Season 2, Episode 8

Jen Hoye / Teddy

Sibling Loss and Running with Grief: Jen’s Grief Marathon

In this episode of The Broken Pack: Stories of Adult Sibling Loss, a podcast, listen to surviving sibling Jen Hoye’s transformative journey of grief and advocacy following the suicide loss of her brother and her inspiring process to run marathons to honor his memory and others who have died by suicide. 

  • Discover how Jen’s journey of walking and running marathons helped her process her sibling loss grief and connect with others experiencing suicide and other loss.
  • Through her volunteering with the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, she became an advocate for suicide prevention and mental health awareness.
  • Early in her sibling loss journey, Jen tried to “be strong” and later realized that this was not a helpful approach. Listen to hear how her grief process has changed over time.

Additional key points:

  • Dr. Dean and Jen discuss the importance of normalizing both sibling loss and suicide loss and creating safe spaces for people to talk about grief.
  • They also explore the impact of the double disenfranchisement of sibling loss and suicide loss on relationships, including siblings, parents, and friends as well as the stigma for help-seeking or discussing suicide and suicide loss. 

Content Warning: Information presented in this episode may be upsetting to some people. It contains talk of suicide.

  • If you are in the US and would like support for yourself or someone else with substance use, suicidal thoughts, or other topics discussed in this episode, please call SAMHSA’s National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357) or Text your 5-digit ZIP Code to 435748 (HELP4U) or call a warmline. For more immediate crisis call 911, 988, or go to the nearest emergency room.
  • If you believe you are witnessing an overdose, call 911 or your country’s emergency number immediately even if you are administering Narcan.
  • In the USA an updated directory of warmlines by state can be found at https://warmline.org/warmdir.html
  • A warmline directory for trained peer supports in over 20 countries can be found at https://www.supportiv.com/tools/international-resources-crisis-and-warmlines (some of these may be hotlines).
  • For more information on the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention: https://afsp.org/

More information on Jen is available at:
Her Website: http://www.jenniferhoye.com
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/jen.and.pen/
On her Healing Miles: http://www.jenniferhoye.com/miles
About her brother, Teddy: http://www.jenniferhoye.com/remembering-teddy-fusco

sibling loss survivor Jen and her brother Teddy
Transcript

Dr. Dean: 0:12

Hello and welcome to the Broken Pack, a podcast focused on giving adult survivors of sibling loss, a platform to share their stories and to be heard. Something that many sibling loss survivors state that they never have had. Sibling loss is misunderstood. The broken Pack exists to change that and to support survivors. I’m your host, Dr. Angela Dean. Content warning: information presented in this episode may be triggering to some people. It contains talk of suicide. I’m so excited to share this conversation in which I spoke with Jen Hoy. Jen shares the story of losing her brother Teddy to suicide and how she’s been making meaning from that loss and learning to live with her grief. She’s a mental health advocate, a marathoner and a writer. She’s also currently serving on the board for the Massachusetts chapter of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. We discuss how beginning to walk for her own peace has culminated in running marathons to honor the memories of others loved ones who have been lost for many reasons, primarily suicide. Enjoy the episode. Thank you for joining us today. I was wondering what you wanna tell our listeners about yourself.

Jen Hoye: 1:31

Thank you for having me. my name’s Jen Hoye. I am a passionate mental health and suicide prevention advocate. I’m a board member of American Foundation for Suicide Prevention Massachusetts chapter, and I’m a suicide loss survivor. My brother, Teddy, died in May of 2017 and the experience of losing Teddy and working through the grief and the trauma has really set me on a path, of purpose. And I, feel like I carry him with me every day.

Dr. Dean: 2:04

Mm-hmm. That’s beautiful. Is that how you got involved in the, A F S P,

Jen Hoye: 2:10

Yeah. A F S P. Yep. it, it is, I, I, I was having a particularly rough kind of grief night, well into the Covid pandemic, and I was up at late at night scrolling through the internet as we do at 2:00 AM. and I saw this thing about a marathon in a month, and I thought, Right now I’m walking about a marathon every couple of days, so this would be a really great way to honor my brother’s memory. and you know what? because I do a marathon every couple days, why don’t we commit to 300 miles? because my brother, he would’ve walked a million miles even if it,

Dr. Dean: 2:49

Mm-hmm.

