What happens when in retirement the person you want to experience life together with passes away? Your dreams might be shattered, the goals and experiences you've been looking forward to might be destroyed. But how can someone rediscover their self purpose after losing a loved one? Can it happen or what can we do if we feel stuck in the grieving process? Enter Bodhi Simpson, a Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor and a Registered Art Therapist. Bodhi has a private practice in Waterville, Maine called Conscious Art Therapy. Listen in to this episode to see what she has to say!
What You'll Learn In This Podcast Episode:
On this episode of The Retirement Success in Maine Podcast, the team takes some time to discuss a necessary topic. Inevitably, going through life, we all experience the loss of a loved one, but how we process and grieve that loss may differ dramatically. At Guidance Point, Ben, Abby, and Curtis are often front-line to seeing this type of grief but are not professionally trained in the topic. So why not talk with someone who is? Joining this conversation is Bodhi Simpson, a Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor and a Registered Art Therapist. She has a private practice in Waterville, Maine called Conscious Art Therapy.
Bodhi shares her expertise and experience by answering numerous questions from the team, including, “What to expect when going through the grieving process?” “What does a ‘typical’ session with a grief counselor look like?” “How does someone find a grief counselor?” Be sure to tune in and listen to what Bodhi has to say about these questions and more!
Welcome, Bodhi! [3:07]
What makes the work that Bodhi does unique? [7:17]
What to expect in the grieving process? [14:00]
What is the session look like when someone seeks Bodhi’s help? [23:53]
What is a successful journey through the grief process? [35:31]
What is Retirement Success for Bodhi? [41:01]
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline Information. [43:08]
Ben, Abby, and Curtis wrap up the episode. [44:45]
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Ben Smith: Welcome everybody. My name is Ben Smith. I am joined by my two co-hosts Abby Doody, and Curtis Worcester. The Diana Taurasi and Sue Bird to my Candice Parker.Curtis Worcester: All right.Ben Smith: How are you guys doing today?
Curtis Worcester: Doing good.
Abby Doody: Good. How are you, Ben?
Ben Smith: I'm great. I'm great. We got a necessary topic we wanted to cover today, right? I know sometimes you get into lots of different things about life. And we know that for planning sessions, we do a lot of envisioning a successful retirement, right? And a lot of times our clients are talking about spending time with someone they love. And a lot of times maybe it's someone that they love that maybe they love more than themselves. So, as we're helping our clients to visualize the activities they want to do together, maybe it's travel, maybe it's visiting family, friends, more, really just experiencing life more.
Ben Smith: So, these coaching things, again, retirement visualization that we've covered in previous episodes, they're just wonderful exercises to really go through because you can see the energy, right? We're sitting down people, and you can see that reignited passion of, "Hey, this is a new day, and this is something we can do together." And finding that purpose because now they can start doing things they've always dreamed of, but somewhere down the road, is maybe in retirement, it's maybe a year out, 10 years out, 20 years out, one of us on our team gets a call from our clients, somebody we work with, and it's the call that we don't like. Is they're broken up, they can't get the words out.
Ben Smith: And maybe it's their husband, maybe it's their wife, a significant other, their kid, someone important in their life has just passed away. And it really just shatters their world because of all these dreams, and goals, and the things that they visualize. So, a lot of their plans feel destroyed. But we all want to make sure we're living our lives, and how do we move on? So, should we move on? Right? And how do we do that without feeling tremendous guilt for being happy in the face of loss?
Ben Smith: So, that was I think us talking about that is, we're presented with it, and we say, "Geez, we're not counselors, we're not therapists. It's not what we do, but we want to make sure that we're addressing that." So, that's the topic we want to cover in today's podcast. So, again, as we said, we're frontline, really seeing these things happen all the time. And we want to interview someone that's really been trained to help people through this type of event.
Ben Smith: So, our guest today is a licensed clinical professional counselor, and she's also a registered art therapist. She has a private practice in Waterville, Maine. It's called Conscious Art Therapy. And she's also a teacher, and artist, and a workshop and retreat facilitator. So, I'd like to welcome Bodhi Simpson to The Retirement Success in Maine Podcast. So, Bodhi, I appreciate you coming on.
Bodhi Simpson: Hello Ben. Thanks for having me.
Ben Smith: Yeah. Well, thanks for coming on. We wanted to obviously dig into the topic, but we thought obviously with our show, one of the things we want to do is always just introduce you, right? Obviously, we did a blind request of you coming on today, and got you involved in terms of what we're trying to do, but we want to make sure that our audience knows you, right? Is hear a little bit about your path getting to this point today. So, maybe you could just start with where did you grow up, and then your path maybe towards school?
Bodhi Simpson: Sure. Well, I grew up in the Central Maine, in the Waterville, Fairfield area. And when I started school, I started with our classes in college. I always express myself really easily through art. And so, took art classes, and eventually psychology, and mental health classes. And while I was taking those classes, I really started to understand some of the deeper mental health issues going on within my family system. And it just opened me up to this whole reality, and this whole world, which really the journey to become an art therapist was really a journey of my own healing. And realizing that through everything that I've been through in my life, I felt I had a strength that maybe I could offer others maybe something that I learned.
Ben Smith: Got you. So, you're essentially saying, right? Is, hey, you went through something in your life where you felt the need to heal I'm expressing myself in lots of different ways, whether it be art or ... So, can you talk a little bit about then like how did you choose that? Right? Because again, you have the art background already, and you said, "Hey, this is something personal I went through." How did you then say, "I could do anything in my life. Why did I choose to blend those two professions together?" And then say, "Hey, I can make a go of it. And this is something I want to do full-time."
