July 24

Episode 1340: Interview with Kim Hamer about Acts of Love: A Girlfriend’s Guide to Loving Your Friend Through Cancer or Loss

Inspired Stewardship Podcast, Interview


Join us today for the Interview with Kim Hamer, author of 100 Acts of Love: A Girlfriend's Guide to Loving Your Friend through Cancer or Loss...

This is  the interview I had with speaker, HR Rep, and author Kim Hamer.  

In today’s episode I interview Kim Hamer.  I ask Kim about her journey to writing 100 Acts of Love.  I also ask Kim to share with you what you should (and shouldn’t) say to those going through grief.  Kim also talks about how this applies in the workplace as well.

Join in on the Chat below.

Episode 1340: Interview with Kim Hamer about Acts of Love: A Girlfriend's Guide to Loving Your Friend Through Cancer or Loss

[00:00:00] Scott Maderer: Thanks for joining us on episode 1,340 of the Inspired Stewardship Podcast.

[00:00:08] Kim Hamer: Hi everybody. I'm Kim Hamer and I wanna challenge you to invest in yourself, invest in others, develop your influence and impact the world by using your time, your talent, and your treasures to live out your calling. You have the ability to support your person dealing with grief, and one way to be inspired to do that is to listen to this, the Inspired Stewardship Podcasts with my friend Scott Maderer.

[00:00:43] What can be helpful is I have been through the cancer journey myself. I'm happy, like, so if someone came up to me who had cancer, I'm happy to talk to your husband. I'm happy to talk to you so that you, or to connect you with my person who took care of me, so [00:01:00] that's where it is Helpful.

[00:01:02] Scott Maderer: Welcome and thank you for joining us on the Inspired Stewardship Podcast.

[00:01:07] If you truly desire to become the person who God wants you to be, then you must learn to use your time, your talent, and your treasures. For your True calling in the Inspired Stewardship Podcast, you'll learn to invest in yourself, invest in others, and develop your influence so that you can impact the world.

[00:01:38] In today's episode, I interview Kim Hamer. I asked Kim about her journey to writing 100 acts of love. I also ask Kim to share with you what you should and shouldn't say to those going through grief. And Kim then also talks about how this applies in the workplace as well. I've got a new book coming out called Inspired [00:02:00] Living, assembling the puzzle of your call by mastering your time, your talent, and your treasures.

[00:02:05] You can find out more about it and sign up. For getting more information over@inspiredstewardship.com. Inspired Living. That's inspired stewardship.com. Inspired living. On April 16th, 2009, Kim Hamer watched her 44 year old husband take his last breath during his illness and after his death. She was amazed by the helpful ways their coworkers, bosses, friends, and family supported them.

[00:02:34] Kim started calling these kind actions acts of love. After the death of her husband, Kim, an HR leader, noticed that managers received no guidance when navigating cancer or death on their teams. She saw how their lack of helpful tools and guidance was costly. It negatively affected employee engagement, increased turnover rates, and lowered productivity.

[00:02:55] She set out to change that. Combining her personal experience with her [00:03:00] professional knowledge and leadership skills, Kim launched 100 Acts of Love, a consultancy agency that provides tools to help leaders increase team productivity, trust, and engagement when cancer affects the whole team. She is the author of a hundred Acts of Love, A Girlfriend's Guide to Loving Your Friends Through Cancer or Loss, an easy to read book filled with 100 practical, quick and effective ways to support an employee, friend, or coworker.

[00:03:26] She's an HR consultant and sought after public speaker who lives in Los Angeles where she tries not to bother her relatively well-behaved college aged children. Welcome to the show, Kim.

[00:03:39] Kim Hamer: Thank you, Scott. It's really good to be here.

[00:03:41] Scott Maderer: Absolutely. I'm looking forward to it. I talked some in the intro about some of the things you're doing and the journey that you've been on and how you've come to do this.

[00:03:52] But what kind of brought you to the point of deciding that this book a hundred acts of love is what you wanted to put out into the [00:04:00] world?

[00:04:02] Kim Hamer: I'm gonna say that. It was not an easy journey. As I'm no different than any of your other guests. So in, on April 16th I had the honor, and I guess also maybe the horror of watching my 44 year old husband take his last breath.

[00:04:25] It was his second fight with cancer and he lost the battle. And I say honor because. What I realized, especially I was young and we had three young children at the time, they were 12, nine, and seven. What I realized is that a lot of people don't get to be there when their person dies.

[00:04:46] And as much as I didn't there were parts of me that wanted to leave the room, not acknowledge it, ignore it just put my head in the sand. I feel like it was his last greatest gift to me. [00:05:00] Being able to be there when he took his last breath was something that allowed me to see the finality of what was happened.

[00:05:08] Everything about him changed in that moment and it allowed me, I think it gave me a little jumpstart into the grieving process. So what happened before he died and actually af after he died was something I noticed. So when my husband was first diagnosed with cancer, I. It was stage four and stage four.

[00:05:29] For people who don't know means it's metastasized. It's another word for metastasized. It means it's all over his body. It's in different parts of his body. It's very serious, and we were this cancer was so bad and so aggressive that it was probably about two weeks away from actually killing him.

[00:05:46] Which we were totally unaware of. We just he's having trouble breathing and we'll break him into the doctors and so when we finally started this journey and it was, he was diagnosed, he [00:06:00] was, we were told it was cancer on a Friday. We didn't know what kind, because they needed to do a biopsy to do that, and that required surgery.

[00:06:08] On Monday, his oxygen saturation level was at 86%, and that was while he was resting. Most of our oxidations our oxygen saturation level is at 92 97. 92 is low. And so we were told like, you need to put a move on this. This is very serious. We were in a healthcare system that wasn't very good.