Jen Hoye: 2:50

It meant he could help alleviate someone’s pain, even for a small moment. So I felt like that that was the right choice to do. And once I got involved with A F S P, I really found a community of, of like-minded people and people in this horrible club that we’re in, but who inspired me and brought me tremendous hope.

Dr. Dean: 3:12

Sounds like a good fit for you.

Jen Hoye: 3:14

Yeah.

Dr. Dean: 3:15

before we talk about the loss and your grief and all of those things, what do you want us to know about Teddy? I.

Jen Hoye: 3:21

Oh. so my brother Teddy was born four months early in 1975. he weighed half a pound. he’s a miracle. he had a twin who didn’t live much longer after they were born. My brother and I, Teddy and I were super close. we fought every single day, but I was always his protector. That was, that was my job, that I took it very seriously. and even into adulthood we were very close. We texted or talked multiple times a day. Usually just silly stuff because one thing about my brother is he was a clown. He was a clown from when he was a little kid, into adulthood. He helped my kids plan elaborate April fool’s jokes just to get me riled up. But he had so many friends and so many people who loved him, because he was just a kind and gentle soul. And that’s something that I was always amazed by because I was like the, the rough, tough sister. And he was this sweet and gentle, blonde-haired angel little boy. And I was like out beating people up if they made fun of him when.

Dr. Dean: 4:37

So you were the protective older sister,

Jen Hoye: 4:39

Yes. Yeah.

Dr. Dean: 4:40

so you really lost two siblings.

Jen Hoye: 4:43

Yeah.

Dr. Dean: 4:44

Hmm. Were you highly aware of that before you lost Teddy? That you lost his brother, or, your brother as

Jen Hoye: 4:51

well, we didn’t talk about his twin Joseph much, if at all, growing up. and my brother was a handful. Like we were punished probably every day, he would just do things impulsively, that we all found amusing, but probably not. Like he would spray the neighbors with the hose just to see what would happen when they were on their way to a wedding or, things like that. one Teddy was probably more than I. Than any of us could handle. But, after Teddy passed away, my, my youngest is named Joseph Edward and Teddy’s first name is Edward, and his twin was Joseph. And, I do think a lot about, what losing that sibling meant for my brother. I’m sure that he felt kind of lost sometimes. and my youngest, Joey is very much like his uncle in so many ways that sometimes when I, I go to yell at him to stop doing something, I accidentally call him Teddy. so I think it’s, it’s, it’s perfect that he has both of those names.

Dr. Dean: 5:58

Mm-hmm. How old is your son?

Jen Hoye: 6:02

my youngest is 12.

Dr. Dean: 6:03

Mm-hmm. So he knew. Your brother.

Jen Hoye: 6:07

Yes. Yeah. And they were, they were thick as thieves. my brother taught him how to spell the word, but, and how to sing all of the lyrics to baby got back and, Uncle Teddy was the funnest uncle ever. And anytime they were together, I usually ended up like, please just calm down. But now I think about that spark and that chaos and the mischief, and I don’t want to discourage that in my youngest. I, I encourage it.

Dr. Dean: 6:42

Mm-hmm. Because it reminds you of Teddy.

Jen Hoye: 6:45

Yeah. Yeah, for sure.

Dr. Dean: 6:47

That’s fun. what a way, it’s to stay connected, through your son. You said you have two kids?

Jen Hoye: 6:54

Three. my oldest Jimmy will be 25 in November. My middle Abigail is 21. And then Joey, and each of them reminds me of Teddy, for different reasons. Abby has his like sweet and gentle nature, and Jimmy, we used to joke that Teddy could be in the C I A because getting information from him was like, impossible. And Jimmy’s a lot like that. and we just, we laugh because it’s oh my God, it’s like Uncle Teddy. could you just give us an answer? I don’t need to know state secrets. I just wanna know where you’re going.

Dr. Dean: 7:32

Lovely. and you were about two years apart? Yes.

Jen Hoye: 7:36

A year and a half. Yep.

Dr. Dean: 7:37

and a half. Okay. Before we get into a little bit more, can you talk a little bit about your role with the volunteering that you do? The advocacy,

Jen Hoye: 7:47

Yeah.

Dr. Dean: 7:47

excuse me, advocacy.

