85: Good Grief – Grieving in Recovery (Sort Of)

We all experience pain in recovery, but what does recovery teach us about grieving? Do 12 step programs/fellowships leave room for grief? Does the program tell us that we should bypass the stages of grief? Denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance are the stages. Do 12 steps try to have us skip to the acceptance and not allow us the space to feel the other stages? We have Caraline on to talk about her experiences with grieving in recovery. Do we grieve missing our old using life? Are we allowed space to grieve losses of jobs? What is a helpful thing to say or do to someone who has just experience a loss? What is a harmful thing to say or do to someone going into a grief state? We talk about all this and more on the grief episode. Join the conversation by leaving a message, emailing us at RecoverySortOf@gmail.com, or find us on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram, or find us on our website at www.recoverysortof.com.

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recovery sort of is a podcast where we discuss recovery topics from the perspective of people living in long-term recovery this podcast does not intend to represent the views of any particular group organization or fellowship the attitudes expressed are solely the opinion of its contributors be advised there may be strong language or topics of an adult nature

welcome back recovery sword of jason a guy trying his best to do some recovery type stuff with i’m billy i am a person in long-term recovery and today to talk about grief in recovery we have caroline hi welcome thank you welcome so i just want to mention again uh thank you to sarah for making a donation to recovery sort of there’s a paypal donation button like hiding tinyly on the bottom of our website recoveryswordof.com um and sarah and julie have both made donations and we just appreciated this so this episode is brought to you by them in part uh and and again to reiterate we are never going to buy ourselves a private plane with your donations uh you know we do want to fund the podcast so that it pays for itself which is always a good idea but then from there the rest of any money we would ever make goes to your guest speakers yeah speakers so we can have good guest speakers no no yeah we’re gonna donate it back to the community in in some way shape or form we’re setting up a fund actually to provide groceries clothes for job interviews uh diapers whatever the immediate needs are of somebody that’s just fine in recovery who you know maybe they’ve gotten the spot at the recovery house but they just need some items to get by because that’s what we need as humans um so that’s our goal we’re in the process of getting that set up so if you donate you don’t have to worry about us uh you know getting strippers and cocaine with it because we won’t be doing that at least not the cocaine i didn’t know that part so anyway to get back to the topic today grief right it’s something that we don’t really talk about a lot in recovery i don’t think i don’t think i’ve ever been in a n a meeting and they’ve been the topic’s been grief or anything it’s usually like a spiritual principle or you know i don’t know something else that doesn’t seem all that useful sometimes usually the most you hear about tragedy is people talking about uh you know it’s not all roses and butterflies or you know stuff like that but they don’t get into like let’s hear it

yeah and that’s exactly something that came to my mind too in this process that i was gonna explore with us today i’ll wait until a little later to bring it up but yeah that idea that like we don’t we’re very quick to move past it right and i’ve heard some horrific things in meetings right the way people were treated as children traumatically going through losing their own children to the disease of addiction like all kinds of awful stuff and there is not much like conversation about grief processing so it seems like a relevant topic i’m already talking too much so i will let caroline tell her version of why she’s here to join us in this particular topic yeah absolutely so first i’ll say um i think my experience has been a little different than you guys i would say that i’ve not been in any meetings where grief was the topic but i definitely feel like i’ve been in a ton of meetings where people have shared about recent losses whether that’s dogs honestly i think is the one i’ve heard the most like people in meetings crying that they just had to put their dog down but certainly like there was my home group we had some like parents pass in other other home group members had parents passed three of them in the last two years and they definitely would share you know about that struggle um and maybe that’s contributed to my openness with it a little bit or maybe that’s just me i don’t know but i’m surprised there was no old-timer yelling like you lost your [ __ ] dog who cares shut up and and of course i thought about what you had mentioned something a few weeks ago about uh like men don’t openly share about emotions as readily as as females do and definitely not in groups like guys will get together like one on one and share some like intimate vulnerable stuff but in a big group it’s kind of like you’re only sharing it to tell how tough you are and how you got through it and you’re so much stronger and better now the one allowable male emotion anger yeah that’s it oh you’re sad so wonderful you’re angry a male female you’re depressed no you’re angry you’re going through grief nope you’re angry all right happy nope that’s anger that’s definitely anger i think it’s definitely a male female thing but i also think that that is something that recovery works towards resolving for men i think so oh my god yeah i mean i feel like i know men that are much more comfortable today sharing how they’re feeling what they’re struggling with than they they would have been when they first came into the rooms i think that 90 of the men i know then if that’s true then they’re not recovering

