Episode #88 of Gruler Nation features a VIP guest, Marianne Gouveia! Marianne is a former aerospace engineer, an executive, and even an international entrepreneur. Today she is the President and Founder of Insightful- Living, a coaching practice devoted to helping others work through loss and complicated life transitions. She leads Catholic Ministry retreats for grieving parents, is a breast cancer survivor, the mother of 3 boys, and on top of it all founded the non- profit, EricsHouse, after losing her son, Eric, to suicide.
EricsHouse is a non- profit organization dedicated to helping others who have lost someone tragically. EricsHouse focuses on helping others recover emotionally, physically, and spiritually. EricsHouse has a team of life coaches, counselors, holistic healers, and mediums who all are focused on helping families through the grieving process to help you heal after losing a loved one.
If you have lost someone due to substance abuse or suicide you can visit ericshouse.org or call (855) 894- 5658 in order to speak with either Marianne or another member of EricsHouse to learn how you can join their community. If you are interested in volunteering, participating in one of their events, or supporting EricsHouse by donating you can also visit their website or check out their Facebook page at @EricsHouse88 and give them a follow on Instagram @EricsHouse88!
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#EricsHouse #grief #suicide #recovery #spiritualhealing #nonprofit #insightfulliving #coaching #entrepreneur #podcast #InspirationwithGrulerNation #inspire #gruler #inspiration #GrulerNation #GrulerNationPodcast #gnp #arizonapodcast #scottsdale #yesphx #phx
The Gruler Nation Podcast is a show that focuses on conversations with interesting "Level 10" people passionate about changing the world with their work, relationships and ideas. The show is hosted by Robert Gruler, an attorney and founding partner of the R&R Law Group, a criminal defense law firm based in Scottsdale, Arizona focused on helping good people charged with crimes move forward with their lives.
Interested in being on the show or have a guest recommendation? Email Robert directly at email@example.com or visit www.robgruler.com for more information.
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This is episode 88 of the Gruler nation podcast. My name is Robert Gruler. Joined today by a very special guest. Somebody who was very special to me is in our studio. Before I introduce her, I want to tell you a little bit more about her background. So she is a former aerospace engineer. She's an executive. She's somebody who was an international entrepreneur, business creator. She started an outsourcing company that was based in Guadalajara, Mexico and has done some amazing things in the aerospace field. She is very involved in the Catholic ministry. She leads a mass retreats for grieving parents. More recently, she is the president and founder of insightful living, which is a coaching practice in Arizona that focuses on helping others work through issues surrounding grief and loss. She is a breast cancer survivor. She is the mother of three boys, one of which has down syndrome. Again, more recently, she's a founder and executive director of Eric's house.org a nonprofit organization based in paradise Valley, Arizona. Done a lot, but most importantly, as I said, she's a mother of three boys, one of which happens to be me. I want to introduce the most important person in the world, in my world. My mother, Marianne Go. Hi Robs. Welcome to the show mom. Glad to be here. How does it feel to be on your baby boys podcast?Speaker 2:
Well, it's great. It's a special day for both of us because , um, this is the 88th episode of griller nation podcasts and , uh, our son Eric, my son Eric was born in 1988.Speaker 1:
Yeah. So tell us a little bit more about that. So his whole birthday,Speaker 2:
well, his birthday is August 8th, 1988, eight eight 88. There's a lot of eights.Speaker 1:
Yeah. And that was a special special thing kind of growing up in our, in our lives. It was always, you know, eight was kind of a special number. We did a lot of things that had eight involved. And so as you briefly alluded to, and as a lot of people who listen to the show, may or may not know , uh, Eric is your son, my brother, who is no longer with us. We're going to talk more about that. And when we get to the section on , on Eric's house. But , uh , before we do that, I would love if you could kind of just give us a quick overview on, on Eric's house and what Eric's house does and then we can talk about kind of how it came into being. So I want people to have a quick overview on, on what is it, what is there .Speaker 2:
Okay. Well, Eric's house is a nonprofit organization that focuses on what we call postvention in the suicide world. We help people who have lost somebody to suicide recover after the loss. And we're very, very different because we do a variety of things. We focus on emotional, physical, and spiritual healing. And oftentimes , uh, after a loss like that, people are, are completely, their lives are shattered into millions of pieces and they just are confused and don't know how to move forward toward healing. And so we have a group of 18 professional providers ranging from life coaches who help people focus on , uh , posttraumatic growth, what to do with their life after a loss. We have counselors that help people deal with trauma. We have a variety of holistic , um , healers that do , uh, acupuncture, cranial, sacral therapy, Reiki, and , uh, we also work with , uh , a few mediums. Our , we work with , uh , a medium. You might recognize her name. She's a pretty well known across the United States. Her name is Melinda Vale . And she works with us to help our parents , um, and other loss survivors understand , uh, the whole concept and notion of heaven and the afterlife. And so that's also very healing for our people.Speaker 1:
Yeah. And there is a lot of healing. That's, that's the word that is most appropriate. There's a men's groups and women's groups and , um, you know, for full disclosure, I'm a part of Eric's house and I'm on, I do some of the social media and some of the marketing stuff, but it is something that , that, that, you know, people who've lost somebody, the way I explain it is if they've lost somebody to a suicide overdose or sort of tragic death, right. So it's not only suicide, people have lost people to other, other causes.Speaker 2:
Exactly. We have , um, a mix of clients , uh , very traumatic losses. Uh, but most of our clients are people who have lost somebody to suicide or a substance loss. So we see alcohol poisonings and we see unfortunately lots of opioid deaths as well as fentinol overdoses. And , uh, interestingly enough , um, there it's a good place for people to come and share their experience and learn from others who have also faced the same struggle.Speaker 1:
And , and what, what prompted you to, to want to create this? So, you know, I know we can start, we can start there or we can start further back with the journey that we went through with Eric.Speaker 2:
Well, okay, let me go back to my aerospace days. Okay . So I've have spent a lot of time in board rooms and meetings and travel and all kinds of things like that. And I decided it wasn't working for me anymore. I made the decision to leave corporate America, which many of us do at some point in our careers, leave corporate America and do something more meaningful. I made the choice to become an executive coach. And I began to build a coaching practice focused on women executives to help them be more successful and in corporate roles. Uh, and halfway through my training, Eric died. And so I , uh , went ahead and did my best to power through, ended up with my certification, but at that time then made the decision to reorient my coaching practice to grief and loss, grief loss in life transition. And , um, it's very interesting because many people in my position, especially moms and dads, we struggle to find what we're going to do with our lives because the loss is so , uh , traumatic. It seems insignificant for many of us to go back to our old life, we have to create a new life that makes sense in a new context. And so it came to me one day to , uh, create an organization that provided the support that I didn't have access to after losing Eric , I , um, I, it took me quite a long time to get in to see a counselor weeks. And , um, I ended up with a wonderful counselor. She's great and she's involved in Eric's house today. Um, but there were so many other things that I struggled to do, not only , uh, emotionally, but physically and spiritually cause so many things come into question. And I just , uh, woke up one day and said, you know, we're going to create an organization, we're going to call it Eric's house. And we did that in , uh, June of 2017 we received our nonprofit status from the IRS in December of 2017. And we've been operating ever since.Speaker 1:
And the organization has experienced a tremendous amount of growth. I mean, it , I remember meeting with you and we would set up these, these monthly , uh, Tuesday, you know, meetups, and we would say, well, we're going to invite all these people, you know, there's a lot of people hurting out there and we're gonna, we're gonna need them to, you know, w w we want to support them. We want to help them through their grief journey. And we'd promote it a little bit. And then we'd show up at a hotel in a, in a lobby. And it was just you and I sitting there having , uh , you know , some chicken skewers and some club soda and just, and just, you know, being there and it was, and since that time, can you kind of walk us through the evolution, you know , what does it matured into? Well, we serve an average of 49 people a month. Wow. I didn't even realize that,Speaker 2:
which is really quite amazing. And , uh, you know, the services that we provide , um, are what we call grief companioning, which is our primary model. We are based on an idea developed by dr Wolfelt's, who's a grief expert , uh , internationally known and we use his model. Uh, and he's also been my mentor and I've done a significant amount of training with him. Um, his model is that with many types of losses, in fact, with all losses, there's not a lot to fix, but there's a lot to learn. And just being present with somebody who has experienced a loss is good enough to help them. That not everybody needs to go directly to a counselor. And so there's lots of other things in that equation. Uh , how do you heal spiritually and how do you heal physically? And so we've adopted that model and , uh, it's our , it's our primary service. Um, even though we do offer counseling as well for those people who need to see licensed , um , a licensed family therapist or a licensed counselor. Um, so we, we do those one-on-one kinds of services. We do a number of events , um, things focused on holistic therapies that are fun and unique and different that people can , um, come to. Um, and of course I already mentioned mediumship, but how this all evolved is kind of a , an experiment and a work in progress because we started out doing workshops and we'd rent , um , a room at embassy suites and we'd have a full day workshop and those began to fill up. And then we moved into delivering one-on-one services and those began to fill up. Then we began to add people to our team. We have 18 people on our team today that, that help our bereaved people. And so , um, it's, it's been great and , uh , we're doing all kinds of amazing things. We have a , a beautiful house. On an acre and paradise Valley , um, that has been donated for our use. And , uh, it's a beautiful campus. Um, we're building a labyrinth. We're starting a labyrinth build here and then another couple of weeks. And , uh , we're required to be involved in how y'all have to actually do physical labor. Great . And you know, we're building a drum circle pad. We work with , uh, Andrew Ecker who is , um, a suicide loss survivor and a substance loss survivors. So , um, we have a really good group of people who have walked the walk , um, and can completely relate to what it's like. I was in session with the mom the other day and uh, she has some friends who have lost sons and she felt like she really could empathize with her friends and really understand what it was like for them to go through. But then she lost her son and she says, I had no idea how painful this really is and what are we going to do with our lives. And , um, I find it really amazing that as horrible as these losses are for many people, whether it be a child, whether it be a spouse, whether it be a sibling as in your case, how difficult it is to make sense of the loss and um , how transformational it is in a person's life to, to pick up and face their struggle, lean into the grief, be very, very present as you walk the journey and then turn it into good. And we see a lot of transformations where people are actually changing their lives around and doing something to help others. And it's a ripple effect in a way.Speaker 1:
Yeah, it's changed my whole life. You heard my story, I spoke at a 12 step meeting for the first time ever. I do a lot of workshops. I do a lot of speaking in general, but it was the first time that I spoke at a 12 step meeting and a , and you were there. And it's funny because you know, we've been working, Eric passed away in 2016 and we've been sort of on this journey together. I mean, you're obviously leading the rains , but I'm, you know, I'm , I've been watching Eric's house grow and helping where I can, but, you know, we've never really had the opportunity to actually sit down and talk about what we've both experienced in, in this journey that we've been on. And so I shared my story , uh, at that meeting and I would love to use this opportunity to kind of hear your story from your perspective. What, what was the journey that you went through with, with Eric? Because it's been, it was long. It was long and hard,Speaker 2:
takes a very long time. So we're moving into four years now. Eric, Eric's a date of passing was a February 27th. So it's been four years. And , um, the first, the first part of my journey was complete shock. And of course I found Eric in his apartment. And , uh, in my case I had a whole level of PTSD associated with finding him. And so , uh, for a very, very long time, I was in a state of shock. Um, uh , Dr. Wolf felt calls that psychic numbing and I just couldn't believe it. And you feel like it's not really happening, that this is just all a really bad dream that's lasting weeks and weeks and weeks and uh, it's a nightmare and you're never going to wake up. And you know, for a long time I expected a text from Eric, a phone call from Eric for a long time. I expected him to actually come in the door like this really didn't happen. And , um, there were a lot of worries. Like what happened, you know, I spoke with Eric the night before, we had a wonderful conversation and I was planning on picking him up at nine o'clock to take him to breakfast cause he, you know, how much he loved pancakes and , uh, he didn't answer his phone or his text. And so between the conversation I had with him at 10 30 and one 30 in the morning when he died, what happened? So that whole first period of my journey is like searching phone records, calling people, trying to get a clue as to what was happening that night that triggered him to make a fatal decision like that. Um, and so , uh, I reached out to many, many people for help. The one thing that I didn't do was reach out to other moms who have lost a child in a similar way , um, which is something that really every person who faces this loss really needs to do, be in a community where , uh, where other people can completely understand and relate to the loss. Um, I, I , uh, was contacted by a medium and , uh , she asked if she could give me a reading and , um, I said, sure, OK , let's, let's do that. And she gave me a reading and it was disturbing to me because , uh, I felt like , uh , it's such a private experience losing your child that way. There's a lot of shame, a lot of stigma, a tendency to isolate and an unwillingness to talk about it. So that first encounter with the medium was, was really difficult for me. And , uh, that was Susan Gras who's in , uh , California. Um, but subsequently , uh, Susan has given me additional readings and I'm totally comfortable now with , um, with what I'm supposed to know about why Eric chose to leave. Um, but the second part of the journey, you know, I call, I call that first part of the journey , um, the avoidance phase, you know, it happened. Um, you know, it can't be undone, but you still want to avoid the reality it happening. You stay in a state of just shock and numbness. The second part of the journey is the acceptance phase. So now you're really understanding he's not coming home. He's not going to text you. You're never going to hug him or see him. And so he began to accept that. And that also takes quite a long time because this is the , the beginning of now creating a new life, which takes us to , uh, the third phase, which I call integration. So, you know, you can't go back to who you used to be because now you've, you've so dramatically changed. So now how do you integrate this loss into your life in a way that allows you to experience joy and happiness? And how do you control the wild, crazy emotions and the ups and downs of grief? The grief burst that you have, the upsets, the, the, the crying Jags, the listening to music , um, you know, talking to people, not talking about Eric, the whole idea of, well now you have a new life and part of your life , um, is, is , uh, I don't want to say the word defined, but part of your life is now based on the loss of a child. And a lot of times what I tell other parents is that, you know, it's good for us to understand what our own beliefs are about where our loved ones go when they die. Are they in heaven? Do they return to vapor? Are they floating around in the cosmos? Uh, for me, I , uh, found a reliance , um, on my own personal faith, which was clearly at risk before Eric died. I really had no strong religious practice, but after Eric died, it became very important for me to understand my own relationship with God or my higher power , uh, because I , I just couldn't imagine not having , um, having a belief structure that allowed me to believe in eternal life. And so that was, was very, very helpful. But you know, the journey never ends . So you're creating a new normal, you're picking up millions of shards of your life that challenged everything you believe to be true and putting it back together in a new mosaic, a new design, something that is unfamiliar to you. And you know, many of us say the worst has already happened. And so , um, it's okay . It's okay for people to move on to face the struggle of losing a child , um, to lean right into the stigma and the shame and, you know, be able to talk about it and continue to move forward and design a , a life that allows you to live, you know, powerfully and peacefully.Speaker 1:
Yeah. So you've, you've walked down that road, you've, you've experienced the journey. You had to sort of piece together a lot of these different components in order to assist you in your own grief recovery experience. And so Eric's house is sort of a , uh , culmination or an aggregation of all these different modalities and these different , uh , skill sets that you've developed over these last four years. You're kind of putting them together and it's, it's, it's helping bridge that gap. Because I remember very distinctly, you know, you call it , I was the first phone call or, or maybe the second after nine, one, one, I don't remember exactly when it was, but I was right in the thick of it. I remember hearing your voice on the other end of that phone and it was a , you know, it's still seared into my brain. And I got there and it was a whirlwind. You know, I remember every single minute of that day very, very clearly. I didn't, you know, I was thinking about this yesterday, kind of thinking about the show. I had asked one of the officers, one of the police officers if I could go up and see him, and the officer , uh, gave me one of the greatest gifts that I've ever had. And he told me, I don't want to do that. You know, you , you don't want to do that. And I'm a criminal defense attorney as you know, I have a whole segment where I kind of, you know, kinda con come down on the police a little bit. But you know, this officer did an amazing thing and he gave me something that I'm going to hold on to forever. He kept me out of that room , uh , because he , he knew what it was going to do to me and, and he was 100% right. It would have, because I still to this day and I have not done a lot of trauma work or done a lot of the things that you've done, but I still remember very vividly every single minute of , of that morning and the rest of that day. And so, you know, so that was a gift from that officer. So this is a long way of asking you, how did you deal with that trauma and it , cause that is a traumatic thing to go in and find your son in that type of position. How did you work through that? I mean, I'm fortunate enough that I didn't find him. Um, I , I would've happily, you know, spared you if I could have and been the one to walk in that room, but I, you know, it wasn't, it didn't work out that way. So now you have to deal with that, that image and that vision and that experience. How did you do that?Speaker 2:
Well, I started with counseling and I'd say six or seven sessions into counseling. I went to EMDR, which is eye movement desensitization, reprogramming or reprocessing. And um, although EMDR is , um, very painful to go through because it requires you relive the experience , um, what it creates is , um, the ability to reflect on that image. Oh , you know, reflect on Eric and how I found him , um, without experience experiencing the trauma. So what was happening to me is every time I remember that room, I would, I would suffer PTSD and be traumatized and that would happen multiple times a day for weeks and weeks and weeks. And even still sometimes today, but mostly , um, after I think eight or 12 sessions of EMDR, I'm able to reflect on what happened that day. Think about it, think about Eric and not experienced trauma at, at , uh , you know, when I have that memory. So I highly recommend EMDR, which is also something that we offer at Eric's house when people need it. I highly recommend it because you already have enough to deal with after a loss like this.Speaker 1:
Yeah. And something that I've experienced just by being a part of the men's group. And I did also some counseling with, with GL McMahon who was actually on the episode before yours, so she was just on 87 so it just happened to work out that way. Kind of serendipitous. But , uh, you know, I, I did see a lot from her. Uh , I spent a lot of time with her. But you know , even at the men's group, this is something that we have at Eric's house where we meet every other week. Um, I haven't been the last couple of times, but it's , it's something that, you know, people grieve very, very differently. And I wanted to kind of segue into that. So, you know, some people, they don't really have the effects of grief until sometimes years down the road, right? There's other men in the men's group who are grieving 10 years later, 20 years later, they're still processing their loss and they still want to talk about it and they still need support. Can you talk on that a little bit about how people grieve differently?Speaker 2:
Sure. So, you know, there's kind of a , a saying out there in , in the grief support world that, you know, men grieve very differently than women. We hear it a lot. I hate to stereotype and generalize because we do see women who grieve like men and men who grieve like women. But there's general characteristics between male and female and how they approach a loss like this. Um, you know, in my experience, what I find is that men have a tendency to want to be fixers. They want to help you know, their wife and help their other children, their surviving children, to just kind of get through it. There is a desire to go back to normalcy. Everything just needs to return to the way that it was. Um, for women, it's not like that. For women, it's , um, it is all consuming and it's nothing to be fixed. It's just a constant deep sorrow and sadness , uh, that is present all the time. And part of it is because they don't want to let go of their grief because they're afraid of , they let go of their grief. Um, they'll lose touch with their child. So , um, there are , uh, people or what we would call ketchup grief that decide to put it away. And we see this mostly with men decide to put it away for years and years and years. And , uh, I liken that to a beach ball full of grief that you're, you're trying to hold down in the water and all of a sudden you can't hold it anymore and it erupts. And so , um, we see that a lot in men after seven, eight, 10, 12, 15 years, they finally realize, gosh, you know, I never really grieved or mourned the loss of my child. And so , uh, in our men's group, you know, since you, you are a participant there , yeah . You're actually a co-leader there. Um, in our men's group, it , it really helps for them to just sit with other men and talk about their journey. And , um, it also , uh, helps to , uh, talk with other men about their wives and how their wives are grieving and just bring an understanding to the fact that , um , people are going to grieve the way they grieve and that won't change. And so , uh, compassion, patience, understanding are important to maintain a good marriage through this kind of a loss in my , uh, in my relationship with, with my husband Greg. You know, he, he just, he was very supportive of course, but I wanted him to cry. Like I was crying. Yeah . He, I wanted him to cry. And since he wasn't crying, I was thinking, well, he didn't really love Eric. He doesn't really miss Eric , but the fact that the matter is, he missed Eric terribly and , uh , he just leaves the men and he leads the men's group today. Um, but he just, he just wasn't a crier. And so it was Rocky for us that first year. Uh , because wow, you know, he must not love Eric as much as I love Eric. And I mad at him for that. Yeah . And my, my emotions, you know, your emotions are irrational anyways. Um, and so , uh , what we tell our clients and uh, families that, you know, it's best just to be patient with each other and just let people feel what they're feeling and not, not judge them, not place too much judgment and try to keep open lines of communication.Speaker 1:
Yeah. There's something very powerful about , uh , about that sort of distinction between men and women. And it's something that I've brought up in the men's group about, you know, the circle of men and the circle of women. This is something that mankind and womankind have been doing for, you know , hundreds of thousands of years since we could stand up, right. And make fires and things, you know, the women would coalesce around the fire, the men would go out hunting and they would do their own little circles. And so just from a symbolic perspective, from an energy perspective, it's very healing. It's very unifying. I don't know if it's the, the geometry of the circle or what it is, but there's something special about that format and that's, that's what we do at Eric's house. And I have found it to be, you know, there , there are a lot of times that I haven't actually, most times I have zero desire to go to the men's group because it's, it's not something that's a fun thing to think about. Like you just said, you know, women, they kind of want to almost kind of like bask in it and just sort of feel it and absorb it and process it. Whereas from my perspective, it's like a , I really do not want to go sit around and talk with a group of men about our loved ones dying, you know? And it just feels, it feels very emotionally taxing and it's not something that I like to engage in, but I do feel and find that every time after I leave the men's group, I feel a million times better every single time. So , uh, you know, for those who may be on the fence, that's my wholehearted endorsement of that format.Speaker 2:
Yeah, it's, it's our , our groups are very successful. You know, after Eric died , uh, I went to a variety of groups in the Valley. Some of them focused on child loss, some of them focused on general laws. Some of them focused on, you know , um, other types of, you know, traumatic losses and uh, attended one that was specifically for suicide loss and none of them worked for me. Um, I just , um, the SU , the, the group on suicide was an open group and so it was just coming and going, people coming and going. So for me there was not a lot of movement forward. Um, the other groups, suicide loss and uh, substance abuse losses, they're totally different. All losses when you lose somebody you love, they're all really bad. But because of the shame and stigma that comes with suicide and substance losses , um, they're unique, different and very complicated because of the manner of death and all these other things. The police visits, all the other things that play into the equation that other people in the room can't relate. Um, on the same level that was aSpeaker 1:
society is kind of saying that person was flawed, that person was weak, they decided to take their own life. People's people a lot still call people who die by suicide cowards. You know, they took the cowardly way out. Uh , we went even to , I remember distinctly when right after Eric died and we were trying to get the funeral arrangements set right. Even, even a contingent of the Catholic church said, Nope, he's in hell or something to that effect because of the fact that he committed or died by suicide .Speaker 2:
Right. The proper phrase . Right. That's right. We, we had a little bit of resistance there. We finally ended up at the Franciscan renewal center and we were accepted. And , um , one of the priests there , uh , father Peter, you know, set my mind in my heart at rest about , uh , where Eric was. Um, but I'm glad you, you mentioned the word committed suicide. You know, so we never say that anymore because the term committed suicide , uh, is , uh, a result of , um, British law where it was considered a crime. And so it's not a crime anymore. And we know that , um , there's a lot of reasons why people make that decision. Of course , uh, mental health is the underlying cause. But , um, addiction is a big, is a big part of why people die by suicide. And, you know, that was Eric's in Eric's case, Eric , um , had an injury. He , uh, had several surgeries. He , uh, became addicted to Oxycontin then , um, transitioned to heroin and then came in and out of sobriety and finally decided it was enough. But we see opiates present in 20% of suicides and we see alcohol present in 22% of suicides. So there's a big component of addiction that plays into, you know, why people decide to leave. Um, and there's not enough being done in the mental health arena. Things around neuroscience and pre re reprogramming of the brain and establishing healthy neuro-pathways and you know, all of that work and really, you know, getting , uh, our, our society aware of what the risks might be. You know, people who have signs that are potentially considering , um, to make that decision. So there's still a lot of work to be done.Speaker 1:
Yeah. Yeah. And, and just to kind of take you back just a little bit, so, so yes, the, the, you know, suicide has the stigma, a lot of the , the deaths by suicide are uh , sort of, it's the words like co-morbidity , right? You know, there's something else going on there and that can be substance abuse. It could be , uh, you know, mental problems. And that also has its own stigma. So if you, if you combine the two, now that person is, you know, nobody wants to talk about it and nobody knows what to say. Everybody thinks maybe that a family is broken or that a mom did something improper or that the brother wasn't there for him. And so it's a weird sort of a , a thing for the rest of society to deal with. And I wanted to ask you about that. I mean, you know, Eric's house is kind of hyper focused on this, on this one sort of, you know, a couple of categories of loss and, and what the, what the differences between, you know, those types of losses. And somebody who we love, but who grows to 85 years old and dies of old age or cancer or heart attack, there's something very, very different between those two.Speaker 2:
There is, well, there's a number of things. There's the sh the tendency to isolate. People don't want to talk about it. People know they're being judged. There's anger. Um , there's complete shame. You know, you, you wonder what did you do wrong or you not good enough of a mom. Um, you know, though , the list of things that you could have potentially have done wrong is infinite. Um, and you search for the why. Why did it happen when somebody dies a natural death? You know, why that happens. But why does somebody like Eric, who was such an awesome young kid, why would he decide to , to leave? So what was going through his mind? So there's a , a range of very confusing emotions and people just don't understand them. Um, for a while I didn't want to talk about it myself because I wanted to protect Eric's legacy, but , um, I realized that , uh, it gave me kind of a false sense of peace because I was still struggling with all these other , uh , you know, anxieties and emotions that caused such great confusion that I felt like it would be really good for me to talk about it and that would help other people , um, enable other people to be able to talk about their experiences as well. And then of course, that brings attention to this topic. And then that leads to advocacy and better programs and better support for people who might be at risk.Speaker 1:
Where did you find that that strength? You know, this is something that we talk a lot about in 12 step groups and, and recovery and things that kind of the 12th step is you, you know, you, you work through the steps, you get your affairs in order, you make your amends, you do your inventory, you do the work and the 12th step is to go and you find somebody who's, who's suffering. A lot of people don't do that. A lot of people never make it to step 12. You know, they'll go through, they'll hit step 11 , uh, and then they, they don't be of service. And I think that is such a critical component to , to success to recovery is to continue because there are other people in the water out there drowning and we've got to go drag them ashore and help them through that. But a lot of people who would have gone through what you've gone through continue to isolate, they continue to, to not, not process this stuff. I think there's even statistics that say a lot of, you know, if there's one suicide in the family, the likelihood that other people in that family will also die by suicide goes up dramatically. You know, parents and siblings and, and children and all sorts of people are, you know, kind of continuing the trend. So how, what sort of caused you to decide that you're going to pivot in your life and make this something greater that's going to help others?Speaker 2:
Well , um, I, I was randomly invited to a funeral. I didn't know the family and I was invited to go , uh, because my name was on a mailing list basically. And I learned that that family had lost a son. And I met the mom, didn't, didn't speak with the mom, but I looked at her and I knew from looking in her eyes because , um, the light, the spark had disappeared from her, from her eyes. And I just reached out to her and I said, I'm so sorry. I lost my son as well. And that sparked a beautiful relationship with another mom. And , uh, I felt at that point it was just a calling because what else are you going to do with your life? I couldn't go back to aerospace. Not a chance. Yeah . And , um, I, I couldn't go back and get a regular job because it felt meaningless. And then , you know, you go through this , um, struggle to find meaning and purpose in your life. And , um, of course I developed a very , um, very strong relationship with my church and my priest. And , um, it opened up a whole new way about thinking about life and thinking about loss. And I just became devoted. It just became a calling.Speaker 1:
Yeah. And you, you spend a ton of time and a ton of energy on it and I w I do want to ask you about how you're able to manage that. Um, but we'll save that for the end. I might , my next kind of thought was how you , you spoke a little bit about Greg and about that relationship worked. What about with me? What about with Joey? So Joey has down syndrome and his grief journey is going to be, you know , uh, different from everybody's. And you know, at the time I was very heavily involved with drinking and after Eric died, I was basically drinking myself to death. That was my way of coping and I'm not blaming that on Eric or that loss. I was on that trajectory anyways. But this just helped exacerbate it because I didn't really know much of how to, how to deal with any of this stuff. Just like you didn't, you did a healthy thing and went and did a bunch of therapy and EMDR. I just buried myself in work and the booze . And so what was it like, you know, now you've got two sons, how are you processing that in addition to everything else that you're going through?Speaker 2:
Well, of course, I love my two sons very much, and yeah, so , uh, you know, Joey's interesting because , um, Joey is 32 or 33, I don't know, 33. Yeah , 33. And , um, developmentally, I mean, he's such an awesome, fun kid. I always call him my little angel on earth. Um, but he developmentally, he's really still a very young boy and he's always been really connected to everyone in our family. We've had so much loss in our family. And you know, Joey goes out and looks at the stars and he, he looks for his grandpa and his grandma and his friends and Eric, and he talks to them. And so he comes in and he says, Oh yeah, you know, I talked to Grampy or whatever. And I asked him, well, do you ever talk to Eric? And he says, Oh yeah, Eric said, you need to buy me a new iPad. Well, so, you know, with him , um, he's very honest about his feelings and if he's sad, he just says, I'm, I'm really sad. I miss Eric. Yeah . And , uh, so he's, he's easy. He doesn't have the filters to , to make it anything more complicated than just really missing his brother and struggling a little bit to understand how he died. Of course, we don't give him all the details about how, how Eric died , um , with you, you know, all moms, after they lose one child, they worry about losing another child. And it does happen. I don't like to say that, but we do see multiple suicides in families and , um, so I was very, very worried about you. I kept