Season 4, Episode 7

Taylor Oritz Hershman / Ben

 A Brother’s Adderall Addiction & A Surviving

Sibling’s Loss & Love: Taylor/ Ben

Content Warning: This episode discusses sibling loss due to substance use disorder and may be upsetting for listeners who have experienced similar losses or have experienced substance use disorder firsthand or in loved ones. Listener discretion is advised.

Join us for a raw and emotional conversation on The Broken Pack™:Stories of Adult Sibling Loss as Taylor, a surviving sibling, opens up about the devastating loss of her brother, Ben, to Adderall addiction. This episode delves into the unique challenges of sibling grief, the unexpected ways love can endure after sibling loss, and the importance of sharing stories to help others navigate similar grief experiences.

Episode Highlights:

    • Sibling Loss & Grief in the Spotlight: Taylor candidly discusses the raw emotions, challenges, and unexpected moments of connection that are unique to the experience of losing a sibling.
    • Love’s Enduring Presence After Sibling Loss: Discover the subtle signs and synchronicities that Taylor believes are messages from Ben, offering comfort and a sense of his continued presence in her life.
    • Addiction’s Impact on Families: Gain a deeper understanding of the complexities of addiction, the challenges faced by families of those struggling, and the importance of open communication and support.
    • A Surviving Sibling’s Journey: Taylor shares how she’s learning to live with the profound grief of sibling loss, honor Ben’s memory, and find moments of joy and purpose amidst the pain.

About Taylor:

Taylor is a surviving sibling, a loving mother, and an advocate for those struggling with addiction and grief. She is passionate about sharing her sibling loss story  and Ben’s unexpected addiction and struggle with mental health to help other surviving siblings feel less alone and find hope in the face of adversity.

Her instagram is  @infertileandimpatient.

Taylor, Ben , & sister
Transcript

Dr. Dean: 

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. Taylor shares her sibling loss story with me about losing her brother, Ben, to substance use disorder, starting with Adderall abuse. I know that this topic may be upsetting to some people, so listen with caution, but also listen to hear Taylor’s relationship with Ben and how devastating losing him has been, as well as the stigma for substance use disorder and how that impacted her grief and other people’s reactions to her loss. All right. So how would you like to introduce yourself to our listeners?

Taylor Hershman: 

Hi, Dr. Dean. I would like to introduce myself by saying, my name is Taylor Ortiz Herschman. I am from the Chicago area, working in advertising sales. I have two daughters, Quinn and Charlie. And earlier, in 2022, I lost my little brother, Ben, when he was 27.

Dr. Dean: 

Thank you for sharing that. And, welcome to the show. So before we dive into what it was like to lose Ben, I’m wondering what you would like myself and our listeners to know about Ben.

Taylor Hershman: 

Sure. So Ben was, a complicated guy. He, lived life on his own path, if you will, which was sometimes, one of the best things about him. When I did his eulogy, when he passed at a celebration of life, something that I, came to realize after his passing was that the little things, really didn’t bother Ben as much as. they do to the rest of us and the big things were a much bigger deal. He was very empathetic, very sensitive, very opinionated, competitive things like that.

Dr. Dean: 

Hmm You said he was younger than you.

Taylor Hershman: 

Yeah. We’re four years apart. He was twenty-seven

Dr. Dean: 

Do you have other siblings?

Taylor Hershman: 

Yes. We have an older sister, Laurie.

Dr. Dean: 

Laurie. Okay. So you’re right in the middle. Yeah. What was your relationship like with him? Either as kids or as adults or however you want to answer that.

Taylor Hershman: 

Yeah, as kids, we definitely fought a lot. We were four years apart. there was a lot of bickering going on, with us over the years. I do remember the first time it started to feel like we were friends. more than he was just an annoying sibling. When he was in college, I went to go stay with him for a night and we went to a concert with some of his friends and it was the first time I felt like Oh, so I guess we could actually be friends and you’re more than just an annoying little brother. We always were very close, but we were really different. We argued a lot nothing major. We always had a really good relationship, but it definitely, as we got older, evolved from more of a little brother, older sister relationship into more of one that’s like friends.

Dr. Dean: 

What are you comfortable sharing with our audience about losing your brother?