[00:06:30] And so we, we were, so the following Sunday, he was being, he had surgery. He had surgery on another Friday, and the following Sunday he had chemo. They couldn't even wait for the surgery to heal itself. They needed to get the stuff into his system. And I remember When the nurses came in with they actually had their protective gear on.

[00:06:51] Now we're also used to seeing it, but this is back in 2006 and no one you didn't see people show up in the gown and the mask over the face and the gloves. And [00:07:00] I remember thinking, oh my gosh, they're putting that stuff into his body. And we both started to cry. And then I remember walking away and being like, I need help and I don't even know what kind of help I need.

[00:07:09] And so I called a friend and I asked her to come up on that Monday and just sit down, talk with me. And we, so we started there just understanding you need meals that's plain and simple. And then we really understood that. I didn't know she couldn't even come up with a lot of really good ideas.

[00:07:26] But through the process everyone kept saying, if you need anything, let me know. If you need anything, let me know. If you need anything, let me know. And at first it felt so helpful. I was like, all these people really care about us. They love us. That support felt really like it was just coming in.

[00:07:39] But then about a week into it, I realized it. The least helpful thing that anyone can ever say, and it took me a while to put my finger on it, and we'll talk about that a little bit later. But it was so unhelpful. And so what I noticed while he was sick was that some people were able to come in and take really good action that was very supportive [00:08:00] and kind and loving, and other people, weren weren't.

[00:08:03] And they would step outside. And the people that I thought would show up, a lot of them didn't. But people who I didn't even know or I had just knew, showed up in big ways. So that's a very typical experience when something like this, something big happens in your life. Fast forward and he is cancer free and we're both very excited.

[00:08:23] But again, it's not what I expect. The chemo wasn't, the chemo for both of us wasn't what we expected. Remember thinking he's so lucky he gets to read and no, when you're taking chemo your brain is not functioning very well. It's not like a vacation. So we get to the end of this.

[00:08:40] Chemo and he's cancer free and we're excited, but we're also very cautious because it can come back. He's still having tests every month. And then it was every three months. And also we looked at each other and we're like, what the heck just happened? And we exchanged, we changed our roles.

[00:08:58] There were it brings, it brought out the [00:09:00] best in our marriage and the worst in our marriage. So we go through trying to manage do we even wanna stay married? Is that something we want to happen? When our, at this point we were married for 12 years and so we're just thinking about it.

[00:09:12] We're not sure. We're feeling our way through it. We feel we finally get our feet on the ground. We decide that we do wanna stay married together. We move forward and then the cancer comes back. And then in four months he's dead. And then we, then I go into widowhood and the same thing happened.

[00:09:29] People kept saying, if you need anything, let me know. If you need anything, let me know. And then people familiar pe some people stepped out, other people stepped in. And what I noticed after a couple years after that was that, I had a lot of love for the people who didn't step in because I realized they didn't step in out of hatred or out of dislike or out of disrespect.

[00:09:51] They didn't step in because they didn't know what to do. They just didn't know what to do. They didn't know what to say. They when we feel uncomfortable, [00:10:00] we make it all about ourselves. So they made it all about them. They were too terrified. They were afraid they were gonna say something wrong.

[00:10:05] They were afraid they were gonna say something that was gonna make me cry. And that's who I wrote the book for. I wrote the book for all those people who were maybe afraid to commit. They were afraid of if I bring one meal I'm gonna have to bring she's a widow, she's gonna need meals every Monday for the next several months.

[00:10:22] I can't commit to that. So there's those people and they're mostly, it was mostly for people who just felt so tongue-tied and terrified. And I wanted to make it really easy. I wanted to make it really accessible. So it's the kind of book where you open it up to a page and it'll be a very short tip.

[00:10:40] I call 'em acts of love, and it'll be a very short one, such as buy her a gas card. Who doesn't like a free gas card? Who doesn't need free gas? And a lot of times we are afraid to approach things from a, we know that maybe there wasn't life insurance and [00:11:00] we're not sure, and we maybe see them struggling a little bit.

[00:11:02] And nobody wants to be the first person to say, Hey, do you need money? Because our pride will be like, no, we're fine. We're good. We don't need anything. We don't want any handouts. But it's a great way to offer financial support without. Overstepping those boundaries. So I made it as a way as people just open it up, grab a tip, go and do it.

[00:11:20] Or it's also a great way of just generating ideas. You see all these ideas. So they're from everything from how to be really helpful with food, to being helpful around the house, to being helpful if they have kids, to being helpful with their car, to being helpful at work, to being helpful if you don't live nearby.

[00:11:35] So you see all these tips and then from there you start to generate your own ideas. So that's a very long story to how the book came to. To be sure.

[00:11:43] Scott Maderer: And I appreciate, like you said, we'll dive into some of the more specifics a little later. But I think I appreciate you sharing not just the, your part of the journey, but who you wrote the book for.

[00:11:58] You didn't really write it quote [00:12:00] for yourself or for the grieving person. Yes, they would benefit from it, but it's not, that's not really the audience. It's the audience is for all of those people that. And let's face it, that's all of us at one time or another who have been with somebody who was grieving going, what do I do?

[00:12:18] I wanna help, but what do I do? I, exactly. Yeah. Exactly. Exactly. As you went through this journey how did your faith journey intersect with coming up with the idea for the book and putting the book out into the world?

[00:12:38] Kim Hamer: So it, I was mad. I didn't let God, I thought that God had screwed up when people said God need, God needed him more than you do.

[00:12:45] I was like, that's a crappy answer, a response, and you're wrong. Not a

[00:12:50] Scott Maderer: good thing to say.

