Hi there and welcome back to another episode.

You will be deeply inspired and moved by my guest today, the wonderful Indira Nadu, a highly respected and popular journalist, broadcaster and author.

During her 30-year award winning career in journalism, Indira has hosted and reported for some of the country's most distinguished news and current affair programs, but nothing had prepared her for what came two years ago.

In the grip of a global pandemic, Indira’s beloved youngest sister walked out into her suburban backyard and took her life. Indira’s world was shattered.

Turning to her urban landscape for solace, she found herself drawn to a fig tree overlooking Sydney Harbor. A connection began to build between the two - one with a fractured heart, the other a centurion, offering quiet companionship while asking nothing in return.

The Space Between the Stars  is the heart-rending book she wrote about her experience and is well described by actor David Wenham as, “A tender, touching and at times bloody funny meditation on life. And death. And how to live.

Sitting in on our conversation in this episode, you’ll be inspired by Indira’s insatiable curiosity for people and the world - and how she was eventually able to refocus on the positives of the 48 years she had with her sister rather than the loss…

Her story is a wonderful example of what Ernest Hemingway may have meant when he said so well, “Write hard and clear about what hurts.”

Putting things on paper – for yourself or others - allowing yourself to be open even if it feels like the hardest or most painful thing you've ever done, can be so helpful.

Some of the key things you'll learn in this episode:

  • Practical insights into how to deal with grief – including not being afraid of it.
  • How to support other people dealing with grief.
  • The healing power of nature.
  • How journaling and the process of writing can help make sense of emotions and bring perspective. Learn more here about journaling to help deal with grief.
  • How silver linings can be found even in the deepest and most raw situations.
  • The beauty of being part of a community.
  • How when dealing with grief or tragedy, asking ‘What meaning is there in this for me?’ is more helpful than asking ‘Why?’.


I know you’ll enjoy this episode – and I’d LOVE to hear what you took from it – so please let me know in our Dream Life Podcast Facebook group here or in the comments section below. Sharing with like-minded people is inspiring for us all.

I trust this episode inspires you to pick up a journal and start writing regularly – to experience the many benefits of putting pen to paper, even if just for yourself. Browse our beautiful journals here if you need a new one.

And please share this episode with anyone you know who is going thru grief.

I’ll be back next week with another guest so be sure you’re subscribed to the podcast, so you don’t miss. 


Dream Life Founder  



  • Find Indira’s book, The Space Between the Stars here
  • Join the Dream Life Podcast Facebook Group here - and jump into discussions and learning with like-minded people.
  • Book recommended by Indira was H is for Hawk by Helen McDonald.
  • If you love this episode, don’t forget to subscribe for more inspiration – and please tell us what you thought by leaving us a review! 
  • Find yourself a beautiful new personalised journal here.
  • Come see a glimpse of my morning walks in local forests. Where I get my daily fix of nature.








What would you do with your life if you knew you couldn't fail? If you had all the money, all the time, all the knowledge, all the resources that you needed? What would you do with your life if you simply knew that anything was possible for you? My name is Kristina Karlsson, founder of Global Swedish Design and inspiration brand Dream Life and author of the book Your Dream Life Starts Here and I love exploring these sorts of questions to inspire people like you to chase your own dream life, whatever that means for you.


Many years ago, I wrote down a dream on paper that would one day bring Swedish Design to the world and create beautiful, inspiring and meaningful products that would bring sparks of joy into the everyday lives of millions. Now that I have achieved that dream, I want to leverage everything I've learned to help you dream big and to create a global movement to inspire 101,000,000 people to transform their lives and transform the world in return.


Each episode will dive deep into the power of dreaming and share real insights and practical ideas that you can use immediately to build a dream life of your own, whatever that means for you.


Hi there and welcome back to another episode. Today I got another super inspiring guest. Indira Naidoo is one of Australia's most popular broadcasters and authors.


During her 30-year award winning journalistic career, she has hosted and reported for some of the country's most distinguished news and Current Affair programs, including the ABC's TV Late Edition and SBS TV's World News, and she is currently the host of ABC Radio's Weekend at Nightlife. Nadira is a passionate advocate for environmental and food sustainability issues.


She's an author of the best-selling The Edible Balcony and The Edible City and she has designed award-winning gardens and helps community groups build their own food gardens. She's a sought-after speaker and facilitator and she is an ambassador for Sydney's Homeless Crisis center, the Wayside Chapel. After her younger sister died suddenly, broadcaster Indira Naidoo's world was absolutely shattered.


