Daniel Rinaldi shares his story of how losing his older brother to an inoperable brain tumor at the age of 10 changed his life forever.
Daniel Rinaldi shares his story of how losing his older brother to an inoperable brain tumor at the age of 10 changed his life forever.
“I think once my little brother came along; it was easier to let some of that go and really try and connect and cultivate that relationship and try and be as present and intentional with my younger brother that I could, as it could be because I just wanted to be this ideal older brother. I'm sure that has a lot to do with not having my older brother.”
Daniel talks about his upbringing in a tight-knit family, how his brother's passing flipped his life upside down, and how it took him a long time to come to terms with it.
As a mental health counselor, Daniel helps others process their grief and find ways to move forward. He talks about how his experiences with loss and grief have influenced his career path and how he works with clients to help them navigate the complexities of grief.
Throughout the episode, Daniel discusses the challenges of dealing with grief at a young age, the importance of seeking support and connection, and the ways in which loss can shape one's identity.
This episode is a powerful reminder of the impact of loss and the resilience of the human spirit. It offers a message of hope and healing for anyone who has experienced the pain of losing a loved one.
00:10:27 Processing Grief After a Childhood Loss: A 35-year Journey
00:33:39 From Music to Mental Health Counselor: A Journey of Connection and Fulfillment
00:37:12 The Value of Lived Experience in Mental Health Counseling
00:47:31 Finding Peace and Connection Through Life's Journey
Daniel is a singer/songwriter and presently serves the state of Massachusetts as a mental health counselor. Daniel is also currently developing several projects in the mental health space and working on releasing his own podcast focusing on his personal stories and mental health. Mindnoise.co
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From a Dream to Building a Reality in America | Mathilde Bernard Funderburk
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Hello, my friends, welcome to the life shift podcast and I am here with Daniel. Hey Daniel, Thanks for joining me. I look forward to hearing your story because I think there are going to be a lot of areas or I imagine that there will be a lot of areas that I can relate to and so I think you're, you're a mental health counselor. So I think there's gonna be some interesting conversation to be had because I am not.
However, I do feel that in my journey that I call myself sometimes an expert in grief because I've experienced it in so many different ways and I found a way to, to grieve that works for me. So your story is, you know, is going to have those elements and I'm really interested in having this conversation. So I appreciate you, just one being willing to come on and be vulnerable and and share your actual story. Absolutely. So typically I like to have the guest come on and paint like a picture of, of what life was like before that way, we can understand how significant that shift was in your life. So maybe you can just paint a picture of kind of what life was like leading up to this moment. Okay. Um so I grew up in new york city, um working middle class family, very tight knit, italian family um you know, every sunday over at grandma's type of family. Um Mhm went on vacations, you know, did everything together just close knit came from a very close knit town, you know, you play, you went to the same schools as your parents went to, you played on the same sports teams or did the same extracurriculars that every other kid did or your parents did when they were younger. Um so it was a very happy, wonderful kind of upbringing and growing up and got like a traditional family kind of feel.
Oh, absolutely, I mean, I consider myself extremely lucky the way I grew up and being able to experience like aunts, uncles, cousins, um where now it's not so much like that, you know, you, you kind of grow apart as you get older, but I got to, you know, you're, you're always with your cousins, you're always with your, your family and it was just that, that kind of love and connection that really made you just feel loved and connected. I would, you know, I think that's the best way to explain it. Um for sure, so, you know, that was kind of what what my life was like and what my upbringing was like, um and I was um you know, I lived with my mom and my dad and my older brother, we lived in a two bedroom, one bathroom apartment in flushing queens. Um it was, you know, and I wouldn't have it any other way either, you know, like, I used to think it was so cool that I got to ride an elevator up to the fourth floor every day, you know, like, and one of the best things now living in New England is I didn't have to shovel snow then. So that was also a plus growing up. Um But yeah, so I lived with my parents, my my older brother um and you know uh so he was four years older than me and it was just the two of you and then your parents. Yeah. So yeah so that was two of us and my parents and then my my my young younger brother came way later, didn't get to experience that full that that picture that you're painting of that because he was way later. And sometimes those kids that come like way later, your older siblings are much older and they don't even want to play with you. Yeah. So so yeah so the unit that I'm explaining my youngest brother was not a part of. Um and my younger brother is my younger brother.
