Season 4, Episode 8

Dr. Beth Hoffman /

Emily

Sibling Loss After a Tragic Accident: A Surviving Sibling Honors Her Sister’s Compassion: Beth / Emily

In this heartfelt episode of The Broken Pack: Stories of Adult Sibling Loss, Dr. Beth Hoffman opens up about the devastating loss of her sister, Emily, in a tragic accident. Join Dr. Hoffman and Dr. Dean as they explore the raw emotions and complexities of sibling grief following Emily’s sudden death due to a pedestrian accident.

Beth shares her personal journey navigating the ICU experience and honoring Emily’s selfless decision to become an organ donor. Together, they shed light on the importance of normalizing conversations about loss, the diverse ways individuals cope with grief, the impact of social media on grief and grieving, and the challenges of finding solace in a society that often shies away from discussing death.

Beth shares her personal story and explores the challenges of navigating grief and honoring the memory of her sister Emily. You will gain insights from Beth’s unique perspective as both a surviving sibling and a researcher who has studied grief in media.

Key Points from Beth’s Sibling Loss Story:

  • This conversation reflects on the deeply personal nature of grief, emphasizing that there is no “right” way to grieve, underscoring the importance of  and recognizing different grieving styles.
  • The duality of gratitude and grief Beth felt while Emily was still alive but facing insurmountable injuries, leading to the difficult decision of organ donation.
  • How the complexities of social media after loss, contributes to both its supportive potential and the challenges of encountering painful reminders or difficult interactions.
  • How her and her parents’ commitment to honoring Emily’s memory through action, channeling grief into meaningful initiatives, and sharing Emily’s values and passions has helped her in her sibling loss.

About Beth Hoffman, PhD
Dr. Hoffman is a researcher at the University of Pittsburgh, specializing in the intersection of popular media and health. Her work explores how television, social media, and other platforms can be used for health promotion and education, as well as the spread of health misinformation. She also teaches courses on community health and entertainment media.

More About Emily:
Caring Bridge – https://www.caringbridge.org/visit/emilycrew
Donor Tribute on UNOS – https://unos.org/donor_tributes/emily-hoffman/

Honoring Emily:
Humane Animal Rescue of Pittsburgh’s Catio (in Emily’s Honor)
Emily Johanna Hoffman Fund – supporting STEM & experiential learning programs,  and other Pittsburgh nonprofits .

To learn more about organ and tissue donation and to become a donor, please see:
In the US:
1. Donate Life America: https://donatelife.net
2. United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS) – https://unos.org/transplant/facts/
Globally:
https://tts.org/isodp-resources/isodp-organ-don

Sibling Loss Survivor Beth and her sister, Emily
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. In today’s episode, I spoke with Dr. Beth Hoffman, a faculty member at the University of Pittsburgh and the Department of Public Health. She’s a researcher and she also looks at grief in media, but most importantly for today’s episode, she is a surviving sibling of her sister Emily who tragically died in a pedestrian accident in the City of Pittsburgh. We talked about a relationship with her sister her memories how she’s carrying her sister Emily with her and how this is Influencing her and her family. Take a listen All right. so welcome to the show. How do you want to introduce yourself to our listeners?

Beth Hoffman: 

Hi, so my name is Beth. and I often also say that I am the older sister of Emily. and I’m coming to you from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

Dr. Dean: 

So close. So much. Welcome. what would you like us to know about Emily?

Beth Hoffman: 

so Emily, from a very young age, until she tragically died too young, possessed just an intense, Curiosity and love of life. She, was an adventurer, she was a traveler, but she was also so content to be at home on the couch with her beloved cats, in later years. That was her beloved Sheldon. And she wasn’t afraid to seek her own path, to question what she was being told or what society may have told her. and in that way, she also has really inspired me to think more about what matters to me, what I’m passionate about. and yeah, she just was so loving, so generous. But also, As I think maybe sometimes happens when you’re the younger sibling, and we have a lot of home videos to show how I often did not let her get a word in edgewise as the older sibling. she learned how to speak up and how to make her opinions heard from everything from when we were kids, which American Girl doll she wanted, to as an adult advocating for reproductive justice or for better treatment for animals, what her passions were.

Dr. Dean: 

That’s interesting that you were able to see that. before she died?

Beth Hoffman: 

yeah. During the height of the pandemic, my dad digitized all these home videos we had, from like the big camcorder, from years and years, ago. And so we were all still at home watching those videos together. and I’m so glad that we have those memories. And we’ve had, we had the opportunity to watch some of them together. laughing, about in particular, there was one on Christmas morning. So my family, my dad is Jewish. My mom is Presbyterian. So we grew up celebrating all the holidays. and there was one where. Emily is tearing through a package, tearing through the wrapping paper, and just yelling, Oh, mine’s in a package! I think it’s a mermaid! and my dad pointed out, Emily did not have an inside voice, because I kept talking over her. and then at one point I’m yelling be careful. Emily. It’s china. It’s china And then my parents jump in and say no it’s made in China and i’m like, oh, I could only see the china and then anyway, she rips through this package and Just it’s this like plastic. Like a shopping thing had like a you know A conveyor belt and you rung up and she emily holds it up and very intently goes this is not from China and so we actually watched that, prior to Christmas of 2020 and so we sort of recreated it. I gave her, 2020 It was actually a cat toy, but it looked like a COVID, the COVID particles and we did that. So So yeah, it’s been really special to rewatch those I go through phases where you know, I love rewatching them and then other periods where it’s pretty difficult. but, I’ve really, appreciated, people who have been, willing to sit down and watch. And, I’ve, in Emily’s passing, reconnected with some friends, many of whom have young kids. And then they send me videos of their kids and I guess sisters that are about three years apart. in terms of the, dressing up and putting on play. We have another one where I made Emily cry because she wasn’t. I was directing some play that I had written and she wasn’t doing it right in my head. And so then I have a friend who sends me their two kids and it’s the same things. And, and so I find comfort and thinking that those memories live on and and yeah, it’s just been, it’s been really special.

Dr. Dean: 

Good. How much older are you?

Beth Hoffman: 

Three and a half years. So I was born in December of 84, and then Emily was born on Mother’s Day, actually, in 88, and my, mom had actually been on bed rest for a couple months, so I do have some vague memories of that, Watching Sesame Street together while we waited for Emily to arrive. and that’s actually of a home video the family was born and I joke that I guess I’ve always been a home buddy and like being at home because I’m at the hospital and then at some point I basically go. Okay. I have to go home now I have to go to my house. I’m gonna walk home. and but yeah, but then You, yeah, we have some videos too of, of me, I was three and a half, so I think to me, she was maybe just another baby doll at the time, but yeah.

Dr. Dean: 

What was your relationship like with her?

