Body of Wonder Podcast

Episode #49 Honoring Grief and Finding Meaning with David Kessler

In this episode, we are joined by renowned grief expert and author, Dr David Kessler. David delves into the intricacies of grief, drawing upon his extensive experience and the wisdom gained from years of working with clients in the field and alongside the pioneering psychiatrist Dr Elizabeth Kübler-Ross. Throughout this compassionate conversation with hosts Dr. Andrew Weil and Dr. Victoria Maizes, David describes how grief shapes individuals and communities, offering invaluable guidance on how to navigate the complex nature of loss and finding meaning. He shares practical advice on what to say to someone experiencing grief and provides listeners with essential tools to support themselves and others during times of profound loss.

Please note, the show will not advise, diagnose, or treat medical conditions. Always seek the advice of your physician or healthcare provider for questions regarding your health.


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Guest Bio

David Kessler

David Kessler is one of the world?s foremost experts on loss and healing. He is the author of six books, including two that include relationship loss and healing: Life Lessons with Elisabeth Kubler Ross and You Can Heal Your Heart with Louise Hay. His latest bestselling book, Finding Meaning: The Sixth Stage of Grief. He also co-authored On Grief and Grieving with Elisabeth Kubler Ross, updating her 5 stages for grief. He authored Visions Trips and Crowded Rooms: Who and What You See Before You Die. His first book, The Needs of The Dying received praise from Saint (Mother) Teresa.

David has a new online model of grief support called Tender Hearts to help navigate grief after the death of a loved one, with over 25 specific loss groups. He has also created and leads one of the most respected Grief Certification programs for anyone who wants to turn their pain into purpose and help others. He is the founder of   

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Dr. Victoria Maizes Hi, Andy. Dr. Andrew Weil Hi, Victoria. Dr. Victoria Maizes Today we have Dr. David Kessler, who is an expert on grief and loss and how to heal from it. Dr. Andrew Weil Well, I look forward to the conversation. I think this is a topic that is perennially of interest. Dr. Victoria Maizes Yes. Let's get him on. Intro Music Dr. Victoria Maizes Dr. David Kessler is one of the world's experts on grief, loss and healing. He's the author Finding Meaning the Sixth Stage of Grief. In 2005, he coauthored the book on grief and grieving with Dr. Elizabeth Kubler-Ross. David has a new online grief support program called Tender Hearts to help people navigate grief after the death of a loved one. And he also leads grief certification program for anyone who wants to turn their pain into purpose. Welcome, David. David Kessler I'm so excited to be with you both. Dr. Victoria Maizes We're delighted to have you. And I thought we should begin with what made you decide to make grief your life's work. David Kessler You're right. You know, no one is in third grade and says I want to be a death and grief expert. I had a mother who was in and out of hospitals growing up, and I thought that's the way it was. And when I was 13, she was hospitalized in a city hours away because she needed this new procedure that you couldn't really get called dialysis. And they gave her the bioethicists voted she could get one dialysis treatment, which we know now wouldn't have been enough. And at that time, you also, unbeknownst to me, needed to be 14 to visit. When they asked me how old I was, I said 13. So it was a time when the, you know, the family was an interference of the healing process and you kept them out of the ICU. They could come in 5 minutes every 2 hours. We're at a hotel across the street. At one point, they yell, fire, everyone has to evacuate. The next thing we know, fire trucks pull up and we think they're about to put the fire out on the 18th floor. But shooting begins. wow. So it turned out to be one of the first mass shootings in the U.S. It went on for 13 hours. So as this child, in a few days, I had, you know, the tragedy of the shooting and this trauma and seeing first responders and so many people who were in danger and killed. And I saw the police and some guests and couple of days later, my mother died. I'm not able to be with her even at 13, I came away feeling damaged, broken, unfixable, and I knew we could die better. And the only advice I got was be strong. Even at that young age, I'm like, we could do this all so much better. I never thought I would like work on the better, but that's the beginnings of it. Dr. Victoria Maizes That is a very powerful story. So I just want to let it sink in and it makes me want to go in a different direction than I originally thought, which is it sounds in a way like you were broken open by grief, that you were broken into your life's work by this childhood experience. And I have to say in my life, I have also been broken apart by grief. And it has also changed the direction of my life in certain ways. And so I guess I want to ask you about that possibility, that post-traumatic growth, which is maybe the best that can ever come out of a bad situation. And yet, you know, it's a tricky thing to talk about in the context of, you