Pleasance Silicki is an ayurvedic lifestyle counselor, holistic health coach and the author of Delight: Eight Principles for Living with Joy And Ease. Pleasance has taught mindfulness, stress management and self-care in academic, corporate and private settings and today, she and Jonathan discuss grieving, the transformational power of death, and how our culture deals with death.
Pleasance speaks to the importance of honoring ritual, showing up for others who are experiencing grief and practices we can implement to better understand death.
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01:08 – Jonathan introduces today’s guest, Pleasance Silicki, who joins the show to discuss death, grief and loss
05:38 – Death and culture
08:06 – How we can truly show up for others going through grief
16:14 – Exhaustion and transformation
24:18 – The depth of grief and why there are no time limits on grief
30:26 – Remembering our beloved dead and defining what healthy grief is for each of us
39:23 – Jonathan reflects on feelings of guilt
46:35 – Pleasance provides one practice to implement for those experiencing grief
53:12 – Pleasance reflects on the importance of honoring rituals in our lives
58:33 – The last thing Pleasance changed her mind about and one thing that she would like people to know about her
1:02:13 – Jonathan thanks Pleasance for joining the show and let’s listeners know where to connect with her
“Talking about death and grief and loss is one of the great mysteries of life. It’s the one thing we all have in common, that we’re all going to die, and everyone we love is going to die, and everything we love is going to die.” (02:32)
“I’m passionate and a lover of learning, studying, and sharing wisdom traditions that have helped humans for all of time.” (06:14)
“Grief is like that. Death is like that. You are different. You are transformed at a cellular level from this loss. And now your mission is, ‘What needs to change? Who am I now? How do I love myself through the grief when I’m not that productive person, when I’m not that healthy and firing on all cylinders?’” (16:14)
“The sensualness of tears, of water, of the element of water and transformation is essential. And to not feel that would be completely disengaged from being embodied. And I really feel like we just need so much more embodiment in the world.” (23:58)
“We want to tell the stories of our beloved dead. We want to remember. It’s so healthy, in my experience. If I could tell you about my grandmother right now, the rest of my day would be filled with her spirit because she was unbelievable and still is because she’s living through me and my children.” (33:01)
“What people can do is listen to the whole body, not just the mind. What other people think you should do is where we all get messed up.” (50:43)
“One of my teachers always says, ‘Prayer is right pace.’ That’s so mind blowingly awesome to me.” (53:47)
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Jonathan DeYoe: Welcome back. On this episode of the Mindful Money podcast, I’m chatting with pleasance. Silicki Pleasance is the founder of Thrive, a digital self care class, and Lola, an academy for women’s leadership. Among other things. She’s an ayurvedic lifestyle coach and a holistic health coach. She’s the author of Delight eight principles for living with joy and ease. Now she’s taught mindfulness, stress management, and self care in academic, corporate, and private settings. A mutual friend introduced pleasants to me as a death doula, uh, someone who supports people going through death, dying, and grief. Now, as most of our listeners know, my brother died in 2021, and the sudden, unexpected loss sort of rocked the world for his wife and kids. It totally crushed my parents, and it completely changed the direction of my own life. And I remember immediately after he died, looking for podcasts and books and things to help me learn how to process this loss. Uh, and the shock of loss can happen to any of us at any time. And I want to talk to pleasants about how we deal with massive, heartbreaking, unrelenting loss while the world moves on around us as if nothing has changed. So my hope is that this episode can be that for someone who really needs it today. Pleasance, welcome to the Mindful money podcast.
Pleasance Silicki: I’m so happy to be here. Talking about death and grief and loss is one of the great mysteries of life and connectors. And I think about this all the time. It’s the one thing we all have in common, that we’re all going to die, and everyone we love is going to die, and everything we love is going to die. And that blow even every day. Talking as a death educator, working in grief, working in spirituality, I am in awe of that.
Jonathan DeYoe: Yeah, just real quick, where do you call home? Where are you calling in from?
Pleasance Silicki: I live in Washington, DC. I just want to say, I’ve been here for almost 30 years and watching the different phases of our country, of the sort of heart we’ve been through so much as a country, as a world, as a city, and grief, this feels important to say, micro grief, like spirals with macro grief. And when we learn how to grieve as a collective, too, it can help us in our intimate, personal grief as. Right. So, um, the city of DC, we’ve been through so many layers of change and transformation, heartbreak, ways of being dying and new ways of being born, and feeling really discombobulated in ways energetically in the city. And so everywhere that we. I just feel like we’re sort of like this hotbed or this ground zero for the changes that we’ve really been going through as a country. And I do spiritual work.
Jonathan DeYoe: Yeah, it’s easy for me to forget how those things are interrelated. You see how they’re interrelated before you sort of get smacked in the face. And then when you get smacked in the face, you don’t identify it with the interrelation anymore because you’re just dealing with, uh, the. So I gave you a very brief intro, and I read your bio, and I sort of picked and chose. So what did I miss that you think it’s important to share, because you started a lot of things, you found a lot of things, you do a lot things. What else should I have included in there?
Pleasance Silicki: I think just in general, I’m a creative person, a creatrix, is what I say now. Much more on the spectrum of jewish, embodied, earth based, spiritual, feminist leadership. I’m going to be ordained, goddess willing, in a year, in which case I can really put all of the pieces of the weaving of teaching and facilitating and holding and caring into a little bit more of a container. I think that people understand the program I’m doing is in a direct relationship with rabbinical school. It’s, uh, a different version of that, shall we say? So I would say anything that’s within that world of care community collective. And lately I’ve really been saying that I’m sort of a life coach turn death educator. That, um, all of the life coach work I’ve been doing for 20 plus years, through yoga and ayurveda and holistic health practices, with all ages, really. At the end of the day, death is our teacher.
Jonathan DeYoe: Yeah. So go right to that. You’ve done the research. You’ve gone into it a lot. Talk to us about death and culture. What is it that we do right? What is it we do wrong? And what other cultures might do things better, and what do they do better?
Pleasance Silicki: That’s a lot, but so many questions. We could write a whole book together on this.
Jonathan DeYoe: Yeah.