Turning to her urban landscape for solace, Indira found herself drawn to a fig tree overlooking Sydney harbor. A connection began to build between the two one with a fractured heart, the other a centurion, offering quiet companionship while asking nothing in return. As in Dear, I grapple with her heartbreak. An unnoticed universe of infinite beauty reveals itself.


Pale vanilla clouds, parading across the sky, resilient weeds pushing through cracks in the footpath, the magical biodiversity of tiny puddles. With the help of a posse of urban guides, she began to explore how nature whatever beats of nature are within reach can heal us during life's darker chapters. Whether nursing a broken heart or an anxious mind, the book The Space Between the Heart is a heartrending at times funny and uplifting tribute to love and our innate need to connect to the natural world.


A celebration of the reassuring cycle of renewal that sustains and nourishes us all. As long as you can see the stars, you can never truly be lost. I cannot wait for you to listen to this one. Welcome, Indira. I am so grateful to have you on my podcast. Yeah, it's an absolute joy, Kristina, to talk to you again. Oh, thank you.


I am so grateful that you wrote the book that we will be talking about today. But before we start, I just wanted to ask you, did you have a dream as a child? Something you wanted to do or something you want to become? Nothing specific, but I always wanted to have adventures. I just always wanted that sensation of waking up in the day and eyes wide and just couldn't wait to throw myself into what was going to unfold and just knowing that it was going to be meeting or being with an amazing person, learning something.


I think I've always had an insatiable curiosity for people in the world and that was really how I wanted to live my life, with those sorts of adventures. Reading your book, you certainly had some amazing adventures as a child. Yeah, we moved around quite a bit. I was born in South Africa and by the time I was 13 years old, we had lived in five countries. So from South Africa, we moved to Zambia, then England, then Australia, then back to Africa, to Zimbabwe, and then back to Australia again.


By the time I was 16, we've moved around quite a bit, and a large part of that was my parents growing up in apartheid South Africa as Indian South Africans. So there was a lot of discrimination and racism, and when they got their qualifications, they had to leave the country to get those because they couldn't go to university in South Africa. And then when they were trying to establish their careers again, they couldn't be employed with their qualification.


So it was largely part of the reason that they had to leave the country, even though they didn't want to leave their family and friends, but they wanted to build a life where they could bring up a family that was truly free to grow and explore all the opportunities that life had to offer. And sadly, at the time, South Africa didn't provide that. They certainly made the most of that really difficult time and actually took the girls on to explore something that I guess the silver lining out of a really tough situation.


Yeah, definitely. And I think myself and my two younger sisters always, I think, realized the privilege that we had been given because so many of our cousins and family didn't have that opportunity to leave their circumstances and build new lives. So we're always feeling privileged, but also a deep sense of obligation and responsibility to make the most of those opportunities that were given us and to make sure that the people we came across that we could try to support and help them in their journey and their struggle as well.


So it was a very adventurous life, I guess the life that I wanted to have when I was a child. And it made the three of us, me and my two younger sisters, very close because we were constantly moving schools and cities, leaving our family and friends behind. But we always had the three of us, no matter where we went, which is where a lot of the stories I share in the book come from because we were our own gang and that made us feel quite invincible, I think, which is an unusual thing for young little girls to feel.


But because we had a gang of three, we didn't really feel we needed anyone else or much else that we could have those wonderful adventures together. Yeah, it sounded really like a beautiful bond. Before we dive into talking about your book today, I would love for you to share a little bit about your really inspiring journey since you started working and your life is just so inspiring for so many and we have listeners from all over the world. Not everyone might know of you yet, so I would love to hear about your journey.


Yeah, we ended up back in Australia when I was about 1617 and I did my year twelve, my last year of high school in South Australia. And then I started studying journalism. And I was very fortunate that there's a very wonderful program to train young journalist cadets in Australia that the Australian Broadcasting Corporation runs. And I was one of the lucky people to get one of those cadets ships when I lived in Adelaide.


Which meant that I could start and basically be trained in all aspects of journalism and television broadcast, from presenting to writing to filmmaking to investigative work to chief of staffing producing. It was the most extraordinary training ground and that began my career as a television news reporter. So then I went on to report on politics and industrial relations, the arts all across the Gamut.


I hosted the 730 Report, which is a Current Affair show here in Australia, and then I moved across to Sydney to host the national ABC News program and did that for a few years before I moved to SBS, which is another public broadcasting television organization here in Australia. And I presented their late news for several years, covering extraordinary times the coups in Fiji, the terrible massacres and fight for independence in East Timor and then the bombing Balkans and Srebrenithsa and all that terrible war as well in the late ninety s and the early 2000s.


