grandparents shouldn't talk about. We were at times she was strict and laid down the law and other times she was just that, you know, the loving piece that I needed. But I do think that having that relationship created a comfort blanket for me to avoid the grief process and looking back, I realized how much I changed from when my mom died too after. So like for instance when I was in second grade and my mom was still alive and I was living with her, I would get detentions all the time. I would get like sees in my grades. Like I just didn't, I was smart, but I just didn't care. I just didn't do anything. You know, that was,

[Christin Lindley]
yeah,

[Speaker B]
I was just a kid and who cares if he's good enough. You know, like I didn't have to do anything and after my mom died, I always needed that a plus. I always needed to be on time. I always needed to do something and looking back, I realized I was just trying to prove to everyone else that I was okay when it wasn't my responsibility to prove to people that I was

[Christin Lindley]
fine.

[Speaker B]
So that a lot of that was like me covering up that grief portion and just like I'll show you

[Christin Lindley]
right? Yeah, I'm fine. Clearly I'm fine because I'm making straight A's and I'm doing everything right. So of course I'm okay. Don't ask me questions. Don't, don't crack below the surface. And this is just me putting my psychologist hat on. But I also wonder if part of it too was like, if I'm good if I'm the best if I don't cause any problems, nothing else bad will happen.

[Speaker B]
Yeah. Well if I don't make my dad upset, he won't leave as well. And it was and you know, having talked to my dad over the years, he never would have wanted that pressure to be on me that I felt that I needed to impress him. Of course he wanted me to have good grades and go to college and do all these things like any parent would want. But I put that on myself.

[Christin Lindley]
But of course you did because you were eight and something so unfathomable happened to you. So of course you made connections that made sense to you At eight. If I do this, no one's gonna ask me questions if I do this, no one's going to be bad at me because that is your body's defense mechanism, protecting yourself from future from further harm when something the greatest pain that you could feel at eight happened to you. And it makes total sense. It makes total sense why you made the connections you made

[Speaker B]
In that 20 year journey through grief. Looking back at it as I was nearing the end of that grief journey, talking to you know, therapist counselors, whatever one I was seeing at the time I realized that And she helped me realise is that every decision that I had made up into that point to be like 28 years old I was making with the consciousness of that eight year old child protecting myself from that and didn't allow myself to like grow up or to let that kid just be a kid and exist and not rule the rest of my life because I would, I remember I would be afraid to do things because of the consequences of what would happen. And it's, you know, as I went through therapy to the point where she would be like, so what are you going to die by doing that? And I'd be like, no, and she'd be like, then do

[Christin Lindley]
it

[Speaker B]
right, The eight year old is okay, just do it as long as you're not hurting someone else or you're not hurting yourself, do it. And I would, I would use the fact that my mom had died as a crutch. I would vividly just see that if something went wrong in my life, my immediate excuse would be that, well my mom died when I was a kid and it's like, it's such an unhealthy thing, but I hadn't gone through that grief journey and they hadn't tackled it and I just, like, once I got out of it, I was like, I am never tackling grief like that ever again. It's exhausting.

[Christin Lindley]
Oh, it is. And I think it's like there are things in life that genuinely hold us back and that's, that's okay. You know, your mom did die at a young age and that is a huge detriment to your, to your childhood and probably to your development, but at some point we allow it to keep holding us back because like you said, we're not, we're not addressing the grief or we're not addressing the elephant in the room and it's I don't want to say it's easier

[Speaker B]
to do it,

[Christin Lindley]
but in a way, in a way it is easier because it is hard work identifying your shit and then saying, okay, this is this is my ship and I'm going to figure out how to cope with it. That is that is hard. And sometimes it is easier to just hold onto it to just keep it to keep letting it hold you back, especially when it's that layered with everything else that happened on top of it because of it. And you know, you were a kid, you had no control, you had no choice. I mean, I I hear it in your voice that it's like, oh my God, it took me so long, it took me 20 years to get through it. And I'm like of course it took you 20 years ago, you were you were eight. Like I I can't I cannot imagine it not taking that much time, you know, especially without the the hindsight that we have of 2022 now where it's like, you know, there are, there's so many more resources out there. There's so many places to get out there and ask for help if and when this happens to kids nowadays, we didn't have that available, that wasn't available to you and your family in 1989 it just wasn't like the internet being able to get on facebook and go, this has just happened, I need help. What the hell do I

[Speaker B]
do?