Pleasance Silicki: Okay, so I want to name that. I’m an expert on my own life and experience, not anybody else’s. And I read an obsessive amount, a ridiculous amount, like, three or four books a week for many years now. So I’m passionate and a lover of learning and studying and sharing wisdom. Traditions that have helped humans for all of time. So in ancient cultures and traditions, many of them, grief in community is just part of the village. Uh, it makes me emotional to think about it, because in my lineage, we have something called the mekonet, which is the morning woman. And when you would gather collectively to grieve when someone transitioned, there would be a person in the community whose role would be to wail and mourn publicly, giving the other community members permission to feel like, I have the chills now, right? Like, feel it move through the somes. Maladoma and Sabomfu, who are both transitioned, now write and teach about this. So much in the african tradition, in their tradition, about a healthy society, has a healthy, embodied grief ritual. So without naming, like, who’s doing it right and who’s doing it wrong, it’s not about that. It’s like, just look at a funeral. There’s a lot of rigid. I don’t want to cry. I don’t want to feel anything. And there is also emotion expressed. And in my experience, I often see it kind of isolated or segmented, even think about. I think visually of grief rituals, as always, in circles and spirals, and that’s really different than, like, pews and lines, right. It’s like, collectively, we can share and hold grief together and kind of exchange it towards the fire or towards the center of the circle. But because we’ve removed so much of that now, we’re trying to hold it together ourselves.
Jonathan DeYoe: So I want to go really at the beginning here. I want to go sort of granular. I’ve been working with people for, like, 25 years in financial services, and so I work on their money. So I get to hear all kinds of family dynamics. And I know when people die, and I know when people lose sibling or when somebody loses a parent or I’m involved in these conversations, and I’ve always been supportive and present and kind, but looking back, I’m not sure I did it right. So when we meet somebody that says, hey, yeah, uh, this person who I love died, what do you do? How do you handle that?
Pleasance Silicki: I’ve had the experience recently, especially the past five years, of having this happen personally and intimately. And my language around it is really, I’m just sitting with you in this. I’m not afraid of your big feelings. You can have them with me. I’m just sitting here in the field of the pain. That’s, uh, a 25 plus year spiritual meditation, yoga, I did Zen Buddhas, I did every spiritual tradition, looking for my. I would say, like, are you my mother? Are you my mother? I kept going, like, jumping from thing to thing and weaving them all together. At the end of the day, if you clear out all the noise and all the books or the rigidity, the essence is, can I sit here in this discomfort? And we do these subtle things like, do you need a tissue? What support do you need? And, uh, you have recently been through this. So when someone says to you, what do you need? Are you always able to answer, do you know?
Jonathan DeYoe: It’s so funny, because in the early days, the thing that shocked me, I had both experiences. I experienced how bad everyone was at offering condolences, and at the same time, I experienced not knowing how to say, this is what would really be good for me. I had no idea. Which is why you go for those podcasts and those books and m I’d.
Pleasance Silicki: Say that to give you some context, I was heavily influenced by my grandmother, and she transitioned on solstice. So I’ve just recently been through this myself with the very important person. And when people would check in with me, I would just say, I don’t know, period. There’s this whole emotional codependency micro that happens in our culture when people are not well or uncomfortable or going through something. And so I would say things like, this hurts so bad, and then just leave it. Like, let it breathe, because I’m still in it as you are. It feels really important. Just to be really honest. It really hurts, and I don’t know what I need. Thank you for being here with me if that feels authentic. So, I really think there’s not a script it’s so much about. One of my teachers always says, when we’re talking about death, grief, elevating humanity at any level, race, work, justice, work, we’re talking about doing the inner work. Enough to kind of carve out your own language, your own voice. So turning towards someone, slowing down. So I’ve done a lot of work around trauma resolution because everything I study is so intersected with the nervous system and the pace of life and stress and trauma, uh, that impacts all of us. And Tiknad Han used to always like the way that you show love is presence. So I just sit there, I hold a hand, be quiet. And I’m mindful of the silence after the burial, after everyone has shown up. And so I’m mindful in my relationships to circle back a few weeks later, a few months later, a few years later.
Jonathan DeYoe: I tell you the one thing that. And I tell this story all the time now because people had a hard time. What do I say? David was Jonathan’s best friend. That kind of thing. But one person, and I don’t know where she got this. She sent me, just texted me once. She was out walking her dog, and her dog ran across, uh, a plant that was in the shape of a heart. And she took a photo, and she texted to me. And then two days later, the dog was out there, and they found a kid had written on the sidewalk the word love. She took a photo of it, she sent it to me, and, like, a day later, there’s another one. Two days later, another one. I got one yesterday, 14 months later.
Pleasance Silicki: Yeah. So powerful. And that’s being present, that’s that connection that we long for.
Jonathan DeYoe: For sure.
Pleasance Silicki: I also think the phrase no need to reply is very powerful. I do have a very strong desire to caregive and be maternal and loving and caring. That’s why I think lots of us who get into teaching and leading and sharing do. And because I’m aware of that when someone. I have a friend right now whose father’s going through hospice, and so I’m thinking of her every morning in my prayer practice, in my spirit practice, and I will send her a heart, a cloud, a leaf, and say, I love you, and I’m thinking of you. No need to reply.
Jonathan DeYoe: Yes.
Pleasance Silicki: So she doesn’t have to bear the weight of what she’s going through and then also deal with emotionally managing me or responding. It’s like, no, I’m not doing this because I want to hear back from you. And that felt really powerful. That felt like a gift to my friends and family who are grieving.