Nicholas is actually 10 years younger than me, so there's quite an age gap. But usually that's like always a good conversation starter when everyone anyone asked, they're like you guys are 10 years apart. That's interesting like you know, usually you get the, oh was you know my parents, I remember my mom always getting oh was he an oops, baby, You know like what happened? And they were like, no, he was very much like planned and and wanted and but the the the unit that I'm talking about, my mom, my dad, myself and my older brother, My younger brother unfortunately wasn't a part of that unit. Yeah. Because yeah, you, you're about to tell us about kind of what, what changed in that unit.
I mean, let's just rip the band aid off I guess. Why don't you tell us what actually happened and what that life shift is? Because I think I'll let you tell it.
Um, so I was seven years old. My, my older brother was 10 and you know, we were like any other brother, you know, duo and one day he wasn't feeling well, wasn't feeling well. Wasn't feeling well. Take him to the doctor and I'll remember this forever.
They talked about it. Oh, I think you might have mono. I think you might have mono.
That was like the thing. And ever since then growing as I, as I grew older, anytime a doctor ever said the word mono, I was like, like my body just felt like it was going to fall apart. Um, so shortly after they did that, it just didn't, didn't make sense. Didn't, you know, didn't go along with what they were thinking.
Um, It ended up that my, my brother had an inoperable brain tumor on the stem of his brain stem. Glioma is the, is the term of it. And it wasn't long after that, that my older brother at the age of 10, passed away.
Um, I was seven at the time and life as we knew it got flipped upside down. Um I mean even just the experience of him being sick obviously that was like, I mean it tore tore everyone in the family down from, from the immediate family unit to cousins to people in our town, right? Like it was, it was the first kid that like guts. That was that sick and was, you know, did not have a, there was no positive outlook. Um They're so um, so yeah, so that was like the, the life shift moment, there was my, my older brother passing away And you were seven when all this occurred Now at seven. Do you looking back, do you think that you had an awareness of the finality of death or like what?
That was like absolutely not. Um I had no idea right all of a sudden. Like for me, I didn't think it was real. I didn't think, I thought it was just gonna like, oh week later, two weeks later, this is all gonna be back to normal, right? Like this isn't final, this is my, my brother is not gone. Um I couldn't understand that. And then another part to that that makes it difficult is that everyone wants to make you happy because you are the seven year old kid that is there and everyone's nice to you, everyone's doing things for you all of a sudden you're like the, you have the greatest friends, you have the greatest family. Um you know my parents, you know your where can we go out to eat, where where can we go? Let's go on a vacation. Like let's do this, let's do that. Do you want, oh you want to play this sport? You wanna join karate, you want to do all these things?
Yeah, let's do it, let's do it, let's do it. So it it very much so besides being seven and not, you know, cognitively not really getting the concept of that because my concept of that was my the older people in my family passed away um and they're way old, you know, they're they're in their eighties, nineties and that's what happens. The concept of death to me wasn't that a 10 year old could something like this could happen. Um So yeah, I didn't, I didn't fully get it, you know, it was, I was like, wow, this is so great all of our families together all the time. People are bringing food like what is this? Like it felt like a party, you know like there was just so many people that wanted to make you happy that it was, it was tough to really wrap your head around it at seven and and it took me a very very long time to really come to terms with it.
I don't even know if I'm if I'm completely to terms with it even, you know this happened when I was seven, I'm 35 years old now. So like it's, it's been a long, long time and I don't know if I'm still can ever really fully put my hands on it. I can relate to this and so much and, and other listeners of the show have heard my story and my mom died in an accident when I was eight and I can relate to this the sense of everyone is doing everything they can to mask the sadness for me when now in the early forties now now I know that what I really needed at the time was the tools to help me grieve and to help me process and all those things and, and so now at 35 do you look back at those moments in, in a different light because I guess that a seven year old you're like cool, like food and people are all together and then people are taking me and I can do whatever I want.
It's like this like vacation for this period of time of from reality of what that real world is. You look back now on that with different feelings because you kind of see what they were doing. I don't know if I look back at it with like a different feeling of like, like I, I get it now obviously right, like I can look at it and go okay, I understand that and part of me is thankful for it. Part of me is thankful for the time my parents put in to make sure that I was okay. Um I always am amazed by my parents, especially during that time they had another young kid at home, their other child just passed away very easily. They could have went many different ways, right?
