In this groundbreaking and “poignant” (Los Angeles Times) book, David Kessler—praised for his work by Maria Shriver, Marianne Williamson, and Mother Teresa—journeys beyond the classic five stages to discover a sixth stage: meaning.
In 1969, Elisabeth Kübler-Ross first identified the stages of dying in her transformative book On Death and Dying. Decades later, she and David Kessler wrote the classic On Grief and Grieving, introducing the stages of grief with the same transformative pragmatism and compassion. Now, based on hard-earned personal experiences, as well as knowledge and wisdom gained through decades of work with the grieving, Kessler introduces a critical sixth stage: meaning.
Kessler’s insight is both professional and intensely personal. His journey with grief began when, as a child, he witnessed a mass shooting at the same time his mother was dying. For most of his life, Kessler taught physicians, nurses, counselors, police, and first responders about end of life, trauma, and grief, as well as leading talks and retreats for those experiencing grief. Despite his knowledge, his life was upended by the sudden death of his twenty-one-year-old son. How does the grief expert handle such a tragic loss? He knew he had to find a way through this unexpected, devastating loss, a way that would honor his son. That, ultimately, was the sixth stage of grief—meaning. In Finding Meaning, Kessler shares the insights, collective wisdom, and powerful tools that will help those experiencing loss.
“Beautiful, tender, and wise” (Katy Butler, author of The Art of Dying Well), Finding Meaning is “an excellent addition to grief literature that helps pave the way for steps toward healing” (School Library Journal).
In this excellent work, Kessler, coauthor with Elisabeth K bler-Ross of the landmark On Grief and Grieving, extends the well-known five stages of grief model with a sixth stage: meaning. "Meaning helps us makes sense of grief," Kessler writes, speaking both as professional grief counselor and as someone who has experienced tremendous loss his 21-year-old son died suddenly just as he began writing this book. In developing his case, Kessler cites countless examples of famous and not so famous individuals whose grief prompted them to take some kind of action to move along in life, make sense of their loss, and honor their loved one. Kessler shows how large acts (starting a foundation) as well as small ones (eating an ice cream sundae in memory of a loved one as a celebration) help the bereaved to create meaning in a variety of ways. Though this is not a memoir, Kessler draws on his personal experience, giving the prose an immediacy many clinical works lack. Anyone who has lost a loved one will find solace in Kessler's comforting words.
This book has been incredibly inspiring, heart breaking, insightful and hopeful. I was only able to read a chapter or two at a time as this is intense. So well written and so much resonated with me since the loss of my Mother in 2019. I can’t say enough about David Kessler. Thank you for this book.
Helped me after finally allowing myself to grieve over the loss of my 8 year old daughter 21 years ago.