A is for Morenike

1. Grief, Loss and Overcoming Fear with Natalie Lue

Episode Summary

Grief, Loss and Overcoming Fear with Natalie Lue. Relationship expert, author, speaker and podcaster, Natalie Lue has been featured in The New York Times and Women's Health, with 15 years experience helping individuals to manage their self-esteem and relationships in professional and personal spaces. Founding Baggage Reclaim in 2005, this episode

Episode Notes

“Grief can be the garden of compassion. If you keep your heart open through everything, your pain can become your greatest ally in your life’s search for love and wisdom.” – Rumi

Grief, Loss and Overcoming Fear with Natalie Lue

Relationship expert, author, speaker and podcaster, Natalie Lue has been featured in The New York Times and Women's Health, with 15 years experience helping individuals to manage their self-esteem and relationships in professional and personal spaces.

Natalie also founded Baggage Reclaim in 2005. In this episode we take a deep into vulnerability, pain and grief. 


Music by Is Seven A Gang

Instagram: @aformorenike

Website + Quarterly newsletter


Episode Transcription

Alisha  0:09  

Today we have Natalie Lue. She's a relationship expert, author, speaker, and podcaster. And she's been featured in The New York Times and women's health, with 15 years experience helping individuals to manage their self esteem and relationships in professional personal spaces. And at the same time, Natalie Lue has actually founded Baggage Reclaim podcast in 2005. So thank you so much for joining Natalie.


Natalie Lue  0:32  

Thank you for having me, Alicia. Yeah, I have been talking about emotional baggage and its impact on all areas of our life started baggage reclaim, as a blog in 2005. And then it's now as a podcast, and I've had books on it. And yeah, I actually really do love talking about these subjects, because I'm all about talking about the things that we often feel uncomfortable talking about, but that we really, really need to


Alisha  1:02  

Definitely, definitely, there's also a quote by Rumi that I really love, which is basically like grief can be the garden of compassion. So if you keep your heart open to everything, your pain, your greatest ally in your life, wisdom. And I would definitely say that in the pandemic, that grief has definitely kind of like shone a light on me. And I think it's allowed me to focus more in on myself for the first time. And we repair myself with that makes sense. So yeah, it's just been really interesting to kind of like go on this journey that I wouldn't have been able to take if it wasn't for the pandemic, to be honest.


Natalie Lue  1:36  

Yeah I think we've always had grief. But I think that collective grief, which is what we've experienced over this last couple of years, and that's not just related to death, although obviously that has played a big factor as well as you know, ill health, but also to the loss of life as we knew it. And so the change to our routines, the way that our lives shifted, not being able to see family and friends not going into the office anymore, or being still having to go into the office or wherever it was, we worked. So for instance, we might have had to work in a store or somewhere where we didn't have any choice about going in to mix of others. I think that there's been as collective grief, where we've been dealing with a lot of loss. That's not to say that we didn't gain certain things out of the pandemic. And that obviously varies from person to person and is very, you know, set upon the circumstances. But we have been in this collective grief. We've been in a lot of upheaval, emotional upheaval over this last couple of years.


Alisha  2:45  

Definitely, definitely. And I think one of the biggest turning points for me specifically was listening to your podcast. I found it at the time, and I was just so like, grateful that I can't remember how exactly I found it. I tried to find like, yeah, services to help people like myself, and yeah, going to grieve and going through different like, relationship kind of needs, especially in my friendships, and then also looking at my family and all that type of stuff. And I think, yeah, Episode 133, which is all about the growth of grief, it really touched on how we all experience birth and kind of like loss in our life time. And that is so different to every single individual. And you mentioned about kind of like fallouts kind of like what you touched on about how it's not just death. It's also like redundancies and even like, meeting and bonding with strangers over like, a very specific limited time can also have that deep effect as well. Can you take us through the journey of how grief can really impact our health capacity in our closed communities as well?


