Episode 43: Understanding Grief and Collective Loss: Recovery under Quarantine

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Episode 43: Understanding Grief and Collective Loss: Recovery under Quarantine

(Disclaimer: This transcript was created using AI technology. Please excuse any errors).

Music 0:00

Welcome to the Atheists in Recovery Podcast, where we talk about finding hope in recovery

Music 0:06

now your host, Dr. Adina Silvestri

Adina Silvestri 0:12

Bonjour Guys, and Welcome to Episode 43 of the Atheists in Recovery podcast. And we are starting a new series for the month of May. And it's going to be centered around the COVID-19 pandemic, which is when I'm recording this, and the series is going to be called recovery under quarantine. And so I have some really great guests coming in for this four part series, starting with the episode that you're listening to right now. And so today we are talking about grief and collective loss and even if you're not experiencing grief at this moment, I feel like we're all experiencing loss and so I thought it would be a great idea to have somebody Come on and talk to us about losing our community. You know, what does that look like when you don't have a recovering meeting to go to, in person losing that physical touch? You know, we're not able to have it to shake each other's hands or give someone a hug that really needs it. Yeah, what do we do when we've lost our job, lost a relationship. And so, I'm really excited for for you to, to meet my next guest. And you're gonna want to hang out until the very end of the show where my guest gives you a very simple tool about how to grieve when we don't subscribe to a higher power, you know, and so what does that what does that look like? And so stay tuned to the end. I think you're gonna like it. Okay, on to my guest, Dee Dee Rodriguez. Diane Diaz Rodriguez is a registered mental health counselor intern in the state of Florida with a passion for grief, education, grief care, grief advocacy and wellness, and what she identifies with is being a grief agent. Born to the world of healing grief she has experienced so many losses by the age of 18 that she believes she knew everything there was to know about the grieving process. Her exposure to homicide, suicide, natural deaths, chronic illness, sudden deaths and traumatic deaths made her truly believe that what else could there be the lessons from the death of her only son, Sergio. Through the tender moments and years that followed her greatest loss she encountered many professionals who thought no fault of their own and validated minimized and avoided her grief. This was mainly due to their personal grief illiteracy, which is very interesting guys. Okay, being an expert in her own grief, she turned her years of volunteering in the field into a new career, determined to help educate others and society where loss, death, dying and bereavement are still challenged.

With honest, compassionate and understanding conversations, her drive was propelled by her lifelong love of helping people and the sheer determination that every professional person has the capacity to compassionately connect with Grievers with the time, gifts and talents that they already possess. Okay, guys, to the show, Diane Diaz Rodriguez, welcome to the show.

Diane Diaz Rodriguez 3:23

Thank you. I am so honored to be with you.

Adina Silvestri 3:27

Yeah. It couldn't be better timing to have you on the show. So I'm excited as well. So I thought we would start this conversation by inquiring about your spiritual background from childhood. Just kind of give us a sense of your identity. Yeah.

Diane Diaz Rodriguez 3:46

That's a complicated journey. I think that many of us kind of go on, on that complicated journey of spirituality. my beliefs stem from what I was taught

And so from early on, I was raised a Catholic, I felt the calling of what new believers or born again, Christians call of the Holy Spirit when I was six, that was revived again when I was, and this is hindsight, of course, I didn't understand what was going on back then. And then it was once again when I was a teenager shortly after my maternal grandfather died. And then I had a whole complete new spiritual journey. Shortly after my son died, when he died, there was a moment where I often tell people that my faith was shaken. It wasn't broken. But it was definitely a season of desert for me. It was dry and, and so that was the beginning of really just leaning into stillness because I had no words. I had no prayers,

there was a numbness in a world where I had to function as a living being.

Adina Silvestri 5:08

Hmm, thank you for that. So maybe now we could talk a little bit about your story with grief.

Diane Diaz Rodriguez 5:16

Well, I was born into a world of grief. Often when I say that people kind of do a double take and what I mean by that is, even though I am the oldest of siblings, I'm one of two. And my youngest sibling is the girl. The first child in our family was a male. And Julio, which is July, died shortly after he was born. So I am what we know in the grief world as a rainbow baby. The beautiful dynamics of my family is that my brother was born on July 4. I was born on the 19th My sister was born on the 19th

Five years later, and my mom's birthday is on the 20th. My sister's youngest baby is on was born on the 18th. So we have a

Adina Silvestri 6:11


Diane Diaz Rodriguez 6:11


Family of July babies and my brother's name was Julio Angel , which means angel in July.