Beth Hoffman: 

So I’ve often said that I think we were sisters in the truest sense of the word, in that particularly when we were little, we did a lot of squabbling, again, I think pretty sibling stuff, she wanted to play with my toys. I thought she was going to mess them up. We also went to a pretty small school for K through 12. So there were only about between 40 and 50 kids in a grade. and so I think there were some times where she maybe felt a little bit in my shadow, like she was Beth’s little sister. although as we both got into high school, I was a senior when she was a freshman. we really did start making our own paths. but then after I went to college, so I went to college in Rhode Island. And she would come visit me and stay with me and then she ended up going to college in Boston. So then that was my senior year her freshman year and I’d take the train up and visit her or she would come down and then the following year I was in D. C. and she spent, She went to Northeastern where they did co ops as part of their undergrad. So she was also in DC. and then as adults, we were just, we were so close. And, even when we were living apart, it’s not that I don’t always think it’s it matters the frequency that you connect But just that way in which you can connect and sometimes we’d be busy We’d go up a few days without talking, but I always knew she was there. We had also when I was in eighth grade and emily was in fifth grade. our mom had Brain surgery and then there were some complications. She had a stroke. Um, she had a coup contrecoup head injury. So we, we went through that together. and I remember feeling as the older sister, I wanted to protect her. And then her getting very upset with me because she didn’t want to be protected. She, I still remember one time her yelling at me, stop mothering me. and I think, but I think that, that really did bring us together. And, back in 2019, she came back to Pittsburgh and, we knew we couldn’t live together. we do better a little bit apart, so she was actually living, on the third floor of my parents’ house, and I’m in a condo about 15 minutes away, but, we did a lot together, and at the same time, we both had, We were so alike in our love of introvert time our love of alone time our love of cat time and so It was just that unspoken bond like I knew that it was Okay, yeah, Saturdays are meant for laying on the couch with cats, and, we’ll catch up another day, and, It was one of those things of after she died, I realized, I don’t think I really took it for granted. I don’t feel like I ever took our relationship for granted, but just, I guess I did take for granted just having that person that, You don’t have to say a word to and they understand or having that, even I, I foster cats and kittens and she was always there to help with that or, things like that. So, I would say, we were really close. and, and we just, I think, People often don’t realize that yeah, you’re so she was my she’s my only sibling. So They’re the only person who has known you your whole life and has seen you at all these phases and that I thought we would You know, we would You know be the ones growing old together. I if you don’t mind, I actually have a picture that I if I can find it, so The year before she died we visited at the time my so this is my my grammy and my great Aunt Doris

Dr. Dean: 

I will put this,

Beth Hoffman: 

Yes,

Dr. Dean: 

the picture in the,

Beth Hoffman: 

okay,

Dr. Dean: 

on the website, and then I will, we can, if you want to describe it, because not all the

Beth Hoffman: 

Yeah, so in this picture, so my Grammy actually died about six months after Emily did

Dr. Dean: 

Mm.

Beth Hoffman: 

But my grammy was 94 at the time of her death and was helping to care for her 101 year old older Sister my great aunt Doris and so I joked with Emily like that’s gonna be us You’re gonna be taking care of me and you know I still remember last year visiting my great aunt Doris, she’s now in a nursing home and her saying we both lost our baby sisters this year and

Dr. Dean: 

Mm.

Beth Hoffman: 

that was just really profound.

Dr. Dean: 

Yeah, I think about that too, like generationally a lot of times there’s this ageism around grief that happens, like we expect to live our whole lives with our siblings, but even that’s a great example of how sibling loss is so hard for your aunt, right? 101, you said?

Beth Hoffman: 

Yeah, now she’s 102 still. Yeah, but yeah, that was her. That was her baby sister. Um,

Dr. Dean: 

thank you for sharing that. That’s a parallel. What was it like When you just looked at that picture and said, we thought this would be us.

Beth Hoffman: 

I don’t have a great descriptor for it. so I’m an academic. I love my words. And I think that’s also been an experience. Something I’ve noticed throughout all of this that hard to describe.

Dr. Dean: 

Mm

Beth Hoffman: 

There’s a lot of people, I’m very blessed to have a lot of friends, to have great family who will ask, how are you? And I often default to, I’m okay. Because it feels like that’s where I level out at there are times where I’m particularly when i’m busy with work or I coach gymnastics and i’m doing that and or even things we’ve done a lot to honor Emily’s memory, which brings me a lot of comfort and then there are other times where you know, I’m on the I’m on the floor with my cats crying And at the end of the day, it kind of levels out to okay, but it just has, I’ve gone through other losses, at one point, I honestly stopped counting. There were over 20 people I knew about my age that had died young due to suicide or substance use or other mental health conditions. And It’s almost like you could maybe think that prepared me but for something that was one this sudden because Emily was hit by a car. so it literally came out of nowhere. And too, not only my sibling, but someone that I just I’ve worried a lot through the years about other friends of mine who were struggling with health problems or my parents or other people and Emily was literally It never crossed my mind that this would happen But yeah, I just think, I even, I was talking to a friend of mine, a few weeks ago who also actually her, her younger sister, also named Emily, died in 2019 and we were even saying how the English language is just hard. Do I say? Emily and I were big fans of the TV show, The West Wing. I’m still a fan of it, and she is still, but but then if I say something like, oh, my sister and I love the show, The West Wing, and people don’t know what’s happened, then, sometimes they don’t, they start asking questions and then it comes oh, actually, She’s dead. or even when, her cat died a few months after she did, we really think of a broken heart. And, I was talking with this friend whose sister’s cat also died after she passed and said something of Oh yeah, my sister’s cat died. And people who didn’t know were like, Oh, how’s your sister holding up? And she was like, she’s dead. But just this weird, do you use past tense, do you use present tense? And then, yeah, how do you describe that, I look at that picture and like it’s just wrong.

Dr. Dean: 

Mm hmm.

Beth Hoffman: 

But,

Dr. Dean: 

Well, it’s interesting about the tense, like a couple episodes ago, I talked to Steven Petrow, he’s a journalist, and right at the beginning of our interview, he said, I don’t know if it’s grammatically correct to say, I was, like, his sister, his sister’s brother or something along those lines. And it, it is a weird thing about the language. you still are a fan of that show and you are still here.

