Epilogue: Josh’s Last Day

Subscribe to Lemonada Premium for Bonus Content

The Lumineers’ Jeremiah Fraites reflects on losing his older brother Josh to a heroin overdose in 2001 and the many ways Josh’s death has impacted his life. His mom, Kathy, joins him to fill in the holes that memory has left. From channeling grief through music to finding the “right” support, this candid and beautiful conversation about grief and loss will resonate deeply with Last Day listeners and Lumineers fans alike.

Show Notes 


[00:01] Stephanie Wittels Wachs: This episode of Last Day is brought to you by Shatterproof, a national nonprofit dedicated to reversing the addiction crisis in the United States. For more information, go to shatterproof.org


[00:18] Jessica Cordova Kramer: What was your relationship like? What was he like?


[00:22] Jeremiah Fraites: I just remember typical sibling rivalry, typical older brother/younger brother. So, you know, if we go way back, I can remember like going into his room and, you know, wanting to build him Legos. And I remember like he was taking a shower and I was in his bedroom and I was like, I’m going to make him different types of Legos and see if he likes any of them, he can choose which one. You know, that’s way, way long ago.


[00:47] Stephanie Wittels Wachs: That is Jeremiah Fraites. To friends and family, he’s Jer. To the entire world, he is one of the guys in the Lumineers, the one who’s usually wearing suspenders and a fedora. But here he’s talking about his older brother Josh. They were close as kids, but things started to change as they got older. Josh became addicted to opioids after getting prescribed Percocet for a knee injury in the eighth grade. He got into trouble in high school and ended up going to an alternative school where a friend introduced him to heroin. Things spiraled from there. It was tense at home and his brother eventually went to live with their grandmother. After that, Jer and Josh didn’t see each other for long stretches of time. 


[01:36] Jeremiah Fraites: I don’t actually remember the last time I saw him alive. I have a good idea of when it was. Essentially, my brother passed away in May of 2001, and the last time that I saw him would have been about nine months earlier, probably in October of the year 2000. And I imagine it’s when he was still living at my home with my parents, and he worked at Boston Market. And every now and then he’d come home after work with like extra cornbread that they were gonna throw out or a chicken. And I thought, wow, this is so cool. We’re getting like free chicken or free cornbread. And he’d put it in the fridge. I’ll never forget, he brought home this big ham one time and put in the freezer. In my memory I was like, yeah, this is sick. He got a huge ham and we’re putting in the freezer and it was free. It’s so stupid now remember those tiny details. 


[02:37] Stephanie Wittels Wachs: I’m Stephanie Wittels Wachs, and this is Last Day. Josh died of a heroin overdose in 2001. He was 19 years old and Jer was 14. Since it was so long ago, and he was so young when it happened, some memories are stronger than others. I can relate to this. I mean, memory is a funny thing. You find yourself forgetting the really big stuff, but then randomly remembering something like a ham from Boston Market. When we were first talking to Jer about this time in his life, he kept bumping into pieces of the story that were fuzzy. And whenever that happened, he’d say, I’ll have to call my mom and check. So after hearing him say this a few times, we asked if we could listen in to that call and record the conversation. And because he is a kind and generous person, he said yes.


[03:39] Jeremiah Fraites: All right, mom, can you hear me OK? I talked with Jess the other day and it was cool. It was cause intense, but it was nice to talk about good memories, and obviously the last couple of years of his life I’m trying to remember, you know, kind of where did it all go wrong? And obviously ultimately him passing away. Do you remember — I’m sure you remember pretty well, unfortunately, the day that he did pass away? I thought it was on Sunday, May 27, 2001. And I’ll never forget that Simon Gaines was over. 


[04:23] Kathy Fraites: I know you started playing games on the computer.


[04:26] Jeremiah Fraites: Yeah. Can you talk about, you know, you probably woke up first in the house on that Sunday. What do you remember about that day?


