Life After Loss Podcast

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Life After Loss

Griefline's podcast series explores the unique grief and loss experience of people impacted by natural disasters, and how they rediscovered life after loss.

Each episode is released to mark the anniversary of one of Australia’s most significant natural disasters.  As a testament to the extraordinary nature of Australians living so-called ordinary lives, we witness personal grief and loss stories that can be harrowing, fascinating, maddening, funny and inspirational all at the same time.

The series also features some of the world’s most respected experts in grief and loss whose illuminating insights, evidence-based guidance and occasional a-ha moments help make sense of, and normalise grief in all its forms.  

Life After Loss is designed to help de-stigmatise grief and demonstrate that through connection, compassion and the sharing of lived experience, many of us can find a way to adapt to loss and start living again.

The Life After Loss cover art features Katherine Boland’s artwork ‘Veneer #2’. Created with burnt leaves which had fallen, still scorching hot from the sky, during the Black Summer bushfires in 2019/20. 

“I wanted the leaves to appear ghost-like against the background, speaking to the disappearance of our native forests caused by deforestation. The title of this body of work references the lack of respect we have for the natural world.”

Life After Loss Episode 1

The Black Summer Bushfires - 2 years gone

Release Date: Friday 31 December 2021

Themes: Climate grief, grief comparison, loss of hope, meaning-making 

Listen:  

Released to mark the Anniversary of the 2019/20 summer bushfires which impacted communities across NSW, Victoria, Queensland, ACT, Western Australia and South Australia.  With an official death toll of 33 people including 9 firefighters and a further 450 people later dying from summer smoke. The fires destroyed more than 3000 human homes and razed an estimated 17 million hectares with over one billion precious creatures lost.

Through conversations with bushfire survivors Katherine Boland and Jenifer James we learn about their lived experience of Climate Grief – a grief presentation on the rise as the world witnesses the toll of ecological losses. Our conversation with world renowned grief expert David Kessler provides us with an understanding of micro and macro griefs and discusses the futility of grief comparison.  He also shares his own experience of profound losses and how these led him on a search for meaning and later his book; Finding Meaning-The Sixth Stage of Grief .

Katherine Boland is an award-winning artist and writer who lives on the southeast coast of Australia. On January 4, 2020, Katherine found herself fearing for her life as the fires came roaring into Merimbula – forcing her to take shelter along with her 90-year-old mother.  In the aftermath of the fires, she was selected to participate in OUTPUT: ART AFTER FIRE with one of her works selected for a digital art competition held at the United Nations COP conference in Glasgow.

For Jenifer James, the bushfires forced her to take on a new identity. Formerly a respected palliative care nurse and educator, Jenifer relinquished her lifelong devotion to humans to become a wildlife warrior. In the days following the fires, Jenifer organised a 120-strong team of volunteers who risked their lives to take food and water out to desperate animals. Jenifer is part of the 2021 – 2022 cohort of Women’s Environmental Leadership Australia (WELA).

The episode also features excerpts from Andrew Kaneider’s film Mourning Country and the perspective of Noel Butler – a Budawang elder from the Yuin Nation, who lost his home and the aboriginal cultural centre he founded with his wife Trish in the same  bushfires.  For Noel the loss is much greater than shelter. It’s the unimaginable loss of flora and fauna that he was so connected to… having witnessed decades of disregard for the natural world. The film was made on the country of the Dhurga language group known as Yuin. Griefline pays its respects to the people, culture and values of the land that has been nurtured by Elders of the past and present for thousands of years.

Credits:

This episode of the Life After Loss podcast was brought to you by Griefline thanks to the NAB Foundation Community Grants Program.  

  • Co-Hosts – Louisa Smith and Amanda Peppard 
  • Audio Editor – Phoenix Mason
  • Musical score and soundscape thanks to Tilly Vickers-Willis
  • Creative Producer – Amanda Peppard 

Life After Loss Episode 2

The Floods of 2011 and 2022

Release Date: Wednesday 11th May 2022

Themes: Climate grief, grief comparison, loss of hope, meaning-making 

Listen:  

Released to witness the loss and grief of those affected by floods, with a focus on the 2011 Queensland floods, and the 2022 NSW and Queensland floods. In 2011 Queensland was hit by floods that left 97 communities flooded or isolated and cost 36 people their lives. 2.5 million people were impacted with damages costing more than $5 billion dollars.  It was said to be a 1 in 100 year flood but in 2022 it happened all over again when record rains and flooding smashed communities in Queensland and NSW. As at May 2022 the Insurance Council of Australia recorded claims of $2.3 billion dollars with reports of 23 people being lost and around 30,000 homes and businesses being flooded, at least once if not twice or three times over. 

Our candid conversation with multiple flood survivor Linda Godley, explores the experience of traumatic grief and re-traumatisation. While our in-depth interview with revered grief and loss academic Dr Robert A. Neimeyer, PhD, examines the possibility of tragedy and transformation going hand in hand.

Dr Neimeyer has published more than 30 books and currently directs the Portland Institute for Loss and Transition, while his theories on meaning reconstruction and continuing bonds have partly informed the Griefline approach to grief adaptation. With his profound understanding and experience of grief, Robert provides us with an illuminative explanation of traumatic grief, including the connection between grief and trauma, how anger plays a part in our grief response, coping with re-traumatisation and the purpose of meaning reconstruction.  While his suggestions for extricating ourselves from ‘sticky grief’ include mindfulness and rituals.

Linda Godley is an everyday Aussie who adores and fiercely protects her family. A dressmaker and proud matriarch of three adult children and two grand-children, she lives in Grantham, Queensland, a town that has been decimated by multiple floods. Their first experience was on the afternoon of 10 January 2011, when a deadly torrent ravaged the town, tragically killing 13 community members. Like so many other residents, the Godley family lost all their possessions and experienced traumatic grief, particularly Linda’s daughter Katherine, who at only 14 years old, witnessed the drowning of 3 community members and her beloved horses. Only 11 years later the town was wiped out all over again, leaving the family re-traumatised and fearful that this could happen to them yet again. Though the foundations of Linda’s life have been rocked, and her sense of hope shaken to the core, her fighting spirit shines through in this raw and very real interview.

Resources

Robert A. Neimeyer, PhD: 

  • www.portlandinstitute.org
  • Facebook @PortlandInstitute  / Twitter @PortlandLossRead:
  • Book: New Techniques of Grief Therapy (Series in Death, Dying, and Bereavement), 2021
  • Journal: Death studies through Taylor & Francis

Thanks to Amanda Gearing, Author and Interviewer of Katherine Godley, 2011

The Torrent: A true story of heroism and survival, 2nd edition. (2017, January 29). UQP. https://www.uqp.com.au/books/the-torrent-a-true-story-of-heroism-and-survival-2nd-edition

Linda Godley Facebook @lindagodley

Credits

This episode of the Life After Loss podcast was brought to you by Griefline thanks to the NAB Foundation Community Grants Program.  

  • Co-Hosts – Louisa Smith and Amanda Peppard
  • Original Music – Tilly Vickers-Willis, https://soundcloud.com/tillyvw
  • Audio Engineer – Daryl Missen, Purple Wax www.purplewax.com.au
  • Creative Producer – Amanda Peppard

Funded by the NAB Foundation Community Grant Program

More Australian communities are being impacted by natural disasters as our climate changes. NAB Foundation Community Grants aim to help safeguard communities with funding for projects that prepare for natural disasters, support long-term recovery and build resilience against future disasters.

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