Confronting grief can be messy, painful, and a lot of times, it can feel optional. Why provoke your deepest, wildest emotions — the ones that make you feel like you’ve lost control? In his very first episode, David sets the stage for why talking about grief is so vital. He opens up about his own tragic experiences with loss, and details the transformative encounters with psychiatrist Elisabeth Kübler-Ross that led him deeper into this work. If you’re carrying grief with you, know this: There are no rules here. But there’s always hope.
David Kessler is one of the world’s foremost experts on grief and loss. His experience with thousands of people on the edge of life and death has taught him the secrets to living a happy and fulfilled life, even after life’s tragedies. He is the author of six books, including his latest bestselling book, Finding Meaning: The Sixth Stage of Grief. He co-authored two books with Elisabeth Kubler-Ross, Life Lessons and On Grief and Grieving, updating her 5 stages for grief. He also co-wrote, You Can Heal Your Heart with Louise Hay. He also wrote Visions Trips and Crowded Rooms. His first book, The Needs of The Dying received praise from Saint (Mother) Teresa.
David’s personal experience as a child witnessing a mass shooting while his mother was dying in a hospital helped him begin his journey. For most of his life, David has taught physicians, nurses, counselors, police, and first responders about the end of life, trauma, and grief. He facilitates talks, workshops, and retreats for those experiencing grief. However, despite his vast knowledge on grief, his life was turned upside down by the sudden death of his twenty-one-year-old son. It inspired him to write his latest and most personal book, Finding Meaning.
He is Chief Empathy Officer for the Empathy.com app. David’s volunteer work includes being a founding member of Project Angel Food, a well-known and loved non-profit organization. He currently serves on the board of The Farrah Fawcett Foundation which provides cancer research, patient assistance, and prevention efforts. He also serves as Specialist Reserve for the Los Angeles Police as well as having served on the Red Cross’s disaster services team. He is the founder of Grief.com which has over five million visits yearly from 167 countries.
We may wonder why we would want to talk about grief. When difficult things happen why would we want to bring them back up? So often people hold their grief inside for years. It sits, left unattended. They feel like they can outrun or wait it out. We may even think that our grief is so immense that there is no healing and therefore there is no reason to talk about grief.
We have to feel our feelings or they catch up with us. They don’t just disappear on their own. Can’t heal what you don’t feel.
In our grief-illiterate society, people can be so uncomfortable with our grief that they might even tell us to move on and just get over it already. We need to develop the skills to normalize talking about and authentically expressing how we are feeling and to witness each other and be seen and heard.
We find meaning when our pain is reflected in another person’s eyes. When we talk about our grief and feel and express our feelings we may find that we’re not alone and it will empower others to share their story as well.
How do you Talk About Grief?
1. If your grief or trauma could speak, what do they think it needs to say? Decide who a safe person is for you to talk to. The person who is always telling you to move on is not the person.
2. Practice talking about grief in small ways. When someone asks you how you are doing, you can tell them the truth. You don’t have to make yourself digestible to others.
3. Find moments that deserve your story. Talk about the person you are missing. You can bring them into the conversation and say their name.