[00:12:52] Kim Hamer: Yeah. Not a good thing to say no to self. Exactly. What do you mean that God needed him more than my children needed him. Like my children need a [00:13:00] father. I didn't have much of my relationship with God prior to my husband dying.

[00:13:05] Was. Very common, maybe not very common. I didn't go to church when I was young because my parents didn't have negative church experiences growing up. So they were like, we're not raised. I had to ask my parents to go to church and I would, I asked them to take me to the Protestant church in our town.

[00:13:20] I was like, will you please take me to a service? Cuz I had no idea what this whole thing was like. And then I would go to church with my, some of my Catholic friends cuz I was just it was new, it's exciting, it was different. And so I would pray to God and ask God for things and I wouldn't get him.

[00:13:36] And so I'm like, okay, lemme try again. Lemme pray to God, ask God for things and I wouldn't get him. And I remember that passage it is I can't, it's so funny. I say it every morning to my aunt. Ask. And he asking and you'll receive, right? And I was like that's baloney.

[00:13:52] Clearly that's not true. Not understanding that I wasn't asking. Correctly. And it wasn't about the fact that I wasn't deserving, it was [00:14:00] just the way that God gives. And so

[00:14:03] Scott Maderer: I understand the context of what that actually means in context. Yeah,

[00:14:07] Kim Hamer: exactly. Exactly. And I was outlining for God what I wanted.

[00:14:10] Like I was like, here's the box and I want you to fill the box. And that's not the way God works. God is not suspect. Vending machine. That's what tell people. Exactly. That's a really good one. You don't walk up and put in two quarters Exactly. And make your s Exactly. Make your selection and you get it.

[00:14:23] So God was, oh, I'm

[00:14:24] Scott Maderer: sorry that nowadays it'd be like seven quarters, not two, so not

[00:14:27] Kim Hamer: two. Yeah. Yeah. Inflation. So I I didn't understand that and I'm sure God was giving me what I. What I needed at that point, but I was so focused on getting these things, I didn't see them.

[00:14:38] So my relationship with God actually didn't start till I started to fall apart. And and that actually wasn't in year one and year two like most people think. It was year three. And so I had some underlying issues with alcohol. I had some underlying issues with overeating, and I went to seek help from someone.

[00:14:56] And the first thing that I had to do was to sit down and meditate.[00:15:00] And then I had to get on my knees. It was one of the things that, so I was so desperate that I just did everything that they said, and the knee part was really hard for me. It actually took me a year into this program to actually get on my knees because that was too humbling.

[00:15:14] If I'm on my knees and asking for something what's that about? I tried it already before and it didn't work. I didn't get on my knees, but why would be on my knees? And it was just the humility. And I do mean this in a good way. It's not the humility of being humiliated.

[00:15:30] It is the humility of understanding that I am nothing that without God's support, love, help, drive, I mean nothing. And so that's where my relationship with God got really deep. And it is It is still going strong. I no longer think that God isn't there. I understand that oftentimes I'm not seeing what God is providing for me, and that's my job to open my [00:16:00] eyes wider.

[00:16:01] So that's how it happened. It wasn't, it it didn't, I didn't have faith when he died and I really got angry at people who were telling me that God needed another angel. One person told me that this was a I must have done something that caused God to take my husband.

[00:16:19] It was it was, there were some things that were really harsh so

[00:16:26] Scott Maderer: did you go to jail for assault on that one? I probably would've and yeah,

[00:16:35] I probably would've punched him in the face. I'm sorry. Yeah, I just got released.

[00:16:40] Kim Hamer: It's not it's not polite to, I understood when people were saying things that they were trying to help. Sure. But, and I tried to keep that patience, but I honestly, I probably should have gotten mad at more people and just said, you know what, that's not helpful.

[00:16:56] That's not helpful at all. But I [00:17:00] just felt like people were trying to help and I realized that

[00:17:02] Scott Maderer: it's hard to do that too, especially when you're grieving and hurting and other ways.

[00:17:05] Kim Hamer: Yes. Exactly's hard balance. Exactly. Yeah, exactly. Exactly.

[00:17:09] Scott Maderer: Yeah. Yeah. That's back to you saying some of the problems that you were having while you were going through the grief, because again, boundaries.

[00:17:16] Yeah. What let's, so we, I think we've covered some things that we shouldn't say rather well cuz Yeah. I'm sorry I just shake my head because but at the same time, like you said, people don't mean it when they say something like that. They don't mean it to be hurtful.

[00:17:36] Or at least most people don't. There's probably exceptions to that too. But what should we be saying? If we're in that situation, we've got a coworker or friend, a a fellow church member whatever it is and we find ourselves in that situation where they've lost someone or they're dealing with that grief situation.

[00:17:57] Maybe it's even just a diagnosis [00:18:00] they, yep. They haven't that, that kind of thing. It still causes the grief. What are some of the things that we should be saying or maybe not saying?

[00:18:09] Kim Hamer: Yeah, so I wanna go dive into why no one should say. If you need anything, let me know cuz it's really for specific reasons and when we pull those reasons apart, you'll be able to figure out what to say.

[00:18:20] So the first reason it's not helpful is because you're not witnessing. And we all know what witnessing and we don't all know what I mean. When I talk about witnessing, I talk about sitting in the yuck with them. It's not fixing, it's not making it better, it's not trying to ignore it, it's not trying to put a silver lining or in it, it is literally going, holy cow, this sucks.

[00:18:43] So sitting in, so witnessing and I liken it too, if something really good happens to you, you want, you tell people and you want people to go, oh my God, that's so exciting. Yay. I'm so excited for you. When something bad happens to you, obviously you don't want people going, yay, but you want people going [00:19:00] Oh, my heart hurts.

