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Mailbag #2 - TTFA PREMIUM - Transcript

This is a transcript of a “TTFA Premium” episode entitled “Mailbag #1 - TTFA PREMIUM" The text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future for accuracy.

Listen to the episode here.


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Hello, Terribles. It’s Nora. Maybe you’ve heard me talk about this already, but we have a new subscription service called TTFA Premium. For 8 bucks a month, you can sign up, support our show, and get ad-free episodes and bonus content. This is a little bit of an excerpt from one of our bonus episodes. Enjoy!


Nora McInerny: Hello, Terribles. It's Nora McInerny. You are listening to TTFA Premium. It is time for another mailbag episode. In these episodes, our intrepid behind-the-scenes gal, Jordan Turgeon.

Jordan Turgeon: Hello.

Nora McInerny: Jordan Turgeon sifts through your questions that you have submitted via email, via DM, via comment, and we answer them. We answer them here in the TTFA mailbag. If you would like to submit a question, if you'd like to get into the mailbag, send us an email at podcast@noraborealis.com, or you can send us a DM. We are on Instagram at @ttfapodcast.

Jordan Turgeon: So this is from Maritza: "My husband lost his father unexpectedly last year, and I don't want to normalize and not talking about his father. What's the best way to show the people you love who are grieving, that you love them even though you can't fully understand what they're going through, because you haven't gone through it? More importantly, how do I bring love, joy and strength back to our lives?" That's like a triple whammy question.

Nora McInerny: It's a triple whammy. It's a triple whammy. Can you read it again for me?

Jordan Turgeon: Yep. Yeah. We'll tackle this in chunks. 

Nora McInerny: Let's take it one at a time.

Jordan Turgeon: So this listener's husband lost his father, and she's worried about normalizing not talking about his father. And Nora, I feel like this is something that you talk about a lot, even with regard to losing your father and your son losing his father about like, you guys talk about them all the time.

Nora McInerny: Yeah. Yeah. And I don't just say, like, "Remember your dad's dead," you know. And I, I talk about their life, you know, especially after a year, you're still ... very often acute grief can last like eight months, maybe longer, depending on how the person has or has not dealt with it, which, you know, when you're dealing with also the fact that this happened within the span of a global pandemic as well. It's a lot. It's a lot. And sometimes we can sort of not process things by just staying busy like I did or getting really caught up in things that don't matter. And we can kind of try to push down, ignore it and hope it will just sort of go away. But to this day, the thing that I love so much is when people talk about my dad and people will talk about my husband and not just like, "Oh, they're dead," or "Oh, God, it's been so hard when they were sick and dying." But when they talk about their life and what this person meant to them. And I think that, you know, sharing memories, saying like, "Oh, my God, remember when your dad said this, remember this," making space for the parts of his dad that will always matter to you, if that makes sense, the parts of him that that stay with you. You know, when I ran into one of my dad's old former colleagues at a very unexpected location, just highly unexpected, at a volleyball tournament and my dad's former colleague was there watching his daughter play. And he was so out of context. I was stunned. And we both cried, you know, like we both were like, oh, my God. Because seeing somebody who knew my dad in, like, this different, you know, sort of context and like, oh, and he just poured out all of these memories of my dad. Meadows, if you're out there. Thank you. That was so sweet. It was so wonderful. So magical. Just being two emotional people at a at a high school club volleyball game. And when I get like, pieces like that from people, even from my own family, when we can talk about our dad, talk about Aaron, like I love that. I absolutely, I absolutely love that. And there's, I think ways to do that that aren't like just sitting down and being like, "And now we're going to talk about your dad, OK?" And you're going to give me those feelings. You're going to tell me how you feel. But I think that there's a way to to sort of work it into conversation because it should be normal. Right? Like he's thinking about his dad, you're thinking about his dad. And I think being reminded that you're not the only person missing your person is really meaningful.

Jordan Turgeon: Yeah. So the second part of this question was: What's the best way to show the people you love who are grieving that you love them even though you can't fully understand what they're going through? And I think what they're trying to get at here is, you know, when people say, "I understand," like everyone's experiences are different. So, of course, you can't fully understand. How do you show them that you're there for them and you love them even though you can't fully understand their experience?

Nora McInerny: I mean, part of it is love languages, right? So I don't know who your husband receives love, but you probably do. And if you can continue to love him the way that he likes to receive love. So if he is a words of affirmation person — by the way, this is assuming that everybody knows the five love languages. It's a book. It's also very simple online quiz. And I think it's really, really helpful to realize that sometimes what we need or we think we need is not what other people need. And he also may not know what he needs for a long time. I did not know what I needed. And we can know a person and still be learning them. And the best example of that that I have is that my siblings and I all grew up in the same house, share DNA, share parents, share a very common lived experience. And yet this past year, at Aaron's deathaversary, not one of them called me or texted me, Jordan. Not one. Not one. Not one. And I fired up that group chat, and I was like, "It can go two ways." This is also called personal growth. I was about to be like, "Here's more evidence that I'm the middle child that nobody loves." And instead I said, "Hi, I'm sad today. This is the day that Aaron died. I don't know if you remembered, but here's what I need. I need you guys to next year on November 25th, call me, text me. It has to happen before nine a.m. Thank you so much." My siblings were like, "Oh, wow. I didn't not know that. I would not want to be reminded and I would want to be alone. So I was just I was just treating you the way that that I wanted to be treated." And so it's not about treating the people who love the way we want to be treated. It's about treating them the way they need to be treated. And to me, love is a verb and we show up however we can as consistently as we can. My current husband, when he's ... he lost his brother a few years ago. And I assumed that he would want to talk about it, you know, like ... "Let's get in there. Look into my eyes. I want you to, like, cry, sob into my chest. That's what I want from you." And that's not how he processes loss at all. Like, he has cried. Sure. But really, it's like he ... it comes out in like fits and spurts. And I do talk about Michael. I bring Michael up. Our kids talk about Michael a lot. But I was expecting him to want to lay it out, look at it and repack it up into something the way that I would. And that's just not how he is. So this is also a long tail, right? Like his dad's been dead for one year. His dad will be dead for the rest of your husband's life, for the rest of your life. And understanding too that time will change this in ways that are, that will sometimes ease the pain and sometimes make it more acute. So as he reaches the age that his dad was, as you either have children or don't have children or, you know, your children grow up, like there will be all these sort of like milestones and things that may bring it back up or may make it more apparent to him. And so every person is different. But I do think like truly saying like, "I am here. I am here to validate the fact that your dad died, and this is I'm here to validate. It did happen. Here's the stamp. Confirmed. I saw the body." But to truly tell people that we care about like, this is hard and like to say, like, "I am here and I don't know how to do this, and I know you don't know how to do it either." Because guess what? We are all amateurs every single time, Jordan. It's so amazing to me. Every single time it is new. Every single time the variables change. And we are all new to this every single time. So as out to sea as our listener is, so is her husband. He's never done this before. His dad never died before.

Jordan Turgeon: Yeah. We're all out to sea. We're all just trying to swim.

Nora McInerny: Yeah. Treading water, treading water, treading water.


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