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Death Becomes Him

Death Becomes Him

By Brian Dowling
When Brian Dowling lost his mum Rosie two years ago, it changed his outlook on life.

Grief is a complicated journey, and one that Brian now endeavours to explore with the help of his friends and family. Join Brian and his nearest and dearest as they grow to understand death through open conversation, humour and honesty.
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Brian in conversation with Maria Moynihan
Maria’s loss is so personal. Throughout this entire series we’ve heard from people who have had very unique experiences but Maria’s might be the one that is hardest for most to understand. In 2019, Maria Moynihan and her husband Danny discovered that they were expecting their first child. But as the weeks went on, the couple discovered their son Danann was suffering from a rare disorder. Here Maria talks about preparing for her son’s birth and death together. It’s a remarkably touching story, one that highlights the reality of parenthood and the unbreakable bonds of family.
November 14, 2021
Brian in conversation with Cian Sullivan
When we grieve, there is an overwhelming urge to relieve the pain. Our bodies cry out for comfort, for support, for numbing, for crying, for whatever coping may seem right. And when a death is unexpected,  that need for relief is even stronger. But when Cian Sullivan lost his sister Arwen in 2020 so much of his grieving process was halted by the early days of lockdown. And despite the usual coping mechanisms being denied, Cian has one of the most profound insights on loss, acceptance and compassion I have ever heard.
November 07, 2021
Brian in conversation with Sinead Barry
When we talk about loss we talk about the overwhelming sadness, the grief, the shock. But what we often forget is the disruption of death – it’s something that Sinead Barry was forced to face in 2019. On new years days 2019, Sinead’s husband Michael was diagnosed with an aggressive cancer. When he died in March, the couple’s new home was half built. Today she talks about the kindness of strangers and how sometimes it really takes a village to help us move forward.
October 31, 2021
Brian in conversation with Geraldine Mullan
Words fail to describe the tragedy of Geraldine Mullan’s loss. In August 2020,  Geraldine and her family were driving home to Moville when the car veered into Lough Foyle. The accident claimed the lives of the three people Geraldine loved most, her husband John and children Tomás and Amelia. Today she talks about her own trauma and how trying to face the fear of the water has brought her closer to her family.
October 24, 2021
Brian in conversation with Lisa Cannon
We’re so used to seeing Lisa Cannon composed, together and glammed up to the nines. But behind it all, Lisa has been deeply reflecting on her grief and how it has changed her. Today she opens up about losing her mum Laura 13 years ago to cancer. During that battle, Laura got a beautiful dog Lulu who became such a comfort to her that Laura battled through another year of treatment. This year when Lulu passed, past grief resurfaced and today Lisa opens up about how grief can creep up even years later.
October 17, 2021
Brian in conversation with Colleen McNally
Today Colleen McNally opens up about the passing of her son Daragh. In 2019, 11-year-old Daragh passed after a battle with aggressive lymphoma. Colleen has been sharing her grief and experiences on instagram since then on the page @daraghs_balloon_ride. Today she talks to me about how for her, time does not heal, but rather she has learned to live with the pain.
October 10, 2021
Brian in conversation with Andrew McGinley
For the first episode of this season we talk to a man who’s story has already been plastered over national media. In January 2020, Andrew McGinley lost his three children  Conor, Darragh and Carla to homicide. His wife Deirdre, suffering from a psychiatric disorder, had suffocated the children while Andrew was at work. In May of 2021, her trial revealed the true tragedy of the events, the extent of her illness and the trauma that the family endured. Andrew talks today about life with Deirdre, the verdict of the trial and opens up about the everydayness of grief.
October 03, 2021
Brian in Conversation with Fiona Tuomey
For much of the time I have been doing this podcast we have been in a lockdown. It’s meant that these conversations have been one of the main supports for me as I coped with my own grief. It’s been a sort of group therapy and I believe the strength I’ve gained over the past number of months has been a result of not only sharing my experiences but listening to other people too. This is something Fiona Tuomey talks about in today’s episode of Death Becomes Him – when she lost her daughter Milly at the age of 11 to suicide, Fiona searched for a suicide support group in Dublin to help her with her grief but could not find one. So, after much discussion, research and support HUGG was established in February 2017 and since then supports hundreds families impacted by suicide each year.
