S3E20: Riding the Wave: Navigating the Second Year of Grief

It’s normal for emotions to be more intense the second year after a death.

The second year of grief can be the worst for several reasons. First, the initial shock and numbness that accompanied the death in the first year may have faded, replaced by more intense pain. Second, many people feel guilty in the second year because they think they should be over the death by now. And finally, the second year is when you really start to think about letting go, and this can bring about some intense emotions.

We also are pleased to be chatting with Claire Lucky, AKA the Grieving Bitch on Instagram, who is joining us for our ongoing series about her experiences as a millennial widow. She is embarking on her second year of grieving and Everyone Dies will be going on this journey with her.

Grief turns out to be a place none of us know until we reach it

Ocean Waves, Hato zu, 1900 (Illustration), by Uehara Konen. Overlaid with text: “Grief, when it comes, is nothing like we expect it to be. … Grief has no distance. Grief comes in waves, paroxysms, sudden apprehensions that weaken the knees and blind the eyes and obliterate the dailiness of life. Virtually everyone who has ever experienced grief mentions this phenomenon of “waves.” 
             - Joan Didion, The Year of Magical Thinking

“Grief, when it comes, is nothing like we expect it to be. … Grief has no distance. Grief comes in waves, paroxysms, sudden apprehensions that weaken the knees and blind the eyes and obliterate the dailiness of life. Virtually everyone who has ever experienced grief mentions this phenomenon of “waves.”
– Joan Didion, The Year of Magical Thinking

The Year of Magical Thinking (2005), by Joan Didion (1934–2021), is an account of the year following the death of the author’s husband John Gregory Dunne (1932–2003). The book follows Didion’s reliving and reanalysis of her husband’s death throughout the year following it, in addition to caring for her daughter who developed severe illness at the same time of his death. Charlie shared some of her words in the first part of our episode.

Why is the second year harder?

Listen as Marianne shares the many reasons that the second year of grieving can be more difficult, from the reality setting in after a protective shock of the first year, guilt over the time it takes to heal, anniversaries and events that remind us of the loss, and loss of support systems as people expect us to return to “normal.” Then there’s letting go…donating clothes, moving, and other life changes that signal the finality of the loss. Complex emotions can invade including guilt, anger, confusion and loneliness.

In other words, if Year One is a struggle for survival, Year Two is the equally difficult struggle to begin living life again. It is hard. Our loved ones just keep being dead.

Listen to the episode to learn more about why it is hard and how to get through it. If you love someone who is grieving we also talk about what you can do to support them.

Related Podcasts about Grief:

References about Grief and Healing:

Grief as a Milennial

Claire Luckey, who goes under the name “Grieving Bitch” on Instagram has joined the Everyone Dies correspondent team.  At age 32 and only 5 months into her marriage, her husband did not recognize her when she arrived home from work one day. He was diagnosed with Stage 4 glioblastoma (brain cancer) in February 2020, and Claire was his caregiver until his death in June of 2021.

Claire struggled to find any resources for dealing with loss of a spouse at such a young age. She channeled her sense of humor (and inner bitch) by creating the “Grieving Bitch” account on Instagram.  Claire is sharing her grief journey and life challenges as a 34-year-old widow living in New York City with Everyone Dies in a regular ‘Third Half’ segment.

Claire watched all of WandaVision in time for this episode, just so she can talk about it! Learn what she would do if she had similar powers, and maybe what in her grief journey is similar to Wanda Maximoff’s.

Behind the Scenes – Waves of Grief Podcast Art

Watch as Sandi illustrates the cover for the S3E20 podcast and explains the inspiration and symbology as we talk about the second year of grieving. Do you think grief can come like waves? What is your Mount Fuji? Would you like more art moments? Let us know in the comments!

Recipe of the Week

Ham salad perfect for a funeral lunch, recipe from the Country Cook

According to Atlas Obscura, a classic funeral lunch is ham salad sandwiches. In the United States’ Upper Midwest, Mid-Atlantic, and Southeast regions, ham (and sometimes bologna) salad has held a prominent place on the table at post-funeral luncheons. Some Americans recall eating it only at these events. “In thinking back to any number of post-funeral lunches I’ve attended,” one woman from Pennsylvania wrote, “one constant is that there are always ham salad sandwiches.” If it evokes a feeling of nostalgia like it did for many, we have the recipe for you to re-create it at your next funeral luncheon: The Best Ham Salad from the Country Cook.

As a songwriter, ‘Everyone Dies’ is inviting you to showcase your original work on an upcoming podcast.

There are many wonderful songs that could be played at a funeral. We also know there are songs that could be played, but are cringeworthy (e.g. Ding Dong the Witch is Dead; Another One Bites the Dust; Ring of Fire, etc.).

We are inviting you to send us a recording of two of your original songs (i.e. that could be played at a funeral, one that is appropriate, one that is likely not) to be included in the third half of the ‘Everyone Dies’ podcast. We will include as many artists over the next year (maybe longer if we are enjoying the segment) as possible.

What we need:
Go to this link, fill out the form and submit it along with your two original songs in .wav or .mp3 format (i.e. two original songs that could be played at a funeral, one that is appropriate, one that is likely not). We will screen them and let you know what week your work will be included. We will include all your information in our show notes so people can purchase your recordings.

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