Dougy Center’s Grief Out Loud podcast recently celebrated it’s 250th episode! With a million downloads, Grief Out Loud is consistently ranked one of the best podcasts for grief and loss.
In acknowledgement of Grief Out Loud’s 250th episode released on March 17, we asked host and Dougy Center’s Community Response Program Coordinator, Jana DeCristofaro, L.C.S.W., about the podcast, what it has meant to her, and also what it means to listeners.
What was Dougy Center’s goal in starting a podcast?
Back in late 2014, a colleague and I had a doorway conversation about how great it would be for people around the world to feel the support, understanding, and connection that kids, teens, young adults, and adults find when they attend one of our local peer grief support groups. We were thinking about the family in a town or state where there's no program similar to ours or the adult who was a kid when their person died but never had the chance to attend a program like Dougy Center. We thought a podcast could be an accessible way for so many more people to feel less alone in their grief.
Have you been surprised by how popular Grief Out Loud has become?
Yes! Especially early on when we were one of just a handful of grief focused podcasts. I figured my mom and maybe 15 other people would tune in. These days, there are a ton more podcasts talking about grief, and I'm still surprised by how many people choose to listen to ours. The biggest surprise though is seeing the global reach of Grief Out Loud. I can't vouch for Antarctica, but we have listeners from every other continent.
Are there any episodes that have particularly stood out to you over the years?
This is such a hard question. They all stand out to me. I can clearly picture where I was for each interview. From the early ones where the guest and I would hunch over my iPhone, to recent ones I've recorded, with a real mic, with people living in different countries. Each story has a place in my mind and my heart. I'm grateful for every guest who has taken a risk and shared their story, especially those who felt nervous about being able to articulate their experience or that they wouldn't be coherent or interesting. It's so gratifying when they listen to the episode and say "Whoa. I sounded way better than I remembered. I'm really glad I did this."
Listeners often send comments on how much the podcasts mean to them. What have been some of the most memorable comments you’ve received?
It's always meaningful when people leave reviews about how the episodes help them better understand their grief and feel less alone. One listener wrote in a few years ago and I still have his email taped to my office door. He listened to one of our earliest episodes about grief and Mother's Day, looking for ways to support his children. I had shared ideas for how families could honor their person who died by doing things they loved like eating their favorite food, watching their favorite movie, or wearing their favorite color. Apparently, the three random examples I mentioned matched exactly with his wife's favorites. Whenever I'm struggling to write an episode introduction or am on hour 40 of tedious editing, I think of that email. It motivates me to keep going, in the hopes that something we say will help even just one listener.
Anything else you would like to add?
Hosting and producing Grief Out Loud is one of the most fulfilling parts of my role at Dougy Center. It's a great outlet for creativity, especially for an introvert like me. It's also such a privilege to have in-depth conversations with people about the most tender parts of their lives. I'm continually awed by their ability to find words for their pain, words that speak directly to the hearts of those who are listening.