Taylor Hershman: 

Ben always lived, like I said, to the beat of his own drum, if you will. He moved to Denver after he graduated college. He always lived on paper, this quote unquote normal life. He had a lot of friends. He was really, a great basketball player. He played in college. He won a lot of awards and tournaments and things like that. So on paper, it was, like he lived the life that, quote unquote. Yeah. is normal. but I think he struggled because he didn’t feel like he was meant to live a life like that. looking back, it’s what that, what it seems like. One of his friends described it to us is that he was almost living on a different plane of the universe. he was a little enlightened and like I said, the big things, mattered a lot more to him. The little things being, like studying and stuff like that just wasn’t quite as important to him. He had some, problems in school when he was in high school, not turning in homework or not studying for tests. And, he was always so smart. One of his teachers, in seventh grade, had to call my mom about, he didn’t turn in his paper and, just the typical thing for a young student sometimes and she said, I don’t know any other seventh grader who knows anything about what’s going on in Darfur, except for Ben, but he doesn’t like to do his English homework, so he was very smart, really into research and things like that, but was on his own terms. When he was probably in high school, my parents took him to the doctor and they prescribed him Adderall. And at the time, this was, 10, 15 years ago. And, my parents weren’t really sure how they felt about it, but they really trusted this doctor and it seemed to help. He stayed on it for, all of high school, college, things like that. And then when he grew up, and moved out on his own, he continued taking it. It wasn’t something that he always communicated about, but we did know that he was still being prescribed it. And then in 2022, things took a turn with him. One day kind of out of nowhere, we started getting some texts from him really early on a Sunday morning. And it was clear that something was not right. He wasn’t making any sense. he was essentially, it seemed like he was hallucinating. And. It was very disturbing to see that because we knew something was wrong and we felt very powerless, like what can we do from Illinois, for a 27 year old man in Denver?

Dr. Dean: 

Mm

Taylor Hershman: 

Luckily he had, friends in the area that we could reach out to they wouldn’t checked on them. We were able to get a welfare check. And my parents almost immediately. got on a flight to Denver and we’re there by that night. A mental health professional arrived and, long story short, he agreed to go to the hospital and. we didn’t know what it was at this point. is it some type of mental health episode? What’s going on? And, they ran a whole bunch of tests, physical tests, as well as mental evaluations. And it turns out that he had been abusing Adderall and the lack of sleep and the, unhealthy amounts of Adderall that he was taking essentially led to a psychosis, episode. So it was a lot to process. You hear about Adderall as a drug that helps people. And I do believe that, some people do benefit from it, but it’s so normalized in our society. So it felt like how can something seemingly, so innocent cause this kind of damage. And so, my parents were there with him for several days. He was in the hospital for a couple of days and he agreed to go to rehab. When he agreed to go to rehab, we were very proud of him, cause it wasn’t an easy step to take and he agreed pretty much right away.

Dr. Dean: 

So it sounds like you learned that he was struggling with this around the same time that you were able to support him in that moment.

Taylor Hershman: 

yes, yeah. So my parents, yeah. they acted quickly. They were there as fast as they could be. Ben was. was willing to go to rehab and he went almost immediately and he did really well there. I think something that we really struggled with and that he did too is that again, Adderall compared to heroin or meth or all these other drugs, it sounds a lot more innocent and it is when you look at, So I think it was hard for him to take it seriously. He felt like, I’m with people who are struggling with things a lot worse. It seemed like he felt like he just had a bad reaction to the medication. It’s how he described it. My family is really close and he’s really close with my parents and he wanted to, I think maybe appease them and, alleviate some of their concerns. So he did do 30 days It seemed like he was doing well. He got this kind of, resurgence of motivation and, to start working out again and to, he was doing better at work and things like that. And then, he came home in the summer for a couple of days for our grandpa had passed away. So for his celebration of life, and that was at the end of June, he stayed for a couple of weeks, went home right after the 4th of July, and then. A week later, he had passed. It was pretty quick, from when the time we found out he was struggling until the day that he died.

Dr. Dean: 

Yeah. That sounds like it was pretty shocking for you.

Taylor Hershman: 

It was, yeah. He was struggling with the substance, clearly. We worried about it evolving to other things, like when the Adderall wasn’t enough, then what? We found out what happened in a really difficult way. and we assumed it was fentanyl or something like that, that you hear of quite often. I’ve scoured the internet and haven’t been able to find any stories of anyone dying from Adderall. I know that, it is a very addictive substance and people do struggle with that, but it felt like it was out of nowhere in the sense that we didn’t expect him to, past a couple of months after getting out of rehab and it wasn’t expected in a way. The last time I saw him was the day after my grandpa’s celebration of life. And my last memory of him is a very positive one.