Adina Silvestri 6:21


Diane Diaz Rodriguez 6:22

Yeah. Yeah. So I think early on, it was being exposed to grief culturally. And it was something that I was always exposed to all kinds of different types of losses homicide, suicide, tragic deaths, accidents, natural and I can even remember as a small child, the first home that I walked into, and they had suffered the death of a child. And I don't remember the details, but I do remember like, I can still picture a picture of football topper in there.

dining room hanging on their dining room wall. So grief has been with me for a very, very long time. And I've supported people in grief. I've just have had a heart for service really in this field since early I just didn't catch on to my purpose until much later in life.

Adina Silvestri 7:21

Yeah, thank you for that. So I thought we would talk a little bit more about grief. And you know, sort of what it is and maybe what it isn't. So, I was looking at your website, and you write grief is the reaction to loss for most grief is love without a place to go. And for others, it is an intense emotion on the opposite or nearing the opposite side of love.

Diane Diaz Rodriguez 7:49

Yeah, yeah, cuz I think a lot of times, I mean, often, we hear and it certainly is true that grief is love with no place to go right?

And so how does that fit in for the person who has been sexually molested? How does that fit in for betrayal and infidelity within couples? How does that fit in for someone who's been physically and mentally abused all of their life, you know, throughout childhood and then later on attached to some of the same toxic relationships in their adulthood. And, you know, where does love fit in for that, where does love fit in for the victim, who is grieving a sense of loss, that they had no control over from the very beginning, or they didn't have the perception and have control over for the very beginning. So I think it's important to remember that it can come from both places. You don't have to only be creating something that you love. You can certainly be grieving the opportunity of closure for

Someone that you hate.

And so, you know, in that there's a search right in there, there is something that you can't quite put your finger on that you can't quite, it's not quite tangible. So it's important that that is always at the forefront that we dispel that myth that it's love for everyone.

Adina Silvestri 9:25

Yeah, that's, I really like that. And so, right now we're in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, it says, when we're recording this episode, and I feel like there's just like this collective loss, you know, like, loss of job loss of routine and normalcy, and, you know, loss of relationship and all those things. And so, that would fit into this definition. That sounds like of grief. Oh, yeah.

Diane Diaz Rodriguez 9:55

Because I mean, and I was having this conversation with someone else, another person.

In the field, and we were talking about how, you know, even if you hate your job, and now you don't have a job or now you're working from home, right? You still grieve that process of getting up every morning and going to a physical place even though you hated it, right? There's a routine, there's a sense of safety, there's a sense of having some kind of control over it. And that losing that routine, losing that control, whether you like it or not, that's causing a lot of grief.

And so we see it being played out in behaviors and reactions. When we're talking about loss, we're talking about anything that's related to no longer having something or someone so that something can be controlled, that something can be work, that something can be community, that something can be I have a lot of friends and family in Florida

And so in Florida that something was the beach. Now,

let me tell you, you could see people mourning, because they don't have their beaches to go to unwind and recharge and just renew themselves. And so you can see it in the behavior of being defiant. I don't care who's some who's going to tell me what to do, I'm going to do it anyways.

So there's grief behind those reactions. We just don't recognize it to be so.

Adina Silvestri 11:33

Yeah. I feel like for individuals that are in recovery, this recovery under quarantine, you know, they're looking to their support system, to kind of hold them up, in a sense, you know, to be there for them and support them as they're struggling initially, or or maybe just just to have that brotherhood or sisterhood. You know, what are some things that maybe they could do to sort of grieve the loss of that community and of course, their online communities.

