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Episode 45: Love, Loss & The Meaning Of Life (2/2)

Some of the biggest regrets in life are not the things we say but the things that are left unsaid. What are the conversations you will look back and wish you would have had? ⁠ Morgan Brown, Founder of “Conversations I Wish I Had” and Sasza Lohrey, Founder of BBXX, share their personal experiences with loss in the most raw, vulnerable interview thus far on the BBXX podcast.

Sasza
I think we’ll just just start out. I wanted to acknowledge that you know on a practical level with going back to those logistics and everything and you know in your mom’s case or in other cases; my mom didn’t have a will so people also don’t realize that sometimes like lawsuits for four years at least in our case, you know, these things just haunts you in these logistics and this having to two dimensionalize your process and the events and like literally having to look at it and talk about it in a way that makes it two dimensional and kind of more scientific and dissociative but that honesty I love and in terms of kind of responding, and I still feel as though literally every day, you know when I can answer, “I’’m good”, even “I’m great” sometimes. I really really appreciate it.  I had some chronic health problems that ensue due to certain predispositions, but I now realize especially end because there’s research about this when you yeah cope with trauma it can express certain rank, your body takes on that stress and that trauma and expresses certain predispositions and so had an emergency surgery that spiraled out into another chronic illness and like to chronic diseases and so being able to say, you know, I’m good let alone great after having mental health out of your control and then physical health out of my control for you know, two and a half years straight now feels so amazing but is still constantly put into perspective and it’s kind of that perspective. I think that would come such an important part of our lives. and so I love that you live with that honest perspective and you mentioned that being an important part of your healing process and then with you know, travel being a huge part and again, you know, that’s the perspective that you have on the world or that other people have of you and that need for anonymity in certain instances and getting away from your story and that constant reminder, but then also that struggle with if somebody doesn’t know my story can they ever really know me? 

Morgan
Yes. have found this come up often with dating. 

Sasza
They can’t you know, nobody can because it just shapes you so deeply and then I think after that honesty and and traveling perspective art, I think becomes such a huge kind of that creativity. and so it’s so interesting to me because again, there are so many parallels in so many different. isis which I find so interesting about our stories and so I found myself unable to write a letter to my mom. I still have not but what I found is that I was so grateful for the people who were there for me. and yes, there were people who were not and stuff like this does, you know challenge you and relationships and other people and some people show up and some people don’t and you know, sometimes it’s hard to let people in but I wrote letters to kind of everybody else my closest friends and family members. I wrote love letters and you know telling people how amazing I thought they were. well, I still have the chance to because I realized that you know, you never know when you won’t have the chance. stew in it just is so tragic to think about how we don’t tell people so many things while we have the chance and I think some of the most upsetting things and you know, the biggest regrets in life aren’t the things we say, but the things that are left unsaid and so really just trying to encourage people to say those things while they had the chance and doing this kind of love letters for all project. and so I think that that parallel is so interesting and again admirable and I would know that one day I will write up letter. I don’t know, you know how or when or where but I hear art and creativity as kind of another one of these important aspects of the healing process, and so I would love to hear more and tell our listeners more about kind of the projects you’ve done, particularly “Conversations I Wish I Had”