[Christin Lindley]
Of course, of course it took you so long. And also those are socks, those are such formative years. You know, you're eight and you're a preteen, then you're you're an adolescent, you're a teenager, like a normal childhood. You have, there's so much going on and so much that you're learning about yourself and transitioning from kid to adolescent to adult and then to have that extra weight of, you know, and my my primary parent is no longer with me and I don't have that core, um support helping me go through these milestones. Yeah, yeah. It took you that long. It makes it makes total sense.

[Speaker B]
Yeah, yeah, I mean, I get it. And I'm thankful for that journey. I'm also frustrated that it happened at that time and that I didn't have access to those things. But I mean, what do you do about that? Nothing you learn from it, which kind of,

[Christin Lindley]
it kind

[Speaker B]
of brings it to this next or the other kind of major pivotal moment in my life,

[Christin Lindley]
which,

[Speaker B]
you know, because my mom died, I became so close with my grandmother, she was, you know, mom grandma best friend, just like the person I would call every day on the way home from wherever I was going or wherever I was coming from. And sometimes she resented that she was the call on the way home for everyone but you know, it's like she was home. So it was easy to call her

[Christin Lindley]
because

[Speaker B]
of that. We just created just such a strong bond and you know, we take her to concerts. In fact, that's part of like the little thing she was obsessed with josh Groban. Like it was, she said that josh Groban was her boyfriend. I

[Christin Lindley]
remember that she

[Speaker B]
had a poster of josh Groban in her bathroom, which was weird because it was right by the toilet. So when you're going to the bathroom you're also looking at josh Groban. She also had a picture of him on her fridge, like everywhere. She loved josh Groban, I mean he's great, but like put more pictures of me. Maybe not in the bathroom but

[Christin Lindley]
no, no you don't you don't let her have josh Groban in the bathroom. I mean it's grandma, she needs to have her her intimate relationship with josh. I would rather josh Groban be in her bathroom than a picture of you.

[Speaker B]
But she became obsessed with just like his talent and his songs and just want she would DVR every performance on every talk show and it was just it was her thing and it brought her so much joy And so over the years we had gone to a couple of concerts and she loved it, You just see her face glow probably like I think she went to like four or five concerts and in about I don't know what year was but she ended up getting a lung cancer diagnosis and it was serious enough that we had to start thinking, okay, we do have limited time if the chemo doesn't work or if you know, she had one of her lungs removed or part of it. I don't remember, I guess I'm blocking some of that out. But it was at one point where we got that diagnosis and I knew that my time was now limited. And so this is where you come in. I saw that Josh Groban was going to be playing at the Td Banknorth Center in boston and I was like, we got to get V. I. P. She's got to meet him, we've got to get, get her in there. And unfortunately I was unable to get the V. I. P. But for good reason it was around the time of the boston marathon bombing and he had invited the survivors of that as the full meet and greet. So there was no one else going, so that is okay. But I was able to get front row seats right there. Like she was going to be like at her taylor swift Justin Bieber concert like right,

[Christin Lindley]
she's just

[Speaker B]
so excited. So I wanted to make something to wear to surprise her. So you you helped me create a shirt that I actually wore to the

[Christin Lindley]
concert

[Speaker B]
that says my grandmother loves josh Groban more than she loves me.

[Christin Lindley]
Yeah. And then the back was like, and I'm okay with that. Yeah,

[Speaker B]
and I did like a

[Christin Lindley]
hashtag grandma

[Speaker B]
loves grow been and grandma

[Christin Lindley]
loves Grubin. Yeah,

[Speaker B]
she felt like a celebrity that night. It was just like one of the best nights of our lives together. But I think also individually we had just such a great time and I just loved being able to do that for her. And I felt like at that moment, that's when the roles started to reverse a little bit

[Christin Lindley]
and

[Speaker B]
you know, it was I felt like that parental kind of taking care of her and and finding the joys in the moments that were maybe fleeting, but thank you for helping me make that shirt, I still have it. And funny enough, the week after that concert, I met josh Groban in Orlando and he signed it and he's like, you're the one with that shirt because people were tweeting the

[Christin Lindley]
shirt,

[Speaker B]
so it was really fun.

