Reflections on Sibling Loss From a Gold Star Sister with Renee Nickell (Episode #4)

Mindfulness & Grief Podcast Episode #4 Overview ...

Renee Nickell, Author of Always My Hero, shares how equine therapy & evening devotions help her find hope & healing following her brother's death in Afghanistan. Learn more about her at http://reneenickell.com.

Show Notes from Heather

My brother’s death completely changed who I was as a person.  He was my best friend for 34 years of my life. I wanted to give other siblings hope that there can be healing after such a tragic loss.

- From ReneeNickell.com

TAPS Ft. Hood with Renee Nickell, Kristen Buergey & Heather Stang
At the TAPS Ft. Hood Survivor Seminar. Right to Left: Renee Nickell, Kristen Buergey & Heather Stang

Sibling loss is so often a disenfranchised grief, leaving the brother or sister left behind to be the rock of the family, to lift up the parents, tend to the kinds, and put their own emotions on the back burner. As an only child, I will never know this kind of pain, but I was raised by two parents who know it intimately. By the time I was 7, both of my parents had lost their only brothers.

In 2011, Major Samuel Griffith was killed in action in Afghanistan. His sister Renee quickly realized that as a sibling she became a "forgotten mourner," and struggled with depression, anger, and even estrangement from people she loved. Today, she has emerged as a beacon of hope for other Gold Star and other Military Families who have lost a loved one.

In this interview, Renee talks candidly about what worked for her, and what didn't.  I was surprised to learn that while she tried talk therapy for years, it was equine therapy that really made the difference. That, coupled with nightly spiritual devotions and time dedicated to her own healing, Renee has cultivated the resilience she needs to navigate  difficult family dynamics and find her true self in the process.

I still grieve but have found joy and happiness and meaning. I am also–me.

- From Losing Yourself In The Grief of a Sibling

When I met Renee Nickell at the Ft. Hood TAPS Survivor Seminar, she was in the middle of writing her memoir of love and loss,  Always My Hero: The Road to Hope & Healing Following My Brother's Death in Afghanistan.  I did not know until after the podcast interview was over that Renee and I hail from the same region in North Carolina, the Research Triangle, and that our TAPS friend that introduced us, Kristen Buergey, is also from my hometown! Renee includes a photo of the three of us - totally clueless to our shared roots - on page 279 in the book.

Please Subscribe, Rate or Review The Mindfulness & Grief Podcast

I hope you enjoy this episode, and welcome your feedback and reviews on iTunesGoogle PlayStitcheriHeartRadio and YouTube.  Subscribing, rating or reviewing the podcast will help it become more visible so others can benefit from these teachings.

With gratitude, 
Heather
Show Engineer: Todd Campbell
Music: The Atomic Mosquitos

Heather Stang

Heather Stang, M.A. is the author of Mindfulness & Grief. She holds a Masters degree in Thanatology (Death, Dying, and Bereavement) from Hood College in Maryland, and is a certified Yoga Therapist. She has led mindfulness-based grief workshops for organizations such as the National Fallen Firefighters Association and Hospice of Frederick County, and is a member of the Association of Death Education and Counseling. Heather’s mission is to help people who are grieving to stay healthy and benefit from the transformative experience of grief, using mindfulness-based practices, relaxation, and expressive arts. She has an established practice offering Phoenix Rising Yoga Therapy sessions, day-long retreats, and 8 Week Yoga for Grief groups. She is based in Maryland. You can find her on Google +.