Ep 410: Hugs Help: How to Support People Who Are Grieving with Randy Stocker



Grief is an unfortunate but inevitable part of life, yet most of us don’t feel equipped to support people around us who are grieving.

Today’s guest, Randy Stocker, has dealt with tragic, traumatic loss during his life, and in this episode, he talks openly about his experiences and some of the most important lessons that he has learned about the grieving process.

Randy is the author of Hugs Help, and today he shares some of the key principles that he explores in this book, including how to be a supporter rather than a comforter, the importance of understanding that everybody grieves differently, and things that he recommends saying (and not saying) to somebody who is grieving.

The biggest gift you can give a grieving person is to be patient with them and to let them grieve in their own way.


  • The tragedy that Randy experienced in 2003.
  • Advice for what to say to people who have experienced a tragedy.
  • Phrases that can be more harmful than helpful (even though they are well-intentioned).
  • Some things a griever wants you to know but might not know how to tell you.
  • The difference between being a comforter and a supporter.
  • Why you shouldn’t be afraid to talk about someone who is deceased in front of the people who are grieving them.
  • Randy explains how he and his wife grieved their daughters differently.
  • How Randy turned his grief into gratitude.
  • Randy’s journey of finding forgiveness for the truck driver who killed his family members.
  • The message behind Randy’s book and how he came up with the title, Hugs Help.
  • Four key lessons about grief.


“Just because we do the right thing, doesn’t mean we have the right results.” — Randy Stocker [0:04:37]

“You can fix a broken arm or a cut finger. You can’t fix grief. You can’t cure grief.” — Randy Stocker [0:08:23]

“Don’t be a comforter, be a supporter.” — Randy Stocker [0:14:03]

About Randy Stocker

Randy Stocker is the proud father of four and grandfather of twin boys.  He has been married to his beautiful wife, Char, for nearly forty years.  He is a survivor of terrible loss and grief and has chosen to turn his personal grief into a mission to help others.  He is a public speaker and enjoys meeting with groups–both large and small–to share his story.  
Randy grew up in Gibson City, IL and now resides in Rochester, MN.  He is a licensed realtor and is active with his church, the local Chamber of Commerce, and his BNI (Business Networking International) group.


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RV (00:02): Hey, I am gonna introduce you to a new friend of mine. His name is Randy Stalker, and I am having Randy on the show because of a few reasons. So first of all, I met Randy at the National Speakers Association, which has been a big part of my life, all the way from back from the time when I was like 20 years old. We met at a recent meeting and I always, always love meeting fellow NS AERs. But specifically it’s because of Randy’s topic. Now his topic is not one that is so hyper specific to personal branding and, you know, the things that we often talk about. But, you know, occasionally on this show, I will share personal development content. I’ve talked about how and why I stopped drinking, and I’ve shared some spiritual episodes and things. I’ve also had a lot of my, my friends, ed, mylett, and Jamie Kern Lima, etc, talk just more about like entrepreneurial stories. RV (00:55): But Randy is someone who has an expertise on helping people to deal with grief and loss. And he is the survivor on of a a pretty massive tragedy. And we’re gonna hear the story of that. He lost some family members that he’s gonna, I’m gonna let him tell the story, but what he’s done is he has turned it into a personal brand and he’s turned it into a career and he’s turned it into a message and a mission to help people figure out how to overcome loss brief you know, survival and, and really just he’s helped start a number of bereavement groups and you know, he’s just a, a good listener and, and a support. And so that’s something that I always struggle with which we’ll talk about. But anyways, Randy, welcome to the show. RS (01:52): Thank you, Rory. I appreciate the opportunity. So, RV (01:55): So tell me the story your story. I’d love, I’d, I’d love to, I’d love to start there. I know it’s, it’s probably something you’ve shared many times and I’m sure it’s painful, but I I think it’s a pretty, a pretty key part of, of the jumping off point of all this. RS (02:09): Absolutely. So on July 22nd, 2003, my two daughters, Janelle, who’s age 19 and Amy age nine, went to visit their grandpa and Grandma Stalker in Gibson City, Illinois. They spent the time back to school shopping with grandma, called my wife Shar, and said how much fun they were having all the money grandma spent on them. And then they