Jonathan DeYoe: Yeah. The two things that I think that I’m pulling out so far is if you know somebody that’s in your proximate, you can visit with, um, them just to go and sit and say, I’m here, whatever, I’m just the duration. And there’s a couple of people that came and said, hey, let’s go for a walk. And we’d go for a walk and then we’d call back next week, hey, let’s go for another walk. And we just go for a walk. And sometimes I would wail and cry and have problems and sometimes we’d talk about something else and whatever we talked about was just fine. But they were, were there. Whatever I needed, they were there. That was huge. And then the second piece is, no need to reply. I’m thinking about you. You’re far away from me. I know you’re going through stuff without saying that. By saying a picture of a heart or cloud relief, I’m here, I love you. I’m thinking about you. No need to reply. I think that’s really beautiful and I think it’s something that’s really important. Early on, the struggle and you know this, it’s been 1415 months now. I thought it would get easier more quickly. So the tears don’t come as often, they don’t come as quickly, right. But it still grabs you and when it grabs you, it doesn’t let go of you. Right. And there’s a few things that keep coming up and I, uh, wanted to kind of just go through these three or four or five things and just see what the teachings are, what you think of the things, one of them, and this almost needs a narrative. I was driven. Like, I was the guy that got up at literally 430 in the morning. I meditated, I read, I wrote, I worked out, I cooled off, I got my shower in before my kids got up so I could give them a hug and a squeeze and either drive them to school or whatever. I was present, I was there, I was healthy, I was awesome. Everything was on all cylinders. I’m just tired. I don’t have the drive. I’m not interested as much. Like, I can’t get out of bed sometimes and I’m finding comfort in ice cream and alcohol in a way I never did. Right? We’re 14 months later and I know that those are not good, but I can’t get around the corner on it. What’s the why?
Pleasance Silicki: I mean, I love this question. I love thinking about this, I love writing about this. I love going for long walks and talking about this. It changes us. It’s like that whole idea of when women have babies and they’re like, oh, I’ll get my body back. How can you get your body back. There’s been, like, human spirits that have moved through you. You are forever changed. There is no back. We’re not going back before COVID We can’t do that. And grief is like that. Death is like that. You are different. You are transformed in a cellular level from this loss. And now your mission is what needs to change. Who am I now? How do I sit with myself? This is huge. How do I love myself through the grief when I’m not that productive person, when I’m not that healthy? Firing on all cylinders. Is there still self compassion for this version of me? A little rougher, a little less grindy. And that’s a really important part of real deep self acceptance, is loving the parts that love the ice cream and the alcohol alongside the 430. Good. Wake up, meditators. Because the truth is, it’s all life. It’s all whatever you believe, divine, whatever the word is, whatever the texture is for this amazing thing, the mystery we’re all experiencing is one of my teachers always says, it’s not about the person we’re grieving. They’re good. It’s about who are we now? What is our soul curriculum now, or our spirit path now, or our work path now? Or what are those lessons? And it takes time. As you know, you’re already experiencing it, and it’s so wavy. This is also important. So much of what we think about and talk about in spirituality is in cycles and spirals. It’s not linear. And so there’s like an old rabbinic tale that you go from house to house and try to find someone who hasn’t. There’s someone grieving. And he goes to the rabbi says, this, uh, hurts so bad. And the rabbi says, okay, go out into the village and go house to house and find someone who hasn’t experienced this, and then bring them back to me. And he can’t, because this circular spiral waves of starting here, you know, in meditation, how they always say, like, start here, start again. Start now. Sharon Salzburg always says, start like, we start again. That’s it. And I think it’s really important when we’ve been through something so painful or transformative, to remember this version m whether it’s a softer version or a bigger version or a tired version, grief is exhausting. There’s one teaching that’s been really helpful to me personally and then a lot of my clients when they’re grieving, that with the sleep and the exhaustion piece is that in lots of wisdom traditions, they talk about the dream world and dream state. Know Carl Jung talked about it, too. Like the little sparkles, the little breadcrumbs that we can follow, like the symbols and the signs of the inner life. And so when we’re so exhausted with grief and we’re sleeping or we’re napping or we’re resting, are we able to allow ourselves to listen? Maybe your brother’s wisdom, um, maybe his words, maybe his energy, it doesn’t need to be like a visitation per se. That’s not what I’m talking about. But just even a connection to a different realm, a different operating system, that might be really comforting. I have a client. He says every time he takes a nap, his partner, who died, comes to visit him. And when he wakes up, he feels so good, like, comforted and loving. And then he clicks on to what just happened. I’m crazy. No one’s going to believe me. Kind of more the critical brain. And so I said, well, let’s put the critical brain kind of to the side. How do you feel when you wake up? And he said, just so much love. And I’m like, well, that’s one of the gifts of all these naps that you’re experiencing, is just that love that you’re touching. And because so much of productivity, like western mind and business world and go get it, and that whole linear culture and climbing culture, more and more and more, I think these are the experiences that knock us off that mountain and make us realize there is more here. There is so much more here.
Jonathan DeYoe: It’s really striking because I knew that my grad work is in buddhist studies. I’ve also been a search for my whole life. I’ve been meditating 25 years, right? So I knew that. And, uh, I still drove and ground and did the 430 thing, and I still did it, and it still knocked me off my. Just completely knocked me off whatever my path this is. Probably two months ago, I went to a buddhist meditation retreat with Jack Cornfield and Tara Barak and a woman I met there. She’s a doctor, her husband, also a meditator. She wasn’t a meditator. Her husband’s a meditator, went through Covid and ended up committed suicide. And so she was coming to the practice trying to find what did he see in this, what happened, and that we had this deep conversation about how come when I need it the most, my practice, it didn’t fail me. Maybe I failed it, but I couldn’t sit anymore. I couldn’t sit so I could walk and ended up doing a ton of walking meditation and that, but I could not rely on those old forms of meditation that I had. And maybe it’s just like you’re saying, uh, I’m a different person cellularly. I can’t do the things that I once could do. Have you seen that before in other people?
