Grief and Rebirth: Finding the Joy in Life | Martha Hunt Handler | Finding Gratitude From Loss

Martha Hunt Handler is an environmentalist, a fierce wolf advocate, and the award-winning author of the beautifully written Winter of the Wolf, which is an Amazon bestseller and a Barnes and Noble Top Indy Pick. The compelling Winter of the Wolf tells the story of an empathic and spiritually evolved teenage girl named Bean, who sets out to discover the truth about the mysterious death of her beloved brother Sam and finds herself on a personal journey of healing and self-discovery. Tune in to Irene’s fascinating interview with Martha about the way Winter of the Wolf was inspired by the death of her best friend’s 12-year-old son, what it was like to hear her friend’s son’s voice asking her to write a novel, Bean’s journey of healing and self-discovery, the themes of suicide, grief, spirituality, humans connection to nature, shamanism, and native Inuit culture that are included in the book, and more, for what is a thought provoking and fascinating interview!

IN THIS EPISODE, YOU’LL HEAR ABOUT THINGS LIKE:

  • Martha’s unique spiritual upbringing and experiences.
  • How Martha began seeing wolves in her dreams from a very early age.
  • What is a totem animal and how Martha learned that the wolf is her totem animal.
  • The role of wolves in nature, and why they are considered a keystone species.
  • The themes of suicide, grief, spirituality, humans’ connection to nature, shamanism , and native Inuit culture.
  • There is no such thing as death, our loved ones’ souls have simply moved on to another form.

SOME QUESTIONS IRENE ASKS MARTHA:

  • What was it like to hear your friend’s son’s voice asking you to write a novel?
  • What does Bean learn about the true nature of people?
  • How can we turn from grief to gratitude after a loss?
  • How can our connection to the natural world be both healing and transformative?

Get Martha Hunt Handler’s Book: Winter of the Wolf

You can find Martha Hunt Handler on:

Website:    https://marthahunthandler.com/author

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/marthahunthandler/

Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/marthahunthandler

Watch the episode here

Listen to the podcast here

Martha Hunt Handler: Can We Turn From Grief To Gratitude After A Loss?

 

 

 

 

I hope this finds each of you so very well. I could not be more delighted to have the pleasure of interviewing Martha Hunt Handler, who is an Environmentalist, a Fierce Wolf Advocate, and the Award-Winning Author of the beautifully written Winter of the Wolf, which is an Amazon bestseller and a Barnes and Noble Top Indie pick.

Martha was raised in Northern Illinois. She began to see wolves in her dreams from a very early age, as she has always understood that her role in this lifetime is to tell stories and be a voice for nature. After earning a degree in Environmental Conservation at UC Boulder, she worked as an environmental consultant in DC, San Francisco, and Los Angeles. She is serving as the Board President of the Wolf Conservation Center.

The compelling Winter of the Wolf was inspired by the death of Martha’s best friend’s twelve-year-old son, and 100% of Martha’s author’s proceeds go to supporting the Wolf Conservation Center. It tells the story of an empathic and spiritually evolved teenage girl named Bean, who sets out to discover the truth about the mysterious death of her beloved brother, Sam, and finds herself on a personal journey of healing and self-discovery.

The novel covers important themes, such as suicide, grief, spirituality, human’s connection to nature, shamanism, and native Inuit culture. The multi-faceted Martha has also been a magazine columnist, an actress, and a polar explorer, among other occupations. She’s driven across the country in an eighteen-wheeler and she was the grand prize winner of The Newlywed Game. I’m sure she’s laughing because she didn’t expect that to come out in this interview. I’m looking forward to talking with Martha.

She spends her weekdays in Tribeca, New York, and her weekends near the wolves in South Salem, New York. The way Winter of the Wolf was inspired by the death of her best friend’s twelve-year-old son, what it was like to hear her friend’s son’s voice asking her to write a novel, Bean’s journey of healing and self-discovery, the themes of suicide, grief, spirituality, human’s connection to nature, shamanism, a native Inuit culture that are included in the book, and more for what will surely be a very thought-provoking and fascinating interview. Martha, a warm welcome to the show.

Grief and Rebirth: Finding the Joy in Life | Martha Hunt Handler | Finding Gratitude From Loss

I’m so excited to be here. What an introduction.