Jen Hoye: 7:49

No, it started just with that marathon in a month. and during that time, during that month, each day was dedicated to somebody lost to suicide. and I had also. met with some of our, our local politicians and to talk about the work that I was doing. And I was invited to speak to the city council and asked Jessica Vanderstat, the executive director for the Massachusetts chapter of A F S P, to come with me, to share a little bit about what the purpose and the mission of A F S P was. And that was the first day that, that I met Jessica, was maybe almost two years ago. but I feel like that day really cemented what path I knew I wanted to take. Jessica and I walked together for about a mile after the City Council meeting and we talked and shared a lot. She offered me kind of some pathways to volunteering and it could be anything from volunteering at one of their out of the darkness walks or, hosting a fundraiser or applying to run a larger race, that has a fundraising commitment, to support A F S P. But there are so many different opportunities. I’ve also done some talk saves lives. It’s suicide prevention training just for regular people because we, we all have a role to play and we, we can prevent suicide.

Dr. Dean: 9:16

Mm-hmm. Yeah, sometimes I think we also feel like we can try to prevent it in ways that we can’t. I don’t know. Yeah.

Jen Hoye: 9:25

Yes, I, I agree with that. I think the stigma around suicide, people are afraid to ask, are you thinking of hurting yourself? And that really is the most important question you can ask somebody.

Dr. Dean: 9:40

I think, as a professional, I’m obviously a little bit more comfortable asking that question than some, but, I think the fear is that if, if you ask that question, that person will, oh, if they weren’t thinking about it, now they’re gonna think about it. Which is not the

Jen Hoye: 9:55

That’s not true at all.

Dr. Dean: 9:57

not how that works. Mm-hmm. Thank you for bringing that up. So what are you comfortable sharing about losing Teddy?

Jen Hoye: 10:05

I’ve written a lot about how losing Teddy, really shattered my family and my whole world. I think of my life before Teddy died and after, in the early days, obviously we we were in shock. and I remember my parents were thinking of not having a service. They didn’t think that they could do that, but one of our relatives was like, we want to, to honor him. so we chose to do a graveside service. And, I thought it was nice that we had an escort from the funeral home to the cemetery. I think it was state police because my brother was a ranger at the Massachusetts State House for 20 years. But what I didn’t realize is the reason for that is because his service had just about shut down the city. there were hundreds of people I, couldn’t even see people, like individuals. There were a few people I remember looking at directly, but just the masses and the number of people who showed up because my brother had touched their lives in some way. And, that really, really, I think, shattered my heart into pieces

Dr. Dean: 11:23

Mm-hmm.

Jen Hoye: 11:25

He, he had affected so many people so positively in so many different ways. You think you should tell people that you love them while they’re living because, after they’re gone, what can you say? And that was, I, I, it was just, it was overwhelming. as the days went on, of course everyone goes back to their lives and we were left to figure it out and honestly had no idea how to figure it out, and I didn’t, for a long time.

Dr. Dean: 11:59

Mm-hmm. It sounds like you think he didn’t know how many people touched his life or how many lives he touched.

Jen Hoye: 12:08

Yeah. He was just so kind all the time. Perfect strangers or somebody would say, Hey, could you help me move? And he only kind of knew them and he would be like, sure, I’ll be right there. He was one of those people and I think it was just who he was. So he didn’t ever expect, I think anything in return or, or any recognition. I know suicide is a, a complex event. And there are many things, many things that contribute to a person, choosing to die by suicide. But I, I do know that, he was, in a really difficult, like a, having a difficult time. He had lost his best friend just four weeks before. They worked together at the State House for the 20 years, and she died from cancer. And this was just months after we lost our grandma, who was our world. And so I, I think that those two deaths really contributed to his feelings of hopelessness. But again, I don’t know, and that’s one of those things that has been really hard for me to process and that I’ve struggled with all these years. And they always talk about, when suicide loss groups, the tyranny of hindsight. Like I’ll think, oh, I, I think he said this or I should have done this. And the, the why’s and the what ifs, those are the things that keep you up at night. And I’m working hard to accept those feelings, but keep moving.

Dr. Dean: 13:39

Yeah, it’s so hard with a lot of loss, but especially a suicide loss to, try to make sense of it. Do you live near where he lived or near your family?

Jen Hoye: 13:53

No, my whole family lives in Boston. I live about 30 miles south of the city. but he came to so many of my older sons games- baseball, soccer, everything. We spent every Sunday at our grandma’s. We saw each other a lot, probably a lot more than than most families.

