You are currently viewing Episode 169 – Lessons from Grief Conference

Episode 169 – Lessons from Grief Conference

In March, I was able to attend the BYU Life after Loss Conference and it was so good. I took lots of notes and I’m going to break down two days full of speeches into bite sized lessons just for you.

Life after miscarriage, stillbirth or babyloss can feel lonely, and isolating. But there are so many universal truths about grief that connect all of us.

The speakers all had different stories, but what tied us all together was our love and our desire to heal. What a gift to be with other people who understood. I want to share just a bit of that spirit with you today.


A few weeks ago, I attended the BYU, Brigham Young University, Life After Loss Conference. There were over 500 people who got together for two days to learn about and share their grief and their love, as well as their faith. I took a lot of notes that I want to share with you about the points that stood out to me.

And this is really going to be unique to me and things that stood out to me that I wanted to bring to you. And I want to encourage you to just take from this episode, the little nuggets, even if it’s one thing that I say that is meant for you right now. Um, I think it can be really overwhelming sometimes to just get so much information with this podcast.

If you ever go to a conference, if you do an online thing, if you’re in a support group, um, If you’re, you know, and if it’s not even grief related, right, we go and we learn, we’re doing school, we’re doing conferences. Reading books. I always say just take one little nugget of wisdom one thing that speaks to you and You’ve already won.

You don’t need to take in everything. Just get one thing The the theme of this conference comes from a scripture that is unique to our faith But it is in Doctrine and Covenants chapter 84 verse 88 and it says I will go before your face. I will be on your right hand and on your left. And mine angels round about you to bear you up.

So this really was a conference that was focused on faith, in our Savior, and grief. And so I love that mix. That’s something that really helped me through my faith journey, through my grief journey. And so here are some of The lessons, and I just have to say I love this conference. I loved all the speakers.

I took a lot of notes. I took a lot of pictures of slides. I could not share it all, of course, because it was like two full days of, of things. So I just pulled out a little bit, but, , we don’t always get to attend events like this. Like I have actually never been to a grief conference like this one.

Um, so I’m just giving you the, the mini, like the Cliff Notes version. Uh, and I also have to say that attending this conference was kind of emotionally taxing and I’ve needed some time to recover and I feel really good now. Even though I talk about grief every day. And like, this is the world I live in.

It was a lot to be in that space of holding and feeling the energy of so much pain. There were some really tragic stories and it was a lot. So how I manage all this is to recognize what’s happening in the moment. So I made sure I cared for my body by having lots of water and nourishing food. I tried to get enough sleep before each day.

I brought everything in my purse that I needed so I could be comfortable, like lots of chapstick, um, and, you know, gum and whatever else I, I thought I might need. I also let myself rest after leaving the conference so I could process everything, and I probably will be processing this for a long time and really thinking about it and going over my notes.

And taking these lessons and researching I took a lot of notes like find this book or read this book or look up this researcher or whatever it was and so I almost just gave myself a lot of homework to take home from the conference. So I’ve got I’ve got that too, but I think that’s going to be really helpful.

Really excited. Um, I loved seeing what other people had done because of their grief, and it made me want to do more as well. One of my goals is to speak at this conference, so I solidified plans for how I want to accomplish that goal, including who I want to be and what I want to do to give myself the best chance of being there next year.

And maybe it’ll be the year after that. I don’t know. But I do know that if you make a goal, If you see something cool that you want to do, make that goal and then figure out who you need to become to be there. So as I was there, I knew I wanted to speak. I actually applied this year, but I didn’t find out to the very last second and I didn’t have anything prepared.

So I just threw a video together and submitted it. So I wasn’t like shocked when I didn’t get chosen to speak, but now I know, now I see the caliber of people. Now I see the way they present. Now I saw kind of what. what it was like and I learned and I observed and now I have even more information to help me as I apply next time and as I work this year to create a super awesome speech or talk that will, be able to be shared with so many more people.

Okay. So here are my lessons. These are in no particular order. These again are just little snippets and I’ve tried to acknowledge who shared them. Um, but if you want to know more, you can always reach out to me and I’ll share like the list of speakers and all of that. Um, and I think it might be online.

I’m going to see if this is online, if there’s repeats and if there is, I will link that in the show notes or I will send it out to my email list. Um, if you’re not on that, you need to get on that. Just go to my website, smoothstonescoaching. com. You can sign up there, but yeah, I think they will have some of the, they were recording everything.

So I’m hoping it will be available online for free. Okay, here we go. Uh, the first one, you will hear what you need to hear at the time you need to hear it. If you’ve been with me for a while, you know that after my daughter, Lauren was stillborn, I went to BYU women’s conference, which is a huge, like a really big conference with like thousands and thousands of people.

