Pandemic Grief - Betty Interviews Dayle E. Spencer on Betty's Hawaii Real Estate Corner - Sakamoto Properties

Pandemic Grief – Betty Interviews Dayle E. Spencer on Betty’s Hawaii Real Estate Corner

Home » Betty’s Hawaii Real Estate Corner » Pandemic Grief – Betty Interviews Dayle E. Spencer on Betty’s Hawaii Real Estate Corner
May 26, 2022
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Betty Sakamoto: Aloha and welcome to Betty’s Real Estate Corner brought to you by Coldwell Banker Sakamoto properties, Roy and Betty Sakamoto. Today in the studio, first of all, real estate is hanging in there. There’s almost anything listed that ends up sold pretty quickly. We are going to kind of just get away from real estate for the moment. If you need any real estate help today call Roy Sakamoto (808) 870-7060 or call Elizabeth Quayle (808) 276-6061. Today, we are going to talk a little bit here Dayle Spencer is here with me in the studio. Dayle and her husband Will and her family lived in Maui for many years. Kids went to school at Seabury Hall also Lahainaluna High School. She had quite a love life with Lahaina, Maui, etc. Wouldn’t you say, Dayle?

Dayle Spencer: Amen. Absolutely.

BS: Amen, absolutely. Since then and before then she had a number of careers that are all each one by themselves pretty amazing. She was a federal prosecutor part of the Carter administration that worked with conflict negotiation and conflict resolution. She actually and I don’t think we are going to get her to talk about it much today but was part of negotiating things between North and South Korea. That was a major thing at that time and will continue to be obviously and hopefully, that will one day totally be done. I mean there are too many resolutions and we all have them. They’ve done this in many different ways conflict resolution etc. I am going to kind of make that a little bit. Today, we had a plan in a way that we were going to get together and talk about something because we love talking. She is so amazing and brilliant that I wanted to have her talking here to Maui so a lot of people will know who she is. We came up with different ideas and one of the things she felt was because she has a major thing with resolution and grief counseling. I’ll have her tell you a little bit more and then keep going from there. The real plan is going to be to talk about pandemic grief and the fact that we are all recovering from that. We are recovering from depression resulting from pandemic grief. We are recovering from those we knew or should have known or kind of just knew through someone else that have passed away because of the pandemic. I think we are going to learn a lot with Dayle today. Let’s hear something about it, Dayle.

DS: Thank you, Betty.

BS: Thanks.

DS: First, let me say thank you for having me back on your program. It’s always fun.

BS: It is great.

DS: Anytime we get the chance to talk together I am happy to say yes. Can I just give a moment shout out as you were saying that I was remembering? I have a lot of former students here on Maui who took my courses in negotiation and at the University of Hawaii in the MBA program. It was taught here on Maui using the distance abroad learning capacities that they have.

BS: When that was new?

DS: Yeah

BS: It was new doing that I remember that now.

DS: Now, my former students are in positions of leadership on this island because they got their master’s degree through that program, and just a shout out if any of them happen to be listening today.

BS: Oh nice. Is there anyone you’d want to particularly maybe say hello to?

DS: If I name one, I am offending 30s.

BS: Okay, better be careful then.

DS: Love you all. Betty’s correct for the most recent decade I would say of my life I have had a focus on grief and loss sorts of issues initiated by the death of my daughter at age 28 from the flu. Very suddenly and shockingly to us and because I suffered so much in fact, I agreed for three years I would say. I wanted to try to help other people who were in a similar situation. That’s when I wrote two books on grief and loss. One is called loving alley transforming the journey of loss. The second one is called loving spirit.

BS: I might say if it’s okay.

DS: Sure

BS: Allison Spencer your daughter.

DS: She is Allison Powell.

BS: I forgot that part okay Allison Powell was at Seabury Hall. I know that she has many friends here.

DS: Yes, she does.

BS: And I know Will when he was not Will.

DS: Matt

BS: Matt, I’m sorry I’ve got everybody messed up. Matt was here recently with his family. I know these relationships never go away.

DS: That’s right.

BS: I thought it would be nice if we just said, Allie.

DS: Thank you.

BS: Because she is missed and will be obviously forever missed by many people. DS: Thank you. She was president of the student body at Seabury and actually acted in lots of plays there and you were right she had a whole circle of friends. We all had a big Ohana here, we still do.

BS: Still do.