Dr. Dean: 

Mm hmm.

Taylor Hershman: 

We said goodbye. He was going back to Denver. I was going back to my house with my kids and my husband and he gave me a big hug and he said, I love you. And that was that. I got into my car. outside my parents house with my husband driving and I just started crying because I just had this feeling. Part of it was probably, you know, I was just emotional from the last few days of saying goodbye to my grandpa, but I just had this terrible feeling about my brother. And I remember telling my husband, Sean, I said, he’s just never going to live the quote, normal life. I just had this feeling that he would always struggle. And I think, I don’t know if it was just a bad feeling that I had or what, a week later he was gone. So.

Dr. Dean: 

So that’s a lot of loss. Yeah. You had loss after loss and

Taylor Hershman: 

Yeah, yeah, it’s a very difficult year. 2021 was a really hard year for me with my daughters and their health issues and born early and things like that. And so when it was time for, 2022 to roll around, I felt okay, this is the time. This is the year. Things are going to go back to normal. after years of infertility and preterm birth and almost losing my daughter in 2021, I felt entitled almost to things to turn around. I felt like the universe owes me

Dr. Dean: 

yeah.

Taylor Hershman: 

And then it was my grandpa in February, which is sad, but part of life. My brother in, in July, and then not even a year later, a close cousin. So it was, a lot, packed into to one.

Dr. Dean: 

Yeah. that is a lot of loss. And the infertility loss, the preterm and what you expected, that’s a loss. And Yeah, it, I like how you identified there was this sense of, I don’t know, entitlement or that I’m just entitled to this life going right now, and that didn’t happen. I wonder how that impacted grieving for Ben I mean, it’s all awful

Taylor Hershman: 

Yeah. Yeah. Absolutely. I think, at the time I was already really, struggling with, some PTSD. long story short, I had to give my, she was three months old at the time I had to give her CPR. And so I was, really in a tough place. mentally. I was, having a really hard time recovering from that. And so then when my brother passed, it felt like it was just almost validated that okay, life is going to be hard from now on. And it was really compounded trauma on top of trauma from the year prior. I think it definitely intensified it. It’s something that I’ve, spoken with my therapist a lot about is how I’ve had these bad things happen, pretty close together. And so it’s really heightened my anxiety because she’s of course you always think something terrible is about to happen because something terrible did happen a lot, a lot of times in, a year and it didn’t make, I think, grieving, I don’t know, different, I guess, because it was not just a feeling of sadness, it was, there was a lot of trauma involved and kind of processing the day that we found out what happened and how that all transpired is something that I’ve, really struggled with. And my family has really struggled with too.

Dr. Dean: 

It sounds like you, you pull together as a family.

Taylor Hershman: 

Yeah, definitely. I don’t mind talking about, high level what happened. When we found out, because I think that is part of it. Basically, my family is very close. My brother, my sister and my parents and I, we have a group chat and we talk, pretty much every day, several times a day. And it was, a Monday and, around, six o’clock that night, my mom texted me and said, have you heard from Ben? And when she said that, I just knew He talked to my mom all the time, no matter what he was doing, he always responded to her. And as the night went on and we still hadn’t heard from him, I just knew. And part of what was difficult was that, the process of getting police over to his apartment was very long and very tedious. My parents were up the entire night calling the police and they were never notified of what happened. To this day, they haven’t been notified. And, it’s really hard because it feels, a bit disrespectful, to my brother and, they ended up having to call the morgue to find out. And that’s just,

Dr. Dean: 

Oh,

Taylor Hershman: 

yeah, not a pleasant, not that there’s any pleasant way, but it just was really dragged out the whole process.

Dr. Dean: 

yeah, that’s pretty awful.

Taylor Hershman: 

Yeah,

Dr. Dean: 

I’m so sorry that you had that experience.

Taylor Hershman: 

yeah, thank you.

Dr. Dean: 

You’re welcome. And I can see how that also becomes a complication and processing trauma for you.

Taylor Hershman: 

Yeah, absolutely. Anytime I get a phone call, you know, it’s like, oh my God, what happened? if my parents or my sister or my husband or whoever doesn’t answer me pretty much immediately, I panic. My mom took a nap. This was a year ago or so, and she took a nap, and I was on an airplane, and she didn’t answer my text, and I just freaked out, for lack of better terms, and had her neighbor come over, broke into their house, basically, and she’s oh, she’s sleeping. I walked into her bedroom. It’s, hard to recover from that.

