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Episode 123: Allowing Grief with Kelly Norton

Sep 09, 2021
April Price Coaching
Episode 123: Allowing Grief with Kelly Norton

Episode Summary

Grief is a normal, natural part of every human life. Whenever we experience any change or transition or loss, we can experience grief. However, even though grief is a regular part of the human experience, most of us are ill-informed about it and we often resist grief and the painful feelings we have when we are grieving.

In today’s episode, I’m talking with grief recovery specialist, Kelly Norton, about the purpose of grief and how to allow and process your grief so that it can add to your life, rather than keep you stuck.

It’s no surprise that our thoughts about grief shape our experience of grief and through this discussion I want to offer you a new way to think and feel and use your grief to enhance your human experience.

Episode Transcript 

Welcome to the 100% Awesome Podcast with April Price. You might not know it, but every result in your life is 100% because of the thought you think. And that, my friends, is 100% awesome!

Hello, podcast universe! Welcome to episode 123 of the 100% Awesome Podcast. I'm April Price, and I have a really special treat for you today. I think for a lot of people, a lot of us are really experiencing a lot of negative emotion right now. There are so many opportunities for grief, and sadness almost everywhere we look. And so, I wanted to interview the most compassionate, and smartest, grief specialist that I know, who also happens to be my very good friend.

So, today I am interviewing Kelly Norton, who is a grief recovery specialist, and we are going to talk about grief, and negative emotion, and especially how to stop making ourselves wrong for the way we are feeling, and grieving at any particular time. And I think it will be useful, of course, to those of you who are experiencing a traditional grieving situation right now, but also for any of you who are just experiencing a whole lot of negative emotion, you don't know what to do with it. And as I was doing this interview, what I just want to kind of underline here for you at the beginning is to just like be aware of of any time that you make your negative emotion wrong in some way. This is a lesson that I am always learning, and relearning that my negative emotion is not a problem. It is not something that I have to solve, and this applies to the people that I love as well as myself, right?

And as Kelly and I talked, I kept thinking actually about my husband, who has had some really huge changes in the scope, and responsibility of his job. And I realized as we were talking how much he really is grieving, and how much I just want to argue with that, and I just want him to be happy, right? Which seems like such a good thing, wanting our loved ones to be happy and to not be grieving. But in fact, like their grief, their negative emotion is not a problem that needs solving. And when I know that it's necessary part of their Earth-life experience, necessary experience for them to, to progress through and to process, then I can just drop into mourning with them, with my husband, right? Instead of needing to change his experience.

You don't need to change anyone else's experience, and you don't need even to change your own. As Kelly says, that pain and negative emotion is there for a purpose, and it can just be there to enrich, and add to your human experience. So, this is a powerful interview, and I hope it helps you think about your grief, and your negative emotion differently, right?

So, without further ado, here is Kelly Norton. Well, thank you so much for being on the podcast today. I'm so excited to have you.

Thank you so much for having me, and it's actually the perfect day to talk about this because it's Grief Awareness Day today.

Oh my gosh, you're kidding. Oh, well, that's awesome, because I think actually all of us need more awareness about grief. I think in general, we're pretty like ill informed about grief.

Yeah, I agree.

Like, as a society, I just don't know if we, it's not something like we talk a lot about because it's not like a fun, happy subject, right?

No, no. It's something that we kind of deal with, you know, really internally. And everybody experiences that, but nobody talks about it.

Oh, I love that thought that everybody experiences it, and no one talks about it. It's true. It is a universal human experience.

It is, it is. It's just part of life for all of us.

Yeah, and yet we're not really taught how to do it. Or maybe there isn't a how, but we're not taught that either. I guess we just don't really talk about it. So, just to give people a little background on you so that they know that like, I'm not just talking to my friend, you know, you are my friend about grief, but you actually have some knowledge and expertise. Just tell people a little bit about what you do, and your training, and then we'll get into it.

Okay, so I was getting a master's degree in gerontology at USC and didn't really know what I wanted to do with it. And we had a speaker in a class say, if you really want to help people, you should look into grief recovery. And it was kind of like this gong went off and I was like, Oh, no, that's what I want to do. And so, I really felt that call to, you know, mourn with those that mourn, and have that be my work. And so, it was a little daunting to be like, I'm really, really because I like happy things. But I find it really happy and rewarding work. So, I after I graduated, I did training through the Grief Recovery Institute, and I just kind of keep doing training through them. And then I did some training in wellness counseling through Cornell and the Mayo Clinic. So, that's kind of my background.

