Transcript Doug and Kelly Epsiode 8, Season 3

Doug Blecher (00:04):

So everyone, welcome to season three. This is episode eight. We're nearing the end of the season, and I'm excited to, as always, to talk with the wonderful, fantastic, amazing Kelly. Always learn something from you at every one of these episodes. So I know today we were going to talk about grief as a couple months ago. I lost my mom and it's just been difficult. It's been really, really difficult as my dog is barking. Hopefully you don't hear that in the background. Yeah, it's just been really difficult. I think the one thing that's really, I'm just trying to figure out how to slowly move forward and deal with the world. I guess the one thing that's consistently has helped me is reading about grief and doing research about it. I'm just constantly reading about people's experiences, people's quotes about grief, all types of things to just kind of get by. But emotionally, these have been they're moments. It's not every day, but the lowest moments that I've felt emotionally in my life. So after that uplifting intro, Kellie, I was just wondering about your experiences with grief.

Kelly Bron Johnson (01:50):

How do I start? I'm a Scorpio. People often equate Scorpios with a lot of morbidity, just being kind of morbid, embracing the dark side of things. So I think I've always had some sort of, I don't want to say a fascination, but I guess an interest in death and dying. I have considered becoming a death doula. I think it's something I would be comfortable with. And I am currently taking my, I'm sorry, now I passed my mental health first aid. I already have that certification, but I'm going to do the grief first aid as well. And I think some of that has come through my own experiences with grief. With my dad died, it's almost 13 years, it'll be 13 years in January.


And during that process, just my own emotions, my sister's emotions and family and friends and things. And then I went to grief. I went to a grief support group, which was actually probably the most helpful thing that ever happened to me because it explained, it helped to normalize everything for me. So I took care of my dad for about five years before he died. He had Parkinson's. And so I was with him the whole time that he declined. And I was really the only caretaker because my sister lived in a different province. She still does. And my mom had separated from him and so she wasn't taking care of him. So it kind of all fell on me. We had him in a care home because I couldn't physically take care of him. And there's all the issues around that where people were judging me for what I was able to do and saying that I should have taken him in and stuff like that where I lived in a second floor or apartment and he obviously couldn't walk up.


And downstairs he was in a wheelchair. There's all sorts of things and I'm like, what? You were expecting me to wash his ass? Is that what you think? I'm trained for that. I was 25. Am I supposed to be the one doing that? I'm not a nurse and it's my dad. Anyway, I did everything short of the physical caretaking that I could physically do and advocated for him and made sure he was well taken care of and all that stuff. But even though somebody is going to die, it's still a shock. And that was, I think what kind of normalized it from me when I went to the grief counseling was because people will often be like, well, if it happens, suddenly that's a shock. And if you know the person was going to die, it's not a shock. Or since the person's going to die, maybe you can mentally prepare yourself ahead of time.


It's not what happens. That's not the case. That's not true. And the grief counselor kind of normalized it in the sense that even if you know somebody's sick and they're going to die, you still never know exactly when. So it's still a shock and there's no way that you can go ahead and prepare yourself and start mourning before they die because they're not dead. It's not the same. So I always found that kind of interesting. I think it was helpful for me to understand that. And for me, it hit me physically. I was breastfeeding my son at the time, and there was a week where I was hardly producing any milk. I thought that I was totally going to dry up. I was concerned because it affected his health. If I can't feed him, you feel like you have the flu on about you, how you felt. But I felt like I was physically ill. I couldn't eat.

Doug Blecher (05:31):

For three days. I had absolutely no appetite whatsoever. Actually, it was probably longer than that and I had never experienced that. Hearing you talk about the physical symptoms, that's been something I've been thinking about. About a couple of weeks ago, I made an appointment with my doctor. I'm worried about the impact and I always feel like mental health leads to physical health. So I'm worried about how does grief impact the physical body and I want to read up on it. And so I just wanted to check in with my doctor and seeing what should I be doing in this time to if there is anything I can do, my body, I woke up today, my body is just so tight. My body has never been tighter, my muscles have never been tighter. I mean then in my life. So I've just been thinking about that a lot.