My pleasure. I do this because I want everyone to know who they’re reading, what your credentials are, and what you’re all about. Everyone has their own story that gets them to know where they are and how we are sharing our stories with people. Speaking of a story, you’ve got quite a story about Miss Bean to share. Before we get there, you were brought up spiritually during your developmental years. I’m jealous. I didn’t have any of that thing. How wonderful that happened to you. Do you want to describe what that was like for you?

I feel very fortunate that I had a mother that was very open to it. Where’s she got it from? I’m not sure. I don’t see that in the rest of her family, but she did Meals On Wheels. We would always go to funerals together as a little girl. She always brought me as somebody to have next to her. I could see the deceased spirit a lot. They were laughing at what was being said about them.

Other times, they were shaking their head like, “That never happened or it didn’t happen like that.” It was very funny. We would leave and I would say something like, “Mr. Thompson was there.” She would question me. It was never like, “Are you sure you’re not losing it?” She just always encouraged me. “What was the spirit saying? Are they doing okay?”

She must have loved that you had that ability.

She must have sensed it in some way. She was great that way. When I met one of my best friends, her mother was also that way and started having group sessions with a bunch of us starting in middle school. They had gone through the death of my best friend’s little sister. We were channeling her and she was showing up in all these different ways. There was no one to say, “This is crazy.” I only had positive affirmations that, “This is true. No one died. They’re just not physically there for us.”

It is so wonderful that you got that at such an early age.

I feel very fortunate.

It took away the fear of death for you. It took away everything. What a blessing. You began to see wolves in your dreams from a very early age. Do you want to describe your dreams? Did they frighten you?

Not at all. It was one black wolf. This wolf was leading me sometimes away from maybe a friend group that I had or always into the woods when I was in confusing times. The wolf would show me like, “Go back to nature and it’ll settle down. It’ll make sense again.” As I got older, it was showing me like, “Don’t go to this party.”

How would it show that to you?

It would be like, “Go up to the door of where this party was going to take place,” and then it would turn around and stare at me.

You could see this wolf and you could see it doing that?

Yes.

In the periphery of your vision. That is so cool. You knew that the wolf was your totem animal. How did you learn? Do you want to tell them what a totem animal is? How did you figure that out?

A lot of people have affinities for its animals. You go into their room, and they’ve got elephants and pigs all over the place. There’s a reason for that. That animal, for some reason, is guiding you in some way and you need to figure it out. For me, it was always the wolf. Even though I’d never seen a wolf in real life, they weren’t in Illinois as far as I knew back then. It was this deep knowing that this animal has got something to teach me. I need to be awake to that. Whatever that is.

Would you say that all of us have totem animals and we just don’t quite know what they are?

I think so. If you meditated on it long enough, some animals would start coming through louder than other animals.

Why are wolves referred to as a keystone species? They have a vital role, but some people vilify them.

I highly recommend watching the very short YouTube video called How Wolves Change Rivers. It’s about the 1995 and 1996 reintroduction of wolves to Yellowstone. Yellowstone, at the time, had become a wasteland because the only animals that were there anymore were all the ungulates. Anything with a hoof. It was the bison, the deer, and the elk.

Without a top predator, they were just being overgrazing everything. No tree saplings could start growing. The forests were all disappearing. The water wasn’t going into rivers anymore. It was meandering all over because there weren’t any trees to keep it in its banks. This is when they knew it was serious. These animals were taking over. Their numbers were way too much. It couldn’t be supported by the land anymore.

They brought in wolves and very quickly, many other animals came back. First of all, it got rid of all the sick big animals because that’s what it’s going to go after. It’s the older ones, the ones that are diseased and injured. The numbers started getting a lot more reasonable. When they would take out like an elk, there were so many animals that could eat on that animal. They had all disappeared and they started coming back like the badgers and the muskrats.

You had the songbirds that started coming back because there were trees again. It’s just this huge trickledown effect to the point that the river started going back into the river banks. It was like everyone knew that this was what was supposed to happen, but there had never been any reintroduction of rules before in a smaller area where you could watch this happen so dramatically. They’re important in all of our ecosystems. There used to be about 500,000 in the United States in every single state except Hawaii. Now, they’re probably down to like 30,000.

How do you even count them? How interesting. Why are they vilified the way they are, Martha?

Even going back to Little Red Riding Hood.

The big bad wolf.