know, you still don't lose your mother. You still want to be in the presence of a tragedy. David Kessler Right. And I know we'll talk about that also when we get to finding meaning. The last book, but You're exactly right. You know. Now what I know now that I didn't know then that, you know, a broken heart is also an open heart. And that that event, of course, I would not wish it on anyone. Those events ended up changing the trajectory of my life, shaping me differently. I went on, you know, to not just to death and dying, but, became a reserve specialist police officer that I wanted to help out in horrific events because I'm like, my gosh, you know, these people are putting their life in danger every day so I can walk around the world safely. Dr. Andrew Weil When you were telling your story, one thing that I thought of is that during the pandemic, many, many, many people died alone. And their families were not able to visit them or be with them in the hospital. And I have not read or heard much about the consequences of that. David Kessler Yeah, it's interesting. I know you mentioned and thank you for mentioning my online group. It's it's hundreds and hundreds of people online from all over the world. And I got to tell you, it felt like we saw early on tons of people who their grief was not getting witnessed. And then it felt like a lull. And now I'm seeing this huge uptick of people who were like, this is painful. I haven't talked about it. There was no and there was no funeral. We weren't there. And it feels like there's this new rise that's happening of people who are maybe coming out of the shock of what happened. And all their feelings are coming up now because it was so horrific and I often talk about it. It's such a good point that when I was talking about, you know, here, my mother died alone, we weren't able to see her. We couldn't go in the hospital. There was a shooting. It was racially motivated. I'm like, that could be out of our headlines today. Dr. Victoria Maizes Yeah. So you. You have so much that you could bring to this conversation. One of the things that strikes me is often there's a lot of myths about grief and misconceptions about, you know, how long it's supposed to last, what you do with it, what you say to someone who's grieving. 00:07:23:04 - 00:07:50:10 Unknown Just want to give you a chance to speak about that a bit. David Kessler Thank you so much. So I think you're exactly right. We we are a grief illiterate society. We are a grief illiterate society. No one teaches about this. I often tell people I feel like I'm teaching people what our great grandparents knew. They knew how to be with the dying. They knew how to be in grief. In our modern society, we lost that. I often talk about, you know, when I was a child, my father would be bringing me to school and we'd be behind a hearse that picked up a body at the hospital the night before. In our modern world, it's been sanitized. You're never behind the hearse anymore. The dead move around our cities in white, unmarked vans. If you I tell people, if you've got a home built before the forties, you've got a wide door. Because the casket used to come into your parlor. Eventually the parlor moved into the funeral home, and it came out that we shouldn't refer to our front room as the parlor for the dying. It shouldn't be a dying room. It should be a living room. And the name got changed, and that whole experience got lost. And, you know, illness moved into the hospital, death moved into the funeral home. We're so disconnected. How do we do it? So here are some basics around it. I would say grief is an organic experience. You don't need instructions on how to do it, but you got to not listen to all the messages of get over, be productive, be strong, don't give in to it. All those things we hear in our modern society, I think that big question of how long does grief last? You know, people always say to me, my wife's grieving, my sister's grieving, my dad's grieving. How long? And I say to them gently, How long is a person going to be dead? Dr. Victoria Maizes Yeah, David Kessler If they're going to be dead for a long time, you're going to grieve for a long time. That doesn't mean you will always grieve with pain. To me, the goal of grief work is to eventually, in your own time, in your own way, grieve with more love than pain. It's interesting, you also mentioned in the introduction the program. I do the grief certificate program, which is a lot of therapists, physicians, coaches, nurses, and they all talk about they got no training. On grief and loss. And I'll tell you, that's such an important area. You know, I worked in the hospital for years with Pressganey and physicians would be so great at what they do. But then when it came to grief and loss, they had no sensitivity to it. So there's all these myths that if we live in this world, we know how to do it. And people are like, there's tools, there's techniques. And one of the things is, look, most of us are schooled in what are you going to do? What's the intervention, what's the assessment? And you get to grief. And my response is, there's nothing to do. You're going to witness them, you're going to be with them. And we're like, But we're fixers. And I'm like, I understand. And grief, you're not broken. You don't actually need to be fixed. You need your grief witnessed. And, you