Yeah, you're very well trained. It's amazing.

Yeah, I even love that phrase. Grief recovery, right? Like that? Like, what does that mean to you?

For me, it means getting emotionally complete with all the losses that we have because we're never going to get over, and be like that didn't, we're not trying to erase it, you know. Like that didn't happen, and we don't have any feelings about it. It's just, yeah, we have so much unfinished emotions that we have to really complete that cycle or we can't move on and think new thoughts and have new experiences, because it's so easy to get bogged down, and stuck in that grief cycle.

So, I love how you said that, like we're not going to be like back to where we were, but we are going to be we're going to complete this part of our life so that we can move on. But we're never really like back to where we were before the loss.

Yeah, no, because I think with each experience in life like it adds to, it adds to us and, you know, we learn things, and we, it just becomes part of the fabric of who we are.

I love what you said there that it adds to like, I would never think of grief like an addition, but that is such a powerful way to think about it, that it adds to the fabric of our life, of our experience.

Yeah, I mean, it's hard, but you know, as you say, like it's 50/50, it's one of those 50 that we don't really want. But yeah, it can, you know, help us. We learn so much about ourselves, and about other people, and how to help other people that we just didn't realize before going through loss of our own. And it just makes us more complete as people I think.

Oh my gosh, I love that thought. Okay, how would you define grief? Like, I think we have a certain like perception of like what counts as grief, or what doesn't count as grief. Like how do you define it?

I define it as the normal, and natural response to loss, or change of any kind. So, it's just, you know, the the emotions that come with that and sometimes they are all over the place. But that's what I that's how I define it.

Yeah, so any loss, I think it's interesting how you said change too, like that's that's actually. You know, I always think of like traditionally like losing a spouse, losing a loved one, but I think it's really powerful to think about that each one of us like experiences emotion when we go through loss of any kind, or change of any kind.

Yeah, we often, we most often think of death, or divorce as being like the two big things, but you know, there's over 40 life circumstances where we have grief. Even things that we like, so this is like we in the future, but like retirement. So something, we planned for, and we're so excited about it, and then it comes, and it's like, oh this is a big change. And who am I now that I don't work in like all these? And you're excited about it, but you're also like, you know, disappointed. Like, there's just so many things that can happen. And, you know, moving is another one that's like, we don't necessarily lose anything. Well, sometimes we do. We lose familiar places in friends. Yeah, sometimes we're excited, you know, ready to move on. But and so just yeah, yeah, there's just so many things where grief comes up that we don't think of.

Yeah, it just reminded me, as you were talking about retirement, it just made me really think about like my daughter, as she transitioned, she graduated from college, and she's transitioning just into like adult life after school. And how, like, difficult, like, she's so overjoyed. And this is great. And there's so many good things, but also there's a loss there, and the loss sort of identity as well. And it made me think of missionaries too, like it's such a big change, right? And like defining yourself, and getting value, and and seeing yourself in one way and then going through that transition time.

Yeah. Yeah, all those transitions really can be opportune, you know, opportunities where we feel...

Yes! Or like even mothers whose children like, you know, like when the last one goes to school, or when they all leave the home, like, those are all moments. And so, I think it's, I guess, goes back to what you were saying at the beginning that grief is universal and that, that we all like the better we can get at processing grief, and, you know, completing those emotional cycles, the more equipped you'll be to, like, emotionally move on.

Yeah, even I've talked to moms to have like their oldest leaves the home for the first time, and they're like, oh yeah, I just realized our family dynamic is always going to be different now. It's not the same and you're like, and that's grief, you know. And it's like, I have been there.

Yes, me too. I was so devastated when Caleb left home. Everybody in the ward still jokes about it, like I could not stop crying, right? And I didn't have the same experience with my other kids went through, and there was a part of me like, Well, did I like him better? They were all like, Yes, you did. No, I didn't. It was just like that family unit where we all lived at home together, and like, you know, that was changing. And I really did mourn it. Like, I was like, oh, we're not going to be around this table anymore, like this, like it's always been, you know?

I think I cried almost every day of my- and I'm not a big crier like I get teared up with like, you know, little touching things with the Olympics or, you know, stuff like that. But I'm not a big crier, but I would like cry all the time. My oldest daughter's, senior year, and I was so proud of her and so excited for her. And she was like, you know, living her dreams. And I was just like, Yes, I want you to do this. And also like oh it's never going to be the same.