Natalie Lue  3:44  

Yeah, absolutely. I think that as a society, you know, we're not really that great on feeling our feelings. And there's many an adult who actually doesn't know really what their needs are, or how to take care of themselves. And all throughout our lives, we have been dealing with losses, like teeny tiny ones, small ones, medium sized ones and big size ones. And of course, it varies from person to person. You know, something I've said over the years is, you know, I've heard from a lot of people who, when they've been through a divorce, or a painful breakup, or they've lost a pet, that people are sort of looking at them like jheeze like, What do you get and so upset over like, it's not as if somebody died, and it's like, hold on a second, we all actually know what it's like to lose something or someone. The thing is, is that if we don't feel our feelings, if we don't know how to be present to ourselves, be present in life, when we are confronted with what I call life's inevitable so conflict, criticism, stress, disappointment, loss and rejection. What happens is we actually have a lot of ungrieved grief that we're carrying around. And each time we experience a loss and doesn't necessarily have to even be a big one. It's it starts poking at the previous losses that we've experienced. And we start to think geez, like, Why the hell? Am I feeling so intensely about this thing, when I don't even think it's that big a deal? Or why do I feel so hard hit by this when I experienced that other big thing, and I wasn't so hard hit by that. But we are actually constantly being called to grieve in different ways, because we go through lifestyle shifts, and people come in and out of our lives. And like you said, you know, you have redundancy, and bereavement and fall outs and change, like actually, even when we experience good things, you know, like we experienced joy, we get the things that we want the things that we need, in an in amongst that, we have to let go of certain things. And grief comes along with that. We want to be in a relationship, for instance, so we want to become a parent. But then suddenly, we're like grieving for our old selves, or the other self, that we are where we're like, oh, my gosh, my life is going to change now. When we shut down our feelings and we are, for instance, in an environment where we're not allowed to talk about what we are grieving, where maybe people tell us to buck up and be strong, or where we tell ourselves to buck up and be strong grief will take a toll on us. And it might not be today, tomorrow even soon, but it will be eventually it will catch up with us. I think as well that there is a pressure, a lot of humans experience and of course, it varies from culture to culture, to get back to normal, and yet there seems to be like this sort of an allowable sort of permissible amount of time that you are allowed to display your grief that you will get a certain amount of empathy and sympathy from people. And then after that, they all go back to whatever their lives were. And I've talked about this openly. I think, in an episode this year, where I talked about five years since my father passed away, I said something that I found fascinating is that when you, for instance, go through a bereavement, but actually I would say actually, that even if you go through something like a breakup or redundancy, people want to see displays of emotion from you, on one hand, they don't, because they're like, oh my gosh, like, please do not like have too much emotion, because I just won't know what to do with that. But on the other hand, they almost feel like it will be weird if you don't have some display. And so I remember my brother when our father passed away, and people like oh, my gosh, your dad passed away. And he was like, yeah, yeah. And then they were looking at him. And it was like, they were waiting for him to break down or something. And he was like, okay, but then what's interesting is that once a certain amount of time has gone by, and honestly, it can be as little as weeks, people then almost feel uncomfortable with you, bringing it up, you know, expressing your upset, people don't ask about how you're feeling anymore. And the thing is we're such people pleasers, that, because people aren't necessarily seeking us out, or they get caught up in their own lives, they sort of get sucked back into the routine, which is inevitable to a certain extent. We're like, oh, gosh, I probably shouldn't bring it up, because I'm going to make people uncomfortable. And it is easy to get lost in ourselves. I also think and I was, you know, guilty of this, that because we feel as if we have a set amount of time that we can take off, you know, somebody, for instance passes away or you're going through something difficult, you feel like there's only a certain amount of time that you can be at home for that you can be off work, that you can be displaying your upset. So then it becomes a we need to get back to things. And all of that combined with however, we typically deal with disappointment and loss can start to take a toll on our emotional, mental, physical and spiritual well being in the sense that we can start to, we can  experience depression. We can even, if we don't feel as if we've hit on depression, we can start to feel quite low and like, we're sort of grappling with some sort of illness, you know, feeling like we're a bit rundown. Because, of course, we are not disconnected from our emotions. Our emotions affect our body and mind and when we suppress and repress our emotions, they just seep out in other ways. I think as well, that's, you know, something I've talked about is that grief, even if you're grieving the same thing, or the same person with a group of other people can feel incredibly lonely. Nobody else is feeling exactly what you're feeling and thinking exactly what you're thinking and going through exactly what you are, even though, for instance, in my case, I had siblings who had lost my father, but we each had a different experience of my father, because two of them had grown up with him, myself, my brother hadn't. So there you, you have all of these other people, because the person is not this isolated figure that just belongs to you. They have connections to other people's, so everybody else has their, their thing going on. And so grief, on one hand can connect you to others, because there is the sense of, oh, wow, there was this thing, or this person that we lost, or this thing that we're struggling with, even if actually, it's not even the same personal thing. There is when we acknowledge our humaneness and the difficulties that we experienced with that we're like, oh, yeah, all humans struggle. But at the same time, grief can feel really lonely. And if we, if we dig too deeply into that, we can become isolated and distanced from our loved ones, because we stopped feeling as if we can express our innermost feelings and thoughts. And I think as well, and again, this is a cultural thing. But I think, when communities don't get to, to grieve, in the way that they typically would, so for instance, I come from a Caribbean background. And my grandfather died, like, literally two weeks before the first lockdown, and he would have been one of the last funerals in England, because his was at like, 13:30 in the afternoon, and several hours later, Boris was on, you know, TV, whatever, telling us that, you know, it was time for us to go into lockdown. We knew literally every, for the week before the funeral. It was changing from day to day, my grandfather is a very Jamaican Chinese background, and he would have expected he was he would have expected that he would have probably close to 1000 people. Yeah, like when my father passed away, I'd say there's probably 6-700  People at his funeral. My family, they're the type. And when I say my family, my father's side of the family, they hire a DJ when we have a funeral, they supply a lot of food. There is there is some dancing, there are people who smoke weed at the graveside, and you're sitting looking at them going seriously, could you not just wait until afterwards, people sprinkle their rum, you know, in a coffin, but there is this, it's homegoing. And for my grandfather, it would have been the combination, not just of the typical sort of Caribbean homegoing but with his Chinese background as well. You know, his my great grandfather was full Chinese, it was also a return to his original roots. He'd specifically requested Chinese elements to his funeral. But we actually wouldn't we were able to do some of them, but not a lot of them because of the changes that were happening, that inability for us to honour him in the way that we typically would, for family members who pass on for us not to have the Homegoing, but also not to be able to do for him what I know he would have expected he is a very, very prideful man, that really devastated our family, but also COVID ripped through communities like so many people from the Afro Caribbean community were lost in Wolverhampton as a result of the pandemic, many of my extended family and friends, they didn't get to do homegoings, and they have to find other ways to commemorate. And I think that's something that they still struggle with. So yeah, I think the grief when we don't get to express it, and when we don't get to do things that nourish us, as a part of the grieving I think, can really take a toll on us.