Kelly Bron Johnson (06:32):

No, but it's totally normal. It feels awful, but it's totally normal to me. I felt like I had the flu, except I didn't have a fever, but I just felt like you're in pain and your heart breaks your heart. When people talk about heartbreak, that was the first time I felt my heartbreak. You actually feel like it hurts. It actually hurts your heart. And I would say that if there's any consolation that the first year is the worst to me, the first year to get past that first year, the first year is just awful. It starts to get a bit easier and birthday for me. Birthdays used to affect me for quite some time because my dad always used to call me on my birthday. He used to be the first person to call me in the morning, so I'm going to cry. But you see the fact that it's been 13 years, it's still things that random things will just hit you. It is just a wave of, and you're like, one day you're fine. And then for me, it's like for a while I'd say it doesn't happen so much anymore. But when I was taking care of him and when he was sick, I was going to the hospital frequently and often that meant that I would be with him. And then I would follow behind the ambulance as they were taking him to the hospital in my car. And for the longest time, anytime I was driving behind an ambulance, it would remind me of that.

Doug Blecher (08:05):

Anytime it just feels like anytime something can just hit you. And then it just brings me to a place and it's like I have no control of it. It just seems like grief is just taking me place. And I don't know, I feel like I have to accept it in that moment because I don't think there's anything I can do about it.

Kelly Bron Johnson (08:33):

Yeah, I mean it's not bad. I mean, it sucks. How about this? It sucks.

Doug Blecher (08:38):

Definitely sucks.

Kelly Bron Johnson (08:39):

Bad, right?

Doug Blecher (08:40):

It sucks.

Kelly Bron Johnson (08:41):

But to feel your feelings, I find it goes a lot faster. I mean, the pain won't last quite as long if you just kind of accept it when it comes.


The comparison of when my great aunt died two years ago, I was like, okay, I cannot, cannot cope with today. It was this shit. Everything was just kind of shit for a bit. And I went upstairs, I told my husband, I like, look, I can't, I'm just going to go upstairs. And I went upstairs and I stayed in my bed and I was sleeping and I got up and then I was like, I can't even go downstairs and make food. So I asked my husband to bring me a sandwich and he made me a sandwich. And that was, to me, it was an important progress because I finally let somebody take care of me. I accepted the fact that I was in grief and it was okay, and I'm going to sit here and cry and feel about it, and I'm going to let somebody take care of me during this time as well. And so it didn't last as intensely and as long as it has in the past for other losses, because I think before I used to try and suppress it. I used to try and stop it. I used to be like, I'm not going to cry. And I find that if you do that, I would end up getting a migraine later or something because it's all being held inside. Whereas if I just let myself cry, let myself get over it, it doesn't hurt for as long.

Doug Blecher (10:20):

Yeah, it's interesting. Before these last couple months, it was somewhat envious of people that cried on whether it was a regular or semi-regular basis because it was very difficult for me to do. But that has definitely changed these last couple of months. The tears have come out so much and times when I just not, I can't anticipate when it's going to happen. I guess the last couple weeks have been a little bit, I don't know if better, but I haven't been crying as much. Just constantly feel the sadness. It's a sadness inside me. It just never seems to leave.

Kelly Bron Johnson (11:09):

I think with a lot of big emotions, finding a way to get it out of your body, whether that's through exercise or dance or crying or punching, something like a pillow, not a person. I dunno. Go boxing. Maybe that helps. I dunno. A lot of people take up running and things like you run, but finding a way to get that energy out of your body in a healthy way, it has to come out. It's going to come out. And if it doesn't come out in a healthy way, it will come out in pain, in migraines, in upset stomach, diarrhea, that kind of stuff. And then I think the whole thing, the book there, the body keeps the score. They hold it inside us and then it ends up making us worse.