Diane Diaz Rodriguez 12:04

Now, yeah. And so I think I know that this is a complex web when we're talking about recovery, right? Because there's so many different pieces that kind of help us, kind of keep it together. And so one of the biggest things that's lost is the physical presence of community. And sometimes when we're in recovery, we kind of forget that it's not all or nothing thinking. It's not one way or the other, that we can kind of refocus and recenter ourselves. And so I think it's kind of complicated when we talk I'm talking about specifically that because even in the recovery method, there's a system, right. And so, in that system, that's where we find comfort in that system. That's where there's the ritual. And so first and foremost, I would say the grief work has to allow space for the mindset to be fluid. So if while we know that we're no longer in community, we're no longer doing gatherings. Right? I can't tell you how many people because I run some support groups and how many people were like, well, I don't do videos, and I don't do pictures. And I don't do. You know, I don't I don't want to do these platforms and and the paranoia about going on live streams or video platforms, is all things that have to we have to have honest conversations about that. We have to be authentic on how we feel about that, and allow ourselves to be heard, while also allowing ourselves to be influenced to a certain extent, right, to things that can align to our beliefs and our values. So learning new things can be scary in learning the nice things there's grief, right? Because we have to let go of something to kind of bring in the new And it takes a while for that to feel comfortable. It may not be on the first session, it may not be on the second session, it may not be on the third. So for those who don't have community, you know, I can't tell you how many times of face to face video makes such a huge difference. Yeah, versus just talking on the phone. Right? Or, versus just reaching out even I know a lot of people are doing Facebook Lives. Right? So the Facebook Lives, the person who's talking is visible, but those who are in the audience aren't that that's followed through the chat. So it's just, I would say that grief work because it is the psychological process of coping with those things that we have lost. We have to kind of take a look what the mindset is, what is it that we're telling ourselves about going online about doing video programming, here's the other thing. That's really important when I think that when we lose community, we lose a very important part of our being, which is having physical touch, right. Think of handshakes, think of hugs. Think of sitting next to someone and feeling that presence, knowing that they're right next to you, whether it's that shoulder balm, whether it's that, you know, just in general, right, yeah. And so what I say about that is that when you don't have someone to provide that for you, you can provide that for yourself. It can be something as simple as just wrapping your arms from one side to another and just squeezing yourself, you know, have your own hug. It can be something as simple as massaging your hands, or massaging your feet. Just those are some practical things that you can do on your own at home without having another person next to you to do it for you.

Adina Silvestri 16:03

Yeah, it's interesting. You know, I wonder how this is all I know that the world is going to change after this pandemic, and we're going to be talking about it like, remember that time prior to COVID-19? And I don't know what that's gonna be, you know, like, do we stop? You know, shaking each other's hands? I don't know, I'm not really sure. But like, it's true. Like, we really relied on that. And you know, that touch.

Diane Diaz Rodriguez 16:28

I think we can go back and look at history and kind of see how huge significant universal losses have really kind of changed us. And some things to be more cautious, right? We can use 911 as an example. So many things changed after 911. And we fought so many of those changes. And yet, some of those changes really help keep us or give us that sense of safety, you know, and help build in that resilience. See, it kind of gave us some a way to be able to bounce back to be able to, we will never going to be back at at the same level. Change doesn't allow us to do that. I mean, moment to moment who I was this morning to who I am right now has totally changed. You know, I woke up, I brush my teeth, I did my hair. I don't wake up normally that way. So that's change. And what I think is that when we're looking at resiliency, we can recognize that we all already possess what we need within ourselves. We already have that knowledge. We just don't know how to tap into that.

Adina Silvestri 17:42

That's good. Tell me more.

Diane Diaz Rodriguez 17:47

Well, here's, here's where I'm going with that. Right.

Adina Silvestri 17:49


Diane Diaz Rodriguez 17:50

We are constantly seeking answers, right? We're constantly seeking we're constantly curious, even if we don't recognize it as being curious. We're constantly somebody's asking questions. What is that going to look like? How does this affect me? Who am I in all this? What's my role? Right? And a lot of times we allow our minds to kind of spin out to kind of go into those ruminations out of fear. But if we slow it down just a little bit, and we just stay in the moment, okay, right now, who am i right now? Well, right now, I'm a guest on a podcast. Right? But who was I? This morning, I was the person who was tuning into what fills her for the day. So I start my day off with with meditation and a devotional and journaling, and then I move from there that really sets the pace for me, usually do that all before I have breakfast. Just because once I start doing my everyday things, like kind of get lost in it. But if I were to have something right now, or To be disturbing me and pulling my attention or distracting me from what I was doing, I can look back at what I've done before, to get a glimpse into what I can be doing now. So when we're in a crisis, we forget to do that. Right, our brain kind of goes off alignment. And unless we have practice consistently, re centering ourselves. That doesn't come naturally to us. And even then, something surprises us. And in that moment, we don't realign quickly, you know, but if we look at how we have responded before, through some difficult moments, we gain insight into how we can really recycle that, you know, wash, rinse and repeat into our daily lives. And that's true with everything, with grief, with building relationships with just leading life in general. So we have the answers, we just don't recognize them as answers because we're looking outside of ourselves all the time. And a lot of times, that's because we're looking for validation. And we give more importance to the external things, because that usually tends to be what's first and at the forefront.