[Christin Lindley]
I love it, I love that. It turned out so cute. I remember when you came to me at my desk and you're like, I think you can help me design something. And I think we came up, I think we came up the hashtag ourselves too, we're just like yeah, it was fun and it was so cute to see the pictures and I love that you met him afterwards. So

[Speaker B]
she was so mad that I met him the week after. She was so mad, I

[Christin Lindley]
could imagine

[Speaker B]
I'm hanging up now. She was back in New England. Yeah she was back in New England and I went with a co worker down here and she had like connections and we were able to do like the meet and greet line when um I sent her the picture, I sent her the picture on like her internet system or whatever she was using at the time and I was like okay I just sent you something, I'm on the phone with her, I need you to open it up and she lost her mind and then she's like I hate you, I don't want I gotta

[Christin Lindley]
go,

[Speaker B]
it was so great.

[Christin Lindley]
That's a great, I mean that's a great relationship to have with your grandma when you do something so cool that she's like I hate you, like that's wonderful. That is a great, that's a great relationship.

[Speaker B]
Was so jealous. But yeah, so you know that was a great that was the highlight of the last bit but unfortunately you know things got worse and we you know we we tried to do all the things that we needed to do and she had like a She had a fall or two and then that's no good when you're you know in your 80s and so we had a final, we had a bird. Her 82nd birthday. Things were getting pretty rough. I was pretty certain that it was her last and I didn't want to be negative about it, but I was just like she is not living the life that she would ever want to live. She's not on all these medications, she's not the person that she would want to be. But we had a really wonderful birthday for her. It was just such a great time and I was up there and you know trying to do everything we could to make sure everything that she wanted was there because this could be the last, my whole family was able to come over and just kind of be there and it was wonderful but I remember and everyone should be so lucky to have this moment in their life. Sometime during that trip, I was just hanging out with her, she's sitting in their recliner really can't do much and lots of pain and we just have that that final conversation and we put everything out there. We thanked each other for just being who we were in each other's lives and I honestly think there was nothing left that I ever needed to say to her that she needed to know, right? I felt I was devastated, I've never been. So like even when my mom died, even at that funeral, in those kind of moments like this moment that everyone should be so lucky to have to sit there and and just say everything that you would say in a eulogy, right? Say the things

[Christin Lindley]
that you should say,

[Speaker B]
Yeah,

[Christin Lindley]
just

[Speaker B]
be like, look if this is the last moment, I was convinced that after that conversation that she was going to pass away that night, like I was convinced because it just felt like that's it. What else do you need to do in life? What other conversation? And you know, maybe selfishly she should have had those conversations with everyone else too and maybe she did. I don't know, but I know for me initiating that conversation is probably the best thing that I'll ever do in my life because we were just so real and so raw and so sad and so happy and so many of those things and like grateful that all the crap that happened in our lives happened because we were able to create this relationship and had my mom not died. I don't know that we would have, I would have ever been as connected to her, my grandmother as as I was. And so looking back, it's like you can't be sad about the bad things that happened to you because they create who you are in the future. And so we had that conversation and I encourage anyone listening to if someone is or just if they're not just have this conversation share how you feel,

[Christin Lindley]
have the conversations

[Speaker B]
tell people when you're upset when you're sad when you're happy when people have changed your life, you know, these things are so important and I just never would have done that up until that point and now I feel like I do it more, maybe not as much as I should, but that was that one moment that I just needed and I think it changed a lot. So after that she got worse and in June of 2015 we had to move her to hospice house, which was a whole other thing I learned about hospice and I don't know if you learned about it during your journey.

[Christin Lindley]
I um actually, my grandma went into hospice when I was a kid. Um, and when I was in high school, I volunteered with hospice and created a teens helping hospice volunteer

[Speaker B]
programs. I'm

[Christin Lindley]
incredibly familiar with hospice.

[Speaker B]
Well I was not and I was underwhelmed with portions of it and I'll just put that out there. Hospice is amazing. Let me say that

[Christin Lindley]
first. However,

[Speaker B]
my assumption was going into that, that if someone needed was going in was getting hospice care that was all taken care of and what I learned at least in massachusetts is that that means a nurse will come once a day from for an hour, someone will stop do the grocery shopping, someone will do these little pieces, but otherwise the family is responsible for taking care of the person until the pain cannot be managed. And so we were fortunate enough in the fact that we could not get the pain managed at home. And I say that like terribly, but it allowed us to bring my grandmother to a space that was comfortable and quiet and loving and all these pieces. It allowed us to bring her to hospice house free of charge, to have essentially angels watching

[Christin Lindley]
her.