Dr. Dean: 14:13

So where would you say that you are with your grieving now? We know grieving never ends, but I’m just wondering where you

Jen Hoye: 14:20

No, it certainly never ends. We just learn to carry it differently. I felt like I was in a really great spot going into this year. I had really done a lot of work to work through all of the complex feelings associated with suicide loss, and I’d built a, a network of other lost survivors or other advocates in the mental health space, and I had planned for. his day to spend it with a F S P A F S P, folks at one of their, bigger events of the year. Earlier this spring I had, a couple of moments where some of the feelings surrounding Teddy’s death were triggered. I don’t really like that word, but it’s really the only word to use.

Dr. Dean: 15:09

Activated

Jen Hoye: 15:10

Activated. Yeah. And I found myself spiraling into a really dark depression myself, until the week before his, and I don’t like the word anniversary either, his Memorial day. I, I finally said, I, I think I need some more support. And honestly, that was probably the best thing I could have done. But if I had not experienced all that I have, through the loss and through my advocacy, I don’t think I would’ve known

Dr. Dean: 15:42

Mm-hmm.

Jen Hoye: 15:43

to ask that question.

Dr. Dean: 15:45

Which speaks to this idea of, there’s such a expectation on timeline, especially for enfranchised losses such as sibling loss, but also suicides, another type of disenfranchised grief. And so it’s been how many years since he passed?

Jen Hoye: 16:05

Six.

Dr. Dean: 16:06

Six, which in the grand scheme of things, isn’t that long, and I wonder if, if that feels different to you? If people have been like, why are you still grieving or what your experience has been?

Jen Hoye: 16:21

Yeah, so the first three years, after Teddy died, I worked really hard to be strong, be the strong one, be strong for my parents, be strong for my family, and I, I essentially self-destructed. I, I went to work and I took care of my family, but I wasn’t living. I had severe insomnia cause I refused to sleep at night and I was, feeding my emotions. I gained almost a hundred pounds. I was unhealthy mentally and physically. And so I know that and people were like, why aren’t you over it? I’m not going to be over it, but until I like, actually I think said to myself I’m not going to be over it, that I wasn’t able to process a lot of those feelings. And so I, I think, milestones and anniversaries and birthdays will always be difficult, but then there could be a day where you hear a song and it reminds you of your loved one and you just start crying in the middle of a supermarket. it just,

Dr. Dean: 17:27

It’s always the supermarket. Not always, but yeah.

Jen Hoye: 17:31

But yeah, like I feel like, I carry it differently now and I feel I have found some purpose, out of this, this horrible tragedy. But sometimes it, it gets, it still gets heavy and there are moments in my kids’ lives that I wish Uncle Teddy was here to see or, I think about as our parents are getting older. We were meant to care for them in their old age, and even when I, I remember things I’m now like the memory keeper

Dr. Dean: 18:08

Yeah.

Jen Hoye: 18:09

He was always there to say that did happen, that happened and someone was, no you, that didn’t happen. Yes, it happened. But now I don’t have, so it’s hard cuz you think is my history still my history?

Dr. Dean: 19:38

Yeah. I’ve heard that from a lot of people. I’ve experienced that myself, including when my mother tells me something didn’t happen and I, I want, I want my brother to validate that it happened. So I get it. What would you tell yourself from either, three or six years ago?

Jen Hoye: 19:56

Oh

Dr. Dean: 19:56

about.

Jen Hoye: 19:57

Don’t be strong. There’s no reason there’s nothing to gain from being strong. Feel what you’re feeling. Let it go through you and let yourself experience it. Feeling sad and experiencing grief doesn’t make you weak.

Dr. Dean: 20:11

Mm-hmm.

Jen Hoye: 20:13

Living through it makes you strong.

Dr. Dean: 20:16

So it sounds like you’re almost redefining your perception of what strength was back then from this societal idea that we don’t cry. We don’t deal with emotions into what actually vulnerability

Jen Hoye: 20:30

Yeah.

Dr. Dean: 20:31

creates in strength.

Jen Hoye: 20:33

Yeah. And that’s, that’s one of the reasons I’m so open and my social media posts, because I feel like. I think if my brother had been able to read things like that, he would’ve been okay, I can ask for help or it’s okay to feel this. It doesn’t make me weak, or it doesn’t make me wrong. It’s just part of being a person.

