If you’ve ever heard, “You’re still not over that?” then you won’t want to miss today’s discussion between Authors Natasha Smith and Rachel Wojo as they candidly share how to find space to grieve loss in a world that doesn’t stop.
Natasha explains how discovering the space, grace, and resources to walk through grief enabled her to find the energy and readiness to seek counseling.
She now helps others find the language they need to put words to feelings of loss and accept the need for breathing room in a busy world.
NEW FEATURE: Podcast Transcript
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Rachel Wojo: Well, hey there! And welcome to the untangling live, podcast. I’m Rachel. And today I have my beautiful new friend, Natasha Smith, Natasha, so great to have you so much, Rachel. I’m so excited to be sitting with you today.
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Rachel Wojo: Well, of course, today would be the day that my neighbors would choose to have their weed eating done early in the morning, so I’m hoping that we don’t have a huge fuzz, but I am so grateful to have. Our hearts were kind of united through our agent, Mary Demute, and I am just so grateful to be introduced to your huge heart
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Rachel Wojo: for
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Rachel Wojo: women, for men, for people who have experienced loss, where both women who have dealt firsthand with a lot of grief.
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Rachel Wojo: and I’m not one to beat around the bush here on the podcast, so I just wanted to ask you to introduce yourself a little bit and then tell us, why do you think walking through. Sorrow is so difficult in this world today.
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Natasha Smith: Yes, so thanks again for having me. Rachel. I am Natasha Smith. I’m a wife, a mom, homeschool. Mom. We live in North Carolina.
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Natasha Smith: First time author, soon to be. And yeah, and we serve at our church. We love our local church and serve in our church.
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Natasha Smith: yeah, just looking forward to this conversation. But I think that it’s hard to
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Natasha Smith: deal firsthand with grief, and it feels so lonely because I believe we believe and have this deep sense, that no one, no matter how acquainted with grief, can feel and really deeply understand how we feel.
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Natasha Smith: You know, with the loss that we have experienced. And so I really feel that’s kind of what makes it feel like more of a lonely, a lonely place.
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Rachel Wojo: Yeah. And every loss is unique. Yeah, you talk about that in your beautiful new book that’s about to be released. And I believe when this podcast airs, the book will be available. So, I can’t wait to share it with people. The title is, can you just sit with me? And it’s such an intriguing title because grief is one of those things where you can’t run away from it
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Rachel Wojo: cannot wanna away from it at all. Where have you encountered grief, though? That maybe hasn’t been
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Rachel Wojo: Quote unquote, normal, I think, in our minds, we automatically think, oh, someone died, and while that is extreme grief and loss, when we experience the death of a loved one or friend, there are so many other kinds of grief that sometimes we fail to recognize
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Natasha Smith: that’s such a good a good question, and though, for me, personally, I have several of those. One would be the.
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Natasha Smith: the loss of career. I was an engineer, and I was in my field for over 12 plus years, and I’m I made the decision to homeschool. And so, you know, when you think about grief again, as you mentioned, we think about, you know, the loss of a loved one or the death of someone, but in the same sense, it was the death of a
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Natasha Smith: dream. Really like, I literally, I love my job. I really, you know, saw myself as the years went by. I was continually
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Natasha Smith: continuing to climb that corporate ladder and that’s what I wanted to do, but I had felt such a call to home school. But I grieve that. I grieved leaving, but that was my choice. So someone can look at me and say you did that. You did that to yourself. And so those are the types of losses that
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Natasha Smith: we can kind of say, are kind of disenfranchised or and invisible grief. Those who
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Natasha Smith: that would be deemed by society or others around us is like, you know, that’s not really worthy to be grieved, and so another one for myself would be when I place my child, my baby, into adoptive care. And this is in my teen years. So I was a senior in high school. And so that’s something that you know, just seeing me. Or if you didn’t know me, you didn’t know that I would. Ha! I’m actively grieving that, like every day.