Beth Hoffman: 

Yeah, it’s, and it’s interesting because, so my mom’s older sister, her and her husband, their daughter died, in 2008. She had, been born with a congenital heart condition, had a heart lung transplant, and after the transplant survived for, I think 16 years, but then died at age 28, and they pointed out, nobody says, because I said something of, I don’t know, do I say, I have a sister? I had a sister, I have a sister and she died and they pointed out, we still say that we’re parents. We’re still Karen’s parents. And it led me to think about how, I think in that space with the loss of a child, there’s no question about, yeah, you are that person’s parent. You still are parents. That is not taken away from you. It’s something I think in the sibling space we’re still I still am emily’s sister. I hold that and I always say i’m Emily’s older sister but then in talking to some people who’ve also had sibling loss who they were the youngest But then as the years go on now, they’ve surpassed their sibling in age

Dr. Dean: 

Mm

Beth Hoffman: 

It’s just I’m not I don’t think there’s an answer. I think these are just important conversations to have and to You Acknowledge how that affects the grieving process in my opinion

Dr. Dean: 

Absolutely. I am my brother’s younger sister and I am older than my older brother. So it’s, It is a thing to navigate and I think everyone does it differently. And sometimes, and I think you follow me on social media, sometimes I post things in present tense and then I get a hundred messages about it should be past tense and then I’ll post things in past tense and then I get a hundred messages about how it should be present tense. And I think because it’s such a personal choice. It’s hard to navigate that, I think it’s personal for everyone. I do think people tend to lean towards the present tense because that, they’re still present in our lives in so many ways. That’s where I’ve landed, but that might be different in five years, but that’s where I’ve landed with it. I don’t know about you.

Beth Hoffman: 

Yeah, related to that. so a few weeks ago, I had some friends in town, with their kids who are eight and five and it was really cute. I gave their eight-year-old one of, we have, cards that we got. Emily was an organ donor. These are her tribute cards that, the Center for Organ Recovery, made for us and, I gave her one because I was showing pictures of a recent trip of mine where I take pictures with the card As a way to bring Emily with me And she wanted one and I gave her one and then it was really cute she brought Emily with her to brush her teeth and all these other things and then as with many people she’s loves the show Hamilton. She was singing the songs and I said, oh, Emily loved Hamilton I love Hamilton Emily loved Hamilton And she said no Emily still loves Hamilton because you’re here to share that and this was from an eight year old and I thought You know, sometimes I think kids because they’re not tied up and i’m an overthinker So maybe I do it more than others, you know overthinking it was just that freedom and being so sure and

Dr. Dean: 

hmm.

Beth Hoffman: 

I’d really taken that since then and And I think it’s just so important. and also that I was very nervous originally about talking with kids. So I coached gymnastics. They’re about ages nine to 15. and they knew, last February when Emily was, and then in the time after, and a lot of them came to her memorial service. It was very sweet. but I, I worried for a while, if I bring it up, are they going to get overly sad or they get it? And what I’ve actually found is. I think it helps to just create that space to be able to say something like, I’m a little sad today. And then they’re like, can I give you a hug? or even it’s, so Emily was an organ donor. That’s something that is really close to my family heart. And this month is, organ donation awareness month and I’ve been wearing a bracelet for it. and the other night, one of the girls saw it and asked about it and I. I explained and I explained where organ donation was and said, sorry, I know that’s a bit of a heavy topic and she just said, no, but that’s really important. We have to know about this.

Dr. Dean: 

Mm hmm.

Beth Hoffman: 

So I don’t know. That’s something I’m trying to work through in this experience, but really realizing that as much as for adults, I think it can be a conversation ender or can make people uncomfortable. Kids, they want to hear about it and they want to talk about it. And it’s, It helps to normalize it and to say that I can be grieving and come to gymnastics, grief doesn’t always look like that sobbing on the floor. It also doesn’t have to be that you, you put on a happy face and pretend you’re okay. And I think Emily would like that I’m doing that.

Dr. Dean: 

Yeah, thank you for that. Last week I was at the Association for Death Education and Counseling Conference, their annual conference, and I was at a pre-conference workshop and the woman next to me was from, she was originally from Malaysia. China, that’s where she’s from. So she was, this woman was from China and she just landed that morning or the night before and so she was asking me questions about grief education for kids because that is her role there. She works in grief education for children and she asked me what our grief education is in schools for children. And I, involuntarily laughed because I was like, which probably was rude, but it was an involuntary reaction. And I was like, we don’t, we’re a very grief avoidant culture. And she had assumed because this conference was in the U S that we were a grief focused culture. And, so I think it’s important for us to start to normalize grief talk, right? that eight had the sense to be gentle with you. grief is part of life, we’re so avoidant of it that we don’t know how to talk about it. So thank you for introducing that idea.

Beth Hoffman: 

Well, and I have to say, the more I’ve been open to people, the more people it’s, I meet that also say, Oh, I’ve lost a sibling. Oh, I lost this person. these, a lot of these are people that I’ve worked with for years, known for years, and they had never shared. and, even, so I’m a faculty at Pitt Public Health, so I teach several classes and I toyed a lot this year with do I say something at the beginning of class?

Dr. Dean: 

Mm

Beth Hoffman: 

and because last fall was my first semester teaching since Emily had died, and I also started teaching right after my grandma died, and I ended up deciding in my graduate class to say something in the context of. When going over course expectations of saying, we’re all human. I understand that you all adults, you have lives outside of the classroom and things can happen and just need to communicate with me if something happens and I’ll do my best to support you. And here’s an example of how I understand that in the fullest sense. And then again in the spring, I was teaching a class that I designed on entertainment, media, and health, because that’s what my research focuses on, and it was so weird because I had start, I had designed the class before Emily died, and I was looking at The syllabus I had to submit to our curriculum committee, and the day before, the February, the one year anniversary of when we chose to take Emily off life support and honor her wish to be an organ donor was the day I had scheduled to talk about organ donation on television. I ended up moving it, actually not even so much because of me, but, logistics and things, But I really felt, also, I kind of owe my career to Emily, because she’s the one who, when we were in high school, got me hooked on ER and then West Wing and then other shows that led me to be interested in how do these shows affect viewer perception of different professions and the healthcare setting and things like that. So I felt it was only fitting to at the beginning of class to say, this is I owe this class to my sister also because of what I’ve gone through I now understand better. how certain topics can Be upsetting can be triggering. So giving that context of why it was important when students were sharing media clips to provide some context in case it would be upsetting to their peers And I actually, just had some student evaluations where they said how they really appreciated that I came to class to quote one student as a full human being and created a space where they felt comfortable sharing and That meant a lot to me, and I’m really, because I think it’s important to, to show that, again, that, and because this is a class on TV, that grief doesn’t always look like what it looks like on TV where, although interestingly enough, one of the things we did talk about is that often death is shown on TV, but not grief. It’s

Dr. Dean: 

And death not accurately. Mm

Beth Hoffman: 

Right. And even, think about all these, medical shows, which have patients dying in them all the time, but that’s the end of the storyline really. and in those senses, it makes sense. these are not main characters to focus on, but it’s grief is very rarely shown when it is, as you said, it’s not really shown accurately. I joked, this is a very, I have a very dark sense of humor, but I

Dr. Dean: 

hmm. So do I. A little

Beth Hoffman: 

nobody on tv, they don’t show you filling out all the paperwork that’s involved with Death and how you’re you know, but or like the in modern day, you know, I had to contact Hulu For example to change the subscription to my name from Emily’s like things like that.

Dr. Dean: 

Mm hmm.