Morgan
Yeah, so “Conversations I Wish I Had” is a pop-up phone booth that I set up and invite people to talk to people in their life who are no longer around. So that can be someone who has died, for me I’m always the first one to step in and I talk to my mom, but that’s not always the case for everyone. Sometimes people will talk to estranged family members, sometimes they’ll talk to past lovers. It started out as a project that was just for people to talk to people who have died and it has since morphed into something else: a place for people to talk to other people who are no longer around, and that progression came naturally just from people wanting to interact in the phone booth and then saying, “Well, I really want to step in but I don’t want to talk to someone who died, I want to talk to my ex-boyfriend and he’s very much alive, but he’s gone from my life” and it’s like, “Oh, yeah, you can talk to whoever, I’m not the gatekeeper of this project”. I’m someone who makes art and puts it into the world, but I’m not here to decide who can interact with it and who can’t.  So, the “Conversations I Wish I Had” project is a phone booth that I have taken up and down the West Coast. It has shown up in galleries and museums, you know, and even a backyard or two; it’s a pretty portable space. and yeah, it’s a special project that came out of what was just my process of constantly going to my mom and wanting to be in contact with her, and then you know, I have a 1970 VW van and I had been driving it around the country and I was meeting people and having conversations, this is before the phone booth even existed, but I was just chatting with people and it seemed like that summer, everyone was processing a loss in some way. Whether it was a loss of a friendship or a loss of a relationship or a loss of a person, and this was really at the top of my mind because it just seems like everyone was processing this and they all had things that they wish they could have said. It seemed like every conversation I got in that summer was around things left unsaid to people that you can’t really say it to anymore. So I was driving through Arkansas, and I don’t know if you’ve ever driven through Arkansas, but it was at night.  It was very dark and it was a very long road and there were not a lot of people around. It was pretty late at night, but the roads were empty. I could have been anywhere; I was in Arkansas, but I could have been anywhere, it was just like headlights into blackness. So I really like driving in those situations because it really frees your mind to think, and so I was thinking about all of these conversations and was just thinking like there’s got to be something to fix it. I don’t think I’m a fixer but there’s got to be a space, or some sort of project or offering to really address this thing that is so present for me now and present with everyone I’m meeting and that’s kind of where “Conversations I Wish I Had” came from. It was this spark of an idea I sat on for many months and then kind of came to the conclusion like if you’re gonna do it just do it, and if you’re not going to do it, move on to the next idea. So I thought, “Okay, let’s try”. I reached out to a carpenter and I told him my idea. He didn’t think I was nuts, he was like, “Cool. Let’s do it”. And yeah, we went from there. It kind of became my most well-known project at this point.

Sasza
One, I think it’s an amazing project that I love and appreciate the things behind it and also the impact it’s had. I feel as though sometimes certain things get to the point where you can’t not do them in a way and I’m wondering what if you feel comfortable sharing kind of some of the most inspiring or interesting, you know experiences you’ve had with this phone booth or witness with other people and what they’ve had with this phone booth. 

Morgan
Yeah, so sometimes I’m not always present when the phone booth is up. It depends on the location and how long whoever is hosting me wants it to be standing because to do like a six-hour day of facilitating “Conversations I Wish I Had” is a lot. I have done it and it’s hard. But what I will say is I have been there for many of them and I think I’m constantly touched by the conversations in different languages. I don’t know what they’re communicating but I think it’s really cool that there’s a space where people feel comfortable to speak in the language they feel comfortable speaking. There was one girl in particular that I’m thinking of who, I think she was probably twenty, and she was grieving the loss of her grandparents who lived in another country and because of that she didn’t get to see them often or talk to them often or anything like that. and so she stepped in the phone booth and she spoke to them in Spanish and just held a conversation with them and she later said you know, she told them what going on with her and her life and she was saying, “I’m sorry I didn’t get to see you before you died”.  I thought that it was really sweet that she felt comfortable to speak in a language that felt comfortable to her or like speak to her grandparents in spanish the conversations that happened in other languages are always really touching to me. 

There was another one that stands out, some of them are funny and like some of them are really sad and some of them are shocking, so I would say a shocking one was this woman steps in the phone booth and her conversation starts out, you know, like, “I’ve been thinking about you a lot. When you came to live with us and you were so young and I was so young and I wish I would have treated you better”. So in my head as she’s talking I’m thinking like maybe a foster child or an adopted kid, but then you know, she’s grieving their loss. so I’m putting a story together where I’m like, “Oh, something bad happened” and then she says, “You were such a great childhood cat”, like, oh my gosh, this is an animal and like, I think it’s cool. It’s cool that she stepped in and talked to her childhood animal, but that was a shocking one where I was like, “Oh no, this is really sad.  Something happened, you know when she’s saying when you came to live with us” and they’re like, “Oh this is a pet”. and then I’d say another one that was funny and it was sad was someone stepped in the phone booth and was talking to their best friend who had died and they were telling the story of how at this friend’s funeral their partner showed up and the friends Catholic family didn’t know that he was gay and it was a sad conversation, but the way this person told it was self laughing where she is like and I thought your brother was gonna punch him! They were just a funny person and they were like making me laugh. I was laughing and crying at the same time. I was laughing because it was straight out of like what I imagine a sitcom, you know, like you’re at this funeral and you realize that you know, your son, you’re Catholic son, is gay because their partner is now standing up at the on the little stage thing sharing about their life together something like that or I don’t think it was like a long-term partner with someone who they had kind of just met but they were the person on the phone doing the “Conversations I Wish I Had” project. they were like, you know, it started getting a rhotic and everyone is kind of looking around being like do we tackle him like so that one comes to mind and then there was there’s another one that comes to mind where there was a girl who stepped in the phone booth and she talked to her former partner and her partner was 19 when she was 12 and they were in a relationship and she was this one made me cry, you know, she was she was kind of embodying this. twelve-year-old memory and she’s processing like the age difference and how there was just so much she didn’t know and how she was confused because she was like, I know I loved you, but you took advantage of me like I was a child and that one was really hard to listen to because you’re alongside her processing and being like wait. yeah. I’m angry for you like you you should never have been in that situation. but then when she’s talking about their love, you’re like wait, did you love him? it’s confusing, you know, it’s it’s confusing and it’s confronting and the conversation made me sad and I was grateful that she had a place to kind of say those things that she needed to say to this person who had kind of had a big part of her life and not always in a positive way.