know, the interesting other thing is so much work has been done like with and we're Tronox work and and you know, mirroring you know in babies and how babies mirror their mother and I always say to people we're former babies like we're former babies. And, you know, I tell the story of how one day I'm walking down the street and a guy says to me out of the blue as I walk by and he goes, Howdy. I went, Howdy. I'm not a howdier. My mirror neurons kicked in and I how do you get back? And so it's the same with grief. We want to know our loved ones. Death mattered. Our grief matters. We want to be seen and have our pain seen in the eyes of another. Dr. Andrew Weil My personal experience of grief and what I observe in many people around me is that it is a process that people move through at varying rates. But there are a few people I know who get stuck. I have a woman friend now. She's in her sixties who lost her husband 15 years ago. She is totally stuck in grief. That is the only thing she thinks about. Her life has ended with his death. She's tried all sorts of things. I don't know what to suggest to her. There's no movement. David Kessler There's a few things there. You know, it's interesting. We all have our own grief, history, loss history. We're all raised differently about grief. We all buy into society's beliefs around grief, where you're taught it's productive or they're with Jesus or they're in a better place, or you should be happy or grieving is loyal. There's a million different beliefs. And for someone like that, you really need her to work with someone who sort of is going to uncover the core of what's underneath that. The other thing I often tell people is all grief does not have trauma, but all trauma has grief. My guess is there is probably some underlying trauma that's sort of also getting projected on that. And we see many people, just like you say, that what happens is grief is no longer a lifelong experience that they go through and change with, but it becomes something that becomes their identity and they become devoted to it and it becomes their life. Dr. Victoria Maizes To expand on Andy's particular case. There are things that are helpful and things that are unhelpful. So one thing that I sometimes hear people say in a situation like that is your loved one wouldn't want you to not have a life. Is that helpful or unhelpful? David Kessler Unhelpful. It sounds good. But it might just give you some guilt. I don't think anyone who hears it goes, my gosh, I never thought of that. Let me snap out of. So ultimately, it is ineffective and it's of course, we you know, the thing is, no one gets up in the morning and goes me get ready. I'm going to be really mean to someone in grief. No one says that. I mean, we're all doing this to help, but we haven't been taught, you know, that my my website is and I get to see the analytics of it. And the most visited page is the best and worst things to say to people in grief. It's visited at 3 a.m. We don't know what to say. We don't know what the hell. So that's part of that challenge. The other thing that is a little bit of my bias is I love group work. Like, if I was working with this person many times, they're sort of. Yes -Butting me. And you don't understand. And it and it's that one on one work. When you're in a group, all of a sudden that person would hear a similar story and hear how someone else is kind of like them and suddenly find their self in another story. And not only do we find ourselves in each other's stories, we find our healing in each other's stories. And so that's why I love bringing people together and the pandemic changed everything. We used to be trying to get six people in that church basement of the hospital basement for a grief group. And if you wanted a sibling group or a death by suicide or fentanyl poisoning, or just if your young child died or your a fiancée or your young spouse or you're an oldest. But there was no way to get a special group. Now, in our World Wide Web, my gosh, it's online from your home. And there's a group exactly for your grief that they're just we couldn't have done it in the physical world. So the opportunities are so open and different and so many more of them. Dr. Andrew Weil You know, I think many people are familiar with Elizabeth Kubler-Ross stages of grief. Do I understand that you've added another one to that? David Kessler I do. Let me tell you what happened with that. So, first of all, I want to go through some of the myths. Kubler-Ross wrote this incredible breakthrough book in 1969 on Death and Dying like she was the Betty Ford of addiction like no one had ever had these topics. She went to Congress. She lobbied for hospice, end of life care, groundbreaking work. And she mentioned these stages that she had actually adapted from Anna Freud. And there were these more than five, but there was denial, anger, bargaining, acceptance, depression. As you can imagine, the media sort of over the years turned it into five easy steps for death and grief. And it was very challenging for her personally, because here's a woman who wrote, I don't know, 26 books, thousands of lectures, and people want to reduce your work to five words. And it was hard. And I would often say to her, one of the biggest criticisms you would hear is they don't work for grief, but we're using them for grief. And so I