Bodhi Simpson: That's a great question. So, my undergrad was not in art. It ended up being in mental health, and human services. And I was helping people, but I was missing the art, I was like, "Man, I'm just not really feeling fulfilled." And so, I actually was applying to clinical psychology programs because it felt like the next step. And I came upon a field called clinical art therapy, which I'd actually never even heard of before. It was a combination of art, and mental health, psychology, and human development. And so, when I found the field, I just had that feeling in my heart like, "Oh my gosh, this is who I am. There's a job. That's just who I am." And so, I feel like I just followed the steps as far as what felt right in the moment to find my way.
Ben Smith: It's kind of a nice feeling when you find your tribe, right?
Bodhi Simpson: Absolutely.
Ben Smith: It's like, now, I know where I belong, and there's a piece there that you don't feel that unsettled, is this right? And I think we always questioned it, regardless of even when you find it. But it's so nice to hear of, "Hey, this is what I'm meant to be, and what I'm meant to do, and those sorts of things." Can you talk a little bit about Maine, right? So, growing up in Central Maine. I know from all of us, and a lot of the guests we've interviewed that are from here, there's just always this gravity to leave, right?
Ben Smith: There's always this pull, you can go, be in the city, you go to Boston, or New York, or farther. You can go do lots of stuff. And again, Maine, when you're in it is very uncool. And sometimes it's cooler to be somewhere else. But there's this gravity to come back. So, you can talk about ... Obviously, you didn't express that part. Why did you choose Maine to be educated here, but also why stay?
Bodhi Simpson: Yeah, so I started my education in Maine at University of Maine in Augusta because it was close, and I had only been in Maine, so I was too scared to go anywhere else. And then I did like what you're talking about, I did my grad school in Massachusetts, got the heck out of here. And I didn't like it. I feel like it's such a fast paced life in the city. And there were so many therapists, and I really felt that Maine was in need. I mean, there were like two art therapists that I had ever known of in Maine at that time. I'm not sure there were a few more, but I felt like Maine needed this. So, I also love the pace here. It's beautiful, it's flowing, slower pace. So, that's why I came back.
Ben Smith: Awesome. So, obviously, you come back at that point. Can you talk towards your path towards your own private practice? Again, and as you said, well, you're now only seeing really two other practitioners that are doing art therapy, but what's been unique about your work with your clients in the areas of counseling that you're focusing on, and then how are people finding you?
Bodhi Simpson: Okay. So, actually, most people pick me because I look nice on the psychology today ad, and they don't even read that I'm an art therapist. And they come in and when I let them know I'm an art therapist, they give me that like deer in headlights look of like, "I'm not creative. I don't do art." And so, I am trained to talk therapy. And so, for many of my clients, the biggest thing is really helping people find the method of expression that's most comfortable for them. So, what I'll say is I'll just invite them to, as we check in, trying a few different techniques and modalities using creativity, if they're open to it.
Bodhi Simpson: Because sometimes we don't realize how we express ourselves until we try different ways. So, a big part of my job is just to help people open to being vulnerable, and to find compassion for themselves as they explore something new. And the reason I love art therapy is because ... Well, first of all, I feel like most people aren't really taught how to express their feelings. They weren't raised in a family that knew how to do that, and well, their parents weren't raised in that method either.
Bodhi Simpson: So, helping people to really express that raw feeling. So, it's not about creating something that's beautiful that you're going to hang on your wall. A lot of times it's really scary looking, getting at the raw emotion. And then once you've expressed something, it's outside of you, so you don't even have to know what it is you expressed or why. And once it's outside of you, then together, we can witness this visual expression of an invisible emotion. My role is to help guide people to build a relationship to what they expressed, and how it connects back to them.
Bodhi Simpson: And so, when your emotional state is seen in a witness perspective, you're a little bit removed from it emotionally. So, you can see the patterns and the beliefs a little bit more clearly. You can gain perspective to see other ways through where maybe you wouldn't have when we're just stuck talking about it over and over. In my first seven years in Maine, it was really just educating everybody about what the heck our therapy was, the power of creative expression. But now, there are like TED Talks about it. So many art therapists.
Bodhi Simpson: I mean, there's not a ton of us still at least in Central Maine. There's a few more in Southern Maine. And I'm sure there's a whole new force coming in. So, nowadays you can actually find a lot of research on it where when I was starting, it was more like we knew it was helpful, but we didn't really have the research behind it.
Ben Smith: As a follow-up to that is do you feel like that maybe as we're getting into the baby boomer generation more of getting closer to retirement, that there's maybe a little bit more openness to that in terms of like the whole expressive nature here that ... Because you can hear maybe like echoes of past generations, and especially, the ones that are the Great Depression, and World War II, and just a lot of suppression in terms of the feelings, and thoughts, and in relation to your worries, and your fears that I don't know to me observing kind of, with us working with this population, it feels like we're now ...
Ben Smith: Because we ask a lot of why, like, why do you want to do this? And you're visualizing, or you want to go here, you want to do that. And you're getting to why. And that conversation happens much more quickly I think today than it did maybe even 10 or 15 years ago, because before maybe it took you a year to five years to even get to that point that they trusted you enough to express themselves that way.