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Natasha Smith: And so again, it’s one of those things where someone will say, well, you did that. You made the decision to place your child into adoptive care, so you don’t deserve to grieve that. But it’s it’s totally untrue. Every loss is worthy of the space and grace to grieve. And so, yeah, so every loss is worthy of the space and grace to grieve, no matter what it is
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Rachel Wojo: that’s so good. I love that so much, because
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Rachel Wojo: all of us have burdens, and we carry things with us. Either that we’ve done, we’ve said, or that has happened to us that we’re grieving. And if we see Jesus as P. See people as Jesus sees them, then we know that that’s the case. But I think sometimes we get so wrapped up in our own grief
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Rachel Wojo: that we do. The enemy causes us to isolate ourselves and makes us think that we are the only ones. And so it becomes a lonely journey.
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Rachel Wojo: Yeah, really lonely journey. There is this myth, though, that a lot of people throw out there. I found that it’s more people who have never gone through anything. That says this, but it’s like, Well, you just need to get over it. You just need to get over it, and it’s like.
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Rachel Wojo: man. How do you? Do you have a substitute, a healthy substitute for that phrase of “You just need to get over it. Because when I hear someone say that, I think.
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Rachel Wojo: Wow, you’ve just not been through it. If that’s your thought
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Natasha Smith: first, you’re absolutely right. That is my exact first thought as well, like you have. You must not have
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Natasha Smith: thankfully, you must not have experienced something hard. But yeah. So, a phrase that I would use in place of that would be, it takes time and space to breathe. Well, and just to grieve, there’s no, you know, just getting over it.
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Natasha Smith: There are so many things that we have to work on and be able to work through. And so it’s
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Natasha Smith: yeah. So, just to switch out those words from over to through would be even more helpful. Hmm! I love that. I love that, and I think we also have to come to the realization that there are some things on this planet
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Rachel Wojo: we will take to our grave with us. Just we’re human, we’re human. We are not capable of always driving through to the end of something. Some things. It’s the other side of eternity, where we will find the resolution and the healing and and the blessing. I think we have to be okay with that. I love that instead of going
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Rachel Wojo: getting over getting through that, that’s really that that can be a powerful thought, I think, for many people listening today, we all have had
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Rachel Wojo: patterns of behavior
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Rachel Wojo: from our family heritage. Right? And
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Rachel Wojo: Some of us know. It’s obvious that some behaviors and some patterns are unhealthy, but specifically in regards to grief, I’m not sure that we always think through the fact that maybe my parents didn’t grieve in the most healthy manner. Maybe they didn’t know how to, or they just followed the previous
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Rachel Wojo: examples of role models that they had their parents, people in their community, and so understanding how to grieve in a healthy manner, I think, is
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Rachel Wojo: It’s a subject that’s really near and dear to my heart. I think when I lost my daughter
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Rachel Wojo: you would have thought that I would be prepared because from the time that she was four, we had a diagnosis with this terminal disease. So you would think that when you get to, you know, the 22-year mark, you would know that we’re on borrowed time, and your mind would have adjusted through those years. But there is still an element of shock and reality to losing a loved one, and I had to
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Rachel Wojo: take about 6 months
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Rachel Wojo: I put a lot of things on autopilot and didn’t engage with those things. So I think, processing grief from my family. I don’t know that I saw
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Rachel Wojo: a lot of strong examples of that, because my parents lost
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Rachel Wojo: their parents when I was really young, so who were intimately close to them? I didn’t see how they did grief. I didn’t really have an example, but I would love for you to share, you know. Maybe some listening has had a healthy heritage of, you know, processing grief, and others
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Rachel Wojo: have had unhealthy role models in coping with sorrow and loss. And so, what do you think is the first step to
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Rachel Wojo: combating those strong behaviors that bind us, that cause us not to grieve healthily, like one, I think, is stuffing. Stuff it down. No, that’s not healthy. So, what do you think is the first step to
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Rachel Wojo: moving the needle on those behaviors.
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Natasha Smith: One. I’d like to put in a shameless plug from a book. I’m finding good resources on loss and grief. Because I mean seriously, before I started writing and doing the research, I was. I’m in this category, right? I don’t know how to.
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Natasha Smith: I know what to do, I’ve set with. I sat with grief for 30 years, and I did all the things like number one. What you name stuff this. Try to ignore it, push it to the side because I didn’t know what to do with it, and it was not modeled for me. So, as I began to do some of the research and go do what I now know as grief work, you know, kind of processing things and thinking about the loss and how I feel about it, and
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you know how it’s informed like my life, my whole life, my every area is touched in some way.