Dr. Dean: 20:57

Mm-hmm. Did you wanna talk about the walking and the marathons and, and what that is?

Jen Hoye: 21:04

When my brother was alive, he was the most prepared person on earth. He packed for his July camping trip in March. Usually like it was, his bag was packed and ready to go. When I would think about the Covid pandemic, I would think of all of the people to live through this, he’s not here. Cause he would’ve been prepared. He would’ve told me what to do and he would’ve kept us all laughing through the whole thing. I was a remote worker, so I was used to being home alone, with just my dogs and suddenly everybody’s home and I have all of this unresolved grief and trauma and I just wanna be alone. So, you know, a hundred pounds overweight without sleeping more than an hour a night, I decide I’m gonna go for a walk. Took my dog, Penelope, and I made it to the end of our street, which is not even like a 10th of a mile, and I, I had to take a break. But I thought, I’m gonna try this again, and when I went out in my mind I would be talking to my brother, like, how could you do this? I am stuck here in this pandemic without you. I need you. And I would just talk to him. And initially I was so angry all the time. All the time. but eventually, I was a little kinder to him in my mind. And I would hear songs that reminded me of our free range childhood and memories that made me happy. And each day I went a little bit further. and as I walked further and further I realized I’m actually feeling a little bit more calm. That baseline anxiety and depression was, was lessening, and I, I, I felt better able to function. and so we were scheduled to do a walk in September of 2020, but everything was canceled. So I decided I would do the virtual walk, but I wanted to do something to honor my brother, and so I started doing these healing miles remembrance walks. And so the first 5K of every day that September, I dedicated to a different person. I met all of these people on social media. but within those first few days, my inbox was, was filled and I realized I could walk every day for the rest of my life and not even impact a fraction of people. And so I. I decided to keep going, but for my, my own mental wellness, I had to step back from doing every day, and doing as they, they came up and rather than filling every day because that’s a lot to carry. And so after the marathon in the month, when I did the walk, 300 miles, A F S P had sent out an invite to apply for the Boston Marathon, and I thought, why not? We’re from Boston, Teddy loved the marathon. Teddy loved everything about the city of Boston. the only problem was I hadn’t run since 1990 in high school and we were the worst cross country team ever. Our, our coach was, was a nun. She was amazing, but she would run behind us to make sure we didn’t like, ditch the course. So I was not a good runner ever. So I applied and I got accepted and my whole family was like, I I, I don’t think you, I don’t think you can do this, and what do you mean? And my Joey was like, you’re gonna win. I was not gonna win, but I’m gonna finish. That’s how I got started with running and my first Boston marathon was the October of 2021. It was the first time it had been run in October, and I remember I was at a mile 24 and I was thinking, I don’t think I can fit it. I think they’re right. I can’t finish. And I saw somebody I knew from high school in the crowd and she was like,”What are you doing here?” And I said,”I’m running.” and then I kind of like, in my head I was like, that’s pretty funny that I would see her after all of these years and I felt like it was my brother, being like, you can do this. Like you got this. You, you can do it, and I finished. And that’s how running marathons got started. But now every race that I do, I try to dedicate a mile to a different person, and always save the last mile for my brother, cause when I need it the most, I’m gonna be like, Ted, get me to the end please.

Dr. Dean: 25:27

So you started walking the marathons. You said a marathon in a month. Was it

Jen Hoye: 25:31

It was like a.

Dr. Dean: 25:32

like 26 miles to walk, but

Jen Hoye: 25:35

26 miles. Commit to 26 miles in a month and raise funds for A F S P. But because I don’t do anything the easy way, I thought, well, 26 miles in a month is nothing

Dr. Dean: 25:47

Mm-hmm.

Jen Hoye: 25:48

I, I don’t even know where I came up with 300. I just decided 300. It seemed like a lot. Okay, we’ll do that. And that, I was just walking at that point. And now, this morning, I texted my husband and I said, oh, I just went to the gym. He said,”What’d you do?” I said,”Just five miles.” And he’s”Just five miles? Most people can’t run five miles.” And I was like,”I’m not fast.” And I, I think that that’s the thing, I’ll never be like a fast runner, but I’ll never give up because I feel like I. A, I am too stubborn, and B, I’m carrying my brother. and I wanna get him to the end each time.

