#197 Grief: Understanding The Natural Process We All Experience – Victoria Volk

This week I explored grief – the very natural but overlooked process that affects all of us – with Victoria Volk who specialises in coaching and supporting people who are struggling with loss.

As Victoria puts forward, grief is so often narrowly associated with death, however it is much much wider than that as it is the result of any loss and so we incur grief more widely than we realise.

Victoria shares the six common myths relating to grief and how they have been perpetuated intergenerationally, becoming part of our current culture resulting in a collective  lack of emotional discernment and literacy.

Victoria is really good at breaking down the dynamics of grief and walks us through the process to release its grip. This conversation covers a lot of ground, there’s a lot of interesting emerging questions that come up, which really provides a full picture in this area that affects you, me and everyone.

 

Bryn Edwards 

This week I explore grief, saying that’s turned up on the podcast a number of times this year. Grief is a very natural but overlooked process that affects all of us. I explored this with Victoria Volk, who specialises in coaching and supporting people with grief. And she’s also an end of life doula. As we find out grief is so often narrowly associated with death. However, its impacts have far ranging as is the result of any loss. And we incur grief more widely than we realise. Victoria shares the six common myths relating to grief, and how they’ve been shared intergenerationally and become called woven into our culture, which results in a real lack of emotional discernment. discernment, is having a very real and negative impact upon all of us, and particularly our emotional literacy. Victoria is really good at breaking down the dynamics of grief and walks us through the process to release its grip. This conversation covers a lot of ground, there’s a lot of emerging questions that come up, which really provides a lovely, full picture in this area that affects you, me and everyone. So enjoy Victoria.

Find out more about Victoria and her podcast at www.theunleashedheart.com

Read Full Transcript

Bryn Edwards 

Hello, and welcome back to WA Real. I’m your host, Bryn Edwards Today I have the great pleasure of talking with Victoria Volk. Victoria, welcome to the show.

 

Victoria Volk 

Thank you for having me. Great to be here.

 

Bryn Edwards 

You’re very, very welcome. And you’re all the way over in the States.

 

Victoria Volk 

Yeah, North Dakota.

 

Bryn Edwards 

Indeed, indeed, as is the second guest in three weeks that we’ve had from the States. So it’s always fun to look as great as it is to talk to people in Western Australia, which is most of the conversations, it’s awesome to reach out from time to time and use a great technology that we have

 

Victoria Volk 

a great time we live in to do just that.

 

Bryn Edwards 

So particularly this year, on the podcast, I’ve jumped into a number of topics, one relating to death with a lovely young man called Joseph 100. And then just a couple of weeks ago, the topic of climate and environmental grief came up. And so grief was really something I wanted to dive into a bit more. And then I was introduced to you. And I thought it’d be a great opportunity to dive into this topic a bit further. And given the fact that you do a lot of work with people who are struggling with loss, you know, through your support and coaching as well as end of life doula service, so yeah, first of all, how did you get into this?

 

Victoria Volk 

I’m a lifelong griever, my father passed away when I was eight. And subsequently, the relationship with my mother had kind of deteriorated over the years because of it, and everything’s good now. But it was really rocky for most of my life. And I, you know, because grief is cumulative, and it’s cumulatively negative. I had other things that happened after he passed away, to me. And in my life throughout the years and in grief recovery, we kind of equated to, you know, as a child, you have a backpack and everything that happens to you. death of a loved one, sexual assault, poverty, losing a home moving all these things, loss of a pet, which is generally kind of the first loss for children often think of it each loss like a rock that you put in your backpack. And so by the time we reach adulthood, we have a pretty heavy backpack for most of us. If you accumulate all those losses, right, and I had another loss that kind of just took me over the edge like I thought 2014 I closed a business my youngest just started kindergarten and that kind of set off this midlife crisis unravelling I had and started to really dive into personal development because I realised like, why is this? Why did these things just keep happening to me? Like, why is there this continual theme of, of, I felt like I was crazy, really. I mean, it was really starting to impact my health so good, which grief does if it’s unaddressed, it starts to take a toll on our bodies, our bodies, always speaking to us, energetically. And so I started to dig into personal development and that’s really kind of what sets things off. And I had another loss A few years after that, and realised I wasn’t okay, because I thought I was, I really thought I was I’d come a long way I’d written a book was sharing about personal development and a blog and realised it wasn’t okay and found, I went online and did a search for something to find something to help me because I really wanted to feel better. And I wanted to help people as well. And I found the grief recovery Institute and signed up to be a trained grief recovery specialist and went through the certification that you go through, I went through exactly what I take my clients through, and it changed my life. It literally changed my life. I became a Reiki Master after that, which has been critical in me, really understanding my own energy and how, because I’m an empath, very highly sensitive, which really helped me make sense of my childhood. Now, as an adult, I can look back at my childhood, and it makes a lot of sense to me, why needed a lot of sleep, why grief was really impacting me the way it was. And it really like everything has come full circle in the past few years. Wow. Wow.

 

Bryn Edwards 

So let’s dive straight into it. At a top level, what is grief?

 

Victoria Volk 

grief is the normal and natural reaction to loss of any kind. Yeah, it is anything that we wish that would have been different, better or more. And it’s the loss of hopes, dreams and expectations. So if we look at grief, in that context, it’s a lot of things. It’s not just the death of a loved one, and that sort of people. That’s where people really believe that someone has to die in order to grieve. And that’s just not the case. And I think too many people don’t connect the dots of what’s going on within them as grief, they don’t look at their symptoms, their physical symptoms, you know, you can have hair loss, you can have weight loss, you can have bowel issues, which is often really common, like I was diagnosed with irritable bowel syndrome when I was 16. You know, so you generally, it’s these physical symptoms that it manifests in our bodies, but also to we start to if we don’t address it, it can manifest in our lives outwardly, we can have angry outbursts, we can resort to gambling, sex addiction, or sex and love addiction, you can be addicted to shopping, drugs, alcohol, all these different things that these behaviours that we resort to, to feel better. But it only makes us feel better for a short period of time. So we got to continue to do those things in order to continue to feel better, right? So we continue to resort to those things. To help the we think there were a few we feel better, but it really and then you add on shame. So so many of those behaviours, there becomes a layer of shame. And that just perpetuates and creates this vicious cycle.