Dr. Dean: 

Yeah, and I think that’s something that so many of us experience is like that phone call like now you don’t want like at least for some time I think it’s pretty common that the phone rings and you’re like okay especially in day and age of texting that the phone even rings. How did you feel supported or not in those days after like that immediate time period after

Taylor Hershman: 

Yeah. Immediately after I remember thinking, I don’t know what to do. I remember thinking, I wonder if my parents want me to come over. of course they did, but I just, I didn’t know what to do. And so I called my husband upstairs. I asked him”What should I do? Should I go there?” And he said,”Yes, of course go there.” And by the time I got there, their house was, pretty full of their friends. They have amazing support system. And they had people just really, surrounding them for days and weeks, and even still. They’re very fortunate in that regard. I think, Ben has an amazing group of friends to this day, and they have been such a great support because they continue to talk about him and remember him. And that’s made a huge difference.

Dr. Dean: 

hmm Mm

Taylor Hershman: 

I think something that is hard is, for siblings specifically. There’s not a lot of places that are specific to sibling loss. And I think it is a unique loss. I think that, as a parent and seeing my parents lose a child, it’s absolutely devastating and, something I can’t fathom. but with siblings, I think it’s a little misunderstood maybe.

Dr. Dean: 

Precisely, but I think that’s that exact phrase is on my website anytime Sibling Loss is Misunderstood™.

Taylor Hershman: 

Yeah, absolutely. it’s not the same thing as, a grandparent It really defies the cycle and the circle of life. I, my brother was younger, so I just assumed he would be with us for my whole life. And it really, disrupts your world and how you move about the rest of your life.

Dr. Dean: 

How has your relationship with your sister changed after this?

Taylor Hershman: 

We were always very close and we continue to be very close. My family dynamic is a little different. My sister and I are 13 years apart and she and my brother are 17 years apart. Growing up, even though we had a large age difference, we still always had a very good relationship. She was, a great older sister to both of us. I think it’s, made us, closer. I think we’ve really both had a lot more anxiety just about everything: our kids, our parents, our family, our spouses, everything. I definitely saw her. more in the, months after my brother than I had probably ever, except for when we lived together at home, just because, she went to college and then she moved away. And, so it’s not like we were seeing each other every single day for our lives. and so I think it made us realize that, we should spend as much time with our family as we can.

Dr. Dean: 

hmm. Thank you for sharing that. It sounds like your parents got the support, but you hinted at that you didn’t have the same kind of support.

Taylor Hershman: 

I did. I definitely have, great support in terms of a great friend group and my parents’ friend group who, really reached out to my sister and me as well, and they were always very thoughtful of us and they continued to be, What I mean by that is, for example, when I was going through infertility, I could follow infertility hashtags. I joined infertility support groups. I created, an infertility based Instagram.

Dr. Dean: 

Mm

Taylor Hershman: 

There wasn’t really a lot of stuff or groups, for sibling loss. And fortunately, I don’t know a lot of people that have experienced that. But then the downside, if you want to call it that, is that I couldn’t find specific sibling loss support groups, or I don’t have, close friends who also lost a sibling that I can really connect with, like I could through miscarriages and things like that. Yeah.

Dr. Dean: 

Which is precisely why we were talking because I found the same thing and here we are. So hopefully we will change that. and I’m glad that you found us. Thank you for clarifying. It is a unique loss, so it does require some unique support. Where are you now in your grieving process, realizing grief is never ending?

Taylor Hershman: 

It changes day to day.

Dr. Dean: 

Mm

Taylor Hershman: 

I found a therapist in the middle of last year that helped tremendously. We worked on, a two pronged approach to my therapy first with, processing the trauma that both of losing my brother and of, almost, losing my daughter and then also supplemented that with grief support. And that was something prior to that. I didn’t have. I had worked with a variety of therapists and, they were good for what I needed at the time. But then when my brother passed, it was completely different. I needed something much different than what I was dealing with. And so that helped me a lot. I feel like I’m not in a place where I’m, drowning every day anymore, like I was for a while. It comes and goes, I think there are, days and weeks where I feel okay. And I think about my brother every day, but it’s, thinking back on happy memories and, just more kind of normal sadness, if you will. And then there are times I think when it’s hardest is thinking about the future. And thinking about the things he won’t be here for. It’s really interesting because my daughters were nine months old when he passed. So they only got to meet him a handful of times. And so after, like I said, years of struggling to have these girls, and then they were finally here and finally getting to see them, be alive and be here and grow up and have a first birthday while simultaneously, my brother being absent from a lot of things. It was like living in this paradox of experiencing life and death at the same time and being so excited to celebrate their first birthday. But being so sad that he wasn’t here,

Dr. Dean: 

Yeah. How did you find the balance in that paradox?