Sasza
Just to clarify for our listeners, you’re not in the booth with them, right? Can you clarify in terms of how you’re listening to visit while they’re talking from outside or via recording later on. 

Morgan
Yeah. so the phone booth is set up with recording capabilities and people can opt into having their conversation recorded and with the knowledge that it may be shared and so people opt-in or they opt out and the ones where they opt out, you know, there’s no pressure to be recorded. and so those get the every every conversation is recorded and then I just go through and delete the ones that from the people who have opted out. so the stories that I’m telling now are from people who have opted into their conversation being shared. So I’m not listening in the moment, I’m listening days or a week later 

Sasza
I think that going back to that story where the girl chose, you know, was speaking in Spanish to her grandparents, I couldn’t help but think how on a literal basis, you know, we all have different languages, but even when we’re referring to, you know, speaking the same literal language, I always, remind people how we all have different languages for love, but we all also have such different languages for loss. How we talk about it or think about it or or process it is something so important to recognize and when you think of it kind of in that metaphorical way, but also then in the the sense of you know, people are so familiar with love language is now and recognizing how differently we all you know go through that and so if we can also kind of apply that to to the latter part in learning there’s so much I think that love teaches us about loss but perhaps even more that loss teaches us about love. 

Morgan
Yeah. I relate to that a hundred percent. I think in my experience with loss love has been really illuminated for me. Especially with my family. I’ve always been close to my family, but to realize to really realize how in an instant everything can change and how I just want to soak up all of the time I can get with my family and be I think “presence” is is kind of having a buzzword now, but I think it’s so important like you can be with someone, but can you be present with them? Can you be together and not on your phone or on your computer or whatever? Can you really carve out space to be with someone and I think that came from loss and realizing how short time is and being like if I love this person, how can I be with them fully.  I think it also helps with conflict not to sing. sweep it under the rug but to say like is this how we want to move forward? Is this really worth holding on to? Even little things, like I was with my twin sister and we were driving and we got in a little spat.  We were both mad and then we both had like three minutes of calming down and I turned to her and I said, hey, can you forgive me? i’d like to start over. I don’t want to carry this into the rest of the day and she was like me too. I’m sorry for bubba blah blah blah. like let’s just let’s just move on and even little things like that just saying I don’t want to carry this in the into the rest of the day. we had a miscommunication. we’re already grumpy. this isn’t worth our time and energy to even be focusing on now. 

Sasza
Yeah, I often tell people that a huge part of why I’m working on BBXX is kind of that realization that our close relationships are everything. It’s the source of our happiness, our biggest sadness, you know, it’s the source of our sons of fulfillment and it’s really kind of where all the value in life is derived from and that’s everything. Everything else in life outside of that is just noise or embellishment, and so trying to just recognize and reset that values system accordingly, and hopefully through this kind of work help other people to do so as well. So I think as we kind of begin to wrap up, I’ll ask you a few shorter questions. We’ll end on a fun note with these rapid fire questions. On your website on death dialogue you frame these two questions and I would love to just know what your answers would be to them and they are what does it mean to live? and what does it mean to die for what does it mean to live? 