[Speaker B]
So we got close to what we felt was the end. And I flew up from florida to massachusetts and I stayed with her for her final 96 hours. Didn't my dad was like, you didn't leave, you didn't want to. I was like, no, I needed to be

[Christin Lindley]
here. I

[Speaker B]
say that that that last moment is devastatingly beautiful. And if you have anyone listening have the opportunity to be at someone you love side when they take that last breath do it? It's terrible. It's so heartbreak shattering all the things? It's it's so very sad. But you won't regret that you were there because it's just, it's like I can't even, I can't put it into words besides being devastatingly beautiful. Like just to see the piece after the struggle. Right? And so that moment I think when my grandmother took her last breath, I feel like that was the next shift nothing else mattered anymore. And I say that in a way that like worry, why would we waste worry, why are we stressing about the things that we can't control. Just do it try.

[Christin Lindley]
It. It makes, when you go through something like that, it makes everything, it makes you feel minuscule so small and it makes your problems seem that much smaller. It's like, why am I worried about this? Why am I pretending why just do the

[Speaker B]
thing? Just

[Christin Lindley]
have the conversation? Just if if I'm this person that I'm going to be that person, if I need to do this thing, I'm gonna do this thing. If this job is sucking out of my life, then I'm gonna quit the job to find something else to do. If my relationships aren't what I want them to be, I'm going to change them or I'm going to leave them. It is matt, it is wonderful for you that you had that moment with your grandmother and what a gift to your grandmother too. I mean, when my mom passed and let me tell you, I've cried more in your in your story that I did on my own. I think because I've processed mine. Um when my mom passed, my dad was there with her, he held her

[Speaker B]
hand

[Christin Lindley]
and I wasn't there because we didn't know she was that bad. You know, we she was in the hospital. She had been getting better, which in hindsight, I'm like, I should have known because I with my experiences with hospice, a lot of terminal people will quote, seemed to get better really quickly before they before they end up passing, you know, I think in the moment I had a lot of like hope that she was going to get better and come back home and be here for our wedding because we were planning a wedding, you know, and so she had started to get better over the last few days and we had kind of been taking turns visiting her and so my dad was there and it was like all of a sudden she took a turn for the worse for the worse. And my dad just stayed there with her. He didn't call anyone. I think he even told me after the fact like he put his phone in his in the in the truck, he didn't want anyone to call him, he didn't want to call anyone. He just he wanted to have that moment with his wife, you know, and when he passed he passed unexpectedly alone in a hotel room and we think he passed away in his sleep and I hope, I hope it was peaceful, you know, that's that's all I can hope for, for you to be there, for your grandma had to have been so, so comforting for her and what an amazing gift, final gift to give to her and yeah, for you, you take that moment and it is life changing and it should be and it it makes when you have a moment like that, it makes you recognize your bullshit. You know, it really can help strip away the parts that you're allowing to keep you from doing things that you know, you really should and want to do and you know, if you're, if you're strong about it, it gives you that momentum to say, okay, I'm gonna let this change my life. I'm gonna move forward in a different way. So kind of, tell me, tell me about that. Like what was different, you know, now you're an adult now so you can actually control things. What was, what was different about this?

[Speaker B]
I kind of remember, well we remember my grandmother towards the end when she was, when she knew that like her, she was not remembering things, the medicine was really taking over and so was the pain she told us, she said, I wish I hadn't worried so much because all that matters is love in the end and I think about that. Like when something stresses me out or gives me a little bit anxiety and like doesn't matter, doesn't matter. Should I try this? Should I not make a decision and be okay with that? I think the first shift in my life helped me with this one because when my grandmother died, uh, no lie, like after the funeral, I was a different person, I had the equipment to face grief. Like head 1st. Like dive right in, get this grief over with so that you can celebrate the woman that was right and so I, you know, I went back to florida and I put in for medical leave, I took 10 weeks off from work and I did my work. I jumped into grief and I don't know what I did, but I did it and when it was done I had clarity. I had gone through the process. I had gone through whatever stages that I needed to go through. Um sure I was sad and I'm sad every once in a while, but those moments are so very small compared to all the fun moments that I remember. And so I'm thankful that I'm so angry about the 20 years of grief that I went through after my mom died because they gave me the tools that I needed to process this one, which is seemingly harder Because I knew her for 34 years, you know, 35 years, 34 years and losing someone that you're so very connected to and watching them die if we're comparing here in my opinion is harder than knowing someone for eight years, couple years of which you remember that dies suddenly. I mean, I don't wish either one on anyone, but

[Christin Lindley]
right.