[00:19:02] I'm like, I'm so sorry. You want people to witness your journey cuz it's a horrible life thing that's happening to your life is turn changed and you want people to acknowledge that. So that's the first thing. That phrase doesn't do that. The second thing is, honestly Scott, what is anything? Like when you think about it, what is anything? I had a toddler when my husband was first diagnosed. Did that mean you're gonna take your brand new, just cleaned car up to the preschool and pick up my vomiting toddler? Or did that mean that you'd be happy to drop off a bottle of wine? So anything is way too big a word to anyone to wrap?

[00:19:36] Anyone for anyone to wrap their head around? The third, what also puts it on you. Define one. That's the third reason is that the third one, I'm sorry, I jumped the gun. There you

[00:19:43] go. No, you're so smart. The third thing is it puts the pressure on the person you're trying to help to come up with the thing that they might need.

[00:19:51] So now you've actually abdicated responsibility for helping them. You've now said, now you need to tell me what you need. And [00:20:00] they're not dealing with a full deck of cards. This thing has just taken out the Jack of Spades,

[00:20:06] Scott Maderer: the four of

[00:20:07] Kim Hamer: diamonds, maybe 10 of them, maybe 25 of them. We don't know where they're at.

[00:20:12] And now you're asking them to tell you what they don't know what they need either. And like I said with my friend we knew, we're like, okay, meals. And yeah, you should probably get rides for kids to the school. Okay. Who can do that for you? I don't know. That was really as far as we got.

[00:20:27] You're asking someone to figure that out and they can't. And the fourth reason, it's not helpful, God bless us all, but we are really bad at asking for help. We are really bad at I think that's one of the reasons some of us don't have good relationships with God, right? So we're just bad at asking for help.

[00:20:45] And now you're asking someone who is. Under a great amount of stress. Now you're asking to figure out what they need and then in their incredible vulnerable state to come to you to ask you to do something that you may not even wanna [00:21:00] do. In the moment you're making this offer and you will do anything, but then you walk away and you're like I gotta pick up the kids, or I gotta go to work, or I gotta do this, and I can't fit this in.

[00:21:10] So that's why it is the least helpful phrase to say to anyone any sort of form of that is, is not good. So what I tell people to do instead is, the one thing is get in there with them. Look, I know that saying I'm sorry doesn't feel like it's enough, and that's because we all come from a place of wanting to solve, wanting to get in there, wanting to fix, wanting to help in action.

[00:21:33] But it is a very powerful phrase. So I say you could say, I'm so sorry this is happening to you. I'm so sorry. This is part of your life journey. One of the things that I loved when people said is, I don't even know what to say. Right when you say it with meaning the shock value, you are feeling their shock, you're feeling their pain for a moment.

[00:21:56] So it's a really wonderful phrase. Just go, ugh. Like [00:22:00] I one person said to me, I feel, I think I'm gonna be sick. That's it's so powerful because you, as a person who's going through it, you get that the other person gets it on some level, and that makes that the person feel less alone.

[00:22:14] That's your job, really. Your job is to make them feel less alone. So that's the first thing. The second thing is be specific on the kind of help you can offer. Now, I know that your audience is going, but I don't know what to do. Here's the thing. First of all, buy the book. I'm gonna tell you that right now.

[00:22:27] Just buy the book. But second Cause it gives you at least a hundred ideas. Exactly.

[00:22:33] Exactly. Exactly. But we all have things that we are good at and we don't even think about them because they're so easy for us. So for instance, I am not. A great person to bring

[00:22:45] you

[00:22:45] Kim Hamer: a meal. I get every time I talk about it, I get a little anxious.

[00:22:49] Like I'm not good at planning a meal like I can cook for myself and sometimes cook for my kids, but I am not like this cook. Like I don't enjoy like timing the chicken to come out with the beets and the like. No, I just [00:23:00] don't enjoy that. However, I am the world's best grocery shopper and if you need an item and you need me to track that item down and to meet that truck at 5:00 AM in the morning at the grocery store to get that thing off that truck, I'm your girl.

[00:23:12] Call me. So we all have things that we're good at. Maybe you're really good at cleaning kitchens. You just like a clean kitchen. It makes you happy. And it's really easy to do. That's your thing. Maybe you're good at car maintenance or you've got the world's best mechanic and you wanna make sure so that's what you offer.

[00:23:27] Maybe you're good at filling out forms, so why not help them register their car or register kids for camp or. Fill out insurance forms. Maybe you've got this thing for making sure, finding bills and making sure that no one, that you're not being overcharged. So that's what you can offer, right?

[00:23:42] Maybe you're really good, you're at work and you're like really good at making pivot tables on Excel spreadsheet, or really good at putting agendas together, reports together. That's what you can offer. So I think always start there. Start with something specific, and don't be embarrassed by what it is because when you start with something [00:24:00] specific, you are taking a huge load off the person who is dealing with this tragedy.

[00:24:05] And you're gonna offer more than once. Hey, I know you don't like to, I know you know, I know you have these reports with Excel spreadsheets. I'm happy to do them. Hey, just a reminder, I'm happy to do them. Hey, just a reminder, I'm happy to do them. And two things happen when you do this. You are one.

[00:24:20] Providing comfort for the person. They know what you are willing to do and it's so clear and they're gonna remember they're gonna, it's gonna be because everyone else is saying, let me know if you need anything. So it's very clear to them. Number two, they might actually ask you for something else because you have proven that you get it on some level that many people around them don't get.

[00:24:41] So when you repeat your offer, Obviously don't go crazy. Don't offer him to do the Excel spreadsheet every day for seven weeks. Just offer every now and then. But when you do that, you are proving that you are someone who gets it and will probably get it done. So they might ask you to do something at work [00:25:00] like, Hey, I've gotta do this report, and I'm having struggling with the introduction and the ends.