were driving back home when a guy driving a fully loaded semi-truck speeding and reading a book broadsided the car where Janelle and Amy were sitting killing all three immediately. RV (02:50): So you lost your two daughters and your, was it your mom and my RS (02:54): And my mother? Yes. RV (02:56): Wow. All in all in one moment. Just like that. RS (02:59): Yeah. Janelle had just finished her freshman year of college at Dur Dury University in Springfield, Missouri. She asked me if she could spend time with grandpa and grandma before she went back for her sophomore year, which I thought was wonderful. Her 19 year old girl to ask that. Unfortunately, Rory, I made our nine year old daughter Amy go with her. Huh? I thought it would be good quality time for the two. I knew grandpa and grandma would love seeing them both, and so I made Amy go, which I regret to this day. But I always asked myself the question, was it the right thing to do? And the answer always yes. RV (03:37): What makes you say that? Like, how do you, how do you, how have you come around to, to that viewpoint? RS (03:49): Well, it’s, it’s always good for kids to spend time with their grandparents. Number one, you don’t anticipate your daughters are gonna get killed by a semi-truck, or they’re making a, about a three hour trip to see grandpa and grandma. The girls needed to spend more time together cuz Janelle’s going back to college. So I just said, Amy, you need to go and it’ll be good for you, RV (04:13): Uhhuh, . So you don’t, you’ve been able to not experience guilt from that or like feel, you know, which you shouldn’t, but like, I, I can’t imagine it’s easy to break free of that. Anyways, there, RS (04:26): There’s guilt for 19 years for doing that, but I always ask the same question, was it the right thing to do? And the answer’s always, yes, it was the right thing to do. Mm-Hmm. RV (04:34): . RS (04:35): So just because we do the right thing doesn’t mean we have the right results. And this was a terrible instance of that. So, RV (04:44): Yeah. So I thank you for sharing that. You know, I got two kids, I got two boys now, and it’s a different, you know, it’s a different way of seeing the world as a parent and I so I struggle with what to say, right? And, and I struggle with what to do. We had less than three miles from our house here where we live in Nashville just recently was a school shooting at the Covenant School. And we knew 11 children at that school two of which are our next door neighbors. One of ’em, which was in Bible study. Thankfully none of the kids we knew were kids that were injured. I mean, minor injuries, but no, no, no, no gunshot wounds. And, and nobody, no one that we knew died that day. But that was a massive, massive tragedy right down the street. RV (05:47): You know, I was in, I was in high school in Colorado the year that Columbine shooting happened. And you know, there there’s, there’s some of these just extraordinary tragedies, nine 11 tsunamis. And, and then there are the, the kind of more personal and private ones of, you know, I, I had a friend lose her husband unexpectedly a few weeks ago, and like a pretty good friend you know, people who lose a child and you just go like, I don’t know what to do. I don’t know what to say. I, I don’t want to say nothing, but I don’t, I really don’t wanna say the wrong thing. And so sometimes I say nothing like, can you help? Like what? Like what, what, what do we, what, what do we, what’s, RS (06:36): Yeah, what’s the you’re, you’re like most people and just like I was before I lost my daughter’s Roy. It’s not untypical. So lot of people start out by saying the wrong thing because we think, cuz we’ve heard it before, things like, I know exactly how you feel. You don’t wanna say that cuz you never know exactly how I feel or how that person’s feeling. You never say, call me if you need anything because I don’t, if I didn’t call you to mow my yard or shovel my snow beforehand, I’m not gonna call you now. So what you do say is, I miss him or her, him or her too. I cannot understand your pain. Just know that I am here for you. Or if you’ve experienced loss yourself having experienced loss, my self, my heart truly, truly goes out for you and your family. Always and your family in there. Okay. The simple, simple thing to say is, I am so, so sorry for your loss RV (07:45): And you don’t, I RS (07:45): Never tried to assume that you know what they’re going through because you don’t. RV (07:51): And do you not get, I mean the, you know, I’ve lost my grandparents never, like someone in my immediate family I mean, I’m a biological father died, but I, I didn’t really know him af I only knew him until I was like six months old. And so, like, I never really knew him. And like I have to think that you, you know, you have funerals and you’ve got insurance companies and you’ve got, you know, just so many things are going off