So it was an extraordinary time to report. But I did after that period of time that I was just overwhelmed by the darkness and the heaviness of all the news and journalism that I'd been covering. And I also felt quite isolated from my community. That I think is one of the dangers of journalism is that you end up living in your home, the office where you work and where you go and maybe have a drink or a meal. It's this very small triangle.


And so even though you're covering all these world events and national global issues, you yourself, when you're a news anchor, aren't there, you're not on the ground, you're not really interacting. And I missed that quite a bit, and I wanted to go back and explore that. So I took long service leave and spent some time in communities, just grounded myself in different villages. I worked for the UN. I worked for community consumer groups, environmental groups, the algorithm climate change group.


And I found that really exhilarating because I was seeing what was happening on the ground in terms of how people were growing food, how they were dealing with the beginnings of our realization of how damaging climate change was going to be. Because this was about 24, five years ago now. And I realized that we needed to bring more of that back into the mainstream world of journalism and reporting. And so when I stepped back into that world, that was where I wanted to focus my journalism.


And so the reporting I did then for the last 25 years has been really focused on food security, on climate change, and especially something very dear to my heart, the growing problem of homelessness, not only here in Australia, but right around the world. And that's really where my journalism and my filmmaking has focused such an inspiring journey. And I'm assuming that all your experience would have helped you go through your really challenging times recently.


But today's topic is a tough one, but a really important one. And I wanted to have you on for many reasons. One, because you as a person is so inspiring. So before I knew about the book, I had you on my dream list, but also because I want everyone to read your beautiful book. And two, because we all deal with grief. And thirdly, I just love the magical power of nature to heal.


And lastly, I love that you mentioned Ernest Hemingway's advice to write hard and clear what hurts, which is what you've done. So can you please share a little bit about your experience with what you had to go through? The world, the Nation we were all in such dark, dark times, going back now, two years ago, to the beginnings of the pandemic, and we were all confused. We were anxious, we were afraid.


And at the same time, I host a national radio show, the Nightlife Show, on ABC Radio that goes across the country, and my listeners were really growing anxious. A lot of them were in lockdown. They were isolated in their homes. They couldn't leave, they couldn't go to work, they couldn't see their family. And they were sharing these stories with me on my show. And as most of us know, the times when we feel the most darkest and bleachers are at night and on the weekends, and that's when I host my show, a four hour show on the weekends.


So I was starting to hear their stories, understand the impact that this pandemic was going to have far beyond the immediate health crisis Kristina, that we had been told that we were in. So our fear was we were going to get this virus and we were going to die. And one of the things I started to realize is that there were going to be a lot of other ramifications from this pandemic and one of those was going to be the overwhelming mental health burden, the anxiety that this was going to place on people, and then how to deal with your grief.


When you couldn't say goodbye to your grandmother, who was in a nursing home, you couldn't go to your relatives funeral because it was across the border. How are you going to deal with all those losses? And in the midst of this, I got to experience a personal example of this. When my younger sister, who was living in Melbourne at the time, in Lockdown, she was struggling with the mental health and she had been for a number of years, so we knew this time was going to be very difficult for her.


But unfortunately, it just got too much and too overwhelming for her and she took her life. This was just two years ago now. And so I suddenly found myself not only looking at the pandemic from a global lens and as a host of a national radio show with an audience of very anxious listeners, but then suddenly I was plunged into this terrible, terrible, dark, devastating place.


As a sister who had lost a very close sister in the middle of all of this, not being able to grieve like you normally would, which would be to go to a funeral, we had a restriction of only 20 people that could go, which was terrible for the family members who couldn't go. And then even being at the funeral, we couldn't gather at anyone's home afterwards, which just amplified the loss and the grief we were going through.


So only ten people could be in each other's house, so we couldn't even be together as a group and hug the way we would normally want to, and particularly after such a devastating way that our sister died. So we just had to leave the city and come back home. And we were in not complete Lockdown, but pretty close to it in Sydney. We could still leave our homes, but we only had this five kilometer zone and so I couldn't be with my family and friends in Sydney, we couldn't go anywhere, I couldn't go to a restaurant or a bar or the beach, and going to work was really the only thing I could do, which was very soon.


And I wouldn't probably recommend it. So I found myself still in the midst of very deep grief having to go back into work, support my listeners, broadcast what was going on in the Pandemic while I found myself just completely at sea inside myself and not being able to share it, heal from it, explain what was going on. It was a very, very difficult time.