And just, you know, Probably hundreds of classes that you can choose from. I went to that conference looking for hope, looking for direction, looking. I actually just had a memory pop up on Facebook that was like saying how I’m going to try to find inspiration and hope and, um, healing. And so I went to that conference looking for all the classes on trials, but there’s also classes on just every subject.

But I heard things that I needed to hear. And at this grief conference, you know, I’m it’s 11 years later, kind of the same time of year. Just, it was interesting. what I needed to hear. It was interesting to observe myself, um, being at a grief conference. And like I said before, , sometimes we go into these things and we think we have to absorb every bit of it, but you really, really don’t.

All you need to do is listen to yourself, listen from your heart, and allow things to come to you that you need at the time. And the rest, you can just let it go. We don’t have to beat ourselves up because we didn’t catch everything, because we didn’t resonate with everything, because it was really overwhelming, and we only really remember one speaker.

It’s like, yeah, that’s great. That’s good. I, that has always been a principle I’ve lived by with anything self help related is like if you read an entire book and there’s just one sentence or one chapter that. you really needed, that’s all you needed and you can let the rest go. So you will hear what you need to hear at the time you need to hear it.

What I needed 11 years ago versus what I needed now, it’s different and that’s good. That shows that I’ve been evolving and growing in my grief and in my life. And so if you’re in that space where you want to learn and you want to grow, just take it one step at a time. But the next thing I learned from this grief conference is that grief is connecting, not connecting.


A lot of times we do get this idea that grief is so lonely, it’s so isolating, like it’s so unique to each one of us that, you know, we just feel alone. And I hear that so often from my clients, from people I talk to, that they just feel like nobody understands. But grief is really connecting to be in a space with 500 plus people who all are grieving Someone and I actually loved a little detail that they did so at a conference, you know You have your little name tag and it says your name and where you’re from But then as you walked into the conference, they had these little stickers with forget me nots and you could write your person’s name on it and then stick it on your name tag.

And I thought that was such a beautiful little touch, like so simple, but so meaningful. So almost everyone did that and you could look and see like, how many people are they grieving. Who are they hear for? You could talk to people. You could use the name of their person.

It was really beautiful. And this was not a baby loss conference. This was just life after loss so any kind of loss, but it didn’t matter like it really didn’t matter Who they lost, how they lost them, when they lost them, like none of those details mattered. The only thing that mattered , was that we all loved people who are no longer physically in our lives.

And that was a beautiful energy to feel and a beautiful space. And it’s something that I personally like, that’s a space I feel comfortable. That’s my jam. So grief really. When you strip it all away, when you like take away all the noise out of your mind about like comparison and judgment and which losses are worse or which are Better like quote unquote whatever that means if you really do the work to strip away at its core Grief is connecting and honestly more people in the world are grieving than not I would guess We just don’t always talk about it So I love that space to just you didn’t have to talk about it the grief conference We just all knew and also it was really easy to talk about it at a grief conference It’s kind of similar to the retreat.

I went to earlier this spring. It’s like so freeing to just You Know that you don’t, you can be, you know, normal, like talk about the weather and jokes and what shows you’re watching, and also talk about deep, griefy, traumatic things, and it’s all allowed. Like, that’s a beautiful space. So maybe that’s a bonus tip, is like, find places where you feel comfortable being fully you.

So whether it’s coming and coaching with me or going to a retreat, going to a conference, um, just being in a group online or in person, I think it’s so powerful. Jennie Taylor spoke and if you don’t know who she is, you can look her up, but she is an amazing woman and I have followed her story for a really long time.

I don’t have details. Like I said, , this is just snippets of notes. I, I didn’t totally look up all the backstory, but I think it was about maybe seven years ago, her husband was the mayor of their kind of small town. And she had all these little kids. And she had seven kids at the time. Her husband had done multiple tours, um, in the Middle East with the national guard and he was almost, almost home.

And. One of the people that they were working with and teaching like how a lot of the work over in like Afghanistan was to teach the Afghan military how to, you know, be. The best they can be. I whatever you call it. Um, and one of those people turned on him and killed him and left her a widow with all these Children at home.

And it was a very big story here in Utah where they’re from. But also, I think nationally, it’s just so tragic and so sad. And she just, I mean, is Mhm. incredible. And I know that she vulnerably shares her hard moments, but to look at her, she’s someone who looked like she really was able to, continue on her husband and her own legacy to really just be so poised, so able to articulate what she wanted to say, to be an inspiration, to be, strong and also vulnerable.