Beth Hoffman: 

But but yeah, so I think it’s I just have been trying to just I don’t know create that and yeah that it looks You It looks different for everyone. For some people, myself included, I, it’s helped to stay busy and to stay busy with work and that’s something I’m really connected with. For other people, helpful. That’s not what helps and, I have often, I often felt like I wasn’t doing grief because I wasn’t doing it the way that I’d seen in the media or that maybe other people had done it. And I’ve been really lucky to connect with other people who have lost siblings and have that discussion of there really is no, there really is no right way.

Dr. Dean: 

I think, so Dr. Ken Doka, who I had a beautiful conversation with last week, actually, he is the, inventor of the concept of disenfranchised grief. That’s it. He’s the pioneer there. But he also with, Dr. Terry Martin, described these different ways of grieving. So we think of media. You probably know a little bit more about this than I do. Media portrays this, intuitive type of grief, which is more of the emotional piece. And what it sounds like is that you are more along the instrumental griever. So the doing and tasks and staying busy. And, I think the more that we, again, normalize grief, we can see that there, there’s no one way to grieve. And then he also describes this blended approach and, people that don’t fall into any of those categories. but we can’t normalize that if we don’t talk about it. Just like we can’t normalize sibling loss if we don’t talk about the sibling relationship. So, thank you for all of that.

Beth Hoffman: 

You’re welcome.

Dr. Dean: 

Do you want to say more about losing Emily?

Beth Hoffman: 

So one thing that in terms of losing Emily, I think, has stood out to me is how, because it was sudden, because, I basically February 9th was any normal day. My dad was going to come over, but he was running late, which he usually isn’t, and I thought, oh, that’s weird. And then about a half hour later, I got a call from him to come down to the hospital because Emily had been hit by a car. and to be honest, based on that call, I expected I’d get down to the hospital and Emily would be in a hospital bed with her leg in a cast or something. And, we’d laugh about that. And then, When I got there and my first inkling, it was worse than I thought it was that I had to go to the trauma ICU. and then, I was sitting there and my dad was telling me the update from the surgeons, and then I saw his, Paper that said traumatic arrest, and I worked as an EMT in college. I actually was on the, did a year of med school before switching over into public health. so I knew what, and I, it’s why I was doing, because this was about a month after, DeMar Hamlin’s collapse, and I was doing all of this work related to community CPR education. So I know what a traumatic arrest is, and I was like, oh, that’s bad.

Dr. Dean: 

Do you want to explain that for the

Beth Hoffman: 

Sure. Yeah. So a traumatic arrest, basically what happened was from the impact of being hit by the car. she had so much damage to her chest that her heart stopped

Dr. Dean: 

mm, mm, mm, mm, mm,

Beth Hoffman: 

so basically a cardiac arrest, but caused by trauma as opposed to, The heart malfunctioning on

Dr. Dean: 

mm, mm, mm, mm, mm,

Beth Hoffman: 

And I should also add that both my parents are physicians. My dad’s actually a pulmonary and critical care medicine doctor. So, I, But I still remember coming home that first night. So when we were able to go back and we were able to see Emily, and she was, intubated. So she had a tube down her throat and the machine was breathing for her. They were giving her lots of blood and medications to stabilize her. they weren’t able to close up her abdomen after the surgery because of all the swelling. So it was bad. But I remember coming home that night and thinking, That I should be grateful that she was still alive. And actually talking to some of my colleagues who one of my colleagues and she’s also a good friend She’s one of our EMS medical directors. So I was So fortunate to be able to call her and say can you find out information? Do you know who’s the physician? You know who will be seeing her and then I was able to talk to him and So I bring this up because to me there was This immediate of oh my gosh, this has happened and this is really bad But i’m really grateful. She’s alive and trying to hold on to hope that she was going to pull through this. And we actually waited to update to tell extended family, friends until the next day when we knew a little bit more. She had gone, she had another major surgery. but at that point we still, I mean we didn’t know what her recovery would look like, but there was still talk of, recovery. This is a marathon, not a sprint. And when she steps down from the ICU, and then it was the following day on a Saturday where they were concerned about, her lack of brain function. And so we’re going to put, what’s called a bolt catheter in basically a tool to measure her brain pressure. and in placing the catheter, they had to do a CT scan. And that’s when they saw that she had a number of strokes. traumatic brain injury, things that were gonna, make it really hard to have any sort of meaningful recovery. And I was actually not at the hospital with my dad when he got that news, although I went back later. and, That’s when I still felt like I was in this weird duality where, so we had set up this caring bridge site which was amazing. Just, I’m so thankful that I knew about that site from a previous family member using it and another person recommending it to me because it was just a really great way to be able to update everyone. But it was in this, We’re you know, I we still didn’t have confirmation of certain things and it was trying to keep up Maybe there would be some sort of miracle. Maybe things would turn around but at that point to be perfectly honest, I had I would have these like bursts of Okay, a miracle could happen or don’t you know or still hold on to hope but then for a while it was just a waiting game to until I felt like we were going to hear the inevitable And then on the 16th is when we met with the doctor. She had an MRI, which was basically confirmed what we knew. And, And so we decided to take her off life support the next day because we knew she would not want to stay alive, hooked up to machines. And very fortunate that, a friend of my mom’s who actually, her daughter had died the year before said, make sure you ask about organ donation. And so I did and it turns out they were waiting to ask us. They wanted to be a little respectful of our space. but we got that process going and then the next day is when, is technically her date of death, the 17th. And the reason I went through all of that though is because I realized that this past year when we were, preparing for the one-year anniversary that to me, I feel like I lost her on the 9th, the date of the accident. That to me is the big day. yes, her death certificate and her obituary say the 17th, but to me that, that was the day. and then after that, again, as I’ve I’m a planner and in some ways right after that, my, my family’s the same way and my dad and mom and I We jumped into, we got to write the obituary. We got to plan a memorial service. My dad handled a lot of the financial stuff. and in some ways I don’t have a great memory of that time. I think, a lot of grief brain is a real thing, but, I think for me, the, that part that week she was in the ICU is the part that, that’s just another element of grief almost that. That trauma of seeing her there. I have no regrets. I’m glad I spent so much time with her in the ICU the morning. We said goodbye, actually went and took my iPad and we watched our favorite, or her favorite West Wing episode together. and I really treasured that. Again, remembering how we’re both introverts and liked our alone time, that one on one time we had together. But I think both as an introvert as well as just that emotional rollercoaster and also seeing her hooked up to all the machines seeing she was very swollen and full of fluid and it’s been an act very active process and I was lucky that I was seeing a great therapist before this all happened and I’ve been able to keep seeing him, and also I feel really grateful that, I, my, my psychiatrist had actually lost her son the year before and so in terms of her understanding, The difference between depression and grief, both professionally and personally, that’s been invaluable. but I think, yeah, working through the, that traumatic aspect of it, of, of seeing your loved one in the ICU, of, of going from, I’m so glad she’s alive, and I’m so grateful to, to that recognition that, That she was not going to survive, I think is something that, at least has impacted me, in a way that may have been different. I don’t want to compare because I don’t know it, but just, it’s a little bit different than, perhaps, someone who’s been sick for a long time or somebody, and, And I think, I will say immediately after she passed, so Emily was very adventurous. That, that included, in 2013, she hiked the Camino de Santiago across Spain on her own. She planned the trip. It’s not lost on me, I often say this, that she hiked across Spain safely, but It was killed a few blocks from home in the city, in her city home, she also went to Egypt twice to scuba dive, yeah, there’s, it was, in, in some ways it just felt like, oh, she’s on vacation or she’s away, and, I even actually remember when she was in Egypt, there was a bombing where she was, and I remember getting this voicemail from my dad of, I think Emily’s okay, but I don’t know. I’ll update you more when I know more and, so for a while it just It honestly just felt surreal. I even started having these dreams where Emily would come to me in the dream and say I’m just hiding out. I just don’t want to talk to people So i’m in the woods Like I’ll come and there was one time that actually happened and it was the week after so we’d had Emily cremated And our nanny from growing up had asked for Some of her ashes to put in a locket and so I the weekend before I’d literally seen her ashes And I had to remind myself of that because that dream felt so vivid. and I’ve had other dreams where I just had one a few weeks ago where we excavated her and she didn’t stop breathing or she didn’t stop breathing and then in the dream it was like one of those weird time warp sequences and then she came to and was like was sitting up eating hospital jello because that’s what and I was venting to her about a situation in my life and she was offering her perspective and, So I think that’s probably there’s an aspect, you know The fact that I’m still having those dreams where it just it really feels surreal and there’s just, small reminders here and there. earlier this year, my mom fell and ended up in the ER. She fractured her sternum and I just never thought my parents would be aging and I wouldn’t have Emily here and as much, I absolutely, I love my parents and they’ve been great. throughout this process and they’ve provided me with a lot. your parents are your parents and there’s been some times where we’re all hanging out and I actually look over because I’m expecting Emily had the best side eye and the best eye roll. You ask any of her friends from high school, especially, and they’re like, Oh, that would be an Emily Eye role. And and so I look over expecting that. And she’s not there. and I think that is, because our relationship was not one where we felt like we had to talk 24 7, there are just times where I still even think, Oh, she’s gonna call me. She’s and I just, I don’t know, I think also I can’t believe it’s been over a year too. Like it time has taken on a completely new meaning in a way. Um I think there’s two things so in terms of both losing Emily last year and starting my faculty job both things that have taking a lot of time and attention I will say, especially Emily’s death has, caused me to really sit back and evaluate, what’s important to me? What’s, what gives me meaning? It’s,