Pleasance Silicki: Yes. And what I want to encourage you to do is open your mind to see that, instead of it being that it’s not that your practice didn’t serve you. I seeing it, this is your practice, right? This being, like, continuing to go into it, being open about it, wanting to share the humanity, our spiritual practices, it’s a misnomer that they elevate us away from being human. You can meditate all you want, and you’re still human. So I see this as a gift of your practice. I see this as the fruits and the rewards where you can actually be in your body and grieve and cry. You’re not frozen, and maybe you have times of it that you are, or that you want to numb. But naming the alcohol, naming the ice cream, those are the healthy human parts that we can’t meditate out of us or do. Up, dog down, dog away from. And so I really want to appreciate and just honor your practice and you for being so open about all of it. Because I think the suffering aspect of humanity, you can’t meditate away. And they always say the amount of grief and tears often energetically matches the deep love, the amount of emotion that we feel about our beloved dead. I just feel my grandmother pulsating through me, crying about her walking the streets. And, uh, because we’re animals, walking is the therapy, the healing path, and it keeps you in the world. I would be much more concerned if you said, I’m good. I went back to Zen, or I was able to just sit. That would be of concern. Because you’re in a transformative death transforms us. And when we have these really intimate, tragic losses, it’s such a celebration of the love, to feel the body, the sensualness of tears, of, um, water, of the elements of water, and transformation is essential. And to not feel that would be completely disengaged from being embodied. And I really feel like we just need so much more embodiment in the world.
Jonathan DeYoe: What about the. And this is not just me. I hear this all the time. I will admit that I have had this thought, and so I now worry that other people have this thought about me. The thought is somebody’s parents are 85, 90 years old, and they pass. And it’s very sad. And there’s no question it’s sad, and it’s totally expected, but two years later, they’re still sad. And I have had the thought, and I hate myself for having the thought, but the thought is, wow. I mean, shouldn’t you be past this by now? And now, having gone through it myself, I now am worried. I’m worried about that judgment. Like, it’s been 14 months, and there’s some people that I know get it, and some people are really close, and they’re very supportive, and they’ll be there to the end. And yet the world looks around me, just keeps going forward, it keeps going on and, uh, on like nothing’s happened. And it just blows me away. And I’m just wondering, are these people, do they not remember? Did they not know that my brother is gone?
Pleasance Silicki: I just want to give space around the truth of what you’re sharing. And Stephen Jenkinson wrote a book called Die Wise, and he’s been talking about the death trade for a long time, and he talks about our sick culture, and he talks about how we’re in a conundrum right now because we’re starting to have awareness that this isn’t working. But we’re nowhere near caring for each other and caring for our dead and holding grief with reverence as life, and using grief as a no bullshit filter for our lives. And I can pretty much guarantee that you’re never going to think somebody should. I don’t think you are going to, in this lifetime, put a time limit on anyone else’s grief anymore. And that when you actually experience the depth of grief in this way, micro with friendships, businesses, kids, stages, those are ways we can actually practice grieving in real life. Because grief is around us always, we get a chance to practice it. That’s not so intense as our beloved family members and friends who are transitioning from this earth. We then have an opportunity to have that slower pace, that compassionate ear and lens, and it will transform you as it already has and how you view that. And so you may have some friendships, or you may have some critical judges in your life who used to mirror where your thoughts maybe mirrored each other, and that was really good at that time. Those might be some of the relationships that don’t continue past this grief. You might long for people who can hold this for the next however many breaths you have days, you it, uh, for me.
Jonathan DeYoe: So Dave died at the end of, uh. Know, it’s not really over, but towards the tail end of the worst of it. And so the two years leading up to his dying, my circle of people that I spent time with and talked to, literally dwindled to my immediate family and him. And so for me, I have to develop new relationships now because I had one friend, I had one friend, he’s gone. So now what? And the beautiful part of that is there’s been two or three friends that have come up that have just been, like, amazing. That. Hold it. And I’m learning about things about them that I didn’t know about their losses, about their pains, and that has gotten us even closer. So I think you’re right. I think there’s some people that leave and they leave for a good reason. And there’s some people that arrive and they arrive for a good reason. Right.
Pleasance Silicki: Also something that’s been really interesting. The more I’ve oriented my life and turned more towards death work, and I lead death cafes and the living eulogy class. And I just love talking about death as a way to honor my life. That’s it. Death is my only teacher these days. So a lot of those other identities are fading. A lot of the other, uh, revenue streams I had are fading. I’m just really orienting towards, like, this is really, I wonder what this will be. And it’s like I’m following this curious road. There are people in my life who cannot talk about it, deal with it, who don’t get what I’m doing, who are like, why would you do this? This is so sad. I’m like, I feel invigorated by being honest about grief. It has transformed every plant in my neighborhood. Every tree is alive to me. And, uh, I touch them and feel them every single day. I’m not going anywhere fancy. I’ve been home since my grandmother died. I made a choice to grieve at home and stay home. Canceled all my plans, said I need to be here and do this. And everything has been popping and popping while I’m walking and crying and reading and napping and feeling her in all of these other ways. Hearts on the ground and all the heart leaves are little winks and nods from her. And there are people in my life who are like, it’s just, I can’t even be near you because what you want to talk about and how you are living is so uncomfortable for me and my stuff. And one of the things I’ve grown into in the past, I would say a few years, is like, oh, it’s not personal. That’s okay. Everything has a beginning, a middle, and an end. I love you. I bless you. There’s nothing wrong with me. There’s nothing wrong with you, we’re just not vibing anymore, whatever it is. Okay. And then I might cry or journal or write them a letter right in my journal, so I can experience the loss, but I honor the difficulty and the pain that can be in the body when you. A lot of people in your neighborhood and stuff might see you, and it just brings up their own mortality, so they have to turn and walk away, or that happens a lot with people.
Jonathan DeYoe: I think that you’re obviously, you’ve read a lot more about this than I have, but I am envious of. Because I was going to ask this question about. I constantly seek reminders. Like, I am looking for opportunities to talk about him, tell stories about him, hear stories about him. I go back, and this part of me think, God, that’s dark. But I go back and I read the eulogy that I wrote, and I read the death announcement that I wrote, and I replay in my head the trip that my parents and I took to see him before he was cremated. And I talk about with these three guys, right? I talk about what he looked like laying on the cold. Like, is that healthy? Because it seems like I want that, but it also seems always to bring up a lot of darkness and a lot of emotion, but I want it. And it’s an internal battle to think about it.