said, you know, over the years we had written one book together, Life Lessons. And I said, you know, people need more from you on the stages. And she eventually one day called me and said, All right, I got it. We need to write something to adapt these stages for grief. So we wrote this book on grief and grieving, as you mentioned, and literally on page one Andrew on page one, we said the stages are not linear. There's no one right way to do grief. You know, there's no map for grief. Grief is organic. You do it your way. Literally, you know, so many times when I hear the criticisms over the years of the stages, I'll go, Did you look at page one? You just read page one. If there. We agree with you, we agree you got us. We agreed. Kubler-Ross knew that she would go nuts around the stages. So one of the things denial people know is I can't believe this happened. Anger. We have an anger reaction which can be normal. Bargaining before death is the deal making. Please, God, let me have, you know, five more years. I'll be a better husband, wife. Then there's depression, which is sadness and acceptance. There was always this challenge with acceptance that people thought there's one big acceptance and then the grief is over. That's another myth. I think there's layers of acceptance so that after all these years of doing this work, a number of years ago, my younger son David, unexpectedly died. As you can imagine, it was brutal. I had to take my own advice. I had to go to a grief counselor. I had to go to a in person grief group where I took my contacts out and put a hat on and went to a grief group with my books five feet away on a table. And I couldn't say that's me. I'm the grief expert. I had to be the father that buried a child. And as time went by and I experienced this, I thought, this is my experience of what I've been teaching going to be true? Did I have this wrong? Did I have this right? And one of the first things I wanted is to write to every parent I'd ever helped and say, I didn't know how bad the pain was. And then as I began doing this work, I was like, going back to work. I'm sitting at my desk. You can imagine this. I know you know this is a writer. I pick up some papers that I wrote a couple of years before on grief and meaning, and I remember picking it up and going, Yeah, like, that's going to help this pain. And I threw it back down. Maybe a month later, I picked it up again and it didn't take away the pain, but it began to cushion it. And I had written this originally because meaning and grief didn't seem to connect with grievance. And I wondered why. I reread Viktor Frankl's work Man's Search for Meaning. And I thought, the disconnect is people think when they hear meaning that we're supposed to find meaning in the horrible death, meaning in the COVID death, meaning in the murder, meaning in the cancer. Meaning in the terrorist attack. Meaning in the tragedy. In the shooting. And the meaning doesn't come then the meaning comes later in us. When we excavate the pain in our own way, in our own time. And I think that really helped in as I began to write about this for my own healing, in my own curiosity, people kept saying, It's kind of the sixth stage of grief. And I was surprised. Simon and Schuster and we all, you know, were in contact with the Kubler-Ross family and that they gave me permission to really, you know, go and add this as a six stage. And I thought, I don't want to cause like, I don't want anyone to think I'm adding a new mandatory step. So it was also a chance once more 20 years later to go back and say, here's how the stages work, here's how they don't work. Don't get confused. Some people who don't know grief, the stages help them with a little scaffolding. And if the stages aren't right for you, it's fine. There's no right way to do this. Dr. Victoria Maizes I'd love for you to talk a little bit more about the meaning piece, because, you know, of course, we can think of big examples like Mothers Against Drunk Drivers. You know, someone loses their teenage daughter to a drunk driver and they create this global organization that has now prevented, I don't know, you know, thousands of millions, millions of deaths. Okay. But most people aren't going to do that. Right. So what is, in your experience you know, some examples of smaller ways that people have created something that provides that sense of meaning in their life? David Kessler So glad you brought that up, because we do think of it as the big things. Yeah. And it's important to remember, even for the woman, the amazing person who started Mothers Against Drunk Driving because her own daughter died, it still wasn't worth the cost. She'd rather have her daughter back. And the other thing is to realize, you know, our loss. I tell people, death happens. The reality is the death rate in families in all of us is 100%. So we are, you know, despite our best efforts, going to die someday and or that when that happens, it isn't a lesson. It doesn't mean you did something wrong or you didn't get all those things. And I always tell people who then go, wait, are you telling us our health doesn't matter and what we do? I often think about no. Do those things to add life to your living and be healthy, but just know you're not going to have an optional death lifetime. You know, still, someday we're going to deal with this with ourselves