They have been used as a sign of the devil since the beginning of time. I don’t know how that got started, but they have been associated with the devil and weird things. When white people came to the United States, they considered them vermin. They didn’t want their elk numbers and deer numbers to go down, even though science proves that that’s not what happens when wolves are around. They completely massacred them all across the United States. It’s still going on.

It’s not great. There is no science that proves any. The hunters will say there’s not enough deer or elk, but the science is telling you that’s not the case. There are wasting diseases. There are bad years with a lot of snow, and the numbers are going down. Wolves are not forming. They’re not a huge detriment to the numbers. They make herds much stronger.

They take out the weaker members. I never even understood that. That’s interesting.

For ranchers, they take out 0.003% of cattle and sheep. They get paid for them if they can prove that a wolf took it out, which isn’t too hard to prove. They don’t want even one animal taken out. It’s upsetting because those animals are grazing on public lands. Mostly rural land management land that we all own. It’s not fair. They’re not doing anything that when they used to. When they first started farming, they would do things like have a range rider that would go around the herd.

Cows were at one point wild and they knew to gather, be in a circle. You kept your old, your infirm and your diseased ones in the middle and all the strong ones on the outside, so no wolf is going to look at that mass and say, “I’m going to go after that to try to get that injured animal in the middle.” That wouldn’t happen. We’re trying to work with ranchers to bring back range riders. Even some sounds that they can put out there because wolves are very skittish. They understand what white people have done to them and they don’t want to be in their crossfire. There are some simple techniques and we’re trying hard. Generational hate for so long is hard to overcome.

Terrible. Do you find them to be intelligent animals?

Very intelligent. Mostly, the female is in charge, but every grouping is a family. It’s usually mom and dad. People call them Alpha Wolves. They’re just the oldest ones there, and then there are children and maybe one more generation of children. By the time you’re two, you have to disperse and look for your own group.

They’re very smart. There’s an interesting thing that happened at the Wolves Center. We were getting golf balls that were showing up. The closest golf course to us is three miles away. There’s no way anyone was hitting a golf ball that far. They were range balls. We finally caught on a camera that the ravens were coming. We feed them all the deer that are killed on the road. That’s what they eat. The ravens had come and taken their bones after the wolves had finished with them.

Ravens have a relationship with wolves. They would show them where the elk or deer were moving in the wild. They would follow the ravens to it, then they would eat, and the ravens would get all the leftovers. The ravens were feeling guilty that they were always taking and never giving anything back. They were bringing these range balls and dropping them.

That’s such a cool story. Speaking of cool stories, I enjoyed reading your book, Winter of the Wolf. It’s such a great read. Also, do you find your biggest audience is teens and young people or does it extend?

Grief and Rebirth: Finding the Joy in Life | Martha Hunt Handler | Finding Gratitude From Loss

Winter of the Wolf

It extends to everyone. I’ve heard from a 90-year-old man to teens. My marketing firm wanted it to be labeled as a YA book because it’s easier to sell. I don’t think there’s an age group for it.

It’s more universal. Please share with everyone how it was inspired by the death of your best friend’s twelve-year-old son and what you and your friend believed about the soul’s journey because that leads into the telling of the book. You heard your friend’s son’s voice asking you to write a novel. That’s amazing. Why a novel instead of a nonfiction story? Could you tell us about that?

I’ll back up and say I wanted to be a writer when I was a little kid. I loved reading. I loved books more than anything. I wrote a book about a rabbit and a frog when I was seven. I remember staying up late because my parents were out that night so that I could show them this book that I illustrated in. I remember distinctly my dad saying, “The art isn’t very good. It’s not a very good story. Writers don’t make any money.”

I remember that. It shut me down. I’m always telling people, like, “Be careful of your words because words stick.” That shut me down. Even in high school and college, I would write a paper and get a great grade, and then have the teacher say, “You’re a great writer.” I still hear my dad’s voice. It’s so much stronger through their voices.

Be careful of your words because words stick. Share on X

I went into environmental conservation and was writing very technical papers. It was always on the edge of my mind, like, “I wonder if I could write. I would like to try to write something that’s nonfiction or fiction.” I’ve been thinking about it for a while and I’ve been scribbling down some notes. One day, I was ice skating and saw this deer embedded into the ice. It was probably about six months after my best friend’s son passed.

