Unlocking Us: Grief and Finding Meaning

Today I would like to take a look at the Unlocking Us podcast by the wonderful Brené Brown. This podcast is hosted by Brené and often features guests with experience in a variety of specialties.

In particular, we will check out the episode with David Kessler on grief and finding meaning.


David brings with him a wealth of experience working with grief and loss.

After working closely alongside her for many years, he extended the stages of dying by Elizabeth Kübler-Ross. In addition to the stages of denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance, David added a 6th stage: finding meaning.

It is important to stress that grief is not a neat, linear process that fits into the above stages. These are meant to be a general description rather than a strict prescription. Grief is messy, and individual. People will experience it at their own pace and in their own way.

Through a personal story of loss and pain, David speaks of the purpose of meaning. While it did not take away his pain, it did provide a cushion and a life raft during the processing of his emotions. From this experience, he found that finding meaning was what was needed following acceptance. With permission from the Elizabeth Kübler-Ross Foundation, he added his 6th stage to the famous 5.

Acceptance is not the end. Hearts may remain broken. Meaning provides a loose scaffolding that can be there for you beyond the initial stages. Their life mattered. Meaning is how we can mark it.

It normalizes. Grief is something everyone experiences. You are not alone.

Ultimately, regardless of the situation, it important to feel your emotions. Do not compare with others. The worst loss is always your own. Do not discount yourself. Your emotions are valid and legitimate. Feel.

If you don’t feel it, you can’t heal it.

It is important for grief to be witnessed, however, the judgement of other’s grief, especially when we ourselves are grieving, can damage relationships. Judgement demands punishment, from the self or from others. We each grieve in our own way. Our experience is not comparable to others.

On the making of meaning, David does highlight that it is not a fast-track through grief. It is possible to seek meaning too early in the process. However, the process cannot be rushed.

In many cases, a death is also not justifiable. But the meaning is not in the death. The meaning is in what we do after the death.

In the same way, unlike one modern movement described by Brené, the gratitude for the experience is not found in the death. The gratitude is around the life of the person. Gratitude for having met them. Gratitude for having shared time with them.

Even in our every day we can find meaning, by naming and being grateful for meaningful moments as they arise.

We hope to highlight more episodes from this wonderful podcast to you in future installments.

If you wish to check the podcast out in your own time, you can find it on a variety of podcast platforms, or directly at https://brenebrown.com/podcast-show/unlocking-us/

Wishing you a wonderful week,

TCS Team

Image credit: https://unsplash.com/@kmitchhodge

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