Alisha  13:40  

Definitely, definitely. And I think also the elements of the joy as well that are so integral to a lot of our culture. You know, you can be busking out in the middle of the street and joy and like, I think we're at a time now where we really want that joy and we're looking for that joy or happiness in, in, in different kinds of mediums or different kinds of ways, whether that's before going out on the street or pouring rum or you know, doing what it is that makes you feel like you're in relationship or in union or in some elements of your culture that maybe you might have missed in the past two years at the height of the pandemic and the height of the lockdowns and the height of those isolating points. One thing that comes to mind as well as like, how do you think, yeah, the future of us being able to express ourselves would be like, because I feel like we've kind of locked in so much of that grief. And now, I feel like it's that kind of time to pull it all out almost.


Natalie Lue  14:36  

Yeah, that's yeah, that sounds that sounds spot on. You've, you know, really pointed out something there that that's something that we actually experience individually in the sense that, you know, like I was saying earlier that of course you can stuff away your grief if you can step away your feelings and try to carry on as if you know, everything is hunky dory or only kind of take a little peek at it from time to time, but eventually it always catches up with us. And actually, I think the same is going to happen. For us as a society as communities, because we have reoriented ourselves over this last couple of years, our routines have changed where, you know, in our, in our personal lives, and I work lives in the way that we engage with family and friends. And I think that we will naturally experience more loss and more difficulty, and that this will then remind us or hold on a second, I didn't get to deal with that loss that I experienced will, in a couple of years, we will feel hard hit, we will feel as if, oh, I need to do something, I really need to don't want to say make things right, as if we did something wrong, because we had no choices. Well, unless you were Boris and your party ended up in number 10 when everybody else couldn't go anywhere, but the rest of us we couldn't do parties and funerals and gatherings and, you know, convening with family, you know being as you said in communion with them, we were kept apart. We were talking through windows and getting on Zoom and all that will take your some of the way but actually there is such a thing as as Yeah, that sort of human to human connection. And so I think what, what we will see is that, as we naturally as humans go through more difficulty, more challenges, because that's the way of life pandemic or not, things are going to happen. But because of what we've been through of those last couple of years, I think that we are sometimes going to find ourselves hard hit by things that maybe in the past, we wouldn't have thought that it could hit us so hard. But because of what we've already been through, it's like, oh, no, I need to breathe. I mean, this is why you see so many people going, do you know what, it's time for me to leave this job? It's time for me to, to move house to move country to, to explore whatever it is that I've put off, because I think also that a lot of humans have realised that life is short. It can seem long, but actually, it also is short.


