Dipti Solanki is a coach guiding grieving people through the healing process. We often link grief to the death of a person but we experience grief in many ways, for example when a relationship or we lose a job. And while we can be in the absolute depths of grief it is still possible (and necessary) to find moments of calm and joy.
In this episode we discuss:
Pressing Pause Podcast episode 96 Finding calm and joy while grieving with Dipti Solanki
Welcome to Pressing Pause. I’m Gabrielle Treanor, a mindset and positive psychology coach and writer, exploring how we can create, find and feel more calm, ease and joy in our daily lives.
Hello and welcome to episode 96 of Pressing Pause. As I record this it’s the start of January 2022 and I wanted to say that if you’re not feeling ready to set goals and make big plans that’s okay. We can feel such pressure at the start of a new year to be raring to go, full of ambition and motivation, just because it’s the start of a new year. But it’s also the middle of winter here in the northern hemisphere, plus we’re getting close to two years of weathering a pandemic, so it’s not surprising if you feel like taking things slowly.
If you are feeling full of energy and inspiration that’s fantastic, go with it! You might want to have a listen to a few episodes from last year about reflecting on the past year and looking forward to the next, as well as choosing a word for the year. Check out episodes 75,76 and 77 in that case. I reference 2020 but it’s all applicable to this and future years.
If you have chosen a guiding word for 2022 I’d love to hear it. This will be the tenth year I’ve chosen one as I find it pretty helpful in reminding me of how I want to feel and be, where I want to put my energy. You can always get in touch with me on email at [email protected] or you can message me on Instagram where I’m @gabrielletreanor.
But, as I say, if you’re not feeling ready to dive into the new year please know you’re not alone. I wrote about this to my email subscribers, and on Instagram, and the response I received made it clear that there are plenty of people feeling this way. So, go gently, listen to your body, listen to that quiet, wise voice inside of you and ease your way into the year in whatever way feels right for you. And if you’d like to get my emails, along with your choice of free guides to help you swap overwhelm for calm and joy, just go to gabrielletreanor.com/free.
Now, my guest on the podcast today will be the last for a while as I’m going to take a break from recording interviews. If you haven’t caught up with the others yet there are 12 brilliant women who have such knowledge, wisdom and experience to share on how we can find calm and joy in our lives. And my final guest is no exception.
For this episode I’m bringing you my conversation with grief coach Dipti Solanki. Having been devastated by grief at an early age Dipti now guides grieving people through the healing process. I found talking with Dipti fascinating, and so valuable, as we discuss how we can allow ourselves to feel our feelings, how to help someone we care about who’s grieving, and how we can find calm and joy even when we’re deep in the thick of grief.
During this conversation we mention the deaths of our loved ones so if this may be triggering for you please go gently or feel free to skip this episode until you feel ready to listen. And if you’re experiencing grief of any kind at the moment, and with the past couple of years there are many things so many of us are grieving, I hope this episode helps you to feel you’re not walking this path alone.
[00:00:00] Gabrielle: Hi, Dipti. Thank you so much for joining me today.
[00:00:05] Dipti: Oh, it’s an absolute pleasure. Thank you so much for having me on.
[00:00:08] Gabrielle: I wonder if you could tell us a little bit about yourself and what you do please.
[00:00:12] Dipti: My name is Dipti Solanki, and I’m a grief and emotional recovery coach. I’m also a speaker. Essentially what I do is I help people heal their hearts after any kind of grief and loss that they’ve been through so that they don’t become stuck and they can live lives that they really truly dream of, but they feel like they’re held back because of whatever it is.
So whatever challenges they’ve been through in life. So, that’s a bit about the job that I do. Um, I live in London, I’m a mum to two boys, 21 and 17, and also a very bouncy cockapoo as well. So. I work with people on a one-to-one basis and in a group environment as well.
And just to emotionally educate people about their emotions, their feelings about grief and just to, um, yeah, help people heal their hearts.
[00:01:04] Gabrielle: What valuable and needed work Dipti, that is. So we were actually talking a little bit before we started recording and then I realized this was all too good and we needed to hit the record button. And we were talking about different types of grief. But if we can start off, at least with, I suppose, focusing on the most obvious one, which is when we lose a loved one.