Yes, totally! Okay so, I wanted to talk about what I consider to be, and maybe this is like ill informed and you can correct me, but I wanted to talk about that, I think there's like grief itself, right? And the emotions that we have with that. And then there's, I think, an additional and sort of like maybe I would even say "unnecessary" part of grief that comes when we judge our feelings and we judge our grief. So, can you talk a little bit about that? Like what you see as like sometimes I think even that judgement gets in the way of us processing our grief because we're like so busy judging ourselves for our experience.

A hundred percent like that is just so, I don't even know the word like that's just so right on with what I see. So, oftentimes I find that people are, you know, feeling like they're doing it wrong. So, they have these "shoulds" in their mind, like, I should be over this by now. I should be ready to date again. I should be able to get through this without crying. It's been a year I should feel better or, yeah, you know, I should get back to it. Just all these shoulds. Yes, and those those thoughts, I think, create shame, at least in me. They create shame. And then like, shame doesn't illuminate anything. It just puts a lid on us. And then we just are, simmering in this soup of grief and shame, and that's just a really terrible place to be. So yeah, I think the judging of our grief and how we're supposed to be doing it and I'm being too dramatic or, you know, maybe I should be crying more like all those things because

You can't have too much, and you can't have not enough.

And the world we live in doesn't really support it either. You know, like people are on average given like one to three days of bereavement leave from their jobs. So, it's like, take Friday off for the funeral and then be back at work on Monday. And we're like, okay, I guess I'm going to be fine on Monday, and we're not, you know? Or we have that year expectation, but it's like, well, you know, after a year, you'll feel better and like, okay, why?

What happens at the Magic Year mark? Yeah, I remember years ago hearing someone say that, like the second year was even worse than the first when she lost her husband. So, I don't know. I mean, that's like, there's no rules, right?

Right. And I think sometimes the support from other people dwindles off after that first year because they're like, you're fine now. I guess you should be fine now, right?

Yeah, totally. So, you talked about the shoulds, like, is there a right way to grieve. Like you know, we're kind of taught that... I'll just tell you what I know about grief is like just a layperson who's had no idea. What I know about grief is there are five stages, right? Now, like, I just tell me what you think about that. Like, I just think, like if there are five stages, we sort of expect that will progress through those and there will be an end to grief at some point. What have you thought about that?

So, Elizabeth Kubler-Ross was the one who came up with the what we know is the five stages of grief, and she actually developed that she worked with hospice patients and terminal illness. And so, she actually developed that as the five stages of grief a person goes through when you are like, you yourself, are diagnosed with a terminal illness. So, if I was diagnosed with terminal cancer, those would be the the stages of grief that those patients. But I would sort of apply it to everything. And she actually said she wished she had not put that out because it really everyone just took it and ran with it. She was like, Why of all the things I have done, this is the thing. And kind of it's been reassigned to all grief and she's like, it doesn't actually apply. So, there are, you know, we talk about the five stages of grief, but they don't go when they don't go linear. Like it's when people are like, am I angry? Am I, you know, am I in denial? Like, they're trying to pinpoint where they are in the, you know, in those stages? And then, you know, you may you may feel angry, but you may also never feel angry, and you're like, I'm still waiting for that anger to come, and that's just not going to be part of it. So, I would say let go of the five stages of grief. Everybody is going to experience it differently, depending on you and your relationship with your loss, even in a family, if you know four siblings lose a parent, they're all going to grieve it differently because they had a different relationship with that person.

Oh, I love. I love the thought of that. That like, we all do it differently. And yet we sort of have an expectation, like if I'm doing it this way, you should do it that way also.

Yeah. And sometimes that's one of those things that goes back to creating shame of like, we're doing it wrong because it's like you never visit dad's grave, so you must not care about him. And you know, it's it's just you've got to do it your own way.

So how do you think? But like as you coach your clients, how do you help them out of that judgment? I mean, I feel like that's what I'm doing constantly with my clients as well. Not necessarily with grief, though that comes up, of course, but just like hard judgment of ourself, I feel like gets in the way so much. And I'm just constantly like inviting my clients to, like, not make themselves wrong.