Bodhi Simpson: Definitely. Yes. It's much more mainstream to see a counselor than even 10 years ago. I feel like you're seeing it more everywhere with all ages. People are talking about it with their friends, "I'm going to see my counselor." And it's just much more accepted today than it used to be.
Ben Smith: Because not necessarily a sign of weakness. Right? Because I think before it was you're weak if you're going to get help, and you're admitting that you're weak. And now, it's like, "Well, now, I am struggling with something, but it's a sign of strength that I'm actually vulnerable enough to say that I am." And then go seek help to get over this, or maybe not get over it, but let me just express it, or maybe just to understand it better, or whatever that may be. But I know we're tangential with our services in the population, but people are people too. So, again, from our side, that's what we were seeing a whole lot more of.
Bodhi Simpson: Yeah. Emotions are information. And they're just meant to be felt, and moved through us. But I find people hold onto their feelings for 30 years, and they've never learned how to open.
Ben Smith: Yeah. And we use this example a bunch is we just see in terms of ... And again, even light stuff, happy stuff, things that people said, "I always wanted to do something." And then, even their spouse have said, "You've never told me that." Not just the pain points, which probably would be very difficult of, "Hey, this is something I'm hurt by, or you did this to me, and how do I actualize it, and reference it back to you?" Those things I could see, understand more, but even just the, "Hey, I was really excited if we could go on a trip to Italy. And I always wanted to do it." But I can't even tell them that because I don't want to offend them.
Ben Smith: And what if they're unhappy with me? And all those things back and forth. So many barriers. That's why I think, Bodhi, today with you is I wanted to have us discuss a little bit more. And I know we're going to focus on grief here in a second, but all of these. There's a barrier to expression. And I really interested in how you tackle that. So, I want to ask one more question about you Bodhi, in terms of your role. But what do you find that you love about your job? Again, I know that you said like, "Hey, I found peace with this is what I'm meant to be." But what do you love most?
Bodhi Simpson: Oh, that's a good question. I feel like I really just love holding space for people to open up to themselves. I love helping people learn how to heal themselves. It's very fulfilling.
Ben Smith: So, because really some the other side of it is like you see pain, and then you get to the bridge, and you can-
Bodhi Simpson: Yeah, you see it transform.
Ben Smith: Yeah. Because I think from our side, we're pretty jealous because a lot of our financial plans are like 30 years. How do we know if we got success or not? Well, let's meet in 30 years, or 50 years, or 60 years, and then we'll tell you if you got it or not, but so it's like, "Well, wait and see, wait and see. And then we'll know if we did a great job." I mean, a good part about yours is I think you'll see a little bit more immediate feedback, which is great.
Bodhi Simpson: Yes, definitely.
Ben Smith: Awesome. Well, I want to shift to, again, this idea that the title of today's show is rediscovering self-purpose after losing a loved one. Right? Because again, sometimes our identity is maybe us as a couple, or me, maybe a relationship with a child, or that you identify as maybe a family. Right? And not necessarily as individual there. So, I want to talk about a grieving process, right? So, let's say it's day one, and I'll just use just an example here. A wife loses her husband of 40 years, just because we see that a lot, right? It's usually the husband that passes away before the wife.
Ben Smith: And usually, it's a longstanding relationship. They're inseparable. They're in love. Can you talk about the various steps, like when that happens. Again, day one, this person just lost their loved one. What very steps must that person face as they address their grief towards losing a loved one?
Bodhi Simpson: This is a really good question because I feel like when people are going through this process, that's what they're asking me is like, "Okay, what stages have I been through? And what's the next one?" Like we're just looking for structure around this really loose, universal experience of grief. There are different stages of grief that Elisabeth Kübler-Ross developed, which was like denial, and acceptance, and anger, and depression, bargaining. And so, people will come in and say, "Well, I haven't gotten angry yet. Like when's that one coming?" And the truth is that, all of these different stages of grief and loss, they intermingle, and you may not experience all of them.
Bodhi Simpson: So, it really is unique to a situation. There are many different types of losses, which we can talk about a little bit more, a little bit later, but a big piece of it is really taking the time to experience the pain of the loss. And also, to realign yourself to your environment first, because that's just so much change just in your daily routines, and your sense of self, and then when we go to the finding, finding meaning, and your purpose, and direction.
Abby Doody: When people are going through the grieving process, sometimes it might feel like it's going on forever. Like they're just going to be stuck in this process forever. And loved ones may want to urge them, like, "It's time to move on. It's time to get over it. Why can't you just get out of this rut that you're in?" So, is it okay to be stuck for a while? Certainly, like you were just saying there's no handbook on a time limit or anything, is it okay to be there for a while, to be grieving for a while?
Bodhi Simpson: Yeah, I think this is a great question because I do hear that from a lot of people, "My friends keep telling me to move on, or I should start dating, or I should get out there." And no, every situation with grief really is complicated. It can be a little complicated, or it can be a traumatic loss you know somebody who's passed suddenly versus somebody who's been ill for a very long time. And with grief, what we're experiencing is that sense of separation.
Bodhi Simpson: So, that loss of connection to your best friend, to your loved one, to your support system. And like Ben mentioned, you know somebody sometimes you feel you love even more than yourself, more than life itself. But the truth is we don't want to keep ourselves stuck. So, 10 years is a long time to stay stuck in the process. So, we do want to express and find ways to move through it.