Adina Silvestri 20:19

Yeah, I love the idea of looking to the past to sort of gain clarity and how to, you know, how you've dealt with the future. You know, like you, you have the skills, you have the resources. I want to talk a little bit more now about meaning making it something that I've been thinking a lot about in preparation for you, coming on the show today and, you know, I in my life and in my people around me and talking to them about grief, a lot of the conversation and talking about how to find meaning in grief. Like oh, you know, this, this death Have some sort of meaning in order for me to sort of move past it maybe, or this loss of a relationship or whatever the thing is, that's sometimes hard to do.


Diane Diaz Rodriguez 21:12

When I think of meaning, so if you will just kind of indulge me just a little bit, you know, when we think of grief, right, death, dying and bereavement. A lot of most people recognize the five stages of grief, they have heard it somewhere. And so and that was coined by Elisabeth Kubler Ross. She talked about denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance, I think is the last one. But before we get into those five stages, a lot of people think that it's just linear, right? That that you're going to go through, they write it off because the myth is that you're going to go through everything, all those stages, but when you don't, then it's like okay, this is hogwash, right? Because it meaning making We're always consistently looking for proof for our situational reality, okay? And so she went back before she died. And she added two more stages or phases or contemplated it, which was the shock. And I want to say the testing, which is where we do a lot of questioning a lot of searching. Right? And then there was talk about the sixth stage actually being meaning, which can also be considered recovery. Right? So if we're talking about meaning, we look at the testing period, the set the searching period, what exactly is meaning? And that looks different for every single one of us. Right? So, why because we're all meaning makers, from the day that we're born. We're consistently searching for something right even in our very basic needs. You cry as an infant, you cry. It's because that's your expression. When you're crying, you're looking for something, somebody is going to come and comfort you, somebody's going to come and change you, somebody's going to come and feed you. Right? As adults, we tend to think that if and I'll use this as an example, we tend to think that meaning is found in a religion is found is found in spirituality can be found in others. Right on we'll talk about codependency, who we are, is based on what people think of us. And so what I would say is that meaning has no religion, it has no steps. There's no right and there's no wrong. Meaning is not elusive. Most people are like, well, what's the purpose of life or what's the meaning of life? There's no such thing, right? But it's not elusive. Meaning is found in the search. That's one of the biggest things that I like to share with with people, because our searches are different, right? And where do we find meaning meaning aligns with our beliefs, and it aligns with our values. So what we believe in what we value is what gives meaning to how we, you know, who we think we are, how we're centered in our, in our meetings and in our beliefs. And when we believe that we're lost, so is meaning in order for us to be able to not be lost, we need to go looking so that we can be found. So anytime you ask a question that's searching for meaning, anytime you have a thought that leads you into some other line of research that searching for meaning, how big or how small really just depends on how much you invest in it.

Adina Silvestri 24:50

Yeah. Right. So it's in the search is how we find the meaning. Right? So it's not it's not in the deaths right? Because that that could be that could be tricky. Because, yeah, you know, you lose someone from alcohol or drugs and you know, how do you how do you make sense of that? Yeah.

Diane Diaz Rodriguez 25:11

And I think that's really important that you brought that up. Because for example, for me, I have a very tender heart for for mamas who have lost children, right? Because why? Because that's really what catapulted me into making the decision that what I've been given all of my life really has prepared me for that next journey for helping people. It was a natural and normal reaction. For me. It was a very easy transition for me to do once I allowed that coming in. And so as a mom as an uncle, mom, a mom who had a child with cancer, when my son died, if I would have said, What's the meaning of his death, there's a reason for and I am a person who believes that there is a reason for everything but had I said, What was the reason for my son dying of cancer, suffering for two and a half years, we were six months out from him finishing treatment, and he relapsed. If I would have focused on that, if I would have said, we're all going to hell in a handbasket.