and our loved ones. So that meaning, like, I think it's about naming meaningful moments. Like right now I'm going to name this as a meaningful moment. Someone out there is going to hear this podcast who knows someone, who knows someone who's treating someone, and it's going to help them. And it makes this so meaningful. And it's just noticing that. I mean, one woman shared with me her child had died and she talked for me to two up for 2 hours about this little child who was two years old that died. And she just there's no meaning in that. And I said, Of course not. And I've spent 2 hours getting to know your son, Aaron, how meaningful it's been. You know, so it's about naming this different meaning. It can be something you change the world with, but it can be. You know, I always tell people a part of our loved one, when they die, there's a part of us that dies with them. But there's a part of them that lives on in us. How can you nurture that part? You know, one person shared how their father went through medical school, and he did it by working as a waiter and, you know, they grew up so aware from him of waiters need good tips and it's hard work. And so after he died, his daughter, in honor of him, nurtured that part. That was always going to be the great tipper of the waiter because of her father. So it's those little things. It doesn't have to be a charity, a 5k walk, but things we do so important. Dr. Victoria Maizes Yeah. Dr. Andrew Weil Here's another thought that I have. You know, it's not just deaths, it's loss in general. That is a part of human experience. And the loss can be it can be loss of a job, loss of love, loss of a pet, all sorts of things. And I think accepting that that is a part of life and part of the human experience is helpful. And it also seems to me that every loss that I've experienced feeds into every other loss. You know, that that is that there is a general feeling of loss and sadness. And any any loss feeds into that. David Kessler Boy, I couldn't have said that better. And let me tell you, it's so important. So first of all, I see exactly that same way. I see it a little different, though, but same thing. I see everything as a death. A breakup is the death of the relationship in the romantic form. A divorce is the death of that marriage. The job loss is the death of that paycheck in that place with those people. It's all deaths of something. Dr. Andrew Weil Yes. David Kessler All losses. And here there was something since we brought up the pandemic that really put this together for me, like march of the pandemic, like first or second week, a friend comes over, we're on the street walking six feet apart, maybe eight feet apart, and we're catching up on my block where I live and this young woman runs up to us who's in tears, and she says, You do something about grief, right? And I say, I write books on. And she goes, my wedding just got postponed. And she is horribly hearted. And I talk to her. We talk about it. I witness what she's going through. And then she thinks me and leaves. Eventually, my friend goes, my gosh, I can't believe she was going on and on about a wedding being postponed. To you, who has gone to 9/11 and to you had a child die and doesn't she know like there's bigger griefs? And I had to turn to my friend and go, ?You don't understand how grief works?. I said, First of all, you know, people always want to know which grief is the worse. Is it a murder? Is it a child's death? Is it the pet that you see 17 years who greets you every day, which is the law or worse? And I always say yours, yours for that 20-year-old who's never experienced anything. She's been dreaming about this wedding, and it is her worst loss. And when we're in our comparing mind, we're not in a healing place because we don't have a broken mind. We have a broken heart. And comparing always works against us. And you know, Andrew, I see you've got a sweet dog in the background. After my son died, I don't know, eight, nine months later. My sweet dog of 17 years died. And I can't tell you how many people like. But that didn't mean anything or which was the worst. And I'm going I had two losses in my life. Dr. Andrew Weil Losses loss to choose by. Focus on one. They both are in my sphere. Right there doesn't have to be a winner. Dr. Andrew Weil Here's an off the wall question. Are those real flowers behind you or paper flowers? David Kessler They well, look at them downward. I don't know if you can see them. It's like, Yeah, so many people don't they? They wouldn't do that would be wilting though. I know many people that I look. I'm embarrassed that I got wilted. Dr. Andrew Weil That's fine. But I know many people who don't have flowers because they can't face it when they die. And that's what flowers do. You know, and I think that's, again, part of the acceptance of the transitory ness of our of our experience. Dr. Victoria Maizes So and I hear you sharing a wisdom that maybe we could practice managing loss with smaller things like flowers, so that when the big losses show up in our lives, we have a little bit of muscle to manage it. Dr. Andrew Weil Yeah David Kessler I think it's like to recognize these flowers had their season. Remember how beautiful they were? And I see the change in them. And grief is always a change we don't want. Yeah, loss is always a change we don't want. Right. Here's