Ben Smith: And can I ask a follow-up there, Bodhi, in terms of, I think some of it from an outsider perspective, right? And I think it maybe feels a little bit different based on maybe how much life we've lived with that person as well. I have a friend that was saying ... And I was talking to them about this episode and he said, "Oh my God, I got a girlfriend that's 43-years-old and she just lost her husband suddenly." Right? And it's like all of a sudden, again, the same thing, it's like at some point what's the process? But it feels like, as a loved one, seeing that person struggle, and maybe not just the timeline that there's some timeline to get through things, but there's just not progress.
Ben Smith: I was like, okay, well, maybe you're just stuck in the anger stage. You're just always so angry with them. And you're just expressing that all the time. And why did they do this? And why did they leave me? And I could have done this with you, and all of those feelings. But it feels like sometimes it's just circular, right? Is it just kind of keeps going and going. And it makes them feel like to everybody else as an angry person. And those then around them go, "Well, I don't want to spend my time with an angry person." So, it distances you even more.
Ben Smith: And I think in Maine, anyway, we get this physical distancing as it is, because we are more rural. We can be more spread out. Winters can be hard here. So, connection is so important. But I guess, that's my question to you is how would I maybe just get in there? How would I help maybe suggest to them about, "Here's where we are." And try to see them in advance?
Bodhi Simpson: Well, the most important thing is really to validate, validate, validate. I feel like so many times we're trying to ... At least this is what I hear from my clients, "They want me to get out. They want me to do this. And I don't want to tell them how I feel. And I don't want them to bear the weight of my sadness." So, I think the more you can just accept how they're feeling, not necessarily try to change it, but at the same time, offer suggestions, gently supporting them the ways you can. Things you could do together, or maybe helping them find some resources if they're ready to talk to somebody else. But I feel like in the beginning when people are hurting, the most important thing is just validating.
Curtis Worcester: So, Bodhi, you just teed this up for me here. I want to follow-up. I know Ben was just talking about as an outsider or that loved one to try to help push someone along. How does that work? And if you get to that point where I'm sitting back, and it's not me who just lost my spouse, but say I really want friend X, Y, Z to really go seek help, or seek someone like yourself. I guess, one, when do you think that's appropriate? And again, I know it's different for everyone. And then just, how does that work seeking out someone like yourself?
Bodhi Simpson: That is such a great question that I feel like a lot of people ... It seems so easy, but when you're in it, you just feel so lost sometimes. So, as a support person, I would always recommend offering maybe to help them find some therapists in the area, or if they have insurance, you could even have them, or you could call their insurance company and find out who's a network in the area. You can give them the numbers. And if they're just not able to call, you could even ... I've had people, family members call me to see if I have openings, and even set up the initial session.
Bodhi Simpson: Sometimes they'll have a friend or a loved one bring them to the session. The other thing is with that, some people come to counseling right away because they know they're going to need support. Some people come after the first year, they feel like they really need a year or two to really come out of that shock state, and be ready to process. Some people I see five or 10 years later. But I really feel that the sooner people can come the sooner they can just face the truth, and move through.
Bodhi Simpson: But there's also Facebook groups nowadays. So, people aren't quite ready for that. Some of them are a little more closeted than others. I've had clients say they've joined like a widow Facebook support group where everybody's just talking about how sad they are. And this person found one that was more positive about like, "Okay, how can we move through this?" So, maybe just helping them navigate that piece would be helpful. Or sometimes there's like somebody in your family or there's somebody you know that's been through a similar situation. I feel like that's really helpful if they could just talk to somebody that has been through it. So-
Ben Smith: Sure. Can I ask related that to Bodhi is so ... Because I guess, we talked about the connection and communication is so key, but if I'm, again, in Curtis's situation of, "Hey, my friend is really going through this, and I really care." But what's some tips you can offer around like pointing them towards, geez, maybe some counseling services might be the thing to do? Because it feels like there could be an overreach, right? Is like, "Hey, you're trying to push yourself on me. You don't understand what I'm going through, or you don't think I can do this myself."
Ben Smith: I can see where if I'm trying to offer assistance, I want to do so without being ... Again, I want to validate what they're going through as you just said, but I want to do it though going backwards, and then feeling like, "Well, I'm betraying them, or I'm insulting them by offering this." How would you approach that conversation?
Bodhi Simpson: Yeah. This is a great question. And sometimes people have a lot of beliefs against counseling. They've been brought up, "I don't need help. I've always been there for other people." I hear that all the time. "I'm a support person. I don't need support." I feel like if it's somebody you truly care about, be present with them, and continue offering, not forcing it on them, but just checking in with them, and seeing if they're ready. Or letting them know, "When you're ready, let's do this together." You want to really respect where they're at in their process, because when people are feeling forced, they do have a tendency to put walls up, and close in. So, it tends to be an intuitive process, but remembering to check in when they maybe seem fine.
Ben Smith: Yeah. Because again, obviously, everyone can just put up that facade too, and it looks like they're okay. But you can see signs too sometimes that they're not maybe doing okay, and they're putting just a really good face on it. So, yeah, I like that as a point of, hey, even just checking in, and giving them the airtime, and just maybe just shut down in terms of your side of the conversation and listen, and just see what comes back.
Ben Smith: And not just ... Yeah, just don't feel, right?
Curtis Worcester: Yeah.