And although that’s, you know, that’s one type of grief, we experienced grief in lots of different ways, don’t we? But the thing is we don’t really talk about it, do we? We don’t necessarily have the language to talk about our grief and therefore that’s going to affect how we’re able to deal with it, isn’t it?
[00:01:42] Dipti: Yeah, no, I completely agree with that. So, I think I mentioned to you before, like, I really believe that, you know, society generally we’re very illiterate when it comes to all things grief because growing up, we are taught how to celebrate our successes, especially occasions, we feel very comfortable and free and in being happy and displaying those emotions, but, um, the uncomfortableness that we all experience when it comes to painful emotions, when it comes to heartbreak. And because of the lack of information out there, and also the permission that we give each other. Um, I think what ends up happening is not only do we not talk about it, that, we tend to isolate ourselves when we’re in a space where we are grieving.
When we’re in pain about something, we will isolate ourselves and feel like we have to hurry up and get back to normal so that we can rejoin society. And so we have to push down many of our uncomfortable, fearful and painful emotions. And we don’t talk about these things. You know, we have lots of platitudes and sayings that people say to each other when people die or bad things happen.
I’m sorry for your loss. And please accept my sincere condolences. If there’s anything I can do, let me know. And then beyond that, it’s, you know, that’s it what else is there after that? And people are expected to just get on with it. And I think that leads to many, many different issues and problems on the individual and societal level.
[00:03:20] Gabrielle: Yeah, it’s really interesting how you point out that celebrating, we might not do it as much as we could do, but we certainly we’ve got a good idea how to do it. We’re all okay with celebrating stuff, grieving, not so much Do you have any idea as to why that is, how have we come to this point where we are really bad at knowing how to grieve and deal with our grief?
[00:03:44] Dipti: Yeah, I think, I think there’s lots of different reasons. If you look biologically, our bodies are designed in a way so that we avoid pain. Okay. We have shock and all these different systems in our body. We have our like fight or flight whole system. Our nervous systems are wired to protect us from pain.
Then what happens is if everyone’s trying to protect themselves from pain, we don’t have safe spaces. Because I always believe that in order to be emotionally honest to say, actually I’m feeling really, really frightened or I’m feeling really heartbroken, or I feel like I can’t get out of bed most mornings.
There’s a fear of judgment. There’s a fear of being misunderstood and there’s a real lack of safe spaces in which we can truly emotionally talk about how we feel and not feel judged. So, for example, not feel judged at work to say you’re not good enough to perform in your role anymore, you know, for our partners or our friends to think we’re less than, you know, to think that we’re not doing a good enough job for our children.
There’s a real fear of being judged. I think we really need to start reminding ourselves that grieving is a really, really normal and natural process that we have to go through. But what isn’t normal or natural is that we stay stuck there for any period of time. Yes, it can take months, it can take years, but to stay stuck there for ever is not normal and that’s not natural. It’s like any other emotion, you know, grief is like any other emotion. We should be able to experience it, experience all the nuances of it and be able to move through it gently as well. But it’s the tools that we lack emotionally, physically the safe spaces that we lack to be able to move through it gently as well.
So I think that’s, that’s a big kind of factor in all that.
[00:05:39] Gabrielle: Yeah. Is there something like right from the offing that you would love people to know about grief that maybe we, maybe we don’t know, or we don’t realize, or we’ve forgotten?
[00:05:51] Dipti: The first thing, is to give yourself permission to feel. In order to heal, we need the feel. And that is the one thing that people are frightened of quite rightly. Why would we want to feel all those brutal, brutal emotions that grief brings? But, you know, it’s a part of our human experience.
We need to give ourselves permission to feel. So the first thing I would say is a llow yourself to attend to your grief. Many people you will see will be in a rush to get back to life, to get back to living, to get back to this normal, this normal, that evades us all. But, we need to attend to our grief.
Grief is very, very nuanced, and we need to understand what the loss means to us. So whether it’s a divorce, whether it’s a bereavement, whether it’s a loss of a job, whether it’s a loss of a friendship, like we really need to take time out and sit down and really understand what that loss means to us you know. How does it feel to us, how life feels different after that loss and what are the things that we miss?
What are the things that we were grateful for and what are the other emotions beyond that blanket sadness? Is there anger that sits in there? Is there fear? Is there now mistrust? Is there betrayal? You know, it’s really understanding all of these different emotions because if someone said grief, grief is so many different things, isn’t it?