Dr. Dean: 

hmm.

Beth Hoffman: 

Emily used to always yell at me because I say yes to everything. She’d be like, you need to say no, stop saying, stop saying yes. and so both in part to honor her, but also because of the honest reality of, there’s a lot of days I feel like I’m walking through a pool with my clothes on and I, so I have to say no, because just don’t have that same bandwidth emotionally. And even physically. I think that’s another aspect of grief that is often not talked about. The

Dr. Dean: 

Yes.

Beth Hoffman: 

physical components of, And as someone who has, and I’m pretty open about it, I’ve dealt with major depressive disorder for a long time. And, there are times when it feels very similarly to when I would have those depressive episodes of just, you’re, you have no energy despite, I, I could drink a million cups of coffee and I’d still just want to crawl in bed, but yeah, it’s just, it’s it can be so physically draining, in a way that I, I didn’t expect and then also again, I’m so thankful and I love the opportunity to talk more about the ways in which we’re honoring Emily and it’s meant so much to me. but also these are all things that are important to me and they take time and I love doing them, but then I also I hate that i’m doing it because I I feel like emily should be there with me. Cute emily animal lover to her core. She often told my parents you’re not getting children. You’re getting fur children from me she spent a winter up in vermont on a siberian husky dog farm so when we were honoring her at our local animal shelter a few weeks ago, her and Sheldon, they now have a room named after them, her cat that died a few months after her. It was amazing and I kept looking over my shoulder because I expected Emily to be there

Dr. Dean: 

I relate to that because I’m obviously doing this somewhat in honor of my brother and I know he’d be proud but you look for that and I wouldn’t actually be doing this if he was still here.

Beth Hoffman: 

Yeah,

Dr. Dean: 

I think it’s interesting that your fatigue with your grief and the just the depletion that you’re feeling with that kind of opposite of how you described Emily, all of her energy.

Beth Hoffman: 

it’s true.

Dr. Dean: 

So I don’t know what to make of that parallel, but I just wanted to observe it.

Beth Hoffman: 

Yeah, and I think though the thing I try to remind myself is that Emily was also far better than me, good at honoring her physical and emotional needs. She was very good at saying, I’m going to hang out with Sheldon today, or I’m going to go for a walk in Frick Park because it’s a beautiful day out. And there’s been a while where I kept pushing through the grief, and I did a lot of us. I wanted to do a lot of these things. but I’ve started to learn over the last few months of I actually feel very connected and Feel like i’m honoring emily When I think what would emily do or what would Emily say and would is this something? She would say yes to is this something where she would say, you know what i’m tired I’m gonna go to bed at nine o’clock tonight because I just want to and I really miss being able to just ask her opinion. But i’m finding especially over these last You A few weeks, I just did a trip. I, I had a conference in Edinburgh, Scotland. And when Emily hiked the Camino, she spent a little bit of time in Dublin. And she always wanted to go to Scotland. And so I went for the conference, but I went a few days early and did some local travel and hiking in her memory. And then I went to Dublin and retraced her steps, this literary pub tour she did and some other things. And, and since getting back, especially I’ve. Tried to to honor emily. Okay. I’m just gonna i’m gonna lay on the couch with my cats or I’m gonna go I for a little while. I think I brought the Scotland weather back with me It was like hailing one minute raining the next but then as we’ve had nicer days, you know thinking, okay I’m gonna i’m gonna walk down to a coffee shop emily also I joked so up in New England. They drink iced coffee year round and Emily went to college up there She basically adopted that habit and loved her iced coffee. And so just trying in those small ways to, to stay connected to her.

Dr. Dean: 

Which sounds like it’s also coming out in your dreams. It ends up meaning that you’re grieving her like when you wake up, but

Beth Hoffman: 

yeah.

Dr. Dean: 

like you’re very much staying connected.

Beth Hoffman: 

trying, I think also just related to the fatigue, It’s hard to wake up and get out of bed when you’ve just had a dream where your sibling is there in the dream, I don’t want to wake up from that. I don’t,

Dr. Dean: 

Mhm.