the thing. And this goes back to the stuck person you mentioned your person in your life. On one hand, death throws us into chaos. And many times, our response to chaos is to go to the other extreme of no more change. And I got to tell you, so many people come to me and goes, All right, David, reassure me no more death. I have to go. my gosh. I would love to, but we're on planet Earth. Yeah. And just like Andy said. So much more loss is coming even today. Now, here's one of the things that I've learned that helps me when I sit with, my gosh, these flowers are going to die. This day is going to end. There's going to be a sunset. My friends, some of them are going to move away. Some of them are going to get jobs. Pets are going to die. People are going to die. When I really let that in and I had to given my work when I let that in, I can become so shut down or so controlling or I can also go, you know what? I don't know how long we're here for this all so temporary. Let me take today in. Let me make this a more meaningful conversation. I don't want this to be another throwaway podcast. I wanted this to be such a meaningful talk. I don't know when I'm going to see you two again, if I'm going to see you two, talk to your audience. Let me take this in and understand how unique it is in all the world. And you know, today, if it turns out to be my last day and this turns out to be my last podcast, I'm going to be so grateful that I went deep with you. I'm going to be so grateful that I was authentic with you. And hopefully it's not my last day or yours or any of our and we get another day to be authentic tomorrow. Dr. Andrew Weil So we are talking about, I think, the the core principle of Buddhist philosophy, which is impermanence. You know, that was summed up in a little couplet that the sun at noon is the sun declining, the person born is the person dying, and that acceptance of impermanence is one of the keys to enlightenment. David Kessler Absolutely. And it gets tricky because here's the thing. I would say, just even talking about the sunset, it seems silly for us to ever watch a beautiful sunset and rage against it. Dr. Andrew Weil Yeah, right. David Kessler No. And of course, you know, the deal and Rage Against the Dying of the Light was actually about blindness, not about death anyway. But the whole thing about missing the sunset. Now, at the end of our life, there's a beautiful moment to be with people. Of course, I'm not saying if someone gets tragically taken away in their youth or in a murder to, like, sit with the beauty of that sunset, but because it was a tragic sunset in a tragic end. But I think we we miss this sense of we do have this time and it will end. And exactly like you said, and every sunset is the sun working its way back home again, you know, and we get to do that every day. And, you know, some days I'm better at it than others. Dr. Andrew Weil Victoria, I have a question for you. How concerned do you think doctors should be about the physical consequences of grief? You know, obviously a person grieving often as very disturbed sleep, digestion, probably depressed immunity may come to us for help. What do we what do we tell them? Dr. Victoria Maizes Well, I want to say the first thing we shouldn't tell them is they're depressed and they need an antidepressant medicine. I mean, I think that this sad mood is a normal part of life when we lose someone we love or care for deeply. I don't think that means we can't help with symptom management where appropriate. So in a terribly tragic loss, you know, may be really appropriate to give someone some medicine for a few nights to help them sleep, to give them something, to help their stomach, you know, whatever the symptoms may be. But what I worry about is I see this medication or, you know, medicating away the mood as if it's inappropriate to be in a sad state when you've had a loss. David Kessler And if I can add to that, that's so important for folks to hear. I have no issue if someone goes to their psychiatrist when they're in the throes of grief one month to month and says, I can't I can't do my activities, I can't show up for work, I need help in a psychiatrist who knows grief helps them through that process. And that may be medication. I get worried when someone goes to the sports medicine doctor and goes my knees hurting. The doctor says, Let's get you an x ray. How's everything else? Oh you know, our mother died. It's been tough. Let me get you something for that. And it's like that wasn't even their complaint. Dr. Victoria Maizes Right. David Kessler We don't need to medicate grief and sadness. It's just part of it. And I think that's such an important thing. The other thing that Andy and your question was so important, one of the people I work with is Paul Dennison, who does grief yoga, and he's, you know, gone back and really adapted movement, you know, and he talks about because I'm not a yoga person and he always talks about it's not that pretzel yoga. Dr. Victoria Maizes Yeah. David Kessler Our grief gets stuck in the body. And he studied with Bessel and Peter Van Tickell, all of us, you know, Bessel Van de Kock and Peter Levine and our emotions need motion. I mean, whenever we're talking about helping people, we always have. One of the things is we say, Take a walk, and we're like, We can't tell people to take a