Voices InCourage | Claire Bidwell Smith | Conscious Grieving

 

In today’s episode, we have author, podcast host, speaker, and grief therapist Claire Bidwell Smith – a resilient woman who weathered the storm of losing both parents to cancer at a young age.

Claire witnessed the loss of her mother during her freshman year of college, only later to face the death of her father senior year. With a compelling narrative spanning five books on grief, our speaker shares profound insights into the universal traits of this complex emotion and what it means to embrace “Conscious Grieving” as a tool to conquer fear, anxiety, and loneliness.

Join us as we unravel the threads of grief, self-compassion, and resilience. Tune in now!

Watch the episode here

 

Listen to the podcast here

 

Unraveling Grief With Author & Grief Therapist Claire Bidwell Smith

In this episode, we are incredibly blessed to have somebody whom I have heard a lot about. She is extraordinary in the space of grief and anxiety, has her story, and has written prolifically about this. She is an expert in this arena, speaks all the time on the big stations, and writes on the big papers. We’re going to dive into this. If you would, Claire Bidwell Smith, please start with your story of origin. Where did all this begin for you?

Thank you for having me. I’m excited to be here and talk with you. I am an only child and my parents were a little bit older. When I was fourteen, they both got cancer at the same time. My father found out first that he had prostate cancer and within a few months, my mother was diagnosed with stage four colon cancer. My high school and adolescence years were fraught with a lot of ups and downs, uncertainty, and facing mortality in a way that a lot of my peers weren’t.

My mother died when I was a freshman in college and it was incredibly difficult. She was an amazing woman. We were very close and she had been a wonderful mom. She had struggled to face her illness and pending death. We never talked about it. When she died, there was a lot that was unspoken and unsaid. I had a lot of regrets and missed opportunities. My father died a few years later as I graduated college and then I was in my mid-twenties alone in the world with no immediate family. It was challenging. I descended into a lot of deep grief.

Anxiety was a huge aspect of my struggle. I eventually began to find lots of different ways to heal and work through it. It took a lot of work and time. When I came through it, I decided to go back and get my Master’s degree in Clinical Psychology. I became a therapist and worked in hospice initially as a bereavement counselor. I’ve been in private practice for many years. I’ve written five books about grief and loss. I work with people when I’m one every day. I lead support groups. I train other mental health professionals in the field of grief and I speak a lot about grief and anxiety.

What was the intention behind your taking your journey and creating a calling for yourself?

I struggled so much in my journey. When my mom died, I was eighteen years old and everybody around me told me I would be fine. I was an adult and had to get on with things. I wasn’t fine. I’m struggling with crippling anxiety and carrying the weight of so much grief. I didn’t know where to turn. This was many years ago and there weren’t more than that. There were books out there on social media and podcasts about grief. I felt so alone because I had to work hard to figure out how to cope with my anxiety, be in my grief, and heal from it. I wanted to help others do the same. I’ve always been a writer since I was a kid. I did not grow up wanting to be a grief therapist.

You journaled.

I’ve always written a lot about it. When I began working in hospice, I went into that work thinking I knew a lot about grief but I only knew my own and personal grief. What I began to see was grief in a much more three-dimensional way and seeing all these universal traits of grief, common struggles to understand and work with grief, and then a lot of different ways to grieve that I had never imagined or thought about. I wanted to open up that conversation more for our culture.

When did you start doing hospice work?

I was 30 years old. I was young. I look back and I’m like, “I was a baby.” I would lead these grief support groups in a hospital in Chicago. People would walk in and there would be women in their 60s who had lost a husband or 40-something people who were grieving the loss of an older parent. They would look at me and be like, “What does this girl know about anything?” I knew enough to facilitate a healing conversation but I like it so much and I continue to learn every day from the people I see.

To a large extent, we have some commonalities from being young and holding space for elders. That’s what it is. If we can show up with love and compassion, and hold the space for conversations that are raw, real, vulnerable, and need to have a space to be voiced, then that’s what our job is no matter what age we’re at. I’m super curious. A lot of people who are reading this have a difficult time thinking that taking care of themselves is mission-critical. They tend to more focus on the loved one that they have who is dealing with substance abuse disorder. My calling has been like, “No. We need to take care of ourselves too.” I’m curious to know where that wisdom comes from for you at such an early age. What were the first, second, or third steps you took in the direction of taking care of yourself?