Yeah, we spend a few weeks talking about why you're not wrong. Yeah, and just all the other coping mechanisms that we used, you know, and we have to cope in some way. We're not really taught how to do it. But those emotions create energy in our body and we have to get them out some way. So, people get it out by exercising, or drinking or, you know, overeating or, you know, any number of of ways. And those things create shame, too, and they can, you know, they don't always, but they can. And it's like your brain is just trying to help you get this survive and get this out and get this through. And it doesn't always pick the most effective ways to do it. And so, once you learn new ways to process those emotions, you don't have to do those things or those things can become signals to you of like,oh there's something going on. And I'm like spending hours just looking at Pinterest or, you know, yes, Instagram, whatever. What am I trying not to feel? And so, it kind of helps us zero in on our feelings and not have judgment because it is hard. Like it really is hard, and we're just doing the best we can to cope with it.

Yeah. I don't know if this is the perfect place to bring it up, but I it made me think as you were talking there, I'd like you to talk a little bit about like, and I don't really have the right term for this, but sort of like, world grief? Like, you know, like right now, like I feel like we get so much information about other people's suffering, right? Like there was a time, I think in human, like the existence of the humans where you didn't know about suffering everywhere. But now we live at a time where really like, you know, about suffering across the world, right? And I'm not saying that's good or bad, but I wonder if you have any thoughts about what we do with this awareness, of suffering? Like when we feel so bad, and we're like kind of inundated with the pain of other people, what we do with that kind of grief.

Yeah, I totally know what you're talking about. And then, sometimes we see all these things that are going on and then somebody will post on Instagram, well, what you really should be talking about is what's going on in Lebanon? Like if you don't know about this then you don't really care. And it's like, oh my goodness, we're like at the tip top of what we can absorb. I would say the first thing is to talk to somebody about it, like, just talk about it. Find somebody who you can just trust with your heart, and talk about it, and just get it out. And be like, you know, I'm feeling this about this, and I'm feeling helpless, and I'm feeling, you know, sad, and I'm so broken hearted. And then, I would say, you know, obviously, if people could solve world problems, maybe they would have, you know? Like, you're like, I'm one person, and I cannot solve Afghanistan, right? But if you can find a way to help in your little sphere in your little way, it all adds up. So, if it's a donation or yeah, time, or you know, just find a way to take some action. It kind of helps us feel less helpless and feels like we're doing something.

Yeah, our own way to heal the world.

Yeah, and I think too, like I always tell my girls this, we find what we look for, and so look for ways that people are being amazing in these crises. You know, look for the people who are helping, and let that inspire you, that it's not all terrible. There's good people trying to do good things, and you can be part of that.

Yeah, I love the thought. This goes back to the 50/50, but I always think like pain, and suffering, and darkness does not increase unilaterally, like it's always going to be 50/50. And so, on the other side of that, there is more love, there is more understanding, there is more compassion in the world. We just first of all, our brains aren't programmed to see it. And second of all, it's not going to be a headline. But you're right. Like, it won't just increase on the negative end, the world is always expanding on both sides. I think that's really powerful to remember. As you were saying that, I remember talking to a client who was, you know, she was saying how she just can't stand the suffering of animals. And she presented this as a problem to me. Like she was like, I need to solve this. I need to stop caring. What happens to animals, right? She's like, I just, you know, I heard about, like in her neighborhood, somebody lost their dog just like I went out for hours looking for this dog and like, that's a problem, right? And I was like, what if it's not, right? She's just like, I can't just watch the commercials or like, what happens the animals, you know? And my heart just goes out and like, I feel too much. I shouldn't feel so bad about these things that are like so far outside of me and again. I guess that goes back to the judgment. But I just wonder, what you would say to people who feel like I feel too much.

No, I would say, I think that's a good thing because I think we live in a world where. So, especially the last while like so much is coming out, and it's really easy to just close off your heart and be like, I'm done. And I don't care. And I think, you know, you're a human being with a beating heart and you, like, you still care about stuff. I think that's a really good thing. And it says a lot about you as a person, and your ability to have compassion, and empathy. And there's nothing wrong with caring too much. I don't think there's a such thing as too much.

Yeah, I love that. And I think it really stems from the assumption that I think is true for almost everybody I know, which is that like we're all in a hurry to feel better, and if we feel bad, then we think something's gone wrong, right? And like whether it's grief or, you know, something else, some other kind of negative emotion when we know, okay my thoughts are creating my feelings, and we then are like, well, and therefore I should be able to feel better. And if I was strong enough, and good enough, and doing it right, then I wouldn't feel so bad all the time. So, like I'm just curious what you think about the idea that like about, not being in a hurry to feel better, or at least like allowing yourself to feel bad.