Ben Smith: So, shifting to getting people towards the counseling side, and what process to go through, can we talk a little bit about the counseling experience? Right? So, there's somebody that maybe has not gone through counseling, and to hear about it is ... Of course, everyone's got the stereotype, right? It's the James Gandolfini, and Dr. Melfi, or it's the person on the couch, and someone's got glasses on taking notes and going, hmm. Can you talk a little bit about what that experience really is? Again, from the moment that they come in the door, what does a session look like? And what does it look like over time? And how does that evolve? And again, maybe it's from you with your art side, or even just towards the talking perspectives. Just let's break that down, so we can get over that kind of the myth, and dispel that part.
Bodhi Simpson: I love this because every time I see it on TV, I'm like, "Oh my gosh therapist is like telling them what their problem is or telling them what they need to do." The most important thing really is finding somebody you feel like you can talk to. So, what I always tell people is, go through pictures, see if you have a connection with that person even from a photo, or read a little bit about them. Don't just necessarily do a blind. It's like shopping. Like a doctor too, you want to find somebody you feel you resonate with.
Bodhi Simpson: And as a therapist, our role is really to establish safety. So, you would come into my office or somebody else's office. Here, I have two couches. You would sit across from me. And like I said, I have different tools to help people know where to start because a lot of times people will come in, or they'll be crying. And they'll say, "I don't even know where to start. I don't even know what to say, or I don't do this. I don't do feeling." So, with art therapy, a lot of times, initially, or only, we are very basic. It might be something as simple as having them choose an image blindly, and they share what it reminds them of.
Bodhi Simpson: And basically, what it does is it opens up a doorway into a story, to an experience. So, our role is just to be able to connect with you, and help you connect more deeply with your truth. And a good therapist will not have you leave the office worse than you came in. In the beginning, sometimes, it can feel that way because I always say trashcan, especially, if it's somebody who hasn't really dealt with ... Sometimes I'm dealing with people, like I said, 10 years ago, they lost somebody, and they never once talked about it. Put a lid on it, moved on.
Bodhi Simpson: So, I can feel like you're much more vulnerable in the beginning, but the goal would be that we check in, we go where you feel comfortable going. And then, we bring it around to have a sense of, "What can you do moving forward?" So, like a grounding practice to work on moving forward. And so, in the work that I do with my clients is I help teach them really simple tools to connect more deeply to themselves so that when they leave, they're not disconnected and triggered.
Ben Smith: So, I guess, my question too, Bodhi, is then, okay, every session that you're going through ... Because again, from a theatrical, cinematic experiences, I sit down with you, I blub my feelings at you, and then all of a sudden, I come to this really deep realization about myself that I never would've come to before. But what I hear you saying is it's maybe just even that I just feel a little bit better, right? Maybe that doing a lot of little better is equal to feeling a lot better over time. Maybe I don't realize something for myself. Maybe I do. But more of that I'm feeling that it's more of feeling something better than what I was feeling coming in. Would that be true?
Bodhi Simpson: Yes. I love what you're saying. So, a lot of it is people come in, and they're holding, and they don't know how to move this through them. And really this space is a container for you to bring your stuff and release it. We can learn from it. You leave the heavy stuff here. We take little glimmers of positive with you, what you've learned, what you want to hold onto, and then you feel lighter when you leave. And so, it's this clearing process. And it may take a while because it's a process. There's more to be uncovered, but you're right. It's about finding space to honor your truth so that you can release, and feel better.
Ben Smith: And also be open to being led, right? I think here too. Right? Because, I guess, what I would see from the people we work with, but also maybe personally is if I walk in, I feel like maybe there's an expectation of, I need to just immediately get trust, immediately throw this out there, let you assemble my puzzle pieces, put it back together for me. So, it feels like there's a whole lot of, again, going in myth here of, "I need to do all the work, because it's me that needs to be fixed." Again, I'm just using maybe that. And that I need to do all this to help you fix me, like the mechanic side. So, but again, what you're expressing is that's not the case.
Bodhi Simpson: No, it's more about coming in, and finding ways to open, like I mentioned before, open to being vulnerable, and loving yourself enough as you would any other human you care about, to take care of yourself, and find ways to heal.
Abby Doody: Great. So, shifting gears a little bit to talk about Mainers, specifically. So, have you noticed anything that is specific with Mainers when they're going through grief? And if so, have you adapted your practice in any way? And do you see a difference between Southern Maine and Central Maine? I know they're pretty close, but culturally, they can be pretty different.
Bodhi Simpson: Yes. Well, I mean, Maine, on its own, we are more rural. And so, I do find that people it's easy for them to withdraw, and not reach out, and they aren't as connected. And I do have some colleagues that travel, actually, they go to people's homes. That is not something that I do, but it is common in this area.
Ben Smith: So, I want to ask a question that maybe this is a hard question, Bodhi, is I think from even just something to ask. Because this is something, actually, the three of us in our team here, we had one of our clients had committed suicide last summer. Right? And it's like, again, from the mental, wellness perspective, and as a professional relationship with him, and I feel like we had a trusting relationship. But still, there's no way to know. And all of a sudden you don't know how he's suffering, and his lows, and all that. Because maybe he's just bringing the best to you.
Ben Smith: But obviously, with people as they're maybe even grieving, or maybe they're just solo aging, right? They're just looking at this, and saying, "Hey, I'm having feelings of suicide." Right? I'm lonely. Maybe I feel like I'm a burden to my family, maybe I've lost that person, and I'm saying, "What is my purpose?" And so, again, not the like I'm getting so low in my life that I'm really thinking about this whole ... We hear the quote, and actually the people even say this almost in jest, but it says like, "If I get to that point in my life, I'll end myself."