just saying yeah i don’t know i definitely i can think of i can think of a few um honestly if i’m being honest i can only actually specifically think of one but i know i’ve heard other guys in meetings talk about how they’re feeling i’ve seen some men in meetings cry um that’s not super common and if you do it a lot you will get a nickname wesley no but yes that’s another one i hope he doesn’t listen i love wesley he knows that people refer to him as crying wesley that’s not a big shout out i [ _ ] love wesley no there was another one up up in the hartford county area too so so i’m not saying that some people don’t get in touch with their emotions and have a much better time with it but i feel like as a whole at least from the recovery community in the baltimore and surrounding areas it’s definitely like you got to be a recovery warrior right you got to be a recovery soldier and a soldier and you’re still now you’re dying with your boots on trying to help addicts get clean or something but it’s still like this whole tough guy i gotta be a biker macho but don’t we have to drop the masks you know i mean that is a part of recovery is getting in touch with who you really are the the lie is dead right those gender i don’t think everybody wants that well that’s true i mean not everybody wants recovery or not everybody wants all parts of recovery right a lot of people come in and they just want to stop using well and we’ve explored that idea that like if you go to a lower socioeconomic status region right where people don’t have the resources and all that they’re gonna have n a meetings if you go to a place where they got money and and like nice paved roads with no potholes and [ _ ] they’re gonna have acoa al-anon they’re gonna have uh sex addicts meetings like they’re gonna be able to deal with these i hate to say higher level problems right but that’s it’s like in some areas it’s enough just to [ _ ] get clean yeah oh i’m clean i still cheat on my wife i still do these other cruddy things live in a recovery house with seven years clean right right i’m the manager i still ride around the motorcycle gang and we steal from walmarts and beat people up and [ _ ] whatever like i’m clean right it’s better and i feel like that might be a thing like it the higher you go maybe more money you want more from it i don’t know it’s weird maslow’s hierarchy of needs yeah absolutely yeah no i would agree with that i think we’ve got we’ve we’ve done our first way off topic oh yeah before we talk about today yes good grief so i was supposed to be introducing myself yeah i’m the one who took us like sideways but um yeah so i’m caroline i am also a person in long-term recovery i did want to ask you i’m going to take us off topic again do you come up with your unique way of explaining your status in recovery prior to each podcast i i did at one point when i was really trying to get creative with it and then i just went back to say in long term recovery for quite a while and now i really personally don’t like the long term tag it bothers me it’s like an elitist kind of thing to some extent so now it’s just kind of like ha what’s the [ _ ] do you wing it every time or do you have now i wing it that’s what that’s what i was [ _ ] waiting for i’m a guy who hasn’t had a doughnut in three weeks i don’t know like damn now i want a doughnut so yeah so i um first have to say i’m super super excited to be here i um have been a listener for a while uh selena turned me on to the podcast actually thank you selena um but i used to get really excited when i would get mentioned on the podcast uh i would interact with you guys’s social platforms and and comment something and and jason would kind of repeat it back and i would actually at the time i remember being in the car with my husband and being like i’m podcast famous so now i’m truly podcasting honestly you’re legit yeah yeah so um super excited about that thank you for having me on but um you know i up until a year ago was was very fortunately not very qualified to talk about grief at all um i had lost some older family members over the years i had lost some good friends but none that i was like they were day to day in my life anymore but then last summer i lost my husband to this disease and then in the fall my dog was diagnosed with cancer um and i just put him down two and a half weeks ago now so um you know my family basically got cut in half over the last 12 months or so um and uh yeah i feel like i’m a little bit of a grief expert at this point in my life so that is that is why i’m here and this maybe this is the time to bring the the thing that billy said up uh and make it relevant i i feel like we always look at grief as losing a person right or or a loved animal or something along those lines but to me uh you know and my boss at work like the way she operates with any of her clients is through the lens of grief that’s like her expertise and like every [ _ ] thing in life is grief everything is a loss of something right and we just that’s how she sees it and i i believe that like that’s a lens and i feel like we do this when we come into recovery we actually to some extent grieve the life we used to live in addiction right the ways we used to act all these different things but i’m noticing that the 12-step program doesn’t really give a lot of space for that right and so here’s what i mean by that the there’s stages of grief um they’re pretty well established they’re not linear you go in and out of them you process them however you do but they are denial anger bargaining depression and finally acceptance right and i feel like in the 12-step world we kind of push everybody to bypass the first [ _ ] four and go straight to acceptance and like if you’re not there you’re doing it wrong like oh yeah caroline it’s terribly sad that you lost your husband but you just need to [ _ ] accept it and move on because that’s how we heal around here right you’ll heal if you just push through right you we missed part and i don’t so i was thinking about that from the lens of we don’t let people grieve the addiction part of themselves but i i don’t know that we really let people grieve well anything else either thank god no one said that to me um i will say i think that so i i think you’re absolutely right that there is you know losing a job is is a a process of grief um a friendship ending there’s a lot of different kind of grief scenarios that we experience day in and day out but i would differentiate between those kind of everyday life changes that that we do have to uh get used to and even so obviously um leaving active addiction is not an everyday life change but that level of grief versus losing someone who is a massive part of someone or something who is a massive part of your life and you have like deep love for i think that there’s definitely um there’s definitely a difference there and then i would also say that i think our society as a whole puts that pressure to just get over it and move on way more than just the n a community because grief is uncomfortable for people and they don’t know what to say and they don’t know how to treat you and so it’s easiest to just kind of act like nothing’s wrong after a few weeks and that was definitely my experience you know na showed up for me immensely um got really lucky that my husband pat really lucky that my husband passed that’s that’s a crazy thing to say i was very fortunate that um my husband passed and i found out on a friday because then i had a lot of people available to me over those those first couple of days at least being the weekend and people not having to work um but yeah and they really definitely showed up for me in those first days um and i definitely got kind of a lot of check-ins and sympathy in the first week or two um but i definitely remember showing up to my home group which we were meeting kind of in the park because of covet at that point you know week three week four week five and sometime around though that point is when like the how are you doing stopped and i was still very i was still reeling um but to interact with you know people that i knew quite well and would see on a regular basis it kind of felt like they just assumed i was over it um which was hurtful and definitely made me question the validity of my grief or other people’s interpretation of the validity of my grief i would say would be probably the better the better phrase um but what i’ve learned since um is so i’ve one of the things you know there’s i think recovery has given me a lot of tools to enable me in the grief process and i can talk about that more but i was i was listening to an audiobook a few weeks ago and and a woman was kind of talking about that similar experience right so she’s not in recovery at all but her husband died and um you know people just acting like you know seeing her and being like oh we have great weather like not bringing it up not addressing it and what she found out through talking to some of her her people that were closest to her were that they were worried that they were going to remind her and like make her upset um so i think you know there is a little bit of just people don’t know what to say or what to do and so they ignore it and i think that’s kind of one of the big issues with our entire society today yeah and i learned that with my sister so you know we lost my nephew her son when he was 19 in a car accident and very similar for a lot of years you know because him and i share a birthday and we were kind of close close growing up you know he she had him when she was really young she still lived at home with my parents so he was born and lived at our house you know almost like a sibling for several years of his life and so anyway you know it’s similar after he was gone like obviously there’s still a loss for me but it’s way different for her losing a kid and not knowing how to address that or feeling uncomfortable or like you say feeling like if you bring it up it’s going to bring back some pain and talking to her about that and and her experience was like no i like to know that people think about them like yeah it’s painful to think about but it’s worth it like it’s worth it to talk about it so like i try to do that and it’s so hard like to to call her on his birthday or on his you know i don’t know what you call the anniversary of a death but you know call him on to call her on that day and most days now she doesn’t answer but i still try to call and leave a message or send her a text and it’s you know of course i’ll say it’s only been it’s been like i think 10 or 11 years now but it’s still painful yeah it’s definitely painful for her right absolutely yeah and i i think the other point is it’s one it’s good to talk about those that we’ve lost it’s good to hear that other people are thinking of them too but for people who have been through that kind of like intense loss they’re never not thinking about it right it’s not like i ever like forget my husband died and then someone bringing it up it’s gonna like remind and that’s similar to what she had said yeah and the other thing is as a person in that situation like and i don’t know if this is just addicts or maybe it’s normal people too but like i’m always self-centered like oh this is awkward for me to have to do and sometimes i have to remind myself like look dummy your awkwardness is minimal in comparison to her feelings and it’s more important that i try to give her some sort of you know i don’t know what you and i know it’s not peace isn’t the right word but some sort of love you know to show her that love and respect than it is for me to feel a little uncomfortable bringing up you know a painful situation right yeah i i would say a reach out means a lot it for me anyway you know when people have reached out to check on me or see how i’m doing or um anything it it’s it’s always meant a lot so we are asking a large thing of people who can’t sit with themselves and their own feelings to make space for ours really like i and i’m not saying it’s not the healthy or better or right i hate to use the word right but i use it all the time um thing to do for people when we can but i mean most of the people i interact with in my world really struggle to be still with their own feelings much less try to create a space and container for someone else to like they’re not going to purposefully go in and even if they understand the concept of hey it’s not about my baby feelings and my uncomfortability like it’s about helping this person they’re still not going to be able they’re just not going to be able to do that right with three six nine months clean but don’t we have an expectation that after a certain period of time and a certain length of time in recovery when some work that they should be i’m talking about people outside the program as well about anybody i’m just talking about people in jail yeah but that’s that’s an issue that’s what our society is well and that goes back to what you said about our society like not only do we have this fear of you know these awkward and uncomfortable conversations and places but then we also have our societal ideal on what’s the accepted amount of time people can grieve and there’s like no [ _ ] timetable on that but all right well you know if you’ve been with somebody for three years you get half of that time to grieve or you know six to nine months is your win like no you get as long as you [ _ ] need and who knows how complicated this grief is from past grieves that weren’t dealt with or from mid you know other factors that are involved in it uh not seeing the person not seeing the passing or the transitioning not being able to visit the area not maybe you weren’t able to attend a funeral because you were incarcerated like there’s all these other factors that make it even more difficult because believe it or not the the societal pieces of processing a transitioning or a death of a loved one all help in the grief process that’s kind of why people go to the scene of an accident and put the bears and [ _ ] up at that physical location because that location is like a marker and an important piece of their processing and so when we lose somebody in this kind of fashion we don’t really get that like that’s missing yeah that’s interesting because so my husband um for whatever reason you know he had he had moved into a recovery house um seemed to be doing good tested dirty got kicked out of the recovery house i would not let him come back home