Dr. Dean: 26:28

So it sounds like you shifted, it’s almost metaphorical, like carrying the weight of the grief into this healthy, like shedding that and being able to carry him and the connection with you.

Jen Hoye: 26:40

Yes. Yeah,

Dr. Dean: 26:42

Yeah? And just five miles? I can’t run. I’m not a runner. You keep qualifying all of these things you did with like just, or in other ways it’s hard for

Jen Hoye: 26:50

I know and I know I shouldn’t do that like I run, so I’m a runner, but in my head, I’m still that high school student with the nun following behind me, threatening to tell my mother if I didn’t finish the course cause I was so slow. After I finished my run, I always like, share, whatever, and one of my husband’s aunts commented,”You’re always smiling at the end of a run.” And I feel like I usually am smiling like the very end of the run because I’m just so excited that I was able to do it, and prove to myself that I could do something that’s really hard. And so either when I’m running, I’m, I either have a horrible scowl or a maniacal smile there’s no in between.

Dr. Dean: 27:36

So are you doing fundraising during these, these runs? Is

Jen Hoye: 27:39

Yeah. The Boston Marathon in 2021 and 2022 I fundraised. for the Massachusetts chapter. I did the Los Angeles Marathon Charity, half Like the Half Marathon, and raised funds for, the Los Angeles chapter. This past fall did the same for Chicago Marathon. And. next weekend we’re going to Minnesota. My husband and I are both running. We raised, money for the Minnesota chapter, so my hope is to represent A F S P or raise funds for every chapter in the country at some point in my lifetime.

Dr. Dean: 28:16

Well if you make it to the Pittsburgh Marathon, let me know. We can connect. I won’t run. I’ll watch you. I will watch you. I’m not a runner, but apparently it’s hard cause nothing here is flat. yeah. Thank you for sharing that information. You have a great social media at, at least I follow you on Instagram. Are you anywhere else?

Jen Hoye: 28:35

Yep. I’m on Facebook as well and all of my posts related to mental health and advocacy, they’re all public.

Dr. Dean: 28:42

Do you wanna talk more about that?

Jen Hoye: 28:43

Sure. So I, I’m a writer by profession that, that’s what I’ve done for years and years, and so it’s easier for me to express myself in writing. And I, I found that sharing a lot of the feelings that I was experiencing, really helped me make connections with other people. I would receive messages that said thank you for sharing that. I needed to hear that today, and so that’s how that started. And then with Healing Miles, I always share about the person that I’m remembering a little bit about what their family loves most about the person and things like that. And then with the walks and the runs, all of these things I share daily and I try to share some resources or if I’m experiencing something, like sharing how I’m feeling so that other people know that they’re not alone. And I always try to share the suicide, crisis 9 88 number, for talk and text and, and things like that. And I think, a lot of times, it’s, it’s a lot to, to keep up with. but I feel like it’s an important piece of reaching other people and, and letting people know that it’s, it’s okay to not be okay.

Dr. Dean: 29:58

For sure, and I think there’s such shame and stigma around suicide loss. It feels to me like it’s opened up that space for people to be able to talk about it.

Jen Hoye: 30:08

Absolutely. And just from my sharing, several people have reached out when they were supporting someone in crisis or in crisis themselves, and felt like they could come to me as a safe person, which that is my goal. If I can help just one person know that I’m safe to talk to and I will try to connect them, with, with help or resources, then it will all be worth it. I would trade it all to have my brother back, but I feel like this is important.

Dr. Dean: 30:43

Yeah, I’ve said that too. As much as what I love I’m doing here. I. Give it all up. If I could have my brother back.

Jen Hoye: 30:50

I’m sorry.

Dr. Dean: 30:52

That’s how we connected. But that’s also, it’s like the hidden thing that I think we don’t say.

Jen Hoye: 30:58

Mm-hmm.

Dr. Dean: 30:59

Are there other things that you feel like people should know about losing a sibling or suicide loss in general?