 

Bryn Edwards 

And this there were clear difference between grief is is related to loss. And shame is a highly personal thing in how we feel about ourselves. Is that correct? Yes,

 

Victoria Volk 

yes. And we tend to internalise that shame, guilt. Guilt is very much related to an act where shame is related to how we view ourselves negatively. Yes, yep. And so I think over time, all these behaviours and these physical things that are happening with us, we we don’t see the world clearly we don’t see we see the world from a perspective of feeling damaged of feeling broken. Yeah. And so if we can’t look in the mirror and see ourselves for who we are, rather than the this grief that is creating so much havoc in our lives, which again, we don’t necessarily connect to grieve, but of what we’re experiencing

 

Bryn Edwards 

is a big command. Life is crazy. And like, you know, I’m a bit nuts and all of that, and we can pass ourselves off.

 

Victoria Volk 

Well, yeah. And people feel like, well, this is life. This is just how life is and, you know, crap happens, and you just have to deal with it. And so, there’s those people too, that will just stuff down and stuff down and stuff down, and they think they’re dealing with it, but then everything else in their life is falling apart. You know, they could have money issues, it could you know, all these it impacts every aspect of our lives, every aspect.

 

Bryn Edwards 

Mm hmm. Because I think one of the things we overlook is that, you know, Without going back or Buddhist, is that suffering is a consistency of life and with suffering, we have loss, then that that, like you say, places a heavy burden on us. And it’s not. It’s not like any particular trauma or loss, it ranks higher or lower on a universal register. It’s just our loss. That impacts people.

 

Victoria Volk 

Yes, because grief is unique and individual, to each of us, because our, especially in the context of relationships, it’s unique and individual, because you can have, let’s say, you have a family unit, like my family, take my family, for example, when my dad passed away, we all had the same loss, my siblings and I, in my, in my mother, we all had the same loss. Yeah, but we all experienced it very differently. Yes. And we, you know, we all dealt with it very differently. Actually, we all dealt with it the same, we didn’t talk about it. I mean, but these are, these are the things that your

 

Bryn Edwards 

behaviour is similar, but yeah,

 

Victoria Volk 

right. But here’s the thing, the behaviour is generally the same across the board, there are six myths of grief that we tend to learn as children, and especially like with, yeah, with that first loss, you know, I mentioned the first loss as a child, you lose a pet, you don’t feel bad, don’t feel bad, will replace the loss. So the first one is don’t feel bad, and then we’ll replace the loss will get you a different dog will get a different dog, you know, and it’s not really addressing the pain of that initial loss.

 

Bryn Edwards 

Because of the carpet, isn’t that

 

Victoria Volk 

exactly, it’s not really talking about it. It’s not addressing the feelings of attachment that that child had to that, that pet. And so then you have grieve alone. You know, if the child just continually is sad about this pet loss, just if you want to cry, go cry to your room, go cry in your room. Yeah, you know, and how often I’ve read, I’ve heard so many stories, even me myself. You want to cry? I’ll give you something to cry about. You know, we’ve, I mean, these lines that people hear everyone knows these lines, because we’re all so many of us are

 

Bryn Edwards 

children, right? Yes.

 

Victoria Volk 

Because grief brings up something very uncomfortable for us when other people are sad, or anger. Anger is a big one to anger makes people uncomfortable. And I think anger is an unacceptable emotion. So we learn this as children that we can’t even express our anger. And so is it a surprise that there’s so many people that just literally like abuse themselves, because there’s this pent up anger, or they abuse other people, right? Because they’ve never learned how to channel and express that. The other one is Be strong. You know, so you might have, it’s this especially, this is generally a cultural thing to not generally I shouldn’t say that where I live, it’s, it is a cultural thing, because I’m my background is where German French German Russians came from, you know, where I live it we actually call it the iron curtain. And it’s, yeah, it’s your the stoic, stoic, you don’t talk about your feelings. Be tough, be strong. And so that’s really carried down through generations, this being strong mentality. And I think a lot of people too, I’ll just use an example of a widow, a woman who loses her husband or significant other and there’s children involved. You know, you have to be people will say that you have to be strong for those kids. You know, be strong for yourself, be strong for others. That’s another myth. Oftentimes, two people will keep busy. Oh, here’s avoid another myth. Yeah, it’s keep busy. Well, just, you know, cuz you don’t dwell on it. Yeah, just get back to work. And Yep, just keep busy just preoccupy yourself. Yep. So you don’t think about it? Yeah. Just busy yourself doing other things. You don’t think about it. And everyone knows the line Time heals. You know, the end of the sentence.

 

 

Time heals,

 

Victoria Volk 

might be an American thing called wounds. Time heals. Yeah, everyone knows this. And time is, time does nothing. Time just passes. Right. So that’s the last myth of grief is Time heals all wounds. People will say this, oh, it just takes time. No, it’s the action we take within time. That that changes things. Otherwise time just passes.

 

Bryn Edwards 

So straight, I guess in a strange kind of way. Given the fact that we often probably implicitly link grief with death. They’re probably some of the rare opportunities where it’s so transparent. It’s so explicit that you give yourself at least some sort of room to actually do something that’s akin to a natural grieving process. Where is all the other myriad of things that go through life that equally we grieve, as we lose them? Whether it’s, you know, a pet, a job, a girlfriend, a boyfriend, a car, I don’t know, all the other things. They’re all less explicit, because they’re not really when there’s part of life or so we perceive. And so yeah, I can imagine that. We’re going through these cycles of grief, or not going through the types, but we attempted to go through cycles of grief, more and more often. And yet, it’s only when we get really big explicit things that we get even close to allowing ourselves would that be correct?

 

Victoria Volk 

I would say it’s an experience for many, you know, I think it’s again, I think we all have this is my opinion. We all have that loss, that kind of just like takes us over the edge. Yes. Like, like, enough is enough. Yeah. Like Enough is enough. I can’t take this anymore. And we seek help. And my, but it’s heartbreaking for me, because I think to myself, like oh, my gosh, if I would have had this knowledge in education 20 years ago, how much suffering I could have spared myself. Yeah, you know, and how much differently I would have approached my life and live my life.