Ben Smith: Or, "I can't wait to see my spouse again." So, like insinuations, and not necessarily like they're overtly doing that. But can we talk about maybe for those that as we're aging, is that normal to maybe even have those feelings? Are they maybe expressing them externally? But I guess, some of my concern is that. So, I'll let you go there, then I'll ask the follow-ups there.
Bodhi Simpson: I would answer by saying, yes, it's completely normal to have those kinds of thoughts.
Ben Smith: Because I guess, from our end is, "Okay, we hear it." And you wonder from an outsider perspective is whether they're relaying that to their kids, or to their friends, or to people they know, and they love, and they trust. Does that then insinuate a responsibility, right? Because it's like, "Okay, I heard this." Again. You're sharing information with me. And am I the only one that you shared this information with? Then what's my responsibility right now that I have the information to make sure that you're safe? To make sure that what you just shared with me that I don't see that you're ... I don't want to dismiss it. Right? I don't want to just say, "Hey, what I just heard you say." And you're just joking. And that's a big. So, can you describe that, again, an external perspective you hear it? How would you advise people to engage with that?
Bodhi Simpson: Yeah, well, in our profession we're mandated reporters, so it's built into what we do. But as somebody who's human, and who cares about somebody else, there's nothing wrong with saying what you just said, "Have you shared this with other people in your family? Do they understand how you feel?" Because a lot of times people just need somebody. You say, "I wish somebody would just read my thoughts. Or like I would never come out and say that I need this. I just want them to get it." So, human that notices that somebody else's suffering. And just by you validating and asking that question could help them, or you could offer to make a referral if you want.
Ben Smith: So, you made the point, Bodhi, about the being, again, a mandated reporter, right? So, you have somebody express that in your session. Well, can you explain what that means? So, again, I got to express that, and somebody said that to me. Well, who are you reporting to? Right? And what does that mean? Because again, I think the internal battle as an external person, again, a friend, a son, a daughter, a cousin, whatever, is that I'm betraying your trust. It feels like I'm selling you out to somebody that you don't trust. And now, am I burning that bridge? And I'm actually making it worse, and not better.
Bodhi Simpson: Yeah. So, in the therapy world, there's a difference between I'm feeling this way versus I have a plan to do this, this, and this. So, our role is to help people express themselves. We have people express really heavy emotions all the time. It's what our job is. But if it got to the point where we really felt like somebody was at risk of hurting themselves or hurting somebody else, we are mandated reporters, and we're required to report that. Now, for you, I'm not necessarily recommending that you report it to anybody, but just being caring enough to ask them the question, are you okay? And is there anything I can do to help? Could I call somebody, or refer you? Or sometimes just asking, are you okay? Is enough. You don't have to be a clinician and assess it, but just caring enough to notice.
Ben Smith: Yeah. Because I think from our end, Bodhi, is again, as a frontline person sometimes is that maybe you're the only person that they do trust. I don't know. Right? And so, I don't want to assume that they have a circle. And so, what I hear you saying is if you start hearing a plan of, "Oh yeah, well, this is how it's going to happen." Or whatever. At that point, then we're elevating it to, we need to report it to family, or maybe the local police station, or something along those lines?
Bodhi Simpson: Yeah. I guess, it would be something you'd have to decide if that was the step you wanted to make. It's hard because I hear what you're saying. You want to respect where people are at. Although, sometimes people aren't emotionally stable, and they do need the extra support. It's hard. I mean, you guys aren't licensed therapists, but you're playing a role. You're there hearing people's lives, and you care about them, and you build a relationship with them.
Curtis Worcester: Bodhi, I want to change gears here. Can you just share with us, generally, some success stories. We love stories. I think our listeners love to hear these stories about ... I think all of us have gone through this hypothetical situation we've talked about, this episode of a loved one of 40 years, your spouse passes away, or you know someone who's gone through this. Just someone who's gone through that type of loss, and gotten over it, and gone through this grief process. And can you just share some insight or stories there?
Bodhi Simpson: Sure. I have one in mind. There's a woman who lost her husband suddenly right as they were both getting ready to retire. And they had all kinds of trips planned, everything they've waited their whole lives to do, and parties, and just suddenly he died. It wasn't seen, it just happened. And so, luckily, she reached out for a session. I believe it was about two months after he died. And we met, initially, about once a week. And then we, eventually, after about 10 months, we moved to like once every other week, once a month. But really the first year was really holding space for her to grieve, helping her to set boundaries where she needed to, like listen to what felt right to her versus what other people wanted for her, but also helping her to notice when she needed more support, to be able to speak about that.
Bodhi Simpson: And really, for the first year, it was helping her to adjust to each season. Every season she realized there was just different losses every season because of what she had done with her husband, and her children. And everybody through the first year was encouraging her to, I think after like a month, clean out the house, get his stuff out of there. You need to start dating, and all these things. And it wasn't until about a year that she was willing and ready to even go through his items. And it wasn't until about a year that we started doing some more of the creative approaches. So, around a year for her, she was I feel like coming into acceptance, and ready to get some juices flowing to find a new meaning, and find a new purpose.
