Losing Your Mom & Starting a Grief Community - Caregiving 2021
Today's interview is with the incredible Alica Forneret, founder of Caregiving 20201. Caregiving 2021 is a virtual event for people grieving the loss of a caregiver - be that a mother, a father, a guardian, or otherwise. Learn more about her incredible work in our podcast episode on DYING OF LAUGHTER or in our Q&A, below.
Use code CHELSCARE for 50% discount to any ticket type. Caregiving 2021 is 100% free for POC + LGBTQ* community members.
Alica is an educator and consultant from California. She runs a business in the end of life space and its mission is to facilitate spaces for people to navigate their grief. Her writing and work has been featured in the LA Times, NY Times, GQ, HuffPost, and more. For fun she likes to make epic (plant-based) cheeseboards. Today we discuss the loss of her mother to various complications. We also discuss the complexities of grief when you're adopted, and her fabulous event, CAREGIVING 2021, happening now! @alica.forneret Listen here.
What inspired you to start your grief community? When my mom died, one of the first things I did was jump onto the internet. I figured that it would provide me with answers, guidance, and support. Though I found the same books and websites that still pop to the top of google, I didn't feel like I was reflected in the resources that were readily available. I wanted people who were young, cursed, and didn't talk to me about rainbows, doves, and recovery. So I figured I'd create my own resources that did just that. I was inspired by my previous work as a writer, as well as my mom's creativity. She loved helping people and listening to people, and I see that in myself and this work every day. Would love to hear more about your mom. What was her name? What is one image, symbol, or color that reminds you of her? My mom's name is Deborah Lynn Ball Forneret. A symbol that reminds me of her is the hummingbird - I now have a hummingbird feeder at our house and multiple framed pics of hummingbirds from old books of hers that I tore apart. She loved hummingbirds and tons of them spent time in the backyard of my childhood home. After she died, I started seeing them everywhere - on billboards, artwork, notebooks, commercials - and though I honestly don't think it's my mom trying to tell me something, I do think it's my brain telling me to take a moment and remember her. To take a break and appreciate something beautiful. To stop and think about something other than work, or stress, or life. And I appreciate that. So I put them everywhere. Do you recall the moment that you found out you or your mom was sick? What was that experience like for you? I found out that my mom was ill when my dad called me. I was living in Scotland and had just moved there a few days prior. I traveled and moved a lot and this was just one of many moves I'd made in my 20s. My dad had always told me, "Your mom is sick a lot, you don't need to come home every time she's in the hospital. But one day I might call you and tell you, 'this is it - this time you need to come home,'" and that weekend in Scotland my dad called and it was time to come home. Honestly, the experience was kind of surreal because I had just moved, was totally surprised and thrown off, and had no idea what was going on. I felt guilt, I felt annoyed, I felt sad, I felt confused, and I felt stressed. Once she died I went into full-on planning mode, but in those few days it was a rollercoaster that I barely remember.
What was your first Motherless Mother’s Day event like compared to your Caregiver’s Experience this year? How can people get involved? My first Motherless Mother's Day event was amazing and intimate! There was a little over a dozen of us and we spent an evening together taking care of ourselves. We ate, drank, laughed, cried, wrote, talked... we rolled around on the ground and got massages, made candles, and journaled together. It was all about connecting with others and caring for ourselves - something I found hard af to do on Mother's Day because I thought I was supposed to be out in the woods doing some kind of ritual commemorating my mom. But eventually I realized that caring for myself on those days gave me more space to think about her, to feel okay, and to get a break from the pressure. Though the experience has since moved from IRL to digital, that purpose of the event hasn't changed. The events I've designed for this year's Caregiving 2021 event is all about connecting with others - professionals, strangers, etc. - and caring for ourselves - online, offline, in community. The first year we did a day, the second year we did a weekend, and this year we're doing 7 weeks. People can join at any time and get access to all of the content and replays, as well as any upcoming events!
https://alicaforneret.com/caregiving-2021 How do you identify as a Grief Advocate? Part of my work is advocating for others to feel seen and heard in their grief. This has been important to me since I got into the space because so much of what I struggled with was people telling me that grief was too sad to talk about, not appropriate to talk about, or not comfortable to talk about. And I believe that if we NEED to talk about our grief, we should have support systems around us that recognize that and are equipped to make space for us. Another part of the 'advocacy' for me is ensuring that people are provided with culturally sensitive, trauma-informed grief resources when they're engaging with employers, healthcare providers, and third-party support systems. This informs the way I work with my corporate clients, the way I've designed my workplace offerings, and how I build relationships with BIPOC, LGBTQ, trauma-informed, etc. providers that I source for my network.
What keeps you inspired? People telling me that they feel seen and supported by the work that I do. That is the goal - whether my events support and serve one person or support and serve hundreds. I keep doing this work because I know how fucking awesome it can feel to finally find a website or a blog post or an instagram post that makes me say to myself, 'Thank fuck someone else gets it' or 'THAT is what I'm feeling - but shit, I never had the words until now.' And I also know how annoying it is when the only things you hear from people are terrible platitudes, cliches, or garbage advice . Where can we learn more about you/your business/your blog? www.alicaforneret.com instagram @alica.forneret linkedin https://www.linkedin.com/in/alicaforneret