Beth Hoffman: 

and so that’s been a balance of trying to figure out, when is it good to do that behavioral activation and say, nope, I’m getting up, going about my day, and when is it okay to say, you know what, I’m just going to spend an extra hour in bed today and, probably doesn’t help that my one cat, when my alarm goes off, likes to crawl under the covers with me and snuggle up with me. but yeah, I think, I don’t know, it’s, again, I feel like I’m at a loss. I can obviously talk a lot, but I still feel like sometimes I don’t have the words to describe what it was like to lose Emily.

Dr. Dean: 

Yeah, there’s not a lot of great grief language and then trying to put those emotions and other responses into words is difficult, for sure. I think some other languages do it better, but they’re not even exactly.

Beth Hoffman: 

and I think even describing, I saw some graphic or something, some meme at some point, it was describing grief brain as like scrambled eggs basically. it’s also hard to put into words when. There are times when your brain is not working as well as you would have liked, or I would have liked. And that scrambled egg thing to me, just describes a lot of what it was like to lose Emily. Like it

Dr. Dean: 

Mm

Beth Hoffman: 

Totally, I still don’t think it’s real some days because it, it was so unexpected too. in terms of emotions, like I’m sad, but I’m angry, that it, that it happened, I am flabbergasted, then I also think about how, I can’t imagine navigating this without having the knowledge I did of the healthcare system and having the connections I’ve had. And then it really shifts to a lot of the work I’ve done in the public health space, cause as we talked about grief, grief is a universal experience. we are all going to experience it or have experienced it and are going to experience some more. And so I do health education work in schools. So how can we make this? part of what we’re teaching. particularly coming out of the pandemic, where a lot of people lost family members, older family members, but just, there was a lot of loss. how can we help make our, these systems easier? to navigate. even in some of these hospital, like finding the trauma I see you is difficult. And when you’re, frantically, I met another person who’s, who’s sibling died last year and was also an organ donor. And we’ve really connected around that. How can we make that process smoother? How can we encourage people to register it meant so much to me, but a few days actually before we had all the confirmatory testing for emily it was organ donation awareness day it’s February 14th valentine’s day and I was down in the hospital lobby and somebody handed me a flower and was like register to be an organ donor save lives and I told them to f themselves because that was when I was still in this space of Emily may be an organ donor. She may not like we don’t she may be walking. We don’t know and You and I was also highly emotional and sleep deprived, but, but yeah, just, and, nothing is gonna bring Emily back, but I do find, I find a lot of meaning in thinking of ways to use this experience in a positive way, and that also is something I think she would think. of, she was, at the time of her death, she was working in tech, doing a lot of, quality improvement, and actually there was a little bit related to the organ donation, there was a glitch in their system, it sent a letter to the wrong address or something like that, and I remember telling the person that, After I calmed down from the original being upset that and she had said, we’re going to, use this to improve our quality improvement and things. And I said, that would make Emily very happy. Emily was very much, a doer, very much cared about people and wanted to make systems better. That’s actually why she went into tech. She had been working at a non profit, She was working as a, originally as a sailor, but then as the, she coordinated all the day sales up at the Erie Maritime Museum for the flagship Niagara. And she thought the software they used was clunky and whereas some people would be like, yeah, whatever emily was like I’m gonna go to school and learn how to design better software. And then there’s not a great word to describe that, of I’m happy to be here, doing something, but I’m, like, even today, I’m happy to be here sharing my story. I’m glad that there is this platform, I’m glad also that your podcast exists, and I listen to it, and I I just feel so heard, and the things that other people are saying, and it just, it’s been a great source of support, but I hate that you have to have this podcast, that both of us are here, and, But again, there’s not a great emotion word for happy, just, I don’t know.

Dr. Dean: 

Yeah. I am also glad to connect people in this community and of course wouldn’t be doing this. If Tony was still here, I would still be ignorant to the fact that sibling loss is so painful. not grief itself. I’ve had that experience with this loss.

Beth Hoffman: 

Thank you for jogging my memory. I said to someone like, I now understand why they call it heartache. I have had many instances where my chest literally hurts and That is in the other losses I’ve had both grandparents, I’ve had relatives who, I mentioned my cousin who died, at 28, all these friends that have passed, so I thought I knew heartache, but I did not actually know that physical pain and I’ve actually become, I don’t use that word as much anymore because I’m like, no, I, like now I know what it really means.

Dr. Dean: 

Yeah. So I know that you wrote that piece on grief and media, social media, or

Beth Hoffman: 

Yeah,

Dr. Dean: 

That was before Emily died. So have you reflected back on that work? Or what have you learned there versus your experience?

Beth Hoffman: 

so I have, so in a bit of context, that in some ways, that was inspired, that work was inspired by two, two things. one, my cousin, her husband died suddenly, back in 20, 2010, I believe. he died suddenly, and his twin daughters were 12 at the time. and one of the daughters, started a blog, when she got a little older, and she had written in part about, so there was a Facebook group after his passing, and she wrote about how on the one hand it was so helpful and she loved seeing people write memories of her dad and everything, but then sometimes she got kind of angry that she, her dad, he loved to have a beer, he liked to, his cigars, he was a big traveler, and so she, she was like, I get jealous that. Because he died when I was 12, I’m never going to have that experience of, when I turned 21, having a beer with my dad. and she was reflecting on the duality. And then I had a number of friends who had died that I was also, I was friends with in real life as well as on Facebook. And I was thinking about my own experience with how Facebook in particular allowed a place to, some of them I probably would not have known about their death because we’d met in real life, but I wasn’t particularly close with them. and people created, memorial walls and that was great. But then, sometimes we’d get a notification like, Oh, it’s so and so’s birthday today. And. And you’re like, really Facebook. so those. brought the issue to the forefront of my mind. And then I was part of a team that was doing broader research on social media and mental health. So I went to the principal investigator and I asked, in the next round of surveys, could we put a couple of these questions in? because I also, I started looking through the scientific literature and there was so little on it. And and I remember the first time I presented at a conference and, I just opened with how many of you have lost someone and realized that’s also a friend on social media? And every person raised their hand. And then they were like, wow, I never, you’re right, I never thought of that. So one of the things that research found was, again, really just this duality that for some people, it was really helpful. For some people, it was not. And for most people, there were helpful aspects and there were not helpful aspects and this was just a, a first time study, relatively small, only about 400 responses, but I could even see in some of it that a lot of it depended on your relationship with the person. Somebody, for example, mentioned they found out about their grandfather’s death on social media, and that was a negative. And then somebody mentioned, though, I found out about a high school classmate of mine that I hadn’t really kept in touch with, and that was a positive. so in thinking about that with Emily, I realized, I experienced both of this. social media has, was a great way to get the word out and to not have to make 10 million phone calls. But then there was some time, I had a couple people who messaged me that they were mad they found out through social media and mad I didn’t contact them and to be honest, I was able to let that go and say, you know what, I’m sorry, I couldn’t call everyone. but I also, I don’t know if it’s because of doing this study or just because of prior experience. I have managed to use social media, I think, in a way that’s more positive. So I still use, I tag Emily in a lot of things I do on Facebook and things, and I, for me, that’s really helpful. I like thinking that, again, I’m taking her with me. but I also know, for example, that on National Siblings Day, I’m gonna stay off Facebook or social media.