Because you know, what kind of God is it that would allow my child to die? And certainly I had those questions, or who am I to be angry at God, right, because that was part of my spiritual walk. If I would have sat there and said, Sergio's, life, those two and a half years of going through chemo treatment and moves and just some really nasty stuff. The meaning of that was so that I can be this grief educator and grief agent and advocating and whatever. Listen, I would give all of that up in a heartbeat. Just to have my son back.

Adina Silvestri 26:58

Oh, yeah.

Diane Diaz Rodriguez 26:59

You know, So no, there's not always it doesn't always come from the actual loss. It comes from, again, finding those answers that align with your beliefs and your values. And one of the biggest challenges in grief is that it's such an existential crisis, that you question everything, even your beliefs and your values. So everything that we think is normal and grief, becomes abnormal, and everything that we've believed to be abnormal and grief becomes normal.

Adina Silvestri 27:36

Everything that we believe to be abnormal in grief becomes normal. Yeah. Can you tell me a little bit more about that?

Diane Diaz Rodriguez 27:44

Well, what we believe and what we value about grief as what we learn what we see what we're exposed to, and that starts early on, it can be like, one of the things that really resonates for a lot of children is the death of a pact. Right, how we handle the death of the pet can lay the foundation of what that child processes about that. So if there's no conversation about the process, and understanding how children's developmental stages really mold, what their beliefs are going to be later in life, then the tendency for the parents who is and I'm just saying a parent, or let's say caregiver, the tendency for the caregiver is to make it right, to make them feel better for them not to feel sad all the time. And in that fixing mode, we need to recognize that that's our own grief coming up for that other person for that other human being. And so it comes from a well intentioned place, but if you run out to replace the goldfish with another goldfish, right, you have kind of laid a seed that win something or someone or there's a loss happens, that it can be replaceable. When you don't talk about it, then it lays the foundation and the seed for, we're just going to move through this, we don't need to talk about it or talking about it is wrong. So it kind of, you know, and I'm using that as a very specific thing, but it can be all kinds of different ways. For me, I remember the first time that I went to awake, and I say it's awake, but it was really so my my maternal side of my grandparents, were business people, and they were well known in the community. And they had people who used to help in the home and people who used to help with the businesses and things like that and someone who used to help in the household had died. And my mom took me to the church. I remember walking up to this church, this church felt huge for me as a child as an adult. I go in there, and I'm like, this is the tiniest little church. But it was such a sacred and reverent space. When we walked into it. There was silence, but it wasn't scary. And I remember my mom holding my hand. Like we walked up to the casket. I can remember this lady's beautiful salt and pepper hair braided on the top of her head in a bun cascading down her, her front. And so that experience really, my mom didn't shield me from that, you know, she accompanied me, she companion me, she allowed me to see she allowed me to ask questions, and answered Yeah, to my own capacity. And so in that, that I really think that again, it wasn't a normal and natural thing for me. However, the opposite of that was the first time that I went to awake for someone who had been cremated. I had never been exposed to that. So when I went, I was expecting to see a casket. I was expecting to see the deceased, because that's what I was used to. And instead, there's an urn with an eight by 10 picture next to it. And I'm like, Huh, what is going on? It was totally different. It was foreign for me. Right? But then again, yeah, that opened up the conversation of there isn't just one way of doing this. There isn't just one right way of doing this. Sometimes there is no remains. And so how do you honor somebody when there's no remains, and that goes back to being fluid that goes back to being being able to adapt, you know, and to be able to kind of look at our values and our beliefs we've been taught, I was taught all my life, that when people died, they would go into a casket. And you'd have the rituals of them novenas And you'd have the family gatherings afterwards. And, you know, the whole thing, but when I didn't see that with the urn, that made me question all that, that I had already learned. Okay, wait a minute, it's not as black and white anymore. Does that make sense?