he was supposed to be moving into another recovery house but what he chose to do instead was go and rent a room in the town that i live in um in like a boarding house and uh died there that night um and it was you know in in interacting with with the cops and you know working to get his stuff back from that place it was critical to me to not know where that house is because i i you know i so i don’t live so the town of rising sun i don’t need to be vague i don’t live in town um this place i believe was in town but i go into town multiple times a week to run to the martins or whatever um i did not want to for the rest of my life have to drive past the place that i knew he had passed and maybe that’s because of the gruesomeness of an overdose or i mean i guess a car wreck can be gruesome too but to know that he he was found there already just like to just envision that in my mind i just didn’t want to have to think of that every time i drove by wherever that location was and see i feel like without knowing you’re just going to do the same thing anyway and think about it when you drive by anywhere in town i don’t no no because i would be like huh i wonder if it was that house no because i don’t want to know i don’t want to know i actually i have i mean i know there is a house in town that has a sign out that says rooms for rent but my gas my gas is is it might be that place but i don’t want to know i don’t want to know for sure it feels like knowing would would forever tie his death to that spot and i would forever think about the way he died and i think the way people pass is different you know it affects the grief process too because like my mom passed um and she had been ill for a long time and i ride past the house you know she died at home in her house we were all there i mean it was as far as people passing it was a pretty peaceful right and she was surrounded by family and loved ones and it was still hard and there’s still grief around that but i can ride by that place and i don’t have a lot of negatives yeah tied to it you know what i mean like there’s positive tied to that so it’s different so i think the way people pass yeah and my sister had said similar so the the accident her son was in was right on route 40 and red toad road i mean she drives that road all the time and she used to mention similarly that she didn’t like that people put markers and stuff up there you know a big cross and because there’s two other kids that died in the car with them uh someone had ran a red light and hit them killed three teenage kids wow so you know friends would put stuff up and there was stuff out there and she had said at one point like she didn’t want anyone to do that for i guess we never got into it but probably a similar right reason like she’s got to drive that road all the time you know she doesn’t need a reminder right there all the time right and i don’t i don’t want to be insensitive with this statement or

jason already told me he’d be intentionally trying to make me cry for the viewers uh so look we all do things in a different way right there is no right or wrong way to do grief um you know the things we generalize about grief about people who do better that see the physical location of where it happened and are familiar with that like that’s a generalization that might work for 80 percent 90 who like some percent more than half does not mean it’s right for everybody so i’m not trying to say that whatsoever i i do want to ask though to me it comes across like if that’s a piece of it that will bother me for an extended period of time or that i’m still not at peace with that almost sounds like a part of grief that i’m just not willing to go through like it seems like there would be a grief process that where i could come to peace with the entirety of that too and i’m not trying to like belittle anybody’s grief process your sisters or yours uh caroline i just i don’t know that’s kind of how that sits with me yeah that’s i mean that’s definitely an interesting point i think that’s really valid and and i think my response to that is that i feel like with time some of those potential triggers will become less triggering i still don’t know that i ever want to know where it happened and i don’t think that it’s necessary for me to know that um but one of the things that i have done i don’t believe that i’ve avoided grief um i don’t believe it’s really possible to i mean i guess maybe it is um for some people i think it depends more on your personality i i think it is maybe possible for some people to kind of stick their hand head in the sand and ignore it for me that’s that’s not that’s not a possibility um but i have kind of made sure to not stick my hand on the stove so to speak right

if something i if something i know is going to be painful for me some occurrence or activity or music is a really good example there’s just certain stuff that even today 10 months later i i don’t want to listen to there’s a lot of stuff i don’t want to listen to