And just, I, I loved listening to her. I was so excited when I saw her name on the list, but a quote that she shared, and I think it’s just something Someone told her maybe or she said but it was this and Write this on a post it. God can work wonders through people who are not where they thought they would be.

I’m going to say that one more time. God can work wonders through people who are not where they thought they would be. And I know that almost all of you listening are just here somewhere where you didn’t think you would be. You don’t have the family you thought you would have. You don’t have it on the timeline you thought you would have.

You don’t have as many children as you thought you would have. Your heart’s broken and you didn’t think that’s where you would be. Right? You had plans for a busy full nursery and now you have silence. And listen, I just, I love this powerful, it’s one sentence, but it’s so powerful, right? Like we had plans, we had ideas of what we thought our life would look like.

And that’s not where we are. And that’s probably not where we ever were going to be. Right? We just imagined it. We were wrong about what our life was going to look like. But it feels really like the rug got pulled out from under us. But what she’s saying here is you can still do amazing things, whether it’s just being there for one person, or whether it’s doing, you know, big grief goals, God can work wonders through people who are not where they thought they would be.

Jenny Taylor. She’s incredible. Look her up.

One of the scriptures that I don’t like, this was not the theme of the conference. Um, I don’t think anybody coordinated this, but a lot of people use the same scripture and it is John chapter 14. Verses 18 and 19, and it says I will not leave you comfortless. I will come to you yet a little while, and the world seeth me no more, but ye see me.

Because I live, ye shall live also. And I love that scripture. Um, I will not leave you comfortless. I will come to you. And I know that sometimes it does feel like you’ve been left comfortless. And it does feel like you’re alone. But we know that God cannot lie. And so I think we can cling to this. And to our faith.

And a lot of people talked about too just angels and our people that we love being a lot closer than we think, and that they will also come to us. And someone even mentioned, I didn’t write this down, but I loved it. They mentioned like really praying and, and I don’t know, like everyone who listened has a different faith journey, faith, Um, practices, but they really talked about praying that maybe if we need help, that it would be our person, right?

It would be someone we know and love who would come and serve us. And I really believe that that’s true. Um, that’s something that, you know, whether you call it guardian angels, whether we just believe our loved ones are nearby. I think that practice of asking and saying, Hey, Today’s going to be hard. Can, can grandma come and be with me?

Can my baby be nearby? Whatever it is, whatever you need help with. It’s almost like that phone a friend in, um, what, who wants to be a millionaire? I know that’s kind of old. Is that still on? But it’s like phone a friend. What if you could choose the person that helps you? I thought that was such a cool concept.

So take that and use it as you will. Um, but I loved it when it says. And maybe it’s not particularly the savior who’s coming to you, but one of his angels and the angels are our loved ones and our ancestors. So um, ask for that. Okay. Another thing that came up multiple times, unprompted in different speeches that I went to was this quote.

I’m going to read the quote and then talk about it. Um, It’s a slightly longer than normal, but I’m, it makes more sense if I just read the whole thing. So it is by D. Todd Christofferson. , he says some misunderstand the promises of God to mean that obedience to him yields specific outcomes on a fixed schedule.

They might think if I diligently serve a mission, God will bless me. With a happy marriage and children. If, or if I refrain from doing school work on the Sabbath day, God will bless me with good grades. Or if I pay tithing, God will bless me with that job I’ve been wanting. If life doesn’t fall out precisely this way or according to an expected timetable, they may feel betrayed by God.

But things are not so mechanical in the divine economy. We ought not to think of God’s plan as a cosmic vending machine , Where we, 1. Select a desired blessing, 2. Insert the required sum of good works, and 3. The order is promptly delivered. God will indeed honor His covenants and promises to each one of us.

We need not worry about that. The atoning power of Jesus Christ, who descended below all things, and then ascended on high, and who possesses all power in heaven and in earth, ensures that God can and will fulfill His promises. It is essential that we honor and obey His laws, but not every blessing predicated on obedience to law is shaped, designed, and timed according to our expectations.

We do our best, but must leave to Him the management of blessings both temporal and spiritual. So a lot of people brought this up and I’ve talked about this too. Kind of, I just love how they said a cosmic vending machine, right? Like we just push the buttons. We put in our, our, our money, our good works, our obedience.

And then we just, everything pops out that we want. So if you are in this mode and it really is common and it is something that a lot of us have to wrestle with, but I want you to ask yourself where in my life. Am I wanting a cosmic vending machine? And how is that affecting me? Because really this concept can sometimes hurt us because when we don’t get the thing, then we’re mad.