Morgan
I think for me it goes back to the conversation of presence to to be isn’t in to try and be present in everything and I do and also approach things as if they’re brand-new. I have a brand new baby niece that I’m obsessed with and I’m totally inspired by because they are seeing the world for the first time and they’re amazed by it and to me that if I can be at the end of my life and say I was amazed and I was not withholding of love or time or support then I will have said I can say like I lived so for me, that’s what it means to live and then to die. I’m still proud. I’m still curious about this question. I will always be curious about this question. and I don’t think I will ever have a good answer because I think for a long time to die was like, you know some days I’m like we die we go into the earth and that’s that and then other days I’m like no like everything if everything is energy our spirits don’t end when our physical body does and so I don’t have a good answer for that. I don’t know what it means to die. but I think there is a conversation around like what does it to die well, and I think that’s a really interesting conversation now that’s happening in society around like okay, let’s get what are your wishes for when you die. it’s something that is not talked about. do you want to be buried or cremated? do you have a will? how do you want this to happen? we didn’t know for my mom. She didn’t have any wishes. and so I think to really go into to the mindset like I will die. and what do I want that to look like? and you know, if you’re sick, how long do you want? you know, if you have a d a do not resuscitate order things like that. like that’s I don’t I don’t have a good answer for you. and I think that’s why I asked the question because I’m curious and I’m open to many different answers.

Sasza
I think logistically or emotionally, yeah.to die well is dependent if you’re living well, but what does it mean to live well?  And I think that goes back again to those relationships. there’s one other note that I was going to say, but it’s interesting. you know, there are these theories about death. it’s just such a weird word. it is such a heavy word. I is very difficult, you know these different theories about you know, there are three deaths, you know, being all the way from when you realize that one day you will die or when the body ceases to function versus, you know, when you’re buried or cremated all the way up until you know the last time somebody says your name being that that final death. I recently heard a pretty amazing thing, you know and again just a theory and it depends on your perspective about the afterlife which I definitely do not have clear in any way but from a philosophical perspective just to think about I found very interesting and somebody said that you know, there are people who have theories that when you are when you die and when you’re on the other side if and when people can communicate kate that there’s no longer this filter where people on the other side can see, you know, everything they’ve done clearly and how they affected people and you know, they don’t put up their barriers and that you can actually communicate with them on a much deeper and pure level then you could together in the living life because all of those barriers and automatic filters are gone for them, which I just thought in theory is a beautiful idea. 

Morgan
Yeah, you know, it’s interesting because I think people have really strong ideas of what death is and what death isn’t and what you know. Can you communicate with people who have died? 

Sasza
I’m yeah, it’s difficult for me to conceptualize but not yet. people should be able to think that or appreciate that, you know, some people can think that right. 

Morgan
My thoughts on it are that I’m kind of just open to everything, you know, like someone was telling me recently that they had someone their best friend had died and they loved the color yellow and recently they were kind of like talking to their friend just out loud and a yellow balloon like passed in front of them and they took that as a sign. sign that their friend was listening and their friend was here and when I hear that iIm like, “Who am I to tell you know, it was just a yellow balloon like passing in front of you” like sometimes I want to do that like, “Come on, you know”, it’s a yeah, but like if that’s something that that person truly believes was their friend saying like, “Hey, I’m good. I’m okay, then who am I to be like? no, I don’t think it was because here’s all these logical reasons and it’s like, I don’t know what’s beyond this. realm like maybe maybe that blue yellow balloon was orchestrated by your friend. and if that is going to totally brighten your day and be a pin mark in like the fabric of your life where you can say that person is with me, great. I want that for you. 

Sasza
I think that you know outside of science and logic to live in a world in which especially with the phone booth. we can think of these as you know conversations where somebody could potentially you know hear them or be able to engage in a pure less judgmental conversations. that is a nice narrow albeit, perhaps idealistic version of reality. one person versus the other again because we love differently and we lose so differently so who are we to make judgments or you know put a timeline let alone rules on other people’s process. 

Morgan
Yeah, or say, what’s right and wrong and have some moral standing around how people are interacting with people like their loved one who’s died?