and i have my moments of grief where things will come up and and i’ll cry and i’ll move on from it but i also feel like and when that happens i don’t push that away but i also feel like i don’t need to actively seek that kind of stuff out either i get enough of that in normal day-to-day life without like doing things that i know are going to to upset me does that make sense it does it does i mean there’s no there’s surely again no right way and i don’t even know that like jumping into grief work head first makes it happen any faster right like there’s definitely timetables we talk about the stages aren’t in order and you hop in and out and that’s also like you might run through all the stages with one piece of the grief but then maybe there’s another piece that you haven’t got to yet and you have to do it all over again right i don’t know but personally i feel like the stages of grief are nonsense why don’t i do i mean there are things that people go through so i think of my own probably my biggest grief experience since i’ve been clean actually wasn’t around death it was finding out our kids have been molested by their grandfather um i was angry for years of time you know and i’d maybe at the first stage anger i don’t know what the stage is no denial is the first time okay well i don’t know that i went through that one um there was no denial but there was a lot of anger for years and you know you’re a man denial comes out as anger yeah so you know and then i feel like i’ve worked on it and processed it we did a lot of things you know to try to help with the grief we did the press charges and did everything got my daughter counseling and you know did all the good healthy things and now like for the most part i’m okay with it but occasionally i can get either really really hurt you know for my daughter or really angry you know even now like now i’m getting hopes i’m upset talking about it but it’s like i don’t feel like i haven’t worked on it you know what i mean i don’t feel like i haven’t healed from it but it can still come back at times sometimes like say when you’re not even ready you know or sometimes when you’re not even thinking about it it’s like a punch in the gut you know like a slap in the face you know and i don’t i wouldn’t say like oh that means i haven’t healed from it like no i’m pretty good with it you know 90 of the time is that the 90 of the time you’re just not focused on it though and when i say that i’m not arguing that you’re not healed from it either i i think just being healed from grief i don’t think that means you don’t feel the emotions of it anymore like i don’t believe that at all things still hurt but i’m just curious if the 95 of the time it’s not bothering you is because you’re not looking at it well you know what i mean by that is if if like another recovering person wanted to sit down and talk about that experience you know i’d be completely okay like sitting down and talking with them and sharing our experience with that with them i’ve shared about it in meetings as part of my story of going through struggles and things that i’ve been through in recovery i don’t feel like it’s a thing like if it comes up it’s not something that i typically feel like i shy away from or diminish or ignore

but sometimes it just [ __ ] hurts you know sometimes it’s just painful this episode has been brought to you in part by voices of hope inc a non-profit recovery organization made up of people in recovery family members and allies together members strive to protect the dignity of those that use drugs and those in recovery by advocating for treatment harm reduction and support resources and mentoring please visit us at

www.voicesofhopemaryland.org and consider donating to our calls

i have a story or two that i tell not even necessarily a bad story they’re kind of like positive emotions but they they really bring out emotional parts of me and there’s times i tell them and i don’t have those emotions tied to them so much and i call that dissociation i don’t i don’t know that like the emotions aren’t tied to them anymore that’s just a moment when i’m yeah i’m not going to feel that this time when i talk about it i i don’t know as an act of choice as a subconscious choice i’m just in a place where i’m i’m not interested in feeling that kind of stuff right now well i think for myself like the sharing about it or bringing it up in like a group i feel like at least trying to draw something positive or something good out of that whole experience is probably the best it’s it’s gonna get you know what i mean like it’s it’s trying to trying to share that experience to let people know like hey you can get through this stuff and you can stay clean and there’s like a kind of a healthier way to deal with some of these tragedies you know like i feel like that’s empowering to other people and if anything good can come out of a just totally [ _ ] up shitty situation you know i don’t know that it’s ever going to be good for my kids you know like i don’t ever think that that’s going to be you know like a bright side to that [ _ ] for them but if i can use any of that say this again or help other people

you’re gonna make me sound this terrible sounding [ _ ] you’re gonna make me say it again uh i’m i feel like dave from the last episode where he didn’t want to put down any meditation for him because you know meditation is good and that’s great i don’t want to [ _ ] with anybody’s feelings about their grieving process or if they’ve done it well enough like it’s not about that i would personally think maybe not as a complete finality of grieving but at some point after really healing through grieving we would almost be thankful for whatever it was if not truly just thankful for the event because of what it meant for our lives in some way right and and if that’s i i know god caroline’s give me that [ _ ] look i know if that’s going with you but it’s a stretch if that’s you yeah uh talking about your experiences of what happened to you as a child and coming to a place of not just accepting that it happened and being okay with the fact that it happened but really saying you know what i have been able to help a hundred [ _ ] guys process this thank god that [ _ ] happened to me that’s where i think the real goal healthiest place we could possibly get to like the the letting go the forgiveness of the event the grieving and the at some point way in the [ _ ] future because this is not like when it just happens but the thank god for that event because now that has molded me to be this other person i think that’s much easier to do when it’s something that impacts you personally and much harder to do when there are other people who have been directly impacted by that event i mean like billy’s or in my case yeah for me to say i’m grateful that my husband passed i mean he’s a person that died and no longer exists and and there’s other people that depending on your beliefs yes that’s true but no longer at a minimum no longer exists in this existence in this plane right now yeah i mean his life has ended and i i can’t see ever being grateful for that now i am very much of the opinion you know i’m grateful for my using because um you know it’s brought me the life i have today of course a life filled with grief at the moment um but generally speaking you know i’ve always been one to say you know i’m grateful for those experiences as as bad as many of them were because it’s made me who i am today and so on and so forth um but yeah i think when another person is pulled into the mix it’s it’s a lot harder to to have for me anyway have any gratitude around that my experience with that with my kids just wrecked my whole belief in god or that any of this makes any sense or that there’s any purpose to any suffering or any of that you gotta listen to that goddamn book billy i am it’s terrible

i’m trying i’ve been listening to it it’s terrible what book are we talking about yeah i’ll keep listening but conversations with conversations with god but it it’s just a matter of now like and i hear that i’m just like bad [ _ ] just happens like can’t bad [ _ ] just happen does it have to be for a reason does it have to be no just shitty stuff happens because life is organic and natural and it just random you know uncontrolled unfettered and so bad [ _ ] happens just like good [ _ ] happens and the unpopular opinion in conversations with god is that nothing happens to a soul without the soul requesting it to happen