Adina Silvestri 32:28

Yeah, it does. And I and I keep going back to what you said earlier, or even just a few minutes ago, that you have to be fluid. And I think that, for me, are rituals. And we could have a whole podcast episode on just rituals. But I think that's one of the reasons that I love organized religion is because there's this you know, I don't think it's a it's a period after the end of someone of someone passing away like okay, we have this ritual and now we're done. But there is just this this gathering and there's this way for people to lend support and in this very patterned way, and I don't know, it's just something about it that I find so beautiful.

Diane Diaz Rodriguez 33:13

It's a coming together. And you know what, and when you study death, dying and bereavement, because it you know, as I'm talking about that type of loss specifically, you can see that even those who don't have a religion, a dogma or whatever, there's still some kind of ceremony. There's still some kind of ritual, there's still some kind of process in that and there is comfort in that repetition. There is comfort in having some kind of a routine. It can be for example, when we first when I was first running this support group that I have going on right now, we would have a little battery operated candles, right and everyone would turn on their candle Why? Because that was just the easiest way instead of me carrying a candle to and from a meeting place or everybody bringing their own candle, but that was a little opening ritual that we had. Right? It symbolized Okay, we're going to allow some light into this stage into this darkness. We're going to focus on what happens, you know, metamorphically, what happens when the battery runs out, and there is no light, you know, but there's still a tangible process that we can all be doing. And that looks differently for everybody for me on Sergio's Angel versary. It depends what I learned a long, long time ago. He's he just had an 18 year anniversary on the fourth of April. What I learned a long time ago was that that was my day to honor me and grief, whatever way it wanted to show up. So in the beginning it let me backtrack a little bit. We were stationed at San Antonio I come from a long life of military members and first responders. And so we were stationed in San Antonio, Sergio died when we were in Texas. We buried him in Florida. But we had to go back to Texas. So I didn't have that ritual of going to the cemetery and bringing flowers. I didn't have that piece to help me get through the grief. Yeah, I had some church hurt, so I wasn't going to church. And so

Adina Silvestri 35:26

Church hurt

Diane Diaz Rodriguez 35:26

some church hurt,


I felt really, really abandoned by the leadership at the church. And on the opposite side of that. I also was very, very supported by a chaplain who wasn't from my church. So I had that tug of war going on inside of me. So at that time, I didn't know how to pray. I didn't know what to ask for. I had no words. I literally had no words. And every time I think about this, I get choked up, because my One and only prayer was, Lord, don't take me before I'm right by you. Because at that point in my life, it wasn't about going to heaven and seeing God's glory. I really didn't give two shits about that. I'm gonna be honest. Okay. At that point in my life, I was very selfish. The only reason I wanted to make to heaven was so that I could be with my son again. Yeah, and that was where I found meaning. That's where I, that's where I held on to. That's what I held on to. So when my words failed me, the only thing that I remembered to do was, I would, even though I had hadn't prayed the rosary in forever, I would pray the rosary to and from work that was automatic. It meant I wasn't digging deep into the word. During that time period. There was no emotion, tied to praising praying the rosary, but it was something that I was taught as a young child and you That it became a sort of, of a mantra that kind of helped me get through that period. What helped me melt some of the grief away enough for me to really kind of start living life again, was music. Music gave me words, praise and worship gave me the prayers. The lyrics of the songs is what really touched me. resonated. And let me tell you there was I had a sister who turned around, a god sister who turned around and gave me a CD. And there was a part of the CD where there's a little voice, a child's voice talkie, and it's talking about wings of eagles and whatnot. This is a Bible verse. And every time I would hear that child speaking, I would get so angry. I was like, shut the heck up. You don't know what that is. Yeah, yeah, whatever. Okay. But that was, you know, that was not normal for me. That was That was blasphemous, that was not what I was taught, as I was growing up was the appropriate or expected way of grief and grieving. Right. But I knew enough of myself to know that I had to honor what was coming up and that I didn't always have to have the answers. Now, the other thing that I know about myself is that I'm a researcher by nature. So when someone gives me something that I don't understand, it needs, I need to have some kind of understanding to it. There needs to be some kind of logical clicking for me. And so in that, that's my obsession in my grief period, because I believe there's always some kind of obsession it could be with the death story. It could be with certain circumstances around it. My obsession during that time period was learning everything that I could learn about grief because I thought I had knew everything. And I was 31 when my son died. And I'm telling you since I was very young since that incidents that I talked about my mom taking me to the church. I was about four years old. And I will say