And I was so lucky, though, because in my 5 had the most glorious Botanic Gardens. The Sydney Royal Botanic Gardens. Just overlaps my zone. And so at least I could walk there and take my ISO walks there on the edge of the harbor. So I was very privileged. And so I did this for a few days after my sister died just bereft lost, unable to talk about what I was feeling.


And suddenly one day I found myself collapsed, really underneath a tree. And I looked up and realized that all the branches belong to one massive Martin Bay fig tree. And its branches spread for about 20 minutes on all sides. And as I looked up and saw the sunlight breaking through the leaves I had this amazing sense of calm and comfort and that I had found a safe place that I could be and grieve and heal.


So every day I would come to this tree and I would do a long walk and then I would sit under it and I would look at the tree and I would run my hands over the bark. And bit by bit, I started to form such a strong connection and friendship, essentially. And I found that when I was with the tree that I didn't have to talk, which can be difficult when you're in grief. I didn't have to explain my feelings and the tree didn't need to find the right words which I know is difficult for people with loved ones around them.


What can I say that can help them make them feel better? And the great thing about a tree is that it can't speak. And it didn't need to be. It just needed to be present. And as I say in the book, sometimes that's all people in grief need. That's all you need to do, is just be present with them. You don't need to necessarily cure them or fix them or find the words. And through that relationship, Kristina, the tree started to show me all these other bits of urban nature that I had just never seen. Because I was busy.


I was distracted by my phone. And now, suddenly, in my grief, it slowed me down. It made me still. It made me quiet. And the tree, taking advantage of this new found gentle quietness in me, said look at those ads crawling underneath your fingers. Look at those feathers that are falling around the weeds in the cracks. The birds roosting above the clouds moving through the sky. Watch them and look how similar they are to you.


They contain all the same elements you do carbon and all the same fractal patterns. The patterns of the tribute trees of a creek or a river are just like your lungs. The way the blood flows through your veins or the way water flows through a river. The formation of the tree roots and branches are replicated in your body and in the clouds. And suddenly I started to see all these patterns in nature and I started to see how we are of nature, not separate from it.


The way sometimes as humans we can feel. And even the stars at night I went stargazing and I found all these experts that shared their knowledge and expertise with me and the joy of being connected to these natural worlds. And they showed me how, yes, even though I'd gone through such a terrible loss, there was still life going on. Death and life and renewal were all parts of the patterns I was seeing around me.


The trees falling off the leaves and new buds forming and new baby birds hatching. And it started to put my loss in perspective and I started to think about, rather than the loss of my sister, I started to think about the joyful times we had together because I had 48 years, which I thought I was being robbed off. But that was a lot of time and there were a lot of wonderful memories and I share a lot of those in the book. So beautiful.


I can relate with connecting with nature so much as I'm recording this. I'm actually in Sweden and I walk every single morning in the forest and I'm always like, why aren't everyone out here in the morning? It's so beautiful. And also I spend a lot of time in Sydney. I actually stay in your area, so I go for a walk every morning where you walk. And it was so beautiful when I read your book, felt so familiar and so beautiful. And since I read the book, I see that the tree I'm curious, what do you think, that specific tree, do you think that would have worked in terms of anyone who is listening?


Like, how can they find a tree? I walked past that tree, I realized quite a number of times before that moment where I connected with it. And I think now it was just waiting for me to be ready for that friendship. It's like so many friendships in our life, we know people, we pass them in our work and our social life and then suddenly there's a moment where we connect and there's an opportunity for us to spend time together and we realize, why did we spend time getting to know this person earlier?


Why did we waste all this time? I was just ready at that moment and the tree was just waiting for me. It was basically saying, I'm here. You know where to find me. I'm not going anywhere. I'm just waiting for you to be ready. So it's about allowing yourself to be open. And when you're busy and rushed, we're not opened of heart or soul at all. And grief, in a way, even though it's a terrible thing to go through, it really opens your heart.


It cracks you open and it makes you stop. And it reveals the truest, most authentic part of who you are and what your hopes and dreams and desires are. You cannot pretend in grief. Grief is this amazing truth serum. I guess so. For me, this tree, as I started to spend time with it, it's beauty just kept revealing itself to me. And I couldn't believe I walked past it because the way its roots flowed.


And I described them looking like the claws of an ancient dinosaur and the formation of its branches. And I just would have wanted to when I was a kid, to climb right up and see the whole harbor from the top of the branches. And it just had beautiful form. And the color when the sunlight hit its bark, then the shimmering shades of all these colors would come out from pinks and ochres to beautiful grays and yellows.