we ask for everything that happens to us because it’s an experience we need yeah but that impact like if if that were true then that terminated some other person’s life in my case he won but nothing happens to a soul that it doesn’t ask for so he wanted it and i wanted it and his mother his sister that’s the unpopular opinion in the book yeah yeah and if you listen further that we’re all actually one soul i mean there’s no way to dispel that right so that’s an argument that has you can’t argue against it i’m not trying to argue it at all it’s an interesting thing for me and my grief or painful situation so we’ve had some others you know but i guess it’s been more helpful to look at those situations as like all right so what can i do with this to help other people or to make this useful in some sort of way other than just be impacted by a bunch of [ _ ] pain and hurt you know like the the reasons the whys don’t matter as much and for myself when i first got into recovery i remember being a person early on in my life i was like why do i have to be an addict why do i have to suffer all this blah blah blah why why why and then when i got clean as last i’m like it doesn’t matter why why doesn’t help you figure it out like what matters is what are you doing now what are you doing today and what can you do to make yourself get better and for me in my grief situations that’s kind of in a similar approach like the why doesn’t really matter you know i mean can pontificate on all kinds of whys but what matters is all right so what am i doing with this am i sitting you know with my feelings now allowing myself to grieve allowing myself to be in pain and hurt and like with you know with the loss of my mom that was pretty devastating that was one where i like i came to a realization that my biggest fan my entire life was no longer here the person that had supported me through all the worst that i ever was that uh no matter what horrible stuff i did she always loved me and showed up for me and cared for me and that person wasn’t here anymore and that was that was tough you know i was like wow i never i never thought of that in that way you know that that’s what she was um we lost a child jen and i well i didn’t i i don’t know i feel weird saying i lost the child because i wasn’t carrying the child but it was mine so she was pregnant she was like three months pregnant and we hadn’t told anybody we were like keeping it kind of a secret and all that and then she had a miscarriage and not only that but it was like traumatic the whole situation was like traumatic we went to the hospital they’re like oh you’ve lost the baby and then they sent her home to like pass the baby at home basically in the toilet without telling us any of this stuff was gonna it’s [ _ ] terrible union hospital and elkton don’t ever go there but you know that whole thing we’re going through all of that and no one knows no one in our support group even knows that she’s pregnant and we go through all of that stuff and and that was pretty traumatic um in the the loss of like say that the whys you know why is this happening we’re clean now we’re doing all the right things none of this is supposed to be going on and it just was like getting into the wise didn’t help me a lot then either i’m gonna move away from this topic because i’m the bad guy right now so let’s point the finger at somebody i don’t think it’s bad i i mean it’s just perspectives and and how we look at things i don’t think it’s bad i mean i i think what you’re saying can be useful to some people i mean just for myself and there are people that are gonna need that why there are people that are gonna struggle with that question and i don’t think it’s harmful to ask that question i think you need the why if you have the broader belief system that it doesn’t fit into right so if i and i don’t want to throw anyone under the bus here but if i believe in this caring loving being that always has my best interest at heart and then there’s a situation that occurs that really feels in in contrast to that i need to come up with the why to make my belief system whole again i i don’t it’s my job to help people make meaning of everything in their life i i just assume that that’s how we come out healthier because everybody i know that doesn’t do that doesn’t get that i guess that’s interesting you don’t work for a faith-based organization do you no no not at all and i don’t uh actively include any of my spiritual beliefs into anything that people don’t already believe i think there’s a difference between finding meaning in everything that happens and finding a silver lining or some amount of value and everything that happens because i will say that i i can find a silver lining in in my husband’s death i can find a silver lining in the coveted mess i don’t have a silver lining for my dog yet um but i sure am i might be able to find one at some point it’s it’s very new

but i would not say i can find a meaning and see i think silver linings are based on the entire value judgment of anything being good or bad which i don’t believe in to begin with yeah there’s we have a very different beliefs there’s there’s no such thing as good or bad uh everything just is to me yeah obviously right so i yeah i don’t know it’s interesting but i am going to move us in the direction of picking on somebody else besides me for a minute uh because i feel a little like the bad guy whether i am or not um must be i must oh man i’ll say this nicely i must love you a lot because i never take what you say as insulting or attacking and i’ve heard other people say that i’m like no i don’t take you that way at all

jesus now it’s real

no i really got a complex no i i am a challenging person i know that like i’ll challenge beliefs or thoughts uh and i think i like that i like that well and i try to do it lovingly and compassionately and on some forums i do it like an [ _ ] in other forms don’t worry um i think people with big egos feel like they need to be right all the time and i definitely want to be right but i recognize i have an ego that yeah i want to be right fighting against so i’m okay with challenging my own ideas and no i don’t know thinking deeply i don’t want to know the people who said that that’s all right um so anyway five stages of grief right denial anger bargaining depression acceptance and and just looking at this from a getting clean standpoint right i want to take it back to that we come in there is no space for most of these steps in the grieving process when you come into recovery they don’t say i understand that you’re in the stage of denial right now right like that’s tough it’s okay when you’re ready to not be there we’ll we’ll move to the next piece you know or we’ll do something else no and it’s get the [ _ ] out of denial yeah and the work that i do in step one or the work that i’ve done like denial is actually a part of the disease of addiction right it’s actually you know it goes into that like that’s your addiction you know that denial thing and so then you look at anger anger we kind of frame around the idea of resentment yeah right it’s trying we don’t want that either yeah get the [ _ ] out of resentment don’t sit there no we’re supposed to be allowed to sit here right bargaining i don’t know that fits in a whole lot uh people would probably just say you’re trying to bargain something that’s impossible you need to just get past that and accept the fact that it’s not possible uh depression i don’t know what we would even say about that i don’t know go see stop being depressed or go see mental health or something but either way my point being we don’t allow space for these in that arena and i’m just wondering when that’s our first experience in our first teaching coming into recovery do we carry that into how we deal with others who are going through other grief do we say there’s no space for these these other stages like we don’t we don’t do denial here we don’t do resentment you need to [ _ ] accept it well maybe it would be more helpful to think of it as those are areas that we really have to be very careful you know what i mean like i’m i have to as an addict like i have some responsibility for being an addict i shouldn’t go hang out in bars a lot because it’s probably not a healthy place for me to be same with denial or anger like yes i’m gonna feel them like there might be times where i need to be around people that have alcohol or people that are using you know but it’s probably not a safe place to be and i better really be on guard when i’m in those positions you know there are some things we can do as caroline said you know she had a support group that she was able to to kind of rally behind when she was in that you know early stages or in those stages of grief are you mad at your husband i’m not no were you i was very mad at him during his relapsing yeah but not when he died no i haven’t i haven’t really gone through anger that’s why i said i think the stages are the ass