Doug Blecher (11:55):


Kelly Bron Johnson (11:55):

Or sick in some other way.

Doug Blecher (11:59):

One of the things that I've experienced since then is, and I feel shame about it, is that prior to this experience, I've had other people pass in my life that I was pretty close to, but nothing like this experience in the sense that when people lost other people, they passed away, whatever people's beliefs are. I didn't feel it. I didn't really feel it to the extent that I do now. And now when I hear about anyone just in the last couple months, it's like I pause and stop and feel it so intensely. I'm wondering, did that change for you in terms of after your father hearing about other people's losses?

Kelly Bron Johnson (12:52):

Yeah, because grief is a club that you join that nobody knows when they're going to join and nobody really wants to join it.


But once you join it, you realize once you're with all the other people who have lost somebody really close to them, not the same. My grandparents died and stuff like that. And I was sad. It wasn't quite the same as when you're, I'd say for me, when my father died and when my great aunt died, those were two big, big . Those were some of my favorite people or people I was closest to. So I have an interesting story because I didn't understand until my father's funeral how important funerals were. And it meant a lot to have when my dad died, just all sorts of random people that I had never met that I did not know showed up and people, because he was a teacher towards the end of his life. So people who showed up, yeah, your dad taught me math. He was the first person to explain it in a way that I understood.


And it was super cool. It was super touching to meet these people. And it was such a wide array of people from all ages, all walks of life kind of thing that the funeral helped me see, I guess the impact that my father's life had on other people, not just me. And so since then I've been, I make a point to go to funerals and tell people that I'm there so that they know how important that person was, or even the concept of support, just supporting the people even if he didn't really know the person very well. But supporting the family.


When my dad died, I've got three really close best friends. So I have one who I grew up with, and then I have one, well, actually I grew up with all of them, but one that is who was in Montreal at the time. One who in Ontario, or was she in Alberta? I dunno. Somewhere. She wasn't close enough to come. Another one who also was in Montreal at the time. So when we were planning the funeral and stuff, one of the best friends that was in Montreal called me and said, what can I do? What can I do for you? What would help you right now? I said, just come to the funeral. That's all I need. I just need you to come to the funeral. And he said, oh, well, I don't know. I might be busy. And so he didn't come. And the friend that could not come who was not in this province sent her mom on her behalf, came and she brought me food and stuff.


And the other friend who was in Montreal came and she brought her mom with her. And so it was like a whole family coming to support me kind of thing, except for the best friend that could have come, but was too busy. It took until his grandfather died. And I went to his funeral for him to realize how important it was. And he apologized. It was three years. He apologized, he finally realized, so he joined the club. So I just, a mental meant a lot. It meant a lot to me. It was important that he finally apologized. I wasn't mad at him or anything, but I mean, I did notice, I mean obviously.

Doug Blecher (16:26):

Yes, I've noticed as well for sure the way that people respond to grief. And I've really realized how of all the things our culture is clueless about. Grief is pretty high up on the list.

Kelly Bron Johnson (16:46):

I think it's just people aren't uncomfortable, uncomfortable with it. And to sit and know that you're not only having going to a funeral is not fun. So it's emotionally taxing for you. But it's a moment also where you have to put your need second to the person who is grieving. And I think not everybody always has the emotional capacity to do that. I mean, even me, it's like I will drag ass, right? It's a go. Still go. But I don't want to, I mean, I think about my great aunt's funeral and my cousin was late, and I totally get it. Totally. We waited for her, but I totally understand. It's hard to get up.

Doug Blecher (17:47):

So I guess talking to people that have been through this process has been very, I don't know if healing is the word or helpful, but also even more so when I've talked with autistic people who have been through grief. What's been kind of your experience in talking with other autistic people about grief? In the sense that we experience everything differently. Social differences, communication differences, sensory differences. So it seems very logical. We would have differences in the way that we respond to grief. What's kind of been your experience with that?