And it’s understanding what it means for you on a personal level, and finding that safe space for emotional honesty. Because what we’ll find is if I say to my friend, you know, this is how I’m feeling. The other person doesn’t want to talk about it because they suddenly feel under pressure that, oh, don’t tell me, I don’t know what to do with this.
I can’t fix you. But it’s reassuring the person opposite us saying, I don’t want you to fix me. I don’t actually need you to do anything. I just need you to open your heart and listen, just, just hear me, you know, and that in itself creates a real, emotionally safe space for somebody. So no fixing is required.
We just need to speak. We need someone to witness our pain. We need someone to give us a hug. We need someone to let us know that we’re not alone. And just starting there is a beautiful foundation to start the healing process.
[00:08:20] Gabrielle: That is so helpful and valuable for you to have said that, Dipti, thank you. It takes the weight off, straight away. Oh, okay. I don’t have to fix my friend who’s in pain. Okay. Well that instantly makes me more open to be able to have that conversation. And I think this is where we can see that empathy plays such a big role, doesn’t it? You know, you walk with people on their journey. You’re not leading them. You’re not ahead of them. You’re not pushing from behind you’re walking with them.
And something that I, I have never forgotten, I found so powerful, many years ago, my father died of a brain tumour. When he was very sick in hospital, and I had lots of lovely messages from people saying all the nice things that you listed before. And one friend took me for a coffee and she spoke completely differently to me. And she said, how life is really rubbish and it’s really hard and it’s unfair and how I must be having a really difficult time and how awful that is. And she wanted me to know that she was there for me to be all of those things with her. And it was, it was such a relief to have her say that to me because I didn’t have to make her feel better. I didn’t have to think, oh, I don’t want her thinking that she has to fix things or, you know, any of that stuff that you’ve just described.
She was just saying, this is really difficult. And I’m here with you. And I’ve never forgotten that it was really powerful.
[00:09:45] Dipti: That gave you permission to really go yeah, that’s how I feel. And open up that beautiful dialogue that you need, right. Because one of the most dangerous things that exist in our society is, when grievers are induced into guilt. So, how many times have we all had people say, oh no, no, no, you mustn’t feel bad or you mustn’t feel sad.
They’re in a better place now. Oh my goodness. You know, that’s such a loaded statement because A is telling you to switch off those emotions, you’re making me feel uncomfortable. B it’s making the griever feel guilty because yes, while you may be, happy, relieved that your loved one is no longer suffering, you can’t pick up the phone, you can’t hug them anymore. You don’t have them in your life to enjoy Christmas, birthdays and cups of tea together. And I think that’s really important for us to just, cultivate that, space where people just kind of go, well, how do you really feel? You know, we have all these campaigns to say it’s okay not to be okay, but is it really, is it still really the case?
[00:10:55] Gabrielle: It shows that having, you know, having one person talk to you like that, there’s a ripple effect, doesn’t it? Because then you, so then my friend who talked to me like that, I then learned from her and that changed how I, for the years since have spoken with friends or family who have been grieving and perhaps that’s carrying on.
So it’s, it’s opening up that discussion, isn’t it? By having that, that kind of knock on effect from the examples being given around us.
[00:11:22] Dipti: Yeah. A hundred percent. The ripple effects that you mentioned is so, so important because I think it generally raises consciousness around this and it reduces the helplessness that people feel because it is a lot to be confronted by a grieving person. You know, you’ve been there. I’ve been there to be a griever you don’t know who you are, you don’t know what you want. You don’t know what you need, and that’s frightening for a person who has no idea of how you’re feeling. So just to give permission and say like, it’s okay to say that things are rubbish and you don’t understand this. Tell me how it feels.
You know, how, how, how did you sleep? Have you eaten. You know, how is this affecting you? All of those things. And we’ve really got to start moving away from the platitudes and the things that we are so used to saying to people who are grieving.
[00:12:17] Gabrielle: Yeah, that’s so powerful, so powerful. And you wouldn’t think that necessarily joy has much to do with grief or when we’re grieving that we were able to feel much joy. But actually you can, it’s an and situation, isn’t it? So you can be grieving and you can feel joy. Can you talk a little bit to that?
Because I’m, you know, there’s bound to be some people listening who will be thinking, I don’t know how those two can possibly sit together.