 

Bryn Edwards 

So I guess I’m reflecting on it that a better way of saying is, more often than not, this is chronic, not acute. It’s built up over two

 

Victoria Volk 

becomes Yeah, it becomes Yeah. And that’s the thing. We think of it as the security event, like you said, but it comes chronic when we can’t. When we don’t address it, I just think we don’t address it. That’s and the thing is, is that we we create these stories in our minds that we are okay. And you know, how often do people ask you How are you doing? I’m fine. I’m fine, fine.

 

 

I’ve been busy.

 

Victoria Volk 

Yeah. But I’m fine, as we say in grief recovery. That’s feelings inside not expressed. Right? So if you someone would say, say that to you. I’m fine. No. How do you really feel? Yeah, then you’ll get the real answer. Stop bullshitting. Yeah, right. Yeah.

 

 

Yeah.

 

Bryn Edwards 

So what’s coming through loud and clear here is almost a couple of things. One is obviously the cultural level of not being able to express and express these emotions. But also underneath that we become quite emotionally stunted in our emotional literacy. Let alone you know, to even accurately describe it. And it’s something I’ve been, I’ve only I’ve had to work on in the last couple of years, you know, to be able to define the difference and understand the difference between grief, shame, guilt, because before they were just one melee of stuff that I didn’t like, and I would push away. And, and so a lot of this is it comes to a lack of lack of emotional literacy, and then knowing what to do with them.

 

Victoria Volk 

I like how you said that emotional literacy, because I think the term emotional intelligence is kind of really it’s kind of a buzzword now. And but I like emotional literacy, because again, we don’t have the language. No, and or the sensitivity. Right. And I think it’s, I think that lack of sensitivity, though, comes from our own lack of addressing what’s within us. Because I think once we do that, we start to see our own lives differently, we start to develop a different perspective. And we become more compassionate. And when we become more compassionate, we have more empathy. And when we have more empathy, that is the bridge for healing for people, is because most people just want to be heard. They just want someone to listen, you don’t want to be fixed. You know? Because you’re, again, it’s like you have a broken heart. You don’t have a broken brain. In grief, we feel like we are just absolutely broken. Like, like there’s something defective about us. And that was me. But what I’m understanding now is as being an empath and someone who’s highly sensitive, who takes on people’s emotions as my own, and I became a caretaker at a really young age of my mother’s emotions. I really internalised a lot growing up and really took on other people’s stuff. Yeah, I didn’t, I don’t I didn’t understand that actually, until very recently. What, you know, why am I getting so drained when I’m out, like, out in public and you know, go to a mall or I go to a shopping centre or something, and I come home and I’m just like, white, I actually get pain. I feel pain in the middle of my shoulder blades. And so I’ve had to learn how to protect my energy. And I think for empaths, especially highly sensitive people grief is excruciating. I felt for so long that I’m guess I’m just here to suffer. That’s really how I felt. Yeah, it’s, it’s Yeah, it’s mentally debilitating, because you don’t even like I there’s so many years that I felt like I wasn’t living up to my own potential. And that’s grief, too. That caused me grief as well.

 

 

Mm

 

Bryn Edwards 

hmm. So I imagine a large amount of your work has been for you person who’s been around putting boundaries in place.

 

Victoria Volk 

Oh, absolutely. And I think that’s, that’s the beauty that came out of grief recovery is knowing Oh, I didn’t have boundaries. Yeah, I actually read. I read the book boundaries. Actually, last year, and now I just actually just finished another book about empaths. And learning how to create boundaries, energetic boundaries and learning. So I’m still something I’m really I’m diving more into the energetics of it right now. But it’s important. It’s so important.

 

Bryn Edwards 

Yeah. Yeah. Because again, that’s, that’s part of that subtlety, sensitivity and discernment around what’s mine? What’s someone else’s? And then within what’s mine? How do I actually understand these feelings that are rising, again, are the anger or the guilt or the this or that rather than this melee of stuff.

 

Victoria Volk 

And too, I think as children, we aren’t taught that boundaries are. Okay. I use the example of you know, and family gets together and the child is told to well go give Grandma, go give grandma hug, or go give uncle a hug, or a kiss or whatever, and the child’s personal space Mom, I don’t want to know, go give your grandma a hug. You know, it’s like, the child’s personal space isn’t even like the child doesn’t even understand. They can say no. Yes, again, anger, saying no, these are unacceptable things as we’re getting as B as children. And it just really sets us up to become taken advantage of as adults. It really does. It really does become victims of Yep.

 

Bryn Edwards 

And that’s very much the sort of breeding ground for codependency. Yes. Later on in life like about Yes.

 

 

Wanting to

 

Bryn Edwards 

please pronounce fawn? Yes,

 

Victoria Volk 

absolutely. 100%.

 

Bryn Edwards 

And yeah, because we were covered this off with a couple of experts last year and then codependency then gives rise to narcissistic behaviour. So it’s this nasty little thing that goes on.

 

Victoria Volk 

And what results from that? grief. Yes, grief, because your your life isn’t working out as you hoped things aren’t going as they aren’t going? Well. They’re not. You might realise that you’re being abused, like psychologically, psychologically, emotionally, or even physically abused, like, more trauma, just more trauma,

 

Bryn Edwards 

unless you can acknowledge that let alone begin to express it and then hopefully release it. Yeah, it’s curtains, it’s a circle of shit.

 

Victoria Volk 

That is why adulthood is is our childhood reenactments.

 

 

Yes.

 

Victoria Volk 

That’s my belief.

 

Bryn Edwards 

Was it previous guests said? He said, Where are you on the bus? You are at the front or you are on your hands on the driving wheel? Because if you haven’t your childish self

 

Victoria Volk 

well, and really, are you looking straight ahead? Are you looking in the rearview mirror their rear view, then to you know, because oftentimes, we’re looking in the rearview like what happened in the past, what like what’s in the past, and we’re not able, all this grief that we are carrying within us, we aren’t able to look to the future because we’re so stuck in the past. We’re stuck. We’re emotionally tied to the past. We’re emotionally tied, and have these emotional cords to people who hurt us who, you know, if you get stuck then too, it’s so easy to get stuck in in feeling like a victim. That is the most disempowering thing that can happen to someone is just being stuck in that in that victim hood. And that was me for a long, long time, too. It’s not to discount. Because I didn’t ask for the stuff that happened to me. Nobody does. Nope. Yeah. But we always have a choice and how we respond. Always, always.