They could have, they could have split, you know, because they couldn't handle it, they could have fallen into deep dark holes and maybe they did right, I never knew, I I didn't know they were very good at, you know, just being there for me because they knew they had to be so they decided to pour themselves into me and so I looked back at those moments and I can understand where everyone was at and what they were trying to do, especially in my career path now I get it. Um But also to like I, You know, my my parents definitely did like, you know, they put me in um bereavement classes, like kids bereavement because they were doing their own right. Like I don't necessarily think like individual therapy was like a thing that people talked about and did back in like the early 90s, like I don't remember it. Um but like these bereavement groups were a thing and I think that helped me, it helped me kind of sort of get it, but like also like feel like I was like okay I can go and like do school and go back and do all these things because like, I I think bereavement allowed me to put a band aid on it um for for a while and I think that probably maybe the same thing with my parents, right? Like they found connection, they found people that were similar to them, which is important, you know? Like, I'm sure at that time they felt completely alone because we no one ever knew anyone who had a kid that passed away, right? And then you also just don't have the tools to help your own child. And so that's, I feel like almost that adds another layer of of grief, right? Because you're grieving the loss of one child, but now you're also trying to figure out how to navigate this world to help this helpless if you will seven year old here, that entire life has been been changed completely and it will never be the same. Do you remember at that time, like noticing any, like the biggest change, like, was there anything about you that changed a lot after that moment? Um Not necessarily right after that moment. Um I think lots of changes came later on that I didn't realize were part of that journey. Um There were periods of time where I was, you know, an angry kid.
There were periods of time where I didn't want to listen to anyone. Um There were periods of time where I mean I'm still an anxious mess, but like um yeah, I mean, but I don't, I don't necessarily remember there being like immediate changes to things right away, like no or anything like that, like, much later, Much later. Um yeah, and the thing about it too is like, even like where I could have rebelled in school, right? I was getting that as well because my brother was in that school. So every teacher and every kid did the same thing, right? Like, oh Daniel, how are you, what do you need, what can we do?
You know, it wasn't till like later on, maybe like 7th and 8th grade where I really started to maybe become a handful for some of my teachers. Um, and no one knew that that was, you know, me searching me trying to find connection or fill a void or whatever it might have been at that time. So the changes like right away, I was always cushioned, um, anywhere, anywhere I went, I was cushioned. Yeah, I'm interested because I wonder did any of that become your identity for a while as like you were now Daniel with the brother who died. Like that was absolutely, I, I definitely think that there was, there were parts of my life where that was my identity of, you know, you grew up in that in these tight knit communities and these, these places, you know, the baseball field was named after my brother. Right? So, you know, things, things of that nature, There was a memorial plaque on our church, right? Like at the time, like that was like, you know, it was like, oh, that's that's Daniel, You know, that's Danny's brother, you know, and then your dad, people would ask and or you know, like anything that I did leaned into, I went to a catholic school when I was younger, so like anything I did was like, oh, I'm gonna, I'm gonna write about Saint Michel, which was my brothers, You know, I'm gonna be ST Michael, I'm gonna do this and I'm gonna have this and and all these things. So I think, yeah, I definitely think for a while, like being Daniel, the kid whose brother passed away was was a definite identity for me.
Yeah, I asked that because for so long part of my grief process, I cheated myself. I think in long term I cheated myself because I used when I got old enough to understand it. But I used the fact that my mom had died as kind of this excuse or a benefit in a weird way of saying like, look, this went bad in my life because my mom died. Uh this went, this was afforded to me, this experience was afforded to me because my mom died. And it was just like this very much that was my identity, I was the kid with, with the dead mom and you know, and it was, it took me forever to like shed that and then here I am on this podcast now. And it's like the reason because I didn't realize for so long that I used that identity To protect myself, right? Like I was, you know, I didn't know how to process it. And so if I use that, it was always the external excuse of anything and I wasn't able to like really form myself and so you can probably relate to this from the mental health counselor perspective. But I was very much running my life until like 30 something as that eight year old kid. Do you feel looking back that you did something similar? Yeah, absolutely. I mean, it was, yeah, I it was definitely always a, like a protective thing, you know, it was easy to, well, I did this because of this or while I'm doing this because of this or this is who I am because of this.
Um, and using it as a protective factor in in moments when, you know, was it that I don't know, maybe I don't, it could have been, but there were some times where I was just a pain because I was a pain, you know, like, or I did things just because like, that's what I wanted to do. Um but I definitely think like, it was something that definitely protected me for a long time until now. Like, like you said, like until now in my thirties where like, I finally started to work on it a little bit more and connect with it a little bit more and talk about it a little bit more. Um because there was a distinct part of my life where I never wanted to talk about it and I never wanted to use it as an excuse or a way to get ahead or a way to just, I didn't want to utilize it for any anything. Um where now if someone can hear what I went through and maybe they went through something similar and they can find some sort of, some sort of part of themselves in my story and how I live my life now. Maybe they can feel like they can take that in their own life and say, okay, like, I'm gonna work on this, I'm gonna talk about this, right? How do you think it affected you in, in that time period before you got to where you are now? Like, what, what do you think it stopped you from doing or pushed you to, do you know, maybe career wise, or just in general?