DS: Precious Island. That is what started the work that I have done in grief and loss recovery and after publishing the two books I started a foundation. A non-profit organization and we have been doing free workshops nationally for the last eight years. And because of covid then we started a free online webinar that people can attend in the privacy of their own homes 24/7. It’s now in English and Spanish and closed-captioned for the hearing impaired. Now, we are able to reach Canada and Mexico as well as the United States offering these free services for anyone who’s grieving.

BS: That’s amazing by itself.

DS: It’s been an incredible journey for us.

BS: I mean kind of taking it to the next step in different ways. We were talking before yesterday about what we were planning to do. Again, yesterday’s grief for the nation and for the families. It’s beyond anything. I’d like to at least say that we are so saddened by that and saddened by how it happened and the knowledge that it should never happen. That we can’t go in that direction right now. We probably are going to stick with the pandemic and the sadness, and the grief and I think depression. How do we even begin to touch that, Dayle? How do we begin to help us?

DS: It’s a good question. Personally, I lost a brother a sister, and a nephew during covid. There’s a kind of a vacuum. Covid created a kind of a vacuum for all of us because the losses were largely isolated the people were not able to be surrounded by families. Sometimes, they weren’t even able to be buried because of the contagious nature of the disease. People are grieving in all the usual kinds of ways but there are additional ways that are sort of magnified grief because of covid. I would say if not if because one million Americans died from covid there are now nine million Americans who are alive and still walking around who are grieving those one million who died. There’s now a greater need than ever for the public to understand how we grieve. How people grieve differently. What are some things you can do to help yourself and others who are grieving and how do we recover? How do we incorporate the loss into our lives and move forward taking the loss with us? You are never going to it’s never going to be over. It’s always going to be part of who you are and yet how do we grow after the loss so that we don’t just have post-traumatic stress disorder. We could also have what’s now defined as post-traumatic growth which is possible for anyone who’s been through any kind of trauma. It does take work, it’s not easy I’m not suggesting that. It is a whole new way of processing grief that literally makes us stronger.

BS: I found during the pandemic and we’re talking specifically in a way grief, but I also think that there were days for me that I could be in my car driving and just about crying. It wasn’t specific grief or a particular sadness about someone who passed away or it wasn’t like I was. It was like a bigger picture than all of that even. It was overwhelming. I always hated to say that I was depressed because I didn’t feel at all depressed. Most of the time I was fine. There were these moments and I do think it’s an overall sadness in a way or grief over the world. I mean the fact that we might never get to do this or do that as an older citizens now. All of a sudden, I turned 80 and that seemed shocking to me, and yet there’s so much left to do, so much that I want to do but there’s this fear of everything. Getting on planes, doing this traveling so I think it is something that needs to be spoken about.

DS: Betty, you have just given a perfect description of what I would call ambiguous loss.

BS: Okay.

DS: I mean when someone dies that’s a very concrete thing that happens. We can describe it other people can relate to it but what you just described is something that most of us if not all of us have felt during covid for sure. It’s a loss that it’s hard to describe. It is ambiguous. It’s an overall feeling of loss or a feeling of sadness or feeling of hopelessness even if you don’t have a specific triggering incident. It may be just a culmination of many things that we’ve lost. Our feeling of safety for example that we don’t talk about. What I have learned, lessons I’ve learned the hard way is that it is important to talk about these things. It is important to say today I am feeling sad. It is important to say my heart is broken because this happened to me or whatever it is that adequately describes your own emotional response to the loss that you are carrying because not talking about it does not make it better. It’s only when we reach out. When we say what it is that’s going on for us. When we connect with other human beings who are also either grieving or maybe have something to offer us to help us heal. That we can begin to recover from whatever loss it is that triggered the feeling.

BS: As you just said ambiguous loss. I think maybe that kind of solidifies it or something because I often felt just a little off.

DS: Yeah

BS: Like am I just is this part of aging that everything is making me fearful. There were so many different questions I had for myself and as time goes on and I stayed busy. We were being careful. I don’t think we were crazy. We were very careful about who we were with, what we were doing, and masking. We had every shot that we could get to help protect us. I feel like we’ve been really good. There were a few losses that I could name but I don’t think that’s an important part of it because it wasn’t about a specific. You are right. It’s just ambiguous. It’s a sense of happiness or a sense of comfort or to be fearful for everything. If someone rang the doorbell, would you want to answer and talk to them and whip the door open? I probably wouldn’t have answered it half of the time.