Taylor Hershman: 

It’s hard. I think something that we really try to do is to keep him alive. My daughters, they’re only two, but for all they know, he’s around and they talk about him. They know him. We, tell stories about him and just bring them up in casual conversation, show him pictures of them. He was a huge basketball player and for Christmas this year, we got them a little Fisher price hoop and we told him it’s from Uncle Ben. And so allowing him to still be present in their lives I think has helped a lot.

Dr. Dean: 

I love that you’re making sure Uncle Ben is present and that they know who he is. And it sounds like you’re also trying to have a continuing relationship with him. I wonder what that looks like for you.

Taylor Hershman: 

Yeah, absolutely. in some ways it’s easy for me since he did live out of state for so many years to, just pretend like he’s still there in a way. And, trying to find the healthy boundaries with that. And how can I, do that in a healthy way. But we do try to include him in everything that we do still. So whether that’s, Including him in conversations with my girls. we have a scholarship that we set up for him that people donated to that we give, now every year to high schoolers where we went to, still, communicating with him in our own ways. I’m really into signs and mediums and, communicating with him still, on the other side. So he’s really into music. he was. when he was alive, he was very into music. It was ingrained in him from the time he was, young. and so songs that he will send us, numbers, we’ll see his basketball Jersey, his numbers everywhere. He was a really big technology guy. So, he’s always messing with our technology. In fact, after we spoke on Friday, I was like, wait a minute, was that Ben, because that’s something he would do.

Dr. Dean: 

For the listeners, we tried to record this and then had a whole bunch of tech issues and had to re record it two days later.

Taylor Hershman: 

Yeah,

Dr. Dean: 

Go ahead.

Taylor Hershman: 

yeah. So that’s absolutely something that he would do. I write to him sometimes just random thoughts, that I just think, or if there’s tick tocks, I want to send him, I’ll still send them to him.

Dr. Dean: 

I love that. I’m just curious, what is the basketball number?

Taylor Hershman: 

34.

Dr. Dean: 

34. Okay.

Taylor Hershman: 

Yeah.

Dr. Dean: 

And you see that pretty much everywhere, it sounds

Taylor Hershman: 

A lot. Yeah, we see it a lot of places. yeah, it’s, there’s been a lot of weird stuff with technology. My dad randomly had a pin dropped on a Google Maps or Apple Maps, whatever, you can drop a pin on a location and, long story short, he I was like, what is this? And zoomed out and he had just been looking at, they were going to Portugal and he was looking at a map in Portugal and he zoomed out and it was in Denver, which he thought was crazy. Cause that’s where Ben lived. He’s wow, that’s so weird. How did this happen? I haven’t looked up Denver on my maps and a year or whatever at this time. And then my mom said, look at the location, where is it? And. Long story short, they Googled it and it was Ben’s work address. They had never been there before. They had never looked up directions there before Ben, worked remotely most part. And so it was just, pretty peculiar how that would have happened. So we really choose to, believe that he is still communicating with us and I very much think that he is.

Dr. Dean: 

On that note, you mentioned earlier that, about mediums. And I’m very curious about this because a lot of guests have mentioned their experiences with mediums. I’ve not done that. so I’m just curious if you want to talk about that more.

Taylor Hershman: 

yeah, absolutely. Yeah. I, I very much believe, in a scientific approach almost about when we die. I’m not a very religious person, but, we’re, our bodies are, we’re more than blood and tissue, we’re energy and, the, There’s a law of science that states that, energy is not created or destroyed. It’s just, it’s transferred into another form. And so that’s how I rationalize where we go when we pass, when we’re no longer physically here. I think our energy is just transported somewhere else. And so I’ve always been very open to the idea of mediums and Right after Ben passed, I did quite a few and I tried to be very discreet, when I did it, like I, blocked my social media and use the first name, last initial, and, just to protect myself. Cause I, I know that there’s authentic ones and I know that there’s not, and a lot of the messaging, was really. at the time we were dealing with some kind of recurring health problems with my daughter and one of the mediums had said something along the lines of he’s looking out for you, Quinn, it’s going to be okay, he’s got her. And the following day, we had to take her in for a procedure. She required anesthesia. I was very nervous about it. And in between at the parking lot, it was a full parking lot, big hospital. the one spot available was, between two cars and they were both Brown Honda CRVs, and that was what he drove. And it was just crazy to me. what are the odds that’s the only spot available? And it’s right between his two cars. And so there’s been a lot of, messaging like that. That’s been really helpful. something that they’ve all said was that he is sorry. And he screwed up and it was not intentional. And he, he acknowledges that, he, maybe didn’t take it The problem is seriously, as we thought, or, whatever that interpretation is, but a lot of the messaging has been really consistent. I got a tattoo for him and there was something along the lines of that. yeah, it’s, it was, it’s very interesting experience for sure.