I think, I think it's always, it always has, I don't know if it's ever stopped me from doing things. I've always been the type of person that kind of, like, If I get a thought in my head, I will take the risk and go for it. Maybe not so much now as I've settled down and become a father and like, can't really, you know, jump on the road with a band at 35 with a kid. Um but yeah, I could try, yeah, it would take it would take a lot. Um I think it's more made me search in my life and I think anything that I've done in my life has been me searching to fill in the gaps that are no longer that weren't there or that were missing rather um whether it be joining a band and you know, coming together with other individuals that felt like an older brother and that felt real good. So it made it a real easy decision to jump and do that. Um And then yeah, so I think it's, I think it's actually made me just always, and I say this all the time now, it's, it made me curious as to what I could go out and do and that anything could happen at any time and I didn't want to at that time in my life, I didn't want to waste any moment doing like the thing that everyone was doing, you know, all of my friends went to the same high school and all this stuff.
I went to a high school that was like they just built and just started being high school, you know, like I dropped out of college to go tour with a band, you know, like I yeah, essentially, like I went against everything that was, you know, anything that would have been safe. I could have done all of the safe things my friends did, um went to the same high schools, went to the same college is got the same jobs, but I think I always wanted more and I think there was always a part of me that wanted to, I don't know if I thought this back then, but it's something I think about now. It's like I wanted to live a life that could have also been for him that, that he could have grabbed onto and had with me. Um yeah, I was gonna ask if you've ever felt like you were living your life for your brother, But I mean it sounds like maybe were you living your life more like I'm gonna do what I want to do because I know that's what my brother would want or did you find yourself gravitating towards topics or, or um activities that your brother like that maybe you didn't necessarily care about just because you knew he wasn't gonna be able to do that. I think for me, I always wanted to do things and live a life that I thought and I don't know, I think I made up what he would have thought, but at that time, but like things that would have made him proud of me and would have made him go, wow man, I can't believe like you, you're doing that or I can't believe that this, you know, I mean there there's only been one song I've ever wrote about my brother and it was released on a cd and one of the, one of the lines is that, am I making you proud?
And, and I think that's always been part of the journey when I've wanted to do things was like, I wanna make, I wanna make him proud if he was here, you know, if he was here physically in front of me, I would want him to like, be so proud of this. And that's been a blessing, but also a curse, right? Because he's not there. And then when I do do these things, I'm like, man, like, wouldn't that be wonderful? He, I wonder what he would have said. I wonder if he would have like the music I made or would he have hated it or would he have been the first person, you know, in line. Um so yeah, I think a lot of the things I've done have been more to make feel like I was making him proud and feel like I was, you know, living a life for him. Do you remember him? Or do you remember the idea of him? And this comes from a personal question on my own.
You know, just my mom. So there are, I have very clear memories um, of us together. Um some of them are, you know, some of the later ones are burned into my brain and you know, like, I always, I always, it kind of is like a funnier thing now, but it's actually in my head when I think about it, I'm like, this is really sad. Like I can literally tell you every inch of the hospital floor and where everything was and what specific things were, where I remember who was in the room who I saw first, you know, all these things. So I remember as I've gotten older, some things are a lot harder to sit back and remember. Um but I, you know, yeah, there there's times when I can remember and then there's times where it's hard like I need to really like, like search for it, you know, as I've gotten older.
Yeah, I've realized the same thing for myself and that my mom, I mean I was eight and I, I can remember, you know, the funeral and and things like that, it was a sudden accident and but at this point in my life she is more of like a figure like I knew I had one and I knew she existed but I don't remember her. And so it's always interesting to, to look back at my grief journey and how attached I was to something that I didn't actually remember and it was more of like the, the idea of it and the things that I missed out on, do you find yourself, I know you say you've done a lot of things to kind of make your brother proud. Do you find yourself like missing those things or have you been able to find, you know, like missing the fact that you didn't grow up with your brother and missing that piece when you see other people with their brothers or whatever that may be. Um I think there's always a sense of that having my younger brother, you know, come into my life was definitely a really, really big thing. Um and we're, you know, we're 10 years apart, but we're super close.