April 25, 2021
Brian in conversation with Zoe Holohan
On today’s episode, Brian talks to Zoe Holohan. Zoe opens up about the loss and trauma she suffered when husband Brian died on the couple’s honeymoon in 2018. The newlyweds we’re celebrating in Mati, Greece, when wildfires swept across the region. The fires claimed 102 lives.
April 18, 2021
Brian in conversation with Sarah Battle
On this episode of Death Becomes Him, I chat to Sarah Battle. Sarah is known for sharing snaps of her gorgeous home and family on her account house by the whitethorns. But behind it all, Sarah has been grieving her sister Kate. Kate was diagnosed with a brain tumour in 2014, and sadly passed 18 months later. Sarah talks about living with grief and how she learned to process Kate’s passing through therapy and support from her family. Sarah talks about grief in a way that really resonated with me. Her life is full of joy and happiness now but there is still a part of her that wishes Kate could be there to experience it too. And though it’s heartbreaking, to me it’s a sign of great love. Kate was so adored and so important that Sarah still thinks about her every day. Next week I chat to Zoe Holohan. Zoe tragically lost her husband Brian on Honeymoon in 2018 and opens up about the trauma of the incident.
April 11, 2021
Brian in conversation with Bronagh Burke
Often in the aftermath of loss, we enter into autopilot. Life needs to go on, the washing needs to be done and the children need to go to school. But for those who have lost people during 2020, these usual vices have been taken away. Mourning in lockdown presents a set of totally unique challenges. This is something Bronagh Burke talks about in today’s episode. She opens up about grieving her husband Thomas who died unexpectedly and talks about the differences in processing that grief compared to the coping mechanisms she had after her father’s passing in 2015.
April 04, 2021
Brian in conversation with Kathie Stritch
Kathie’s family rallied around her sister Elaine when she was diagnosed with cancer in 2014. After rigorous treatment, life was getting back to normal in 2015, when Elaine’s husband Pa suffered a fall and passed away. Just over a year later, Elaine’s cancer returned and she too sadly passed. Kathie  opens up about caring for her sister’s children, their fundraising efforts to honour Elaine and Pa and how their wider friends and family will ensure Jason and Adam will always know their parents.
March 28, 2021
Brian in conversation with Jess Redden
Jess joins me virtually from Perth austraila where she has been since earlier this year with fiancé Rob Kearney. Jess opens up about her father’s passing last year and how he encouraged her to live life to the fullest. She talks about the shock of his death, her plans for marriage and finding hope for the future. The first year after losing a loved one can be the hardest – the first birthday, the first Christmas and the first anniversary without them can be heart breaking. Jess is still very much processing her grief but has used these key moments to remember her highlights with her father and share the love he showed her with the world. 
March 21, 2021
Brian in conversation with Amanda Cambridge
Amanda opens up about the loss of her son Avery in 2019 when the family were on holidays in Spain.  While Amanda’s story is heart breaking, she has bravely made the decision to share what her family had endured in the hopes of helping other families.
March 14, 2021
Brian in conversation with Lisa Shannon
Lisa is known to many for her incredible talents as a makeup artist, she’s a gorgeous woman with a wide smile and beautiful young family. But today Lisa opens up and shares her story – a history that she has kept close to her heart for years. Lisa lost her mum Helena after a long battle with mental illness. Lisa talks about supporting her mother and finding happiness after tragic loss.
March 07, 2021
Brian in conversation with Benji Bennet
Benji Bennet has dedicated his work to bringing happiness to families. He’s the much-loved author of the Adam’s Cloud books in which our young hero Adam adventures through space, saves Christmas and hunts for buried treasures. The series was inspired by Benji’s son Adam who passed suddenly in 2007 of an undiagnosed brain tumour. Benji talks today about the shock of the diagnosis, the feelings of hopelessness and how his grief manifested in writing and creating a beautiful memorial for his son.
February 28, 2021
Brian in conversation with John McAreavey
This week I speak to John McAreavey. In 2011, John suffered the loss of his new wife Michaela on Honeymoon when she was attacked and murdered by two intruders. The story of what happened was plastered on newspapers and John found himself at centre of  an investigation, and his grief on public display. He opens up to me today about the trauma of the incident, how he rebuilt his life and why he will never use the term “moving on.”