I think it's really important to allow yourself to feel bad, to allow yourself to really feel the grief is not comfortable, it's not fun. But worse, it's there for a purpose and it's supposed to be hard. Like as much as we just don't want to have hard experiences. And I'm right there with like, I don't want that. I get it. But is it supposed to be hard? And when we talk about being in a hurry to feel better, you know, I think sometimes we just run away from those emotions like, we're not actually solving them, we're just running away from them, and they're just going to keep tapping you on the shoulder. And, you know, just keep like, I'm here. Yes? Remember me? I'm here, you know? And so it's really when we can kind of feel the emotions, you know, feel them in our bodies, which is something you've taught me. And then they pass, and it really is a remarkable thing for me. It has been for me to be like, okay where is this in my body? Yes, the feeling it is creating this and it just helps it not be chasing me down.

Oh yeah, I love that image. Like, we're opening our arms up to end just feeling in our body, so it doesn't have to keep chasing us down. And that is so exhausting, right? Like holding all of that emotion at bay all the time. Like, it requires so much effort and it's so exhausting.

Yeah, I had a client recently asked, Is it normal to be exhausted? And I was like, yes, it is. Like, even when you're not thinking about grief, your brain knows about it. And there's like biological processes happening, your brain is spending so much energy that you're not aware of, and it is exhausting, and it's exhausting to pretend to be fine all the time. And it's really exhausting. That's just the perfect word for it.

So, I think like all of us, because we sort of assume like negative emotion. Well, first of all, it's not desirable, you're right, it's uncomfortable. But also, I think, you know, there's a perception that if you could be happy, you should be, right? Like happiness is a choice, and then like, understood in that is like, and therefore you should always be choosing it. Like, I would like to keep like, happiness is a choice, but like, could we just remove the part about how we're supposed to choose it, right? So, I had a client the other day who was talking about how she lost her husband about twenty-two months ago, and she said her granddaughter was getting married, and this phrase stood out to me. She said, I did so good all day. And then, on the daddy daughter dance when she was dancing with her father, she's like, I just lost it, and just started crying. And what stood out to me was this thought, I did so good all day as if, like not crying, and not feeling bad is doing good. Like, that's the mark that you're strong, and you're doing this good. And I just think, you know, it's just so painful. I said, You, you're always doing good, right? Like, even the crying gets perfect. But I just wonder, like your thoughts about that?

Yeah, I would say, you're not doing it wrong. You know, you're doing it just right. And those emotions come up for a reason. You know, we oftentimes, we can identify grief by things that we wish were different. We wish for better. We wish were more. So, I'm sure she wishes her dad was there, you know, and that's a normal response to wishing that, especially at such a significant moment.

So, yeah, it goes back to that judgment of ourselves like, I'm doing good.

I'm doing good, I'm not crying, I'm holding it together, I'm like, why do we equate good with that? It's just like interesting to notice how much judgment we all have of our negative emotion. And when we see it as bad, then it's like something we have to fix, or cure, like when negative emotion is a problem, we're like, okay I got a cure this.

Yeah, and you even have a little bit of push back against, like we call it, grief recovery. It's like you should be recovered from it. And I'm like, You know what, if you are happy with the way things are going, then you should keep doing it the way you're doing it. But if you want a different experience like that's what I'm here for, but I'm not here to tell you like, you're doing it wrong. Like, yeah, you're doing it just right. You're doing it the way that you know how to deal with it. I think we just all need so much more compassion for ourselves, especially when we're going through hard things in that, you know, being strong isn't really, you're strong just because you're going through it. And if you're crying like, who cares, you're still strong. Like, you're having emotions good, you're still strong.

What do you say to someone who's like? You know, we've talked a lot in our coaching about feeling your feelings, and just how powerful it can be to process emotion. But what would you say to someone who feels like they're going to get like, if they allow themselves to feel bad, they're like they won't ever be able to stop feeling bad, you know what I mean? Like, they'll just be sort of like swallowed in this like black hole, and not be able to come out. You know, like I've heard, so many people say to me like, well, I still have to take care of my children, how if I feel my feelings like all bets are off, I'm just going to be a puddle on the floor. What do you think about that?