Bodhi Simpson: And so, at that time, we did a lot of work around memorializing, like memories that she wanted to hold on to. And she would take his clothes and make quilts and pillows for her family, painted her bedroom, redid the ... So, I think the biggest thing about grief work is also not moving on, but building a new connection in a new way to your love ones. So, that was a big piece of our work as well is, how do I open up to, "Yes, they're not here in physical form, but what does death mean to me? And how do I still connect? And how do I ... "
Bodhi Simpson: Really, at that point, after a year, it was like, "How do I really learn a whole space for my grief, and my sadness, and my anger, and bring in the light, and the future?" And really, for her, the loss triggered every loss she'd ever had trauma. So, it almost felt like for her, it gave her an opportunity not only to heal her grief, but to heal a lifetime of losses. So, really it's like this blank slate as she moves forward where she's sad, she's grieving, and she's hopeful, she's both. So, I think that's really the best case scenario where we can come back into balance in a new way.
Ben Smith: One thing that we hear a lot, and we've tried to tackle almost in every episode, and not in a fanatic way, but just comes up, is the question, is it too late? And what I want to just pose you that question is, even later in life, so maybe I'm in my 80s or 90s, and I lose that person, and I'm going through the process. And one of the things you're describing is the outcome of the process, which is what we're trying to get to in this show is, "Hey, at the ... " And again, in a way, I'm allergic to the whole getting over it, right?
Ben Smith: It's like, how do you ... You don't. You don't get over the loss of that person. And there's just really no great way to express that though. But I think from that end is, what about the person that is that late 80s and they're closer towards maybe end of life than the beginning of life? But they're not so close that they can't have hope, and they can't have a purpose, and things that they want to still accomplish going forward.
Ben Smith: So, I guess, my question really is, first, is it different in terms of that about the process, and finding purpose after death from that loved one? And are you still seeing people are able to do that? Right? Are they able to do that? Even though it was like, "Hey, we all might pass away tomorrow, but more likely I've already accepted that when I am 90 that more likely that may happen as an outcome." There's still life and joy to experience.
Bodhi Simpson: Yeah, experiencing a death at that age it's like everything you thought was going to happen is now changed. And I actually saw a lady, she was about 94, very lively and healthy. And she said, "I feel like my life never really started until I was about 75 when my husband died. And sure, I loved him." But she said between 75 and the time that I saw her at 94, she stepped into parts of herself that she never even knew she wanted to, or things from when she was a child that she just didn't do during the years married, and with children. And so, I guess, there's loss, and there's also opportunity for finding new aspects of yourself, and new aspects of life at all time, at all, just perspective, I suppose.
Curtis Worcester: So, Bodhi, one thing we like to ask our guests on every show ... Going to completely change it up on you here. So, the name of our show is The Retirement Success in Maine Podcast, which you knew. So, we want to look ahead to your retirement. I guess, what is retirement success? What do you think that will mean for you? And how do you envision your retirement when you get to that point in your life?
Bodhi Simpson: That's a great question. I feel like ... Yeah, something I guess we don't take time to think about much. I feel like I want to make a plan, but I also want to be open to the twists and turns along the way. I want to have a lot of fun around the time retirement comes. I want to be present to what's coming, or what is because of the work that I do, I know that so much of life we really can't plan. So, it's like making a plan, but allowing it to shift as I go. And then, I would be happy. That'd be great.
Ben Smith: Love it. Bodhi, thank you so much for coming on our show today. I know it's a heavy topic, and I know a lot of the work you do is not just obviously on the grieving side. There's other aspects of your business as well, and in your work with people. But again, we thought as a need is this is just a heavy need for that with these conversations to happen in the open, to happen with understanding, and human feeling. And so, I can't thank you enough for coming on, and doing that with us. Because again, I think as we've talked about it, and even just as we experienced with our clients, we even got to grieve, right?
Ben Smith: I think you have these connections to these people, and I think in our sense, if you're doing it right, you care, you love these people. You want to see them succeed. And you see that things change in their lives, and you grieve that too. So, thank you for that. Because I think it's really meaningful of what you're doing, how you're touching people, and the ability to come on and share is really great. Thank you.
Bodhi Simpson: Thanks so much for having me. Hopefully, somebody will benefit from this conversation.
Curtis Worcester: For sure.
Ben Smith: Absolutely. Take care. Hey guys, just want to insert something real quick. So, in our conversation with Bodhi Simpson today, we did talk about suicide a little bit. And one of the things we're talking about was resources. We connect with Bodhi afterwards, and as she was thinking, and listening to it, and want to make sure that we made a point. And that point was really, if you are concerned about even yourself, or somebody else that you know having suicidal thoughts, and being serious about that is to reach out to the main crisis hotline. So, we want to make sure that we inserted that into today's show, because it is a very serious issue, and we want to make sure that people have a resource they need. So, you can call the main crisis hotline number at +1 888-568-1112.
Ben Smith: So, obviously, we have a lot of people that are not in the state of Maine as well, right? So, if you are listening to this and you know somebody, there is a National Suicide Prevention Lifeline that you can use, that phone number as well as 1-800-273-TALK. And TALK numbers is 8255. So, +1 800-273-8255. Also, you can go to the website, suicidepreventionlifeline.org. And there's a lifeline chat where you can chat with a real crisis counselor online. So, again, some resources. We just want to make sure that, again, that obviously we're having a conversation, really taking it seriously. We'd rather be taking it overly seriously than being more cavalier on it.
Ben Smith: So, I think those are really important points. So, we just want to make sure that before we get to our wrap up today that we were highlighting for you. Thanks all. So really fantastic to have Bodhi Simpson on the show today. Of course, from having someone that's, again, the license clinical counselor, right? And knowing some is counseling people on a day-to-day basis, and this is what they do. And talking about grief, and as we see it as all of a sudden, you have a financial plan of, "Well, we're going to do this, and then we're going to spend that. Here's how we're going to live our life."
