Transforming Grief Week Three Materials

Transforming Grief

Week Three Materials

Soul & Science Video

In this Soul & Science Lesson, presenter Tom Golden discusses how grief can be expressed through action. This approach can closely connect the grieving individual to their lost loved one, leading to powerful demonstrations of love and legacy.

Questions to Ponder & Journaling Exercises

1. Now or in the past, how has grief and loss affected your ability to connect with others? Respond with a 1-5 Scale. 1- Very Difficult to Connect with Others / 5- Very Easy to Connect with Others.

Very Difficult to Connect                           Very Easy to Connect

What makes it challenging to connect with others when you are experiencing grief? How have you reached out during difficult times? How have you insulated yourself? How have you offered support to others when they are in crisis or emotional pain?

2. “…research reveals that grieving needn’t be emotion-oriented in order to be healthy or productive. Healthy grieving can also be activity-oriented.” – Deborah David, PhD

What are some activities that have helped you cope during times of loss or crisis? How has being involved with those activities brought you comfort, clarity, or relief? How could you share those activities with others experiencing grief?

3. “. . . when you grieve according to your nature, you can successfully come to terms with any adversity, and eventually find a sense of peace.” – Deborah David, PhD

How would you describe your natural expression of grief and sadness? How does it look? How does it feel? How can you honor your own personal style of grieving?

Best Practices

1.  “Humor has always been a big part of my life.  No, let me rephrase that.  Humor has often been a necessary part of my life.  Humor was a particularly good friend of mine several years ago when my husband was diagnosed with and eventually succumbed to glioblastoma, a brain tumor.  You might wonder ‘why’ or ‘how’ I could even think about laughing during such a traumatic period, but this is when I needed it most.”- Stacy Beller Stryer

Think of humorous stories that include someone you loved that has died. Find a way to record and share those stories with others. Celebrate the moments of laughter that you shared.

2. “The Kindness Project reminds others that our children, and other loved ones, are so very important to us that we are willing to extend the life and love of our child and share it with others. It is a legacy that transcends death. It is a legacy of love. . . The idea is to perform random acts of kindness, usually anonymous, in your community. A little card is left behind so that the person who benefits from the kindness knows that someone’s life and death continues to matter.”-The Miss Foundation

Use The Miss Foundation Kindness Project to carry out random acts of kindness in the name and memory of a loved one.  Use the provided kindness project card, or, if you would rather not use that resource, record the action in your journal under the heading of your loved-one’s name.

Article Suggestions


Kindness Project

About the Kindness Project

The Kindness Project began in 1996 as a way for families to honor their deceased child and to help themselves heal. Now, years later, almost 2,000,000 (yes, two million!) Kindness Project cards have been used around the world to perform random acts of kindness in memory of a child, parent, friend, or spouse who died before their time.

The idea is to perform random acts of kindness, usually anonymous, in your community. A little card is left behind so that the person who benefits from the kindness knows that someone’s life and death continues to matter. This beautiful movement has helped thousands of families to heal and find positive outlets for their overwhelming grief.

The MISS Foundation

The MISS Foundation, established in 1996 by Dr. Joanne Cacciatore, is an international 501(c)3, volunteer based organization providing C.A.R.E. [counseling, advocacy, research, and education] services to families experiencing the death of a child.



StoryCorps’ mission is to preserve and share humanity’s stories in order to build connections between people and create a more just and compassionate world.

We do this to remind one another of our shared humanity, to strengthen and build the connections between people, to teach the value of listening, and to weave into the fabric of our culture the understanding that everyone’s story matters. At the same time, we are creating an invaluable archive for future generations.

Book Recommendations

Ordinary Magic: Promises I Kept To My Mother Through Life, Illness, and a Very Long Walk on the Camino de Santiago 

– Cameron Powell, 2018

A terrifying diagnosis. An unbreakable bond. And two unforgettable journeys.

An epic love letter . . . Stunning, unique, unlike anything I’ve read before. — Julia Scheeres, Jesus Land: A Memoir

Cameron Powell has always struggled with goodbyes. On the day his marriage ends, he finds out his mother’s cancer has returned-and this time there may be no escape. Faced with the prospect of more chemo and surgery, his German-born mother, Inge, vows to conquer a 500-mile trek across Spain, and Cameron pushes aside his fears to walk by her side.

Joined by a misfit band of adventurers – a politically incorrect Spaniard, a theatrical Frenchwoman, a teenager who’s never been far from home – Cameron and Inge write a fierce and funny travelogue about the rocky heights and hidden valleys of the Camino de Santiago. As a Camino memoir in the tradition of James Hitt or Bill Bryson, Ordinary Magic delivers.

But the hardest stretch comes three years later, when Inge’s health declines — and Cameron, ready or not, must accept the challenge to remain as present to his mother as he can. Cameron begins to record, in still more chiseled prose, his real-time impressions of life’s most difficult voyage. What he created has become one of literature’s great love letters — and a uniquely unflinching insight into how we all truly can create love and meaning in our lives, even amidst the fear and sadness we ll all face from time to time.