And it was just the most beautiful thing I'd ever seen. And I just feel terrible that I'd walk past it and not seen that beauty earlier. And I think everyone can find their own special tree. You just have to open your ears and stop and listen. But the beautiful thing, Kristina, is since I've written about this tree, people have gone out in search of it and they're falling in love with it. So I realize there is something special about this tree. It's not just me, and it's so special.


And so many people have been ringing the Botanic Gardens asking them which tree is endearing fig tree. And it's become now so famous that I'm actually taking a walk in a few weeks with a few hundred people who wanted to meet my tree. So I think it's not just me. Yeah, I think this can be a lot of people's special tree, but there are so many like that botanical gardens, especially by the harbor. It's just so beautiful. And I often just think, oh, this is just so special to be able to walk there in the morning.


And I'm always really so grateful because when I was looking for that tree after reading your book, I was like, there are so many great ones here. So I was just curious if there was something specific. I so agree. It's a hard thing to go through grief, but it definitely opens up so many opportunities to really take some time. Because I think our lives are so full that sometimes just to go through something like that just slow down a little bit to kind of deal with what we need to deal with, but also with relooking at our lives.


So for anyone who is dealing with grief right now and not sure where to start. Can you give some advice based on your experience where to start to kind of deal with it in the best possible way? I thought that getting to my mid 50s without going through a major grief in my life, that that had been a good thing. I thought, hey, I'm lucky I've dodged a bullet because I'd seen so many of my friends and family over the years completely floored when they'd lost a parent or a sibling or a loved one or a partner.


And I really thought, oh, I'm so lucky that hasn't happened to me. And what I realized when it finally did happen to me, that I hadn't really been lucky because I was so ill prepared for it. I hadn't thought about grief, I hadn't read about it, I hadn't really been interested in understanding what it was. And I just crossed my fingers and hope it would never happen to me. And of course grief is going to happen to all of us. And it doesn't have to be losing a sister the way I did.


It could just be losing someone through cancer. It can be your own health that you're feeling grief about. It can be the loss of a job or a dream or the ending of a relationship. There are so many griefs that we actually go through every day of our lives and it isn't something to be scared of because there's a wonderful poet, David White, an Irish poet, that I have been reading a lot of, and he talks about life is a conversation between grief and celebration.


And I realized how true that is. Every day we really are walking hand in hand with both grief and celebration. And sometimes one will lead and one will be hang back a bit and then the next day the other will lead and the other will hang back. But it's a waltz between the two of them and almost one can't exist with the other. And so I really think, don't be afraid of grief. And also don't pretend it's never going to happen to you if it hasn't happened, because it will.


And it's best to be as prepared for it as you can. And we put these things as they happen to us in what I call our bag of shadows. So I'm too busy, I can't deal with the loss of this person. So I'm putting it in this bag and I'll deal with it later. And then there'll be another thing. And you put that in your bag and slowly your bag fills up and up and then suddenly there's a big grief, maybe like my grief, and there's no room in the bag and it all just comes out in one day.


One event brings back griefs that go back months and years and suddenly you're overwhelmed by so many. So I think it's important to understand and acknowledge griefs when they come and spend some time with it, sit with it. Try not to be afraid of it. Cry if that's what you need to do. Take some time away, take a little holiday, take some long walks in nature, go for swims, sit down with a friend and have some coffees.


Acknowledge it, sit with it, understand it, explore it, and it will give you the resilience that you will need later on for the big griefs that come. Because as a lot of people have said to me who have contacted me since the book, is that every grief you go through is different. So I'll go through some other griefs after that, and this grief I've gone through will be completely different from how I might lose one of my parents or my partner or whoever it might be.


And I've got to understand that as well. Just because you've gone through one, it's not like, hey, I've done it, I've survived. Yeah, it's going to be fine. They're all going to be different and we're all going to experience them differently, so don't be afraid of that either. Not everyone is going to see it exactly the same way, even though it may be the death of the same loved one. So give yourself time is another important thing I recommend. Writing the book, for me was so helpful.


People talk about journaling as a good way of making sense of very complex emotions and feelings that can be overwhelming. I don't necessarily recommend writing a book because that is its own grief in its sense for authors, but the book, for me allowed me to put perspective on my grief and look at it, step into the room when I come in and write, and then close that chapter and step away and feel I'd done some really good grief work.


The other thing that was really important, Kristina, is that I saw a grief counselor all the way through these last two years, which, again, absolutely recommend. Once you find someone that you feel comfortable and trust, it is so good to have this safe space where you can share emotions because you will go through so many things. You'll go through shame and you'll go through guilt, and they're often difficult things to even share with your closest family and friends.