[04:33] Kathy Fraites: I was outside. It was such a beautiful day. I mean, it was sunny. It was, you know, May. Spring. One of those beautiful days. I was just puttering around the garden and you called me in and handed me the phone. And I remember you went to the sofa and you just like curled up in a little ball. You heard grandmom’s voice and you knew something was wrong. So anyway, I took the phone and all I heard was mom saying, “Kathy, Kathy, I went upstairs and — Josh — and I touched him and he’s cold.” And all I can say was, “is he dead? Is he dead?” I mean, she must’ve heard me saying that. She wouldn’t answer me. She was just like, I don’t know. I don’t know. So I said, OK, we’ll just come over right away. Meanwhile, dad’s at church. I tried to get him. He came in like a few minutes later. And I remember when I told him, do you remember what he did? I bet you do. 


[05:49] Jeremiah Fraites: He threw his hat on the ground, right? 


[05:54] Kathy Fraites: And he kicked the mudroom door. And so we got in the car and I felt sick. I just was doubled over with pain in my belly. It was the longest ride ever in my life to get to that house. And we went in and, you know, grandmom was sitting in the chair and the police were there. I just had this overwhelming need to see his body. And the cop said, “no, no, you gotta wait till the medical examiner is there.” And I said, no, I can’t. And he just said whatever. And we all traipsed upstairs and I looked at Josh. And it was just I mean, the worst day, the worst day of my life. 


[06:52] Jeremiah Fraites: Yeah, same for me. I remember after I got off the phone with grandmom, I think you said, “Simon, it’s time to go home.” I don’t think he had any idea of what was going on.


[07:11] Kathy Fraites: He knew something was up. 


[07:16] Jeremiah Fraites: Yeah, that was the longest car ride of my life as well. And walking up those stairs was also the longest staircase in my life. And I remember seeing him on the bed. And I remember you and me hugging. All in all, I was happy that we got to see him even though he had already died. I thought it was, you know, better than nothing. That was the situation. And there was no no way around it.


[07:46] Kathy Fraites: I think of him every day. Some days are worse than others. I think the one thing gets worse before the anniversary of his death, and it’s worse before his birthday. And I think I’ve learned to go into those feelings — don’t run away, just go into him, feel and be sad, be sad, be sad. And then it’s better. You know, it’s better after I do that.


[08:15] Stephanie Wittels Wachs: Be sad, be sad, be sad. It’s a pretty good mantra for all of us, in individual moments of grief, or at moments like the one we’re in now where the whole world feels upside-down. For back story, our interview with Jeremiah was a long time coming. Lots of emails back and forth. Our executive producer Jess is a Lumineers fan. And when she found out that she and Jer had both lost a brother the same way, she reached out to see if he wanted to share a story. If you listened to our last episode, you know that we had this grand plan to meet in person in Minneapolis to record the finale. What you don’t know is that we were also scheduled to meet up with Jeremiah and interview him backstage at a Lumineers concert. I mean, doesn’t that sound like cool and exciting? But like so many things in our current world, that didn’t happen. Instead, Jess, superfan and tenacious producer, got back in her bunker and hopped on Zoom with Jer during his son’s naptime. And I am glad to know that I am not the only one scheduling meetings around naptime. 


[09:32] Jessica Cordova Kramer: So I’m sitting here quarantined in Minnesota, and on the other side of the Zoom, is Jeremiah Fraites from the Lumineers. And this is a delayed conversation because of Coronavirus, y’all. The struggle is real. Hi, Jeremiah, how are you? 


[09:50] Jeremiah Fraites: I’m doing OK. Yeah, it’s unprecedented, strange times that we’re in right now. And, you know, we were slated to do this discussion in person in St. Paul, but our tour got canceled. So it’s been a very strange week for everybody, sounds like all over the world. So it’s a crazy time. There was a nagging voice in my head this morning that was telling me to try to push this back again because I feel like I’m about to go into a heavy therapy session. And in some ways I probably am. And I think during this time I felt reluctant to want to do that. But the little voice inside my head was, no, you should do it. For whatever reason, I think we’ll talk about something sad for sure, but it still is and has and will affect millions of people, particularly Americans and their families. So I think as strange as the backdrop of doing something like this with, you know, the coronavirus stuff that’s going on, in some weird way, I do think it’s a good idea to to continue. And with the power of technology, we can still make it happen. So I’m thankful for that. 


