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Empathy and Grief with Tiffany Bartlett

Updated: Apr 22

Episode 21 - The Empathy Podcast

Empathy and Grief with Tiffany Bartlett

Listen on Podomatic or watch the episode here.


On this instalment of The Empathy Podcast, Leanne gives a warm welcome to Tiffany Bartlett, a young widow who lost her partner of 10 years suddenly to a seizure. Throughout the episode,

Tiffany and Leanne discuss her online presence on TikTok, her interaction with other grieving platform users and how this continues to be part of Tiff’s grieving process. Tiffany also talks about what the consequences are when someone gets it ‘wrong’ when approaching a grieving person, “outward grieving”, and how dark humour has become a staple to her healing process. In this valuable episode, Tiffany shares how everyone can utilise empathy to communicate with others who are grieving, make them feel seen, valued and heard, and make their journey overall a little lighter.

Watch snippet (37 seconds):

Watch full episode:

Timestamps and Highlights:

[0:51] After Leanne gives a warm introduction, Tiffany introduces herself and places the audience in her shoes. Tiffany talks about becoming a widow at the age of 30 and the types of ‘consoling’ she has received from others since her partner’s passing.

[2:49] In regards to grieving, Leanne and Tiffany discuss sympathy versus empathy. Tiffany iterates that the key to correctly communicating your empathy to a grieving person lies in the understanding that grief is a continuous process, and in her personal experience is more like “a chronic condition that has flare-ups”.

[7:15] Tiffany talks about how grief and death continue to be taboo subjects in Western society. Leanne furthers this by stating that death often causes humans to confront their own mortality, in which is unsettling.

[12:15] Leanne and Tiffany talk about how an empathetic approach to a grieving person can be positive influence, even if for a limited time. Tiffany also shares how her conscious decision to laugh through her grieving continues to help her process.

[17:00] Leanne asks Tiffany if being empathetic in a proactive manner (i.e., coming over to help) is better than in a distant manner (i.e., call me if you need). Tiffany shares how she is overtly aware of other’s comfort levels and “burden fatigue”, however being specific in your actions helps relieve and guide the grieving individual.

[20:48] Tiffany shares the decision fatigue she has faced during her mourning process.

[25:12] Leanne asks Tiffany what the consequences are if someone gets it ‘wrong’ when approaching an individual who is grieving. Tiffany shares that comments that are self-soothing (i.e., “everything happens for a reason”) can be detrimental to a grieving person’s sense of safety and wellbeing.

[37:55] Leanne and Tiffany discuss handling other’s “morbid curiosity” (via TikTok comments and in real life), how this affects an individual’s grieving process due to unwanted opinions (i.e., “self-inflicted” versus “tragic” or “natural causes”), and how setting personal boundaries is important.

[48:30] Tiffany shares with Leanne how dark humour became a staple in her positive healing process. Tiffany also iterates how her presence on TikTok enabled other grieving widows to laugh along with her and heal together.

[54:00] Leanne and Tiffany talk about those who “grieve outwards” and share their own emotions in order to relate to Tiffany’s personal experience. Leanne iterates how being heard, valued and visible is at the core of communicating with a grieving individual.

[57:01] Leanne and Tiffany begin to share their final thoughts and reassure the viewers what everyone can do for someone who is grieving. Tiffany shares that she hopes the conversation around death continues in a productive manner, so that it takes the social pressure (i.e., guiding others how to process and deal with grief) away from the grieving person.


· “When we know better, we do better” (Tiffany, B.)

· “The feelings of the other person are to be heard, valued, visible and important” (Leanne, B.)

· “With this loss of mine, I’m going to have this for the rest of my life…and it's something I will deal [with] forever. It is something I have likened to more as a chronic condition” (Tiffany, B.)

Key Points Discussed:

· The difference between sympathy versus empathy.

· Why do does sudden loss make people uncomfortable?

· Why does talking about grief feel inherently wrong?

· When others approach a grieving person empathetically, what does that do? How does it help?

Connect with Tiffany Bartlett:


Hi! I'm Leanne Butterworth, Empathy Speaker and Educator, University Lecturer and Mental Health Advocate.

Empathy First is a Brisbane-based social enterprise offering Empathy workshops, online courses and individual Empathy coaching to help you build connection and strengthen your relationships for personal and professional success.

Contact me today and let's talk about how you can put Empathy First.

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