So having a counselor who is trained in how to listen and how to guide you through this, absolutely recommend. And this is the thing I wouldn't have thought of when I started my grief journey is that you can come out of it feeling, you know, your loved one better, feeling closer. Like I feel closer to my sister now than I did when she was alive, which I never would have imagined was possible.


And the connection I feel with nature, I mean, I've always had it, but now it is so intense, it is so enlivened all my senses now when I feel the sun on my cheek and I'm sitting in nature and I'm. Breathing in that oxygen. And I'm hearing the sounds of the water and the bird song. It is so enlivening. I feel so overjoyed. And the gratitude that flows through me is like nothing I've ever felt before either.


And really, that's come from going through grief, sitting with it, doing the hard work, because it is hard work, but when you come through it, on the other side of it, the joy that's waiting for you is really quite unbelievable. It just fills you with so much privilege to be alive. Absolutely. I mean, that came through the books so much in terms of you focusing on all the beautiful stories that you had versus all the sadness.


And I was curious, actually, about you writing a book, which is so amazing because I always find it amazing when someone takes their experience, all their whole life work and put it in one book and we can all learn from it. So did you set out to write a book or did you actually start with journaling to kind of get through the grief I really feel? Kristina that Stargirl wanted me to write this book. And throughout the book, as you know, I call my sister Monica, Star Girl, and the tree told me to call her that as well, because when I would think about her name, I would just be so overcome with so much grief.


Or I'd try to write down her name or say a name in the conversation. And I was just so overwhelmed in those early weeks. And it was sitting under the tree one day and the tree said, well, call her something else so you can talk about her and think about her and write about her. And I said, what do you mean? And it said, Create a character. And then you can have a little bit of distance removed when you're thinking and talking about the story. Call her Stargirl. And I really believed it happened under the branches of the tree. The tree told me that.


And so they were the early notes and stories that I would think about and write about. But I wasn't intending on writing a book at all. And completely out of the blue, my publisher, Jane Morrow, from Murdoch Books, who had worked with me on my other books, sent me an email. So we were in lockdown. It was a very dark time. And she sent me an email saying, how are you? Hope you're coping with all this terrible stuff that's going on. She had no idea that my sister died.


And she said, I think there may be something at the moment in biophilia, in the healing power of nature, and I think you're the person to write a book about this. Is this something you might be interested in writing? She had no idea that I was walking to the tree every day, that I was immersing myself in my grief and trying to heal in nature. That my sister died. I was blown away. I could not believe it. And part of me thought, yeah, I'd love to write that book and I think I have a story.


But the other part of me thought, how can you write about this a few weeks after your sisters died like this? It's impossible. You're not going to be able to do it. You've written books before, you know how difficult it is anyway, and you're hosting a full time radio show and we're in a pandemic, really, do you think you could possibly do this? And Stargal just said to me, You've got to do it. Honestly, she was forcing me to in a way. I wasn't convinced. And I just remember ringing Jane and saying, you're not going to believe that this is what's happened in my personal life and I think I can write this book.


And she said, really? Do you think so? And I said, I'm going to give it a good damn try. And that was how it started. It was painful. There were lots of blocks, lots of days and weeks that went that I couldn't ride. My boss at the ABC very kindly allowed me to take a few months off so I could finish writing the book. And I came back to work and carried on writing and editing and we turned the book around within the year after my sister died, which is pretty remarkable anyway for a book turnaround.


But, yes, it was the hardest thing I've ever done, but so relieved that I got there, so grateful that I was able to write in the grief and the response from readers, Kristina has been so overwhelming. I always said to my husband, and he said to me, look, if you just help one person, all this pain and trauma would have been worth it. And I agreed. And so to see the hundreds and hundreds of messages we've already sold 20,000 copies.


10,000 copies is the best seller in Australia. So I had a feeling there was going to be a lot of grief out there after this pandemic. So many losses that we just haven't been able to find the words for. So I thought the book would hit a note, but I really had no idea that it would be embraced the way it has. Such a beautiful book and I'm so glad you wrote it. So The Space Between the Stars is also a celebration of your community you talk about in the book.


Can you just talk us through a little bit about how that played a role as well? I'm so lucky in Pots Point, which I call my village, I've lived here for over 25 years now and there's such a gift of being able to be embedded in a community for that length of time. Not a lot of people nowadays get to do that. We're itinerant. We move around a lot for work. So because of that, there's so much history here, the place and also the people.


So when your life gets blown up in the way mine was, and the ground just gets sucked from beneath your feet, you need that sense of continuity and that there's going to be a safety net. There are going to be people and places around you that will catch you and look after you. And I had that. I was so lucky. So everyone in the restaurants and the cafes and the bars, even though they were closed and they had lost a lot of them, had lost their jobs, they were going through so many uncertainties.