Pleasance Silicki: I think this is kind of back to that Stephen Jenkinson piece of, like, we’re in a really sick culture, and we’re trying to figure out where our healthy is within that. And so this is the opportunity I would use. This is kind of like life coaching. Hat is like, define what healthy grief is for you. We have to make our own definitions of, uh, a good life. Grief, death, what we believe this is our work to do. Because if you look outside of you, oftentimes, that’s not the best model. Turning away, ignoring. And what I want all of us to look for when we’re experiencing this is, how do you feel? How do you feel when you talk about him? How do you feel when you remember him? One of the other things that’s so beautiful for anyone who’s listening, who’s doing grief, working with grief, has someone who’s dying or died, is to say to your beloved, tell me about the person who’s dying. Tell me about the person who has transitioned. And in Judaism, we have the annual yard site or anniversary of the beloved dead. We don’t celebrate their birthdays. We honor and observe the day of their death. That’s what yardsite is. And you have a candle and you light it. And it burns for 26 hours. And that whole day, every time you walk, usually it’s in the kitchen. That’s where our family puts it. We’d walk by, and you just remember the person. Remember the person. And one of the things I started doing in the past few years was then when I have a friend who is telling me, oh, this is the anniversary of my mom’s day. I said, oh, this is the art date. Tell me about your mom. Every single time people pause, have an emotion of some kind, and then go on and on and on. We want to tell the stories of our beloved dead. We want to remember. It’s so healthy. I think, in my experience, I don’t want to put this on anyone else, but I loved. If I could tell you about my grandmother right now, the rest of my day would be filled with her spirit, because she was unbelievable. Unbelievable, and still is because she’s living through me and through my children. And so I think that’s the kind of grief support and friend and human I want to be, is where I want to listen to the stories. I don’t want to be afraid of them. And I personally just think that’s a healthier path for me because I can feel things shifting in my body when emotions flow through. And afterwards, things can be clearer or more in color or more in tune. Not in a bullshit, positive psychology, like happiness way, but just the kind of essence, the way my kids smell, the way my dog smells, so much stronger, more potent. My senses are turned on because of this deep relationship to grief that I have. And I see it as a gift. And if that makes me unhealthy, I’m willing to kind of take that label, given how I see a lot of others respond. I want to turn towards people and their stories and their grief, not away.
Jonathan DeYoe: And I’ve already forgotten. I had a moment. What was the phrase? Tell me about your beloved or tell me about. That’s huge. And I would entertain that every day. Such, so beautiful. One of the things that has come up sort of missing is this is a little bit different. It’s a little bit different than just being tired. It’s like directionless, rudderless. There’s things that I want to do. And my brother and I had plans. We were going to actually come together and work together on something, and that obviously can’t happen. But he was also like a sounding board for any idea that I had. And it’s like, that’s gone, and I’m lost. And I don’t think I feel bad about replacing him with a different sounding. I don’t think that’s what it is. But it’s just this sense of being lost, not of loss of him. That’s too obvious for this. But there’s this, I don’t know the direction, I don’t know where to turn. I don’t know. I used to go, okay, I want to do a thing. Hey, Dave, what do you think about this thing? And he’s like, oh, why don’t you. This and this. Oh, that’s a great idea. I’ll do this and this, and now I can ask the question, but there’s no answers.
Pleasance Silicki: Sounds to me like you’re learning to stand on your own. 2ft one of my yoga.
Jonathan DeYoe: I’m not a fan of the whole thing.
Pleasance Silicki: Yeah, he used to always say, do not stand on your head before you stand on your feet. Why are all of you Americans trying to stand on your head? You don’t even stand on your feet. That went right to my heart. Yes, that’s true. Right? Everyone is so busy trying to get to that perfect pose or that perfect next plan, and nothing’s guaranteed. And this is all a big mystery. So I don’t even know why we’re trying to do that or not. All it leads me to is more questions. And we have a practice in Judaism that I love and has been so helpful in my grief, where you just go out for a walk or in a field or somewhere in nature and you just talk to God, goddess, divine, whatever, spirit, the tree, as your beloved, as your best friend, you just blah, you just let it all out. And sometimes when I do this, I hear her voice say something back to me that she would say to me if I was asking for that. And sometimes it’silent, and sometimes days later I’ll have an, uh, impulse or an intuitive hit that I know is a direct relation to that conversation that was had. Yeah. This may transform projects and future and for those of us who love planning and projects and who are so ambitious, which I think you and I share, that or I’m recovering from that. Being in this phase of life, of just wandering a little while, it has been very uncomfortable. When I closed my yoga studio seven years ago without a plan, I just jumped. And that was really scary because every other, I mean, I was a classroom teacher, I started a school, started a national conference, opened three yoga studios. I was just like, then I’ll do this and then I’ll do this and then I’ll do this. And when I closed the studio, I didn’t know what I was going to do, but I knew that I had to let go of knowing what I wanted to do. And this many years later, it’s uncomfortable. And also, there’s a bit more groundedness in the day to day listening because I’m not so focused on that next project or thing to give me motivation. What if our practice, I’m not saying this, like, preachy to you. What if our practices just keep bringing us home, huh? Rabbi Steve letter, his books, the beauty of what remains, the twelve questions he’s done, I think, two or three books about death, and he’s always like, what if this is just it? There is no next plan or the mountain? He just always talks about in his experience with death, he always says, you die the way you live. So if you’ve been really intentional and contemplative and conscious and focused on the inner life, death as a teacher can bring you a lot of that. And if you’re distracted and overwhelmed and rushing through life and pretending it’s not happening, then that can be a very painful death or grief experience, because we’re really turning away from, again, this whole idea that death is the only teacher. And without death, what’s life’s purpose? I mean, these are just the questions. I sit in all day, every day, and just say, I don’t know. I’m back at the beginning going, this is all a mystery. I have no idea. I have no clue.
Jonathan DeYoe: But you have a language. You’re speaking to it with a language. Uh, and that in and of itself is helpful. Maybe it’s just experience. Maybe it’s just reading three or four books a week, but that’s a language that’s helpful. So there’s a biggie that I’m sort of. It’s not that I’m hesitant, but there’s a biggie, and it’s guilt. It’s. I have an incredible life. It’s not even fair how good my life is on so many levels now. It’s a coin flip that I get here. I didn’t know it was a coin flip before. Like, how many accidents have I narrowly avoided? Now it just seems like the outcomes are so random. Whereas before I was like, yeah, you work hard, you get good grades, you approach the beautiful girl, you ask her out, and she says yes or no, but you approach it right. You put in the work and you get the outcome. That was my belief set, and I believed it wholeheartedly my entire life. I just feel bad now. Like, I feel guilty, like I didn’t pay attention to all the different points of luck or I didn’t see. I attributed too much of the outcome to my own know I should care.