Dr. Dean: 

Thank you for sharing that. so Uncle Ben is looking out for your daughters as well.

Taylor Hershman: 

Yeah, absolutely. we have two other nieces and a nephew and, they’re a bit older than mine. They’re 19, 17 and 11. So he got a lot more time with them, which is wonderful because he was, Really born to be an uncle, I don’t know if he ever would have wanted his own kids, but he loved being an uncle. He was an uncle very young when he was 10 years old and he loved it. And then the downside of that, is that they did know him better. So it was a hard loss for them as well. Yeah.

Dr. Dean: 

Are there ways that you. like to honor him? It sounds like the anniversary, it’s coming up in a couple months, but are there ways you like to honor him around certain holidays or difficulties?

Taylor Hershman: 

Yeah, I think the scholarship that we set up, he was a very empathetic person. He was very big on, you see someone on the street who might be homeless or, down on their luck, talk to them, you don’t have to give them money, but like just acknowledge their humanity was kind of his philosophy. And he really cared about a lot of people. different causes. And so knowing that there’s a scholarship in his name, I think he would really appreciate and I think it really honors his legacy. we’ve also, sometimes it’s hard, but have chosen to continue living. as obvious as that sounds, and I don’t mean living and kind of skating by, which is sometimes all you can do, sometimes there’s days where you just, Yeah, where you’re just sad. But what I mean by that is, Christmas, the first year, the few months after it’s passing, we just couldn’t, do a normal Christmas. it was one of the favorite holidays and there’s just so much hype around it and it’s such kind of a big deal, for some families. And my parents always had a big party at their house and, So we escaped and did an Airbnb situation. but then this year, we were struggling with what to do. And we didn’t know, should we go away? Should we go back to the, normal, if you will, Christmas. And my parents decided, Ben loved Christmas. He didn’t love the gifts. He always thought that was. stupid but he loved the celebration of it and they said that’s what he would want us to do. he wouldn’t want us to sit there and cry. And so we did it. We played games and we had a great day and it’s sad. Of course. you know, you definitely feel an absence, but I think that’s the best way that we can Continue to honor him is to continue living and to continue doing the things that he loved, animals, petting dogs and eating cheeseburgers and listening to music and sharing music, sharing music was his love language. He loved discovering new music, sending it to people. his friends, us. And it wasn’t just about the music for him. It was about the story of the music. Like what motivated this artist to get into music and to create this song and this lyric and what does that mean? And he was very deep. And I think music gave him an opportunity to explore, explore some depth.

Dr. Dean: 

do you listen to his music now?

Taylor Hershman: 

I do. Yeah, I do.

Dr. Dean: 

Is it music that you would have listened to before?

Taylor Hershman: 

Most of it. Yeah. So he was really into, yeah, he was really into electronic music, house music, which, being four years older when he was younger, I started to get into that and I would go to music festivals and things like that. And I I’m not going to say introduced him because he probably didn’t, I probably did, but he was like, I’m not listening to your music because you’re my older sister. But we did go to a few, we went to Lollapalooza, which is a big musical festival in Chicago together. we went to another concert together. And so we did have, some, bonding over that, but there are some songs, actually a song that he sent my mom and sent some friends and posted to his Instagram just a week before he passed. And it’s called Look at the Sky. And The lyrics are look at the sky. I’m still here.

Dr. Dean: 

Oh, that’s beautiful.

Taylor Hershman: 

Yeah. So listen, it’s kind of his anthem now when we think about him.