There was always someone that I could have a chat to that would pour me a NEGRONIA at the bar to get me through a difficult day of grief or of writing. I'm very connected to the Wayside Chapel, which is one street from where I live, that's a homeless crisis center here in Potts Point. And the two pastors, Graham Long and John Owen, were just beautiful spirit guides as well during that time, even though they are going through terrible things in their community, trying to find houses for thousands of vulnerable homeless people overnight because they were concerned about them getting covert.


Even amongst all that, they would spend time to drop me a message or call me to see how I was doing. And that connection really only comes from years and years of working and spending time and supporting each other. So I'm so grateful. The concierge in our building, my neighbors, a real estate agent, just everyone in this neighborhood gave me support in ways that they probably don't understand until reading the book, when I share how important their support and their presence was, especially during that time where you want to see a smile or get a hug and it's a crime.


It's a crime because you have to wear a mask to cover your smile. You're not allowed to touch people. How do you comfort and console people when you can't smile or touch them? It was an extraordinary time, but that community got me through, so I'm forever thankful for that. Yes, I think it's such a beautiful thing, and I think you see that over and over in all the terrible things that we're seeing now. In Ukraine, for example, it's like the beauty of community and working together is UT of their difficult time.


So it was so nice to read about that in your book. How do you actually deal with the uncertainty of not knowing why your sister decided to do this? I'm assuming that would be something that is really difficult to deal with. I don't know why, but right from the beginning, I knew that the question that I had to answer was never going to be why?


I knew I was never going to find that answer, and I don't know how I knew that, but since I've seen the effect it has on so many people who have lost their loved ones through suicide and they are still stuck in the why. And it really has blocked their healing and they're moving forward. So I was very lucky. That wasn't the question for me. The question always was what meaning are you meant to find from this? So my question was never why, it was what meaning.


And so right from the beginning, that was the journey I embarked upon, trying to find my meaning. And it didn't have to be anyone else's meaning. It didn't have to be okay that everyone agreed that this was going to be a meaning. It was just going to be my meaning. And for me, that meaning came from nature. Nature reminded me of the times we have together. Make the most of those times. And ants. I spent a day with ants. They only have seven to eight days to live.


And I had 48 years with my sister and I felt robbed that that wasn't enough time. And here were ants doing everything. They were living, growing, mating, having babies, building nests, dying all in a week. And I just had a week. I hadn't done anything near as magnificent as some of the things that an ant had done in that last week.


It just reminded me that what is time and how do we look at time and how do we look at the time we have without knowing I could just only have a week left to live. I mean, none of us know these things. But rather than that being a terrifying, unknowing thing, it can also just be a joyous thing. If I can watch what an ant can do in a week, that can spur me on and make me live every second and every minute as if I only had a week, and make it count and make it joyful and just do the things that give me joy.


I mean, it's my choice. If I'm not enjoying that thing or enjoying being with that person, it's really my choice that has put me there. And there are so many things that we just disregard that can give us joy. Even when we're sitting in misery. You can still close your eyes and feel the sun on your cheek and feel it warm and infused deep into your bones. And it can be the most glorious feeling.


And hearing beautiful music or bird song or just seeing the beauty of a flower or the delicacy of a cobweb, it doesn't have to be much. That 5 km around me reminded me that I didn't need to have that much. And now that my world has reopened and I can go anywhere I want again, I realized I don't really need to jump on a plane and fly to the other side of the world. I'm really just happy to go and see my treat today. That's enough of an adventure for me.


And I'm perfectly happy doing that I don't really need much else than what I've been given. So there's this real sense of enough, I have enough, I don't need more. Which is also a beautiful, anxiety limiting way to look at life as well. Absolutely. I wrote a book as well, and I had a chapter about life is short and some people find it really difficult to deal with in terms of I often get people to imagine how long they will be living and how many months is that, and that finally confronting.


Well, I think that just for me, just makes me take action on the things that I might be procrastinating on or might think one day I'll do that when I have more time. And it just makes living your dream life, whatever that is, for each individual a bit sooner versus waiting for that grief or whatever it is that often takes us to that kind of state. Yeah, exactly. This has been so inspiring. So thank you.


But before we finish up, you mentioned it before, how we support others. I think that's a really difficult one because we all want to fix people's grief or we all want to make people feel better. But you mentioned that sometimes just being present is all we need to do. But have you got any other advice how to dealing with close friends or family or loved ones that are dealing with grief? And especially, I think, the ones who are not dealing with it in a good way in terms of not letting it go or like you have done.