Pleasance Silicki: Are like you already are and you will, and that will be as it is. This is one of the areas of, when I was teaching, I was an adjunct professor at american university on race and community over the past five years. So it’s been a very incredible time to be teaching undergrads about race in community and working with undergrads. And this idea of a merit based society is part of institutional racism and white supremacy culture that, believe it or not, we’ve all been kind of living under in all the ways where there was an idea that if you do this and then this and then this, that, uh, this will happen and this will happen and this will happen. And for lots of people that is true. Until it’s not. Because that’s not really the larger context. That’s not when you take away communal, the whole idea of individualism as the only path, when really our emotions are meant to be shared in the collective. It’s not just about me and mine and my home or my money. It’s like a much wider network. And that’s what all of this spiritual ecology, that’s kind of coming out a lot out of Buddhism and Judaism also. But the whole idea of mycelium networks and trees and fungi, we’re learning now from the real freaking teachers. Like nature and weather. Our emotions are like the weather. And everybody who, when it’s cloudy days and everyone’s like, I just feel horrible because of the weather. Nine out of ten times if I sit down with that person, ah, there’s some aspect of their emotional life that they’re turning away from because we’re just mirroring. And that’s all my ayurvedic stuff. Ayurveda, ah, is the life teachings that are just direct mirrors of nature, the five elements. And the more that we learn about the five elements in nature, the more we see ourselves in it, totally interconnected. And so we belong to that wider web. And so I don’t think your brother would be cool with you spending your breaths with guilt about all of that. I really see these opportunities from these amazing humans that we’re in relationship with to transform that pain into tangible action. Especially for those of us who are so motivated and ambitious. We get it. We turn that fuel, we turn it into something, we transform it. That’s the fire element, right? Water and fire are all about transformation. And so I think, uh, for me, the race part and the land part has been so awesome. While dismantling white wellness culture that I was part of with yoga where bodies looked a certain way and there was a certain level of privilege that was even in the door. And as I become more aware to the larger belonging and collective, it impacts how then you are in your own community. And that’s what I mean. Yeah. I don’t think the way you’ve been working is probably not going to work anymore.
Jonathan DeYoe: Right.
Pleasance Silicki: And so how could that eventually, as those grief clouds kind of change around you a little bit, not necessarily leave, become more meat of what happens, like the more of the good stuff around how you do want to do work in the future. This whole thing about, because we don’t know in the mystery what happens to the soul of the spirit or whatever people believe in, it doesn’t really matter. We just don’t know. So we have to kind of say, it could be way better, so they could be having a great time, it could be worse. It could be nothing. We don’t know. And you are in a body and that’s miraculous and that’s something we can touch and we can know. And you can have pleasure and you can have pleasure with your family. You can have pleasure with ice cream, with food, with wine. You can have pleasure in all sorts of interesting, sensual ways. And when you read a lot about the spiritual aspect in wisdom traditions, ancient wisdom traditions, a lot of the spirits say, enjoy the body. Like, that’s what you’re here for. It’s for all of that. And so when you’re crying, feel the crying. I mean, it just tracks so much with buddhist philosophy. So I think the guilt is like a letter. I also think this is like a coachy thing, is writing letters to guilt, writing letters to jealousy, writing letters to or writing a letter to you from guilt, that’s really powerful to kind of get underneath what’s really there underneath. And that’s of service to your life. Not the top layer, the guilt or the jealousy or the fear, whatever. The kind of top layer thing that’s presenting is resentment. Uh, I don’t know if you experienced this, but maybe there were some people who didn’t reach out when your brother died. And for me, I got a little feisty about that. But when I went underneath it, I’m like, it’s just because I want them to love me. It’s like very basic. I want love and I want to be seen and I want appreciation. And I’m sad that this person isn’t doing that for me. And so there’s a grief. There’s an opportunity to be in grief, for sure.
Jonathan DeYoe: Absolutely. I had that with a couple of really close friends that didn’t seem to put any effort into it. I was like, wow, that’s a surprise, right?
Pleasance Silicki: Yeah.
Jonathan DeYoe: There’s so many other directions to go that the core message of the podcast, and this is kind of a bit of an aside, we’re in the middle of the earning season of the Mindful Money podcast. Right? So the idea of this was, what do you do when you’re becoming and doing all the stuff that setting your goals and then life smacks you? And I’ve been unlearning the ways I had done it in the past, and you’ve just sort of given me permission to sort of allow that to happen and learn from it. I’m terrified, uh, because I think some of the direction is, I don’t know where it’s going to go, so I’m a little scared of it. I think great things will come out of it, but it’s a hard road. The primary message, the core message of the Mindful money podcast is that money can’t be divorced from the context of life. It has to be within and maybe subservient, too. Right? And again, everything’s going well. Great life, Dave dies. Life goes upside down. Can you recommend just an action or something that people, it just happened to them last week. A spouse died, a sibling died, a kid died in their life. Um, a pet that’s been a part of the family for 15 years just died right after that occurs. What can somebody do to find their center again? Stand on their own feet again? Or do we just let them lay down and just whatever they need to do, they do for me. I want to stand back up and I want to get moving forward again in a different format. But what can somebody do to really recapture their life after someone just rips the m middle out of it?