I think that's it kind of holds us back from just going through it because if if we're always holding it at bay and we're never dealing with it, it's always going to be there. And I would say, like, I don't know anybody who's been in a puddle on the floor for, you know, the rest of their life, like you might be a puddle on the floor for an hour, or a day, and that's okay. And it's okay to let your kids see that you have feelings, and you have emotions, and obviously you don't want to scare them or, you know, put them in harm's way or anything like that. But we tried to be strong for other people all the time, and that's not a really great strategy for us. Like. Yeah, you have to feel it. You just have to, or it's going to keep going to just stay.

So, how do we help others with their grief? like how can we be more helpful to other people experiencing grief? Like in general? And also, I'd love to have you talk a little bit about our children to how we help them?

Okay yeah so in general, I would say we are so afraid of saying the wrong thing, that we don't don't say anything sometimes, or we'll say, you know, thoughts and prayers, which kind of gets a little empty after a while, I would say ways to support people are being there, not being afraid to talk about the person who, if they've lost a person, might not be afraid to use their name, or talk about them, or share memories with them. People don't want to think their loved ones are forgotten, but we're also afraid that like, what if I bring, you know, her mom up, and then she starts to cry, and she can't get it back together, you know? And she may start to cry, and that's okay. But having an opportunity to talk about their loved ones is really nice. And sometimes I think like we're so quick to text, or call somebody or, you know, leave a message. But something that's really nice to send the physical card. It means a lot if we can write a personal message, it's something they can go back to, and look at where they're not going to scroll through their old texts and find the nice thing. And really just allowing them to do it their way, and talk if they want to. And they may say, I just don't want to talk about it, and you can say, you know, yeah, I'll sit by you in silence. Or maybe they want to be alone like it really kind of finding out what they want. And don't wait for them to tell you, like, they're not going to call you, and say, April I could use dinner tonight it just doesn't happen.


So, being proactive and, you know, remembering the special dates, if that's something that's, you know, important to them. Like if a child dies, remembering their birthdays, things like that that even years to come are really meaningful, and helpful to people. But really, just having somebody to talk to you that's not trying to fix them is a huge thing.

Yeah, I love that about not wanting to fix them, not wanting to fix the grief, not wanting to fix the emotion, not wanting to fix any of it, right? Just yeah, like. And I think that's an interesting thing. Like mourn with those that mourn, doesn't mean fix those that are mourning, right? I think it really is like, can you suffer with rather than change it or fix? It's really a powerful thing. And what do you think about like when our children are grieving is the same? Is it the same principle, or are there other things that we need to keep in mind like?

Oh, another thing I thought of is when we're talking with other people is don't say anything that begins with the words "at least" like at least, at least, cut that out. Anything that comes out, at least, is just not helpful. Like at least like they already know whatever comes next. They already know that. And it's yes, it's never a helpful phrase. And really, the phrase is just there to make it like, I want to take your pain away. So, think this happy, and exact intention is to take the pain away? I think, like right away, we're in trouble. I think you have to approach it as like my intent is never to take this pain away. It's just to mourn with you or whatever support you in it, but never to lessen it.

Yeah totally.

So for children, I would say, you know, we never think of our children really as having grief. I remember when my oldest was a baby, and I was just like looking down at her, and crying and my husband came in the room and he was like, what's wrong? And I was like, someday someone's going to be mean to her, and he's like, What? She's a newborn baby. And it's just kind of that moment where, you know, I love this little baby so much, and some day, like hard things are going to happen to her. And we have that protective instinct of that. And then, you know, it makes you think of the movie Finding Nemo, where Nemo's mom has died, and Nemo's dad is super overprotective of Nemo because he doesn't want that. Like, yes, eaten by a barracuda or whatever, and he doesn't want that to happen. And so, he's very protective and never lets anything happen. And then I think it's Dory says, like, if nothing ever happens to him, nothing's ever going to happen to him. Like, we have to let our kids have experiences. So, the most common things kids experience are that lead to grief, are death of a pet, and death of a grandparent, divorce of their parents, and moving. So, those are the big ones. But when we look at like, I mean, I look at my kids and when my daughter was like eight, her favorite racehorse died, and it was just devastating.

Devastating for her.