 

 

Yeah.

 

Victoria Volk 

And the more we know, you know, it’s like, I don’t know what I don’t know. And so I wanted to know why my life was, like, continuing with these behat this, these patterns that just, I could not break out of this cycle. And I was a raging mom to, on top of that my kids were young, I was a raging mom, because I was so filled with anger and resentment, of what, you know, in my childhood that it showed my children, you know, our kids will bring up all the breakout all the ugly in us, you know, that needs to be healed. But yeah,

 

 

yeah, actually.

 

Bryn Edwards 

Just left my mind, I’ll come back to that in a minute. So, how, how do we carry grief? If we look at it sort of physically, mentally, emotionally, and energetically and spiritually on those four different levels?

 

Victoria Volk 

How do we address it? You’re asking,

 

Bryn Edwards 

how do we carry it?

 

 

Like, oh, gosh,

 

Bryn Edwards 

and how are we processing it on those levels.

 

Victoria Volk 

I think of grief as like this, it’s, it’s like you have this ball and chain, right, you just have this ball and chain that you’re just dragging with you, it feels heavy, it feels you don’t feel like you don’t feel it zaps your joy. But again, you can do behaviours that bring you joy for a time, like it might make you happy to go and drink and have fun and be married with your friends. But then you come home at night and you’re puking sick, and, you know, then all this shame comes in, you know, and so it’s it’s heavy, it’s just heavy. It’s this heaviness. And we bring it to our relationships, we, we, it impacts, like I said before every aspect of our lives, and I think I for me, personally, I feel like it put a veil, it like basically blocks your vision of you don’t see yourself for who you are. Because how can you see yourself as a good person, if you are just so full of hate towards yourself, depending on you could be someone who internalises it like you just hate on yourself, or you just are this really bitter, nasty person that, you know, is a road Ranger and creates drama and every relationship they have? And is that horrible co worker, you just can’t escape, you know? So it manifests differently for people. But in a lot of ways, it kind of manifest the same, you know, it’s

 

Bryn Edwards 

Yeah, yeah, often find these things. It’s almost like, the underlying process is the same for most people. But the subjective experience of that is always different, if that makes sense. Yeah, not everybody can reconcile the two at once. But for me, I seem to be able to see that there are patterns and and underneath, that the patterns are experienced subjectively differently.

 

Victoria Volk 

Right, we don’t connect those dots. We just don’t. Hmm.

 

Bryn Edwards 

So I remember I was gonna ask you just before, which was the beauty of a live conversation is that as we knew what they were talking about the victim space, as we have moved from this extraordinarily stoic place, that it is to the myths of of grief that you were talking about. And we are, I think, I think we have to recognise we are moving some way towards more openly and culturally expressing emotions that are going on, as we move to almost like that acknowledge and express part before we’ve got to the release part, as that as becomes slightly more accessible, is that part of what feels this, I see almost like a proliferation of the people inhabiting the victim space. And so it’s almost like we’ve moved that first bit to acknowledge and express what’s going on. But then are we ready for the next step which is releasing and often we can circle and go round and round in that place because we can now express it which is awesome, but you’re not feeling The journey so it’s spiralling and now we’re in the victim space. Where before we were in almost like this denial space narrowed victim space before we move on, is that sort of what you say?

 

Victoria Volk 

Absolutely, yes. I do think we each each of us has our own way, walk of grief, like it was gonna, that time is going to be different for everybody. But I think the fallacy or this, this, people have this idea that, well, this is just how it is like, this is just how I’m going to feel for the rest of my life. That is where we, these ideas and thoughts are perpetuated. When you get into an environment that doesn’t foster moving forward, that doesn’t bring any sort of action, yes, step or anything. And so I see exactly what you’re saying, I see it online. It’s heartbreaking, it breaks, it literally breaks my heart because I actually have to like, just like, I can’t follow certain accounts, because it’s like, you don’t have to be stuck in this. You just don’t like it’s never too soon. And it’s never too late. I was stuck in that for 30 years, over 30 years. And it’s like, that’s what just breaks my heart is like, you don’t have to be stuck in this. So by Yes, giving your grief a voice sharing your story is one thing, but not moving yourself forward by not having like, you got to take some initiative. By not doing anything, you are only suffering more. And my thought is

 

 

to a greater extent because you’re really traumatising yourself quite Yes. accurately and articulately.

 

Victoria Volk 

Yes. And so my thought is you already suffering, you might as well suffer and move your feet, you might as well suffer and be doing something to move you forward. Yeah, so that’s, I definitely see that in the online space today. It’s like, in person support groups have moved online. No one’s moving forward. Everyone’s perpetuating their own story, living in their own story over and over and over and over and over. They feel better, because they’re getting support. They’re getting sympathy. They’re getting empathy from people. Yeah,

 

 

but yet, all the things they probably want.

 

Victoria Volk 

likes and comments. And so it’s, it’s, it’s Yeah, I think it’s just a recipe for people for keeping people stuck.

 

Bryn Edwards 

I really do. And then with that, keeping stuck, that story becomes part of their identity.

 

Victoria Volk 

Yes, you live into that you become a martyr become a martyr of your own grief. It’s Yeah, it’s like, well, I guess, yep. stakes in the ground. This is just my life. And, you know, it’s, that’s a sad place.

 

Bryn Edwards 

move on now, because this is,

 

Victoria Volk 

yeah, yes, absolutely. Especially in certain, there’s certain kinds of losses where that’s even I see that more so, especially in case of suicide, if you lose someone by suicide, it’s really your, you know, the loved ones might say, identify themselves as a suicide survivor. That’s heartbreaking for me, when I hear that it really is.

 

Bryn Edwards 

That label perpetuates something

 

 

when you’re

 

Bryn Edwards 

working with clients. And I think one of the questions I had was about Is there a natural process that we go through, but then early, were saying about, you know, Time heals all wounds? Doesn’t. And so, therefore, you know, given what we’ve just spoken about is that, you know, you got to move your feet in this. What are some of the things you actually do with your clients to help them move through this journey? Probably. I wouldn’t say the word better, but probably with a bit more ease and grace, shall we say?