His passing was monumental. Gretchen and I were brought up so spiritually. We were upset that we were so upset. She was like, “I believe that he’s not dead dead. He’s around me. I can’t move on from this. I’m having a tough time, and I want to understand this more and know what’s the matter with me.” Going to the funeral and having so many people say because she found him hanging from a belt. Everyone assumed that it was suicide even though Gretchen was 100% positive it wasn’t, but it was hard to explain how it could be anything. I heard so many people.

Did they find him hanging or something?

Yes, in his bedroom. Many people were saying, “If he needed help, why didn’t you get him?” The guilt and blame were put on this poor mother. Not to the father. I never heard anyone talk to him about it, but they were like, “Why wasn’t he on medicine? Why wasn’t he seeing a therapist?” The boy was like a happy, adjusted boy. There was no reason to believe that he would take his own life. It made no sense. There’s even more guilt, especially when it’s a child and it’s a twelve-year-old child.

That struck me, and I struggled because I wanted to write something to her. I couldn’t even think of anything to say to her to make her feel better. This is somebody that I’d always been able to talk to anything about. I was shut down because I was like, “What can I possibly say that’s going to make this any better?”

I’m skating at this ice skating rink and seeing this deer. All of a sudden, I heard his voice clearly. That had never happened to me before. There wasn’t anyone around me. He was saying, “You’ve been looking for something to write about. Start writing about me.” I didn’t even understand what he meant. What am I writing? I didn’t even understand how you died or why this happened. He was very insistent, saying, “Sit down. Put pen to paper and something’s going to happen.”

I did and I started writing. I didn’t have enough information about his life. I didn’t live close to them anymore. He’s day-to-day. He was a stranger to me. I’d only met him a couple of times. The more I got into thinking, like the messages that I want to give other people, how we talked about how lucky I was to grow up in a spiritual way, being given those messages.

The other message that was so important to me was believing in my own intuition, as if it were our superpower. My mother was good at saying to me and I’d say like, “Do you think I should go on this sleepover?” She’s like, “What do you think?” She would always put it back on me. What is your stomach and heart telling you?

She was very enlightened. That’s very conscious. Very impressive.

I was obsessed with the movie Nanook of the North that came out in the 1930s that was a black and white. I remember sitting in my second-grade class. It was a talkie. It was like this story of this unbelievable Inuit and how he lived his life going ceiling, building his igloos, his family and eating a raw seal. The way that they were with nature and always like if you’re going to take something, you need to do something. You need to pray and be thankful about the seal you caught and do it respectfully, any killing and always eating 100% of it.

It was so great for me. I remember looking around the classroom and people were throwing spitballs at each other. No one else was paying attention and I was riveted. I felt like I knew this Inuit deeply. I started reading all these Inuit books. Somehow, I knew that I needed to bring that into the stories. I didn’t know how I was going to do it. My main character, who passes away, is a big believer in the Inuit. That was cool. I had all these different elements and was trying to meld them together to form a story. I was still at the point like, “How am I ever ending this?”

You still didn’t know the truth of what happened.

I was like, “What am I doing here?” I was about at that point when my girlfriend found out because a boy came to her house and explained what happened. It was amazing because her son wouldn’t talk to me after a certain point. I got the feeling like, “I led you this far. Now it’s up to you. Take it any way you want.”

Maybe he was being guided from where he was to lead you with all of that. What a coincidence. As you were about to have the ending, you got the ending. That’s pretty amazing. We’re not going to tell everybody, but it’s worth reading the book to find out the twist at the end of the story about what happened to this young man. I also want to ask your main character, who’s adorable. She’s an evolved teenage girl named Bean. She goes on this journey of healing and self-discovery. Did you base her on you?

Maybe she was more evolved spiritually than I was. That was a fun character write. If you had done everything you wanted to or learned everything you wanted to or explored everything. I liked that. I had a girlfriend when I was young. We used to think we were witches. We used to put spells to do this but that would stop. There comes a time when someone tells you, “That’s stupid. There’s no such thing as a witch.” It was like, “What if no one ever said that to you and you could keep experimenting with things and learning more about spirituality and going there?” I loved reading books about shamanism and seeing how I could incorporate that whole thing into my novel, which was very fun.