And so, even though celebrity deaths and things like that, and our first instinct is to make them feel better and say like, well, you didn't even you didn't even know Kobe Bryant. You know? But they have a relationship with them in our minds, because our relationships are excreted by our thoughts. And so I think it's being free to support kids. It's really important to know that their emotions are real, and so listen to them. And it's always the most inconvenient times that they kind of open up, and want to talk, it seems like it's usually in the car or like you're putting him to bed, and you're just about to close the door and they're like, Mom. And you're like, oh, no, I just want to go sit on the couch. But that's kind of when those feelings come out, and just to be able to again, not try to fix it, not try to placate it or, you know, paper over it, but just to listen to them and be there to support them.

And yeah that's one of the things that coaching, one of the gifts that coaching gave me, I feel like I was one of those moms that I was always like, well, you know, be happy, be cheerful, like, put a smile on. And coaching really taught me that like other people, first of all, are supposed to hurt. They are supposed to suffer and that our children are no exception. As painful as that is for, like you said, with your daughter. But I think like one of the gifts coaching gave me was just to recognize like, I don't have to fix their negative emotion, like I'm just here to, like, hold space for it, and like, let them have it, and tell them that they are not wrong for whatever it is they're feeling. But like, I just, you know, every time I talk to my daughter, who's serving her mission right now, like she will be sobbing, and my husband is looking at me like, can you fix this? And I'm just like, you know, I know, like in my mind, I'm just saying to myself, it is not my job to fix this. Nothing's gone wrong, like she gets to cry and be stressed, and feel scared, and all the things she's feeling, and it's not my job to fix it, and I think that thought that it's not our job to fix it, I think it can be so helpful for whatever emotion our children are going through.

Absolutely. Yeah, because I think when we try to fix it, we just try to help them cover it up, and we kind of teach them that. You know, that being said well, it would be like if you're going to cry, go to your room, you know, like, this is not acceptable.

No negative emotion in the family room, right?

If you're going to have a tantrum, you can't eat dinner with us.

But yeah, I agree with you in so many, like inadvertent ways, we, you know, because we're so averse to negative emotion, we kind of train our children the same way. So I think that's a really powerful thought.

Yeah and that's how we were trained, you know, like, we are not trying to do them harm. We just think that's this is how it is like this is just how it is. So, we can, you know, we were taught that way and our parents were probably taught an even harsher way.

Totally, totally. Okay what would you say to someone who has the thought like that? They shouldn't need help processing their grief that like they should be able to figure this out on their own, and like, get through it.

I think I would say, why should you be able to figure this out on your own?

Like what does that thought come?

Yeah, I think it's part of like being strong, and we think we want to be strong. We want to we want people to think we're strong, and we've got it together. And asking for help is really vulnerable, and it puts us into a place where we're like, I can't do this myself. And that's hard, especially when we're capable in other areas of our lives. That may be the first time that we've felt like I don't know what to do. the tools to do this myself, and I don't have the emotional bandwidth to do it myself. Like, I need some help and I think it's, you know, it's a it's a tough thing to ask for help, but I would say like it's just like learning any new skill, like if you have to learn how to make croissants. Yeah, that's hard to do this on your own, like maybe that is so find somebody who knows how. And they can show you, and be with you, and be like, oh no, that's too much butter or, you know, whatever. And I would say just it's again, it just goes back to that judgment of like where I think, you know, as Americans were just so independent and we want to do it ourselves. And it really puts you in a vulnerable place to ask for help, but I think it's really a rewarding thing to feel like, oh, I don't have to do this myself.

I love you talking about it as a skill because I really believe that. I believe that feeling negative emotion is a skill, that it's something that we develop and we grow our capacity to do right. That's one of the reasons that I admire Christ so much and mean, I have him because of his capacity to feel bad, to feel all the negative emotion that I really see it as a skill that he developed. And I think that. It's so powerful to think like asking for help to improve your skill at that is like such an empowering thought like I can get better at feeling this, and you know, and that's going to only increase my skill that I can then use throughout my life. And in other situations with other people when they're grieving all of that.

Yeah, absolutely. I like that it's really empowering because I used to have this really naive idea that, like everyone got one hard thing in life. You know, it's like, well, this trial in life. I'm like, I was probably an adult before I was like oh, it seems like there's more than one type thing. But it's like, you don't want to think about there's future hard things, but it's what I love about it. It's like, okay, I've got these skills, and I know when hard things come because they do for all of us. Yes. And as we, you know, as we get older, there are more things that happen. And you know, there's more relationships in our lives and more people we love and, you know, just more opportunities for grief to happen. And yes, we have those skills, then it's not so scary.

