Jersey Magazine with Jim Monaghan

Jersey Magazine with Jim Monaghan

Jersey Magazine with Jim Monaghan

Handling grief is something that sooner or later we all must come to terms with.

As we mark the four-year anniversary of the COVID epidemic, many of us lost friends and loved ones and have had to come to terms with their passing.

Claire Bidwell Smith, LCPC is a therapist who specializes in dealing with grief.

The author of five books of nonfiction, her latest book, Conscious Grieving: A Transformative Approach to Healing from Loss, is especially poignant given how many friends and loved ones we may have lost in recent years to COVID.

Interview Excerpts – Conscious Grieving

JM – When did you start writing this book?

CBS – Just in the last couple of years. Yeah, I, um, I’ve seen a lot of changes since we went through the pandemic, a lot of new conversations around grief.

Obviously we all experienced grief and loss on such a huge scale. But I started to see how people were beginning to think about grief in a new way and recognize how much of it is with us throughout our lives.

JM – You mentioned COVID and it’s four years this week when everything kicked in with the lockdowns and everything. And I’m reminded of about the three weeks afterwards, the first friend I lost to COVID happened at the very end of the month of March in 2020.

He was 30 years old, in the prime of his life in excellent health. And that was, I think the first time I thought, boy, this thing may really, really be serious.

CBS – Yeah, that is so heartbreaking. I am so sorry.

Handling grief after losing a parent

JM – We each experience grief in different ways. About five years ago, in fact, it’ll be five this May, my mom passed away.

When that happened, I said to my kids, I’m not going to post this on social media. I said, this is how I’m going to deal with it.

You do what you want. My kids are far more active in social media than I am. So I didn’t tell them not to like you do what you need to do here.

But in reading your book, I’m wondering, was that me dealing with the loss of my mom, my own personal way of grieving? Or was I just delaying the whole process?

CBS – No, I think that was your own personal way of doing it. You know, I think that social media is a tricky thing when it comes to grief. We, some of us really want to talk openly and publicly about our losses. And others of us feel more private.

It’s not something we feel ready to share or kind of subject ourselves to commentary or opinions and, you know, experiences like that. I think that you were right in telling your kids, this is how I’m going to do it. You do it however you like.

We all, we all deal with grief in different ways. I think it’s natural to want to avoid it. It can feel so huge.

Your mother, that the person that you have been with since the day you came into the world, it’s a huge loss at any age. That’s a really big loss.

Sometimes I think we just aren’t sure how to hold that in our lives. And then sometimes people around us aren’t able to hold space for it either, and so we’re just not sure what to do with it.

So we do avoid it when we avoid it. It can often spill out and anxiety, irritability, anger, sadness. And so I think when we can make space for it and making space for it, you know, looks like doesn’t have to be posting on social media.

It can look like just spending some time thinking about her, maybe lighting a candle in the evening and just having a moment of reflection, talking about her with your family, writing about her, writing to her.

There’s so many ways to make space for our own grief.

Handling grief and anxiety

JM – You mentioned anxiety. And in fact, one of your previous books dealt with anxiety and grief. How were they intertwined?

CBS – Anxiety can often be the thing that spills out when we are suppressing our grief or avoiding it. But also we experienced anxiety after a big loss because our world changes so much.

We may be unsure of how we can expect to show up in our daily lives. I think that most people are really surprised by the enormity of emotion that comes with with a big loss.

And you may suddenly wonder, can I go to work today and, you know, not break down? Can I, you know, can I be with my family and not snap at people?

So often that anxiety will begin to surface of just not really being sure of our landscape now after someone is gone, not to mention we’re confronting our sense of mortality.

The year of “firsts”

JM – Yeah, I think that’s a big part of it is dealing with our own mortality. You and I lost our respective fathers at around the same age. I think you were 25. That’s the age that I was when I lost my dad and he passed away very young and you’re dealing with all of that.