Then we’re banging on the machine that we’re thinking is broken and getting really, really frustrated. But I think if we understand that everything’s going to be fulfilled, it’s just not always on our timetable, um, we can kind of let go of some of that pressure that we’re putting on ourselves, pressure that we’re putting on God, pressure that we’re just putting on our life to turn out exactly how we thought, cause we know it’s not going to, um, Alright, next one I loved.

It is the plus one rule. It was Tamara and Rob McFadden. They’re a married couple and they shared together. This one’s really, really good. They said when someone is grieving and they’re talking about their person, don’t stop them. Once they are ready to change the subject, tell them you love them and validate their pain.

Now, I want to apply this to us because I think when we get in conversation with grieving people, um, we tend to want to share our story, right? It’s like, oh yeah, I relate to that. Or, oh, this is what happened to me. You know, this is what my birth was like. This is what my pain was like. This is what my mother in law said, whatever.

But it’s like, can we as grievers hold space, like that full and complete space for someone else? That is really powerful. So they call that the plus one rule. I think I don’t know if they compared it but I was thinking about like Lately, I’ve been seeing these little things on Instagram where it’s like talking about how the characters at Disneyland Never let go of the hug.

They always let the child let go of a hug and That is a rule. And so it’s kind of like that It’s like can you just stay in that hug until the grieving person? You Let’s go and then like if you want to share your stuff after or whatever, but maybe there’s some power Especially for those of us who have been invalidated who have felt like we weren’t listened to , just because we’re also grieving.

It doesn’t mean that like We can’t learn this and practice this in our conversations. And it might be even more stretching if your person that you’re talking to is complaining about something that in your mind, you’re like, Oh my goodness, you have no idea how good you have it. I wish I had your problems, but can you listen?

Can you let them finish and can you validate their pain? I mean, what a gift that is. Another really amazing tip or thing I learned was Healing is not a destination. I think that we talk about that here a lot, but I’m going to reiterate it. Cause I, again, grief is universal and these lessons are really universal.

So I love that everything fell so much in line with what I teach here on the podcast, but healing is not a destination. It’s not like you get there and then you’re happy. And I think sometimes we fall in this trap or we think, Oh my goodness, if I can just get a year out, if I can just pass this birthday, if I can just have another baby, if I can, whatever.

Then I’ll be healed. It’s not a destination. It’s a journey. It is life. It is the rest of our lives. Sometimes we get mad about that. Like, I don’t want to be doing this the rest of my life. You won’t be doing this. You’ll be doing different versions of this. So don’t think that there’s somewhere you need to be in order to be happy.

You just are healing all along. Um, there was an amazing lady named Jordan Robertson. She was so cool. And I loved her talk. It was a lot about grandparents grief. Um, and I’m not going to share all that here today, but she also used the word bibliotherapy, which I don’t know why I don’t have this word in my vocabulary is using books.

As therapy and that is exactly what I did. So I just had to point out that nerding out on grief is a legit like self care practice. It is a way to heal. And if you like to do that, then Here’s to you, if you prefer a podcast, I’m here for you too, but I love that bibliotherapy. So if you love to get lost in a book, if you love to learn, um, know that you’re doing what you need to do.

Okay, here is a poem that stood out to me, um, I think you’re gonna love it. It is called, You Don’t Just Lose Someone Once. You lose them over and over, sometimes in the same day, when the loss, momentarily forgotten, creeps up and attacks you from behind. Fresh waves of grief as the realization hits home.

They are gone. Again. You don’t just lose someone once. You lose them every time you open your eyes to a new dawn. And as you awaken, so does your memory. So does the jolting bolt of lightning that rips into your heart. They are gone. Again, losing someone is a journey, not a one off. There is no end to the loss.

There is only a learned skill on how to stay afloat when it washes over. Be kind to those who are sailing the stormy sea. They have a journey ahead of them and a daily shock to the system. Each time they realize they are gone. Again, you don’t just lose someone once, you lose them every day. for a lifetime.

That poem is by Donna Ashworth. And I think that really resonates, especially in early grief, when you do forget while you’re sleeping and you wake up. Um, I have to add, like, it’s not a daily shock to the system for me anymore. It doesn’t have to be a daily shock, right? You can wake up and live your life and love your, your babies, um, without it feeling like that.

But if it feels like that, I think that, that poem really resonated. Okay. We’re wrapping up. I just, there was so much goodness, but I want to, I want to keep this manageable. Sometimes things are unexplained, not unknown. So God knows. Um, this was from a lady named Rebecca who shared about her sweet son who died in his sleep at nine years old with no answer.