generalization right well if you think of you think about it if they’re not linear and you don’t necessarily hit on any of them what value do they add these are normal everyday emotions and reactions to a ton of different things so what’s the value of calling them out specific to grief if they don’t outline a standard grief process and they don’t even say you’re definitely going to at some point go through all these stages because that’s not even the case like the side effects of covert these are some things you may experience or may not at some point you might lose taste i don’t necessarily think that people who operate from a perspective of grief think you won’t pretty assuredly have some place with each of these stages i just think that they know that they’re not just like steps right it’s not like oh you feel this one then you feel this one then you keep moving forward like there’s there’s back to this one there’s forward to that one like we bounce around in them but i would say that the grief experts explanation for what you just said is that everything is grief so yes we do deal with these for most things that we end up dealing with i i don’t know that’s how i always understood it too you eventually get through all those stages yeah i think at some point you do touch me i don’t know if that’s true i just that’s my understanding is what you said that well and i think a lot of you go through all of them a lot of the the point of using them is to normalize it right because a lot of people may experience anger in your situation at their husband for not being here anymore and then feel like it’s wrong i’m not allowed to be angry with him he’s not here anymore how can i be mad at him oh [ __ ] that you can that’s okay i’m still i’m still probably mad at my dad for not being alive anymore and it wasn’t his choice to not be alive anymore and i was pretty angry at my mom before she passed i mean i wasn’t directly angry when she died but so she had copd and she smoked and just decided she was going to keep smoking i mean she was on oxygen would wheel herself outside to smoke cigarettes and i remember being pretty angry you know that like it really felt like she was making a choice to choose to smoke and die rather than to try to fight against it and get better and i was angry about that well and grief doesn’t start the moment they right yeah this was at a point where it was obvious she was going to die it was just a matter of time at that point months which we all knew so i don’t want to bring your social media into this but i remember you saying i always thought he would get clean and we would get back together which could be either denial or bargaining depending on how you look at it i guess uh in my gut in my gut i felt that he would get clean again right like just at the core of of my being yeah absolutely it shocked me and i did do a bit of grieving prior to his his passing of the relationship right um

of his presence but yeah no i did not i did not think this was going to kill him he was definitely someone who managed to somehow escape consequences very very regularly what kind of things were said to you that were completely [ _ ] useless because generally we don’t know what to say to people who are grieving so what was said that was not helpful and what was said that was actually maybe harmful um i had someone should on me um someone told me probably around the one to two month point i was talking to them about feeling like you know i wasn’t hearing from people anymore like people weren’t checking on me i was still really struggling at that point um and she said well at this point you should really be the one reaching out um that stands out in my mind as as being hurtful yeah if not i don’t know that it was harmful um but it was hurtful that’s a shame-based statement yeah i mean i didn’t take the shame on though right i have a pretty good kind of sense of self i think so um i didn’t own that but it was hurtful see and i would say i mean i would possibly say something like that i could see you saying that and totally missed that it was only because like if i’m hurting in recovery ultimately like i’ve always felt like it’s my responsibility to let people know i don’t know that’s but i’m like oh i gotta watch that i could easily say that to someone i used to have a professor that would say don’t shut on yourself um and i think that’s probably true for other people as well um sure does a shame-based statement yeah coming from other people it’s telling you what’s expected of you and if you’re you’re obviously not doing it which is why they said it should be first place so something’s wrong with you that you’re not doing it coming from yourself you split yourself into two people the one who’s living how they’re living and the one who thinks that’s wrong and they should be doing something would there have been a way to say it that was helpful or was it just yeah it’s the wrong thing to say the thing that may have been helpful would have been to say you know people are really busy maybe have you tried have you tried reaching out some that’s the helpful way to say it which is still to me the wrong thing to say but not as bad not nearly as though it contains no judgment right so so tell me what you said to her oh i have no idea what my response was what did you say to her first that made her say that oh i was complaining about you know feeling like people people weren’t reaching out yeah that i wasn’t hearing that i never you know my phone wasn’t ringing i wasn’t getting text messages i wasn’t hearing from people oh my god caroline i’m so sorry to hear that i we should tell some more people because we should definitely be calling you still if that’s what you need thanks for letting us know that’s lovely that’s lovely right yeah like she’s she’s telling us what she needs why are we gonna say you should be doing it yourself she just can’t obviously or she just [ _ ] called people yeah yeah i was definitely reaching out at that moment and saying this is what i really needed yeah and see that’s where my lack of dependence on other people to meet my needs comes everyone’s gonna let me down no one’s gonna live up to my [ __ ] expectations so i gotta do it myself i will say i will say i have learned to be more like billy since the experience with that and people would tell you that’s not necessarily yeah and maybe not and maybe not but based on the circumstances you know i i mean between losing my husband and coved um fennel all alone a ton this last year and so when i put my dog down i didn’t really expect to hear from people this time and i did hear from a couple of people um and sure plenty of people i oh here’s something i want to say saying i’m sorry on facebook yeah doesn’t count like if i go through something traumatic or painful and you’ve reached out to me via a facebook post not direct messager but via facebook post you commented that is not the same as reaching out i’m sorry doesn’t count um but yeah with with my dog passing i really i didn’t expect the support i mean and again i will say there were a couple of women that showed up for me in those first few days fed me drove me around you know like we’re there and thank god for them but did you find it people you didn’t expect um