February 21, 2021
Rosie's birthday special: Brian in conversation once again with his sisters
On this episode of death becomes him, I sit down once again with my sisters. Earlier in the year we got together to talk about our mums passing, the shock and the immediate aftermath. At the time I wanted to understand whether I’d ever feel like me again and whether my sisters were experiencing the same sense of something missing. We talked, we laughed, we cried and really we walked away from that conversation understanding each other’s grief a little bit better. I wanted to revisit this conversation now, a few months and one pandemic later. I want to know if my sisters feel like their grief has changed, how they managed to overcome the shock and how they feel now.
December 10, 2020
Brian in conversation with Jackie Fox
Today’s conversation is one of the most important we can have. Over the last two seasons, though I’ve spoken to so many people with such varied experiences there is a commonality in their grief – there has been a tangible reason, a sense of inevitability and ultimately an acceptance. But for Jackie Fox, the death of her daughter Nicole in 2018 is an injustice. Nicole sadly took her own life after years of online and offline bullying. Nicole’s whole world was impacted by the torment, and she was deprived of the everyday joys a young woman should be able to enjoy. Jackie talks to me candidly about the time leading up to her daughter’s death, dealing with the aftermath and how she’s campaigning for  change in legislation to ensure this never happens again.
November 09, 2020
Brian in conversation with Mairead Ronan
On today’s episode, Mairead Ronan laughs when she tells me about her mum encouraging her to pursue a career in radio. At the age of 20 she didn’t think she had the contacts or background to succeed in such a competitive industry but her mum was her champion. She encouraged her, supported her and gave her the confidence to land her first radio gig at just 21. Mairead opens up to me about the devastation she felt when her mum passed on the eve of her 21st birthday and how despite the sadness, she thrived thanks to the upbringing her mother had given her.
November 02, 2020
Brian in conversation with Baz Ashmawy
We all know and love Baz and his mum Nancy from the Emmy Award winning show 50 Ways to Kill Your Mammy. Beyond the show, family is integral to Baz’s success and work – from inspiring his teams to working alongside them behind the scenes. Baz opens up today about just what family means to him, how they coped with the loss of their father and how he struggles to deal with grief.
October 26, 2020
Brian in conversation with Lisa Colhoun
Today I sit down with Lisa Colhoun. I find Lisa’s story so tough because it’s a real reminder to make every day count. Lisa was married to Christopher and had two young children. The had bought their dream house, Christopher had just been promoted to principal and Lisa taught in the same school. They enjoyed the simple things – walking their dog, holidays and spending time with family. It was after a dinner with their friends that Christopher started feel unwell and he was soon hospitalised with the flu. Six days later, he unexpectedly passed away. Lisa talks to me today about mourning her soulmate and how she’s coped after such a tragic loss.
October 19, 2020
Brian in conversation with Jennifer Rock
Jennifer is a vibrant business woman, a bestselling author and social media star. Her ever-growing success is down to her hardworking nature, her creativity and her supportive family. One person in particular influenced Jennifer’s success more than most – her father. Today Jennifer opens up about his sudden passing in 2018. She talks about dealing with the shock, going into autopilot and how she threw herself into work in the aftermath.
October 12, 2020
Brian in conversation with Alan McGovern
Alan McGovern and his wife Jenny were the dream team. They worked together, had a family together and enjoyed life together. They worked incredibly hard to build a wonderful life for their two children. When Jenny was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in 2018, it was another hurdle the couple believed they could overcome. And they did - once. Sadly Jenny's cancer returned in 2019 and the young mother of two passed. Today Alan talks about mourning the person that was integral to every aspect of his life. 
October 05, 2020
Brian in conversation with Eileen Loughlin of @Everything_Eileen
Today Brian talks to Eileen Loughlin aka @Everything_Eileen. Eileen’s story is one of the hardest. Two years ago, in 2018, she lost her young daughter Anabelle after a tragic accident in the home. She chats about mourning the future Anabelle would have had and how despite her grief, she’s determined to give her two sons a happy childhood.
September 28, 2020
Brian in conversation with Shannen Joyce of @big_c_and_me
This week Brian meets Shannen Joyce. Shannen brings a new perspective to grief and one that is so important. Since the age of 19 Shannen has battled through three boughts of cancer and for each diagnosis, she has missed key milestones and rites of passage. She chats to Brian today about grieving the moments the disease has taken from her.