Bean was your want-to-be. Let’s talk about what’s fascinating. You weave these themes throughout the story. What would you like to tell our audience about these themes and what you’re trying to convey to people? The one theme is suicide. You’ve got another theme is grief, spirituality, human’s connection to nature, shamanism, and the native Inuit culture. Would you like to speak to any of these or all of these as far as what you’re trying to convey to your reader about them?

I felt like I had read Laura Lynne Jackson’s book, Signs. That was a huge helpful thing because when I was stuck, I prayed for certain signs. Signs even tell me, “Keep going on this book. I know it doesn’t make sense now. At some point, it’s all going to come together.” I would ask for signs. It would be the most random thing because she’s good. It could be something crazy. The crazier it is, the more you’re going to recognize that sign is meant specifically for you. I thought that was so cool.

I highly recommend it. It’s such a great way to communicate with those who have passed on. My mother and I talked about it a lot when she was dying. We’re like, “What’s that sign going to be?” We decided on feathers, then the better we got at it, a sign would be like the feathers pointing one way or if vertical, I’m going on the right path and horizontal would be like no.

She’d get very creative with the colors. I’d be like, “This bird does not even exist anywhere near here. I don’t know why I have this pink feather.” It was a great way to be, let alone your spiritual path, if you can open yourself up to signs and understand that those on the other side want to communicate with us.

Grief and Rebirth: Finding the Joy in Life | Martha Hunt Handler | Finding Gratitude From Loss

They’re all around us. How blessed are you that you can communicate with them the way you do? You touch on suicide.

I feel like I’ve been surrounded by suicide. My mother had like three friends commit suicide. I have a bunch of friends who committed suicide. We need to stop vilifying that form of death. I can’t imagine being in so much pain that you want out, but I’m sure it must be horrendous. I do believe maybe they realized, “The lessons that I want to learn here cannot be learned in this body in this circumstance. Maybe I need to abort and start again.”

There’s no judgment on the other side. I know that for a fact also. If a person takes his or her life, it’s like you didn’t learn the lessons you came to learn, so you get a redo in a way. You’re dealing with Bean’s grief over her brother. Is there anything else you’d like to say to us about that?

That word is so hard for me because I feel like it should be more like, “Thank you so much for giving me even my friend’s son, a soul for twelve years.” Gretchen was looking at it like, “What did he accomplish in those twelve years?” I don’t know what he accomplished with his soul, but what did you gain from having him in your life for twelve years?

I would constantly redirect her back to that, like, “Remember when he did this?” We looked at each other, thinking like, “He’s the nicest human. He ran over to help that boy and he’s nine years old. He was just being mean to him five minutes ago but forgot that and was there for him.” All those things that add up to a life. It could be not very long and a very long life, but these souls were a part of your life for some reason. If you can keep redirecting back to what are the positives in life in general. Remember to be grateful for redirecting off of negativity, which is easier said than done.

Keep redirecting back to the positives in life to be grateful. Then redirect off of negativity. Share on X

It is, but I’m going to liken it to my own story. Most of the people who read this know about my story. My husband died next to me in a car accident and I got this message. I’m not as fluent as you are in getting it, so it impacted me. I got these three amazing messages before, during, and after as they were pulling me through the window of my car.

One of the messages was, “Be loving and kind to everyone,” as they laid me on the side of the road on the New York state throughway, which you would know where that is. Anyway, it changed me so much, Martha. Instead of crying and carrying on for myself, in this terrible moment, I started thanking everybody and appreciating everybody. When they got me to the hospital in the trauma center, the doctor said, “I need to tell you that your husband is gone.”

I had the feeling at that moment. I had a spiritual awakening, and my husband was still with me. I said, “I’m so grateful I had him for the years that I did.” I immediately shifted into gratitude. I wasn’t as obsessed about me. In the moment, I knew that my husband was transiting and they were transitioning. There was a whole thing going on. I literally got a call from the assistant to the doctor three months later. She said, “You changed lives in the emergency room that night. We never saw anyone respond to a situation like you did.”

Bringing up my little piece of what you’re saying that sometimes we don’t have someone as long as we would like, but what are the gifts? I still think about all the gifts that I got from my relationship with my husband. Would I have liked it to go on many years more? Yes, but at least I had it and at least I had him the way I did.

I love this. That’s such a good story. It’s pretty rare that people get it in the moment. I was reading this amazing book called From Ag-ing to Sag-ing. It’s a lot about appreciating the knowledge that you’ve gained and that you’ve got something to give back and share with others. It talks a lot about how religions were first developed. It is very comforting to be around somebody who’s dying. How privileged you are to be with somebody as they transition on.