They waited and waited for this autopsy to come back, um, to find out what happened to their son. And It came back with no answers, and she said the coroner even said, like, we tried everything. This perfect little wild nine year old boy who just died in his sleep, they looked at everything, they could not find a cause.

So she had learned the lesson, sometimes things are unexplained, not unknown, um, and I think that was really, really powerful, and a lot of us don’t have answers. We don’t have the answers we want. So we don’t have an explanation. But we can trust that there is an answer and that God does know that. And it stinks that we have to wait, but we will find out.

A lot of people talked about the five stages of grief. I’ve talked about it here, but really these were created in response to people getting a terminal diagnosis. They were not about someone who loses a loved one, although they have been very widely applied to that. And I love this quote. Um, by Elizabeth Kubler Ross who, who did create the Five Stages of Grief and she wrote this in her last and final book.

Um, she said, They were never meant to help tuck messy emotions into neat packages. They are responses to loss that many people have, but there is no typical response to loss. Our grieving is as individual as our lives. And so I just, when I put myself in her shoes, I think if I created this kind of framework and then people took it and applied it and almost, I mean, these stages have been very helpful, but they’ve also caused a lot of harm because people have applied them.

incorrectly, right? She said, you’re not trying to tuck messy emotions into packages, into neat packages. There isn’t like denial, anger, acceptance, bargaining, all that stuff. Like those don’t all happen. They don’t all happen to each person. They don’t happen in a timeline. Like it’s not this perfect thing.

If you’ve been using those and they’ve been helping you, great. If you’ve had those used against you, I’m sorry. Um, but just understand that our grieving is as individual as our lives. It’s going to be a lot more like a big scribble than a nice linear model. , and speaking of models, there were so many grief models.

This is where I wanted to dig in more. But all that to say that people have researched and researched and researched grief. What’s most important is that you find things that resonate with you, that help you understand your grief, that help you understand your life and yourself and your process and your family and the people around you.

Um, one of the classes was on how we all, even though the same event happens in a family, like everyone has a different process, like when and how and what. level they’re at, um, in their grief, right? Like one person might be in shock and a fog for months while the other person is kind of falling apart. And then when they start kind of coming out of falling apart, the person that was holding it all together falls apart.

And, um, really, really interesting, but we all just use what we need. when we need it.

And I wanted to just wrap up with a couple of bonus lesson lessons. Good food makes everything better. At this conference, we had breakfast and lunch, and even snacks in the afternoon. They had these cute little snack bags. And honestly, it was so beautiful. I think we all were like, it was emotional for a lot of people, especially a lot of the people were much fresher in their grief than I am.

And so To have really good, nutritious, delicious food to look forward to that would nourish you. So important. And I know that sometimes we get in a rut. Groceries are expensive. We’re just not taking care of our body. But I just want to encourage you and challenge you this week to find ways to add a bit more nutrition.

Add a bit more, excitement into what you’re cooking, like try some new recipes or try an old recipe that sometimes you’re like, Oh, it’s a lot of work or whatever. Keep it simple or do what you need to do to make something delicious that nourishes your body because that’s just important. Or do a little presentation that’s fancy.

Like I said, these little snack bags were so cute and it wasn’t anything like amazing inside. It was like an orange and some cookies and a little chocolate lid and whatever, but they packaged them up so cute. It just. It was fun. So nourish your body and have some beautiful food.

My last bonus lesson is God puts people in our path for a reason. And there are no coincidences. at this conference. I know that people are making connections. I saw it all over the place. I tried to let my heart and the spirit guide me to who I should sit next to, who I needed to talk to. And I ended up seeing some very dear friends who recently lost their daughter in a tragic accident.

And I didn’t know they were coming. I was standing, um, just waiting kind of in this lobby area. And They came up to me and I was just so thankful they were there. I was so thankful that they had met someone who told them about the conference and they were there. I was so thankful that I was able to be there and talk to them because they’re dear friends who moved and we don’t live near each other.

And even though I had reached out and texted, um, she didn’t have the capacity to, to text back, which I always, when I text someone who’s grieving, just say, Hey, you don’t need to text me back. But it was so good to just be there with them and to hug them and to hold them. And, uh, I’m just so grateful that I was able to find out about this conference and they were and we were able to be there together.

So be watching out for people in your life who are put in your path. There are no coincidences. All right. I hope you love these lessons as much as I did. Uh, I’ve got way more notes and some of the things that I learned I’m going to make entire episodes about. So be looking forward to that. If you need help.

If you’re pregnant after loss, or you’re grieving, or you’re just trying to live life after loss, and you need a little bit of support and guidance from someone who gets it, please go in the show notes, click on the link, come and talk to me. I will take care of you. I’ll see you next time.

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