September 21, 2020
Brian in conversation with Alan Hughes
This week Brian sits down with TV’s Alan Hughes. Alan is a household name, he’s a staple of Irish telly and someone we all feel like we know. But as we hear today, Alan has experienced many tragedies in his life and for the first time he opens up about losing his parents, two of his siblings and a close friend.
September 14, 2020
Brian in conversation with Rachel Gorry
In this episode Brian meets Rachel Gorry, a young mum who lost her husband Daniel earlier this year. Rachel and Daniel were truly love's young dream. They were childhood sweethearts who married in their early twenties, had three beautiful daughters and broken ground on building their dream home. After a series of doctors visits and a bout of illness on holidays in 2018, Daniel was diagnosed with terminal cancer. Today Rachel opens up about finding the strength to support her husband during his illness as well as keeping their young family together.  
September 07, 2020
Brian in conversation with his sisters
If you’ve been following or listening to my journey, you’ll know that this whole series was inspired by my desire to understand grief. Losing my mum two years ago turned my world upside down. She was my best friend, my rock, my guide. But of course, she wasn’t just my mum. I am the older brother to six sisters; Michelle, Tracy, Valerie, Aoife, Paula and Tara. Each of us had our moments with Mum, like Michelle’s morning phone call or Aoife’s tea and chats at the table. We each have our own memories, our own sorrows and our own experiences of grief. I wanted to sit down with my sisters and have an honest conversation about losing mum, and how we all feel two years later. While this podcast started as an endeavour to discover whether I’ll ever feel like me again, today I ask the even harder question – how can we be us without her. We start where this journey started, talking about the day she passed.
May 05, 2020
Brian in conversation with Lottie Ryan
This week I speak with Lottie Ryan. We all remember the day we got the news that Gerry Ryan had passed away. He was a national icon, part of all our lives. A state funeral was held in his honour and his death made the front pages. And while there is a solace in the knowledge that he was loved by so many, on the flipside, the public experience of grief is extremely difficult to navigate. Lottie opens up to me about sharing her father with the nation, following in his footsteps and how she believes his legacy lives on.
April 28, 2020
Brian in conversation with Nicky Byrne
This week Brian talks to Nicky Byrne about the sudden passing of his father in 2009.  Nicky shared may things with his father; his passion for music, his love of sport and of course his name. Today he opens up about their relationship and his beliefs around life after death.  Death Becomes His is produced by Tall Tales Podcasts. 
April 21, 2020
Brian in conversation with Nadia Forde
This week on Death Becomes Him I sit down with my good friend Nadia Forde. Nadia's story is a little different to those we've already heard. From the age of eight, Nadia was raised mainly by her grandmother and today opens up about the complexity of grieving an estranged parent. Reconnecting during her mother's illness, Nadia admits she began to view her mother differently - woman to woman. We begin our conversation today talking about how becoming a mother helped Nadia heal.
April 14, 2020
Brian in conversation with Des Bishop
This week Brian meets Des Bishop. Des has lost both his parents and today talks about how those experiences of grief differed. Des opens up about caring for his mother, managing complex relationships and where he believes his parents are now.
April 07, 2020
Brian in conversation with Pippa O'Connor
This week Brian sits down with his best friend Pippa.  In 2014, Pippa's world was thrown upside down with the sudden passing of her Mum Louise. Pippa chats today about the moments of grief she experiences six years later but how she's determined to build a happy life to honour her mum.  Death Becomes Him is produced by @Tall_tales_podcasts for more see  Email the podcast:
March 31, 2020
Brian in conversation with Arthur Gourounlian
For two years, Brian has refuted any questions about grief with his catchphrase “I’m fine, I’m fiiine.”  Here in episode one, with the support of his husband Arthur, Brian finally admits that he’s not as composed as he has made out to be. Arthur opens up about the loss of his own father and how that impacted him at 16. It’s an experience that instilled in him a desire to build a life in which he felt safe, supported and happy. Arthur talks through his own experience of grief and together he and Brian find comfort in shared similarities.
March 26, 2020
Introducing Death Becomes Him
When Brian Dowling lost his mum Rosie two years ago, it changed his outlook on life. Grief is a complicated journey, and one that Brian now endeavours to explore with the help of his friends and family. Over the course of seven episodes, join Brian and his nearest and dearest as they grow to understand death through open conversation, humour and honesty. Email the podcast: Produced by
March 25, 2020