Rather than it being this horrible, sad time and trying to think, “I wonder what they’re going to do next. I wonder what’s going to be the next big thing that they’re doing.” Instead of being all drugged up to be with the person in this significant and powerful way to be able to like, “Oh.” I was with one of my favorite wolves and we had to put it down. I was in the den with it. I’m sobbing my eyes out and the vet said to me, “Do you know how blessed you are? How many people do you think got to lay down with a wolf that took its last breath?” I was like, “You’re so right. How lucky am I?”

This wolf was a part of your life, taught and shared so much with you. Speaking of that, you got an email from a fifteen-year-old Kenyan girl who was so inspired by your book. Do you want to share that with us?

She was telling me that she went to purchase the book Women Who Run with Wolves and that it popped up, which I’m surprised, on Amazon. Maybe you would like this book, which I think you’d have to pay for for the free advertising, but I didn’t. She said that her brother had passed on. She didn’t know anything about my book but she bought it because Amazon recommended it.

She said, “It just completely flipped that switch for me that he was 21 and I’m 20. He’s my older brother. I feel so robbed because I had always envisioned what it was going to be like. My future husband’s going to meet my brother. They’re going to be best friends. I had envisioned this whole world that came crashing down that wasn’t going to happen. Your book made me flip that around.” That like, “I had this amazing soul and it taught me so much.” She’s like, “Now I’m writing down all the things that we did together, and he’s told me about them and shared them with me. It’s changed everything for me.”

I also want to say that through the book, through the story, Bean is learning about the true nature of people. What did you want to teach people about that in the story?

A lot about non-judgment because she wasn’t as close to her other two brothers. She felt their lack of ability to communicate was that they were shut down. They didn’t even give a crap about their brother. They were moving on and now, finally, has some real meaningful conversations with them. It allows them to open up and talk to her about what this loss meant to them.

She realizes how hard she’s been on them her whole life and that just because someone is quiet doesn’t mean that they’re not grieving in their own way. She’s blown away that there are a lot of different ways to deal with somebody’s transitioning. You can’t see it on the surface. A lot of people are doing it on many different levels.

Beneath the surface, everyone carries their own burdens and complexities. Share on X

There’s a lesson in not judging people and understanding that there’s more to the story behind sometimes a mask or a certain persona that you see. There’s so much more. You also talk about how our connection to the natural world can be healing and transformative in the book. Would you like to talk to us about that?

If you’re open to that and sometimes it can be there for signs. I can go outside, and sometimes I’ll need to see a bud like this one that I’ve never seen before even though I walk this path forever. It’s like, “Where did this purple flower come from?” You start looking at it and it’s like so intricate and delicate like, “Wow.” It’s eye-opening to me, the universe that we live in, how incredibly special it is, and the design of animals. It’s extraordinary that we’re able to be in this realm.

I love how you live in gratitude for everything. That’s wonderful and how you’re teaching people that. You even talked about how, when you were growing up, you would hug a tree.

Nature, to me, was everything. When my parents were fighting, I could go off into the field. It was like this quiet, peaceful, bigger perspective on things. They’re still together. We still have a nice family. They’re just having a bad moment.

It helped you. It helped ground you and help you move forward. When you and your family moved to New York in 1996, a very serendipitous magical moment occurred when you heard wolves howling. Do you want to describe that event to us? How did that open you to your new role, which is your life with the Wolf Conservation Center?

We’d only been in our rental house for a few weeks when I started hearing wolves howling. I knew that they hadn’t been in New York in over 100 years or 120 years or something. I was going to the bus stop and meeting the new mom, saying, “Is anybody else like hearing wolves?” They’re like, “It’s coyotes.” I was like, “I know the difference.” There’s a big difference.

Teach us that. What is the difference between a wolf and a coyote?

Coyotes more bark and wolves howl.

Are coyotes also considered good predators like wolves?

They go after pretty small animals, and their pack might consist of two or three individuals. They’re taken down like rabbits, gophers and squirrels. They need to be in a pack to do that. I also had huge bones appearing on the tennis court behind my house like big bones. I would clean them off and they’d be back again. I’m telling this to other moms and they’re like, “Okay.” They would have thought I was the strangest person.