Sasza
And so while I was looking through your posts and I just took notes on things that perhaps stood out to me on a personal level or just also things that I thought might be, you know relatable for other people whether or not they have experienced loss and there was this one line about the difference between being lonely and being alone. I’ve struggled with kind of an existential sense of loneliness that sometimes hunts me and trying to really dig deep into that and figure out where it comes from and how much is you know from going through this process or other things from my past and in life and and really trying to you know, recognize okay, you know, but what is that difference? Can you be alone and practicing that intentionally and improving by recognizing, “Yes I can”? But also recognizing what are the things that bring up those other emotions or that loneliness and what is the difference between the two so i’d love to hear your perspective. 

Morgan
Yeah. I think I’m still trying to figure it out. but I think losing someone is an incredibly isolating experience. it’s something where you know you and I can be in the same room and we can have both lost our moms and like your experience is so different from mine and mine is so different from yours. even if there are threads of similarities and we can be in the room together and we’re alone in in our grief. it’s a it’s you know, or even with my sisters like we lost the same person and we I think I can speak for all of us when we say like we all felt so alone in our grief because we’re so alone in our minds like no one can be in our mind with us. You can try and communicate what’s in your mind but no one can come in there with you. So I think for a long time I would say I was lonely. I was alone in my grief and then I was lonely in it because I felt like no one could understand what I was going through and when I was able to turn my understanding around death from, “This is just this thing that is happening to me and only to me” to this thing where I’m like, “oh no everyone experiences this”, it became a point of connection. and then I think that’s where I became less lonely because I realized that there were people out there that knew what it was like to miss someone and knew what it was like to you know really grieve for not just for the person I lost but for the life that I lost for the family that I lost. I mean we didn’t even get into how family dynamics can change but I went from having, you know, a more dramatic version of myself. I called myself an orphan because when my mom died my dad checked out and so like really feeling alone in that. and I think but I think that now I’m looking for when I feel lonely and I can identify like, oh, I’m not just alone. I’m not just on my own now, but I’m lonely and I crave connection. That’s kind of the turning point for me. If I notice I’m craving connection. I realize I’m lonely and then that’s when I’m able to kind of pull out my tool chest and be like, okay. here’s the tool chest for living connection. I get off instagram or like get off the internet and go make an in-person connection. even if it’s just a quick exchange at a coffee shop. even if it’s just getting out of my house and realizing there are other people in this world, then you know me alone in my house, I think. think that is so important for me and so I don’t know if that answers the question. I think it’s it’s something I’m still asking.

Sasza
There is no answer, I was just curious about your thoughts on this process.  We didn’t even talk about social media but, I had meant to ask you because part of the reason why, through this experience, you know after having a mix of experiences where people project and whether I think in many cases it’s from a loving way where you know, they want to think you’re okay. they want to think, you know, you’re getting better, but I once found myself I you know posted some very brief something and picture of the view and having somebody knee a very close friend and say I’m so glad you know to see you’re doing well and having that be in response to a photo of a few that I took of a sunrise because I hadn’t slept the whole night because I couldn’t because I just yeah trapped in kind of the darkness in my own head and you know still take sleeping pills and I actually have made it for days now officially without taking a sleeping pill but from that moment on I found myself i’ve never been on you know, I think that was I didn’t even know what snapchat was at that point. and that was the last time I ever even went on it but finding myself, I withdrew from a lot of social media and just finding myself really bothered by the fact that people project a version of your life onto these photos or whatever surface level of what they can see and you know interpret it as representing, you know, how you are if you’re happy, all of this and I really struggled with it and you know at the same time though when I see you know your profile for example, and you are actually sharing real things and a process and how many people are engaged and that it can be beneficial and I think it’s amazing that on your end, you know where your barriers are but I think that whole space of you know, what role technology plays in loss now with, you know, these profiles and everything, but then again in the grief process or just in our lives in general is so complicated. 

Morgan
Yeah, I feel like a whole new podcast could be done on social media. yeah, I mean what I’ll say is I downloaded instagram two weeks before my mom died. it was like a very new thing. I didn’t really know what it was. and I think what it started out as for me when I have like, you know, 20 followers, and they’re all family and friends, is it started out as a place for me to update how I was doing with? out having to have 20 conversations updating people with how I was doing.  It was this place because I was on my phone all the time, but I couldn’t respond to text messages because it was so burdensome. it felt so burdensome if someone was like hey, how you doing today? I’m like, “how am I doing today? well not so great because I drank a lot last night and now I’m sitting in a chair. It’s now 2:00 p.m. and I haven’t stood up and I’m just staring out the window and all I can do is cry” like you don’t want to type that out. it doesn’t feel good. and so instagram started out just as a way for me to share my life without having to have a ton of one-on-one conversations. 