Dr. Dean: 

Thank you for sharing that. I know you said there wasn’t a lot of information on Adderall abuse. And as you probably know by now, I’m a Psychologist. Um, so I definitely want to look into that. I might put something in the show notes, but I’ll definitely update

Taylor Hershman: 

yeah, yeah, yeah, absolutely. for, I was prescribed Adderall as well when I was in college and it helped in some ways. And then I also know it, it’s very hard to get off of it. I, experienced that firsthand. Like I said, I was, experienced infertility and I had three miscarriages in 2019 and it wasn’t until That third miscarriage where my doctor told me, you need to stop taking that. And it wasn’t what caused it, but it’s not, conducive or the best thing to take when you’re pregnant or trying to get pregnant. And I got off of it right away. but I needed someone to tell me and it wasn’t like I was taking a medication for, high blood pressure or whatever, like it, it was addictive. And, I can certainly understand how he got into a position where he was abusing it the way that he was. it’s unfortunate, but I can empathize with that because, I wasn’t abusing it like that, but I do know how it made me feel. and

Dr. Dean: 

Right.

Taylor Hershman: 

got into a tricky spiral.

Dr. Dean: 

It sounds like you have found empathy for him and his situation.

Taylor Hershman: 

Yeah, it did take some time. Because at first I was just so mad.

Dr. Dean: 

Mm hmm.

Taylor Hershman: 

I was like, how could you do this? And even though I understood, I understood addiction and I wouldn’t feel that way if he had cancer, but I couldn’t help it. I still felt like, you knew that this was giving you a problem, and you had such a bad experience with it, that led to rehab. How could you go back and take this again? But, addiction is not logical. And he had. Some demons that he was clearly fighting.

Dr. Dean: 

We talked about how misunderstood sibling loss is. I’m just wondering if there are things that you wish you knew in those early days or that you wish that your friends and family had known at that time.

Taylor Hershman: 

yeah, I think just the understanding of grief and how it works. And I think people, and this is something that I kind of noticed when I was going through infertility as well, people want to fix you and they want to say things to shift your perspective and make you realize, give you the silver lining and stuff. And with something like that, there’s no silver lining, this did not happen for a reason. I hope he is in a better place and I do believe that in a way, but I also. Don’t want to hear that. people who are struggling with grief or anxiety or whatever. They don’t want to be fixed. they want to be heard. And I think sometimes it’s okay to not know what to say. that’s something that I’ve found. I can sometimes see people not knowing what to say to me. And, I think, feel bad in a way because it’s like you don’t have to say anything. You’re nothing that you’re going to tell me is going to make me feel better or fix it or whatever. Just let me talk about it. so that’s been, something I’ve learned. And I think another thing that I’ve learned is that grief is not so much a process. It’s just a new way of life and It lasts forever And I felt a lot of guilt, you know in the first year or so When I would not be sad when I would find myself Hey, I haven’t you know been really down in the dumps for x amount of time a day or however long And that’s okay I still feel that way sometimes, like almost feeling guilty going on with your life and continuing to make new memories and have happiness. And I think that’s a process to get to that point. But even I remember like laughing at a joke or something a day or two after it happened, and I was like, how can you be laughing right now? But that’s okay. It’s just part of life. humans are very complicated. We can feel. multiple emotions at once.

Dr. Dean: 

Yeah,

Taylor Hershman: 

And so to allow yourself to feel multiple emotions is okay.

Dr. Dean: 

Thank you for that. And I do think grief cannot be fixed, unless someone has figured out how to bring our deceased loved ones. back. I think it’s slightly different than anxiety or depression where you can’t really fix the person, but there is symptom relief or those things may resolve, but we can’t. It’s not like fixing a broken door.

Taylor Hershman: 

exactly. Yeah. And there’s an expectation, I think that the first year is the hardest and that’s something I heard a lot. And I don’t necessarily agree with that,

Dr. Dean: 

not either.

Taylor Hershman: 

Yeah. I think the first year you’re in shock or you’re, trying to process. and then as time goes on, there’s more distance between you and you miss that person more. And so you learn how to cope with it a bit better, but it doesn’t get easier per se. It just gets different.

Dr. Dean: 

Exactly. And I think with the sibling loss because you lost him. He was 27.

Taylor Hershman: 

He was 27.

Dr. Dean: 

So you had 27 years with him and Hopefully you live a long full life. That’s a really long time to live without, him, right? So adjusting to not having him there for all of the big things, like you said, and also the big happy things, but also the very difficult events that will happen in your life.

Taylor Hershman: 

Yeah, absolutely. Yeah. It’s hard not to think too far ahead. it’s hard not to think of whole lifetime ahead.