Like, it's not like we're that far away in our lives where we're not, like, you know, when I see my brother, like, I want to be around my, my brother, like, I, you know, and we have a ton in common and things like that um for short periods of time, Yes, there were moments and I would probably before my, my younger brother was born, where there was like, jealousy and there were things where I was like, man, like, and there's parts of me now, like, especially having a daughter, like, where I'm like, oh, I wonder, I wonder what that relationship would have been like, I wonder if he would have had kids. Like, I wonder if he would have been married. I wonder all of these things and like, there's certain parts of me where, like, there's some days where that angers me to no end and then there's certain parts of me where, like, I'm like, you can't think like that, you have to think of it this way and you have to reframe it this way and you know, all of these things, but you know, there was, there's always been parts of me where, you know, especially kind of in the mid point of my life where, you know, you see a family with this wonderful happy family with like, and I see two brothers and I'd be like, oh cool, that's awesome, you know, good for you man. Um and that's not fair to those people, but in my own head, you know, I would be like, oh yeah, wonderful, I'm so happy for you. Um but yeah, I think, I think once my little brother came along, it was easier to let some of that go and really try and connect and cultivate that relationship and try and be as like, present and intentional with my younger brother that I could, as it could be because um I just wanted to, I wanted to be this ideal older brother and I'm sure that has a lot to do with not having my older brother, but like, and I wanted to be all of the things I wanted him to be for me if if that would have, if that would have happened, but um yeah, so I think there's there's so many when, when, you know, there's and I'm sure you can relate, there's just so many moving pieces, once you start that grief journey, once you start all of those things where it all just like there's there's so many winding roads. Yeah, I'll tell you my grief journey really? Like, my eyes opened up when my therapist was like, you know, you've been making all of your decisions as an eight year old for your since then, and I was like, oh, you're right. And I was like, that's such a simple idea. But until you are in this process and and finding your way through how you process grief and how you process a loss like that you don't know, you don't know what you don't know. But what? Which makes me wonder how you got into mental health counseling and whether or not that's attached to that experience?
Yeah, there's there's there's definite attachment there. Um The main reason I got into mental health counseling was I was working in a school that was not very good at mental health and I was around people in the mental health field at that time and was going like, man, I really feel like I could, I could excel at this because I really, I like connecting with people. I like trying to help people what could I do.
I wasn't, I wasn't happy with where I was. And then once I started really trying to, like, break down like, okay, is this am I gonna leave this behind and go this this route here. It really did come down to like, like, I've searched for connection and ways to like fill the holes that I have in me my whole life and if I could go and help people do that by being someone who could be there with them, listen to them, you know, validate them, let them know that like, like, you know, hold a mirror up to them and help them along their journey then that was something that like, was willing to like that, that was something that was important for me to just go and do it and and leave the prior stuff behind. Um and from music to this from, so music to working in like terrible schools to, to mental health counselor, but music is definitely directly um responsible, like partly responsible for the mental health connection because when, when I was in the band and the band ended, I fell into like a giant hole of like spiraling like I'm not good enough. What do you like? It's that age old, like, what do you do when they stopped screaming your name sort of story, you know? And I had no idea what to do. Um and it was tough and when I was like, okay, music maybe isn't in the cards anymore, what was I actually getting out of being the front man of that band? It had nothing to do with making money because we didn't make any right. It had nothing to do with, you know, seeing the country, I could do that on my own. Um it had everything to do with connecting with humans and I was like, I'm okay with leaving this behind if I can still fulfill that connecting with humans and and helping people, because that's what I felt I did in the band was connect and help people um and help people turn off for an hour when they came to a concert, help people find themselves in in our lyrics. And maybe it changed.
You know, maybe it helped them. Maybe it said the things that they needed to say to somebody. Um So yeah, I think there was like a whole ball of stuff that really influenced a decision to go the mental health route. Yeah, I would, you know, and and part of that was was coming from like, do you I mean, it makes sense now that you explained that my original question was gonna be, did it, do you think your subconscious like pushed you in that direction to kind of help yourself in a way? Do you find that your career continually helps you with your grieving process? I know you said that you you don't know if you're at the end, you don't know where you are in that journey, but but I would imagine by helping others you might help yourself. Absolutely. I think, I think any therapist who says they sit there as like this stale clinical like robot is a liar. Um and that might be a hot take, but that's just my opinion. Like there has to be some sort of emotion there and there has to be some sort of honesty and connection with the person that you're sitting across from. Otherwise you can talk to a wall, right? Or you can be replaced by an actual robot which might happen one day. But like there has to be some level level of that. So I think, I think, yeah, I think all of that's led to this side of my career.