Alisha  17:12  

Yeah, make the most of it. Yeah.


Natalie Lue  17:15  

Yeah I think that that's something big that has come out of this couple of the kind of couple of years is, you know, I've lost a few people. My mentor, an acupuncturist passed away from cancer. I mean, it's probably it's like October last year, that hit me hard. I hadn't seen him since a lot of things are dated to 2019. And so I hadn't seen him since the summer of 2019. And of course, we wouldn't have known that this is where we would be. And I felt confused and angry that I didn't know how ill he was and that I didn't get to see him. And that the last time I saw him, I didn't know that we were saying goodbye. That that was it. And that's something that yeah, I go back and forth with myself about not in the sense of oh my gosh, like what could you have done like funny enough, I had sent him a message like literally a couple of weeks before he passed away, just saying how much I appreciated him. And it felt important for me to do that. I'd known something was up. But of course he had, he was great, you know, in life, you know, my dad went through it, he would have gone for it, you can be grieving the fact that you know you're going. And that's, you know, when you're in that zone, when you know, your time is almost up, you're not going to try to see everybody and anybody because Why are you trying to do 1000 goodbyes? just exhausting. But of course, there's the grief of that because you know that you don't get to say goodbye. And I had to sort of make not and that's sort of but I had to make my peace. With that, even though it was it was really, really hard. And and I think, you know, like you say, we have to find those ways to celebrate, to connect, to remember and to grieve. But I also think that things that we weren't able to do, I think we'll probably double down on that that. Not that we're like, oh my god, somebody's going to die now please so that we can rush out and have a celebration like we used to. But I think more like in the sense of that when somebody passes or when we go when we go for a difficulty that they be like, Okay, well, now I'm going to do the things that I wasn't able to do like a year or two ago, I'm going to talk to people, I'm going to, I'm going to, you know, gather people around me, I'm going to make sure that you know they have the proper home going or whatever it is that they deserve.


Alisha  19:34  

Yeah, definitely. I also think that like, there thi is just like, probably the first time that a lot of people have experienced such impacts in such waves, especially African and Caribbean communities where you know, COVID was such a high, I think it was like a high spark in COVID cases for us. So I definitely feel like even some of my closest friends who lost their mothers, their fathers as their grandfather's, like all different types of people, like trying to also find ways of holding space for them was quite difficult. And I think it's something there's something to be said about you having to grieve yourself or your own losses and then trying to also hold space for other people for their own loss. And I think we're in a really weird space also at the same time where like, how do we hold so many spaces? And also, how do we not feel guilty for trying to make space for ourselves sometimes transition is quite hard that kind of, there's that bit of, I think, I do feel like there is a bit of a wrestle and a bit of like a battle with that. And I think sometimes there needs to be that grace, but then sometimes it needs to be kind of like that space to be like, Okay, I'm not going to show up physically, in the same way that I would have. And that's just because of maybe some capacity that I don't have, at the point this point in time, but then also being like, not kind of beating yourself up about that.