it. And it’s, it is helpful to hear those things. I’m so, so sorry. Even though you hear it over and over from everybody else and it, it’s still just, that’s the, that’s still helpful to hear. RS (08:37): Yeah. Even better than that, don’t give the per person permission to grieve when you’re sitting down with somebody just to, just to talk to them doing a one-to-one. You only need to give them permission to grieve or to get mad to get with you. Huh? It helps ’em a lot cuz they’re trying to hold it in cuz they don’t wanna burst out and start crying in front of their good friend. Number two, shut up and let them talk. RV (09:07): Hmm. RS (09:08): Sometimes we try to solve problems, we try to find solutions. Guys, you can fix a broken arm or a cut finger. You can’t fix grief. You can’t cure grief When you lose somebody that you loved for a long time. It, it’s always gonna be right here. So the only thing that can cure that is that person comes back from the dead and that’s not gonna happen. So a lot of times we try to fix something that’s unfixable. RV (09:41): I mean I think that’s a good reminder of like, and I don’t know if that’s more of like a male brain issue or just everybody, but like, there’s a part of me that just wants to do something. It’s almost like I feel like if I were, if I were a good friend and if I cared, I would do something and I don’t know what to do. And so I try to like do something and say stupid stuff. And you’re, what I hear you saying is like listening is doing something and listening, giving them permission to listen or, or listening and giving them permission to experience whatever they need to experience is doing something. RS (10:22): Yeah. A lot of people walk away from this situation cuz they’re so uncomfortable with themselves. RV (10:28): Yeah. RS (10:29): Okay. My advice is to just be there. If it’s a good friend or a family member, you don’t have to say anything. Just sit beside ’em and hold their hand or give ’em a hug. Just being there means so much. Some of the cliches we heard and still hear, I’m heals all wounds. What the heck does that mean? Hear it all the time. They are in a better place. So many people said that to me and I said, you know, I’m sure heaven’s a lot better place than this stupid earth we live on, but my daughters are doing pretty good with us in Quincy, Illinois. But we also heard God never gives you more than you can than you can handle. And God really tested me by taking my mom and my two daughters at once. It’s a true saying, but did I wanna hear it? Absolutely not . RV (11:21): Mm-Hmm. . Yeah. That’s, yeah. That, that’s that’s powerful. Yeah. You could, it it, you can see now, like in a moment talking about it now of going, even if it’s something that really helps, RS (11:34): Even RV (11:34): If it’s, even if it’s true, it’s not helpful. It’s RS (11:37): True and it’s hurtful. RV (11:40): Mm-Hmm. RS (11:41): , something I really talk about when I’m presenting out there is understanding what a griever’s really thinking. Sometimes I’m hurting, we really don’t want to get our friends involved because think it’s gonna ruin their day or ruin their life or something. So I share nine things that people need to understand what a griever wants to tell you, but probably won’t tell you for those reasons. RV (12:05): Mm-Hmm. RS (12:06): Number one, please be patient and understanding with me. RV (12:13): Hmm. RS (12:13): Patient being a key word. Number two, please let me grieve in my own way and in my own time. Don’t tell me how to grieve. Don’t tell me when to grieve. Don’t tell me when to start grieving and stop grieving. RV (12:29): Hold on. And I wanna, so I wanna go back to the patient one for a second. So when you say, please be patient and understanding with me, that means like, don’t pressure me to do stuff. Be okay if I’m unresponsive for a while. Like if I disappear for if I disappear for a little bit, I’m not at the parties, I’m not whatever. I mean, I if if it’s an employee, it’s, I may be not coming back at work or colleague. I mean, is that, are those all the things when you say like, be patient with me? Yeah. RS (12:58): Be patient means I am not the same person I was yesterday. Okay. I mean, once my daughters were killed and my mom were killed, I, I changed from the Randy stalker that was fun-loving and happy and liked to drink a beer with the guys. I go to a bible studying or something to this angry, frustrated person that couldn’t understand why his daughters weren’t there. And every time he saw other girls their age got mad, got angry, got frustrated. So a a person who’s grieving is not the same buddy I had yesterday. So be patient with them because they will get to the point, maybe they’ll be close to that same person, but maybe not. RV (13:48): Yeah. RS (13:48): How about the things, RV (13:50): I can’t imagine what that would be like to see kids your same, that were the age of