Kelly Bron Johnson (18:34):

I think like you kind of research things. You want to get an idea. And I think we tend to do that. We tend to do that. And like I said, there was also an element of preparation that I kind of felt that I thought I could do that doesn't work. But yeah, I think not feeling bad or feeling shame because you can't always access the feelings that you think you're supposed to or there's expectations that you should be sad about something that you're not sad about, that something else that nobody else is sad about is making you feel lost the most kind of thing. So yeah, that understanding, I think that everybody is going to grieve in their own way and to leave space for it. I remember I was 13 when my grandfather died and my dad was, for some reason, my family was very concerned about how I would take it.


I'm not really sure why. He died actually the day after my birthday. So I came home from school and my dad was home and my mom was out as she normally would be for work, but I can't remember he explained that she was gone. And I remember my sister walked in the door and she goes, Papa die, didn't he? And my dad's like, yeah. And I was like, oh, okay. And I went in my room and I just kept doing whatever. And I remember my dad came in and he's like, are you okay? And I'm like, yeah, I'm fine. And I remember him on the phone with my mom. My mom had gone up to her mosquito go and take care of things. And him going like, well, she's not crying. She didn't cry.


Completely confused, but I didn't really cry with his death for whatever reason, I didn't feel that I had to, whereas kind of funny, I cried. I was much younger, but I cried a lot when my godfather's wife died and I didn't even really know my godfather's wife. And so my parents were trying to understand I was maybe nine or something. My parents couldn't understand why I was crying so much for this person that I didn't really even know. And my mom had said, she goes, funerals are for the living. And she goes, maybe you're crying for the pain of the people that you do know. My godfather. I really loved my godfather. And so for whatever reason, I cried nuts for that one. Didn't really cry for my grandfather, so hey, whatever. It's all normal.

Doug Blecher (21:20):

Yeah. Did you feel like right now I just feel like there was act one of my life when my mom was here in the physical form and now act two when she's not, did you feel those types of changes at all going through grief?

Kelly Bron Johnson (21:46):

I think what changed it changed my relationships with other people to some extent.

Doug Blecher (21:51):


Kelly Bron Johnson (21:53):

Because with his death, I realized what I was leaning on him for, I don't want to say depending, but I guess what I was using him for, the emotional support that I was using him for, that as an adult, I probably should have been going to my husband or other people for.


And so his death kind of brought that to light where I realized I was emotionally quite dependent on him. So it didn't harm my relationship with my husband, but I think it maybe realized that there was something missing in the way that I was relating to my husband and that I was using my father for what I probably should have been using my husband for. And there's different reasons for that. My husband was not emotionally available the way that my father was. It's as simple as that. And so that change, that kind of shift where I'm like, well, at some point either you or somebody else has to become emotionally available to me because yeah, you can't be speaking to the voice and it was necessary. So there was, I guess a bit of grief over that in the sense of, well, I hadn't let go cut the cord, so to speak.


I guess it might not have been a healthy relationship, healthy connection with my dad. So yeah, for me, that's what it kind of brought to light. And then as well, the fact that I don't want to end up like him. He died at 70 and he had thought that he was going to retire and do all the things he wanted to do, travel and stuff like that in his retirement obviously did not happen. He was sick. And so his death made me want to live more. And that's why I go and I go on my vacations and I go on my cruises and I go and I have a good time because I don't want to wait. Who knows what's going to happen. My midlife was at 35 if I, let's say I were to die at 70 just like him. My midlife was at 35. So I'm like, I'm passed my midlife now I need to live. Yeah, I think, don't think that's quite what you asked, but that's kind of the lesson that I took from him.