Natalie Lue  20:57  

Yes, when dad died in March 2017, between between him passing, and I think it was sort of early to mid July, I think it was four or five other friends lost parents too. One of my closest friends lost her mother to exactly the same cancer as my father six weeks after me. And I was due to be a bridesmaid at her wedding, we're very close friends, she is godmother to you know, one of my one of daughters. But it was interesting. We were not really able to be there for each other in probably in the way that we would have expected or liked. In those last few months of our parents lives, it was so close to home. You know, her mom had been diagnosed with bowel cancer the year before my dad, and she had a totally different lifestyle to my dad, my dad was partying, like my dad had lived life. So in that way that we do as a society, you could almost understand how he had ended up ill, she was actually pretty clean living as they call it. And of course, you feel angry when your parent is diagnosed and stuff, and it feels so close to home because we didn't know how to deal with each. Well, we did. But it felt like we could barely hold space for all the grief that we had. Because when you know you're somebody is dying, you're grieving them before they're even gone. You're watching them. Go, you know, in front of you, We were both in deep pain, of course, it was hard for us to talk and we were both aware of how much the other one was struggling and knowing that we were not necessarily having the full capacity for it. And what it required, was the thing that you said that we each had to give each other some grace. And I remember being at her wedding, which was probably less than two months after her mom had passed, which mom had said, "do not cancel the wedding" you know, "Don't postpone it". And you know, her asking me to speak at the wedding. And because her father just was not obviously in a place to do that and realising you know what, right, you can get it into your head about how grief and support is supposed to go and what it means for person to show that they care. And in that moment, when she asked me to do that, I was like, I already knew, but it was so clear to me that this person really does love and care about me and and sees me as important to her and to her family. And there are what I think I stress to people is, yes, those first days and weeks, a month can matter. It is amazing how many people I heard from who they were not necessarily the closest people to me, but they they touch base with me, they checked in on me they asked, it was also amazing how I didn't hear from some people who you would most definitely expect to have heard from. And that is a common thing that I've heard about with grief. And what I had to do was let go of this need to be in control or for things to play out exactly as you think that grief and loss is supposed to play out that if you kind of say right, everything's gonna happen in the first few days, weeks, you might not see where people might show up for you at later points in different ways that you didn't necessarily expect. But I also agree as well with you that you have to know what your bandwidth is because I know that I I know I can I know I can get myself to do stuff. It's not necessarily a great quality because sometimes I can put aside my own needs to try to be there for others. And that's not necessarily what you need to do in this time. Of course, if you have the bandwidth for it, great. But if you know that you're teetering on the brink, how is you going around, they're trying to be all things to everybody else who's going through something how is that of use. I also think there's honesty is useful in this because it's better than sort of cutting off and hide in a way and saying, You know what, I really want to be there for you in a bigger way right now. But I am also really, really struggling. And so if I'm not always at the thing, or if I'm slow to reply, please do not take it, as I know that I'm ignoring you, or whatever it is. I'm not. I'm just likely really, really struggling. And I think that sometimes, that's the honesty that's needed with people. Of course, some people will be like, Wow, what is she struggling for? You know, I need them right now. But plenty of people will take it that and that those, those are the people that you need around you, you know, if a person actually expects you to forget that you are in deep pain, because they are in deep pain, that's kind of jacked up, you should be able to empathise if anything. But of course, sometimes when we're in deep pain, we don't always say or do the right or kindest thing. And that's not given us an out like, oh, wow, I've been for a loss. So I can, you know, talk badly too, or about people or, you know, mistreat, or whatever it is. But I think is acknowledging that sometimes we, when we're under great emotional stress can behave uncharacteristically. And it's that ability to recognise that we have behaved and characteristically and to acknowledge that, you know, to and apologise where needed, that actually helps with the grieving process as well. Because otherwise, if you don't, you just feel like, well, now I'm grieving. And I also feel like I've kind of been a bit of a crappy person, and the people are mad at me. So now i've got to be feeling crap about that, too. It's like how is that helping you?


Alisha  26:47  

Yeah, we don't really always talk about the ugliness of grief. And so it happens sometimes that oh, just just just comes out of the blue. And it just kind of, yeah, it strikes you. And so sometimes, you're in I guess, some kind of survival mode, can you shed light on like how we can continuously get to a point of stretching ourselves, but also it gets to the point where we are constantly in a space of being emotionally unavoidable.


