Tips To Help You Through The Grieving Process with Sandra Maddox

Dr Daniel Amen and Tana Amen BSN RN On The Brain Warrior's Way Podcast

In the final episode of a series on grief with Sandra Maddox, Dr. Daniel Amen and Tana Amen share a list of tips, activities, and ways of thinking that can help save you from the downward spiral that lurks at every step during the grieving process.

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Dr Daniel Amen: Welcome to the Brain Warriors Way Podcast. I'm Dr. Daniel Amen.

Tana Amen: And I'm Tana Amen. In our podcast we provide you with the tools you need to become a warrior for the health of your brain and body.

Dr Daniel Amen: The Brain Warriors Way Podcast is brought to you by Amen Clinics, where we have been transforming lives for thirty years using tools like brain spect imagining to personalized treatment to your brain. For more information, visit

Tana Amen: The Brain Warriors Way Podcast is also brought you by [Brain and D] where we produce the highest quality nutraceuticals to support the health of your brain and body. To learn more go to [].

Welcome back today for a grief week, we're still here with Sandra. Thank you for being here.

Dr Daniel Amen: Sandra, Maddox-

Tana Amen: Sandra Maddox, yes

Dr Daniel Amen: You can get her books-

Tana Amen: What is the title of your book? Book series?

Sandra Maddox: Well, actually it's 'Tiffany and The Talking Frog in Search of The Crown of [Ry-Chess-Nuts'] because kids can't say [crosstalk] righteousness [crosstalk] righteousness.

Tana Amen: That's so cute.

Sandra Maddox: And then I'm in [crosstalk] for the soul, the grief one. So you'll find my story in that as well.

Tana Amen: Awesome [crosstalk]

Dr Daniel Amen: You get those on Amazon?

Sandra Maddox: Yeah [crosstalk]

Dr Daniel Amen: Barnes and Noble?

Sandra Maddox: Amazon.

Tana Amen: Awesome.

Okay, so let's read a testimonial really quickly before we get started, “This is rocked my life. As someone who's been through seven concussions; five from college cheer, one from, a kiddo punching ...” I'm thinking aikido, like martial arts, just my natural ... “One from a kiddo punching me, one from car accident, and has tried everything under the sun to feel better, and most of all to be understood. I was so relived when my mum recorded Dr. Amen's PBS message for me one evening. I immediately became hooked on his methods and have been absolutely blown away by his abilities to revamp the brain in the most natural and holistic way. Standard medicine isn't always getting it right anymore and to find a program like Dr. Amen's has been life changing and I have been reading his book and listening to his podcast due to low funds from medical bill nation, but cannot wait to order the rest of the master kit and cook book. Both as a speech language pathologist and a brain injury survivor, I highly recommend his program, and his podcast.”

Awesome. This is Liz White SLP. Thank you.

Dr Daniel Amen: That's why we do what we do.

Tana Amen: Is it.

Dr Daniel Amen: So that is our purpose.

When we finished last time ... One of my favorite parts about The Grief Recovery Handbook was, they talk about ... When should you start recovering from grief. And they gave the analogy, if you broke your leg, when would you start recovering from the broken-

Tana Amen: Yeah.

Dr Daniel Amen: Immediately [crosstalk]

Tana Amen: And I've heard so many people say “I wanna wait a couple months until I'm in a better frame of mind.” I don't really get that.

What is the thresh now?

Dr Daniel Amen: Is people think that they should suffer. And with grief, especially the kind of grief we've been talking about you're going-

Tana Amen: You're going to suffer.

Dr Daniel Amen: Right? But you can make it worse or you can make it better.

Tana Amen: But if you're gonna suffer, why not suffer along with someone who can help you.

Sandra Maddox: Right. And so one of the first things that Ron and I did was, we made a decision to go to therapy together.

Tana Amen: Oh, interesting.

Sandra Maddox: So we found a therapist.

Tana Amen: Like a grief specialist?

Sandra Maddox: Yeah.

Tana Amen: Oh.

Sandra Maddox: A pastor at our church that had lost a child himself, and he dealt with some of those things. And so we-

Tana Amen: That was a great idea.

Sandra Maddox: We went to see him because as ... In marriage, the percentage of divorce with a couple who has lost a child is 90%.

Tana Amen: Oh wow.

Sandra Maddox: 90%.

Dr Daniel Amen: This is also true if they have a disabled child.

Sandra Maddox: Yeah.