 

Victoria Volk 

Yeah, so grief recovery is I can offer it both in person and online and online. It’s a seven week programme. So you know, that at the start of this, seven weeks from now, you will have worked through the hardest loss of your life. You will have emotionally addressed what is incomplete for you. And it is an evidence evidence based proven method for moving through grief. It is evidence based. Kent University did a study on this and It’s in the publication phase. It is the only evidence proven method for moving through grief. And it just works. I have losses that people have experienced that I know have gone through the programme, actually one of the traits she’s a, she’s a trainer. She not excuse me, she’s not a trainer. She’s like head of marketing of the Institute. She was on my podcast, actually. So I can share this. But you know, she was a victim of sexual assault by her own father and her uncle in a cult like manner. Religion was used against her satanic written like ritualistic type stuff. She became a meth addict. And grief recovery is the one thing that helped her is the thing that helped her. And she’s now she does what I do. And she’s, yeah, it. It has helped people in all walks of life, no matter the loss, no matter how the timeframe whether it was I’ve had clients that I’ve walked through this three months after the death of a loved one. My advice me myself, it was over 30 years. And it’s never too late. And it’s never too soon. And what we do is we walk you through in a supported, guided way. Working through emotionally what is incomplete? Yeah. In a structured way. And, again, you know that at the start of it, it’s seven weeks. So you’re not going to go to the support group for 12 years. Yeah. saying the same story. Yes. Yeah. And I’ve heard people I’ve heard stories of people who have shared that, like, they never want to go to another support group, again, because someone introduced themselves and said, well, I’ve been coming here for seven years, or 12 years, or whatever, however many years, and they’ll walk out and be like, I’d never want to, this is not for me, I don’t want to be I don’t want to be coming here for seven years. You know, that’s not life that’s not living there. When you’re when you’re stuck in that story of what happened. It’s not moving you forward. So this is an action educational programme. It’s education, and is action? And

 

 

what a phenomenal.

 

Bryn Edwards 

Yeah, it is, because, you know, we’ve highlighted how poor we are at this at the best of times. And even probably, even if we were a bit more empathetic, it’s still struggling around in the dark, if you know, to mean. So to have some thing, a process that someone can gracefully take you through. So that we can at least get to a place of stability at the end of it is kind of makes sense.

 

 

Really,

 

Victoria Volk 

people might people might say to it’s like, there’s no cookie cutter, one size fits all method, right? But what’s different about this is that it is individualised to you and to your loss. So that’s why it’s not based on any religion. It’s not, it’s nothing like that it is individual to you. And that’s why and I think that’s why it really works away. It does

 

Bryn Edwards 

also work with some of the steps that we go through during the seven weeks.

 

Victoria Volk 

Well, first, the first few weeks is, yeah, the first few weeks is actually education. It’s a lot of education. And that alone helps people understand their grief, kind of connect the dots to what’s been happening in their life throughout the years or recent or it really it always, it always, always, always has tied back to somehow something in their childhood. It always does. Always because we learn these things as children. And so education as part is the first part of it. And then we move into the steps which talks about, we get into apologies, we get into forgiveness, which is huge. You that’s a big stumbling block for so many people, especially in an instance of abuse. And I was sexually abused as a child. So that was really difficult for me too. But we have a process for doing that. It’s It’s nothing that’s pushed, you know, there’s always a way to work through that and so That’s why you this method is actually outlined in the book. It’s the grief recovery handbook. I encourage anybody to read it. But you can’t go through this alone. And that’s the thing like, we do not work through this stuff. on our own. I tried. I try. I got the book, I’d read it. I tried. No, doesn’t. No, no, nothing’s gonna it’s not gonna work. Yeah. So yeah, you do need someone who is trained, that can help you, you know, oftentimes to, oftentimes to like, a big part of like, I am a heart with yours. That’s what we call in grief recovery. And for many of us, we don’t have that in our lives. Because the people closest to us are often the, that the heart with yours in your life is probably not going to be someone who has skin in your game. Yeah, of life. So most of us, many of us don’t have that person that can just listen without analysis, criticism or judgement. And that’s really the foundation of, of grief recovery, is you actually experienced that probably for many the first time in their life.

 

 

Mm hmm. I guess. On one level, it is kind of sad that we don’t have these people like yourself just interwoven into community, anyway, to your domain, as opposed to having to find people out and commercially interact with them, to get rid of me.

 

Victoria Volk 

But you know, I bring my empathy. Empathy is my number one strength, actually, and I bring that to my life and everyday interactions, I feel like and so we can be. There’s all kinds of healers and helpers out there. You don’t have to have a credential of a grief recovery specialists to show empathy or compassion to people. But my point in saying this is that what I want to highlight is that, I feel like what I’ve personally learned is that we cannot sit with others in their pain, if we have not been able to sit in our own. We help others to the extent that we have helped ourselves.

 

 

Otherwise, you just got to get triggered.

 

Victoria Volk 

Exactly. Bingo.

 

 

He used to anyway.

 

Victoria Volk 

And that is why we are so so many of us are uncomfortable with other people’s grief, because of what it brings up for us. We don’t know what to say we don’t know how to respond. We don’t know what to do all of these things.

 

Bryn Edwards 

Yeah. Yeah. So you’re saying with the method that there’s the education, there’s the forgiveness, what are the other key components over the journey?

 

Victoria Volk 

It really is about you take these action steps to work through apologies and forgiveness. And these it’s really diving into what is emotionally incomplete. That’s really the that’s that’s the, that is the, but you it’s expressing it with someone who’s hearing it without criticism, analysis or judgement.

 

 

Hmm.

 

Victoria Volk 

And that’s why it just doesn’t work with just anybody. Yes, yeah. Because you’re always gonna have somebody, you know, if you, if you what often happens is people try and share about what’s happening with them. And then either I’ve, this is why I started my podcast To be honest, like the education of grief, and so people can share their story without analysis, criticism and judgement. Yes. And yeah, some people I’ve actually feedback I’ve gotten is that Wow, that was really therapeutic. Yeah, like, because they actually felt heard. Right, they felt heard without someone trying to, like fix them, or, you know,

 

 

I guess.

 

Victoria Volk 

Yeah. It’s just listen, just listen, you know, or you just don’t have the skills. God gave us two ears and one mouth for a reason.