Doug Blecher (24:17):

Are you experiencing joy differently now? I'm hearing you talk about the going on all the cruises and every time you tell me you're going on a cruise, I'm like, oh, wow, that's exciting. And in some ways it can be more affordable than I think people realize with payment plans and things like that. But did it change your view on joy?

Kelly Bron Johnson (24:43):

I think not just joy, but just the way I live my life that I would rather, and this is with business, this is with everything. I would rather try something and fail than live with regret later on that I hadn't done something or that I, and I don't want to say missing out, not what it is. It's more like take those chances because I'd rather fail than be on my deathbed and be like, you know what? I probably should have tried to do that now. I'll never know whether I would've failed or would've succeeded, or whether that would've been fun or it would've been crap. Who knows? So I kind of live with the idea that I'm going to do it. I'm going to do it now while I can. Well, my legs are working, I'm going to go and walk. That kind of thing. That's how I kind of feel when I'm having a shitty day or something. You kind of be like, you know what? Everything, my body is still working. It is still carrying me places I need to go. So take advantage of it

Doug Blecher (25:42):

And get those feelings out

Kelly Bron Johnson (25:47):

And try. But I try not to feel guilty on the days where you don't feel like it when you want to lie in bed, that's okay too. Rest is important. You need to take care of yourself. And that's kind of how I feel. I want to take care of myself that I have as long as I can, that I'm going to have a life that I could do the things that I want to do.

Doug Blecher (26:08):

Did things change for you socially at all? Right now, ever since these last couple of months is I've been fearful of being around people that I know, and they're either going to not pretend, but won't even think about how I'm a different person than I was before. I can't ever not go back. So I've been fearful socially in regards to that and having those conversations or when I, when people ask me how I'm doing, I'm doing really bad. Things are going to get real awkward real quick if I don't mask and I'm authentic about things, it's not going to be a fun time being around Doug. If we actually start to get into this discussion when how, you said, if you're not part of the grief club, you're probably not going to enjoy conversation with me right about now, if we're going to be authentic and we're going to be going to honest about what's going on, you're going to feel pretty uncomfortable pretty quick.

Kelly Bron Johnson (27:24):

Well, I think, yeah, so I mean, I know that I have the capacity to hold that space for people for those uncomfortable things. One of the most powerful things that one of my best friends did still one that was in Montreal who showed up and stuff, what she did for me in the days after my father died, and it seemed like when I called her and told her my dad was dead, it seemed like she was more in shock initially than I was. It was kind of strange. She felt deeply for me, and she's like, I'm coming over. And she kind of just came over and she's like, what do you want? And I'm like, I don't know what I want. I just told her a restaurant. She picked me up food. I just kind of lay there. I didn't feel like eating, but she just came and sat beside me and she held my hand in silence while I cried.


And that was it. And that was one of the most powerful things that she could have done for anyone. I think what makes people so uncomfortable is that idea of being able to cradle or support somebody else's emotions or just to have that space just to let people have their moment. And that's what she did. That's what she did for me. I didn't know what I needed. I didn't need anything else. I didn't need somebody to sit there and be like, oh, it's okay. All the platitudes. She just sat there with me. And I think if more people had that understanding that sometimes there's nothing really that you can say that is useful. Sometimes just acknowledging the person's pain and giving them the space to express something or not is the best thing you can do. You don't have to walk. We're not that fragile. We've just been through hell. So you don't need to be handled with kid gloves. We don't need to dance around it and pretend that nothing has happened because something did happen, right? Yeah.

Doug Blecher (29:33):

Something definitely did happen and we're making it day by day and just being there. And I don't know, I guess maybe I have some feelings of anger because it's tough where it's like someone doesn't know what you need unless you tell them. So I get that advocate for your needs, and I understand that being autistic, that's something I have to do on a daily basis anyway. But it really sucks that you have to do that in this state. And people can't just try to just be around or check in these days, I don't really have the capacity to check in with everyone else. That's usually me initiating communication. I don't have that capacity these days. So it would just be nice if people would just check in a little bit more and just try to be there. And yeah, like you said, they don't need to say anything. There's nothing they're going to tell me. Especially for those that aren't part of the grief club, there's not really much they're going to be able to tell me that's going to make things better, but just them being there makes things better, or them just sending a text makes things better.