Dr. Dean: 

Mm

Taylor Hershman: 

yeah,

Dr. Dean: 

And that’s fair. I think, you said you’re learning to live life and you are living life and it’s helpful to think about, grief’s always in the background, right? and how do you do that?

Taylor Hershman: 

yeah.

Dr. Dean: 

live life with this cloud behind you? Feels different, but you’re doing it as best as you can.

Taylor Hershman: 

Yeah, absolutely.

Dr. Dean: 

Are there other things that you wanted to share or any thoughts that you had before I ask my last question?

Taylor Hershman: 

I think just, something about him, something about. Ben was just the passion that he felt for life. he was passionate about so many things, whether it was sports or, looking up, he was like, but always look up like maps and look at the development of Denver from 10 years ago compared to now and send you charts and graphs, and he was just very passionate about people and his family and learning and He was complex and very deep, and I think that was part of the best qualities in him. And I think it also led to some of his struggles, because he did view the world differently. like I said, he had this kind of normal, on paper life, and he fit in socially, but he had a ton of friends, but was very introverted. He was just a nuanced guy. And I think it’s something to think about just as you’re meeting people. Cause it’s put into perspective for me. Like he was having these struggles as my brother, who I had a close relationship that I wasn’t fully aware of. And so you don’t know what people are, going through behind closed doors.

Dr. Dean: 

Thank you. That’s a great reminder. So do you have some favorite memories that you want to share with us?

Taylor Hershman: 

Yeah. favorite memory that I have. It’s not one specific event. It’s just, like I said, he was so into music and he had music playing literally 24 7 and he would walk around my parents house with music playing out of his phone. And just be going about his day, making lunch, getting in the shower. He’d have music blasting and I can just hear him coming in the back door, dropping down his keys and his music playing. And I was like, can you please turn that down? I’m trying to work or I’m trying to, whatever. And he’d always turn my mom. My mom has like talk radio playing all day long and he Alexa off and then turn on his own music. And it was something that probably annoyed me at the time. But. I do miss it.

Dr. Dean: 

hmm. I think that’s so often in grief that the things that we miss are the things that either annoyed us or seemed small at the time that made

Taylor Hershman: 

Yeah.

Dr. Dean: 

who they were.

Taylor Hershman: 

Yeah.

Dr. Dean: 

do you ever just blare the music

Taylor Hershman: 

Yeah. Yeah. Sometimes I, I never really, get it quite as loud as he did because, but yeah.

Dr. Dean: 

Yeah. Any other memories?

Taylor Hershman: 

Yeah, I think, when he met my daughters, he was nervous to hold them because they were so little and so fragile and, been through so much, but I’m so glad that he did. It was a really, special, a special memory to have. And then the other memory is, we would always go on family vacations for spring break and. He, you know, being a middle schooler, elementary school kid, he would sit in the pool all day long, and just drink, Strawberry daiquiri, virgin strawberry daiquiris and smoothies all day long. And we would just see his head floating in the pool for hours and hours and hours. And I was always kind of like a mom to him. one year he actually got me a mother’s day card just to be kind of a smart ass. But, and I’d be like chasing him around with sunscreen, but you need to put sunscreen on, you need to wear your sun shirt and just getting after him. But that was. really our relationship dynamic and, he loved to just relax and hang out and drink smoothies.

Dr. Dean: 

Sounds great. I hope that you will have some smoothies this summer for him.

Taylor Hershman: 

definitely.

Dr. Dean: 

thank you so much for sharing about him and your loss. And I’m glad that you were able to chat today, that he didn’t mess with our technology again.

Taylor Hershman: 

Yeah, I think he, uh, gave us a break today and thank you so much for, the opportunity to speak with you, but also for, the work that you are doing. I think it’s really, very needed and admirable that during your own grief, found a hole and try to fill it. Cause I do think there’s, of need for sibling specific support. So I

Dr. Dean: 

Well, thank you. You’re welcome. And thank you for, for that feedback. Thank you so much for listening. Our theme song was written by Joe Mylward and Brian Dean and was performed by Fuji Sounds(feat. MYLWD.). If you would like more information on The Broken Pack™, go to our website, thebrokenpack. com. Be sure to sign up for our newsletter, Wild Grief™, and to learn about opportunities and receive exclusive information and content, as well as grieving tips for subscribers. Information on that, our social media and on our guest can be found in the show notes wherever you get your podcasts. Please like, follow, rate, subscribe, and share. Thanks again.

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