your kids. RS (13:57): Yeah. Please forgive me if I say something stupid insensitive. Okay. When you’re grieving your mind’s not the same. You say a lot of dumb things and I upset so many people, they were trying to comfort me. Oh, they were having fun with their kids and I would get mad. So I was just a totally different person. So you just gotta understand that RV (14:20): Is that, that’s number three you’re talking about there? RS (14:24): It’s number four. Yeah. RV (14:24): Number four. Yeah. And when you say let, let me grieve in my own way, like, you know, I just wanna spend like a minute on each one of these. Oh, you bet. And, and y’all, and I don’t, I didn’t mention this, but Randy has a book called Hugs Help. Our story of tragic loss, survival and helping others as you can tell, it’s, you know, it’s very practical. I mean emotional but very practical and like these things that we’re, we’re running through right now. And, and so grieving in my own way, I feel like that comes back to what you said a little bit earlier of the things not to say as like, oh, you should grieve like this, or I understand what it feels like, or God won’t give you more than you can handle or any, anything that sort of leads lets on in a presumptuous way that like, I know what you’re going through or I know what is best for you. It’s actually way better to just sit and go, I have nothing for you. Like, I don’t know what to do. I can’t imagine how you’re feeling. I be RS (15:26): Honest. Yes. I RV (15:27): Have no recommendation. I don’t even know what to say. I just want you to know that I care and I’m here, basically. Yeah. RS (15:33): Be a supporter of somebody who’s grieving. Don’t be a comforter, be a supporter. RV (15:38): What’s the RS (15:38): Difference? Wherever you can help them get around. Help ’em with their kids, mow their yard, whatever it takes. Just help take some of the additional stresses away so they can concentrate on their grief and surviving their grief and getting through their grief. RV (15:55): Ah, so when you say that really RS (15:56): On, on the fringes, help ’em on the fringes to take some of the stress away. RV (16:00): Yeah. So when you say be a supporter, you’re saying like, take care of the practical things. Don’t try to like do the emotional things. RS (16:07): Yes. RV (16:09): Yeah. That’s interesting. I feel that way about like having a baby like that, having, having kids rocked my world and I’m just like, I was just not prepared emotionally for what being a dad would be like and how difficult the whole thing was. Yeah. And like what helped so much was people bringing dinner, which it was like, never in my life could, I imagine for one moment that like bringing someone bringing dinner would make such a huge difference as when we had our first kid and, and our second kid of just like, there’s so much going on. Just getting dinner together is a massive feat. So that’s interesting. That’s the connection I make there. When you you’re, that’s like what you’re talking about. RS (16:49): Yeah. Tie that into a funeral though. In the funeral you have their visitation, you have people bringing all kinds of casseroles and food and drinks to your house once a funeral’s over the house is empty. I mean, we had hundreds of people, thousands to come to the visitation, hundreds come to the house and all of a sudden it was just haw and I and nothing left. That’s when you really need to step up as a friend. Okay. When it gets really quiet and don’t, don’t ever think you are bothering them cuz they’re thinking, why hasn’t Rory called me? Why hasn’t AJ stopped by my house? Don’t they like me anymore? That’s where I need to step up and start helping people. RV (17:32): Yeah. That and then I think it’s, it’s, it’s just, it’s just so ironic because it’s sort of like miscommunication. Like the definition of miscommunication where you go somebody is maybe not calling or not stopping by because they’re so afraid they’re gonna say the wrong thing or do the wrong thing. And yet you’re saying all you, all you have to do is be there and don’t do anything else or just be there and help with the basics. Like, and it’s so, it’s so simple. It’s just, you know, RS (18:02): We try to do more than we’re, than we should be doing. RV (18:04): Yeah, totally. Totally. so you said please forgive me if I’m, I’m you know, if I say something silly or insensitive what else, what, what are some of the others? These are so help, this is so helpful, Randy. RS (18:18): Yeah. The, the fifth one is a lot of people are scared to bring up the name of the deceased. They, they think it’s going to make us start crying or get angry. Like we’ve, for like, I’d forgotten my mom and my two daughters were killed. RV (18:33): Totally. RS (18:33): Okay. That is, that’s a fear we shouldn’t have because people who are grieving want to hear the names of their loved ones. They want to hear