my phone by my bed 24, seven. Um, if you didn't, you know, you'd come hyper-sensitive sensitive to another, another problem. And , um, you know, I'd get upset when you wouldn't text me or call me back. I knew you were struggling a little bit with, with alcohol, a lot with alcohol and , um, you know, it, it kind of made me crazy to think that something could happen to you as well. And , um, you know, I don't have a really good answer other than to, you know, love you and conditionally as I always do and support you in your recovery as much as possible. Um, I think about , uh, you know, we all feel we owe , we all feel blame for what happened. We all feel like we let Eric down in some way. Um, I don't think that's true. I think that we were a great family and you were a great brother. Um, being in a relationship with an addict is a very, very difficult, you know, part of life and Eric was an addict and , um, I worry a lot about you feeling guilty about not doing enough for , um, you know, were you there? Should you have been there? Should you have done more? Um, but all of that doesn't matter anymore because , um, I know when I spoke to Eric , uh , about our family, you know, before he died, he loved us all very, very much and he knew he had an addiction issue and he also knew that we supported him no matter what. And it was unconditional love. And the truth is our family, you, you included, we walked every inch of every mile with Eric until the day that he died. And so , um, I don't have any regrets and I hope that you don't have any regrets because , uh , you were a great brother to him.Speaker 1:
Well, you were a great mother and you said, you know, at the start of that, that you didn't have an answer, but , uh, as it relates to me, but that, that was the right answer. I mean, you, you did show me unconditional love. You're always available. I was processing it in a way that was extremely unhealthy, but when I did start to realize what I was doing to myself and , and a big part of what I was doing to you, that was a lot of the epiphany for me. I started to realize, you know, it's kinda funny because of a big, as Eric was in the throws of his addiction, I was very angry at him for what he was doing to you because I know how traumatic it was. You know, I would see him , uh, in and out of rehab centers in and out of houses. You know, I had to kick him out of my house. I was on the phone with you when we did that. And so it was a big, you know, it was, it was a lot of heartache for me, but, but what was almost equally or even more as maddening was what he was doing to you then Eric passes and I'm doing the same damn thing, you know, then I'm still myself basically to death. I was on a very bad trajectory. But once I started to have that realization that, that I can't possibly do this, I , there's no way that you can lose two sons. Uh , I started to kind of, you know, wake up a little bit and, you know, you were there for me every step of the way and , uh, and , and things have gotten dramatically better in our lives. And I think it was just a matter of timing and, you know, you kept the faith and you said your prayers and, and here we are. Yeah. Yeah. That's a very good point. Robbie , I did pray for you a lot. I know you did. I know you did. A lot of people did. And I'm very, I'm very fortunate that I had that support because as you mentioned, it can go another way, right. And oftentimes it does. Yeah. Yeah. We were very worried about you for a very long time and we're so proud of you now. Good. Because of all the good work that you're doing. So well, I'm trying to take after you, if we're being honest. I mean you're a huge inspiration. You're huge inspiration to me and many, many others. So I wanted to kind of wrap up with just a, a quick kind of couple of questions on. A lot of people may be listening to this and they've never experienced a loss. Anything like what we've experienced. Um, but they're concerned about it because this is a growing problem, right? The, the, the fact that Eric's house has been so successful in growing and having 18 people on board and helping 49 people a month and you know, having a house donated and all of these different things is amazing for the, for the program. But it says that there's a lot wrong with what's going on with the people who are, who are being lost. And you know, now I think it's, it's becoming more and more ingrained in the zeitgeists of the world where we're talking about, you know, should we talk to children about it? Should we talk to middle school kids about it or high school kids about it? There's suicide awareness type of movement. What's, you know, what's happening out there with the kids and , and the drugs and all of this stuff. Why is suicide increasing? It seems to be like year after year after year. And so, you know, people are listening to this show saying, well, you know, where there were there warning signs. Is there anything I can do? Can I be proactive? Can I prevent this from happening? Can you, can you speak to that? I know you talked a little bit about, about, you know, not having any regrets, but what about somebody who's just listening, wondering, Oh my gosh, I would really prefer not to go through what these two have gone through. Can you, can you kind of give them some of your thoughts? We'll share. I refer to the S word. Nobody likes to say the S word. Nobody wants to talk about it. They're afraid. There's fear in that word. Just hearing that word. People are afraid if they talk about it, that it might come true. How so? So you don't want to talk. People are reluctant to talk to their kids about it. And teen suicide in Arizona, we have a very, very high rate with young boys in Arizona. And so , um, studiesSpeaker 2:
actually show that by talking about it, you're raising awareness and you're able to detect people who are risk and put appropriate prevention programs in place. Prevention and awareness programs , um, especially for youth. So , um, that, that's one thing. Um, it's always , uh, very important to spot addiction issues or substance use disorders early because that can lead to suicide. So when you see somebody who is , um, very, very moody who was always out of money, who's , you know, got a couple of different cell phones , um, those are, those are warning signs and you need to address those warning signs head on because the consequence of not doing it can result in an overdose or a suicide. So that's also very important. Um, there needs to be more attention paid to mental health as part of regular and routine healthcare . Um, but the main thing is, you know, not to be afraid to talk about it with somebody. We have a , a couple who , uh, his husband came in and he was a veteran and he had such intense feelings of leaving and they talked it through. They were able to, as a couple talk it through. He's very healthy and he's out doing advocacy work today. So the best thing you could do is make your feelings known. If , if you know somebody who is at risk, somebody who's talking about leaving, somebody who is isolating, somebody who is being bullied, it's okay to just grab them and talk to them about it. And um, not be afraid of it because talking isn't going to make it happen. Talking is going to prevent it from happening.Speaker 1:
Yeah, I think that's a good perspective. You know, I sort of instinctually feel almost the opposite of that. I , I know , I know the reason I bring it up, I'm not, I don't have any data. I don't have any real experience to back it up. I talked a little bit about it with Jill when she was on the show, but it seems to me, you know, if you are talking about it that maybe you're sort of planting the seed of the idea that that exists, that, that that may be an option. But you know, I don't know what the answer is and it's, you know, I , I certainly think that deferring to the side of open communication so that somebody feels like if they, if they have these thoughts that it's an open forum and they can just just, you know , put it out into the end of the world, talk to their support group about it, and that will take a lot of the power away from, from, from the actual act.Speaker 2:
Right. Because I just said , uh, talking about it doesn't make it happen and it doesn't plant a seed. It's already there. Yeah . It's around us everywhere. The statistics show that a person dies every 14 minutes in the United States. Yeah. Every 14 minutes. Then on top of that , um, there's 1.7 million attempts every year. Yeah. And so it's already around us. It's an epidemic. And the only way to deal with it is to be upfront and honest and create safe places for people to go to talk about how they're feeling and get them some help.Speaker 1:
So you've made the commitment to helping the other people who've gone through what you've gone through, you know , process their grief, process, their loss loss and kind of get there, you'll get the train back on the tracks to a certain degree in their life that has required you to talk to these people, to be around these people. You get the phone call that somebody lost their son or their spouse or their child and your there for them. You're actually, you know, you personally and the rest of the team at Eric's house are engaging with these people on a day to day basis, which is like a Saint's activity as far as I'm concerned. I mean that, that is, that is emotionally it's , I would imagine it's exhausting. It's draining. You know, you're almost kind of reliving what you experienced personally because you're helping somebody else through it. How on earth do you do that?Speaker 2:
Well , um, I take frequent breaks so you know, you can get grief overload. Yeah . I am a very um, empathetic with our clients. I do feel their pain cause I've lived their pain. Um, but we, we share the load with the team inside Eric's house. I, I try to take a little time off to go to our cabin up North for the weekend and just D just decompress. I , I do centering prayer, which is my form of meditation just to kind of clear my mind, stay grounded. Um, but I'm really committed to helping , um, helping our people through, especially the very first part where they're, they're really in shock. And so it's a question of , um, establishing good self care for yourself. Anybody who does this kind of heavy work have to be really clear about , um , taking care of your own self , um, so that you can take care of them. And then my last question is, what, what does [inaudible]Speaker 1:
this house need? If people are listening to this, what can the audience do to support you to connect with you? Where can they find you and the organization? Just give us an overview on kind of next steps.Speaker 2:
Okay. Well, if, if people have lost somebody to substance or suicide, they can go to our website and call our one eight, five, five number. And , uh , we respond within 24 hours. So everybody gets a call back , it'll usually be me or another one, a member of our team. Um, so that's the first thing. If you are bereaved that way, just give us a call. Um, the second thing is , um, we, we are a five Oh one. C3 we rely on donations. Um, most of us are all volunteers. Um, but , uh, if anybody is ever inclined to donate, we can donate at our website. We also , uh , need volunteers. We're currently looking for a support with fundraising , uh, for 20, 20 and 20, 21. Um, as well as a few little things that need to be done. You know, administratively and with social media, social media is a challenge because it's like 10 full time jobs. So a lot of work. Um, and um, you know, just participate in our programs like us on Facebook, make referrals and you can just help us in that way. And where does the money go that that's being donated, right? That goes actually to service. Yeah . We have a really outstanding, kind of a high profile board of directors. Our board of directors pays for all operating costs. So all money that comes into the organization goes to , um, providing services and we pay our providers , uh, because we feel that we want the very best that understand this type of grief. And , um, we have an excellent team and many of us are lost survivors ourselves. And so all monies that come in through donations go to fund programs and services.Speaker 1:
Yeah, it , it really is a powerful team and it's grown a lot and it's, it's, it's helped my life. I know, I've seen it help other people's lives. Is there anything else that we missed we didn't get to, we needed to touch on? No , I think we got it. We covered it. Yeah. So. All right, well let me give everybody just some, some hard links. So the website address is Eric's house.org. You can find the Facebook page on facebook.com/ Eric's house 88. The phone number is on the website. Once again, you heard from Maryanne Govia , the founder or the executive director of Eric's house.org and my mama mom, thanks for coming on the show today.Speaker 2:
You're welcome. Thank you. I love you too.Speaker 3:
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