Um, I have a client right now who is like, I'm just scared of the idea of death and I want you to help me through that. And I was like, okay, yeah, that was a little daunting. But I was like, really? It's if once you have like the skill to process emotion, nothing like ever anything that happened you can handle.

Your phrase just reminded me, I have a good friend that when she was young, married, they lost their baby daughter, and then years later, she lost her husband in an in an accident, he was killed, and at the funeral she talked about high watermarks of grief, like, you know, the lines on the canyon wall when the water comes and like, she's like, I thought that was the height. Like, losing my daughter was the high water mark. And she's like, it turns out, like there are higher marks than that, you know? But it just made me think about like it really is a skill that like you can develop and that you're right, that there is no end to the hard things. But when you, know, and you have confidence in your ability to feel, and process your emotions, then there's nothing that you can't handle.

Yeah, and being able to look back and see like I've been through all of these things, and I'm still here, and I'm still awesome and I'm, you know, like I can do this you can do this. Like it's hard, but you can do this.

Oh, I love that. Oh, so good. So good. Okay, so I want you to just tell people how they can work with you if they are going through grief, and they want help with their skill, and their management, and their recovery, how do they find you?

So, I'm on Instagram at Kelly Norton Coaching and my website is And I have a little button there where you can set up a free 30-minute call with me just to talk about it, and see if it's something you want to do. And I I work with people over eight weeks. It's an eight-week program, so it's not like a perpetual thing, one-on-one where we just go through the tools of grief recovery and help people feel better.
Oh, that's amazing. And they know you're launching a course soon for kids or teenagers, tell me about that.

So, it's actually a course for adults. But it's called helping children with loss, and it's a four week course. It's 10 hours or four weeks, and it's about just the things, it's for parents, grandparents, teachers, school administrators, youth pastors like anybody who really works with children all the way up to young adults. And it's just kind of a class where we can see how to help kids, and it helps you, like, identify what they might be thinking, what they might be going through, and then gives you some tools to help them work through it. And so, you can kind of identify in your your children like, I think, you know, I think they're grieving because sometimes we don't even know what they're going through. They seem fine. We think they're fine. So, it kind of helps adults help children, and I like to think of like what I do as like the treatment, but then this is the prevention. So like, it would be awesome if these kids never needed me because they know how to process their emotions that come from hard things, and they just grow. And you can teach that because you know your kids the best. And so, you teach that to them that this gives you the tools to teach them. I'm super excited about it because I think it would be so awesome if we adjust well into adulthood knowing how to process. Because, like you said, there's so many hard things that we each go through. And I think children right now are so vulnerable to grief. They are all processing so much change, and pain, and we're kind of ill equipped to be able to even like, identify it and see it, let alone address it.

Yeah, I think, like you said with the you know, we're bombarded with automation, and they're bombarded with it too, and then they have friends to come to talk to them because they don't want to talk about their parents. And so, I talked to their parents. And so, they don't. It's they are carrying a lot. And if we can give them tools to be able to process it and not be just have that like backpack of boulders they're carrying around, you know, like I think of our kids, yeah, to wearing those giant backpacks and the like, it eventually does, like wreck your back. And it's the same way with grief we have in our backpacks. And it really it starts to take a toll on you. And so, if we can give our kids those tools to, you know, get those things out of the backpack and process. It's just such a gift to them.

Well, thank you so much for being here. Is there anything else you want people to know about grief as we go?

It's normal, it's natural, it's supposed to be this way, and you're not doing it wrong. That's that's my message all the time is you're not doing it wrong. It's there's no timeline that you should be through with it. This is it's your heart, your grief, your timeline, and just have some compassion for yourself. And yeah, and we can all probably try to have some compassion for, you know, each other, too as we go through these things. But thank you for having me on,it was so awesome!

Oh, you're so awesome. Thank you so much for being here and for the work you do. I know it makes a huge impact, so thanks for doing what you do to heal the world. Thanks so much for joining me on the podcast today. If you want to take the things I've talked about and apply them in your life so that you can love your Earth-life experience. Sign up for a free coaching session at This is where the real magic happens and your life starts to change forever as your coach. I'll show you that believing your life is 100% awesome is totally available to every one of us. The way things are is not the way things have to stay. And that, my friends is 100% awesome!


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