stories, really RV (18:44): Pictures. RS (18:45): Oh, absolutely. I run a big Facebook site and to a t people want to hear stories about their loved one because we never want them to ever be forgotten. Ever. So proactively say, bring up a story or show a picture. If you RV (19:03): Really not RS (19:04): Comfortable, if you’re not comfortable doing that, say, Hey, I remembered a great story about your dad. It made me laugh this morning. Can I share it with you? So ask for permission. RV (19:17): Okay. Yeah. That is, I am exactly the opposite of that. I feel, I feel like, oh my gosh, I just, I don’t want to tiptoe into anything that’s gonna make them sad. It’s really sad. I worry less about making ’em angry. I worry about going, here we are having a beautiful day and now I’m gonna bring up something. You know, like AJ’s mom died when she was 15 and sometimes I’m just like, I can’t imagine how sad to grow up and to get married and to have kids and not have your mom there. And so it’s like I sometimes am afraid to even say something about my mom because I’m so, I just feel like it’s gonna make her feel bad. You know? Like, so that’s super helpful. I would not have guessed that at all. RS (20:01): Roy, ask her, ask her to tell you a story about her mom when she was 12. Okay. Proactively ask her. I mean, she would love to talk about her mom, but she’s not gonna bring it up cuz you don’t bring it up. Okay. I, 19 years later, I still love hearing stories about mom and Janelle. Naomi don’t hear ’em very often. Sometimes it brings a tear to my eye. Nothing wrong with that. Same with you. For all the people you’ve lost or anybody’s lost out there who actively share a story with them. RV (20:32): Yeah. That’s powerful. RS (20:35): Okay. Number eight, never stop calling me. Sometimes we think, well we’re, we’re not gonna call today because all their other friends are calling. Well, all the friends are saying, well, we’re not gonna call today because all their friends are, are calling a graver is waiting in hope. And that phone rings for somebody just to say, Hey, I’m thinking about you today. Okay. So never stop that calling and it’s just not on the date of death. You gotta kick in mind the secondary losses. I didn’t just lose my mom and my two daughters. I had lost college graduations. I had lost walking my daughters down the aisle. Uhhuh . I lost my mom being grandmother to the 18 other grandkids in the family. Okay. Grievers think about that. All the time. All the time. RV (21:27): Yeah. I heard, and I once heard I had a good, I had a good friend who lost her dad. And I remember her telling me that the entire first year that somebody’s gone, every single holiday, every single annual event, whether it’s Valentine’s Day, Christmas, Halloween, summer vacation, their birthday, like, it’s like they experienced the grief over and over again. Like the whole year of, she used to call it, it was the, she called it the year of firsts. And she was like, when somebody dies, it’s like the, it’s not just the day. It’s like there’s this whole year of first and every time, it’s like the first Christmas with Adam, the first vacation with Adam, em, the first time at home with without em the first, the first the the, the first time we go back to the golf course that we used to go to. Like, and that really hit me of like, wow, that, that means you’re at least for a year, it’s like pretty intense. Not just, oh this happened. There’s a funeral and like we all are all moving on now. RS (22:39): Yeah. One thing to keep in mind too, it’s not just the actual day. Grief builds up, it builds up inside of a body. Okay. Father’s Day, I hate the most cause I don’t have two of my daughters or Father’s Day. So three or four or five days before Father’s Day, I can feel the grief starting on my gut and working its toy up. And this gotta to explode. So the best time to call people is two or three or four days before those key events say, Hey, I’m thinking about you, I’m praying for you. I’m here to help. Okay. RV (23:15): Is that, let’s RS (23:15): Say get to the actual day, it’s, the buildup is worse than the actual day. RV (23:21): Ah, RS (23:22): Today is another day in their life, but the buildup anticipating thickness is gonna be a terrible day is a lot worse than the actual day. RV (23:30): Wow. Yeah. That’s insightful to just go like, yeah. I mean I guess I imagine you never have another Father’s Day where you don’t, you just never have another Father’s Day where you don’t think about it. And so you’re leading up, up to that moment. Can can I ask you about like the you know, spiritually, so I I’m a hardcore Bible thumping Jesus freak. We, we are, we, we, we RS (23:53): Hardcore Bible thumping Jesus freak. Okay. Jesus RV (23:56): Freak. Yeah. So, you know, we’re, we’re Christians. We believe in heaven. In fact, in fact, I am, I haven’t shared this publicly anywhere, but for the last several