I had to hit rock bottom before I realized that was important. One of the last things we do is take care of ourselves. It is so much easier to take care of other people. We think it is until we hit rock bottom or our needs start to spill out everywhere. I hit some low points. There was nowhere else to go but like, “I have to face this. I have to face my needs, grief, anxiety, and anguish.”

Voices InCourage | Claire Bidwell Smith | Conscious Grieving
Conscious Grieving: One of the last things we do is take care of ourselves. It is much easier to take care of other people. Until we hit rock bottom more, our needs start to spill out everywhere.

 

The first step for me was self-compassion and that was so hard. It was hard to be kind to myself and open up to self-compassion. I would cry on yoga mats and listen to self-compassion meditations. I spent years beating myself up or being afraid to turn towards my grief because it was going to be too big and unwieldy. One of the reasons we don’t take care of ourselves is because it’s scary. There’s so much there. It often feels insurmountable.

In the works that I do, I tell people, “You’re thinking that if you start to cry, you won’t stop. I’m here to tell you, you will.” I’ve had enough of those dropped-to-my-knees-lose-it moments. It sounds funny but there’s almost a skillset that goes with that. It’s allowing yourself to drop into that deep pool of emotion and giving yourself permission to do it. Being compassionate with yourself is such a huge thing in the world that we swim in. What were you beating yourself up for? I’m super curious.

It’s a funny thing. We’re hard on ourselves in general but we also hold ourselves accountable for things that we don’t have control over. This is the great human experience. We’re constantly holding ourselves accountable for things that we don’t have control over. I was holding myself accountable for not being there when my mother died because I didn’t make it to the hospital in time, not being more aware that she was dying, and not having the wisdom to have conversations that needed to be had. I can look back and understand, “How could I have?” Our culture gets in the way of that. First of all, I was so young. She was prohibiting it. I beat myself up for a long time around those things. I was devastated that she was gone and our relationship ended the way it did.

Are you at peace with it?

I am. It took a lot of that self-compassion, understanding, and sitting with other people who I saw were all going through the same thing. Many people were blaming themselves for things that they couldn’t have changed or done differently, or they had amazing intentions and put so much heart into something and it still didn’t have the outcome that they wanted. Seeing that I realized that I was doing the same thing. It’s not easy to be a human in this world.

In the addiction space, a lot of people hold the notion that we can control and fix it. That gets in the way. To be able to take that on and at the same time, what I’m imagining is the veils got lifted and you realize that certainly, you weren’t alone in it. There are lots of people, whether it’s death and dying or grieving. It’s all these things in our lives. We live in this world of something happens and it’s grieving and letting go. That’s a continual thing. My experience is as change takes place, grieves what was, steps into what is, learns how to swim, and dances a new dance.

Grieve what was, step into what is, and learn to swim and dance a new dance. Click To Tweet

It’s hard to relinquish that illusion of control. We want so badly to think that we have more control than we do. It’s scary to acknowledge that we don’t. Living in uncertainty, living in the present moment, and not knowing what’s going to happen is hard.

At least with my experience, it’s changing what it is that I can control. It’s shifting the notion that I can control other people, the circumstances, or the situation but the control resides within ourselves in terms of the story we’re making up about it. What emotions are we having? Are those the emotions or thoughts that we want to have? It’s all of that. We’re at the agency in this and not left to be at the whim and with what shows up.

That was a turning point for me too in my late twenties. I began to realize that I had always felt like all this stuff was happening to me but there were pieces that I had control over. I had control over how I responded to things, my emotional regulation, choosing what thoughts to listen to, or choosing what behaviors to indulge in. There were things that I did have control over but they had felt so out of control because I was grappling with so much trauma.

We’re not trained in this. How often are we told, “Man search for meaning?” There’s a phrase, “It feels like our life is falling apart.” I’m a super big believer in when it feels like it’s falling apart, it’s falling together. That has been true for me because that’s what I believe. Speak a little bit about poking at the beliefs that we carry around that don’t serve us and then shifting those to beliefs that do serve us in living more thriving in life.