[11:03] Jessica Cordova Kramer: But before all this hit with the coronavirus, and I think you talked to Liz on your team and she ultimately, you know, you said, yes, I’ll do this. What made you what made you say yes? 


[11:13] Jeremiah Fraites: I think for me, you know, having gone through something like that as a kid, to experience a tragic loss, I think it appealed to me. And obviously, the context always needs to be right and needs to be perfect. A good example of the wrong context, we’ve be talking about my brother and the like — when our song “Ho Hey” came out about seven or eight years ago, we were doing kind of Top 40 radio, where we would go and do interviews. And Top 40 radio is like they play Taylor Swift, Ed Sheeran and Maroon 5. And the DJs on Top 40 can be rather energetic and bubbly, but in sort of a weird way. So right before you go live, you know, they’re kind of like, hey, what’s going on? My name’s whatever, this and that. And then it’s like, “Hello! Good morning! We’re here with the Lumineers! And then a couple of times, you know, so the song “Ho Hey” and then Jeremiah, your brother died of a heroin drug overdose, what was that like? And then you’re kind of like a deer in the headlights where it’s literally the worst possible setup to that question.


[12:22] Jessica Cordova Kramer: That was sucky. Let’s move on. Next question. 


[12:24] Jeremiah Fraites: Yeah. Like, there’s no segue into something so light into like the heaviest event of my life. So I think, you know, the right context is key. 


[12:36] Stephanie Wittels Wachs: So here we are, in a better context. Or rather here they are in a better context to talk about the heaviest event in his life. After the break, more of Jess’ interview with Jeremiah. 


[13:55] Stephanie Wittels Wachs: Thanks for listening to this Last Day special episode. If you’re just tuning in for this episode, welcome. Keep listening. But then I hope you will go back and start listening from the beginning of our series. This season of Last Day is a lot like this episode with Jeremiah. We dive deep into Jess’ brother Stefano’s last day, and then we zoom out to try to understand the broader opioids epidemic, including the stories of many, many others. On Episode 1, you’ll get to know me, the host of the show, Stephanie, and my brother Harris, who also died of an overdose. And we hear from some of his closest friends like Sarah Silverman and Aziz Ansari. If you like what you’re hearing, you can also become a member of Last Day on Patreon to get access to exclusive bonus episodes that we haven’t aired on our regular feed. These are incredible and I know you will love them. So check us out and become a member and supporter of Last Day at LemonadaMedia.com/Patreon


[15:00] Jessica Cordova Kramer: When did you go back to school? What was that like for you?


[15:06] Jeremiah Fraites: I think I took at least a week off. Might have been two weeks off. I don’t remember, at least a week. And I remember going back and just walking through the hallway before first period and yeah, I just felt like all eyes were on me. I think at the time I felt like embarrassed or I felt like I wanted to be invisible. You know, have an invisibility cloak like in Harry Potter and just not be there. And I didn’t care anymore about school. I really didn’t give a shit. And, you know, I think teachers gave me a huge break, which I think is a good move on their part. But yeah, I mean, I think iIn addition of being, you know, a 14 year old, becoming a young teenager and then having something like that, I think it really pushed me to — I think in some ways it pushed me more into music. I think I really stopped caring about school. Like I didn’t give a shit about anything. I didn’t do any homework anymore. I was kind of an asshole to teachers, except for one who I still love and admire to this day. But playing music, getting together with friends, writing ideas, trying to learn drums, trying to learn chords on the piano, listening to cool music, that became my world. You know, it was a world to cover up inside of, and I think it really helped me. And I think ever since that, I think it’s continued to help me. When I was younger, I truly believed you had to be sort of tortured or depressed to make good art. I think that’s a load of bullshit now that I’m 34. I think that’s so far from the truth. And I think for me, you know, I think there is just a correlation, all that grief, all that sadness. It was so immense. It was so, so immense.