Jen Hoye: 31:08

One thing that I wasn’t prepared for and you don’t read about anywhere, really is, is how you experience so many secondary losses related to the death. There were friends that I had or my parents had that just disappeared. We never heard from them, not even a text. And in the beginning I was like, why, like why would, but it’s really understanding that a lot of people are so uncomfortable with the topic and then they’re not sure what to say, and so they say nothing. And then over time that that kind of grows and they just disappear. And it’s not about you. It’s about how they feel about the topic. And so I think for people, Who know others who, have lost someone to suicide. You don’t have to know the right thing to say. Just be there. Probably one of the most helpful things that happened in the first weeks after my brother died was my best friend just drove down an hour from her house to bring me a cup of coffee and we just sat on the couch. I don’t even think we talked. Just being there is, is important and you don’t have to know the right thing to say cause there is nothing that’s, that can be said. And then the, the sibling losing a sibling. we’re supposed to, it’s supposed to be our longest relationship as your, your sibling. and so I, I think a lot about kind of what I’ve lost, in that respect, but also it changes the whole dynamic of, of an entire family. And so relearning, all of your roles in the family is, it’s a process and it’s not going to be the same. But it’s important that you find your path.

Dr. Dean: 33:02

Right. You had said, I felt. I’d lost my parents who had suffered the greatest loss so parents could endure. And then you do talk about losing friends and, that discomfort piece. But I, I wonder if you still feel like you’ve lost your parents or that that has changed in

Jen Hoye: 33:22

I lost the parents I had before my brother died. They’re, they’re irreparably changed. I, I can’t even imagine how a parent could recover from that. But our relationship has gotten stronger, over the last several years. In, in part, I think because of the work that I’m doing. I think initially it was difficult for my parents to, to see or hear about the stuff that I was doing and, and talking about my brother and talking about grief. I think it’s hard for people of that generation. Over time I, I think it has helped all of us as a family. I don’t feel like I’ve lost them forever, but I lost who they were

Dr. Dean: 34:05

Mm-hmm. It sounds like you’re normalizing grief, but also normalized talking about suicide loss within your own family, and that’s so key. Hey, I had this thought as you were saying that, and I, I’ve had this conversation with other guests and other people in my life where like our parents definitely change after this, and that’s understandable. I wonder, you said they’re irreparably changed you. Yes. I wonder, and neither of us are gonna have this answer, but I wonder if our parents feel the same way about us.

Jen Hoye: 34:43

I would say yes. I know I am a very different person than I was even three years ago. And I, I think, my parents are, have told me recently that how proud they are of the work that I’m doing, but also excited to see me passionate about something. I am, not the same person it was before Teddy died, or even the three years following. Even my entire world and circle of friends has changed. And I, I think in a positive way,

Dr. Dean: 35:18

Mm.

Jen Hoye: 35:18

I’m more like the protector of Teddy and the school schoolyard, that I was when I was a kid. and less concerned about do I fit in this box kind of thing. And I think that that is not lost on anyone. I think it’s pretty apparent.

Dr. Dean: 35:39

Mm-hmm. it definitely comes off in your media and even in this conversation, more so in this conversation, even that just how passionate you are about the work that you’re doing. Thank you for, for doing that work. It’s hard.

Jen Hoye: 35:52

Thank you. I feel like it’s important and I wish that, I wish that we were able to normalize it to a point where this is just a normal conversation that you have start with kids starting, at a young age. Cause I think if we normalize those conversations, it makes it easier for people to seek help.

Dr. Dean: 36:15

Absolutely. Yeah, for sure. I, I wonder what the right way is to start to talk about that with kids when we don’t have a society of adults that can even talk about this. So that’s a, that’s a huge vision. I think it’s needed, but I don’t know where

Jen Hoye: 36:31

It is, A F S P has a ton of resources available for kids, starting in early elementary with they have this Gizmo’s Possum Adventure and it normalizes talking about big feelings. one thing that I always did with my youngest, cuz he was only five when we lost six, when we, we lost Teddy. I just started asking him open questions, tell me everything that’s in your brain. And it, he could tell me something about Minecraft or Lego, but then he might say I’m nervous to go to sleep because when I went to sleep last time, Uncle Teddy died.

Dr. Dean: 37:03

Mm.

Jen Hoye: 37:04

And just making it, okay it to have big emotions, it’s, and not be like, oh no, don’t cry. Like, why don’t we talk about stuff? And I think that that’s, that’s key. A lot of. as a parent, like you want to fix everything for your kids. And I think not jumping to do that has been hard for me, but it has in part, fostered like open communication.