You deal with those holidays and anniversaries that year of firsts and everyone goes through that. And you kind of mentioned this, you referred to it lighting a candle and things like that.

But you offer some very, very interesting ways to honor someone who has passed.

CBS – I do. I think, I think, you know, you’re right, those those days are so hard that year of firsts is so hard. The first time you want to call someone in can’t, you know, the first time you go through a birthday or a holiday that you always celebrated with them.

So again, taking that time to kind of make space around those events, I think is important.

Now, it’s also okay to want to close the blinds and just, you know, ignore the day, especially in the beginning, it can be really overwhelming.

But I think we can instate traditions that feel really good and healing to us.

Maybe you’re making your person’s favorite dish at a holiday gathering, or maybe you’re just setting out a photo of them at a wedding you’re attending or, you know, maybe you’re writing them a letter on a meaningful anniversary day and just acknowledging the relationship you had with them.

That relationship continues, you know, we have an internal relationship with the people we lose. It could be spiritual, it could just simply be internal.

But I think finding ways to honor that relationship and honor the time and the love we had with that person is really important.

The importance of laughter

CBS – We can hold multiple feelings when we’re grieving. We can hold joy and we can hold sorrow, anxiety, guilt, all kinds of things. There’s not just one feeling and one emotion.

Giving ourselves that permission to laugh, that can be a release too, you know, and it can remind us that we’re still here, that there is still life to live.

We can celebrate someone’s life. We can celebrate the time we had with them. Those things are so important. I think we see a lot of depictions on television and movies of what grief looks like that you’re, you know, shrouded in sorrow in a dark room.

Yes, there are absolutely periods of time like that. But then there’s also just our regular inherent personalities and life and celebrations.

Learn more about Claire Bidwell Smith on her website

  • Newark Fire Fighter Michael Petrone - NJ Fight For Air Climb April 14

    Coming up Sunday April 14th it is the Fight For Air Climb at Red Bull Arena to support one million people living in New Jersey with lung disease.


    My guest this morning is one of the participants, he’s been doing it for a number of years.

    JIM MONAGHAN – Michael Petrone good morning and welcome to WDHA and WMTR. What kind of shape are your legs in right now?

    MICHAEL PETRONE – They’re in pretty good shape. I know I look a little old but I’m pretty much in a gym every day so I feel pretty good.

    JM – You should be you should be in shape you’re also a firefighter in the city of Newark. Let me ask you how did you get involved…this is not your first time you’re doing this run how did you get involved in this?

    MP – Years ago Karen Isky was the coordinator for this for the Newark Fire Department she was the liaison between the American Lung Association.

    She would come out to each firehouse and she would bring a fire representative would go around what her take her each firehouse and she would pitch the Fight For Air Climb and the benefits so I kind of just jumped on board with it.

    JM – It’s 780 stairs we should point out, so it’s not like you just walking up a couple of flights of stairs. It’s a it’s a pretty good haul.

    MP – It is a good haul. It’s designed to to kind of give you a perspective of how people with lung disease feel just walking down a street.

    So if you’re climbing you get out of breath and this is what people go through every day just so just to walk from the bedroom to the bathroom.

    JM – There are a number of different levels including a beginner’s level and then there’s a firefighters level and you are as we mentioned a firefighter city of Newark. How does your firefighter training help you with something like this?

    MP – When we do the climb you you have the option to either wear full turnout gear.

    At my age I prefer I wear my turnout gear but I don’t put on a mask, I don’t put on a tank, I don’t carry that stuff around.

    Just the the years of carrying this stuff on your back and and performing your job with 30 plus extra pounds on your back it makes it a little bit more doable for us.

    We’re kind of more used to you know working with extra weight.

    JM – do you come from a family where a firefighting has been an occupation?

    MP – I do.  My dad was a fireman in Newark for 27 years, retired in 1997.  My great grandfather was a fireman, two uncles and a number of cousins, all in Newark.