Um, and wanting to like sit in front of people and getting out of the, you know, whether it's whether it's a session or whether it's connecting with other professionals, whether it's, you know, you know, I've been lucky enough to connect with amazing, amazing professionals in the field and I wouldn't have been able to do that if I never went the route that I went and that's helped me on my journey because I learned so much from them. Um But yeah, it is. I mean a lot of times it is therapeutic to sit and talk and kind of throw up the curious, you know, statement to somebody because you're like legitimately curious about it because maybe you had that happen in your life and you're like, oh, I'm curious how you handled this situation or I'm curious what you think about this situation and subconsciously you're sitting there going like, huh, okay, okay. All right. Um Do you think that that loss or losing your brother makes you a better mental health counselor?
That's an interesting question. Um, I think perhaps I think I think there's parts of that that that allow me to have a deeper understanding of certain things and and have this like, lived in experience, even my time in the band, I always think is valuable to my mental health counseling. Um, just the lived experience that I've had, that, you know, is part of the reason why I'm able to sit. People come back to to the sessions, right? Like people come back because they find something in that therapist that feels comfortable and feels truthful and feels like they're sitting with someone who's who's a human and not just reading out of a book.
Um, so I do think life experience and specifically my life experience has definitely led to me being able to like, understand myself enough to sit in a room and be able to like hold the mirror up and reflect that person to themselves. If that makes sense? I don't know if that makes sense there, but I think it I think I did.
Yeah, I mean, I think you're right. Well, and I I already had an answer to that question from you, but you said perhaps which which leads me to another question, but before I get there, I think that you're right. I think having that experience gives you the ability to have empathy in the sense of like when you were going through that and people were showering you with love and all these things and maybe you hadn't grieved yet you felt alone even though everyone was around you or I did, you know, it was very much still like, am I the only person that has ever gone through this experience and you just feel it logically, you probably know you aren't, but in that, in that deep emotional part you feel very alone. And so I think knowing what that feels like to help other people in those moments, I think I think it would make you a better counselor, a better therapist, a better just a listener because you know what's happening, but you said perhaps is there a reason why you why you think it might not help you?
I think that's like the, the the former graduate student that is told like you, you have your personal stuff has no business being in the room. So I think there's part of it that that always is, is this okay for me to feel this way in this room? Or should I just be reading from this book of modalities and theories and I should never feel like a human in the room. Um, so I think there's always a part of me that like never wants to lead a client somewhere because that's how I would have done it.
I want them to get to that, get to that place on their own. Um So I never want to use like my, my own experience to maybe influence them in something that isn't for them. Like your grief journey is different.
My grief journey is different and it doesn't have to be just grief, it could be depression, it could be anxiety, whatever it might be. Um I want them to be able to choose their their their space to be and as opposed to, oh, I had that happen to me, this is how I did it. So now maybe I'm maybe I'm thinking a little bit differently in this session than I should be, where I should be more of a blank canvas as opposed to someone who's like, oh yeah, this this this tool right here is really great. Here you go. And you're kind of pushing it across the table as opposed to like having the buffet there and going, you pick what you want as opposed to me kind of like, what about what about this one?
That one's really good. You should try, you should try this one. Um But it's there, it's there kind of their plate to make up when they're there. So I think that's where the perhaps comes in. Yeah, I mean, I think it's just a sense of awareness, right? So you you're aware of this side, which is your experience, your lived experience and then there's the awareness that there are like protocol that you could, you know, like there is the clinical side of like this is what you can do, This might work, here's all the different modalities and having the awareness I think is good.
I think it's I think perhaps is probably the best answer that you could give. And it was surprising to me because I was like, well yeah, clearly my experience is going to help me be a better human because you know, like I've I've experienced something of course I haven't experienced all of it. And even in the sense of losing someone, we were both around the same age, my my my after effect was much different than yours, right? Like I didn't, I don't think I tried to live my life too to what my mom would want.