Dr. Dean: 37:31

Yeah, I, I don’t work with kids anymore, but I did have some training in play therapy and those are also some safe ways that therapists teach parents how to have those, conversations. So I’m glad that you are glad that you are working on that. So with your parents, it sounds like you’re closer now. Are there other people that surprised you? I, I know you mentioned friends, but are there other people or professionals that surprised you in their support or lack of support?

Jen Hoye: 38:03

Yes. some of the people that I’ve met on this Healing Miles journey. I count now among my closest friends. and the same with, these team, A F S P races, the connections that I’ve made through those, those races and the teammates I’ve run with it, it’s, I, I don’t wanna call them my family, but they’re like my family now. Some of these people I’ve never met in real life. And yet I feel closer to them than I do people I’ve known for, for many years. That said, I, I do have several friends who stuck by me, never left my side, and they always know, to ask, how are you doing today? My, my best friend, we were 13 when we met, and so essentially she grew up with my brother as well. She has been my rock. We’ve been through so much together in our lifetime. She has supported me through all of it and when I was applying to run for the first marathon, she was like, yes, you do this, you’ve got this, you can do this. And in the, my second marathon, I slowed down at mile 20, I had hurt my back and I had my phone on Do Not Disturb, but she’s one of the people that whose messages still come through. And she sent me a message in all caps like, I know you’re hurting, get moving. You’ve got this. Like she’s just, I feel like she, everyone needs like one of her in their lifetime to be their biggest cheerleader. and like I said, my circle of friends has changed dramatically, in the best possible way. I’m surrounding myself now I think with people who inspire me to be better, and to do better, and who understand all of this. We have a shared experience that we can support one another and just send a random text like, hey, thinking of you. And it’s really been just wonderful.

Dr. Dean: 40:05

Yeah, that makes sense. Thank you. Do you have any favorite memories of you and Teddy that you want to share?

Jen Hoye: 40:13

So many.

Dr. Dean: 40:14

many as you want.

Jen Hoye: 40:17

We had a pretty free range childhood, like most kids in the seventies and eighties. We were just like street urchins. and we lived in this neighborhood with tons of kids, and you just went outside and that was your life. Like you were outside, you couldn’t come inside for any reason. Even if somebody was bleeding, it didn’t matter. And we, we did everything together. We fought all, like when I say we fought all the time, like there was a period of time where our parents were like, okay, you cannot step foot in each other’s rooms, because we would just go in and just do stuff to annoy one another. But one thing that I love to do with him is, I had this like pretty big closet in my bedroom and my grandma would sneak us these big candy bars and I would keep them in a bag in my closet. And I loved to read. and so I would sit in my closet with my candy bars and my strawberry shortcake sleeping bag and a, a light, and I would read and my brother would come in and sit with me and he would play cars and we would just stay there for, for hours until somebody was like, where are you? A lot of times he was just, like you would be like, oh, Teddy, like all the time. what are you doing now? but it was so funny. It was so always so funny. and growing up we lived in walking distance of our grandparents’ house and a lot of our relatives and we have, set of cousins who, the girl cousin is 25 days older than me, and the boy is close in age, was close in age to my brother, and the four of us were raised like siblings. We spent a lot of time at my grandparents’ house with my cousins. And some of our best memories are just, us getting, I don’t remember what we did leading up to it, but we always got in trouble for something. And if one of us got punished, all four of us got punished and each of us had a different spot in my grandma’s house where you had to have your like, time out. But my brother had to be in a spot where he couldn’t see anybody because he would just make everybody laugh.

Dr. Dean: 42:23

Mm. Sounds like a really good brother, and that you were really close.

Jen Hoye: 42:32

Yeah.

Dr. Dean: 42:32

Yeah. Thank you for sharing all of this and this conversation. I’m so glad that we finally connected.

Jen Hoye: 42:40

Thank you.

Dr. Dean: 42:41

You’re welcome. Thanks for being on. Thank you so much for listening. Our theme song was written by Joe Mylwood and Brian Dean, and was performed by Joe Mylwood. If you would like more information on the broken pack, go to our website, the broken pack.com. Be sure to sign up for our newsletter, Wild Grief, to learn about opportunities and receive exclusive information and grieving tips for subscribers. Information on that, our social media and on our guests can be found in the show notes wherever you get your podcasts. Please like, follow, subscribe, and share. Thanks again.

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