[00:25:04] Can you help there? And then you get to say, yeah, I can do that, or, I'm not really good at that. Who is, and you can say, I'll find someone who is good, right? So you can help them. And the thing that I think that we forget is those small acts of love. Really powerful. Sure.

[00:25:23] It's not the yes. The person who went grocery shopping for us was I cannot tell you how grateful I am, but it's the small things. It's my neighbor who came up one day and said, when was the last time the oil was changed in your car? And I was like, There's oil in the car. I have no idea.

[00:25:42] Exactly right. It's the woman who sent me I kept a blog during these, both these times, it's the woman who sent me $10. She couldn't do anything else. She didn't leave a return envelope. She just said, I. This is all I can afford, but I just wanted to send you $10. I hope [00:26:00] you use it on a cup of coffee or cup of tea for yourself.

[00:26:02] It's those small things that make such a difference, and that's what I want people to really know. It's not the grand. You don't have to fix it. You can't fix it unless you are a doctor who happens to be working on a cure for the particular, the very particular kind of cancer they have, then you can have a conversation with them or you maybe, you know that person.

[00:26:24] But it's your power doesn't lie in changing their lives. Your power lies in just showing up regularly saying, I love you. I see you, I'm sorry. And here's the banana cake that I'm really good at cooking.

[00:26:43] Scott Maderer: So let me ask about, cuz you know, you mentioned the witnessing and you just reinforced that a little bit.

[00:26:48] The showing up and being there and it's something that I've. Had expressed to me in various situations and and I don't at least find it always [00:27:00] helpful, so I wanted to ask you about it, to, to help clarify this idea of witness and being there in the mess with them. And I guess I'll compare it to what sometimes happens, I think is we wanna tell people what we've been through.

[00:27:15] Yes. And make that oh, I've also lost someone too. Or I went through the even if it's the, it could be the same thing. It could be. Yes. Something completely different, but it's not, yes. Is that how is that different from witnessing and showing up and being in the mess with them?

[00:27:34] Kim Hamer: It's a very fine line. For instance when I meet a widow, I immediately say, I'm a widow too. I get you right. Because we're in the exact same boat. I get what she's been through. It doesn't even necessarily matter how her person died. If there's a cancer widow, then we definitely get it.

[00:27:50] If it's a widow from suicide I actually even pay homage. That's a whole different animal and I'm so sorry that this has happened in your life. So there's that. I think that [00:28:00] there's a time and a place to bring it up, but I don't always, we need to be very careful. So I used to hear.

[00:28:05] Oh my gosh, my brothers, uncles, fathers, cousins neighbor had cancer twice, and they're cured. So don't worry. Like they're trying to make me feel better by comparing my situation with some random person situation who's not even someone that they know. And so that is not helpful at all. At all. What can be helpful is I have been through the cancer journey myself.

[00:28:28] I'm happy so if someone came up to me who had cancer, I'm happy to talk to your husband. I'm happy to talk to you so that you, or to connect you with my person who took care of me. So that's where it is helpful. But in general, I say dont, don't do any of that comparing. Stay away from that because you don't know un unless you really know and understand the situation or you're a really good friend, the comparing is not gonna be your friend.

[00:28:57] It's gonna make you sound most of [00:29:00] the time, make you sound like you don't know what you're talking about, and that you're trying to make it about you. So there is this it's, if you wanna talk, I'm here. And you can follow that up with, Hey, I'm gonna go grab some tea. Do you wanna grab some tea with me?

[00:29:14] You can follow it up with some kind of innocuous ways to connect. But I I think unless you have. The exact same situation of them, and you really are available for them. It's not the time to launch into your story, it's just the time to say, especially in the, when I'm talking really initially, it's to say, Hey, I hear you.

[00:29:38] This happened to me similar circumstance. Let's have a conversation if you want. So it's making that offer of I'm willing to. Again, you're back to making a very specific offer. I'm willing to go sit down with you, grab a cup of coffee, grab a tea, whatever it is, and have a conversation, and I've had something similar in my life.[00:30:00]

[00:30:00] Scott Maderer: Yes, but that's also okay. If the person says no, then you know Yes. It's giving them the ability to go, I really can't talk about it right now. I don't wanna process it right now. Exactly. Exactly. Or whatever.

[00:30:10] Kim Hamer: Yeah, exactly. And it does give you permission. One of the things people always say, can I say, how are you?

[00:30:15] And I say, no, don't say that. But there's a caveat, right? Because when you ask, how are you, what you're really asking is, you're being nosy. You wanna know like, how are you doing? How are you feeling? What's happened? Were you on the do you really want me to tell you that I, before I dropped the kids off of school today, I was on the ball on the kitchen floor hysterically crying, and my oldest son was comforting me.

[00:30:36] Do you really wanna hear that? Or do you wanna hear that? So you can then go, oh my gosh, did you hear like the grief? So so you're trying to improving your own personal knowledge. So I always say when you're, when you've been through something similar, You get to say, and this is true for anyone, but you can say, how are you right now?

[00:30:57] And then stand in silence and let them answer. [00:31:00] That how are you right now is a really powerful statement. You're not asking for gossip. You're bringing it in and you're getting, you're empathetic and you're like, how are you right now? And that person may burst out in tears, and that person may say, oh my God, I'm just I'm, I don't know.

[00:31:18] I can't believe I have cancer. I'm still in shock. Or that my person may say I'm okay. And if you're a person who's been through it that, that question has much more weight to it. That and that would make, yeah I think that sounds like it's a small difference, but there is actually a really big difference between how are you and how are you right now?

[00:31:40] Scott Maderer: Yeah. They mean completely different things. Yes. Really, in terms of what you're asking for from the person and like you said, I think sometimes, Even if we're not, we can come across as if we're quote, fishing for gossip as opposed to Yes. I [00:32:00] sometimes call I say for Christians public prayer is holy gossip.