DS: Yeah, I mean to be fair covid literally upended the world as we knew it. It was this new scary thing that was out there that literally could kill any of us or all of us. We didn’t know how to deal with it. We didn’t know how to treat it. When we began to understand, some of the things we could do to mitigate it. There was no guarantee that anyone was actually safe and although I’ve gotten both shots plus the booster and I know many people have gotten two boosters now. We even have some breakthrough cases. This is not something that is anything less than frightening. How do we take the lessons learned from covid? How do we incorporate that terrible experience that we’ve all been navigating and use it to make our world may be a better place because of it? Ernest Hemingway famously said, “the world breaks everyone and afterward many are strong at the broken places.” I know that when Allie died my heart was broken it was shattered. What I’ve been working on for the last decade is how do I put the pieces back of my heart back together in such a way that I am better for it. That I am more compassionate. That I am more sensitive to people around me who are suffering or that I use my life what’s left of my life in a way to maybe lift people up or make the world better. I think covid offers all of us everyone in the sound of our voices or everyone all over the world this opportunity to put our lives and our world back together in a way that makes all of us better for it. Sometimes, it’s the simplest act of human kindness, a smile, a hug, even if we are both wearing masks, a touching, a reaching out and connecting to that other human being at the heart level. Saying I am scared, you are scared maybe together we’ll be less frightened. We can move forward from this. In whatever future, there is available to any of us. It’s going to be a great future actually. We can embrace it and know that it was scary. It may get scary again this fall at least that’s the prediction but we’re not in it by ourselves.

BS: We are not alone.

DS: That is exactly right. We are surrounded by a community of people. We just need to let them in.

BS: Dayle and I have talked over the last couple of days a little bit about that idea of just being kind. Paying attention to someone. On the littlest level, you could be in the grocery store and help somebody that’s having trouble lifting or doing something or you could help somebody get groceries in the car or someone in front of you doesn’t have enough money by 20 cents or something whatever. It is just do the simplest little acts of kindness. I bet there are some other things that you would think of that might help somebody personally or at those moments where you’re in the car and just feeling overwhelmed and yet you’re not going to stop. You’ve got to get from point A to point B. Are there thoughts that you have on that?

DS: Sure. You can talk to someone by phone even while you’re driving if your hands are free. Just hear the voice of another human being and share with them what’s going on for you or ask them what’s going on for them. If you are in your car and you are at a drive-thru as many of us often are. You can tell the cashier at the window you want to pay for the person behind you and just leave an extra amount of money to brighten someone’s day whom you don’t know and will never meet. I watched Betty Sakamoto yesterday do an incredible act of human kindness. We were having lunch and a visitor was here on the islands playing golf and she fell. She came into the restaurant, and she literally could not get into the bathroom which she needed to clean herself up after the fall. Betty was so kind to just stop what we were doing and see to this woman’s needs and help her not only into the bathroom but back out of the bathroom and then discovered that she really was injured and probably had broken her ankle. She got her medical attention you know all of this instant response just came from a place of human kindness and human compassion.

BS: And we had Dr. Estin there.

DS: Exactly.

BS: We were together there and Doc. Estin who’s been on here with us a number of times helping us with covid information. He really stepped up and helped her, so she’d be able to get to the car. She was going to go over to his office. There was a pretty good chance it was broken.

DS: It was broken he said. In any case, now this lady who is visiting here leaves the island and she goes back to wherever she is from, and she will be telling the story of this true spirit of aloha that she felt. That she experienced here on Maui. It’s time we start bringing that back to each other not just to our visitors but to all of us. Your family, your friends, people you meet on the street, wherever. Just let it be okay to reach out to human beings again and just embrace our humanity as difficult as we are sometimes as humans.

BS: And spread aloha. I mean in a way from the standpoint of Hawaii.

DS: Yes

BS: That’s pretty simple and almost anywhere in the United States today if you talk aloha people know it.

DS: Yeah

BS: They love it. They love the whole idea. A little bit of kindness surely goes a long way for anybody.

DS: It is more needed now than ever more because more of us are broken. More of us are suffering, more of us are in pain, and a little love can help that a lot.

BS: Again, as much as the simple act of kindness that we kind of talked about. If you take it and we all do it. A little bit just the time I think you’re right the tiniest. Sometimes, you can smile at someone through a mask.

DS: Yes.

BS: Over this period that we’ve all been masked I think you know somebody’s eyes cringe up and you can tell that they are giving you a big smile.

DS: Yeah.

BS: It’s been nice recently when we’ve all been able to hug again a little bit. I think right now there are so many new cases that we’re all going to have to back off a little bit. If again we do these simple acts of kindness it will help.