Around that same turning point where I began to feel more agency over moving forward in my life, I started to realize how I had been looking at my whole life with this narrative of what I didn’t have. It’s all these things I didn’t have and that had happened to me that was terrible. I began to force myself to shift that and think, “Look at all that I do have. Look like all the amazing things I have going forward the tools and resources.” Some of that for me came by finding ways to be of service.

I had been very self-preoccupied in my grief. I was sitting all the time and feeling sorry for myself. I’m grieving. At some point, I started volunteering working with kids in an underserved school district, helping them with homework, and I was like, “I have so much to offer. I’ve been sitting around feeling so wrapped up in my pain and misery. I have so much that I can be contributing to the world.” That was helpful for me as well in terms of realizing what I had.

That shift from self-preoccupation to service to others is so transformative. Our lives are what we focus on. If we’re focused on grief, pain, and all of those things, then that’s what our life is. If we can pop out of the bubble almost or poke at it a little bit, potentially get out, and do something where it’s other-oriented, then we begin to crack that.

It’s like a both and. I didn’t have to stop grieving and missing my parents but I was able to add in this other way of being in the world that felt meaningful.

As you’re saying that, what I’m thinking about is particularly for parents who have kids whether they’re adults or kids dealing with substance abuse disorder. It’s that notion that you can’t have joy while they’re experiencing their disorder. When I’ve asked parents, “Do you think that you could thrive in the midst of the chaos of this disease,” they’re like, “No way. It’s not going to happen.” They’re not even going to give themselves permission to laugh, smile, or be happy.

What do you think it means to them to hold that position? What does it mean for them to try to hold both?

I can only surmise that several things are going on. One is they don’t believe that they can hold both in the same space. It’s an either/or proposition in their minds. They’re leaning into the grief of witnessing the suffering of their loved one, and then can’t hold that suffering and grief in the same space of being able to enjoy their life or parts of their lives. They’re in their bubble. They haven’t reached out of their bubble to understand that that is possible.

There’s a parallel that I see in grief where often people feel like they can’t feel joy, enjoy things, laugh, or cultivate aspects of their life while they’re grieving. It goes back to that both and. It doesn’t mean you have to stop grieving or thinking about your child who’s going through this struggle. You can do both. You can hold both spaces. Even if you start to play around with it a little bit, you begin to see that you can do both. You can hold multitudes.

I’ve talked about it in my experience through the lens of all these little bubbles of my life. I have a marriage bubble and that’s awesome. I have a career bubble. I love what I do. I have friend bubbles. They’re amazing friends. I had this bubble with my son. That sucked when he was in the throes of his addiction. I was learning how to be with his suffering without being dragged into his suffering. I didn’t have to suffer with him.

Be with his suffering without being dragged into his suffering. Click To Tweet

There’s an abandonment fear. You weren’t abandoning him by being in your marriage bubbles, your friends’ circles, your work, and everything that you love. Grief is similar. People think they are no longer grieving or they don’t care that their person died because they’re over here enjoying but you can do both.

That one notion and understanding for a lot of people is like, “Really?” Say a little bit about the notion of anxiety and grief and how anxiety is part of the grieving process. That is a different way to think about that.

After my mother died, one of my predominant experiences was panic attacks, hypochondria, and feeling unsafe in the world. When we’re grieving, we’ve lost something whether it’s a way of life, a relationship, or a person. We don’t only grieve people who have died. We grieve all kinds of things. I’m sure you grieve your son prior to his addiction, who we could have become, or who we could have been in that moment. You’re grieving something that it’s gone.

When that happens, the landscape changes. The future becomes uncertain. You’re not sure what is to come or what other things could happen. You have to let go of ideas you had about what life was going to be like. That causes a lot of uncertainty, which always brings anxiety. There’s such a correlation there. Not everybody becomes anxious in their grief but many people do more than you think. The one thing I know for sure about it is that there are a lot of ways to heal from it and manage it.

Voices InCourage | Claire Bidwell Smith | Conscious Grieving
Conscious Grieving: Uncertainty always brings anxiety.

 

The statistics around anxiety at this point are off the charts. The way that I frame it is that we do not know how to deal with uncertainty or change, which in some respects, seems very bizarre to me. In a lot of ways, that’s how I lived my life. I’ve been at the edge and jumped so many times. It’s a muscle that I perfected over time but I didn’t realize that was what I was doing. When things changed, like grieving the loss of my son, I stood on a sidewalk and watched my son being arrested at gunpoint.