    I always found it rewarding. I really love the job so that’s what I did I was around in my whole life watching my father do it and kind of just fell right in line.

    JM – How many various fire departments participate in this climb every year Michael?

    MP – We get some from Harrison, some from Kearny, I think Jersey City and then I know a lot of the volunteer companies from around the state participate.

    JM – There is a fundraising goal this year of a hundred thousand dollars. For WDHA and WMTR listeners who want more information they can go to

    Again the event is set for April 14th at Red Bull Arena in Harrison and is for the American Lung Association their signature event of the season. Michael, good luck this year and thank you so much for your time and joining us this morning.

    MP – Thank you I just wanted to point out real quick that I have been the top fund raiser the last few years come and get the title!

  • Brian Reyngoudt - Operation K9 Beethoven


    JIM MONAGHAN – Brian Reyngoudt is the co-founder and vice president of Operation K9 Beethoven. Brian, for WDHA and WMTR listeners who are new to this, tell them what your program does.
    BRIAN REYNGOUDT – Operation K9 Beethoven is that we help our veterans one paw at a time like we like to say. We rescue dogs from euthanasia off the streets, kill shelters, we bring them back to health.
    Our goal is to train them to become psychiatric service dogs. And we give them away for free to our veterans at no cost to them. So no money comes out of their pocket. And these dogs get trained to become their psychiatric service animal.

    JM – How do you vet the dogs that you that you come into to make sure that they’re right for this program?

    BR – We work with several trainers who will evaluate them to make sure that their temperament is good. You have to have a calm, cool, collective animal to be trained as a psychiatric service dog so that that dog can go out in public with the veteran, the human being.

    JM – And what kind of a financial investment does that require for each dog?

    BR – Each dog giver take is about $6,000. That is the cost for the training, getting the dog, going through the vet, getting it, you know, it’s shots and whatever it needs, food, transportation. So the veteran, like I said, doesn’t pay no money to us. So from all the sales that we do with our merchandise, as well as donations, that’s how we were able to get that dog to that veteran.

    JM – We have dogs come up to the radio station all the time with Terrie Carr in the Rock N Ruff program and to watch the mood in the building changed no matter how stressful a day may be, Brian, you get a dog or two coming in and it’s just, it’s incredible have a dog or a pet just in general can change the mood of a workplace, a home, any kind of environment.

    BR – Absolutely. I get to see it also all the time. I mean, we also along with our program, we have another program, which is our pet therapy program, where Beethoven and all of his friends, they go to schools, they go to rehabs, they go to veterans homes, they go to hospitals and being able to see when those dogs walk in, the staff, the patients, everybody their faces just light up.

    JM – Tell us about Beethoven.

    BR – Beethoven is a German Shepherd. He’s the real boss, as we like to say, he’s the CEO and he travels all throughout the state of New Jersey along with all of his friends and Parker and Duffy and all of them. And we’re really getting really big with our therapy program. It’s really taken off within the last several months, which is great. I mean, everybody wants us to come.

    JM – I know you have an event coming up in early April on Sunday, 7th. Tell our WDHA and WMTR listeners about that, Brian.

    BR – We’re going to do this thing for the first time. We’re going to have an informative experience speakers who will discuss and answer questions regarding the GI Bill, PTSD, veteran benefits claims, substance abuse, and family support, and the benefits of having a psychiatric service dog.

    We’re also going to have our therapy dog team there where they can come down and hang out with Duffy, Shadow, Luna, Sophie, Blaze, Chase, Zola. And we’re going to be serving and refreshments, light refreshments.

    If your listeners want to take part in it, you can email us at [email protected] or you can shoot us a text for an RSVP because we want to make sure we have enough food for everybody.

    That phone number is 201-587-9338. The place is located in Saddlebrook, New Jersey, VFW Post, 3484, 44 Market Street in Saddlebrook, New Jersey, Jim.