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Natasha Smith: And so, anyway, so having a resource or a tool to to get you started to say because it gives us an awareness. It gives us a language that you. Do you know, I didn’t even realize that just a brief language like one word that I can put to how I’m feeling, and you know, just cause. I feel a lot of ways misunderstood. And then I’m like, Hey, you know.
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Natasha Smith: I started just to connect the dots because I had the research, you know. So, having a resource that has, you know, some type of research to kind of map out what’s going on inside of you? And so, you know, just kind of starting there and then being able to recognize like, okay, like for me personally, my
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Natasha Smith: My parents grieved as they gave themselves permission to grieve like
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Natasha Smith: when the person died. And then there was, like, you know, the space of time where what we call we had visitation at our home, or at a relative’s home, where the family would come in and kind of talk about the disease, share stories, and then their funeral.
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Natasha Smith: But after their funeral, there was no nothing else like, no short, no story shared, or anything of that sort. And so I kind of modeled
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Natasha Smith: that, you know, like, if something happened, you know, I have a few days to grieve.
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Natasha Smith: But then, what do I do after that? So I didn’t really have a model as either. And so just starting with some type of resource that gives you an awareness, and the language to it starts to begin to express.
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Rachel Wojo: How are you feeling on the inside? Right? Right? That’s so good. For about the first 6 months, I found myself unable to read. And so I just want to encourage you if you’re in an early part and you pick up
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Rachel Wojo: something to read it.
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Rachel Wojo: My focus was II had no focus. Actually, I’m on year 4, after losing my daughter. And then there have been others. I lost my dad on Sunday will be one year since I lost my dad, and then my husband lost his dad four months later. So my father-in-law, so both of us lost our dads within the last year, and I think when you have
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Rachel Wojo: double whammy, when you have a roller coaster of losses, it is really challenging to separate your feelings, and it’s really challenging to focus. You get such. So there are other ways, though, I think, once you get your hand on the resource. I would just encourage you to do little by set of time. Just read a couple of pages, read the first chapter, and then set it aside
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Rachel Wojo: and come back to it when you’re ready. Another thing, I think can be helpful is if you have someone that you’re is also grieving that you can sort of partner with. I think that.
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Rachel Wojo: It sounds strange, but God bless my husband and me in the fact that our dads died 4 months apart from each other, because we were grieving together, and we could process it together. And we can talk through things together. Just last night and small group, my husband was sharing some of his thoughts regarding death, and how we perceive that process and the loss.
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Rachel Wojo: I love that you say that a strong first step is getting resources and attaching a language. I think that that’s very important for our listeners to hear. And then I just wanna know what really compelled you to write this book because I’ve interviewed you up to this point as someone who is an authority on the subject, but because of what you’ve gone through. But we haven’t really told our listeners any of your stories, so I’d love for you to share that with them right now.
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Natasha Smith: Yes. I didn’t intend to write this book. Yeah, it’s never been on the radar to write a book. But
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Natasha Smith: I sat with grief, as I mentioned earlier, for 30 plus years, you know, having that first loss in my 10 years, and just from there, just a secession of losses, the loss of my oldest sister, my next to the older sister, my dad.
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Natasha Smith: the murder of my nephew. Is it just kept coming. And so as I mentioned, I just didn’t feel like I had a safe place to share like I feel like this is so much
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Natasha Smith: and even I mean, I was a Christian at the time, and I still feel like felt like it was so much. But I didn’t feel safe to even share it with my Christian
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Natasha Smith: family or friends, because I felt like it would be an indication of my faith this week, you know. And so II stuffed a lot of it. But 2020 came, and it was such a pivotal turning point for me, because what I was ex seeing in Co. In our world, globally, like all the pandemic and so much dying and death and darkness, Basically, 2020
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Natasha Smith: could be summed up as with all the racial violence. And it was a political year, so there was a lot of division in the church, and I said, Oh, my gosh! This feels like how I feel on the inside, like I feel like I was about to burst. And so I started writing about just grief in sharing little bits of my story
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Natasha Smith: online. And it began to resonate with others, and I was finding that I was getting some healing from it myself, and so that’s what really compelled me to write it. I was like, you know, so many years, I feel alone and misunderstood, and even abandoned, and I was like, if I can help someone else not to feel this way, then, yeah, I’ll I’ll write it. That’s so beautiful
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Rachel Wojo: in 2020. What happened to many of us is we. We had to sit with ourselves. We had to sit with ourselves because there was nothing else we could do, and the reality of who we are as people, I think, was a harsh
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Rachel Wojo: reality for some people. So, finding a way to healthy, healthily walk through that with journaling, with writing. I think that that can be a huge catalyst for people, and such a huge proponent of journaling for that reason.