Kelly Bron Johnson (31:05):

That can be difficult. Because I know for me sometimes on anniversaries and stuff, my mom and that friend who's really great, she would send me a text or message. I was fine until, I think that's what's hard. I think that's hard with grief for other people, is that, yeah, it's unpredictable because sometimes you just want to go through the day and ignore it, and other days you don't want to be asked, and then other days you want to be asked, right?

Doug Blecher (31:40):

Yeah, it's not funny. But I had a similar situation a month, so I have a friend and she has an incredible memory, is neurodivergent, and she doesn't even know it, but that's a whole nother story. And she remembers dates, like anniversaries, dates, birthdays. She just remembers everything. So a month after I had been in constant communication with her about her husband just recently passed away, her mom had passed away a couple years ago, so she was very empathetic of what I was going through. A month after my mom passed away to the day she texted me and she says, I can't believe it's a month since your mom hasn't been here. I'm like, oh, damn, it has been a month. I was like, oh my goodness. Yeah, it kind spiraled me a little bit that day. So now I'm going to remember, I think always the specific day thanks to her. So yeah, so I guess, yeah, it just hits in different ways, so nothing I can do about

Kelly Bron Johnson (32:54):

It's hard. Yeah, it's hard because it's not the person's fault either.

Doug Blecher (32:58):

No, no. And she was amazing and been so helpful.

Kelly Bron Johnson (33:02):

Yeah. So yeah, you never know. It might've been like, oh, it's great, somebody to remember. And the other days you're like, fine,

Doug Blecher (33:10):

Let me remember. I don't want to remember.

Kelly Bron Johnson (33:14):

Yeah. Or sometimes I think there's something, I dunno, maybe it's a neurodivergent thing. I dunno. I think I have a bit of rejection sensitive kind of thing, or maybe demand opposition. I'm not really sure what it is, what to call it. There's times when I don't want the attention when, yeah, I just don't want it. And I've been thinking about it recently because it's interesting and how quickly I will shut down. So up here, up here in Canada, I've been on a TV network called AMI, I do a monthly segment, but I'm actually on a show on a series now, and it's coming out in January. So we did the promo for it at the beginning of the month. And after I did the promo, I went into this, I have to delete everybody off Facebook, I have to hide.


It's like every time I do something that's more, I don't want to say forward facing, something that's more media attention, I hide more. I just want to cocoon and hide more. I don't want anybody to find me, which is really opposite because it's like, well, you're on TV and everybody can see you, and now you're like, no, I want to hide it. I'm not going to go in my shell. And so it's just interesting concept. I don't really know what it is or what to call it or if it's a mental health issue or what it is, but

Doug Blecher (34:40):

I think it's a common thing, part of the autistic experience, because on the rare occasion that I've been on TV or even on social media, when if I post something and then it gets a decent amount of attention and people will comment, I'm like, no, damn, Doug, what the hell did you do? Come on.

Kelly Bron Johnson (34:58):

It's so weird. Why are we running a podcast?

Doug Blecher (35:03):

Yeah. Yeah. I think it is because so often we get attention that we don't want negative like judgements. And so if we don't do stuff like post things on social media or go on TV shows, or if you're up on stage talking about neurodiversity in the workplace and things like that, well then we won't get any attention. But then, yeah,

Kelly Bron Johnson (35:36):

So for whatever reason, sometimes I think grief can be like that for me, where I don't want anybody to recognize, I don't want you to message me. I don't want you. I do things in my own way. There were some years, especially the year after my dad died, where I did not want to be here in Montreal for Christmas. I did not want to be here on the death anniversary, which is in January. I would book myself away. I would leave the country literally. I just didn't want to be here. And the cruise that were actually going on leaves on his, not the death anniversary, but it leaves on the day that he was the first funeral we had here in Montreal. We had a second funeral in Barbados. That was tough too. Don't have two funerals.