Tana Amen: Oh wow.

Sandra Maddox: It's crazy. It's 90%. My husband said “You mean people who don't know the Lord?” And so he's like “no, it doesn't matter.” It's like 90%.

Sandra Maddox: Because, of the way you grieve.

One day you may be in it and that person may not be, and you know, there's this [crosstalk] yes the dynamics. But we made a decision to enter into each others griefs. And I think that, that was one of the things that, in friendships, find those people that'll enter into your grief, that will walk with you into your grief, that will help you-

Tana Amen: I like that term [crosstalk]

Enter into each other's grief. And it sounds like you gave each other permission to do that.

Sandra Maddox: We let certain people. Now, you know not everybody is a safe person to do that so you have to think about that as well. But there are people who will enter into place, like my friend who came to sit with me for weeks, and the people that we had around us that would bring us food, and just helped. We started right away. Like I said, I went to my ... for a physical right away. I remember my sister taking me to that. I remember Ron and I going. This was early, I don't have ... The early days are so numbing, but I do remember in that first week that's exactly what we did. And I don't know if somebody told us that, or we just thought it was the best thing to do. I don't know.

Tana Amen: That's actually a great idea. Entering into each other's grief. That's a great term.

Dr Daniel Amen: So from Feel Better Fast, some tips. Start healing as soon as possible. There's no advantage to putting it off. Keep a brain healthy routine. So make sure you're eating healthy food, exercising, going for walks, getting as much sleep as you can. Some people can't sleep at all. Cause it's like you've just been shot with terrible cocaine, I mean your body just feel amped. And many people complain of diarrhea or irritable bowl syndrome because your intestinal tract is basically 30 feet of smooth muscle, and what happens to muscle when you get stressed? It cramps. It cramps bad. Discover what was let unsaid or unfinished and write it down [crosstalk] and share it with someone.

There's actually whole therapies around writing what happened, and looking [crosstalk] at it from an adult perspective. Be on the alert for an ant infestation. So we always talk about ants, automatic negative thoughts, the thoughts that come into your mind automatically, and ruin your day. And the guilt ants, we call them guilt beating ants, come out and jump all over you. So whenever you're sad, if you can, write down what you're thinking and then ask yourself, "Is that true?"

Sandra Maddox: That's good

Dr Daniel Amen: Write out the story of what happened, including [crosstalk] the positives, or negatives for fifteen minutes a day for just a week. It has been shown in research studies to help. Reach for support, which you were able to do. Address physical pain, emotional pain. So don't forget, sometimes if grief triggers chest pain you need to see-

Tana Amen: And back pain is a big one. Back and neck pain. It tends to come out in ways because ... And people think “oh well that's just like logical” Well it is all in your head, because when those stress hormones are released, it causes pain. [crosstalk] you tense.

Dr Daniel Amen: Those muscles tense around the nerves.

Tana Amen: And you do have more pain.

Dr Daniel Amen: And so, sometimes [crosstalk] can help, or meditation can help. Deep relaxation. One of my favorites progressive muscle relaxers can ber very helpful guided [inaudible].

Sandra Maddox: One of the things on that ... Our therapist told us to take time and step away from the grief. Take a little vacation from it. And I was like, “what does that mean?” Well what he meant was, if we like to do golf together, go and do golf so that you can forget. It's gonna come back, he says it's gonna be there when get back-

Tana Amen: But are you will to sort of set it aside for [crosstalk]

Sandra Maddox: Exactly. He would tell us to set it aside, go do something, go play golf or even go take a day trip somewhere just to kind of not think about that [inaudible] outside world.

Tana Amen: So he's not telling you get over it.

Sandra Maddox: No.

Tana Amen: He's just telling you, take [crosstalk]-

Sandra Maddox: From the grief. He said take a break from the grief and we were like, “what does that mean?” And so he explained that it was just ... Go take a day and go get a massage, or ... He said, "when you come back it's gonna be there. It's not to take you away from it, it's just to give you a little break [crosstalk] a little breather [crosstalk].

He said that and we put that into a routine for us. We knew it was gonna come back and we knew the things we could do, and-

Tana Amen: I love that. That's actually awesome.

Sandra Maddox: It's one of the things we did.

Dr Daniel Amen: Whenever you get triggered by an anniversary, birthday, holiday, place, song, smell, let the emotions wash over you. Try to be grateful for the memories you do have.

