Welcome to TEARS AND TEQUILA TALKS, our ongoing discussion series with an amazing group of writers, experts, and influencers on the topic of loss, recovery and personal growth. Hosted by Tears and Tequila co-authors Linda Schreyer and Jo-Ann Lautman.

Christina Rasmussen is a bestselling author, speaker and philanthropist whose life mission is to help people change the way they live after loss.

After her own profound loss, Christina founded Second Firsts and The Life Starters, both organizations to help people create a pathway back to life after loss. Her book, Second Firsts: Live, Laugh, and Love Again has helped thousands of people navigate their way to a happy life after loss.

For Rasmussen, the idea of Second Firsts means bravely committing to a series of new challenges and experiences in the journey back to life: The second first haircut. The second first date. The second first vacation. The second first job interview. The second first love of your life.

With each Second First, Rasmussen explains, you’ll re-wire your brain to reward you for taking positive action — creating a powerful cycle of self-encouragement.

LINDA SCHREYER (TEARS & TEQUILA): Christina, welcome to Tears and Tequila Talks! We so appreciate you being a part of our series. I understand that you studied bereavement and grief in your college thesis back in your 20s. Then later in your life you experienced two heartbreaking losses, your daughter and your husband. How did the experience you studied about for your thesis compare to the real-life experience?



CHRISTINA RASMUSSEN: Linda thank you so much for having me. My real life experience of devastating loss was so different to my study of grief. I never expected grief to be so insane, devastating and long lasting. Because of my experience I realized that there are millions of people out there who are as lost as I was and have nowhere to turn for real help. That is when I promised myself if I made it back to life I would go back to get everyone else. Second Firsts is my ship. :)


JO-ANN LAUTMAN (Tears and Tequila): Like you, the experience of loss lead me to a new life mission. In my case, I created the OUR HOUSE Grief Support center in Los Angeles. In your case, you’ve launched a vibrant movement to help others. When did you realize that you could make a difference for people going through this process? And how long was it between your loss and discovering your new life mission?


“If you stay true to your real story and not the perfect interpretation that the world has of you then you will not only reach your potential but you will impact the world for good.” – Christina Rasmussen


CHRISTINA RASMUSSEN: I knew that I could not really help anyone before I helped myself. I did not want to be guided by my grief but my passion for life after loss. So I waited until I felt strong enough and grounded enough to take on the world’s grief. It was 4 years after my loss when I founded Second Firsts.


LINDA SCHREYER (Tears & Tequila): Grief is sometimes thought of as negative or “downer” topic, but the reality of grief is that it seems to force an acceptance of change and new direction in your life, which opens the door to new experiences, growth, and love. Some of the most beautiful stories were born out of the heightened awareness that loss brings about. As someone deeply involved in the grief community, what are the perceptions you hear about the topics you teach and discuss?


CHRISTINA RASMUSSEN: Grief is a taboo topic unless you talk about it in the myth based description. That time heals all wounds or that grief lasts forever. When you speak of it like that then everyone accepts your message if you try to change the status quo then you receive resistance. So in the beginning there was a lot of resistance regarding living fully again after loss. But with time, passion and resilience I am getting through and more doors are opening. What I discovered once the doors opened was isolation, loneliness and the belief that life after loss is hopeless, which is incorrect.

As you said Linda, some of the most beautiful experiences happen after loss…if we let them.


LINDA SCHREYER (Tears & Tequila): You were still young when you lost your husband, and your children lost their father (Christina’s husband was 35 when he died of an illness). The experience of grief can be especially crippling for a younger widow or widower, experiencing a shocking or unexpected life change. It’s an age where most others your age are not experiencing anything like what you were going through. As a 30-something widow, where did you turn?

CHRISTINA RASMUSSEN: There was nobody to turn to. Yes my friends were there but at the end of the day they went back to their homes with their husbands and young children. My life was so different to theirs. It was the most lonely experience I have ever had. But if it wasn’t like that I would have never been so passionate about my mission. It had to be difficult and isolating so I could come back and help others.


JO-ANN LAUTMAN (Tears and Tequila): I love the idea of “Second Firsts.” For some people though, the idea of experiencing special moments for the second time can bring about tremendous guilt or sadness. In your opinion, can the practice of enjoying a vivacious life be taught or learned?


CHRISTINA RASMUSSEN: Jo-Ann, yes this is so true. What I discovered through meeting thousands of people who are grieving is that most of the time guilt is much larger than grief. And then fear is added to the mix. In the end it is not the grief that stops us from living again but the fear of losing it again. Guilt and fear walk with us every single day. I think the brain can rewire itself to exit the infinite loop of loss and enter a new way of thinking and living. It takes commitment and a big awareness for this to happen. But I have seen it happen so many times. However there will always be the people who identify with grief much more than with life. For them the attention they receive from their grief is much greater than their need to live again. So we can’t help everyone but if the person wants this, the brain is capable of making it happen.


Tears and Tequila co-authors Linda Schreyer and Jo-Ann Lautman

Tears and Tequila co-authors Linda Schreyer and Jo-Ann Lautman

LINDA SCHREYER (Tears & Tequila): Your book is about grief, but the principles of “Second Firsts” applies to so many other areas of your life. The idea of the “waiting room” – a holding place where people are stuck during life transitions – applies to anyone who is stuck or trying to get to a place of renewal. Do you find your message is one that applies outside of just those experiencing grief?


CHRISTINA RASMUSSEN: When the book came out a lot of people bought it for their friends and then they opened it and started reading…not only did they finish reading it but they bought 10 more for their family members, because everyone is able to identify with the waiting room and with loss. Loss does not just happen through death, it happens every day for our whole life. This is one of the main myths I am trying to eliminate. So thank you for asking this question.


JO-ANN LAUTMAN (Tears and Tequila): Out of your loss came a life direction that was totally unexpected for you. Now you find yourself as a writer, speaker, and leader of not one, but two organizations focused on helping others. The healing and growing process for you meant letting go of your old job and walking down a new path. How important to your waking up to life process was the acceptance of a new future for yourself?


CHRISTINA RASMUSSEN: I had to remove the vision of my first life. I had to let go of who I was completely and surrender to a new dream. Which at first looked like it would never be good enough. It could never match the first dream. But that is grief speaking to us, that is our ego complaining. And that is our pain speaking. When we try to listen to life’s whispers we absolutely realize that second chapters and second firsts can be dreamier, happier and so passionate. In the end I did not just accept my new life but I immersed myself to it fully and gave it all I had. And still do. With pleasure.


LINDA SCHREYER (Tears & Tequila): Now as an writer, grief expert and speaker, your life requires a new focus and energy to connect with your followers. You have a great platform: your book a website, social media connections, speaking engagements and other forms of outreach require focus and time for learning, too. How long did it take to become comfortable with your outreach? And what advice do you have for anyone else out there looking to reach their potential and create a meaningful life they love?


CHRISTINA RASMUSSEN: Linda, what a great question. This is definitely a very different way to live. At first I burned out with the amount of work that I was doing. Nobody was chasing me but passion can be quite obsessive. Activists and people with big missions feel like they have to sacrifice their life to accomplish it. But when we become too tired to live our own life then we are hypocrites to the message we send out. In the last few months I reassessed my life and started saying a lot of No’s and prioritizing health and wellness for myself. Your platform will keep going even more when you choose yourself. Having met so many people identifying more with the numbers of their followers than with their true essence, I try hard every day to stay grounded and close to the every day girl who lost the love of her life and got back up again. If you stay true to your real story and not the perfect interpretation that the world has of you then you will not only reach your potential but you will impact the world for good.



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