a little bit yeah a little bit i found so i found that the one person i did really expect not at all and we’re not friends anymore like that the person who at that point in my life i would have called my best friend went totally mia on me um yeah i mean it’s just that’s been my experience with grief is it’s always amazing the people that show up or reach out and the people that don’t and i’ve never taken that overly personal it’s just allowed me to see the character of certain people a little better and some people are definitely way better at recognizing pain or grief or or that aspect of reaching out and it’s a really beautiful thing to see in people are you angry at the person oh yeah so you’ve earned some anger oh yeah yeah yeah yeah yeah but that’s i don’t tie that to the grief process i tie that to like that’s a separate issue yeah like i already had a shitty friend yeah yeah i don’t know i i kind of tend to think that these elements all intertwined yeah they might not come out towards a specific circumstance but it’s got that anger has to come out somewhere i’d be angry at this person without grief being in the mix require like feeding anger i get that um and again that’s why i think the grief stages are kind of bs because you can find those five emotions in any area of your life at any given time and if you want to correlate them to the grief you happen to be experiencing then then sure but they’re going to be there i don’t think that checks the box for sound like a skeptic i am a skeptic i am but i do think there’s a beautiful part to being able to reach out to other people also in that people will show up if they know there’s a need you know what i mean not always well someone will usually yeah um now it may not be the people you think or the people you expect but if you let people know yes people tend to show up yes yeah it’s tricky i mean uh you’re talking about who’s capable of showing up right right that’s a whole nother moment would i not also be pissed at people i thought needed to be there for me or was supposed to be there for me sure i’d be pissed about it and i’d take it personal but in my grand scheme of how i look at life it would be like was somebody available yes and i’m grateful for that and i kind of think that’s how the world works and i would do my best not to like that person who i wanted there might have [ _ ] sucked at being there right like they might have been the wrong person to have there even though that’s who i wanted i don’t know but it wasn’t just it was like multiple events over the course of a few months like multiple opportunities to show up so i think not saying don’t blame him i’m not taking up for him what did you hear what was said to you what was done for you that was helpful and useful in general um the food was so helpful i had to laugh but i was just thinking like everyone always brings food is that i mean it’s a real thing is that really helpful and you’re so [ _ ] yeah because i was so hungry but so incapable of figuring it out making food so i mean even yeah so figuring it out yeah it is it’s a big deal yeah that was really helpful um showing up like as soon as so i um the the cops actually came to my house beautiful town of rising sun police came to my house i was not where they were supposed to go but i was the closest so that’s where they went oh boy um and as soon as they showed up i i knew you know my my my life is such that cops don’t come to my house today um so i knew but uh as soon as they left i called that best friend first um and then i called the second person i called showed up um the second person i called was willing to to drop everything and come to my house and she ended up hanging out with me while we talked through some logistics stuff she took me over my in-laws house because we were having a hard time getting anyone to to notify them um and didn’t want to do it over the phone and then took me to a meeting that night and took me home

um that was that was good to not be alone to have someone there um to have someone there that offered to come i struggled to ask for help um in a lot of scenarios you know i i if people are like that’s i think one thing that’s not super helpful and and one of the audiobooks i was listening to uh would concur is that like the let me know if you need anything that still puts it back on me to have to ask you to do something and for me to have to inconvenience you and i don’t like to inconvenience you so you know her telling me she’s coming

i’m not inconveniencing her my girlfriend who who brought me just like a plethora of ready to eat food i guess the next day i wouldn’t have said will you get me food but she just brought it you know um so just like telling someone specif this is what i’m going to do for you and then you can ask any questions about like you know do you do you like this do you need this but like being the one to put that out there instead of putting the onus back on the person who’s grieving to like figure out what they need or have to ask i think that’s that’s really helpful too yeah that’s tricky working from like what would be an ideal healthy standpoint for all the individuals involved and like where are we really at like that’s probably much more useful for where we’re really at as a society and as a people just [ _ ] do it i was thinking like there’s not i thought i knew all the right things to say for people in grief until i lost my father and then realized i wanted to tell everyone who had nice things to say to go [ _ ] themselves because i didn’t give a [ _ ] like yeah take these middle fingers shut them up your ass and get the [ _ ] out of my face with all your i’m sorry for your losses and all that great [ _ ] right um so in that moment i it was a a path of like what the [ _ ] can i do right and most of the time i’d much rather would be in person with the person because i don’t have any [ _ ] words i will sit here with you and hold space with you i’ll hug you i ain’t got a [ _ ] thing to say but i have learned at least one that’s like kinda not awful and that’s i wish i had the right words i’m so sorry for your loss and that’s basically exactly how i feel i don’t [ _ ] have the right words there are none right and people are different like when i am in like grief like i don’t want to be around people i don’t want to be around anybody and i really don’t care what you have to say i mean not that i won’t be rude or i won’t but i mean whatever like i remember going through my mom’s funeral and i i don’t know what anyone said and whatever they said didn’t make it any better or worse either way whatever the words they said or not one of them stood out to me there was nothing that they were going to say that could make me feel any different either way you know the way i looked at it and it was nice though that people showed up exactly right so i feel the same way like i don’t care what people said in those early days as long as they didn’t say something judgy which no one did in those early days luckily but yeah all of the like platitudes and none of that was bothersome to me yeah because i was angry and bitter i knew where people were coming from and the fact that they were they were saying something is what mattered to me not that like it was something dumb jesus christ and don’t tell me about your father’s death at my father’s [ _ ] viewing please shut the [ __ ] up

yeah i got some of that that that was a little i remember talking to someone who we all know i’m not gonna say their name um they had reached out to me right after right after matt died and um then started telling me about like some estranged

like family member that had also like you know at that like kind of like now i’m going to take the conversation over and make it about me why would they teach us that in in 12 step yeah we got to relay it in we got to compare him by telling you about ours story that’s how we’re similar i hate that it’s self-centered i think i don’t like it well it’s it’s a bad practice for self-centered people well sentiment is right the sentiment is to be like hey i’ve experienced a similar loss i’m here for you i understand that doesn’t help no well no i i think the idea of moving towards connection is the purpose of it like that’s the good goal of it but yeah we [ _ ] it all up you’re right massively and i want to be clear i’m not judging any of the people that said any of this [ _ ] to me because that’s the exact same [ _ ] i would have said to people right before that like so i’m not judging them it’s just we don’t know right and yeah don’t do those [ _ ] things people are hurt man they don’t want to hear none of your just go see it but i feel different i feel different i feel like as long as you’re coming from a place of caring and and and you’re trying that that’s what matters to me as again as long as it’s not judgey um now as a person i try not to say that kind of stuff anymore but i don’t care if other people say i say i’m so sorry for your luck and that’s a that’s that’s a pretty generic platitude too but at this point in my life i can completely respect that they were all trying to do the right thing in that moment at that moment in time with the amount of hurt i was going through and how old were you 25 okay but not in recovery yet or yeah in recovery right okay so at this point like i try to either say something nice specifically about the person that passed or share a story or say something that is actually well recommended that’s what i try and only like say from talking to my sister about her experience i try to do that if i know the person or knew the person that passed yes if you know a nice story about the person or a memory perfect yeah because that’s [ __ ] useful that’s one of the other struggles that i’ve had is that you know when when matt passed he um had for all intents and purposes been out of the program since for about two years um he had dibbled and dabbled a little bit probably two years prior right before he passed he had kind of switched over to aaa um but so like the people that i was closest to at that point didn’t really know him well the people who really loved him were not people in my inner circle so like his immediate family and a couple of his good friends are friends of mine certainly but not they’re not my girlfriends like my girlfriends didn’t really know him right at the time that he passed um it was it is still very difficult and something that i love when i have the opportunity is to connect with other people that loved him