[00:12:45] Dipti: sure. Sure. So I think the first thing to say in that is people always need to hold onto hope that on the other side of grief, there is always joy and grief is not one solid emotion. Grief is lots of different conflicting emotions as well. And surely in the earliest stages of grief, you know, in the fresh stages of grief, it’s difficult to imagine that we’d ever feel any joy that it’s difficult to imagine that we’ll ever feel any lightness or any brightness anywhere.
But if we allow ourselves to move through that journey, we can start to feel pockets of joy, for me, for example, I mentioned that I lost my dad earlier this year. The way we arranged the funeral brings me great joy. It brought me great joy that we were able to give him that kind of a celebration of his life.
Later down the stages for any griever there may be beautiful memories that are joyful memories, but they can also bring you grief as well, you know? And I think the biggest thing to say is that just because you are grieving doesn’t mean that you are not allowed to feel joy because often joy starts creeping in and grievers have a big sense of guilt saying, oh, how could I, how could I be happy at this?
How could I be enjoying this meal? This conversation, this whatever it is that I’m doing, because does that mean I don’t care? Does that mean that I forgotten? And it’s given ourselves that permission, that life is beautiful and we have, many sides of different coins and we are allowed to experience joy as well.
And there’s moments of calm.
[00:14:34] Gabrielle: Yeah. Yeah. I almost wonder whether, maybe there’s a, some sort of biological thing going on whereby at some point, our brains and bodies have to experience something else because they cannot hold that amount of sadness and pain without there being a moment of relief. I’m thinking back to again, when my, when my dad was sick. And we would sit in the hospital canteen for a few hours sort of in between visiting hours, because it was too far for us to go home and back to the hospital, and be with my mum and my siblings. And we would end up joking. We would end up having a giggle about something we’d seen or, you know, somebody would put on a silly voice or whatever, and we would laugh.
And we were in the most awful situation I’ve ever been in my life that is imaginable to me. And it was utterly heartbreaking and we still got the giggles sometimes. I kind of wonder whether we needed to have that release because we could not hold the pain and the sadness without a break, because it would, I didn’t want, I don’t know what would happen, we would have combusted in some way. And actually we needed those little releases that would last 30 seconds, four minutes, however long,to be able to continue to put one foot in front of the other and to continue dealing with what we’re having to deal with.
[00:15:59] Dipti: Yeah. So there’s moments of levity, right? And I think, you could liken it to a coping mechanism, especially in an extreme situation like that and that’s necessary, but it’s also our connection to those around us, right? That’s why our family’s our family, because we will laugh at the same things.
And we do know each other on such a personal level. If you were there with the doctor or whoever it was the care care staff, you’re not likely to have those moments of levity, but because we are surrounded by our loved ones and we feel safe, again, it’s all about feeling safe, not feeling judged as well, right?
It’s all possible. And it’s, it’s all allowed we need to give ourselves that permission, you know, there’s no right or wrong way to be grieving, to be coping through any kind of disaster that we’re experiencing or any kind of challenge we have to give ourselves the permission that we will all do it in our own unique way.
There are no particular stages. There is no pro forma or decorum that we need to follow. We need to really tap into our hearts and say, what is the best way for me and my heart to navigate this? What is the healthiest way? And if the healthiest way is to laugh at something so that it just releases some endorphins so that we can continue through the rest of the journey, that’s so important, right?
[00:17:27] Gabrielle: Yeah, so valuable, so valuable. So I wonder if there are any examples that perhaps you have of surprising ways, maybe. People that you’ve witnessed around you or your own experience of where you witnessed some calm and joy coming through the grieving experience.
[00:17:46] Dipti: I think it goes back to how people cope. And I think depending on the relationship you have, especially if we’re talking about grieving and bereavement, I think the way people cope with their grief is so unique and some of the surprising ways. So I met a very incredible lady recently she lost her child.
And as happens in many other people, but she has turned her pain into such incredible purpose. So she decided to take the government to task over the way that her son died and she’s remained calm and peaceful through the whole thing whilst going through a very healthy, grieving process. And she’s dedicated all of her work to her child.
My eldest son, when my dad died in January, he knew that my dad loved people who are courageous and my dad loved raising money for the local community and giving back to others. So he ran a hundred miles in, the month following my dad’s death and raised 10,000 pounds for the local hospital.