I lived my life to do what I thought everyone needed me to do to prove that I was okay so that no one else in my life would leave me because in my eight year old mind, my mom left right, like on her own accord, but I was feared like if I do something wrong, my dad's gonna be like CIA, you know, and I was going to be by myself. And so my life was so it's so interesting having these conversations with people that have lost someone very close to them at the same age and how we can move forward and to your point, everyone's journey is different. We're all going to find our way through this life in a different way, but there's someone listening right now that will hear your story and you know, and and and find some sense of not feeling as alone as they did or knowing like, look where you are after that experience, Sure, you had some rough patches, we all do right, We're all human, we're all gonna we're all gonna have um bad parts and good parts. But you know, I think it's it's interesting to hear other people's journeys and and connect as humans and I love that that your journey has taken you to help other people. If you could look at this loss, is there anything I don't know how to wear this?
Is there anything that you are grateful for the experience because of the loss or despite the loss. Do you think that you're different now and you're grateful for that because you had to go through this? I think, you know, my the first quick, the the quick answer is I don't wish it on anybody and I did. I I wish that never happened fast forward to if it never happened, This is this is the craziest thing that I think about often. And I think my my parents maybe have thought about it If that doesn't happen. My little brother doesn't come along and now he's 26 years old and there's 26 years of of him and memories that don't happen maybe right?
I don't know if they were going to have another kid ever, you know, again or whatever that was. Um I think even though there was that loss, there's it's it's led me to certain points in my life that have been been really important and I think it's allowed my relationship with my parents to be a lot stronger and a lot different than most parent child relationships. Um I think it's allowed me to find strength in places that I didn't know I had it. Um It's allowed me to really, you know, lean into the curiosity of life and not wanting to waste it and not wanting to just sit and spin my wheels and be okay with what's right in front of me.
I always and like going for it and sometimes to a fault. But um I think, yeah, I think despite the loss, like it's a it's allowed for deeper connections with certain people and maybe a deeper connection with myself as I've gotten older, especially now where it took me 30 something years to like, really reconnect. I think that's a lot when you're talking about, like I call it long grief, right? So when you're talking a lot about, you know, a death that happened years and years and years and years ago, it's not the same as something that just happened, right? We're we're not necessarily going to open a closet and there's gonna be closed, there still were not necessarily going to go into something and there's gonna be a smell there, that, that, that still lingers, right? So there's none of those things there anymore. So I think it took me a long time to connect in different ways. And I think like, I think the loss opened me up to like being more curious and being more, the more more disable to be open to connect and open to say like, I don't know if this is gonna work, but I'm gonna do it or I don't know if this is, this is the right thing.
This sounds a little out of the box, but I'm gonna do it. Um and, and yeah, I think, I think there's certain things that have been in my life that have happened for, for the good. There's also been things that have happened for, for for worse because of it. But I think, you know, as I've gotten older, I've found a certain amount of connection and peace and ways to kind of walk my own path in in this journey here. Yeah. Isn't it hard to say. It's, it's very, I have sometimes people are like, if you could go back in time, would you change it?
I'm like, well, you know, surface level. Yeah, of course I wouldn't want someone to die. But as this version of me, I would not be this version of me had I not Had that happened to me and had I not struggled for 20 years to grieve had I not learned how to do it for me that works, you know, that works well.
I wouldn't have had the relationships that I have that I had with my grandmother or you know, different people in my life. I would not be close with my dad most likely. You know, so there's a lot of things that it's weird to think about and also be like, yeah, but I I like where I am now, but I wouldn't be where I am now if that hadn't happened right. And it's so interesting.
You know, it's hard to say to you were seven. So who knows like what you were and what you were going to be. I Was eight. I do feel I was different, but who knows where I would have, you know, been. But it it is something that I think other people need to to also understand that unfortunately situations like what happened to your brother, what happened to my mom and everyone else, they're part of this human experience, whether we want them to happen or not. And so when someone listens to your story and here's what you do with it or what you've done with it or this curiosity that it's created or this life that you're building in honor of your brother in some capacity right of doing the curious things.
Someone else may be losing someone and going, yes, this is the worst thing that could ever happen to me, but there is hope in the States, you know, that you can find something and so I, like, if you're curious, you can find hope. Maybe, I don't know, maybe not, maybe not now, maybe not then, right? Like when I was seven, like, I don't know what, I don't even know if I knew what it was to be curious, but now when I'm, when I feel like I'm losing hope in certain things, when I lean into, you know, curious questions or my curiosity into a subject or my curiosity into a field or my curiosity into other people, it leads me to talking to you right, talking to other people, it leads me into connecting with businesses, different things and when any, any time I've ever lacked hope, I've always made it a point to go, I wonder what's on the other side of this, I wonder, I wonder what I could do with this, or how would this affect me? You know, just different things like that, and it allows for you to want to explore those questions as opposed to just saying that's it, I'm done, I'm gonna crawl into this hole and that's where I'm gonna be the rest of my life.