Ben Smith: And then that gets shaken up when that person is now not the couple anymore, they're still working with us, and what's the plan now? And if they don't know themselves, then how are we going to help from an external perspective? So, again, good to hear her process, hear how she helps people, and then how we can maybe reverb that, or reincorporate it. So, of course, with every episode we like to, of course, get our highlighters out, and really just go through and say, "Here's what I learned today." I'm going to have Curtis bat leadoff here with what did you take away from Bodhi's conversation with us today?
Curtis Worcester: Yeah. A piece that stuck out to me, Ben, was she was talking about I think just getting through ... And again, we're trying not to be like, "Oh, just get over it." But getting through that grief process, and things you can do. And she brought up, I think she had a widow she'd discussed that had joined a Facebook group. That was something that I had never even thought about, the technology there. And it circles back to our conversation we had a little while back with John Dill about technology, and aging, and retirement. And for someone to be able to connect with, potentially, so many people who have been through something so similar from their couch to be able to share stories, and experiences, and how are you getting through it? And how can I? Doing this really helped, or doing that didn't. Outside of someone like Bodhi and her services, I thought that was a really good piece to think about that could help.
Ben Smith: And I think, traditionally, what you would have seen is like these widows grieving groups, right?
Curtis Worcester: Yeah.
Ben Smith: Is you would have them come together, and they'd sit around, and have conversations, share what they're experiencing. But talk about, again, we're a remote state as a group, what if there's not one near me? What if I have mobility issues as I'm aging, and I can't get out of the house to experience that? Maybe I have no outlet anymore. And using technologies, you said Curtis, to do whether a Facebook group, or something along those lines, I don't even have to be expressive. I can just listen and heal. I can just see what other people go, "Oh man, you're like me, and I'm feeling this way too."
Ben Smith: So, just validation of feeling is I think something Bodhi was talking about a lot. And I think that's what you're saying is really great because that Facebook group allows that validation to happen. So, really good point there. Abby, from our show today, what did you take away from Bodhi's conversation with us?
Abby Doody: Yeah, I really enjoyed her talking about her process, especially, when she was doing art therapy about how she has people just put out on paper whatever they're feeling. And once it's just out of you, you can deal with it. And it just becomes a little less personal, a little easier to deal with. And I think it's so great, and such a great process to use when working through something so heavy, and so traumatic that you don't even know where to start. So, I found it really interesting.
Ben Smith: And I'll point that out to you, Abby, is of course that would be the thing of, hey, our whole profession in financial planning is get all those goals out on paper, track your progress towards the goals. And if it's on paper, it'll happen. If you just never tell anybody what you want to do, and aligning the money to it, then it never happen, which is cool. She's doing the exact same thing from the counseling side as what we're doing on the money side of you can get it out. You can get it out, put it down, and let's now deal with it together because we can do that independently.
Ben Smith: So, again, she did that witness side. Really great. So, I thought that was a really good point. For me, again, I really like the conversation about the outside perspective. Right? And I know I hit her a couple of times with that about, "Hey ... " Because a lot of our show listeners are really the boomers that are really the 50 and older to 65 year old group. Right? So, a lot of our listeners are really seeing that ... My parents right now are going through it. They might have just lost somebody, or I'm looking forward, and they will go through it.
Ben Smith: So, when they're going through this, how do I help? How do I be a resource? How do I not be judgmental? How do I avoid terms like get over it, or, don't do this mom, or don't do that dad, or just go do this. It's just this being forceful, and pushing, and not validating feelings. So, I really liked that she's able to address this being there, checking in, giving opportunities for them to be vulnerable. And then, if it's ever appropriate, and/or they need more help, is getting them in contact with a counselor, and doing it in a safe way, and not being forceful about that, "You're just going to go see a counselor. You got to get over this thing." Right?
Ben Smith: Is really going through the process together. So, I think that's an important thing I think our listeners could really take away as a good validation of something that they may go through, or maybe they might go through themselves at some point. So, having more outsider perspective might help with that. So, Bodhi, did a really great job. And again, I could see her coming back on our show because I think there's enough from the counseling, the feeling perspective, and maybe even on the art side of getting to the expression, what she's seeing, and what she's seeing people express would be really great. So, I want to wrap up our show. So, we are episode 25. So, quarter century, we're-
Curtis Worcester: 25.
Ben Smith: ... Now kind of hitting our rhythm, which is great. So, if you want to check out more, you can go to our website, of course. So, you can go to blog.guidancepointllc.com/25 or 2, 5. So, go there, and we'll have more of Bodhi's work there. Her website, she has a really great blog, and I want to make sure that we plug that. So, you can go to www.consciousarttherapy.com, and you can sign up for her blog there. And her business Conscious Art Therapy is also on Facebook. So, you can check that out there. But, yeah, we will put all the resources there, our transcript, and resources, and a link to this show as well.
Ben Smith: But we really appreciate everyone tuning in. And we know grief is not the funnest topic to go through, but again, we don't want to shy away from stuff just because it's hard, right? We want to be able to lean in to things that maybe people aren't going into. And I think this is one that I think people could use help with, personally, we all could use help with. And to just have some of that conversation with someone that's an expert is really helpful. So, hopefully, you got some utility out of it, or maybe even you listen to it once, and maybe go through something that you can come back to it, and then get something out of this too. So, we really appreciate you tuning in, and we'll catch you next time.