walk. It's too simplistic, and yet it's miraculous how it helps moving our body is so helpful. Andy, I have a question for you, if I can. Dr. Andrew Weil Yeah. David Kessler You've so much an advocate of health and good health. How how do you help people with this idea of there's so much power we have over our health, and yet despite that, we are going to die or our friends are going to die, and it doesn't mean we did it wrong. All the time. There's always things we could do better. Dr. Andrew Weil Well, you know, one of the things that I teach is that it's okay to be sick and that perfect health is not obtainable. And when you hear people say, you know, I never get sick, I don't believe that, you know, we are all experience ups and downs in health. And yes, as you said, we should all be doing whatever we can to maintain health. But I think acceptance of of sickness is also part of, you know, living. David Kessler Right. Right. Dr. Andrew Weil But the goal is not to get stuck in it, same as with grief, but to be able to move through it as quickly as you can. Well, and here's the things I say to people sometimes in their grief that shocks them. And it's true. In sickness, I say judgment demands punishment. We will judge others or we'll judge ourselves. And people go, Yeah, I'm not judging and I'll go. But if you're saying, Why did I get sick? You are saying I did something wrong, Here's the consequence and I've done it wrong because I shouldn't be sick. Yeah, the same is true in grief. People go, I don't know what I'm doing wrong. Why didn't this clear up for me? Why am I backsliding? And I go, This is what your grief looks like. You're not doing anything wrong. Here's two shocking things. People always want the time element of grief. I think about it as there's the anticipatory grief, the death that happens before. I mean, the grief that happens before the death. Then there's the acute grief. That's when we're like, feel like we're in a freefall. There's nothing but grief, pain. And then we move into early grief. And people if I went down to the local mall or downtown area and said, when's early grief, people would say, the first month the first three months, maybe it goes all the way to the first year. I think of early grief as an average of two years. And when people come in, they go, I don't know what's wrong with me. Seven months, it's still bothering me. And I go, It's supposed to. It's seven months and you're still in early grief. Then we move into mature grief. I was also at a gathering of grief experts, and one of the consensus came out of it. And counselors and trauma folks is the average time when someone shows up to see a therapist for their grief, they walk in and they're like, this grief spin bothering me. I think it's time to talk about it. Do you know when that is? Five years ago. Well, they start with that grief unattended for five years. Victoria Maizes Both surprising to me. You know, two years being early grief and that it takes people five years. And as we move to ending this conversation, I really want to honor what you said, that this is a moment of particular moment where the three of us are in conversation. And is there anything else that you feel, wow, I wish I had the chance to say. Fill in the blank. David Kessler Well, thank you. I wish I had a canned, perfect response. So that. I guess it's that I would say don't be afraid of these discussions. Don't be afraid to have them. Don't be afraid to say. You know, being in grief is not a failure. It's grief is actually about the love. We don't grieve people. We're indifferent to grief. People we're connected to or things or loved ones. So it's okay to grieve, you know, and we don't have to be strong. I think we're seeing that. You know, people ask me, what's a good grief or how can I do grief? Right? And I always say by doing it authentically is you. Yeah. And if you're sad today, sad if you're angry, be angry. Your only job is to feel your feelings. And my goodness, if you're happy today, let that in. Just feel those feelings and don't be afraid. So I'd love for people to just sort of know that and sort of. You know, the other thing is with our friends to not be, How do I cheer you up? How do I get you out of this? How do I move on? But to rather say, Wow, your mom dying, your spouse dying, your sibling dying, your pet dying, that job. I mean, that must be a lot. I don't have the right words, but just know I'm here for you. That's what ultimately matters, that we're here with one another and we don't walk this road completely alone, you know? Dr. Victoria Maizes Thank you so much, David, for being our guest. And I just want to say, you know, I had the opportunity to read Finding Meaning, the sixth Stage of Grief. And it is a beautiful book. It is both beautiful in the writing and it is beautiful in the stories that it holds. So thank you so much for that effort. David Kessler Your so welcome. And I'll tell you, I just finished it. It's now out there, a workbook for that that people will be able to get because I want people to have these tools to feel like they're sitting with me and walking through that process. And I've just got to say, I'm just so honored to be with you both more than you know. And I just want you to know, you have given me amazing meaning today, Dr. Andrew Weil Alright Dr. Victoria Maizes Thank you so much.