It's it's very easy to do that. I tend to want to be uncomfortable and work from chaos. So I run headfirst into those questions and go, I wonder what this is gonna be like now. Um that's so interesting, you know, from my perspective, I ran away from those things for so long And I don't know if it's the relationship of like a mother child or different than a brother to brother.
I don't know what it was that caused that, but it really took me, you know, it took me the 20 something years to grieve my mom and then I was so close with my grandmother and she got cancer and I watched her die. But I felt like I did everything right in that. And as soon as I watched like that final breath, I sat with her the last five days of her life and didn't move. It was there as soon as I watched that, then my life became more curious And I don't know what that trigger was and maybe it was just like, like we're all going to end up in this spot, you know, like maybe it's time now at 30 something years old to like Lean into that. So in part of me is like jealous that this is a weird thing to say, but jealous that you had that ability after your brother died to, to be curious to try the things to go through the motions to see what's on the other side, where I was like, I don't even want to know what's on the other side, like ever, Like I want this safe.
I don't want anything else that happened to me. So, you know, the journeys can be like, sound similar on the surface, but be so very different. Yeah, there there's every everyone's journey, not just a grief, but anytime everyone's journey is so different and it has all sorts of winding roads and you know, I owe a lot of that, that ability to do that to my parents who were, I was I was 18 years old asking them if I can go and tour the country in a van with a bunch of got 25 year olds.
I had no idea who they were. And here's my mom who needed to call me, you know, and love her to pieces, right? But like, I needed to call me every minute. Are you there? Are you okay? You know, if I call my mom now, what's the matter?
You know, like, it's it's very much like that, but you know, I was able to do those things because they were they were willing to no, like, they were willing to see that this is this is what I needed in this journey. My brain was taking me to these different things. And yeah, it's definitely, I think it was, I think I was creating my own therapeutic things before I even knew anything about, about a therapeutic relationship.
Well, I think they probably also wanted you to wanted to see you live your life and something that your brother was unable to do. And so I think even though they were scared for you and we're going to call and check on you every five seconds That was like, he's got to go do it, but we can't keep him, you know, lock down and go to school. Like everyone else let him do what he wants to do.
I think that's, I think that's something to be said. I think your parents definitely probably helped you create that curiosity or curate that curiosity if you will to, to tell you it was okay and that you can make mistakes and things, you know, might not work out in your favor, but that's okay as well. If you could go back to those moments around the time that your brother passed away, is there anything that this version of you could say to him that that would make a newer version of you any different? That's a good question. I think this version of me would want to be able to hold his hand and tell him that it's going to be okay. Um, as a seven year old, I was bouncing off the walls.
I wasn't able to, I couldn't connect the way I could connect now and I wish that I would have been able to like put my arm around him, you know, be there and I was there in my own way. Right? I don't think my brother felt that I wasn't there, right? But I, I think, and that's something that I struggle with is thinking back to like, did I tell him I loved him, did did he know I loved him? Did he know how important he was to me? Um did he just think I was the annoying brother up until all this happened?
You know, like, I would have just wanted to be able to sit there and like, like everyone else put put a hand on him and be like, okay, all right. Um I think that's the version of me now, I would go back and and do that and you know, you think back and it's like this version of you would not be this version of you. I do not have that experience. And so it's like, you know what, what we needed as kids, we can't go back and give ourselves, but I think we've we've learned and you've learned and now you're able to take that experience along with the education and all the protocol to help other people in the space and you know, that that part is the beautiful reward at the end, that, you know, that seven year old kind of had to suffer. But now what you're doing for these other people is is a good reward and probably your brother would probably be very proud. I don't know. Yeah, absolutely. I think now is where I can reach a hand out and say like I'm here um for those people that I get the honor to sit with, you know, and have them share their deepest stories. So I think, you know, the things that I wish I could go back and do, I feel like I'm currently doing, you know, I appreciate you wanting to just be a part of the life shift podcast and share your story just as you said when you started out, like if if one person can hear this and feel a little less alone or feel connected to another human in the experience that they're going through, we win, right? That's that's the win. Thank you for being a part of this. Absolutely. Thank you for having me on. I appreciate it. Yeah, well if you want to reach out to Daniel, we'll have some of his information in the show notes. And if you're enjoying these episodes rating and review would be great. And we'll be back next week with a brand new episode.