People, especially in different cultures, there are so many different grieving practices as well. So food is a big thing in the many cultures where people in the days where we could get together and grieve, you know, in the ways that we used to, to create food and really create the dishes that their loved one used to enjoy and enjoying that brings joy and connection as well. Now I think it’s connections. A big part of this connection is a real big part of it. And being able to speak about our loved ones. And just this morning, I have a video call with my sisters on a daily basis, a couple of times a day. And we were in fits of laughter about something Dad would have done.
And I remember coming off that call and going I’m feeling really grateful that we’ve got that space where we can laugh about those things, and there were no tears, it was just joy. It was just, you know, pure laughter belly laughter. And it’s all possible. It’s really possible, but it’s, it will never be possible if we don’t attend to the feelings that are so painful in the beginning, because oftentimes I end up working with people I will say to them, where do you want to get to with this work?
And they will say, I just want to talk about my loved one. I just want to be able to speak about them. I just want to be able to think about them. And they end up in that space so many years, on, because they haven’t been able to give themselves the gift because it’s been so painful. So there’s no judgment there, but they haven’t been able to give themselves a gift of attending to all their painful, painful, emotions.
And there’s no time limit. You can do it whenever it’s right for you.
[00:20:34] Gabrielle: I think that that’s so important, isn’t it? That while it’s fantastic and what incredible ripple effect there will be from the woman you talked about, who has such purpose in her work that she’s dedicating to her child and the amazing act that your son did, but it’s the fact that those things happen as well as, or after a healthy grieving process.
It’s not skipping that process to get to the well, I’m just going to, I’m going to divert and channel all my energy into doing this great thing, because then I don’t have to deal with the pain. It’s dealing with the pain so that you can on, in a healthy way to then do whatever it is, however remarkable or not, that that is the thing that you want to do.
[00:21:18] Dipti: Yep. I think there’s a big difference between a coping mechanism and a healthy, grieving process as well, because many people get very, very busy after any kind of grief. And it’s because they have this hope that’s one day, if they keep busy enough, they’ll wake up and time will have healed everything.
And that’s the biggest myth that we are fed, time does not heal. We need to take practical actions and do things with our emotions and express them and feel them so that we can heal.
[00:21:50] Gabrielle: Yeah, I could talk to you all day, Dipti, there’s so much more we can talk about, but we only have a limited amount of time. So I have to ask you my final question already, which is what are you going to do today for yourself to give yourself a moment of calm and joy?
[00:22:06] Dipti: I have many things that I punctuate my day with. Walking, my dog is definitely a point in the day that gives me calm and joy. Cooking is where I lose myself. So I love to cook for my family. So I will cook a meal Um, I’m lighting a candle and just having time for me and lots of movement and somatic work. And I think finally, just, uh, before I go to bed, I always pray and journal, and that really connects me into my calm as well.
[00:22:34] Gabrielle: What a fabulous list of things gorgeous. So where can listeners find and connect with you, Dipti?
[00:22:41] Dipti: You can find me on my website. Diptisolanki.com. I’m also on Instagram as Diptigriefcoach. And if you’re on Facebook, you can follow me on DiptiSolankicoaching. You can sign up to my newsletters. I have a weekly newsletters that I come out with lots of different blogs and all things to do with emotions and finding moments of joy in our week as well.
[00:23:03] Gabrielle: Brilliant. Thank you so much for joining me today, Dipti.
[00:23:06] Dipti: Oh thank you. Thank you for having me on. It’s been a pleasure to speak with you.
I loved talking with Dipti, what she shared was so valuable and applies to all the different ways grief shows up in our lives. I hope you found our conversation interesting and useful and if you did I would love it if you shared this episode 96 with your friends or family or on social media.
There are a bajillion podcasts in the world so it make a huge difference to have positive ratings and reviews on iTunes as it helps other people who might enjoy this Pressing Pause podcast to find it. So if you enjoy this podcast you can leave a rating or review on iTunes, it’ll take just a minute and I’ll be hugely grateful to you.
As usual you can find the show notes to this episode 96 at gabrielletreanor.com/podcast and that will include all the links mentioned in our conversation. And as I mentioned at the start if you’d like me to pop into your inbox every week or so, and get your choice of free guides to help you swap overwhelm for calm and joy, go to gabrielletreanor.com/free.
Thanks again for listening, until next time, lovely people.
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