his family doesn’t really seem to want to talk about it so they haven’t been a resource they seem to kind of want to just move on with their lives um two of his best friends are two guys in recovery and i have had limited opportunities to kind of um you know spend some time with them and and talk about mad and it’s it’s amazing when it happens but they’re men and i don’t think yeah i don’t know that they think it’s amazing when it happens no they’re probably angry about it

it’s all men feel right just angry are you planning on seeking and i i i guess i would have to imagine not if you haven’t yet but were you are you thinking about seeking uh professional counseling in any way to to process more of this i don’t know why you assume i haven’t that’s a good [ __ ] point i don’t know i just assumed you had it yeah that’s a wrong assumption so um i would say you know one of the things that na taught me is that we have a number of resources at our disposal for anything that we’re struggling with or so if we think about if we think about truly like just just straight recovery we have our network we have our sponsors so we could almost view them as kind of like i don’t know more i don’t know how to say it but they almost you can almost kind of view them as like a therapist in a normal world situation kind of i don’t want to say that no the relationship dynamic is a little different than it would be with your network so i guess kind of that kind of would be the there’s like a more experimental person right sit there and help you process things yes i agree okay i agree with that um we have our literature we have listening to other people’s experiences kind of outside of our network right so if we think about a speaker meeting just kind of lit you might not know that person at all but you get to kind of sit and hear what they so i feel like i was pretty well set up

to dive into anything i felt like it was going to help me um in the grief process so i think about i had actually recently ended therapy probably two months before matt passed um so within three weeks of him passing i called my counselor back up started seeing her again um obviously was you know to some extent to varying degrees reaching out to my network sought out books on grief and the grief experience um attended some different groups so tried some different um like grief type groups um through some different venues so yeah i would say that you know very very quickly i um started looking for healthy weight the one thing i was really conscious of in in this process was i didn’t want to um act out or try to solve my feelings in unhealthy ways i didn’t do that completely successfully because i’m probably about 30 pounds heavier than i was when matt died but in terms of like shopping sprees um you know running out finding another relation a lot of those things that we can use to again with the exclusion of food um try to create a high for ourselves right or a distraction comfort yeah i really yeah yeah food has been a problem food has been a problem for i mean probably food started being a little bit of an issue for me probably around his his relapse so well that’s awesome i think uh counseling i think highly of it right i think it’s [ _ ] useful and i think there’s a reason that the people who can’t show up for us and hold space for us in regular day-to-day interactions like yeah we say we’re paying for it but that’s like what a professional can do if they know what they’re doing is to create that environment where we can have that healing process happen um any final thoughts on grief thoughts of like what the person grieving could necessarily do that could help or what people around the grieving person could not do or do like any final thoughts from anybody yeah i mean i think my experience has been there’s really nothing there’s nothing that can be done in those first days or weeks that’s going to make it better like there is no making it better um and stuffing it down i don’t believe is effective long-term i think it’s that’s really unhealthy so i think you know when you get to a point where you’re ready which some people aren’t there for you know i i mean for me like i wasn’t even really functional for the first month um but when you get to a point where you’re ready seeking out resources whether that’s a therapist whether that’s a a grief group having something like that to lean on is good and then for the people who you know are around someone who’s grieving remember that they’re grieving don’t don’t think okay a month’s pass they must be fine now like keep keep checking in keep keep asking how they’re doing and and for both of those parties the person in grief and the people around the griever i i really would remind you the goal is not to make it better right pain is the struggle we’re going through that is inevitable grief is the process that makes it better over time we don’t want to take away the feelings right we’re not trying to make anything better we’re trying to go through this and process it not alleviate it in any way yeah and i was thinking that for the individual like for myself i have to tell myself like it’s okay to be sad like it’s okay to just allow myself to be sad there’s nothing wrong with that like as a as a man anyway like that’s some sort of weakness [ _ ] you know what i mean right like i can’t be sad like but no it’s okay to be sad for as long as you feel sad you know and and that’s okay there’s nothing wrong with that yeah i think that’s another good point too is like cutting yourself some slack you know like i don’t i i’m really big on self-care i don’t i don’t put expectations on myself like i’ve basically been in a state of grief for i’ve been in a state of trauma for years yeah and a state of grief one could argue maybe as long right since since i found out about my husband’s relapse um yeah there isn’t a time yeah right i uh i can’t handle it all i can’t keep the five acres cut and the house perfect and my full-time job satisfied and take care of the dogs and take care of the chickens and i can’t do it all when i’m not operating at full capacity which for me grief has done that and i’m i cut myself slack on that like i know that i’m not i’m not my best most productive self when i’m struggling with these big emotions and that’s okay

great suggestions any final word no thank you for coming in and sharing your story matt’s story with you yeah i appreciate it i told jason i want to be like the third co-host so maybe did i did i pass the test i i’m totally games this went way too fast so we have to buy another microphone because if we have another guest he’ll have to get a whole new computer

but yeah i mean no i i enjoyed i think uh i think it’s gonna be interesting i don’t know i feel like you two gang up on me i gotta be really careful about having you on too often i think you guys think different than i do i can sit out on the like god god topic are you a god person i’m not a god person so that’s so baffling then how do you find a silver lining and [ __ ] i don’t think the two are related at all oh my god all right another podcast we’ll have to do that all right uh yeah so be learn something about grieving right learn something about grieving learn what it’s like to be on the grieving side learn what’s helpful as somebody supporting someone through grief uh learn about the wonderful process so we don’t maybe make the mistakes of of doing more harm or at least not doing good kessler is a good person to listen to if you want to learn more about grief um even if you don’t believe that grief is a real thing or the stages agree for a real thing he’s pretty inspiring and helpful and compassionate so david kessler yes that’s funny i stumbled upon one of his support groups on facebook like early days he’s like mr rogers but cooler i think he’s he’s pretty well yeah recognized and yeah yeah yeah one of the authorities on it so yeah check that out and uh there is also a local support group through our sponsor voices of hope they have healing hearts which is an overdose okay support group all right we’ll see you next week

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