Sasza
I love hearing that other perspective of you know, how it can be used in these other ways that you know in my experience. I haven’t done or thought of. 

Morgan
Yeah. yeah, and that’s just really how it started out and I think that’s kind of it’s a little different now, but I would say that now. I use it to tell stories of my life and what I’m thinking but now I don’t use it in the way where I’m processing something in the moment and sharing it on instagram. I think that can be that was something I did when I was sad and 22 and didn’t understand kind of like this victimhood mindset, but I can look at it. now I’m be like, okay, you know the that wasn’t it was great to update friends and families like my friends and family, but it wasn’t great to kind of process on instagram because I found that if I didn’t get the response that I wanted or if I wasn’t if I didn’t feel like I was being understood and what I was sharing it was really be upsetting and so now I still share a lot but I think the difference is is that everything I’m sharing. i’ve processed I have how I’m thinking and how I’m feeling about the situation. I’m pretty clear on it. some days not so much, but sure most of the time it’s pretty clear. I’m clear so if I’m getting a response that isn’t what I want it to be, it doesn’t affect me in the same way because I’m not saying like, I’m not understood the like, I’m just saying I’m sharing stories that I’m really clear on and if someone’s going to say interpret it differently, that’s okay and I had many experiences like what you’re sharing about where you post a photo and then someone projects onto you and it’s a terrible feeling like and I remember, you know, kind of sharing openly and some seeing someone in person and them being like, you know, I follow you online. it seems like some days you’re doing well, but most days you’re not and it was surprising to me because actually in that moment I was doing all right, but like I was in perspective. it’s like well, he clearly didn’t realize how low the bar goes. like my good days. yeah, I like if I’m out of if you are seeing me out of the house and we’re having a conversation things are going well because when they’re not going well, you won’t see me like I won’t leave my bed.  But I think it brought up a really interesting thing. for me with grief and it happens for not just in grief, but for the human experience in general is that we often like to put people in boxes. we like to say you are happy or you are sad you are angry or you’re depressed and then but we don’t allow those boxes to bleed and we don’t really want to recognize that you can be you can be two of those things. you can be three of those things. you know, I could I can have pretty sad day and find a moment to smile and laugh and that doesn’t mean I’m happy or sad it means I’m happy and sad it’s kind of this idea that you can hold you have two hands and you can hold both, you know, and so even on my happy days there would be moments and even today, you know, this holds true not just in grief but in life. like I can have a happy day and still find myself crying on a podcast interview about my mom, like I can hold both and yeah, and I think that that kind of realization has helped. navigate some of this social media where like I recognize in myself that I can have a variety of emotions. I know that people will interpret or project everything I say for themselves, but because I’m already clear on where I stand on the story. I’m sharing or the experience I am sharing about, I’m able to share openly and authentically without. kind of being triggered by people’s responses. so but it really bothered me in the beginning where i’d be like you don’t understand me.

Sasza
Not only is it important for people to recognize that, you know, you can hold two different or many different spaces or go back and forth in an instant, but you know that everyday life or in general. can be like that outside of you know, grief, but also that you know one lends itself to the other and those sad moments give you perspective for the happy moments. and even if only for a brief moment in which you can feel happy, you can appreciate it so much more and feel it so much more when you you know been through deeper sadness yes, and so the relationship not only between love and loss but between you know, sadness and joy and how they you know lend themselves to one another 

Morgan
Totally like the what is it like a metaphor like you only know peaks because you’ve known valleys. I know it’s a little cliche, but if you break it down and like, take the cliche feeling out of it. it’s true. like I I can only know joy because i’ve seen what the exact and extreme opposite of that is and you know, i’ve seen how low it can go and that makes the peaks of a little bit higher because I’m like, wow, this is great. like I will take this every single day over the other stuff and I think yeah even in the aftermath of my mom dying. we see like the it’s the agony and the ecstasy like it’s so much pain, but then when something is funny, it’s manically funny. It’s kind of this loose emotional time where you really see the highs and the lows and there’s kind of this depressive energy. but there’s also this really energetic manic energy pulsing through you and it’s a weird experience to say the least. and I mean on the short-term. 