Natalie Lue  27:15  

So the thing is, the thing that we have to accept at some point, preferably sooner rather than later, is the grief is not interested in us micromanaging it, which is what a lot of us want to do. We want to feel like, Oh, I've got grief under control. Because every time we think that we're, I guess, getting clever on grief, and that we have it down packed, grief is just going to switch things up for us because actually, what we've had to do, whether we were aware of it or not, is that we've have to learn how to live without losses. And that it's not that we sort of obliterated and we get to this finite point of forever being healed. Which is what so many of us try to do. Instead, what it is, is that grief comes at us from different angles, and often in unexpected ways. And in that way that we like to do as humans where we want to be in control of stuff, it's like, okay, so I lost somebody to a bereavement, or I went through this breakup or whatever it was. So in our mind, the only time that we should maybe feel upset about that is if we were thinking about the person, or maybe something else related to that came up. But we could be watching, I don't know, something completely unrelated, maybe joyful, and suddenly find ourselves in tears, because it's opened up this outlet for us to express ourselves. A big thing that happened for me, was that about six months or so after my dad died, I realised that I needed to take more time off. And I didn't know what that more was, I just knew that I needed to release myself out of as many commitments as possible, and to slow things right down. Because when I taken time off, when he had initially passed away, and then I had gone back as such to work, it felt like I did not fit back into my old life. Now, I have experienced the growth of grief for sure. So that what I talked about in that episode that you mentioned, and what I mean by that is that even though there's a part of you that thinks well its grief, something bad has happened. It sucks. And so you don't think you're supposed to be feeling anything good. I've experienced. I experienced so much joy in the aftermath of his passing. It was weird. Like where I spent a lot of time on my own. I spent a lot of time out in nature. There were times where I was howling, crying and there were times when I was cracking up laughing when I tell people about it. The day the dad died it's funny as hell. Like it's really really funny I realised my family a bond because they could make a comedy out of the antics of my family you know, like the I never forget that Undertaker arriving and one of my cousin's saying, "I want to stay in the room because I've always been really curious about Undertaker's" I was like "get out" taking the Mick. It was hilarious like, before dad died, like one of my aunts like letting out a loud sob and another aren't telling her to quiet then. It was thinking back on these things that sometimes had me absolutely crying with laughter just at the absurdity, but also the joy of it, I actually think it's exactly what dad would have wanted it to be like, but also, in the, you know, you talk about like the abruptness of grief and the difficulty of an eye. I have had times really strong I found this year. In the months running up to the five year anniversary, I found a tough, I was in some weird headspace. The year after he died, I experienced burnout. And it was going through those experiences that forced me to grieve in a different way. Everything. I think sometimes we think our grief is one way or a few ways. But grief, different things are going to come at you and you agree from different angles. And what you learn to do is to not try and be in control of everything. And you learn to feel your feelings, even though maybe you've wanted to avoid them because you realise Oh, hold on a second, it's better when I feel my feelings and when I don't. And so I think that grief brings you into a deeper relationship with yourself. And so it comes out of what is often something very difficult and painful. But it really can connect you to a deeper level not just of knowing yourself at a deeper level of joy as well about life. I think it gives you the sense a deeper sense of valuing yourself and valuing your presence here on earth


Alisha  32:08  

Definitely, definitely I've definitely felt that I think I've even I don't know if I've changed my complete outlook of death. But it's definitely a lot lighter than it was before. And I think talking about that having that deeper relationship with yourself. I think it's so it becomes such an internal process that you just become so grateful and so full of like gratitude that you know, this person or these people have come into your life and you are able to kind of like be in that moment. And I think that allows us to recognise that yes, maybe we didn't turn up in the same way that we wanted to maybe we weren't we were restricted. And maybe there were parts of ways in which we wanted to like, be present at certain aspects. But then it just brings you back to this understanding that you've tried the best that you can, but at the same time, like you remember the memories. And I think those memories are so important. And those those moments of, as you mentioned before, like being around your family or being around your loved ones. And also just remembering how hilarious everyone is and how everyone has a different role to play and how they're experiencing different things. And like the jokes that are played off of that. So I think, yes, we have those, you know, times where we can be hypersensitive or sensitive. But I think also, you know, being able to kind of like, laugh out loud and like, hold on to those memories are so sacred.