When I went back up to the hotel room, I dropped to my knees because everything had shattered at that moment. As the shattering was taking place, I knew that the pieces would be coming together in a very different way. I held that belief. For a lot of people, the pieces shatter and then they have no idea how to pick the pieces up or reconfigure them in a way that is going to serve them or lift them to another level of consciousness or anything along those lines.

Sometimes you don’t need to know. You just need to be there. You need to keep breathing and putting one foot in front of the other. Things will begin to unfold. It helps to come back to that present moment when we’re anxious and grieving like, “We’re spending a lot of time in the past. How do we get here? What happened?” We’re ruminating on the way things could have been or how we’re different. We’re thinking a lot about the future. We’re spending so little time in this present moment. Bringing your awareness back to this place can be calming.

Bringing your awareness back to this place can be calming. Click To Tweet

What are a couple of tricks, tips, or hacks that you use as you begin to go in the direction of past or present? That’s how our monkey minds work a lot of times. How do you bring yourself back to the present and center?

A lot of mindfulness and meditation techniques are helpful and easy but there’s that self-compassion piece too because when we’re spinning out in the past and the future, we’re worrying, trying to control an outcome, or trying to review how we could have controlled an outcome. Having a self-compassion for like, “I understand why I’m spinning out about this but I’m going to gently bring myself back to this present moment,” is a big piece of it. It can feel scary because it’s about that illusion of control.

It’s a little crazy-making. I have this sense that the world that we live in is a worrying world.

A lot of it is from technology in the last many years. We have gotten so far away from being able to have quiet moments where we’re not being bombarded by information. We are bombarded with information the moment we wake up and pick up that little screen until we go to sleep and put the screen down. Much is flooding in. We’re not thinking about how to regulate that, manage it, and step away for a moment. Every time we look at our phones, we’re taking in a news headline like what your best friend had for dinner last night or some perfect holiday photo that makes you feel terrible about your life. We are having emotional, physical, and behavioral responses to them. It’s no wonder that the anxiety is through the roof.

I’m a geek about the brain science stuff. Everything has eclipsed our brain’s ability to keep up. We still hold this notion that if we work harder or faster, we’ll be able to know but we can’t. Regulating our phones and how much we’re willing to put up with toxic people in our lives, what we listen to, what we read, and who we surround ourselves with, all of these kinds of things, the way that I think about it, is taking our power back.

During the pandemic, when it was in its real state of heightened, anxiety was on. We weren’t sure what was happening. I was getting so panicky and stressed out every morning that I decided I wasn’t going to look at my phone for an hour after I woke up. I would wake up and be in the world. I would make coffee, look out the window, and talk to my kids. Once I felt more centered and calm, then I would inevitably pick up the phone, look at some crazy headline, or respond to text messages but I was able to better process them and come from a place more groundedness.

That quiet time in the morning is mission-critical. I’m a backpacker so it’s about being able to get into the backcountry and be disconnected. I’ve been doing it for decades. You can’t always backpack but it taught me the importance of disconnection and giving myself permission to disconnect.

Sometimes that can feel scary but it is one of the ways that we can come back to ourselves and feel that groundedness.

Is there a typical thing that you’re seeing on a regular basis that people present as the thing that they’re dealing with?

We struggle a lot to find and make space to grieve. Our culture doesn’t hold a lot of space for it. Our culture wants us to keep moving, get the right things, and be better. It’s scary for people to see other people grieving or going through loss so they want to tidy it up as well. We push ourselves to move through it faster than we can. That’s one issue. The anxiety often comes from that place too. “What’s wrong with me? Why am I not myself anymore? What happened to my old self?” We grieve versions of our identities that we lose along the way in the process. Making space for it, leaning into it, and acknowledging that this is a process that we all go through and need to sit with is important.

There’s a continual thread through this conversation in terms of creating space, quietness, and allowing ourselves to be.

It’s to honor the present moment and the process that we’re in even if it’s falling apart, crying, or even if it’s on your knees on the floor, not trying to rush through it necessarily.

I’m a business coach, consultant, and all of those things but I very heavily lean on a person who walks through my door first. With an executive team, there are people walking in the door first before their executives. I see a lot of trauma and drama in their lives whether it’s suicide, death, divorce, addiction, or all of the things. I’m constantly in the space of saying, “You need to give yourself grace.”