Sasza
I didn’t have that experience exactly but that perspective of you know, being able to look down and see how far down it is and so then to be able to realize you know how high you are and then I think looking at other people when you don’t have context or comparison, you know, people don’t realize they’re at a peak then don’t sit with it and appreciate it and think what I got it I need to enjoy this while I’m here, you know, this is a peak and I can recognize that with that perspective and know I need to enjoy it instead of just thinking of this is just another day or you know, not appreciating it. 

Morgan
Yeah, or even with relating to people like the person did to me and was like, oh you’re not doing well and I’m like you’re taking your ruler for peaks and valleys and you’re putting it on me, but I don’t fit in in your ruler, you know, like for me, this is a peak, to you it looks like a pretty depressive valley, but I’m trying to tell you. like this is a good thing buddy. yeah, and I’m in a place now, where I can realize that they really do mean well and in that situation I can say actually I’m and I did say that I said, you know, actually I’m doing pretty well and like things are going much better. and I think that’s something we didn’t even really touch on. but the ability to take back your narrative is so important in my grieving process and my healing process and it applies not just to like the loss of my mom and the grief that I went through with that but just life to be able to say like the narrative that you’re putting on me isn’t true and I’m going to tell you it’s not true instead of carry your burden of what you think about me. 

Sasza
So as we wrap up, I wanted to ask you and you know be it through this experience of loss or outside of that from love about connection and relationships in general. I wanted to know what you know, thus far has been one of you think the most important lessons that you’ve learned.
 

Morgan
I think the first thing that comes to mind is the biggest lesson that i’ve learned, which is to to know that we’re all going through something and to carry that empathy with me, and and to to truly believe and know it that what we’re all trying and you know, we all have hidden stories that are not being told for whatever reason like maybe you’re in the Verizon store trying to get your voicemails and text messages from your mom back and you’re like, “The manager isn’t understanding” or whatever but to recognize like oh this person is going through something.  I’m going to be with this and have empathy for it. I use the Verizon analogy, but it can be anything and I think that’s been a huge lesson in my day today that in any conflict or in any point of connection with people, even if it’s just dropping things off at the post office. If someone’s grumpy with me or if someone is short with me or anything. like that or someone isn’t responding the way I want them to I have recognized. it’s probably not about me. like they are probably going through something and they’re probably trying their best to get through it 

Sasza
I think that’s an incredible lesson, and to recognize that so little of our reactions to the present moment. are such they are formed by experiences in the past. and you know, what we’re working on are going through that express themselves as reactions to what is currently happening, but are shaped by other things and to and so to have that reminder as people either on the receiving end or within oneself of that fact and so to either treat others with kindness in consideration of that and also to you know, recognize that the actions and impacts and emotions that we’re going through and where they come from and where we can take. 

Morgan
Yeah, it’s like that’s what I wished I had had and I did have it but you know, I walked around for many many days and I would have these interactions and it’s awkward because you want to just be like, I’m sorry. I’m not I’m doing this now. like I my mom died you want to just like tell people why you’re acting the way you are and it and instead of just feeling the need to tell people that I think just approaching everyone with the you’re standing that they’re probably like everyone has a hidden story that’s not being told and it’s probably affecting their day-to-day and to just have an empathy for that has probably been the biggest lesson that has come out of this whole experience of losing my mom and moving through life after that. 