[00:32:07] When, so it's we're calling for prayers for people and it's I'd like to lift up Kim and her, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. And they fill in all the blanks and it's okay, we're just gossiping out loud. It's that was way more detail than was necessary.

[00:32:22] Yep. Yep, exactly. Exactly. That kinda moment of doing that sometimes. Yep. Let's shift gears a little bit and talk about places like. Like a workplace or you, you mentioned doing the Excel spreadsheet for a coworker, that kind of thing. For maybe somebody who's in a leadership position, what are the, some way, some of the ways as a manager or a leader, that we can help support our employees when they're going through this kind of situation?

[00:32:52] Kim Hamer: Yeah. I'm really glad you asked Scott, because this is an area that a lot of people aren't thinking about. When there's a death of an employee, companies [00:33:00] usually go to, I'm gonna call my employee assistance program, and they're gonna bring in grief counselors, and then we're gonna call it a day. And so they're not thinking about the fact that you still, that grief doesn't go away once a grief counselors go away, that you have a team that is reeling from the loss of this person, and then you have a manager that's reeling from the loss.

[00:33:17] And having to still meet KPIs and goals and company goals. So I often tell managers there's a couple things. The first thing is to really understand how grief will show up for your employees. What does that look like? And it's not what we think we often think maybe our employee will come in and burst out crying during a meeting.

[00:33:37] No that does happen. But employees, you'll find one employee who never makes mistakes, making mistakes. You're gonna find employees who start turning in things late. You're gonna find employees who roll their eyes in meetings when they never used to do that before, who are quick to talk back, who lose their temper more quickly.

[00:33:54] Maybe not with you, but maybe with their coworkers or on other cross-functional teams. So the f [00:34:00] what I do with managers is I give them an overview of, Hey, this is how grief is gonna show up on your team. And the other thing that we talk about there's, so I could, we could have a whole two hour podcast and I could dive deep into this.

[00:34:12] So it's recognizing that it's recognizing the grief in yourself and then it's normalizing grief on the team. So what does that look like? That looks like the manager just suddenly in the middle of a meeting going, Ugh, I just had a memory of Scott and it just, I need a second. Being really authentic and real about how grief shows up.

[00:34:34] And also how you recover from grief. Because that's the biggest lesson that you're gonna be teaching your team is in when you're teaching them resilience and authenticity. And when you're teaching someone resilience, that means, that doesn't mean that you say, Hey, this is what resilience looks like.

[00:34:50] You say you act and you show what resilience looks like. So that's the bad day. That's the day where you're like, you know what? I'm just having a moment. I need to reschedule this [00:35:00] meeting. I need to leave, I need to go cry for a little bit. I need to just do something cuz I'm having a moment. So you wanna make sure you're modeling that.

[00:35:07] I think the other thing is making sure that you've given your team, that you've educated your team and what grief looks like. We all think we know what grief looks like, and then when you grieve, you're, it's very confusing and disconcerting. Like you're like, you're sitting, you're not even people always thought, oh, did this trigger you?

[00:35:27] No, I was driving down the street minding my own business, and then all of a sudden I'm bursting, crying cuz I miss my husband. Like nothing triggered it. There was no, so we often think that, oh, something's going to trigger their grief and then I'm going to cry. And that's not how it shows up. So your employees need to know that six weeks after an employee dies, they may be feeling like they need to quit their job.

[00:35:50] Because all of a sudden their job is stupid. It doesn't make any sense. All I'm doing is picking the colors of ink and designing this baby clothes [00:36:00] thing, and it doesn't I'm not making a difference in life and Janice's husband is trying to manage their new life without their kids. What am I doing here?

[00:36:09] That's a common response to grief. But if it's not talked about so that employees know that it's a common response, you end up with. Higher absenteeism and you end up losing some really good employees because they think the solution to how they're feeling is to leave the organization and find another job.

[00:36:26] So it's taking that time to educate your team, and it's also taking the time to check in and doing those one-on-ones and the beginning of those one-on-ones are, how are you feeling right now? How is your grief process going right now? How's work going for you given the situation?

[00:36:45] And it's also sharing what it's like for you as well. So you're modeling it and you're asking those really specific questions. And then lastly, it's not even lastly, but it's also giving managers the tools to have those hard conversations. Because four months [00:37:00] out you might find that an employee hasn't recovered, right?

[00:37:03] They're still like making a ton of errors in their work. You have to have a performance conversation with them. You can't let it go. And so instead of firing them, which is where managers go, they get frustrated. They get and they're frustrated. Their frustration level is much higher because their employee died.

[00:37:19] So they get frustrated with this employee that's not doing their work. They've talked to them several times, they're not performing. And so now they're at a point where I just want them to go. And that's not what's happening. What's happening is you're seeing grief elongated. And so how can you give the managers the tools to have those uncomfortable conversations?

[00:37:37] Uncomfortable, but powerful conversations. That will let the employee say, Hey, you know what, this is what I'm seeing, and I'm thinking that maybe it has to do with Bob's death, that you're still it knocks our brains out. Are you going to grief counseling? Maybe you'd like to try it, but here's what I'm seeing and we need to really focus on this because we can't continue to have, you can't [00:38:00] have errors in your code, like the way you're having them continue to having them.

[00:38:03] And I've been seeing it happening for the last four months and I haven't seen it improve much. So you're having those honest conversations with them, which most managers are terrified of. Because they don't wanna have them. They don't, they wanna be, every manager wants to be liked they wanna be thought of a good manager.

[00:38:21] So I think those are the things. And then giving the managers the opportunity to reflect and have a place to go. I help them, like they we set up coaching appointments so that they can process what's happening with their team and what's happening with their own grief. And so that they can manage it better on the workforce.