Powerful, inspiring and, amazingly, almost impossible to put down. – Mary Dearborn, The Happiest Man Alive: A Biography of Henry Miller

When Breath Becomes Air 

– Paul Kalanithi, 2016

#1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • PULITZER PRIZE FINALIST • This inspiring, exquisitely observed memoir finds hope and beauty in the face of insurmountable odds as an idealistic young neurosurgeon attempts to answer the question What makes a life worth living?

NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY The New York Times Book Review • People • NPR • The Washington Post • Slate • Harper’s Bazaar • Time Out New York • Publishers Weekly • BookPage

Finalist for the PEN Center USA Literary Award in Creative Nonfiction and the Books for a Better Life Award in Inspirational Memoir

At the age of thirty-six, on the verge of completing a decade’s worth of training as a neurosurgeon, Paul Kalanithi was diagnosed with stage IV lung cancer. One day he was a doctor treating the dying, and the next he was a patient struggling to live. And just like that, the future he and his wife had imagined evaporated. When Breath Becomes Air chronicles Kalanithi’s transformation from a naïve medical student “possessed,” as he wrote, “by the question of what, given that all organisms die, makes a virtuous and meaningful life” into a neurosurgeon at Stanford working in the brain, the most critical place for human identity, and finally into a patient and new father confronting his own mortality.

What makes life worth living in the face of death? What do you do when the future, no longer a ladder toward your goals in life, flattens out into a perpetual present? What does it mean to have a child, to nurture a new life as another fades away? These are some of the questions Kalanithi wrestles with in this profoundly moving, exquisitely observed memoir.

Paul Kalanithi died in March 2015, while working on this book, yet his words live on as a guide and a gift to us all. “I began to realize that coming face to face with my own mortality, in a sense, had changed nothing and everything,” he wrote. “Seven words from Samuel Beckett began to repeat in my head: ‘I can’t go on. I’ll go on.’” When Breath Becomes Air is an unforgettable, life-affirming reflection on the challenge of facing death and on the relationship between doctor and patient, from a brilliant writer who became both.

The Last Lecture

– Randy Pausch, 2008

A lot of professors give talks titled “The Last Lecture.” Professors are asked to consider their demise and to ruminate on what matters most to them. And while they speak, audiences can’t help but mull the same question: What wisdom would we impart to the world if we knew it was our last chance? If we had to vanish tomorrow, what would we want as our legacy?

When Randy Pausch, a computer science professor at Carnegie Mellon, was asked to give such a lecture, he didn’t have to imagine it as his last, since he had recently been diagnosed with terminal cancer. But the lecture he gave–“Really Achieving Your Childhood Dreams”–wasn’t about dying. It was about the importance of overcoming obstacles, of enabling the dreams of others, of seizing every moment (because “time is all you have…and you may find one day that you have less than you think”). It was a summation of everything Randy had come to believe. It was about living.

In this book, Randy Pausch has combined the humor, inspiration and intelligence that made his lecture such a phenomenon and given it an indelible form. It is a book that will be shared for generations to come.

“We cannot change the cards we are dealt, just how we play the hand.” –Randy Pausch


Rethinking Grief | Kazandra Santana | TEDxUCLA

Published on Jul 8, 2016

Grief can be devastating and debilitating….Kazandra rethinks grief to transform it into a healing agent. Kazandra Santana was born in Puerto Rico and currently lives in Los Angeles California. She is an actress and creator of Golden Shoes Project. The inspiration for the Golden Shoes Project came about due to a series of personal loses unrelated to violence, her love for Puerto Rico and a desire to contribute to society in a meaningful way. She has worked closely with organizations such as G-8, Purpose Over Pain, Chicago Survivors and Parents for Peace & Justice. In 2016 she will be making The Golden Shoes Project a non for profit organization and mentor Golden Shoes Project-Jacksonville. The intention is to make #goldenshoesproject a nationwide movement.

How to find the gift in grief | Teri Pugh | TEDxAntioch

Published on Oct 21, 2015

Grief isn’t only about physical death! We often exhibit behaviors that are symptomatic to dealing with unresolved grief; behaviors Teri calls “grief gremlins” because they come out when we feed them. Despite our best efforts residuals of grief like chaos and addiction can show up when we least expect them to. In this talk, Teri shares the key components to finding the gifts in our grief and invites healthy, sustainable life shifts that many of us never thought possible. Author, Mom, and Grief Specialist, Teri Pugh is dedicated to helping folks make sense of life’s hiccups and crossroads. Through her program Transcending Turbulence she helps folks navigate loss to reconnect and reclaim their peace of mind, happiness and balance and discover the gift in grief. Teri sees clients in private practice and travels the country facilitating workshops and seminars on this personal freedom. In addition she teaches her program to inmates at a local Maximum Security State Prison. With over 2 decades in this arena, Teri knows the domino effect of unresolved grief, pain and anger. It not only weighs heavy on the heart and mind, over time can result in a state of “dis-ease”, showing up in a variety of discomforts in our physical, as well as emotional and mental states.


Life According to Sam– 2013

A moving look at a couple’s inspiring efforts to save their only son Sam from the rare and fatal premature-aging disease of progeria.