Sasza
As we wrap up I wanted to read a post that I came across.  There are several that made me cry and some that were even more tragic or some that we’re sad, but framed with happiness and you know this one kind of kind of brought it together in a way and it was the second part of a two post series, but I just wanted to read this for our listeners and also just for you to listen to the beauty that I found within it. “Six years. Time shrinks and expands in the strangest of ways. And even though I know it’s been six years, I still can’t feel it. I still can’t wrap my mind around it two thousand one hundred and ninety days 72 months for years away from 10 and countless moments in those six years, I wished you were here. Most days I still feel like I’m trying to get my feet under me that I hardly believe so much time has passed but there are signs of the passage of time that don’t lie. My face is more worn and I have a few gray hairs and I’m getting those chest wrinkles. you said i’d get if I kept sleeping on my stomach, which I still do and I’m not sorry about because these six years have taught me. there’s beauty in brokenness and even more beauty when you share it. That we’re all walking around with unspoken stories just waiting to be heard. That grief doesn’t have a timeline and the day I stopped putting one on mine, I felt more alive. That the terrible days don’t last forever and the days of smiles will grow longer. That you don’t have to have your shit together to be worthy of love and that some of the best people sit and make camp at the intersection of messy and vulnerable. Something you knew all along. Thanks, mom. I love you and miss you always.”

Morgan
It’s so cool hearing that read outside of my head. Like, “I said that?” 

Sasza
That’s why I read that for the listeners to hear how incredible it is.  But it’s so different when you hear it yourself too, and to recognize how impactful this thought has been in your own process, but also the impact that when hearing it  from a third-party you can recognize it has the potential to have for other people. and so I just wanted to say thank you and that I thought that was extremely extremely beautiful. 

Morgan
Thank you for reading that. That was special for me to hear it because sometimes I say it out loud when I’m trying to not make grammatical mistakes, but I’ve never really heard it.

Sasza
Yeah, so we can brainstorm how we can somehow bring that to life with, you know, the phone booth in the love letters andI’d love to brainstorm ideas with you as to how we can share these letters and phone booth recordings, and so yeah, on one hand want to end on that note, but then also we have these funny rapid-fire questions that we do and so I figured what yeah least a good way to end it on a higher note, although you know, cool been in these peaks and valleys and there is joy I’m sharing these stories be them so sad and so I love that we can kind of you know, I feel that even on this call. having been able to process and just kind of grow in the exploration of these stories with you. you know that yeah brings me joy as we talk about sadness and so really that’s been incredible. okay. so the rapid fire questions the first round is just you’re going to choose one or the other. there are a couple where it’s an open answer and for the rest, it’s just you choose one or the other. 

Morgan
Ok I’m excited. 

Sasza
Ok. pizza or pasta 

Morgan
Pasta

Sasza
Sunrise yoga or dancing till sunrise 

Morgan
Dancing till sunrise 

Sasza
Drink of choice 

Morgan
Coffee 

Sasza
Hugs or kisses

Morgan
Hugs 

Sasza
Sex or intimacy 

Morgan
Intimacy 

Sasza
Nature or nurture

Morgan
Nature 

Sasza
Best year of your life 

Morgan
I hope this one

Sasza
One of your heroes 

Morgan
My mom.

Sasza
What kind of dog are you? 

Morgan
A golden retriever 

Sasza
Something you’re excited about in the next year. 

Morgan
Rebranding and restructuring my projects and how they exist an online spaces 

Sasza
And your favorite tough question to ask people. 

Morgan
What are you afraid of? 

Sasza
Ok, the second round. This one is word association. so I’ll just say a word and then you just say back whatever comes to mind. okay? Culture.

Morgan
Beyonce 

Sasza
Sex 

Morgan
I haven’t had it in a while. 

Sasza
Love

Morgan
Everywhere

Sasza
You

Morgan
Happy 

Sasza
Us

Morgan
Great conversation 

Sasza
Be

Morgan
Yes. 

Sasza
Man 

Morgan
Person

Sasza
Change 

Morgan
Good 

Sasza
Hope

Morgan
Better 

Sasza
BBXX. 

Morgan
Something I’m excited to listen to more. 

Sasza
Love it. That is perfect. 

Morgan
I think we just need to make this a series and I’m like, how did we just talk for two and a half hours? it was like it was 10 minutes. I know I’m like, there’s so many places. we could have gone this conversation as well as a bunch of new ones and I’m just so grateful for the work you’re doing that, you know inspires me and I have no doubt, you know inspires other people and helps them through their process or to help, you know, a friend. and or family member through there.

About the Expert

Morgan Brown

Morgan Brown

Morgan Brown is the founder of Death Dialogue and the creator of the moving, interactive art exhibit "Conversations I Wish I Had", a phone booth that creates a space for people to ask the question: “If given the chance to pick up the phone and talk to someone who has died, what would you say?”

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