[00:38:38] Scott Maderer: And I will point out, cuz I've actually been a manager of a fairly large team and so I've I for about 11 years. And in that I had multiple times Yeah. Where either a spouse passed or an employee passed or, and cause even if it's the employee's spouse, that still can affect the whole team, not just the employee.

[00:38:59] Yes. [00:39:00] Cause you know, yes. It ripples through And one thing is I've even I've seen it both, it play out. Sometimes the employee was well loved, liked key employee. And I've seen sometimes the one that everyone complained about, yes. And it was, it's it's the person that everybody's would you fire this person?

[00:39:22] And then yes. Something happens to him. Something happens. No. Yep. Completely different weird reaction. Yep. So it's not, this isn't about, it's the favorite employee or the best employee, or the longest her the employee that's been there the longest or Right. Literally can be anyone you know.

[00:39:41] Yes. In the team or that touches the

[00:39:42] Kim Hamer: team. Yes, and I also really wanna talk about that. Something I talk to managers about all the time is that when they hear about the employee who like is diagnosed or has cancer or whatever, their usual reaction is not oh my gosh, I feel so bad.

[00:39:58] Their usual reaction is, oh my God, what about [00:40:00] the work that needs to get done? And then they feel how guilty, the guilty they feel guilty about that. When I normalize that, it's a perfectly normal reaction. It is a hundred percent. Normal reaction. It does not mean that you're a bad manager. It doesn't mean I had one manager say, and I get an email every week from someone who talks about the death of the employee was the hardest thing I've ever done as a manager.

[00:40:25] And in my 25 year career, my 15 year career, And one of the things that I like to point out to managers is, look, there's you can, I had a manager who was like, felt guilty and was carrying around that guilt for years because they were glad that this person died because it's exactly the situation you described.

[00:40:46] It was a employee that needed to be out. They were struggling with how to get them out. The employee was using all sorts of protection, so they were staying on the team. Every, it was bringing the men en energy of the team down. Everyone didn't want this person there. And [00:41:00] when he died, the manager was like, oh my God.

[00:41:02] Thank you. And literally, oh my God, thank you. And then he was thought, I'm a horrible person. Like I'm a horrible person for thinking that. And so when we finally had a conversation, this happened years ago, when we finally had a conversation, he felt so much better because he realized that it was a normal response.

[00:41:22] It is a normal response. It does not in any way mean that you're a bad person. And that's, and and that's you bring it back to Jesus, Jesus forgives us. So oftentimes Jesus has forgiven us. We haven't forgiven ourselves, right? And so remembering that if Jesus can forgive us if that person, that holy person can say, you know what?

[00:41:48] It's okay. It's okay. You're having those thoughts and that person was really hard to deal with and you don't mean ill by it. You're just relieved. Then you can forgive yourself from it.

[00:41:58] Scott Maderer: [00:42:00] So I've got a few questions that I like to ask all of my guests, but before I ask that is there anything else about the work that you do with companies or with individuals and the information that you share around this that you think would be really important for the listener to hear?

[00:42:20] Kim Hamer: I think, and I'll repeat this at the end because it's my my motto, I think that people need to remember, managers need to remember that what they do that matters. And I think when you're a manager, you forget that your team is watching you. And how you manage grief is how your team is, can either build trust, maintain trust, or destroy trust.

[00:42:43] And it has this so there's this thought that, oh, I no one's really paying attention to me and what I'm doing, and that is the exact wrong thought. I think the last thing is, if you're a manager right now, know that you're under fire. You have [00:43:00] so many responsibilities.

[00:43:01] You're not just responsible for meeting co corporate goals. You're now responsible for engagement, wellbeing, and mental health. So I really, I think that, I just wanna make sure that managers know that there's a place to go and to get support, at least when they're dealing with grief. Because it is, you have a lot of pressure on you.

[00:43:18] You're not crazy. You're not crazy at all, and your team is watching you. So your team is watching what you do and how you manage this and judging you and the company for it. So just be thoughtful about how you go about it. So my brand is inspired stewardship. Yes.

[00:43:36] Scott Maderer: And I run things through that lens of stewardship. And yet that's another, that's one of those words that I've learned over the years. It means a lot of different things to a lot of different people. So when you hear the word stewardship, what does that mean to you? And what does the impact of that, that meaning on your life?

[00:43:54] Kim Hamer: Stewardship means to me the [00:44:00] responsibility. To pay it forward. Also the responsibility that we have over everyone. My kids are not really my kids. I'm stewards of my children. And that has been a very difficult thing for me to grasp. The book is not my book, I'm a steward of this message.

[00:44:27] I'm a steward of reminding people how much they matter. So that's what stewardship means to me. It's taking care. It's honoring the message that God has put in your heart and and honoring the people that are in front of you. And also honoring the people who came before you and making sure that you're keeping the path clear for those who are gonna come after you.

[00:44:57] Scott Maderer: So this is my favorite question that I like to [00:45:00] ask everybody. Imagine for a minute that I invented this magic machine and with this machine, I could pluck you from where you are today and magically transport you into the future. 150, maybe 250 years, okay? But through the power of this machine, you could look back and you can see your whole life.

[00:45:17] See all of the connections, all of the ripples, all of the impacts that you've left behind. What impact do you hope you've left behind in the world? That

[00:45:24] Kim Hamer: people know that they matter. So I sometimes I get emotional sometimes when I talk about it because what I see right now is so many people thinking that they don't matter, right?