Adina Silvestri 39:16

Wow I don't think I, I don't think I realized

Diane Diaz Rodriguez 39:19

yeah, people say, how do you remember that? I remember that because my sister wasn't around. But this is how my brain works, right? Like timestamps, my sister wasn't around, and my mom wasn't pregnant. My sister was born when I when I turned five. So it had to be early, four years old, you know, because that's a good amount of at least six months of seeing somebody when once they start showing, especially with a second baby, so I have that recognition that that wasn't part of it. So that's how I can kind of do that timestamp. But, you know, all of my life I had this idea and this notion of what It meant to be a good Christian, what it meant to be a good peel that back a little bit further a good Catholic, and what it was that I was supposed to be doing and you're not supposed to be questioning God, you're not supposed to feel these emotions. It's not it's blasphemous, it's a sin. And so here's where the grace of God for me stepped in, is recognizing that he's big enough to be able to handle all that. And what I've learned throughout my whole spiritual journey is that while I subscribe to this to Jesus Christ, be my Lord and Savior, that my God isn't the same guy that everybody else serves. And there's some people who don't even recognize that there is a guide. And that's okay too. Because in that for them, they have their own journey and they can still find their own way. Yeah,

Adina Silvestri 40:56


Any final thoughts on For our listeners that that maybe don't subscribe to a higher power,

Diane Diaz Rodriguez 41:04

I think it goes back to what we discussed in the middle of the podcast conversation is where do you find meaning in there? That's where you're going to find the answers. It doesn't have to be God, maybe it's a nature. You know, watching the flowers bloom or the trees dropping their leaves, or the waves rolling in at the ocean, maybe it's in your community, the people that you lean into, and onto the ones who are there for you, it can be in family. One of the things that got me through when I was disconnected with my spirituality, was focusing on I had a daughter, at that time, my oldest daughter, and focusing on getting her the help. That's where I found the meaning. Because I knew that if I could do that for her, then I could have a sense of peace for me even in that little tiny part of it, right? So just really what has brought you meaning in the past what has helped you get through, I will say, take a piece of paper and draw a line across it like a timeline, and make a timeline of all the difficult moments. And then go back and look at those difficult moments and make a line for support, how you got back, you know, what worked, what didn't work, what lessons did you take from that, that you still carry into who you are today, because those are going to be that's going to be part of your roadmap, that's going to give you the foundation on how you take the present, tie in the past and set it for the future. And don't be afraid of testing that hypothesis out. You know, don't be afraid of being able to just if it doesn't feel right to let it go in that moment. Try something else and go back and try it again. Because just because it didn't work today, doesn't mean it won't work tomorrow.

Adina Silvestri 43:03

Wow. I'm going to be trying that one.

For sure. Thank you so much for that. So how can people best find you and the awesome work that you're putting out into the community?

Diane Diaz Rodriguez 43:13

Well, one of the most easiest ways evergreen way is the website. So www.livelifechanged past tense, and present tense, which is what I love about it .com. There's a way of being able to reach me by email or set up consultations on the website. And then I do have a Facebook page and I believe it's DianedRodriguez, LLC. And the front of that, again is live life changed. I can be found on Instagram with live underscore with underscore Diane. And then for those who are in the mental health field, there is a very specific close group forum that I have

Adina Silvestri 44:00

All right. Well, thank you again so much for being on the show.

Diane Diaz Rodriguez 44:03

You're very welcome. Thank you for having me.

Music 44:06

Thank you for listening to the atheists and recovery podcast. For more great info and to stay up to date, head over to atheists and

Welcome to today’s show!



  • How her spirituality was “shaken” but not lost after the death of her only son
  • What is grief? Diane talks about the common myths of grief
  • What are some things we can do to deal with grief and loss under quarantine
  • We get clear about meaning making and why we try to seek it in religion, relationships, step work, etc…
  • We learn everything we think is normal about grief, becomes abnormal, and everything that we’ve believed to be abnormal in grief becomes normal
  • Atheists and Rituals:Why do we need them?
  • We learn how to find support and meaning as an Atheist-A roadmap for meaning
  • What Dee Dee’s message is to the A.I.R. community





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