[Speaker B]
I guess if they had to happen in this order, I think I'm better because of it. And so that grief journey, I jumped right into it. And to your point where you said a couple of minutes ago is like nothing really mattered if things felt bad, I didn't do them. So I, you know, there were a couple of instances in which I had a job that just felt toxic and I felt that I couldn't do it, it wasn't good for my sanity and it wasn't just, you know, it wasn't healthy and it didn't matter at the end of the day, I was producing what needed to be produced, but I wasn't feeling the way that I should be feeling in that environment. And so I left it multiple times. I moved to Colorado and lived in the mountains for a year and tried things that I wouldn't try learning to ski when you're in your thirties, good luck with

[Christin Lindley]
that for

[Speaker B]
the first time, you know? But like I tried it, you know, knowing full well that if I, if I ate it, it's gonna be a long journey to fix that to the point that I took lessons with a bunch of eight year olds, which was really annoying

[Christin Lindley]
because

[Speaker B]
they're just like zip zooming down the hill because they're this far from the ground and here I am, This old man going so slow because he knows what it's gonna feel like when he falls or crashes into a tree. I just think it changed me. I think having, watching her pass and having that experience with her allowed me to get rid of most of the crap right and just focus on the things that I wanted to do certainly still have stress, certainly still have anxiety about things. However, When I'm in my right mind, I can process that a lot better. Um having gone through that first grief journey and then the 2nd 1. So I am thankful for these hard times.

[Christin Lindley]
I see two kind of differences between like your post events, you know after your mom passed and after your grandma passed and it's, it's a huge shift in the way you process things. And the first one that I see is, you know, after your mom passed, you got very cautious about what you were doing. I've got to be this. I've got to be the best kid, the best student. I've got to follow all the rules. I've got to do all the things and that's a very protective. It's kind of like a turtle. You know, you're getting into your shell and protecting yourself because you don't want to be heard again. Whereas post your grandma passing, it's screw what everyone else thinks. You know, I'm going to be true to who I am. That's how I can best represent myself and be myself. I don't need other people to validate me. I don't need to be following everyone else's rules. I'm going to be true to who I am because at the end of the day, that's what's most important, my grandma died with no regrets or had some regrets about the worry and I'm going to take that because I loved her and I care about her and I'm going to learn from that and I'm not going to say on my deathbed, I shouldn't have worried that much, I'm going to say I did it, I did the things I was scared to do. I tried things. I am the person who I wanted to be and that's wonderful and what a, what an amazing transition to, to be able to learn from and look back on and say I protected myself when I needed to and now I can be the person I want to be and that's

[Speaker B]
huge. Yeah. I think, yeah, to build on that, I think that I think that after my mom died, I was living my life for other people and for what their expectations were and for whatever society thought that, you know, you should do next and what, you know, whatever that's, you know, being good in high school to go to college and then go to get a graduate degree and then get a good job and then get promotions and all that stuff right that society is telling you to do. And I think when my grandmother died, when she took that last breath, it was like, I'm gonna do whatever I want at this point, right? Because at the end of the day, this is how it could end and I want to be laying here with people by my side that matter and can be there for me and we can be there for each other. And so yeah, I think I went, you know, that first part of my life, I was living for other people and now I'm living more authentically for myself, which, you know, if we can learn from terrible situations and find the value in them, I'm thankful for these moments as tough as that is to say because they've created who I am at this point and you know, and it's allowed me to be open enough to have these conversations on this podcast right? To have to be inquisitive enough to know that we all have these stories and they're so different. But yet the human experience is very similar. We're finding a lot of commonalities between what we're saying. So I'm thankful for it.

