The American Psychological Association defines grief as “the anguish experienced after significant loss, usually the death of a beloved person.” Grief can often be hard to process, and it can also be hard to communicate. This lack of sharing can lead to isolation and feeling alone. Because of this, Germantown neighbor Janice Tosto created a platform for grievers to find solace with each other and share their stories.
“Grief Journeys” is a monthly radio show on G-Town Radio that allows people to speak about their experiences with grief. Tosto says that in researching grief, she learned that grievers sometimes feel shut down from speaking about their experience and usually want to just talk about their loved ones.
She talks about her findings, saying, “people are telling them that they should be over their grief and that they should move on. The person is gone, so you need to move on. And grievers are saying, ‘no, that’s not how it works. There’s no timeline to grief.’”
Tosto credits the creation of this platform to those findings and three other things: the COVID-19 pandemic, the gun violence epidemic, and the sudden passing of her longtime friend, Bill Lottmen.
Lottmen’s passing shocked her because she had just connected with him, asking about his time pursuing a bachelor’s degree. “The next thing you know, I’m visiting him in hospice,” she recollects. “And he died the day before my birthday. And to lose such a wonderful friend, a lifelong friend, it was just absolutely devastating.”
While dealing with that grief, Tosto became aware of Grief Awareness Day, which she feels should be daily. After speaking on a community television program in the Bronx, NY, and paying tribute to Bill, she attended a G-Town Radio workshop at the Joseph E. Coleman Library. Tosto began developing skills by covering events for G-Town Radio, which led her to ask if she could do a program centered around grief.
After a little more training from the radio station, “Grief Journeys” was born. Her first two episodes were introductory episodes where she did a tribute to her friend Bill, and her first interview was with her neighbor who had just lost her son unexpectedly. This Saturday, February 25, will mark one year of Tosto’s radio show.
Tosto says it was scary to develop this show initially, but she’s thrilled to come up on her first anniversary of hosting it. But she says stepping out on faith was crucial in forming this platform. She says this has been the best way to honor other grievers and, most importantly — her late friend Bill, who she calls her “co-producer.”
“This is a way for me to honor my best friend,” she says. “And not only to honor him but to give space to other people who want to honor their loved ones.”
Tosto shares that it’s been a pleasure growing the grief community and learning from them, saying, “we can talk to each other, and we can understand each other. Our grief is individual, but we all know that grief can be a beast at times. It can be difficult. It can be confusing. But at the same time, we can experience joy, peace, love, and happiness even while we’re grieving.”
Tosto thanks everyone who has come onto the show because she knows it’s not easy for people to be vulnerable. She says, “I’m grateful to them for making this first year so wonderful and so meaningful for me and for them.”
The first-anniversary show of Grief Journeys will premiere this Friday, February 24, at 7 a.m. Some episodes are also available on gtownradio.com. If you want to stay updated, follow @griefjourneyshost on Instagram. Listen to Tosto in conversation with the Germantown Info Hub on the Info Hub Hour tonight on 92.9 FM at 5 p.m.