One year ago today, on October 17, my family lost a treasured member of our tribe. My cousin’s husband, John, passed away suddenly. He was 41.
In my family, we lovingly call the in-laws “out-laws”. We treat them like they were born into the family by blood. John had been with our family since he was 17 or 18 years old; he was one of us.
The morning he died – before I found out – I was wallowing in self-pity and bursting with anger over something unrelated: a leaky toilet.
A toilet that had leaked for the better part of three weeks while my husband and I had been away on vacation.
The leak ruined the floors that my father had installed just six months earlier. A project that I had really sweet memories of. So now that this project was ruined, I was LIVID.
I was also having a meltdown over the fact that we would have to buy new flooring AND pay a contractor to come tear it out and replace it.
My husband tried his best to get me to calm down over the whole situation, but that was easy for him to say: he got to leave for work while I stayed home waiting for the plumber!
About five minutes before the plumber arrived, I found out that John had died. When I opened the front door to let the plumber in, I was in a daze.
Finding Some Much Needed Perspective
A little while later, left alone in my house, and after calling my husband with the news, I sat
down still. In that moment I got some perspective.
I thought back to the Me of 75 minutes ago, and realized how absolutely ridiculously I had been acting. A leaky toilet is a fixable thing. Floors are, too. And my (outrageously hyped-up) concerns about the cost of the repairs had been so completely unnecessary in the grand scheme of things.
In that moment, I acknowledged that I tended to lose perspective over little things A LOT. I often made them out to be a lot worse than they actually were. So I decided to stop doing that.
I think this is common for most people. The loss of someone – or seeing images of a natural disaster or other terrible event – causes most of us stop, think, and reflect. But we’re human, and we easily fall back into old habits when the wounds aren’t so fresh. So how was I going to avoid this trap?
Podcasts To The Rescue
Hardly a day goes by that I don’t think about John. His memory reminds me to focus on what is really important in life, and not to waste energy on the other stuff.
But podcasts have also helped me to keep things in perspective.
There are some great self-help podcasts that are intended to help you get perspective. But I also find myself “seeing the light” when listening to my favorite everyday shows about travel, business, current events, and education. I’m able to use the stories and anecdotes to remind myself that I have a lot of good stuff to focus on, even when life hands me something challenging.
It hasn’t happened overnight, but even my husband agrees that I’ve made some important changes in mindset over the past year.
Podcast Recommendations for Getting Perspective, Dealing with Death & Grief, and Overall Coping
I planned to write a post about podcasts for getting perspective. I didn’t intend to share podcast recommendations about death and grieving, but given the story I just shared, and the fact there are so many great podcasts out there, I’m including them, too. I hope that you will find something in here for your situation or state of mind.
You may have heard of author Nora McInerny, who has famously written about losing her husband. Her podcast blows my mind (in a good way). She speaks candidly about dealing with her loss, and interviews and tells stories of other people who are dealing with overwhelming life experiences.
Not every episode is about death or grief; the show has a good mix of both grief-related and perspective-related episodes. I highly recommend starting with Episode #0, which is an introduction to Nora and her experiences.
This show falls squarely into the self-help category. The host, Sarah May B. (also co-host of the podcast Love is Like a Plant) takes you through how to deal with your emotions in a variety of life scenarios (death, break-ups, feeling stuck, PMS, FOMO, etc.) She gets right to helping you acknowledge your feelings, identifying where they come from, and dealing with them.
A few episodes to check out: What’s the Rush, Nego-Habit Shift: Make One Small Change to Make a Massive Difference, and I Am So Upset!!! (Anger Fixation Relief – Part Deux).
The co-hosts of this podcast take a light-hearted approach to talking about death and grieving. They talk about their own experiences, answer listener questions, and talk about different topics around dealing with losing someone.
Check out Episode 14, which starts with a listener question about how to comfort a friend who has lost a loved one. I really like this segment because they opened it up to their Facebook group for answers.
[Related Post] 3 Self-Help Podcasts That Motivate & Inspire
I know how this title seems when it’s included in a post like this, but this podcast is NOT all about death and dying. It’s one of my all-time favorites, and the stories told are often a reminder that there are people who have overcome far worse obstacles than I.
A recent re-play of an interview with actress Ellen Burstyn is one example of this. Now in her 80s, her reflections on life left me feeling humbled. The episodes on student loan death (which I wrote about here) also put my own fears about money (not saving enough, spending it on frivolous things, etc) into perspective.
The tagline for the Modern Love podcast is “stories about love, loss, and redemption”. I love this podcast because every episode includes a story update, which often includes some perspective-getting wisdom.
The recent episode, One Bouquet of Fleeting Beauty, took me on an unexpected emotional roller coaster and left me full of thoughts. For a (mostly) light-hearted story about dealing with the passing of a loved one, check out one of the first Modern Love episodes, One Last Swirl.
If you would like to share your recommendation for a podcast that has helped you to find perspective or deal with loss, please leave a comment below.