DS: Yes

BS: I think your ideas are good. Obviously, make a phone call because the odds are, you’re going to hit someone that can I’ve done that through this where I’ve talked to someone and said what I was feeling and that almost every time or probably every time I’ve gotten the same reaction that I’m feeling from the other person. Yes, I feel that way so often. I get up in the morning and I don’t know what day it is. It’s every day became a blur for a while. The person will start telling you the same thing. Anything else?

DS: Two tips about that. One is if you find yourself in that place of fearfulness or anxiety or whatever it is upsetting you during the day. If you instead of focusing on what’s broken or what’s missing in your life can focus on what’s present including what you are grateful for. Even if you are grateful for having a nice car or you are grateful for not having covid. Whatever it is that you are grateful for. If you could just quickly list three things that you are grateful for, you’d be surprised how that changes your mental attitude about all the other problems that you are dealing with as well. The second thing is this if you find yourself in a state of panic if you are really losing it because of whatever has gone wrong in your life. If you can just take a very slow deep breath. You inhale slowly for four seconds you hold it for four seconds then you exhale slowly through your mouth blowing as you go. What that does is it lowers your heart rate it lowers the cortisol level in your blood. It gives the oxygen a chance to get from the primitive part of your brain where you might make a really bad decision in a moment to the front of your brain where you do your rational thinking and make wiser choices. If there’s nothing else, you can do about what’s going on in your life or how horrible things are just breathe. Just breathe consciously. Just breathe slowly and you will be surprised how new options appear to you in just four seconds.

BS: That’s amazing. I mean it is amazing and I’m sure each one of us at some time have done that unconsciously. You are doing something and you’re feeling I am going to say overwhelmed, or you’ve got too many things to do. If you just suddenly like you say, just breathe it out or I’ll often say to someone really upset just keep breathing. Just keep breathing.

DS: And we don’t want to hyperventilate.

BS: No

DS: We don’t do breathing rapidly.

BS: No. I mean just breathe. Just breathe.

DS: Yes

BS: That’s got to be the best advice to take.

DS: I was literally doing that on the phone two days ago with a woman whose husband had died during covid. She was almost hysterical because her whole life was up in turmoil and there were so many problems. I let her say all the things that were wrong in her life. Before I gave her any advice, I said I just want you to do one thing with me very quickly before we start trying to solve any of these problems. I want you to breathe with me. I made her take four of those very slow mindful breaths with me so I could hear on the phone that she was actually doing it. I don’t know if it took us two minutes in that very short period of time her whole attitude shifted. The problems did not go away. What shifted was her way of thinking about her problems.

BS: Oh, that’s amazing. We are now pretty quickly coming up to a two-minute warning. That will be interesting by itself because I think it’s going to be hard to stop today. I feel like I’ve learned a lot. Maybe, one thing I learned is that to a certain extent I kind of know what you just said. The idea of just breathing and not hyperventilating. What I mean just stopping sometimes when your chest almost hurts and if you just stop for a minute and take a couple of breaths. Now, I would really listen to exactly what you are saying now and be really careful how to do it. It does make a difference for me and allows me to go to the next thing whatever it is.

DS: Yes

BS: that I’ve got scheduled. I also think making a phone call. I talked to my daughter from Lahainaluna Julie Ehu Flynn Sherlock. I would call her more than ever because we weren’t able to see one another very often. We did finally get together but again each of those things that you do. You pull someone into your life make an extra phone call to just your husband who you see all the time but just have those couple of moments of I love you, I care.

DS: Yeah

BS: I miss you today. I can’t wait to be home. If we share some of those things with the people around us that we love, it will help us get through these days.

DS: It definitely will.

BS: Definitely will.

DS: There’s strength in numbers.

BS: Dayle, we only have you for a little short time now but possibly we’ll figure out a way that we do a show like this again whether it’s you call in and we’ll go through it, or you’ll be back here more often. We got to make that happen.

DS: I would be happy to do either or both.

BS: We are going to try to see to it that it all happens. We will have Danny Couch back on in a minute now. Again, this is a real estate show so anybody looking for real estate calls us. Interest rates are still not out of control. There are still homes available although it’s relatively small. Call us but right now we are going to go with Danny Couch who loves Hawaii and brings joy to us always. Danny Couch I love Hawaii. Thank you, Dayle Spencer. Google Dayle Spencer and you’ll learn a lot about who she is. She is amazing. Thank you, Dayle.

DS: Thank you, Betty. Always a pleasure. Aloha