[16:54] Jeremiah Fraites: It has died down and calmed down a little bit. I think just due to the sheer number of years. Not through any sort of rationalization. Years and time has helped, I think a lot. But the grief was so intense and so immense and just relentless and just infinite. And, you know, putting yourself in a position to take that very, very strong, high-potent emotion and turn it into something beautiful, whether you, you know, draw with crayons, or you paint, or you make music — I don’t know, in some weird way I guess I’m thankful for that. I can’t change what happened to my brother. So I can either wallow in my grief or I can try to take that. I think for me, music and, you know, not just the Lumineers specifically, but being so obsessed and in love just with music, not even anything to do with any specific thing in my life, just loving music and feeling so connected to that. When we first started getting into the public eye, it was a little bit vague as the presentation of, you know — Wes, the singer, was friends with my older brother Josh, and they kind of separated over years, but just naturally, I think. But they were really good friends, you know, years ago. And I think it sort of was painted as my brother died and over the casket, we’re like, “let’s start a band!” And, you know, high five. He died in 2001, we probably started the band very unrelated to my brother’s passing. But, you know, when we started the band and when we started to write original music, that was absolutely lyrical subject matter that I wanted to write with Wes. And that was something I really wanted to tackle. Like it was this, you know, Eric Clapton, “Tears in Heaven,” a song about his son tragically falling out of the window and dying. It’s like I want to do something like that. You know, let’s write a song like that. 

Let’s let’s pay homage to my brother. So, you know, in some weird way, I think all that grief propelled the art and the music. 


[19:39] Jessica Cordova Kramer: How has Josh’s struggle when he was alive, but then also has his death — it sounds like it’s affected your potential recreational drug use. I mean, you were kid when it happened. Prime time for smoking weed and messing around, did it change your thinking about that?


[19:59] Jeremiah Fraites: So for me, it definitely, absolutely affected it, 110 percent. When he died,I was a freshman in high school, and I think I was either 13 or 14. And, you know, I declared “I will never use drugs, ever.” And then, you know, probably within a year or two, messed around with weed and drinking and kind of started to engage in normal American teenage high school experimentation and whatever. And I think that it was a big — it was one of those things, too, I mean, I’m a kid, you know, even at 16 or 17, that’s being a kid in my mind. And at the time, you know, somebody listening to this might be like, wow, it’s insane. Like, you know, your brother died of drugs and then you’re participating in using drugs. And that’s a valid point. But it’s not that cut-and-dry or simple in my mind. I mean, a lot of it, too, was like, well, he’s dead. He’s gone. I still have a life to live. I need to live my life. I can’t walk around like a priest and a monk and be like, you know, I’m going to be perfect. Nobody’s perfect and, you know, that’s impossible. So I think I felt like I had the right to live my life and do what I want to do. 


[21:18] Jessica Cordova Kramer: All right, so let’s get to the meat of it here. Like 18 episodes in, Stephanie and I had still not answered the question, how the hell did this happen to our brothers? As far as she knew, Harris had no trauma in his life, as you would think of trauma. Some meaningful thing that had happened to him that caused him to eventually use heroin. He, like your brother, had been prescribed some sort of hydrocodone drug for a back injury, which eventually led him to heroin. And my brother was more recreational, but it was also started with pills and ended where it ended. And I also could not point to my parents, with my brother’s wife, with anyone like a thing that had happened that was like what you would think of as trauma. And so we brought this dude on the show, Dr. Gabor Maté, who is like the Brene Brown for addiction.


[22:14] Jeremiah Fraites: Really?


[22:15] Jessica Cordova Kramer: Yeah. Do you know him?


[22:18] Jeremiah Fraites: Yeah. He was on the Last Day podcast? 


[22:19] Jessica Cordova Kramer: Oh, yeah. 


[22:20] Jeremiah Fraites: Holy shit. I got to listen to that. That’s insane. So I’ll delve a little deeper. I held back a little bit. But that’s a sign from someone that I should speak more. When you had asked me, you know, if that was a lesson for me with my brother’s passing, I think at first it was. And I think in the long run, it no longer was a warning sign to me, it no longer was a sign that I maybe should refrain from alcohol and drugs. And as a matter of fact, this coming August, I will be celebrating five years of sobriety. I don’t do any drugs or alcohol. 