Natalie Lue  33:28  

I mean, that really touched me what you were saying there because I do think you know, that we do kind of go, oh, yeah, that probably wasn't my best moment oh I wish I'd done this. I wish I'd done that bearing in mind myself. My father were estranged for four years before his cancer diagnosis. And then 10 months later, he was gone. And it would be very easy for me to be like, Oh, you see, we should just stay talking. But that's not how it was supposed to be. And I think that part of grief actually, is that you is you're grieving or the "yous" that you've been. And, you know, one of the things that I've had to grieve is, I'm never I'm never gonna get that father they always wanted you know, my father was just absent and fakie father in a lot of respects, in my in my younger days, and it was grieving that because before he died before he was diagnosed, you have this sense of maybe he'll come through. Yeah, yeah. And then part of the grief is grieving that like, this year, five years down the road, I find myself grieving and acknowledging quiet anger that had been there about the estrangement, and it felt like it five years it was really for whatever reason able to come up. But even if it's not about a bereavement, that whether it's redundancy or fallout or a breakup or whatever, Whoever it is, we grieve the person who we thought we were going to be, or we grieve the person who we thought we were. And as part of that grief, there's this reconciliation where at some point, you just find yourself starting to make peace with yourself. And it's surrendering to that and realising that you're not in control, but also that not all of the best of you is left behind in the past. It's still here. And it can still be as well.


Alisha  35:30  

Definitely, definitely, there's a quote by Maya Angelou that says that, and when great souls die after a period of peace blooms, slowly and always irregularly spaces for the kind of soothing electric vibration our senses and stored never to be the same whisper to us, they existed we can be be and be better for they existed. And I think that kind of you talked about


Natalie Lue  35:54  

I wish I could remember exactly. Remembered Exactly. But I think when my father passed away, a teacher at school gave them this book, it's called lifetimes. And it's it's, it's the quote was something like there was this fantastic line right at the end of the book. And it said, you know, when everything, everything, there was lifetimes, and because it takes you through like frogs, and all these different animals, and humans, everything has a lifetime. And you know, there's a beginnings and ends. And then there's living in between, basically how we got to live in whatever our in between is. And I just remember feeling so touched by this children's book. And I remember taking a photo of that page and returning to it many times in my sense of trying to make sense because we are here still now. And no matter what it is, that's knocked us, no matter what loss it is, that we've been through, something does get to grow out of that. Now, of course, if somebody says, Oh, well, would you want that person to die? Or go through that difficulty so that you can get that thing? No, of course, we wouldn't. However, fact of the matter is, there is no loss that we have been through that something hasn't grown out of it, that we haven't grown and grown out of it, even if we don't initially see it.


Alisha  37:15  

You mentioned before, like how some people when you go through grief, some of the people that you thought would have been there and not necessarily there and some of those people who you wouldn't even think with that would come through. So how do you think that in this time that we can forge new communities and energise new waves of I guess, holding space for each other?


Natalie Lue  37:36  

It is hard, when people who you would never in a million years afford would not be around you or making a concerted effort when when you were going through something. But I also think that there's a lot to be said for giving a bit of grace, in the sense of don't make it into some big, horrible story about how this person is just this evil, whatever, who doesn't want to whatever, because every human is struggling. And we don't know how other people's losses and struggles presented themselves. And also, loss and grief, basically puts us into contact with other people's loss and grief. And some people don't want to deal with that. Some people don't literally don't know how to deal with that. And when they see us in pain, and they see us feeling they feel out of their depth, and they don't know what to do. And so it's more of a reflection of their emotional struggles of their emotional availability than it is of how much they care for us. Does that make sense?


Alisha  38:46  

Yeah, yes. Yes, it does. It does. It does. Even when you're talking about emotional variability, that's when I'm in and not emotional avoid avoidability. No, because I think a lot of times, I've come into contact with a lot of people who are actually very open about the fact that they're just not emotionally available. And that does kind of like really speak to, you know, me to think about ways in which I can find new ways of, of, I guess, communicating to them and trying to understand that okay, so what's the best way that you're talking? If you're not if you're not, if you're not emotionally available? What is what capacity do you have?