 

 

Interestingly, previous guest, Dr. Bill Saunders is what has been one of the, the Western Australia’s leading

 

Bryn Edwards 

clinical psychologists, particularly when it comes to alcohol and drug addiction. And he recently came back on the podcast and he said, you know, you can boil all the techniques down, but ultimately, it’s about being in close proximity with someone and listening to them and asking them what happened.

 

Victoria Volk 

Hmm, what happened? Thank you for bringing that up. I just got goosebumps because I that’s kind of been the theme running theme lately in in the work that I’m doing in a podcast interview, as I’ve shared recently is the idea that people are so overly medicated that no one asks what happened. What happened to you? And let’s just let’s just pill, put a pill on the symptoms and let’s not address what’s really going on. Like, let’s not address like it, let’s, let’s pull the weed from the rut. Yeah, you know, instead of putting like roundup on it, you know, that’s, that’s how I get really fired up about this, or I’ll try and like, simmer down, but I do because it happened to me. It happened to me it’s, it’s, it’s this idea of when you go to get help. There isn’t this. Congress, there isn’t a conversation about what happened to you. There just isn’t. It’s what are your symptoms? Okay, you’re depressed, you feel depressed, you’re having a depressive mood, your? Well, you know, I was molested as a child. My dad died when I was a child and my mom relationship with my mom is a train wreck. So you know, I just had two babies, I’m having postpartum, like, what else you want? You know, okay, we’ll just take this pill and your Everything will be fine. No, that doesn’t happen. That’s not reality. And first, a lot of people to talk therapy alone isn’t going to help either. Because you can talk talk, talk therapy is like going to the sparker for 12 years, right? Are you taking action? No. Well, then you’ll probably continue to talk therapy for the rest of your life, right? Unless you take action. So I do get fired up about this.

 

 

Really, is that right?

 

Victoria Volk 

I do. It’s how it’s like. And again, I actually had someone on my podcast who was bipolar, when diagnosed for like, 20 some years. And he said bipolar is the is the illness of loss. And he did he lost everything. He was living in a shack, sleeping on a mattress, living in a cabin, and with nothing else in it, but a mattress. And he was at the end of his rope in a life and he said but someone with bipolar is not going to go into see the doctor and get help when they’re manic. They’re going to go in when they’re depressed. Correct. And unless that physician is doing a diagnostic assessment of everything, of all the symptoms of everything of history, like family history of bipolar family history of mental illness. The one thing he taught me was that if that physician puts someone who’s bipolar on an antidepressant without a mood stabiliser, that will send them into a manic state. And I could not that is one thing that I was like, Why is this not being like screamed from the rooftops? Like, why is this not? This is what sets people into a manic state who are bipolar, undiagnosed when they go to the doctor because they’re depressed and they get put on a pill without a mood stabiliser, because the the proper screening was not done. And when you can go to a nurse practitioner, which I did to get an antidepressant. Why is that even possible? Like that should not even be possible? Like, we should leave that to psychologists and psychiatrists to I don’t know, whichever one there’s one of those can prescribe one can I think I can’t I’m not sure. But yes, thank you.

 

 

Yeah, you know, this one you guys and scary world.

 

Victoria Volk 

It is. That’s why we have so many people addicted to heroin because they couldn’t get so many they couldn’t they couldn’t get their antidepressants anymore. Or, you know, they went to so many doctors, they couldn’t get them filled. Because now that Oh, look what we created this opioid crisis in the United States. Now, let’s back up than the prescriptions and now they’re taking heroin. Yeah, now they’re on heroin. Or fentanyl. Or, you know, I’ve had so many guests say this say the very same thing like a child, how many children are put on on antidepressants? And meth like drugs? Yes. I want the one podcast episode I just aired not long ago. He was put on an F like drug when he was eight. Eight years old. for ADHD. Yeah, for ADHD and he was acting out. Okay. He was gay. His mom was deaf. And he was being bullied. Perfectly, he was a grieving child. He was a grieving child. And you know what, he’s not anantha he’s not on anything right now. Like he’s not on antidepressants anymore. Like, because he’s been doing a lot of inner work in therapy and EMDR, and all these other things. I’m saying there’s alternatives to drugs, but that is usually the quick, the quick fix, you know,

 

 

coming in coming out of the drugs, bringing you down for a minute.

 

Victoria Volk 

It is it’s just a tragedy. It’s tragedy, is it? You know,

 

 

I guess, you know, one of the questions I like to ask my guests, but I think you’ve already done it is, is what is it like to know what you know, and then look into the world? You know, outside of it, I think you’ve just given me the kind of sense of the heartbreaking,

 

Victoria Volk 

heartbreaking in the

 

Bryn Edwards 

so as I was gonna say, coming house the drugs for a minute. Do you find that with your clients? You know, once we’ve gone through this period of almost navigating your way through the VA overwhelmed the emotional part of it? Do they get to a almost like a question, an existential questioning point where it’s like, well, I’m not here for that long. What is this about? You know, once you’ve, once the overwhelm is subsided, that’s when I find these openings of these bigger questions, which can cause another realm of overwhelmed by, yeah. But how do you how do they have that? How do you help them navigate that part? Because that’s really interesting, as well, a lot, but

 

Victoria Volk 

it is the side effect. It’s the side effect I think of actually working through your crap is looking is seeing yourself and the world more clearly. Really? And so it’s like, Yeah, what do I want to do with the rest of my life like it because when we start to come, when we start to come back to home to ourselves, within ourselves, I can speak for myself is, like I said, I didn’t understand I didn’t even know my own potential. Because I was so wrapped up in this victim story, and I couldn’t see the forest through the trees, right. I couldn’t, I couldn’t see what was possible. And so yeah, side effect of working through my stuff is like, Oh my God, this whole world of possibility opened up for me. I’d never experienced a Reiki session in my entire life. I got Reiki one and level one and two certified because I just kept, I was more open to my own intuition. I kept hearing Reiki, reiki, reiki, I’m like what the heck is Reiki which is energy healing, by the way, if you’re not sure. And so I followed that curiosity. And it led me to I went through all the training, I became a Reiki Master. But it’s been the one modality that’s helped support the grief recovery work that I do, because I need to, I need to make sure that I’m filling my cup. Oh, yeah. So it’s, you know, supporting me in the work that I do so I can, so I can be there fully for the clients I work with and for my podcast guests, and you know, because people I’ve actually had people say to me, I’m really concerned about you, you know, because empathy is my number one strength and how are you protecting your energy? Like how all that has to be really depressing, you know, hearing people’s stories and but it’s learning to know what’s mine and what’s not. Right. Yeah. But I think for the general public again, I think that’s the byproduct of working through your stuff is you start to see yourself more clearly and others

 

Bryn Edwards 

and then I find that being able to stay in a conversation means that because you’re not getting triggered means that you can open up a connection that far more exciting level, which means that what to the outside it looks like a slight some heavy shit. You can wait I can’t wait for it sometimes guy that was like so life reaffirming?