[23:00] Jeremiah Fraites: And I never had a moment in my life where I got into a car accident or, you know, nothing tragic, I never got arrested. You know, something like that. But I think for me, my relationship with drugs and alcohol just stopped working for me and became a very — everything kind of turned on me. Particularly, I would even say drinking, I think especially being in a band and touring and my whole life changing massively eight years ago. Working as a busboy at a Japanese restaurant in Denver, Colorado, to, you know, performing on the world stage, and going on tour in all six continents and constantly being on tour and having alcohol around you. And trying to deal with the highs and lows of being jet-lagged and constant travel and being away from home. And kind of the cliché, typical pitfalls of what touring musicians can do. And my wife actually has been, you know, immensely helpfu. Without being too dramatic, I honestly think that she kind of saved my life.


[24:09] Jeremiah Fraites: I think that the switch from the mentality of, well, you have a drink every night. That’s what you do. You have some wine with dinner. And even if you go to see a movie, you’re going to have a beer. At the end of a long day, you have a glass of bourbon or, you know, you smoke some weed or you do something because that’s not a big deal, right? That’s what people do. And that’s what we all do. And that’s normal. Ever since becoming sober, I’ve noticed how pervasive drinking and drugs are in our culture. Even if you watch movies or TV, it’s usually like the woman or man comes home after a long day at work and goes for the beer in the fridge. Or the amount of ads that you see in your everyday life for drinking. Or the idea that it’s 5 o’clock somewhere, just these stupid jokes that people say whatever. 


[25:00] Jeremiah Fraites: But I digress. The day that I decided to become sober, it was clearly becoming a problem within my relationship. And my wife sent me a couple of YouTube clips and just articles and stuff by this guy Gabor Maté. It was tremendously eye-opening. And I think the most profound question he has, and it’s a very simple one, is not why the addiction, but why the pain? And I think for me that completely turned addiction, and what I thought about addiction, up on its head. I thought it was so simple yet like, you know, genius, profound, whatever word you want to use. Because he kind of talked about, you know, a deck of playing cards. There’s nothing  addictive about that. But one person sees a deck of cards, the other person sees a massive gambling addiction. 


[25:54] Jeremiah Fraites: One person sees a pint of Breyers ice cream, another person sees, you know, I want to eat so much ice cream until I explode. And so let’s not look at why the addiction, but why the pain. I think that can be confusing, though, too, because then you’re looking at why is this person experiencing so much pain, and where did this all start? Side tangent, but my son is about to turn two in April. And, you know, watching him and kind of studying him and seeing how children act can be very interesting. You can take their behavior and kind of dissect and see, you know, how humans are wired on a very basic fundamental level. Because kids just want what they want. And I think sometimes with these addictions, particularly like opioids and heroin, if you are someone that knows that that high, that immense high, exists, I don’t know how you would not un-know that, if that makes sense. I’ll give you a really stupid example. If I give my son a cookie, and he sees a second cookie in the other hand, he wants both. There’s just there’s no way that I’m gonna say to him, “there’s only one cookie.” He sees that there’s two cookies. He wants both cookies. And I think in some weird way that kind of helps me try to understand addiction. For someone like my brother, I don’t know if it’s as cut-and-dry as as soon as he felt that first high — and I’ve heard from people that getting off heroin was like having heaven ripped away from them. I don’t know what that would feel like. I don’t know what that means. I don’t think that people that have never experienced it can truly understand what the addict is up against. 


[27:39] Jessica Cordova Kramer: When you’re just going about your day, what reminds you of Josh? 


[27:44] Jeremiah Fraites: There will be random stuff. Sometimes I’ll write a chord progression on the piano or guitar and something will click and I’ll have a crazy strong memory about him for no rhyme or reason. There’s the song “Wish You Were Here” by Pink Floyd, which is probably a lot of people’s songs, because those four words, “wish you were here,” a lot of people can relate to that. But my brother loved Pink Floyd. And I remember our rooms were right next to each other and he’d learned to play the guitar and he was really good at it. He played for hours and hours and he would learn a lot of riffs by AC/DC or “Welcome to The Jungle” by Guns N Roses. He learned a lot of the Pink Floyd guitar solos, so he kind of showed me Pink Floyd and “Wish You Were Here,” when I hear that, it feels very connected to my brother. And when I hear people talking about the Jersey shore, you know, long before the TV show sort of painted this ridiculous image of what the Jersey shore was, for me, it was a really beautiful vacation. And I felt lucky enough that we could go on vacation to the shore. And it just really represented childhood and innocence. And I think my life has always felt very divided into two sections.