This is the other interesting thing that I've discovered, is that everyone has their own pathway, despite everything I've said and everything I've written about, everyone has their own pathway to grief. And some people are ready to be open about it, talk about it, share their experiences early. Other people need a few more months, a year, two years.


I was contacted by a 90 year old woman whose granddaughter gave her my book and she sent back a message saying it was only after reading my book she realized she'd been grieving for her husband she lost in the Second World War for 70 years, and now is the time to stop. And it just blew me away, that message, because that's a long time to just have a little shade of gray over every one of your days. And I'm a big believer.


Do the work that needs to be done and don't pretend you're feeling anything less than how you're feeling, but don't spend more time in that dark place than you have to. Why would you want to spend more time there than you need to? And there's all this wonderful light and joy and other family members and grandchildren and whoever to interact with. So everyone has their own timeline. That's also important, so that there shouldn't be the sense of rushing people through it and making them feel you should be here by now.


And even in my family, everyone is on their different timeline. So I was very lucky that they were generous and supportive of me writing the book. But most of my family weren't there when I was writing my book. And it's taken them these last two years and reading my book to start moving along on their grief path as well. So the first thing I would say is everyone has their own pace. There are things that you can do to help. I mean, a lot of people have said giving my book as a gift to someone in grief has been a really good thing.


To remind that person that they're not alone. That's another thing people really benefit from hearing that they're not alone, that other people have gone through what you're feeling. And I think that really helps in grief as well. And to be reminded, while there's a lot of grief that is personal, there's a lot of it that's universal as well. So people reading my story might not have lost a sibling or a sister in the way I had, but they can relate to it in losing a mother to cancer. There are still some similar themes as well.


So sharing when you're ready is important. I think sharing your feelings, talking to a friend, a relative or a grief counselor is, I think, a really important part of the process as well. And getting into nature, I mean, I really can't emphasize it enough. I mean, so many people working in grief professionally will say exercise, getting out in the fresh air, walking in nature.


As I explained in the book, there are lots of physiological reasons why all of those interactions do make us feel better. They lighten the load, they expand our lungs, they lighten the darkness in our heart. They're amazing things. And it's important to get out of your head sometimes with grief. You can sit there in your grief. And sometimes, like watching a spider make a web, I remember it was 3 hours, I didn't even know where the time had gone, but I just lost myself.


And if I hadn't been there watching that spider, I would have just been being miserable on my own and the spider just took me out of myself, which sometimes we need to do as well. So I really recommend that. And the important thing is you will get through it. I don't know the time frame for you. Everyone has their individual time frame, but you will get through it. And soon the love will outweigh the grief. And as I say, you can only grieve if you have loved.


And the size of your grief is commission on the size of your love. And you can only grieve if you're loved. And loving is a good thing. So you will get through it. The joy will be waiting for you around the corner. But take your time and do the healing you need to do and you'll see the joy as well. Thank you so much for sharing that. I think that was so helpful for so many people going through grief right now and perhaps in the future. Before we finish up, I always ask my guests if they have a favorite book.


And I know it's really difficult if you read it, to choose one book. So it doesn't have to be your absolute favorite, but just one that you recommend, something that has some sort of similar themes to what we've been talking about in my book. But it's by Helen McDonald. It's called? H is for hawk. It's, again, similar things to me. It's about a woman, Helen, who goes through the grief of losing her father, but what happens to her is that she befriends this cozhawk and sort of trains it, basically.


And it's this extraordinary story about this connection to this beautiful bird, helps her heal through her grief. So it was one of the books that I read while I was doing my research on my book and I absolutely recommend it. H Is for Hawk by Helen MacDonald. Thank you so very much, India. It's been so amazing to have you on and thank you for sharing your wisdom and the beautiful book, The Space Between the Stars. Obviously, we linked to that as well.


But thank you for all the amazing work you've done as a journalist. It's always been so inspiring to see you and also for sharing your wisdom in the most beautiful book that I highly recommend. Anyone. Thank you, Kristina. It's been wonderful speaking to you today. Thank you. Wow, that was so inspiring and I hope you loved it as much as I did. And I hope you will get a copy of the book and read it whenever you need to read it.


It's also a beautiful gift to someone who is suffering with grief. I'll be back next week with another episode. I would love to hear what you've got out of this episode, so just let me know in the Facebook group, the Dream Life podcast. I will link to that in the show notes. Or you can just go to the Dream Life podcast on Facebook. I'll be back next week. I'll see you then.

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