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Rachel Wojo: But I would say
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Rachel Wojo: in your thoughts, then, who is this book really for? In your opinion, because of your path that you’ve taken, and where you are now, who is this book for?
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Natasha Smith: Yes, so it’s absolutely for the grief. Someone who is grieving, who feels misunderstood or alone in their grief. Those who don’t have the words, or the language, or even the understanding of what is really happening to me. Am I okay? Yes, you’re okay. You’re normal.
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Natasha Smith: Grief is hard, you know, cause there were times when I thought I was losing it and it, yes, I appreciate that. Man. That’s such a good word right there.
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Rachel Wojo: I asked my husband sometimes after my daughter died.
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Rachel Wojo: Am I going crazy?
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Rachel Wojo: Because my mind was just such a hot mess/ I thought, I’m on. I’m on the fringe of schizophrenia here, I mean, I just really
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Rachel Wojo: and I would say that there are a couple of pieces to that with the resource saturating yourself
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Rachel Wojo: with God’s word, yes, with prayer with the Spirit, making sure that you’re open to what God has for you. Some people, I think, stiff-arm God. And if I could encourage you to run to him rather than away from him, that definitely is helpful.
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Rachel Wojo: I think, too. I just would love for our listeners to know that
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Rachel Wojo: they’re not crazy; they are normal, and that you’re affirming this in them. And then, Natasha, did you embrace counseling at any point in your journey?
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Natasha Smith: That’s a great question. I’m so glad you brought that up.
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Natasha Smith: Not until I finished my book.
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Natasha Smith: Wow, yeah.
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Natasha Smith: and then and then the reality of the depth
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Rachel Wojo: Everything that you had written
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Rachel Wojo: gave you the opportunity to see that counseling was a strong next step for you. Yes, absolutely. I love. I love the way you put that Yup. And don’t you think that people have to be? You have to be ready. You cannot force that on someone. You have to be willing to have done, Maybe a little bit of the hard work on your own to get to the place where you are ready
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Rachel Wojo: to dive a little deeper into receiving outside help to deal with the grief and, the trauma, and the loss
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Natasha Smith: and the sorrow.
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Rachel Wojo: Is there anything else that you would like to tell our listeners before we share with them where they can best find you and find this beautiful resource. You guys are gonna love it. I love the cover because it’s blue and gold, and I love blue. My whole house is blue. But then the little gold flecks are like this sparkle of
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Rachel Wojo: joy in the midst of grief, and I always tell our listeners I really believe, when we learn to hold the joy in the grief together in the same hands rather than keeping one here and one here, because society makes us think that we can’t be joyful and grieving at the same time we absolutely can. And actually, I have I say, the word mush.
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Rachel Wojo: We, when we mush
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Rachel Wojo: our grief and sorrow, together with the joy, that is, when those emotions become the most true, the most pure, and we experience life to the full as God intended it, so where can our listeners best find you? Natasha? Yes, first of all, so good.
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Rachel Wojo: But they can find me across social media, Facebook, Instagram twitter at ImNatashaSmith. This I am, and then Natasha Smith spelled out awesome, so I will provide the links to those, and especially to your beautiful new book. Can you just sit with me? Thank you so much for being with me today, for sharing with our listeners your hard-earned story and your
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Rachel Wojo: your beautiful principles, that you are encouraging all of us to embrace in places of sorrow.
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Natasha Smith: Thank you so much. It’s been such an honor to sit with you, Rachel.