[Christin Lindley]
I think too, like in a way it feels like your grandma passing and grieving her resolved some of the pain of your mom passing and like an unresolved grief from your mom, you know what I mean? Like, and grief is one of those things that you can't just be over it, you know? Like, you don't, you don't ever, it's never gone because it's not you're always going to have the loss of that person, right? But it's being able to accept that they're gone and accept the sadness like yeah, I'm sad that they're gone. That's okay and not fighting against that and being able to be at the same time, sad, they're gone and happy that you had those experiences with them.

[Speaker B]
Yeah, it's processing really, I think it's not getting over it. It's just processing everything and letting it all out there and I still say it now to like all these people that I've been fortunate enough to talk to is like whatever you're feeling at whatever moment that's fine,

[Christin Lindley]
that's okay

[Speaker B]
and honor it and just live in it for whatever moment you need and then move on to the next piece, right, when,

[Christin Lindley]
when you're ready. Yeah, yeah. Don't do it. Don't do it because someone else has said to do it or because someone else says it's time to do it. You're not on anyone's grief is not on a timetable. No one can tell you how long you should feel a certain feeling. It's you have to do it. You have to honor yourself, You have to value your own process and everyone's process is going to be different and it's going to be different at different times in your life because you're a different person.

[Speaker B]
I agree. I

[Christin Lindley]
think it's beautiful. It's a beautiful story matt and I have cried.

[Speaker B]
I

[Christin Lindley]
did not expect to cry this much wonderful. No, no, no, it's not even it's not even I'm not even sad about it. I'm emotional about it. And you know, sadness is part of it, but it's it's an appreciation of how connected people are and how connected they can be. I mean that's why I love what you're doing with this podcast and I love podcasts in general just hearing other people's stories because like you and I were just talking the other day about Bernie Brown's new atlas of the Heart series and one of the first things she says is we're human, we are emotional creatures who sometimes think, you know, we're not thinking creatures who occasionally have emotions, which is what we've been trying to pretend for years. We are emotional beings that occasionally think and hearing your story and hearing other people's stories really just, it makes it reveals how close we really are, how connected we really are. The fact that your story is making me tear up is totally, it's of course it is because I can, I can imagine what you're going through and as much as I can, I can feel what you're feeling and I tap into that, that energy and I care about you and I care about your family, I've never met your family, but hearing your story, it builds those connections and it makes us realize how close we really are and I feel like that is, it's so important. Um like how we were talking, you know, during my story, it's easy to feel like you're alone when you're going through stuff like this, it's easy to feel like I am the only person who has experienced this, I'm the only person I'm in an island of despair and listening to people's stories reminds you, oh, I'm not, I'm not alone. I have connectivity and I think too with you talking about the grief camp for kids, it's such a wonderful magical thing, letting kids know you're not alone. Other people have gone through something similar and you don't have to pretend, you know, you can be yourself, you can go through it the way you need to go through it. And these people have gone through it too and you know, they may not have answers for you, but you don't need answers. You just need to feel like you're not alone and you can process it the way that you process it. So man,

[Speaker B]
I'm

[Christin Lindley]
gonna go hug my kids now.

[Speaker B]
Well we basically you and I just went to grief camp on both of our episodes. We did. I appreciate that you were willing to flip the script and be the first person to say we need to do this. I didn't know coming into this what I was going to talk about. I mean I understood what moments in my life, but I didn't know what was going to come out and I think that's what I love about the life shift podcast is that so many people after the fact are saying, you know, after we have that conversation, I've been thinking a lot more about particular areas and you know what, if that's what's happening, I'm so happy and I'm so thankful that people are listening and I hope that they feel less alone through all of these stories and I thank you my friend for being part of this episode and the first episode. So

[Christin Lindley]
yeah, you're so welcome and thank you for allowing me to to pull your story out and be the facilitator. I was super happy to to do that for you and uh and yeah, matt, you're doing such a great job, that's such a great project and I think people are going to get a lot of meaningful, just a lot of meaning out of it, you know, there's these stories are hard to tell and being vulnerable is a really difficult thing to do. That's why that, you know, that conversation you had with your grandma was such a important conversation to have because you were vulnerable and sometimes listening to other people be vulnerable can make you brave to be vulnerable yourself, you know? And so for me that's something I'm really taking from hearing these stories is you know, be be vulnerable, have those conversations make those connections. So thank you for taking your time to share the story. I'm I'm so glad to have this conversation with you and I feel like I know you that much more and I want to give you a

[Speaker B]
hug hug for now, but I appreciate you

[Christin Lindley]
hug. Thanks