[00:45:36] Thinking that it doesn't, whether they show up for work or don't show up for work, or whether they are kind to someone or not kind to someone, I just feel so strongly when you put something hateful, when you're mean to someone, you hurt somebody. There's no kind of like in the ether and and when you're kind to [00:46:00] someone, You are showing love and kindness, and I think that we forget in our you look, I have, I suffer from Instagram. I where I scroll through for 15 minutes and I think, oh, I'm too short. I'm too fat. I'm not putting enough stuff out. I don't live a good life.

[00:46:16] Just it gets in my head because I'm looking at all these beautiful images and then I have to remember that things are curated. That people put those images out there on purpose, that just because that image out there is having them having a good day does not mean they had a good morning or good night or the day after was good.

[00:46:34] So I have to

[00:46:36] Scott Maderer: remember. Or even that two and a half inches out of frame. Exactly. Exactly. You guys should see what's up.

[00:46:43] Kim Hamer: Actually It's really funny. I'll show you this cuz no one can see, you can't see it and anyone else can see it, but here's what's on my floor. And what you, what the audience can't see is behind me right now is these beautiful sort of semi curated bookshelves. I've got my book up there. I've got these kind of fun things that picture my kids be plants. Yeah I [00:47:00] got phrases be awesome. Hope monger up there. But what I just showed Scott was on the floor is a bunch of empty boxes that I'm gonna, I'm supposed to be sending these things out and there's just kinda a pile of, so thank you for bringing that up.

[00:47:13] So I think that we. We are so focused on ourselves. And what we want and what we don't have and how little, how small we feel that we forget how powerful we are and how looking at the grocery clerk in the eye when you're checking out means something saying to the mailman. Thank you for delivering my mail.

[00:47:36] Today means something, right? And when you comes to someone who you care about, whether you know them, really look offices, you have really good office friends, and then you have people who are on the periphery. If you are on the periphery of someone who's lost an employee or someone who's lost a partner, you still matter.

[00:47:53] Your acknowledging their loss fortifies them. It helps them [00:48:00] take one little baby step forward into a world that they did not intend to live in. So I think that's the message is how much you matter and it, you don't have to show up with bells and whistles and handing out a hundred dollar bills.

[00:48:17] You just show up exactly as who you are. In the relationship that you have with that person, and you just show up in that way, and that makes a difference for them. So

[00:48:28] Scott Maderer: there you go. So what's coming next for you? What what comes next in the second half of the year as you continue on your journey?

[00:48:35] Kim Hamer: Yeah, so I am building a consultant and building. I've been running this consultancy and I'm working with private clients right now. Corporate clients who are dealing with employee death. I have been speaking a lot and looking forward to speaking a ton more. So if anyone's listening and wants someone to come in and talk about what do you say, what do you do in getting over those awkward moments?

[00:48:59] [00:49:00] I am your person. And I'm really looking forward to, I'm really looking forward to receiving testimonials that say, thank you, Kim. I'm so grateful that you came in. We now all know how much, how important we are to each other. That's what I'm, that's what I'm looking for. I'm looking for those emails where people learn, where people feel like they can acknowledge their importance in their li, in their own lives and the lives of those around them.

[00:49:30] So that's what I'm want to pull forward into my life in the next year.

[00:49:40] You can find out

[00:49:41] Scott Maderer: more about Kim over on her website, 100 acts of love.com, and that's the number 1 0 0 not spelled out. And of course I'll have a link to that over in the show notes as well. Kim, is there anything else you'd like to share with the listener?

[00:49:57] Kim Hamer: You all know, I told you the one [00:50:00] thing never to say to anybody dealing with cancer or loss, but there are four other key phrases never to use.

[00:50:06] And these phrases came from my interviews of over 200 widows and also people with cancer. So if you wanna know what the four things never to say, why they're bad things to say and what to say instead, check out my website at 100 x of love.com/what Not to say all one words, no spaces, no capitalize, and you can download.

[00:50:27] Five phrases never to say to anybody dealing with cancer or loss. So that's, I hope that there'll be a fa, I know that'll be a fantastic guide so that you will feel comfortable knowing what to say when it happens, cuz it's really not if. We all know this. It's not if it's when your friend gets cancer, when your coworker is dealing with a the death of an employee or a partner or a child.

[00:50:49] And then also if you'd like questions you're in a situation right now and you just don't know what to do, please go ahead and I can, you can follow me on Instagram and DM me there. You can [00:51:00] also reach to reach out to me on LinkedIn. I post ev almost, I'm posting pretty much. A lot on LinkedIn, so that's a great place to reach out to me as well.

[00:51:09] Yeah, and I think the final thing is I just, I know I said this already a couple times, but please step into the fact that you matter. You are important to the person who is suffering right now, and there are things that you can do that will make their lives just a little bit easier. And that's good enough.

[00:51:35] Scott Maderer: Thanks so much for listening to the Inspired Stewardship Podcast. As a subscriber and listener, we challenge you to not just sit back and passively listen, but act on what you've heard and find a way to live your calling. If you enjoyed this episode, Please. Please do us a favor. Go over to inspired [00:52:00] stewardship.com/itunes.

[00:52:02] Rate all one word iTunes rate. It'll take you through how to leave a rating and review, and how to make sure you're subscribed to the podcast so that you can get every episode as it comes out in your feed. Until next time, invest your time. Your talent and your treasures. Develop your influence and impact the world.

In today's episode, I ask Kim about:

  • Her journey to writing 100 Acts of Love...  
  • What you should (and shouldn’t) say to those going through grief...
  • How this applies in the workplace as well...
  • and more.....

Some of the Resources recommended in this episode: 

I make a commission for purchases made through the following link.

What can be helpful is I’ve been through the cancer journey myself.  And I’m happy to talk to you or your husband about my journey.  – Kim Hamer

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About the author 


Helping people to be better Stewards of God's gifts. Because Stewardship is about more than money.

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