Dr. Dean: 

So you’d probably be unhappy to know that organization just announced last week that they’re going to start making it a whole week.

Beth Hoffman: 

did not know that. But I think the other thing is for this year, I was not in a great place on that day. That could change. and I also recently found out that I think it was started by a bereaved sibling, which,

Dr. Dean: 

absolutely was, yes.

Beth Hoffman: 

Yeah, so that now has actually changed the way I think about the day. And I guess my overall point is just, there are some days where I’ll see. Oh, you have memories to look back with Emily. And there are days where I do that, and it brings me some comfort to know that it’s there. It jogs a funny memory. And then there are days where I know can’t be on there. And I think, to me, it’s one of the things that’s really highlighted, we said in the paper, that we made the recommendations that clinicians, it’s probably important to ask somebody if you’re seeing them for grief, what is your relationship with social media? How are you using it? it’s worthwhile, I know that often research is always like future research or more research is needed, and I don’t want to just go to that line, but this is an area that’s so understudied, and so if we want to try to make evidence based recommendations around healthy social media use with grief, we need to hear more from people, and

Dr. Dean: 

Yeah, there were actually some presentations on this last week. I would invite you to join.

Beth Hoffman: 

Yeah,

Dr. Dean: 

And I can send you that information. But, that aside, I think I interrupted you. Is there, was there anything else you wanted to say on that?

Beth Hoffman: 

No, I think I was just gonna say that it I think one of the things We didn’t do in this, that study because it was such a small sample and it was an exploratory is I really would want to do more specific. This experience has shown me just how different types of losses are, how different it is when it’s your sibling, how different it is if it’s a close friend, how different it is if it’s, a cousin or something. And so I think, It really helped it hit home that in thinking about this work, we need to make sure that we’re, we are looking at these nuances, even sibling loss when it’s a loss by suicide compared to a prolonged illness like cancer. You know, taking into account the, those differences, when we look at all this, instead of just making, I, I have long come from the stance that whether it’s social media, whether it’s entertainment media, like nothing’s inherently good or bad. I’m not saying social media bad, social media good, but just when we’re thinking about what is helpful and what is not helpful, we, we have to look at these nuances because

Dr. Dean: 

Yes, absolutely. Yeah, I am aware of that. And I also am aware that a lot of what I do is blanket and large, but the long term plan is to nuance it. It’s just one step at a time, right? Yeah. but your point around how different losses are different again, I would invite you to join ADEC because we are talking about that. We are a very grief. focused group and how we can change this and it’s a lot of clinicians, but it’s also a lot of researchers and, so hopefully there’s some change there. I do want to, and I know we don’t have a lot more time, but I did want to hear from you about how, because you’re doing a lot of great things to honor Emily. Did you want to share about that?

Beth Hoffman: 

Yeah. So I recognize that, my family is. fortunate, financially and also Emily was quite the saver. She was and had a lot of money put aside for retirement and things like that. and also, We were also very fortunate that Emily had great health insurance, so we had a lot of people reaching out about donating toward her medical costs, and we did not need that, but we said, please, we will put something in place soon, and so we were at the very beginning, after she died, able to raise a decent amount of money. That we could put toward scholarships because again, Emily just loved learning. Her and I both often joke that we’d be professional students if we could. and we were very fortunate to go to a great, K through 12 school. That had a lot of experiential learning, but recognizing that a lot of the things Emily did in high school, she, as I think I mentioned, she traveled, she learned how to scuba dive and sail and she traveled to Egypt. those were summer programs that my parents were able to afford. And so we started a scholarship in her name, to, help students that are on financial aid at the school we went to, be able to do these opportunities that some of their, peers who have families have more money would be able to do. we also, Emily had done, this coding boot camp that really launched her career into tech. And this was a great program. It was several months long, not as long as getting a four year degree. And one of the things we thought was so great about the program, and Emily did too, was they offer job placement. They do, they help students put together their LinkedIn, they do mock interviews, they help them reach out to employers. So almost every student when they graduate, they have a job lined up. And so we, we were also able to start a scholarship in Emily’s name, specific for women, because they’re so very underrepresented in tech, and specific to those in the Pittsburgh region. And then related to that, we also learned one of her classmates at Tech Elevator, shortly after Emily died, reached out to the program directors and said, Emily asked the most questions in class. She was so curious. She never wanted to just be told to do something. She wanted to know why. so I think you should start this award called the Emily Hoffman Curiosity Award. And have it be in her name. And so we had nothing to do with that, but they did it. last year we saw the first recipient of that. And then actually I, I wasn’t able to go today, but my dad went to meet the second recipient. and that has been really meaningful. and, Then we also, for many years, Emily worked up in Erie at the flagship Niagara, sailing, and then working into their, becoming an employee. We’ve been in talks with them about, again, trying to help people cause, cause Emily had a lot of savings. and my parents were also able to support her financially when she did their, their training programs. so those we’ve all set up to really honor Emily’s love of. learning and again, of this experiential learning of the idea that learning doesn’t just happen in a classroom. we also, I’ve, been working with the League of Women Voters, of Pittsburgh, Emily. Again, huge West Wing fan, huge interest in civic participation in voting, reproductive justice, and, she never let me forget when it was a primary day, It was like, you can’t just vote in the general election, you gotta, trying to work around doing some programs related to civics education and also, voter initiate, voter drives. and then, yeah, she was my, de facto co cat fosterer, co kitten fosterer. in fact, the last voicemail I had from her, so I had gone to Los Angeles, for work, and she stayed at my place to watch, I had five foster kittens at the time, because They, so I had the mom, who was uber feral, and once the kittens were weaned, mom went back to be spayed and released. And not all of the, I thought all the kittens were eating on their own, but they weren’t. And Emily stayed here and helped. Get you know feed them bottles and help with that and as it happens with kittens one developed diarrhea and I have a voicemail about i’m taking latke into the shelter and I got probiotics and I got and um, and then I actually ended up four of those kittens already had homes lined up And so then when emily died, I kept the fifth and so I now have another cat of my own. Thanks to Emily. but yeah, she so devoted to the animals. at my parents house, they have what’s called a catio, which is this little outdoor cat patio. The cats come in through a cat door in the window from inside and then they can play Be outside, but still be inside. and Emily used to sit out there while the cats were in the catio. And we’ve donated to our local shelter to Humane Animal Rescue of Pittsburgh to, to they had an existing patio structure, but it needed a lot of work to be usable. so a few weeks ago, we had the unveiling of that. And, and I continue to foster And it just is really nice to have this, the space, though, and know that, some of these cats will get adopted. and then the final thing we are doing, at least for now, is, oh, we have two. one, also, I mentioned my grandma died. Emily’s favorite place in the world was my grandma’s house on the jersey Shore. and after my grandma sold the house a number of years ago, because in her nineties it was getting harder and harder to have two houses, we started renting a house every summer and going there and, we were able to get a bench, in honoring her and my grandma and, And similarly, we are going to have a bench in our local park, in Frick Park, because even though Emily had hiked, across Spain, hiked the Camino, she loved nothing more than to go down to the park and hike through it. it was often, I will be honest, hiking with her Basically, let’s stop and pet every dog. but

Dr. Dean: 

on Frick Park you can do that. Lots of dogs do, yeah.