Doug Blecher (36:28):

I can't imagine. Yeah.

Kelly Bron Johnson (36:31):

Don't have to do that twice. I mean, we had to because there was family in both places. But anyway, yeah, I just tend to want to be away, not always. So I mean, now it's been, like I said, it's been almost 13 years. I don't run all the way all the time, but there were many years where that was my tradition. And part of it was also like he loved to travel and he wanted to travel more. And so for me, traveling, especially on his death anniversary makes sense. I'm like, Hey, dad, here I am. I'm over here now. And when he was alive, I used to call him from places. And I used to love that, the fact that I could call him from someplace, especially places that he had been. And Hey, dad, I'm at Waterloo Station right now. And he's like, oh, great. And it was cool. So travel is a way that I share that with him. And we also put his ashes in the ocean and Barbados. And so for me, I always envision it that he's all over the world now. That little bits of him have ended up all over the world. And so when I'm in near the sea or I'm near water, there's a little bit of him there with me.

Doug Blecher (37:44):

With the holidays going on now, I've been really, there was one, I don't want to even celebrate Thanksgiving to begin with just because of the issues of that day. I don't believe in that day. But beyond that, I was really dreading that experience. And now the holidays and Christmas and Christmas Eve coming up, I'm really dreading that and really dreading New Year's Eve and New Year's Day, really dreading Mother's Day, really dreading my mom's birthday. Yeah, just all that stuff. Yeah, it's just a lot. Each one of those moments it seems like.

Kelly Bron Johnson (38:27):

What are you going to do? Do you have plans? Did you figure out what you're going to do with yourself?

Doug Blecher (38:32):

Well, I went to my uncle's house with my dad and my brothers on that day, on the daily call Thanksgiving here in the United States, and I did it, but I didn't really want to do it. And Hanukkah, I kind of punted on that this year. I only went through that because of my mom, that ritual. So I just didn't do that this year. And now with my wife, Christmas Eve and Christmas, I'm going to go with her to those things and I normally love seeing my nieces and stuff, but really I don't want to do it. But I am just for her, but not going to do anything for New Year's Eve for sure. I'm just going to hide in my house anyway. I don't find a lot of value in those moments either. But for all these things, if it was up to me, I think I would've just hid under my blanket and try to sleep the day away. So I don't know. I don't know. It feels like every time I do one of these things, maybe it's a step forward in the right direction. I don't know. I really have no idea.

Kelly Bron Johnson (39:58):

You can make new rituals. You can kick out 2023 and say, well, that was a shit year. And just kick it out. It doesn't have to be a celebration. It can be a purging

Doug Blecher (40:07):


Kelly Bron Johnson (40:08):

Or no more of that. Or what I used to do sometimes is I used to make my father's favorite cake. It was a jelly roll on his birthday. Or I would have a cup of tea in my best china, wonderful china set that I don't take out except for special occasions. And that was on his behalf. So things like that that I would,

Doug Blecher (40:33):


Kelly Bron Johnson (40:33):

I forget though. Now I forget.

Doug Blecher (40:35):

I've definitely been thinking about new rituals and creating those things, and most of the time nothing is coming to me, but I'm hoping as the months go forward that I'll continue to talk to more autistic people about grief and things like that. And I really appreciate you for talking with me about this and asking, Hey, are you ready to talk about grief? I really appreciate you asking and just having this conversation is part of the healing process and really grateful for it.

Kelly Bron Johnson (41:16):

Thank you. Even though I cried more than you did,

Doug Blecher (41:20):

I'll be crying afterwe get off of the zoom. Definitely been feeling a lot of emotions in our conversation. Thanks so much, and thanks everyone for listening.