[28:54] Jeremiah Fraites: Life when my brother was alive, and life after he passed away. There was no going back after he died. It was the loss of innocence overnight. Growing up overnight. Yeah, it’s always felt very divided from that. But. I’ve always described it as it’s like right underneath my skin. And then sometimes it’s underneath a glacier, like a million miles, like the Marianas Trench, like it’s just miles and miles underneath, like the ocean and dark and there’s no daylight and I’m completely unfazed by it. I think the situation, though, is that there’s a duality there. It is that far down, and it is literally like right underneath my fingernail. And sometimes just things trigger it and sometimes it’s not triggered at all. And I can talk about it calmly. And it seems like, you know, I’ve come to terms with it. But I don’t think anybody will ever truly get over it. Maybe that’s the gift they’ve inadvertently given us is to have to deal with that for the rest of our lives and make the most of it. Because whether they wanted to pass away, or if it was accidental, we’re all left in the wreckage and the wake of their decisions. And that’s the hardest part sometimes is that they don’t have to deal with that. And that can bring up a lot of anger and, you know, hostility towards that person, because they don’t have to — they’re dead. You know, they’re ideally resting in peace. Maybe they’re in heaven, or something similar, wherever there might be. But we’re still on this earth having to deal with the shit and real life. And that sucks sometimes. 


[30:47] Stephanie Wittels Wachs: Lemonada Media has another new podcast. Very timely, this one, Andy Slavitt, who was a leading health care expert in the Obama administration and a previous guest on Last Day, is out with a new podcast trying to make sense of the Coronavirus pandemic. Called In the Bubble, Andy is recording from his own bubble, his little bunker in Minnesota. His teenage son, Zach, who is stuck at home with him, has become his producer, which is adorable. Andy is really good. He is bringing you analysis, expertise, you know, all the real talk that we need. But he’s also bringing you hope that we can get through this thing together. We will bring you inside his current conversations with the White House, congressional leaders, governors, cultural icons, doctors, scientists, you name it. If you are looking for reliable information with a dash of hope about the Coronavirus crisis, this is the podcast for you. Check out In the Bubble with Andy Slavitt wherever you listen to podcasts. 


[31:54] Stephanie Wittels Wachs: We’re back, which is also to say hi, I’m back for a moment. So Jer uncovered a lot in his interview with Jess, but there were still some lingering questions. Which brings us back to Kathy, his mom.


[32:11] Kathy Fraites: Before this, we were untouchable, you know, this doesn’t happen. When Josh was in a rehab, one of the kids died. And I’m like, oh, my God. That would never happen to us. Well, you know, it did. And so then I thought, oh, anything could happen now. Like after Josh died, first of all, I left the church. I was so mad at God. And all I did was read books about the afterlife, and about life after death, and Sylvia Browne and all these psychics. I just couldn’t get enough. And my husband still went to church and did the things he did, and so we definitely had different ideas about how to find peace.


[33:09] Jeremiah Fraites: How did you feel like you personally managed right after that? 


[33:16] Kathy Fraites: Well, the first thing we did was we were concerned about you, and didn’t know really what would be the best thing. We tried to get you this art therapy. Do you remember that? So it was like right after. And this woman came in and somebody had recommended this woman. And I think you said you’d do it. It was going to be going on for a few weeks. And I guess it was a way to kind of deal with all this that had happened. But then you said, no, you didn’t want to do it. So, of course, we didn’t push it. But, you know, I think we were just so enmeshed in this whole thing with Josh’s death that, you know, even many years before he died, it was all about Josh. He was living in a hurricane and a cyclone. And then he died. 