Tana Amen: And that's what I like about you, you just ... Rather than waiting for it to happen, you embrace it, and bring it. It's almost like you are controlling ... Not controlling, you're directing. It's like, I know I'm gonna get triggered, so why don't I direct the dialogue here? Why don't I embrace what's about to happen? And that way, you have a bit more control.

Sandra Maddox: Yeah. And it always comes on right before, the day of, and the day after. It's like, it's coming, you know it's coming. You know the flood of memories are gonna come, especially when it's a birthday or the anniversary. And Ron and I made a commitment to one another that on those days, that ... So long as family is okay and we still have parents around, that we take off and we go away [crosstalk] in January and in April, specifically those days right there. We take off and we honor her memory, we go somewhere and we just honor that, or we just stay together and quietly reminisce about things. It's just the way that we are able to cope with those holidays that are ... Birthdays that are really special in her life. And we wanna honor her, I mean, God gave us her. We loved her, we wanna remember her, we don't wanna forget.

Dr Daniel Amen: You've honored her in just one of the most beautiful ways you can honor someone. Cause you've changes people's lives because of her. Right? And your relationship with her.

Tana Amen: I have one thing that I wanna ask you about that. Did anyone ever say anything that really helped you step up a little bit? That helped you ... I know you had friends that came and they sat with you, was there ever a point where they pushed you, or nudged you just a tad? Or is it best to just sit?

Dr Daniel Amen: Well starting a mum's group was one [crosstalk]

Tana Amen: But in the grief where they were sitting with you, was there a point where they... ?

Sandra Maddox: No. The friend that I told you that would come every Tuesday, she did push me one day and say, “You know, maybe we should cook dinner. Maybe you should cook dinner for Ron tonight.” She kind of-

Tana Amen: Okay, so those little things-

Sandra Maddox: Little-

Tana Amen: Did she feel it out? Or did she just?

Sandra Maddox: I think she ... No she felt it out. I don't think I did it. I don't remember the first time I did it. [crosstalk]

Dr Daniel Amen: Well, and when you're married, it's one of the reasons for divorce is people go so far inside themselves that they actually forgot, like [Chris], that she had a partner. And that partner can get really lonely cause they have their own grief and can go away. So, it's like you said, it's a vulnerable time. We have to stop, but I wanna read this quote, one of my favorite quotes from Elizabeth Cooper Ross who's a psychiatrist. Her specialty was death and dying. And when I was senior at Vanguard, where I went to college, I took a death and dying class-

Tana Amen: Yeah, me too.

Dr Daniel Amen: And it helped [crosstalk]. And she writes: “It is the denial of death that is partially responsible for people living empty, purposeless lives. For when you live as if you and your loved one's will live forever, it becomes too easy to postpone the things you know that you must do. Ask yourself constantly, does this worry, does this problem, does this moment have eternal value?"

Tana Amen: That's one of my favorite questions on the planet. Does this have eternal value? Cause if it doesn't, is it worth me worrying about-

Sandra Maddox: It's essentially what you said earlier.

Tana Amen: You become more acutely aware of the things that are important.

Sandra Maddox: Yes. Right.

Dr Daniel Amen: So they can find your story in 'Chicken Soup for The Soul', the book on grief.

Sandra Maddox: [inaudible] It's called grief recovery.

Dr Daniel Amen: Also, the children's ... It's a book or a series?

Sandra Maddox: It's just a book.

Dr Daniel Amen: It's a book.

Sandra Maddox: It's a book with-

Tana Amen: Series coming down the road.

Dr Daniel Amen: Awesome.

And say the name of the book again.

Sandra Maddox: It's called 'Tiffany and The Talking Frog in Search of The Crown of Ry-Chess-Nuts'

Dr Daniel Amen: I love that. [crosstalk]

Sandra Maddox, and you can get this on Amazon. Do you have a website or people know when you're gonna speak?

Sandra Maddox: I have a blog, and it's called '' and you can go on that and find- [crosstalk].

Dr Daniel Amen: Okay I got it. The art of Domesticity. I love that. Thank you so much

Sandra Maddox: Thank you.

Tana Amen: So much fun.

Sandra Maddox: Thank you.

Tana Amen: If you're enjoying the Brain Warriors Way Podcast, please don't forget to subscribe so you'll always know when there's a new episode. And while you're at it, feel free to give us a review or five star rating, as that helps others find the podcast.

Dr Daniel Amen: For more information, give us a call at 855-978-1363.