Beth Hoffman: 

We’ve been really lucky in a lot of these ways and it’s really it’s I like the fact that you know These things are gonna outlast me gonna outlast anyone and and then I guess I should mention the final thing we’ve been doing is working with You The mayor at the city of Pittsburgh recently announced Vision Zero, so getting to zero pedestrian and bike deaths. Emily was one of seven pedestrians killed in the city last year, and so that work has just started, but I’m honored for the ways to share her story and really work so that no family has to go through, getting that call again.

Dr. Dean: 

Thank you for doing all of that. I did also want to mention, because you talked about that week, how for you the day she My dad was the day of the accident. And then you had, was it a week or so in the ICU?

Beth Hoffman: 

Yeah. Yeah. About eight days.

Dr. Dean: 

So Katie and Kelly, I interviewed on the, I think it was the last season of the podcast, their brother died. And then similarly, I don’t know if you listened to that and

Beth Hoffman: 

to both of them. He was also an organ donor.

Dr. Dean: 

yes. And they talk about how different people in their lives have, have different ways of thinking about when Josh died. I’m curious if that’s also been your experience. different people in your family think about that differently.

Beth Hoffman: 

Yeah, so I actually, I remember after listening, I forget which one I had listened to, that I thought, Oh, I’m going to ask my family about this. Like what to them is the significant day?

Dr. Dean: 

hmm.

Beth Hoffman: 

and I didn’t end up doing it. I don’t remember why. I do know from talking to my mom that, so my mom didn’t come to the hospital until the 16th, until that last day, and so for her, that’s the big day. That’s the day it got, it was clear, and that’s also the day we chose to take her off life support. So for her, that’s the day. I’m not sure about my dad, I’ve heard from a couple of Emily’s friends, that I had called on the 10th, that for them That’s the day that’s crystallized for them. but yeah, that is, that is a good point that I, now I’m remembering back to that conversation that they had with you. And I think,

Dr. Dean: 

And I think that’s unique for the situation in which you are, the person will die within a certain period of time. Differently than chronic illness, like you know that it’s going to be from an accident or something,

Beth Hoffman: 

Yeah, I think for me, I really crystallized that the ninth was the day this year

Dr. Dean: 

Mm hmm.

Beth Hoffman: 

leading up to that anniversary, I will say for me that week before was the worst. It was almost like once I got to the day, I felt like Okay, it happened. There’s no more, the week leading up was like, this time last year, this time last year, this was the last this, the last that,

Dr. Dean: 

hmm.

Beth Hoffman: 

and you know what? It may, I’m open to the fact that it may change on different, There’s also other random days that have some significance to me, in terms of, this was the last time we saw each other in person, Which is gonna, gonna be different for everyone, but but yeah,

Dr. Dean: 

Thank you for that. Is there anything else you wanted to say before I ask you about your memories? All right. So do you want to share some favorite, you’ve already shared a lot, but are there specific favorite memories that you would like to share?

Beth Hoffman: 

Yeah, so I will say that the video I described earlier, the, this is not from China, that’s my favorite, I actually don’t remember that Christmas, but that’s my favorite kind of video of ours to watch.

Dr. Dean: 

Mm

Beth Hoffman: 

think one of my favorite, memories of us as adults was there was one year, it was actually after my grandma had sold her beach house. And so it was, and it was just Emily and I went to the beach, we rented a house and it was just the two of us. And there’s nothing like not any one memory from that week that really stands out. But just a lot of like we made dinner together. One day it was storming and we just watch friends all day on the couch. And, just that whole week was so nice. and and then on the ride back, this is my favorite memory of her. We were listening, to Wait, Don’t Tell Me, which we always listen to together, and they had some story about a kookaburra being on a treadmill, and we were about to leave the service plaza to get, we had gone to the bathroom and to go back on the highway. And she was laughing so hard. Everyone will tell you that Emily could cry laugh with the best of them like her laugh turned into a cry But I actually say okay Emily I’m gonna drive Because you cannot drive and listen to wait, don’t tell me at the same time like you and she just could not stop and I don’t remember what it was about this puka bear on a treadmill, but that like pure laughter, I just that was the best sound and we have a couple videos that have it on it and I’m really grateful for that And then I think also, When, when we were kids, just some memories of, I guess we weren’t really kids. We were in high school, but I have this one memory of, I was our senior yearbook editor and we weren’t, we had to go home early on a deadline night because of the snow and I was freaking out about like how we were going to make this deadline. And I don’t know where my parents were, but they weren’t home. And I was. Just so upset I was on the third floor of the house, which is where emily and I Both had our bedrooms and Emily brought me up on a little tray, you know a little tv tray some pizza salad and raw cookie dough because we both loved our raw cookie dough and we watched er together and I just forgot about the yearbook stuff. and then, so fitting years later, we were watching ER together. It was the last season, and that’s when we talked about her wanting to be an organ donor, because there was a storyline about that. So, so yeah, those are some of my, those are some of my favorites. and, Also, my parents will tell, would tell this story. One year, we were gonna go skiing out west instead of going to Disney World, and Emily made a sign that just said, Disney World, and held it up like a protester, and gave him the silent treatment. she was, for a while, she wanted to be a lawyer, and she would have been a good lawyer. She could argue with the best of them.

Dr. Dean: 

Thank you. Thanks for sharing that. you did share that caring bridge with me in an email and I did read, I saw the video of the slow dance and that was so sweet. It showed just how caring you were as a big sister, even when you were your kids.

Beth Hoffman: 

Oh,

Dr. Dean: 

was warming. Yeah,

Beth Hoffman: 

we showed that video actually that last time we visited with my grandma and great aunt We showed that to them and they also started cry laughing because they just They were like, you look at you know, she had actually just started when she was killed adult ballet classes She had gotten back into ballet. but yeah, thank you for watching that. That means a

Dr. Dean: 

Yeah. thank you for sharing her and for talking to me today. So I look forward to staying in touch, especially because you’re local.

Beth Hoffman: 

Yes, for sure

Dr. Dean: 

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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More pictures of Beth & Emily