Pleasance Silicki: You’re not going to like my answer, because it depends, because those of us who are too tight may need to become a little bit more loose. Those of us who are too loose may need to become a little more tight. And a perfect example is I have worked full time for myself for 15 years, doing all of these wonderful little creative projects and all of these things. And I share that openly because I think it’s important to have meet people in the world who make it and survive and thrive by following curiosities and creating business plans. And I love numbers. And I’ve read your book, I’ve read all the money books that have mindfulness in them. I’ve got the whole collection over here. So I’m very masculine and feminine together. That’s like my jam. So in January, my dog did die. He was 15, and I started hearing this call, like, stabilize, look for work, change something. So I let go of my adjunct position, and this organization that I volunteered for posted a job. I said, oh, that looks so interesting. I was feeling tingles in my whole body, and I hadn’t felt tingles in weeks because of the dog. I was like, oh, this is interesting. I’m going to follow this. Okay, let me apply to this. I’m just following my note. I’m like, a dog, like, what’s over here?
Jonathan DeYoe: Oh.
Pleasance Silicki: And then I’m like, oh, that doesn’t smell good. Not the mind, but the body is following. So I do the interviews in March and April, and I get the job, and they’re like, oh, yeah, well, let me wrap up all these projects. I’ll start in June. I’ll start June 1. Started June 1. I love it. It’s so fun. It’s an amazing, it’s doing death work and aging care and memory care, and it’s at a wonderful organization up the street. And my hours are flexible, and I’m in the community with people, and, uh, I get to talk about being a death seal. I love it. And we buried my grandmother in the end of June. And on Monday morning, I had to get up and go to work. I had something at the office that day, and it was medicine for me. It was exactly what I needed. I had spent, have spent the past 15 plus years having complete freedom and control over my schedule. If my kids are doing something, I can pull back. I can go forward just being, having all of this flexibility. Now, something else you should know about me is I relate most to the enneagram four, which is a very deep, big feeling. Like almost every grief person I know, writer, I know, we’re all fours. We just love to be in our feelings. So knowing that and knowing that my grandmother, my beloved, my medicine was getting up to go to that office that morning, and that was exactly the balance that I needed, because the rest of my life, like I said, I canceled all my other trips. I just carved out space. Would people invite me to things I say? I don’t know. I’m not sure. I’m taking it day by day. So I would get up and go walk up the street, do a few hours at the office, come home, take care of my puppy, take a nap, cry, grieve how am I feeling? Oh, I feel like going for a walk. Okay, up. So what people can do is listen to the whole body, not just the mind, not what you think people. What other people think you should do is where we get all messed up because we only know our inner life and our experience and our habits. If you are someone who has avoided grief and it feels so like you’re going to go totally under. Titrate that. Get a therapist. Oh. One of the weeks I was home, as my grandmother was dying, I called an old therapist who had the backstory. I said, can we just do a check in? Because I just want to get your pulse. We had to talk. She said, my girl, you’re doing great. So having the check in support, professional support, I had other things in my life. I just said, I can’t do that. I’m not going to do that. So for me, making space is really important because I don’t want to feel like I have to do anything for anybody else if I don’t want to in that day, like, go to somebody’s event or something. If I had said yes, and then blah, blah, blah, there’s all that. Well, I said yes, but I really don’t want to go. And now I’m going to go. All that nonsense. So I think the tip is, like, do you? And if you don’t know who you are, there is a really big, wonderful invitation to do some of the self awareness work so that you have a better sense of that lever as you can go and do things or not. I think if you have kind of crappy boundaries already, this is going to show, might show up there. So boundary work is really important in terms of being able to say, no, thank you, period.
Jonathan DeYoe: I think the message there, and I got to say, if you’re younger than 25, like, learn this now. I’m 50. I’m just figuring out that you’re allowed to set your own boundaries and you’re allowed to do m. Uh. And it’s too late in the game. It’s not too late. Now is better than ten years from now would have been better to this ten years ago. So if you’re 25 and you’re just listening to this and you’re going through stuff, man, just set your boundaries, figure out what it is you want, and go after that. Figure out what do you want to do and do that. It’s so critical. So let’s say someone’s not actually right now going through it, because this is me 18 months ago, right? Didn’t see it coming. No way to predict. And this is maybe a cultural question we’ve kind of touched on before the shock. What can we do to be more.
Pleasance Silicki: Able to deal with stuff like this ritual, ritual, ritual. Honoring the seasons, honoring. Slowing down enough to be like, this is the first day of high school or this is the last summer vacation. We have all of these amazing moments in our life. Usually the pace of life right now, people are just like flying past and they’re just missing. They’re not pausing to honor. It can just be a word, it can just be one of my teachers, taya ma, she always says prayer is right pace. What? That’s so mind blowingly awesome to me, that just slowing down enough to be like, oh, this is something we should honor. And in Judaism we have Shabbat every week. So every week I get to mark time. So I say, I always invite everybody to celebrate some kind of Shabbat, some kind of sacred rest every week where it’s intentional, but marking time, marking sacred occurrences, these amazing things that are happening, these painful things that are happening all around us. Pausing to have a ritual, and a ritual can be as simple as putting your hands on your heart and just saying, thank you. Thank you, house that held us for this vacation. Bless you. And then turning and going home. But obviously I’m thinking of like school years because that’s a very classic, typical one. But even seasons, like feeling the season in Ayurveda, there is grief ritual really at, ah, every transition of the season, because we are different, the weather is different, we’re aging, we’re dying, everything’s dying. There’s this whole interconnectedness of the sacredness of life. And so I think the one thing to do is to start paying attention to when you might feel the impulse for a ritual. If you don’t know that, you know how the past five years have been like self care, it’s like, next is ritual. I’ve seen all these ritual books and grief is right there with it because of COVID So these things are coming up more and more people are more willing to talk about it. There’s so many more resources out there, thank goddess. I’m so grateful because they’re just wonderful texts and conversations and communities online that practice grief and collective grief. Death cafes are great to join, and death cafes are great because when you do them live, you’re instructed to eat cake because it’s like, uh, we’re talking about death eat cake. I love that. I mean, one of my websites a lot is called the dancing Death doula. Because for me, sitting with death has just inspired a dance practice that I can’t. They go hand in hand. And after every collective grief ritual, if you know about sort of, like, the wisdom traditions, you would have grief. You’d throw your grief into the fire. You’d exchange it. You’d cry, you’d yell, you’d scream. And then you dance. You always dance about the honoring of life. So I kind of created this identity of the dancing death doula that I just try to live into around balancing that. Because remember, I said, I’m that enneagram four. So if I don’t pay attention to the dancing, I’ll continue to just go down. The grief, just the darkness. But in that kind of more balancing act, it’s been really powerful and energizing. And one last thing on that trust is really important, because if you watch yourself through cycles and spirals, like, after my dog died and I was so low, and then I all of a sudden was able to kind of move again and walk and then smell new, kind of, oh, this is coming, and this is coming. I remembered that. So when my grandmother died and I felt so overwhelmed, I was like, oh, I know this feeling. And I will come out a little bit more alive and awake, a little bit more embodied. And so that trust of the cycles of it. And if this is the first cycle of it, it might be really painful. And I want to honor that. I never want to bypass that. But is it possible to make space for trust of the wider landscape that you will go through other losses, deaths, griefs, all of us. And that when we practice it as a verb, we become more comfortable with the darkness.