    JM – And what time will that be, Brian?

    BR – That’s going to be starting at 3 PM.

    JM – So that is on Sunday, April 7th. We encourage our WDHA and WMTR listeners to attend if they are at all able for listeners, Brian, who want to make a donation. Maybe they can’t come that day, but they want to make a donation to the Operation K9 Beethoven program. How do they go about doing that?

    They can go right over our website at and you can smash the donate button. Every little bit helps.

  • Rock N Ruff

    Hello Dog Loving Rockers!

    It’s  WDHA’s Rock N’ Ruff featuring “Jinx”! Jinx is such an amazing young dog. Jinx is just about 9 months old, loves to play, is good with kids, enjoys the company of other dogs and is very friendly and affectionate. Sweet Jinx will bring you LUCK, because she is such a fantastic young dog. Jinx is being housed at the shelter, so with her young age and awesome disposition, it would be great to get her out and into a fantastic family soon! She really deserves a home of her own. She is a perfect size, not too big and not too small, and inspected to NOT grow to be much bigger. She’s more than likely a Hound, Border Collie, perhaps Lab mix – the perfect combination! As you can see in her video she is a lot of fun and had a blast with us at WDHA.

    Jinx is at the kennels at Eleventh Hour Rescue in Randolph, Eleventh Hour Rescue Link and to check out her page on the EHR website- Jinx EHR Page and for their adoption application info check here- Eleventh Hour Rescue Application Info

    Please note- All dog & cat adoption fees include spay/neuter, age-appropriate
    vaccinations, initial flea & tick prevention, initial deworming, and microchip. All cats will be FIV/FeLV tested and all dogs aged 6 months and up will receive a heart worm test.

    Thank you for helping me support our rock and rescue efforts at WDHA and if you have adopted a dog that you heard about on Rock N’ Ruff, please send me a photo and an update- I love “Happy Tails”!

    Also See

    Don’t forget to check out all of our Rockstar Rescues looking for homes – WDHA’s Rock N’ Ruff

    Our quest to help find Meep – Meep Is Still Missing

    The staff pups that help us keep the station rocking- Meet The Staff Pups Of WDHA

    The TC Rock and Ruff Roundtable page – TC’s Rock and Ruff Roundtable

    Keep the date of 6/1/2024 open for a special announcement about our next Rock and Ruff Adoption Event and as always “Opt To Adopt”!

    Terrie Carr

  • Coach Sheets' Ride In

    Jeremy Sheetinger is the head baseball coach at Georgia Gwinnett College where he led the Grizz Gang to the 2021 NAIA National Championship.

    These quick hits may, on the surface, be geared toward his fellow baseball coaches, but his motivational message can easily be applied to the classroom, workplace, and your personal relationships.

    Coach Sheets celebrates his birthday this week, and marks the event by talking about leading by example.

  • Local Look

    Looking for something fun to do in the area? Chris Swendeman has you covered with this week’s Local Look.

    There are always so many fun events happening in our local communities.  Check out what’s in store for this week in New Jersey.

    • Get into the spirit of spring with a couple of Easter themed events going on today.  The first is in Easter Egg Hunt in Long Branch at West End Park from 10 AM to 11 AM.
    • And then you can head north to Keansburg for photos with the Easter Bunny himself at the Keansburg amusement park from noon to 5 PM.
    • You can also stop by Paramus High School today for their spring craft show.  Expect 125 exhibitors selling all types of arts and crafts product.  Admission is just $3 and the event runs from 10 AM to 5 PM.
    • And you can stop by Alstede Farms in Chester for their springtime and Easter festival
      now through April 7th.  There will be hay wagon rides, visit their baby farm animals, and there’s so much more.  Reserve your tickets and get specific times at


    And that’s your Local Look for this week on The Jersey Magazine.  If you’d like your event to be featured on The Local Look, you can email us at [email protected].  See you next week on 105.5 WDHA.

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