How I found the upside of grief

After losing my childhood friend in 2010, I belly flopped into a horrible funk, and wondered if I would ever surface. I turned to all sorts of outlets but realized that I needed to throw myself into something meaningful and inspiring. In 2011, I started hosting and producing a talk radio show called “Get the Funk Out!”  on KUCI 88.9fm, where I had been a DJ since 2007. Show guests shared stories and advice on how they overcame life’s funks – personal and professional, and what great things happened after they overcame a tough time. The show helped me heal and provided an outlet for others to share their stories and advice.

Nine years after the death of my friend, I have come to terms with the fact that I will never get over losing her. Slowly, I have healed and moved forward, but the scar is big and deep in my soul. Creating “Get the Funk Out!” was my way of honoring my friend and anyone else who might be suffering in darkness and despair. I dedicated my focus to her memory, not really knowing where my new show would lead. I just had this deep desire to inspire others on their own journey, especially when life gets rocky.

In 2015, I lost my father to stage four colon cancer.  The death and grief of losing my father brought me back to the one thing I have always loved: writing. 

A tough period in your life can provide a new perspective. Pay attention to the details of that moment. The twists and turns of life can be scary, but our experiences shape who we are and who we can become.

Conversation after conversation with my show guests led me to understand that there really are inspiring ways to get out of a rough patch and move forward. But you must be willing to walk directly through that awful, crappy rough patch to see what you are made of and find yourself on the other side, where there is something better and something new. You also must come to terms with the fact that your current situation is not what you need and deserve, and that there is a happier life for you around the corner; it all depends on how bad you want to be happy and get out of your funk.

For those who have been in a deep, dark funk, you know what it is like to feel like you might never smile again, or like you might not feel joy or laugh for a very long time. Life is filled with moments that challenge us. Sometimes they are smaller challenges, which I compare to hiccups; they are annoying and unexpected. You can’t control them and just want them to stop. The more you focus on stopping them, the more they persist, until you focus on something else, and then they go away. Grief is like that; it can suck the life out of you, but it is temporary if you want it to be.

You must want to move forward at any speed. Sometimes we just need to get our faces out of our phones and disconnect from our current environment.

See the beauty and joy of life, be present in the moment, and feel the gratitude and love you have deep in your soul. Surround yourself with your family and posse; they know you and have your back. There is joy in everyday moments, and especially unexpected joy. Time will help you heal to the best of your ability, as much as you will allow.

Be open to the possibility of happiness around you, even in the simplest forms. Find gratitude in your life, and joy will follow. Remember to love yourself and surround yourself with people who love and respect you, because we all need a posse and a cheering section. Be kind and patient with yourself and be open to new events and opportunities to shift and grow. Own up to your funk. Don’t hide from your feelings and issues. We are not expected to walk through this life constantly happy with a permanent smile on our faces.

Funks dissolve more quickly (or at least start to) when you mix them with creative diversions, interventions, and a little fun. And to do that, you must go out of your comfort zone, be bold and brazen, and sometimes be adventurous. My new show exposed me to meaningful stories of people overcoming their situations, making brave choices and moving in new directions; they shared the lessons learned from the messiness of life. There is no shame in failing and falling flat. At least you tried. Some of us are experts in epic failure and bombing when faced with a challenge (ahem!), but those failings can be opportunities to change and grow. We all get trampled on, but can we get back up?

Adapted from Janeane’s forthcoming book, Get the Funk Out! %^&$ Happens, What to Do Next! © 2019 by Janeane Bernstein. Published by Post Hill Press.
Coming June 25, 2019


  • Janeane Bernstein, EdD

    Journalist | Mental Health Advocate | Author


    Janeane Bernstein, Ed.D. is a journalist, mental health advocate, and radio host with KUCI 88.9fm.  She was a 2021 Age Boom Academy Fellow with the Robert N. Butler Columbia Aging Center & Columbia Journalism. Her first book, GET THE FUNK OUT, %^&* HappensWhat to Do Next!  offers strategies and life lessons on ways to nurture self-care and resilience through life’s curveballs. Janeane speaks to students and adults about self-care, mental health, resilience, the CARE Initiative, and more. Her latest podcast & event series, OUTSIDE THE BOX, focuses on mental health and wellness for all ages. Her next book, BETTER HUMANS - What the Mental Health Pandemic Teaches Us About Humanity will be published by Post Hill Press & Simon & Schuster. | |