Jonathan DeYoe: Yeah. In our culture, we may notice, but then we squash pain and we squash the feeling of loss. From the first time that your girlfriend breaks up with you when you’re in middle school, right? You come home and you’re tough. You don’t admit that, right? You’re strong, and you’re strong through that. And if you’re not, then you’re shamed the next day. So it’s like we learn to squash it further. So the idea of the practice of we’re going to grieve lots of things. And you know what? It’s a practice. It will get easier, and then it’ll be a big one, and it’ll be hard. We’re almost at time. In fact, we’re way over time.
Pleasance Silicki: But that’s okay.
Jonathan DeYoe: Totally fine. Um, I’ve gotten a ton out of this, and I’m sure that there’s other people getting stuff out of this as well, so I appreciate it. A couple of personal questions. One, what was the last thing you changed your mind about?
Pleasance Silicki: Oh, my gosh. I changed my mind, like, every day about everything.
Jonathan DeYoe: That’s, um, healthy.
Pleasance Silicki: What did I change my mind about? That there’s one way to do any of this. There’s a yoga practice, yoga teaching that I hate. Like, I want to put a big x over now that says practice and all is coming. And the guy who said it is definitely an abuser. And so I’m like, no, just that it’s not yoga, or it’s not buddhism, or it’s not zen. It’s not all of these rigid systems. I’ve changed my mind that there’s just so many ways to be human and there’s so many ways to do life, and I just feel so free. And when I was in a lot of those systems for so many years, I would not say, uh, I felt really liberated. Embodied and liberated. I just kept trying to stand on my head, right, or sit, stare at the wall, or wear all black, or take out the color. All of the rules, the too tight made me feel like there was somewhere you had to get to, and if you did this, you could get there. And I have changed my mind that I am not sure that’s true.
Jonathan DeYoe: That’s huge. That there may not be a there to get to. Like, that there might be here.
Pleasance Silicki: This is it.
Jonathan DeYoe: Yeah, this is it. Uh, interesting.
Pleasance Silicki: This is it.
Jonathan DeYoe: Is there anything that you don’t talk about much? Or maybe you talk about it, but people don’t remember that you really wish people knew about you?
Pleasance Silicki: I’m really sensitive, and I see it as a superpower. It’s why I love people. And also, it’s caused a lot of grief, because when people I love, I love them so much. And as I shared, I’ve had people decide not to be in relationship with me. It’s been clear, and they’ve said that it really guts me. One other thing I think that I haven’t really shared that much about, but I’ve been writing about a little bit this summer, privately, and now it feels really resonant, is when I was in high school, I was diagnosed bipolar, and I’ve shared that, but I think it was a wrong diagnosis. And now we have CPTSD complex PTSD, which is childhood developmental trauma that’s repeated. And I have been studying that like crazy the past year, and I’m like, oh, no, that feels like what I’ve been living with. And I feel more free and more embodied by identifying with this not as a label to limit, but as a way to understand relationship, nervous system, my own patterns. It’s very common to be kind of an over caregiver. There’s just a lot of those links. And I’m the type of person who really enjoys identity systems and patterns and frameworks because when I can kind of see, I spent the majority of my life not being able to see myself in the circle and feeling like I don’t belong. And so once I was able to start to be like, oh, ayurveda, uh, this is this cool system. Oh, Enneagram. This cool system. Oh, this diagnosis, like, oh, this might be, oh, I belong. And belonging, feeling like I belong has been more enlightening than Zen Buddhism or yoga, which is like the path to enlightenment. But I think for so many of us living on the planet right now, feeling like we belong is just like medicinal and healing.
Jonathan DeYoe: So you mentioned you have lots of different websites. Is there one that people can go to to find you the best? How do people connect with you?
Pleasance Silicki: Yeah, littlehome.com. Lilommmm.com is like the hub of everything. It’s also lolacommunity.com. They go to the same thing. And I answer all my emails like, hi, it’s me. Right back at you. So I love talking with people. If people are grieving, I shared with you that I’m orienting my life much more towards clergy. So I’m not going to then sell you a five pack grief. I’m just not into the sales. I’m not doing funnels anymore. I’m not doing big launches. I’m not doing teasers around, like, well, if you do this, then I’ll do this. I’ve unsubscribed from that way of being in the world, so I really want to spend my days talking about death and grief and money and sex and sexuality and feminine and masculine and just the elements, like the life stuff. That’s what lights me up. So I really invite anybody. I hope we talk again. I want to be in these conversations for the rest of my days.
Jonathan DeYoe: No more small talk.
Pleasance Silicki: Oh, I wasn’t good at it anyway.
Jonathan DeYoe: I’ll make sure all that’s in the show notes. Uh, thanks for being here and coming on. This has been, I mean, you saw great for me personally. And as we started with, what I’m hoping is that this can be something that somebody who’s searching right now can find. Because if listeners hear it and know someone going through it, share it with them and they can find a connection to pleasance. If I can help, I’m happy to help as well. We don’t talk about this as much as we should, and we’re going to put the books you mentioned in the show notes as well. I read diewise. That was one of the things I came up with. And he’s got another one. I don’t remember the other one, but fantastic, fantastic stuff. Uh, there’s so many good resources. Thank you.
Pleasance Silicki: Oh, um, my pleasure. Thank you so much.