Natalie Lue  39:25  

One of the things that we do as humans is we can be a little bit simplistic about the people around us. And so regardless of what we actually know about someone, so their typical habits of relating, when we're going through a difficulty, we expect them to spontaneously combust into somebody else, because of what we're going through. Some people it's not their strong suit, and it's not a reflection on us. It's not a reflection necessarily on the relationship. It's just a reflection of where they are at emotionally. And it's looking at well, what are they strong at?Like there's one of my closest friends, we didn't mass we didn't talk massively in that time after dad passed, but she is a rock solid. And she is there. So she's not really the type that's going to be like, let me call up and check upon you, like all the time. But I also know that she's there. And this is where we have to be honest about our relationships, because sometimes as well, I'll give an example. You know, my, and I think a lot of people can relate to this book, specifically in African Caribbean culture, you know, like your family don't really want to talk too much. Could you just put those emotions away? Please? So I have not exactly. I think initially, I felt like, until I really want to try and have conversations with some of my extended family about Dad? But then what has been lovely is that actually, at times, my extended family who are not particularly emotionally expressive, have said, or said, or done little things that have made me feel really connected and close. And if I hadn't, sort of shifted that perception, I there was one time and we were at a christening. And there was this moment where I looked up, and I thought I saw Dad standing at the side, side of the room, like you normally would sort of his hands on his hips, you know, sort of looking about. And I've turned and I caught eyes with my aunt and she goes, Oh, you thought he was there to teach you? And it was this this lovely moment of connection between us. And so we have to part of what happens with grief is I think that we have to be open to some of the unexpectedness of it, which is annoying, because we already we're already dealing with the unexpected of grief, full stop. But there's the unexpected thing that some people will maybe disappoint us because they don't have the emotional capacity for for what it is that we need. But also some people will surprise us and that no, they're not going to necessarily show up and show out like the way that maybe we think people should, but then they will actually surprise us in small ways and be exactly what we need in that moment.


Alisha  42:16  

Yeah. Oh my gosh, amazing. Thank you so much, Natalie, honestly, like I've learned so much and like, just the transparency and comfortability. And the vulnerability has been amazing in this podcast. One thing before we close out, so I want to again, hopefully be 60 seconds. I'm gonna sing try to hopefully not outta tune, but you have to guess the artist the title and the year. I can give you two minutes just in case cuz I think actually having a year that's quite hard. So yeah


Natalie Lue  42:55  

It depends on what music it is because I'm 45 so I'm very strong on certain eras of music, but if you start trying to do all this drill, and whatever other stuff, yeah, you ain't gonna get much out of me for that one, but okay.


Alisha  43:10  

Okay, so, "I'm every woman, it's all in me"


Natalie Lue  43:16  

Chaka Khan. Yeah, unless it's either Chaka Khan or Chacon kind of Whitney Houston. Chaka Khan did the original. I'm every woman. Yeah. I feel like it's the sort of early 80s like sort of 1983


Alisha  43:31  

Almost late, It's 1978 so late 70s


Natalie Lue  43:35  

Oh year after I was born.


Alisha  43:38  

Okay. So next one is "the moment I wake up, before I put on my makeup"


Natalie Lue  43:46  

Say a little prayer for you. Aretha Franklin? Yeah. I'm going to struggle on the year but I'm gonna just throw a guess out there and say 1968


Alisha  44:02  

YES! on point, on point, on point! Okay, and the last one, this is going to be hard because this is kind of like a bit fast. So, okay, "Question Tell me what you think about me i buy my own diamonds and I buy my own rings". Oh, yeah.


Natalie Lue  44:12  

Yeah. It's Destiny's Child. Yeah. Independent, independent woman. And it is the year is, I'm gonna say, as really tough call. It's either 99 or 2000.


Alisha  44:31  

Yes well done its 2000. I'm gonna give you that. Well done. Thank you so much. Thank you for listening to my voice because sometimes it's like


Natalie Lue  44:44  

I'm in admiration that you will, you'll sing the tunes of this game.


Alisha  44:50  

Even though I play it and I don't want any copyright issues. I don't want let me just see it myself. So yeah, but yeah, that was amazing.


All the topics in this season touch back to you sowing seeds of exchange. If anything in this episode spoke to you at all, I always love hearing thoughts and expressions that can be birthed from single or collective stories. As I'm on this journey to learn, heal and design from this space, please note that this is also a personal invitation and not everything may be relative to you. Carving your own space is so essential whatever that may be. Remember to follow or subscribe to this podcast and you can find me on Twitter and Instagram at @aformorenike and join during my quarterly newsletter. You can also support my work or advocacy by the different donation links on these pages. Be sure to hit up is Seven A Gang on tide on Apple Music. they are the fab fab South Korean collective whose music has been playing this episode. All right. Take care.


Transcribed by https://otter.ai