months I’ve actually been working on something that I’m, I I’m, it’s a, it’s called Getting into Heaven. And it’s, it’s seven, it’s seven questions that I think every intelligent skeptic should ask about Jesus. And I’m not really doing it. The, the, the reason I’m putting it together is for my sons, for Jasper and Liam. It’s gonna be dedicated to them. And I want them to know, I want them to know why daddy believes in the logical reasons of miracles, a resurrection and Jesus. So that’s a very personal and powerful thing for me and our family. Separate if whether or not somebody is a Christian or believes in heaven or is an atheist or whatever, when somebody loses somebody, especially when you don’t know what their faith is like, it’s one thing if I go, I know you’re a Christian, we go to church, we have the same beliefs. RV (25:10): I, you know, I can send them a Bible verse, I can send ’em something. If there’s somebody who I don’t know if they’re a Christian or I know they’re of a different religious faith and I don’t know much about that faith or like, you know, whatever, like a, you know, it’s not, we don’t have a shared spiritual belief system. Or, or I know they actively don’t have a faith. Like how much does the, you know, does it help this, like you, you already said they’re in a better place. Like, that’s not a good thing to say. That doesn’t really, even if it’s true, it doesn’t help. Is there anything else around the spiritual conversation, you know, like, I’m praying for you as a good example too, cuz I go like, that’s gotta be another thing that everybody says. And, and first of all it’s like, are they really, you know, like, you know, so, so what are some things around that? RS (26:04): Okay. That that’s, that’s a fair question. Yeah. We are we’re good Catholics. Okay. We live in Quincy, Illinois. When this happened part of my presentation about everybody grieves differently. Okay. My wife and I had been married 21 years. When the girls were killed, she would be in church every single day. She felt more comfortable in church, closer to God and closer to her church friends. I tried, I would go to mass every single Sunday. I would sit about halfway through mass and I’d start crying and I’d cry because why am I worshiping this God that took my daughters up to heaven? Yeah, I know they’re in heaven. I know I’m gonna see them again, but why would God take them away from me? One day I left mass, I went out to the cemetery. I was yelling and kicking and screaming and crying. RS (26:57): Somebody walked up behind me, Roy and put their hands on my shoulders and he said, son, what’s, you know, what’s the matter? I explained that I was so frustrated with God for not protecting my family. My prayer every night is take care of my family, take care of my wife, my kids, and grandkids, yours, his well. And this guy explained free will to me. And he basically said that God gives us all the free will to make our own decisions good, bad, right or wrong. And God didn’t take my daughters to heaven. God gave this truck driver free will, like he gives it to you. And me and the truck driver made some stupid, stupid, stupid mistakes. So after, instead of blaming God or taking Janelle naming mom to heaven, I started thanking God Rory for the 19 years I had with Janelle. And for the nine years I had with Amy. RS (27:55): And that changed my life. So instead of hating God, which I hate you worse hate, but that’s how I felt for a long time. I started thanking him cuz I didn’t really have to have them, he didn’t have to give ’em to me at all. I had 19 years with one and nine with the other. As far as your question, I think you need to stick with your faith. Okay. If you’re talking to somebody that has different faith, doesn’t matter. Use what you want to say. It’s gotta come from the heart. And if it doesn’t come from the heart, it’s not near as meaningful. Mm-Hmm. . Okay. Okay. I would, I would always say, well, you’re gonna see them again someday. Okay. If it’s not our God in heaven, it’s, it’s your God, wherever, but you’re gonna see them again someday. RV (28:43): Yeah. That feels like your RV (28:44): Question. It’s, that feels totally, and that feels like a hopeful thing for, that feels like a hopeful thing, just no matter what the scenario is. Like I’ll get to see him again someday. Like that’s a Absolutely. That’s, that’s a very hopeful yeah, that’s a, that’s, that’s a really hopeful thing. So I want to, so that’s super helpful. So can we talk about the truck driver for a minute? Because on the one hand you have to, I mean, like, there’s so much, I mean, your story just makes me cry, Randy, because it’s just, it’s just, it’s just so, it makes me so sad. And I know there’s people listening that are going through it right now, right? Like they’re going through it right now and RS (29:27): Presentations bring out a lot of, lot of tears. Roy, RV (29:30): I, I’ve, I