 

Victoria Volk 

Yes, it opens us up to deeper connection, just exactly what you said. And then we start to think about maybe our spirituality and our faith and we start to question all these things. And if you’re open to being open, you’ll receive guidance and intuitive messages and you know, in all of these strengthen over time, As long as we nurture them within us, you know, I think

 

 

and

 

Bryn Edwards 

do you? Do you can do you ever look at? Obviously, we’ve talked very much around the individual. If we start chunking that out now, to groups, to nationalities to countries to? Is it possible to take the lens of how we individually process and move through grief and then apply it to groups?

 

Victoria Volk 

I think they’re culturally, culturally, are certain ways that groups of people may view grief or may or may not work through it, or I think even over all just our how our, like, how we have this death aversion like we are so afraid of death. And I think just over the years, I’ve actually read something a few months back about how society itself, like here in the States anyway, are ants like ancestors before would actually remain with the dead for several days, take pictures with the dead. The family was very much involved in the dying process and the grieving process and the few like the funeral preparation and everything like that. And we’ve, over time, throughout the years, we’ve really separated ourselves from that experience of, of, you know, that process of, you know, a funeral or dying, the process of dying. Yeah, and I think and so I think that’s only created more of this isolation.

 

Bryn Edwards 

Yeah, I can see that as in there used to be voice and and for I understand these to be like always in true in trend, cultural rituals, which has now been outsourced to Undertaker’s.

 

Victoria Volk 

Yes, yes. And I think that has an impact on how we grieve. I’m actually done with this.

 

Bryn Edwards 

Now we’re isolating it and outsourcing it, as opposed to distributing it.

 

Victoria Volk 

Yeah. And we distance ourselves. Right, like, and that’s one thing I got from my end of life training,

 

Bryn Edwards 

which is what we do with so many things. Yes, you know, weird world weird, then Western, Western educated, industrialised rich democracy. we outsource things, whether it’s extraction, whether it’s violence, whether it’s as opposed to distributing it amongst ourselves.

 

Victoria Volk 

Yeah. And I think, too, we have to understand that individually, we impact and we have ripples of our actions, our actions and our words and our thoughts, even our energy, and we have an impact. And I don’t think we understand our impact that we have the impact we have on people. It isn’t until like our eulogy, and after we die, people are talking about our impact, the impact that we had on them, right. And I think that’s if we lived our lives, like I have an impact, like what I do matters, what I say matters. Because if we became more conscious about that, it trickles out, whether it’s in our communities, our neighbourhoods, our groups of people, it’s it adds to this collective, I’ll say vibrational energy that we bring to the world, you know, so I do think it starts as an individual. But it ripples out. That’s what matters. That’s why it matters to work through your crap. Yeah, yeah. You have an impact.

 

Bryn Edwards 

Yeah. And that impact could be if you’ve not, you know, attended to your wounds, you’ll just carry on bleeding all over everybody. Yes.

 

Victoria Volk 

There’s your quotable right there.

 

Bryn Edwards 

Oh, he can’t he can’t pin that on me. I think I’m ready. And following from what you’re saying, I can’t remember who wrote it. That you go back a couple of generations time. You’ve got people would happily and openly talk about death, but not money. Now. People happily talk about money, but not there. Yeah, yeah. And so the importance of the higher authority The market increases over life and death.

 

 

Hmm Hmm.

 

Bryn Edwards 

And yeah, it was, it was interesting, because when I, when I wrote considered this conversation and I was thinking about the societal level of it, I was going towards this, you know, we’re pretty much moving towards this beautification and stuff like that. But in this discussion and what you just brought up with, you know, being with a dad taking pictures with the dads, I realised that we’ve actually slayed some of our symbols and rituals around this, which helped to maintain knowledge within them. And understanding the remains in the culture for us to access. That makes sense.

 

Victoria Volk 

Yeah. Yeah. And again, I think it comes back to like, what, so what do we want to pass on to the next generation? What do we want the next generation to be like? And I think it’s people speaking up about these taboo topics that help to create the change that just helps to bring more understanding to something that is really misunderstood.

 

Bryn Edwards 

Yeah. Yeah. I really enjoyed this conversation. It’s been

 

Victoria Volk 

I got a little spirited, I’m sorry.

 

Bryn Edwards 

That’s good. I like it. It’s called wi rail for a reason. Do you think we’ve, we’ve we’ve covered most the area?

 

Victoria Volk 

I think so. Um, is there any, do you have any questions? Any other questions?

 

Bryn Edwards 

No, I only have one more question. But that’s my final closing question at the best of time. But, you know, I’ve certainly enjoyed going all across the terrain, as it were.

 

Victoria Volk 

Can I ask you a question? So what was the aha, did you have any aha moments of what I shared about grief.

 

Bryn Edwards 

And I think there’s a couple of things. Starting with the backpack, but then also linking it to the lack of emotional literacy. So I shared some of them. But then I think I think the biggest one was the one that I’ve just we just picked up on a minute ago about the fact that we have taken rituals out of our culture. And hence, and, I guess, and what I’m about to say, I don’t say it in any way to offend, but in a strange kind of way. You’re having to, you are providing a service, and having to do it commercially. Because it’s no longer within our communities, and then our society, if you get what I mean, because the skills, you know, the skills, the reverence, the rituals, the symbols have been taken out and taken out and taken out. Yet, this is still a very human response that, you know, no pills, no uploading to Facebook, or Google is ever going to get rid of, because we’re human beings. And this is how we do life. And so you know, where before, they would at least be some sort of support mechanism and something via the medium of rituals and symbols, and a reverence, a degree of reverence for the cycle of life and death. With that being swept away and swept away and swept away and swept away. We’re at this sort of strange place where in order to healthfully process my grief, I have to reach out and go and pay for a service the same as I might have to get my car serviced. And I’m not being demeaning to you by any stretch of the imagination. But it’s it’s kind of a weird and wacky world that we’re heading towards Where, where, you know, you’re now a specialist in an area that by rides should be woven into our community. And that’s, does that make sense?

