Our personal apocalypses and our collective grief — these are the topics of today’s incredible conversation between David and Marianne Williamson, the best-selling author, and spiritual teacher. They begin with their work during the AIDS epidemic, giving an intimate picture of what it was like to sit with others in deep sorrow. Then move to sibling loss and the death of Marianne’s sister, the societal urge to pathologize grief, and the pressing need to create a culture that can engage with — not run from — the pain of grief. David wraps up with tips and takeaways.
Marianne Williamson is a bestselling author, political activist, and spiritual thought leader.
For over three decades Marianne has been a leader in spiritual and religiously progressive circles. She is the author of 14 books, four of which have been #1 New York Times bestsellers. A quote from the mega-bestseller A Return to Love, “Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure…” is considered an anthem for a contemporary generation of seekers.
Williamson founded Project Angel Food, a non-profit that has delivered more than 14 million meals to ill and dying homebound patients since 1989. The group was created to help people suffering from the ravages of HIV/AIDS. She has also worked throughout her career on poverty, anti-hunger and racial reconciliation issues. In 2004, she co-founded The Peace Alliance and supports the creation of a U.S. Department of Peace. She ran for the Democratic nomination for president in 2020, and in 2021 she launched MarianneWilliamson.Substack.com.
For more info, visit www.marianne.com.
In this episode, I speak with Marianne Williamson, a long-time friend of mine, about showing up and living deeply after a loved one dies.
I always love having a deep conversation with Marianne. I so appreciate her willingness to share her own experiences with grief with us in this episode. And I love hearing her talk about how she has grown through these experiences, questioned her reactions, and continues to grow from them today.
So often in life, we become experts in things we never wanted to know about. That’s happened to me. I imagine it may have happened to you as well. We didn’t want to go through the pain and devastation that may have brought us here today. And yet, here we are… How can we move forward with more love than pain?
Marianne shares that her sister’s death was a wake-up call of sorts for her. And she is still working to clear the regret and remorse and even a bit of shame. She shares that death teaches you to live life more deeply. Regret, shame, and remorse are frequent companions to grief.
Marianne believes that death can be such a profound teacher. Death teaches us that life is serious. It’s the real deal. We appreciate life with more intensity after a loved one had died. Grief changes us. It transforms us.
Marianne shares that grief support involves the recognition that grief is a functional response. It’s natural for us to feel sadness, and grief, and to feel the pain of missing a loved one. Grief serves a purpose in our healing. Marianne believes that the pain you are going through is not what will determine your future. Your future will be determined by who you are as you go through the pain. That’s profound to me.
Marianne and I discuss that when we experience grief, there is a shattering change within us after which we become someone different and we are ready to live life from a deeper place. We learn from our own personal catastrophes.
I hope that you will find this episode as thought-provoking and affirming as I did.
www.tenderheartssupport.com - David's online grief support group, Tender Hearts
www.aboutgrief.com - Understanding loss and grief
www.lossofaparent.com - Death of a parent
www.parentforever.com - Death of a child and sibling
www.griefsuicide.com - Death of a loved one by suicide
988lifeline.org - 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline
nami.org - National Alliance of Mental Illness
afsp.org - American Foundation of Suicide Prevention
adultchildren.org - Adult Children of Alcoholics® & Dysfunctional Families
al-anon.org - Al-Anon Family Groups
amzn.to/31AZCPv - Finding Meaning: The Sixth Stage of Grief
actapublications.com/tear-soup - Tear Soup: A Recipe of Healing After Loss
www.elf-help.com/grief_therapy_124048.htm - Grief Therapy, Elf Help Books
We often have regrets when someone dies
How can we live with more depth and presence today with the people in our lives? One way of finding meaning is understanding that while you can’t change the past but there are ways we can go deeper with the people in our lives today.
Death can be a profound teacher
Death teaches us that nothing is promised to us and reminds us to live fully. Death teaches us that we don’t know what’s going to happen tomorrow. Life is precious. What has death taught you? How does it help you show up more today?
Grief changes us
When we go through the dark night, we come out with a new perspective. How can you fully walk through your dark night without judging your journey?
There’s no expediting grief
There’s no cure or shortcut. The grieving process is natural and serves a purpose. How can you not judge the timing of your grief, not saying it should be faster or further along? What if where you are in your journey is perfect?
Healing begins with healing our thoughts
Marianne shares the law of cause and effect and says everything begins with a thought. We can’t change what happens with our thoughts, but we can change the response to what happened. When we change our thoughts we can change the way we experience life and even the way we continue healing from grief or trauma. Notice your patterns…are your thoughts moving you towards healing or keeping you stuck?