can’t imagine tears RS (29:32): Are okay. It means you care, it means you love somebody. RV (29:35): I c I can’t hardly talk, talk to you right now. They’re, but you know, it’s like, first of all, you have to reconcile the loss of somebody, then you have to reconcile your life without that person. Then you have to reconcile with God. And then in your case, you have to reconcile with this other person. Maybe not reconcile with them directly or, but like, there’s a, that doesn’t just go away, right? Like there’s, there are, there’s feelings and emotions around that person. RS (30:13): Yeah. RV (30:14): Can you like, talk through that a little bit? RS (30:16): I, I can. He was a truck driver. His name is ran my, my same name unfortunately. After the death, the state of Illinois charged him with involuntary manslaughter. We went to court in Bloomington, Illinois. The judge asked a few questions and then the judge asked me to stand up and he said, I’m sorry Mr. Stocker, but I cannot charge this guy with anything. He didn’t mean to kill your family. This is before distracted driving was the terminology it is now. But I think you’re getting to the point, did I forgive that driver or not? And I get this question asked pretty much every presentation I do. And I say, I, I forgive the driver. I know he didn’t kill them on purpose, but I have not yet forgiven his stupidity. Okay. It was stupid, stupid thing he did to read a book while driving a truck. So I forgive the driver, but not his stupidity. What are your thoughts there? RV (31:28): W well, I guess I just took RS (31:29): Me a while to get to that. So, RV (31:30): Yeah, I mean my, how long did it take to, to get to that point? RS (31:35): After that trial, I actually actually asked to speak to the truck driver and his wife. And they put us in a small room at the courthouse and she said they were so sorry and gave me a big hug, but he didn’t even get out of his truck to see if my family was alive or not. Roy, he sat in his cabin and called somebody didn’t even check. So that, that part really hurt me, him not even looking to see if they were alive or needed help or anything. So it took a long time, but probably two or three years after they were killed, they started answering that way. I forgive the driver, but not a stupidity. RV (32:20): Yeah. I mean, RV (32:22): What the, whatever the, there’s, there’s always a scenario around how it happened. You know, why it happened. I, I’m a big, I’m a, I’m, I’m a big believer that forgiveness is really, you know, it, it sets, it sets you free as the one who was harmed more, more than it has anything to do with setting them free. But anyways, it’s just, I I I, I I can’t imagine. So buddy, I, I, I want to point people towards the book Hugs help our story of tragic loss, survival and helping others. And then, you know, tell me about the hugs part of it. You know, where does the, where does the, the title come from? Because we haven’t, we haven’t talked about it, but as soon as, as soon as I saw it, I was like, man, I really even just love the title of this because it, it feels, I guess this whole, this whole topic of just death. RV (33:23): You know, and I, I firmly believe in heaven. Like I am absolutely convicted in, you know, what are my beliefs? And, and I’ve re researched them at length over the course of my life, both from a spiritual and emotional perspective, but especially from a logical and rational and archeological perspective. And no matter, no matter what, it still feels so hopeless. It still feels so desperate. Like, you know if I lost my kids or my wife, like, it’s like I just, I have no control over this. And, you know, this is going to happen in some way to one of us, some someday. And I think there’s so much about what you talk about Randy, that’s just tactical and practical and you know, the, the hug especially of everything somehow is ma is, it feels magical to me as like the thing. So can you just tell us like, where, where, where’s the fir first of all, tell us where, where do you want people to go to get the book or to connect with you or like learn about, you know, having you speak and then, and then I wanna hear the story of the, the title. RS (34:34): Okay, good. The book’s on amazon.com, just write in Hugs, help Randy Stalker. If you want to, a lot of people like autograph copy, so they can go to my website hugs help.org, and they can order an autograph copy and I’ll send it right from here. Venmo is the only way I take payment for that, but if they have Venmo does it that way. I’ve, I presented about 35 times my first year since the book has released mm-hmm. , I’m looking for businesses or hospitals or emergency room people, churches, associations. I think my message goes to just about anybody RV (35:18): Indeed. RS (35:19): Cuz we all need to understand grief. We need to understand how to help those that are grieving. So I’m