One day, I walked into the woods behind my house and I saw three wolves in an enclosure next to a trailer. I knocked on the door and this beautiful, young French woman answered the door. She was only 23 or 24 at the time. She told me that she wanted to open up a wolf center that she had been doing. She’s now a very classically trained pianist, world famous. She’s huge. She was doing a photo shoot for an album cover. I met a wolf-dog hybrid next to this photo shoot. She became psychically connected to her. She was never allowed to have pets growing up. She wanted to do something for animals.

The wolf-dog told her that wolves were in huge trouble. She decided she wanted to live in America. She drew a circle around JFK because she knew she’d be on a plane all the time. She mostly plays in Europe and Asia. She found this property in South Salem. She hadn’t opened up the center. She was still trying to figure out exactly what angle of wolf preservation she was going to get into. We talked for two hours that afternoon. She was like, “Would you want to help?”

“Here it is. My sole purpose came right on top of me.”

“What took so long to be here? Yes, I want to get involved.” That was very cool. I ended up finding out that all those bones were the ravens and the turkey vultures picking up the bones out of the wolf enclosure and dropping them on my tennis court to get the bone marrow out.

Isn’t that interesting? One of the missions of this show is to talk about healing and why people need to heal. I know one of the messages in your book is there is no death and we can keep our loved ones alive in our hearts. Is there anything else you’d like to say about that?

Grief and Rebirth: Finding the Joy in Life | Martha Hunt Handler | Finding Gratitude From Loss

We need not be afraid to talk about people who have passed. It’s so nice. Gretchen gets so much out of seeing her son’s friends and being invited to their graduations and they’re the birth of their kids. That means everything to her. These our people that knew my son and there aren’t that many that I’m around that much. Don’t feel like I’m going to be crying because it’s not my son that’s now graduating or having a kid.

It seems like people die, and we put up a barrier, saying, “Don’t ever mention his name. Don’t mention her name. Don’t do that to me,” when it should be just the opposite that you should celebrate their birthdays. Anything that you want that, you bring people together and you start talking about the person. The more that you do, the more they act to stick closer to you.

They’re all around us. Very much around us. What is the Martha Hunt Handler personal tip for finding joy in life?

That consonant that we talked about, redirecting to gratitude. When you feel yourself going down that negative place and the woe is me. You’re like, “No.” When you’re meditating and these things come up, you have to like, “Go. Keep going. Don’t stop here.” It’s a constant redirect in your life that you need to do all the time. Whenever you’re feeling blue or going in a negative downward place, stop and look around you. There’s so much to be grateful for. Everyone can find it. Everyone’s got it. It doesn’t matter who’s going through what. You’ve got things to be grateful for in your life.

It’s so true. Instead of always looking up and being unhappy, maybe look down and understand that you’re so much more fortunate than so many other people, no matter how challenging your situation is. I’ve learned that so much, too, Martha. You’ve beautifully written Winter of the Wolf. You are wonderful. It deals with death, grief, acceptance, coming of age, and moving on with life after experiencing a death in the family.

It is a spell-binding read that can surely aid someone outside of a family dealing with a difficult loss, helping that person to better understand what the family is experiencing and how friends can support them. How wonderful that 100% of your author proceeds go to support the Wolf Conservation Center. Everyone who purchases your book is contributing to our world and to nature, which helps the center fulfill its dual mission of education and providing a breeding and pre-release facility for the two most critically endangered wolf species in North America. Bravo, Martha. I want to thank you from my heart for this very thought-provoking, spiritually enlightened, and fascinating interview on the show.

I loved being with you and appreciate all the background you do before an episode. It’s gratifying to be doing this with somebody who’s read your book. You already feel connected with them in a big way. I thank you for all your work. You deserve all the accolades that there are out there because this is special.

Thank you so much. I am grateful. Thank you for that gift. Make sure to follow us and like us on social at @IreneSWeinberg on Instagram, Facebook and where you get your shows, including YouTube. As I like to say, to be continued. Thanks from my heart, Martha.

Thank you.

Many blessings and bye for now.

Guest’s Links:

Host’s Links:

“I loved being with you and appreciate all the background you do before an episode. It’s gratifying to be doing this with somebody who’s read your book. You already feel connected with them in a big way. I thank you for all your work. You deserve all the accolades that there are out there because this is special.!”

Martha Hunt Handler

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