 

Victoria Volk 

Yes, bingo. you’ve connected the dots. you’ve connected the dots because of how we’ve gotten here, right? We’ve gotten to where we are And the interesting thing is time

 

Bryn Edwards 

thinking about systems and complex systems and how we’ve got to how we’ve got to

 

Victoria Volk 

well, in me just going through my end of life doula training, versus the experience I actually had with the passing of my father because he had cancer, and he was in the nursing home. And it brings me great sadness to know that he could have had a different experience. Yeah, the last of his days could have been so much different. He could have been empowered to make decisions that were that were what he desired. We could have been more involved as a family because an end of life doula helps the dying, create their end of days. Yes. What legacy Do you want to leave? How do you want to go out of this world? Do you want your family and loved ones to wash your body? Like that never even occurred to me until I got my training? Like was that even possible? Like, so many people don’t even think that’s possible, you know, to really have this last loving gesture to their for their loved one. Yeah. And so it really helps doulas helped to bridge the gap between the medicalization. Yes, here’s, this is the thing too, I’ll circle back to that. But families don’t know that they have the option to really, and even those dying, that, that it could be different. Like, it doesn’t have to be this way, you know. But how we medicalize death, dying, we medicalize grief,

 

 

we do birth,

 

Victoria Volk 

race, even like just but we medicalize dying in that, you know, let’s do the scans, let’s, you know, do the chemo, let’s do all these things, even though the doctor may know it’s not going to change the outcome. So instead, this person is spending their last of their life in a hospital bed, when they could be in hospice, where their symptoms are managed. But yet they can stay lucid enough to actually have a conversation with their loved ones. And experience a an end of life experience that is really a completion of their of their life in a beautiful way. Like that’s possible. And so many people don’t think that is now of course, in an instance of a car accident or something tragic. That isn’t possible. And I actually I actually thought, I want to go quick. I don’t know what’s happening, you know, but my end of life doula training, actually, it’s not that I wish for cancer. But if I’m given the opportunity to choose how I go out, and I can give my loved ones a beautiful experience of my end of days to share with me, that does a lot for their bereavement. That’s one thing I’ve learned is if we can stop medicalizing dying and death, and get back to an end grief, like with the pills, yeah, let’s quit medicalizing grief.

 

 

Yeah,

 

Victoria Volk 

we would be a better society for it. Mm hmm.

 

Bryn Edwards 

And you can extend that back to birth, which is apparently one of our first areas of grief.

 

Victoria Volk 

I actually just heard a story yesterday a woman was sharing on social media about she had a really traumatic Syria and her first child was a Syrian, a C section birth and she really wanted a VBAC. You know, vaginal birth after Caesarean and the doctor. The hospital is like, nope, nope, nope, too risky. Too risky. Your babies are too big or too small. It’s too risky. She changed hospitals, hired a birth doula and had her VBAC. But had she listened to this, you know what they were telling her? You know, she went with her intuition, she went with what she wanted. It was it was a beautiful experience that she had, you know, so I think no one knows you better than you. But at the same time, when you’re full of grief, it’s really hard to know what you need and what you you know, what you need, but ruminating in the story is not going to help, you

 

Bryn Edwards 

know, as, as we discussed earlier on.

 

 

Yeah.

 

Bryn Edwards 

So the last question that I still like to ask all my guests, and it’s a hypothetical one, which I enjoy. The answer to

 

 

is,

 

Bryn Edwards 

I can just slow down the whole world for 10 minutes. And, and I would allow you, Victoria to upload one single question into the collective consciousness. Everyone just sat down quietly and thought about it for 10 minutes. What would that be?

 

 

Oh,

 

Victoria Volk 

that’s a good question. Can I get back to you on that? Oh, man.

 

 

Wow.

 

Victoria Volk 

It’s a profound question. I love that. Um, what does your heart need to say? What does your heart say?

 

 

This comes come straight up for you. Yeah.

 

Victoria Volk 

I think we really don’t take the time to connect with our hearts. It’s all up in logic

 

 

up in cognitive world. Yeah.

 

Victoria Volk 

What’s yours?

 

Bryn Edwards 

I got asked that in the last podcast. You should have an answer. The last podcast guest who, as well as from the US decided that he flipped it right around on to me to give himself a space to think about it.

 

Victoria Volk 

I answered first. Yeah,

 

Bryn Edwards 

yeah. So what’s mine today? How are you choosing life today?

 

 

It’s a good one.

 

Bryn Edwards 

particularly given the topic of conversation that we’ve had, how are you choosing life? And instead of what we were talking about earlier on when you were saying like, you know, someone’s a suicide survivor or something like that, you know, it’s the away from it’s what you going towards why choosing life?

 

Victoria Volk 

I have another one, actually. And I think it comes back to me like guests have

 

Bryn Edwards 

to regard this.

 

Victoria Volk 

Oh, it is good. If you had one year to live, how would you live your life today? It’s kind of piggybacking yours. But yeah, if you had one year to live, how would you want to spend it? What would you do differently?

 

 

Hmm.

 

Victoria Volk 

Okay, that’s like 10 questions.

 

Bryn Edwards 

But yeah, I see where you’re going with it. Yeah. Peter, I thoroughly enjoyed this conversation.

 

Victoria Volk 

So bye. Thank you so much.

 

Bryn Edwards 

It’s been a lot of fun. And if people want to reach out and connect, where can they find you?

 

Victoria Volk 

My website, the unleashed heart calm. I have all the links to everything on there on social media. I’m at the unleashed heart on Instagram, and my podcast is grieving voices.

 

Bryn Edwards 

Victoria, thank you so much for your time. I’ve super enjoyed it.

 

Victoria Volk 

Thank you.

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