looking for the opportunity to talk to as many people as I can. As you can tell, I’m very open with my presentation. Sometimes I shed a tear while I’m speaking. They need to understand that about half the time it’s I tear up, but mm-hmm. RV (35:40): . RS (35:43): And then as far as the Hugs help, I, I wrote the book in eight months, during October. It was released May 23rd. Actually a year ago today it was released. Okay. It didn’t have a title. So I went to see my dad in Gibson City, Illinois. Had a nice couple days with him. He is a big brood of a guy, Uhhuh . And as I was leaving, he gave me a big hug and told me he loved me, which he didn’t do very often growing up. And as I was driving home back to Rochester, Minnesota, which is where we live, I named the book Hugs Help, cuz that hug helped me a lot. And if you think about a hug, a hug is really sharing pain between two people, different kinds of hugs. But if somebody hugs me and says, I’m so sorry for your loss, means a heck lot more than a, a postcard or a tech. Instead, I’m thinking of you. RV (36:38): Yeah. RS (36:38): That’s where it came from. I’m proud of the title. It’s getting a pretty good name out there. So RV (36:44): It is the, you know, the other, the other thing I love about hugs, I mean, it’s so helpful to know what, what, not to say, what to say and all this, you know, but I think, you know, one of the things that really sticks with me, I, from, from what you’ve said and talk about is just being there. Like, literally just being there. You don’t have to say anything. And in order to give a hug, you have to be there. RS (37:13): Yep. RV (37:14): Like, and that’s, I, that’s why I was like, man, this really is the perfect, the perfect title. It’s memorable, it’s clear, it’s what people want. It, it, it’s what the grieving person wants. And it’s also to me what the, what the people surrounding the situation want, which is a clear answer for how can I help, what can I do? And just knowing like it’s, you know, hugs is a great way to do it. You’re not, you’re just there. You’re not saying anything. You’re not fixing anything. You’re not coaching anybody on how they should feel. RS (37:54): Just there. RV (37:55): You’re just there and you’re just holding them. Yeah. And well, I’d RS (37:59): Like to share five takeaways with people. Do we have time for that? Sure. Okay. Number one, always remember that everybody grieves differently. My wife and I were night and day grieving. She didn’t cry for four months after our daughters were killed. RV (38:14): Wow. RS (38:15): Four months. And I was just a, just a ball baby every single day. So when you’re trying to help people understand that husband may grieve differently than the wife and the kids and everybody else, number two, you cannot grieve wrong. Don’t ever let anybody tell you how to grieve, when to grieve or when to stop grieving. If you feel like crying cry. If you feel like screaming scream, you cannot grieve wrong. Number three, always try to accept a griever for who they are. Now, I’m never gonna be the Randy stalker before July 22nd, 2003. He’s long gone. I’m a new person. Everybody that goes through tragedy is a new person, not a better person, not a worse person, just a different person. Number four, try to really hard to understand the grieving process. We share nine steps there with you. Just a lot of times people won’t say what’s on their mind. They can tell you how to help ’em, but they won’t. So if you understand what they’re going through, it will help them. And number five, what you just said, just be there for them. You can’t fix it. Nothing you can do to just be there. That’s what a graver needs And hugs do help Roy. RV (39:41): Yeah. Amen. Well, Randy, thank you for the courage and the boldness of sharing your story. I I’m convinced it’s gonna help a whole bunch, a whole bunch of people, and I’m, I’m very grateful to have met you and to have had this encounter and this opportunity to get this instruction from you. It gives me a lot more confidence in, you know, approaching this situation in a way of being able, being able to be helpful to, to people going through a hard time. And so again, you know, you guys can go to hu Hugs help dot org Right? Is the website. And you can, or you can grab the book Hugs, help on Amazon and walk you through this. Randy I really wish you the best man. I, I’m, I’m praying for your message to get out there to, to help a lot of people. I know there’s a lot of people who struggle with grief and struggle with how to support a griever. And there’s, you know, there’s a lot of, there’s a lot of death and tragedy and heartbreak going on in the world. And so I think this is a really, really needed message. So we love you. We’re cheering for you. We’re grateful for you. Keep on going, my friend. RS (40:53): Take care, Rory. Thank you. Okay.

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