Learning About Life
With Dr. Sarah Neustadter
Introduce yourself! Who are you?
I am a writer and psychologist, living, working, and playing in Venice Beach, Los Angeles. I’m originally from Manhattan and grew up in a tall building with thousands of people and hundreds of pets. Writing has always been my first and most comfortable form of articulating my thoughts and expressing myself. The main focus of most of my psychology career has been about suicide, surviving the suicide of a loved one, and millennial issues. I spent nine years working on my book Love You Like the Sky: Surviving the Suicide of a Beloved about the death of my graduate-school sweetheart. To offset the heaviness of the topic of suicide and death, I co-host a fun podcast with my best friend called A**holes of LA, I rollerblade by the beach, and I dance.
What is one thing no one really knows about you?
I grew up in a modern orthodox Jewish family, went to yeshiva and studied advanced Talmud for 7 years.
What would you say to 16 year old you?
You don’t know who you are yet or what you’re good at, but you will soon enough. So just explore the world, be kind to yourself, and it will all come together.
What is your greatest fear?
My greatest fear was always about having a significant other who dies before me, and I have to live the rest of my life without him. I have lived through this fear. And, even after all the healing I’ve done and knowing I will be ok, it’s still my biggest fear.
What message do you think every woman should hear?
Learn not to take things personally. Like ever. And don’t gossip.
What is your favorite thing about where you live?
The classic LA palm trees, dusty pink skies at sunset, and people watching at Venice beach.
What do you love most about yourself?
I love my free spirit and intense curiosity about the human condition— it fuels my drive to be free of conditioning and constraints, to grow, explore, and adventure. I’m always learning about life, be it from the homeless man at the park or immersing myself in new pursuits like a three-month challenge to learn to dance tango.
Do you remember a specific time you overcame adversity?
Yes, my former boyfriend from graduate school died by suicide. I wanted to marry him and we’d talked about marriage and kids. It was a complete shock. I had to heal the trauma of his suicide and learn to manage missing him and living without him. It took me years to grieve, mourn, and heal from his death.
What is the biggest lesson you’ve learned along the way?
How to feel my difficult feelings, sit with my pain and sadness, and transform it.
What motivates you most?
Getting out of pain (emotional, mental or psychological).
What do you do on a daily basis to grow and move forward?
I have a morning ritual of drinking Pu-erh tea, journaling, and meditating. I’ve been practicing this for almost 15 years. It helps inspire me, shed anxiety, and center me for my day. I also have a weekly dance practice called 5-Rhthyms that I’ve been doing for the past 13 years. Dance is my most fun, enlivening form of self-expression. Without it, my spirit feels dull.
If you weren’t doing the job you have now, what would you be doing?
DJing and hosting dance parties in the Caribbean.
What is something on your bucket list?
Traveling by train for several months through southern India.
More About Sarah
Dr. Sarah Neustadter is a licensed clinical and spiritual psychologist based in Venice Beach, Los Angeles, who specializes in spiritual growth, suicide survivor grief, suicide prevention, grief, loss, existential heartbreak, and millennial issues. Her passion lies in exploring metaphysical and existential concerns and helping others understand grief as an entryway into a deeper process of spiritual transformation.