[34:22] Jeremiah Fraites: How do you feel like you managed on a short term basis versus in the years since. I mean, I guess it’s been, what, 19 years, going on 20. Maybe coming to grips with your perspective on, I don’t know, like even the grief group I remember you went with. Can you talk a little bit about that?


[34:45] Kathy Fraites: Oh, yeah. So first of all, I don’t know if you went or not, but me and dad and grandmom went to a group called Compassionate Friends for people that had lost children. And we went like a couple of times, but it just didn’t feel like a good match. I don’t know. Every time you went, you had to tell your story all over again. And I really didn’t want to do that. I wanted to go to somebody that they knew me and they knew my story and we could move on from there. So me and two other gals that had lost sons due to the same reason, we started just getting together on our own. And I think they saved my life. We called ourselves “the grief girls” and we’d meet like once a week. Maybe it was a Panera, maybe it was at a home. And we’d talk and we’d actually laugh. And it was the best thing. It was just the best thing. I don’t know what I would have done without them because nobody else understood. Nobody else. I think the most important thing for me was finding other people to talk to that had the same kind of, you know, death from overdose. It’s different when your kid has cancer, you know, even though it’s all diseases. But, you know. It’s just different. But that’s my advice, my most important thing that helped me.


[36:15] Jeremiah Fraites: When you were talking about this grief support groups, mom, it reminded me sometimes of how cookie-cutter people can try to make these types of situations. Keeping it superficial and keeping it surface-level and not really getting into the meat of the situation. I could honestly see you going out, like you say, with two other women and maybe having coffee and just talking about the real shit and that being a million times more cathartic than being in a room where you’re like, “Hi, my name’s Kathy and my son died.” And nobody knows each other. And it’s very superficial and very like surface-level engagement with something that’s the complete opposite of surface-level.


[36:59] Jeremiah Fraites: This is super draining to do so I’m so happy that you’re willing to do this, mom. I really think that a lot of people will get some sort of therapy out of this. So that’s really cool. Thanks for doing it, mom.


[37:14] Kathy Fraites: Well, thank you for asking me. 


[37:20] Stephanie Wittels Wachs: So when I heard that Jess had booked an interview with a literal rock star, I never imagined it would be this relatable, or that he would invite his lovely mother on to so intimately share her experience of losing her son. But here is the thing: we have heard from so many people this season who have been bold enough and crazy enough to share the details of the most personal, horrifying moments of their lives, and trust us to tell their stories. And the feedback 100 percent of the time, 100 percent has been, wow, that was so healing. In fact, “therapeutic” has been a word we’ve heard again and again, which is why we have created a new show entirely about addiction that’s actually hosted by a physician and a mental health professional. So we can keep telling more stories and asking more questions. In Recovery with Dr. NZinga Harrison launches in May. So please send us an email, or a voice memo, to InRecovery@LemonadaMedia.com. Ask your questions. Share your experiences and tell us what we should talk about next.


[38:42] Stephanie Wittels Wachs: OK, and now I will say again, goodbye, everybody. This is the real official last episode of Last Day, Season 1. I promise no more epilogues coming your way. I love you all. Stay home. Stay safe. See you soon. 


[38:58] Stephanie Wittels Wachs: Last Day is a production of Lemonada Media. Our producer is Jackie Danziger. Nicolle Galteland is our associate producer, and our assistant producer is Clare Jones. Kegan Zema is our technical director. Brian Castillo is our editor. Our executive producer is Jessica Cordova Kramer. And our music is by Hannis Brown. 


[39:16] Stephanie Wittels Wachs: Special thanks to Westwood One, our ad sales and distribution partner. And a very, very special thanks to Jeremiah Fraites and his mom, Kathy. This episode featured the song “April” off The Lumineers new album “III,” written by Jeremiah Frates and Wesley Schultz, with permission from Cobalt Music Publishing.You can find us online @Lemonadamedia.And you can find me online @wittelstephanie. If you like what you heard today, tell your family and friends to listen and subscribe, rate and review us on Apple, Spotify, Stitcher or wherever you get your podcasts. I’m Stephanie Wittels Wachs. See you next season.

Spoil Your Inbox

Pods, news, special deals… oh my.