We’re hard on ourselves. It’s so much easier to take care of other people, have empathy for others, and give them some grace than we do for ourselves.

If you’re reading this, please, self-compassion and grace.

What do you think the process of grieving a loved one who’s struggling with addiction is like? What is that grief like?

What I think about is deep sorrow. I’m speaking from my experience and the people that I have talked to and worked with. The corresponding piece of that is it’s born at a deep love. People come to grief with the fact that the grief is a reflection of how deeply you love this person and how difficult it is for most people to watch people suffering. Addiction in particular is this crazy combination of a lot of suffering. You weave in and that changes your brain chemistry. Who you knew that person to be prior to addiction and who they are when they’re in addictive mode versus in recovery mode is almost head spinning.

I imagine there’s a similar component to grieving the death of someone where there’s anger, guilt, blame, anguish, and all of these pieces that we move through in different ways, like loss of faith and so many different identities.

My hope is that people are doing it in the journey instead of waiting for that moment when somebody dies and then it all blows up. There’s a fireman’s piece that I work with and it starts with crisis, struggling, surviving, and then thriving. I was very clear when I had my dropped-to-my-knees moment with my son. I was intentional about, “I’m in crisis. I know what I need to do on the other side of falling out.” I started to put those things in place but my intention was not to survive this. My intention was to thrive in the midst of the chaos. That notion in and of itself for a lot of people is like, “What?”

It can be hard to imagine in the beginning that you will not only survive but eventually thrive. It could be a truly transformative experience. I work with a lot of people who’ve gone through a very big recent loss. It’s not something that they necessarily are ready to embrace the idea of. At some point, that will be transformational in positive ways but it is there. It’s something that takes time and looks different for everyone and encompasses lots of different components and pathways too but there is so much transformation that comes through these drop-to-your-knees moments where it feels like everything is falling apart and you’ve lost everything. It does come back together and in a way.

Voices InCourage | Claire Bidwell Smith | Conscious Grieving
Conscious Grieving: You will survive and eventually thrive. That could be a transformative experience.

 

I’m a big believer that there are always gifts and lessons embedded in every experience. The questions that we ask ourselves on a routine basis were designed to look for the answers. In some of the traumatic conversations I’ve had with some parents, if I can get permission for them to entertain the notion of gifts and lessons embedded in the experience and we can start down that path, everything shifts. Usually, it’s the first time where they’ve even entertained the notion that there are gifts and lessons.

I’m always wanting to shield my kids from hardship. I have young kids, and then I’ll make myself stop. Every hard thing I’ve ever been through has taught me something valuable. It’s hard and it hurts but there’s a lot there to be found.

It’s the whole notion of helping our kids learn resiliency and on the other side of this. If only I had known what I know in terms of the resiliency muscle. It’s the ability to ask for help when you need it. We’re all going to have so many moments where we need to reach out to somebody, a book, a movie, a podcast, or something where we start to ask for help.

 That’s such a critical aspect of this. We have to ask for help and get support. We can’t do this alone.

This is a team sport. Do you frame your experience in your journey as having been some of the gifts that led to this calling? I asked that because I believe what you do and the world has a reverberation that it’s more like a butterfly than a hurricane. What you do has such a reverberation in terms of positivity, optimism, and possibility in the world that started with grief.

That’s a beautiful way to look at it. I don’t think I’ve thought about it that succinctly but I do love what I do. I see so much healing and transformation occur in the people I work with. It’s beautiful to see. I do have moments times where it is amazing that it was all born out of so much pain that my parents and I went through.

The way that I think about it is loving people through the unfolding of their journey. I don’t begin to know what the purpose of their life is. It has given me peace. With my son’s addiction, I don’t know what his purpose is but what I do know is this show would not exist if it hadn’t been for his addiction. There’s a much larger consciousness evolution at play the way that I think about it.

You’re touching it as something important in grief where you have to open up to all these new ways of thinking about the world, the universe, what we’re doing here, and who we are. It’s not that you have to land on anything, prove anything, or figure out what happens when we die, why some people have some paths, or what their purpose is but it’s opening up to the idea that there is so much going on.

You should open up to all these new ways of thinking about the world and the universe. Click To Tweet

We don’t maybe fully understand but we can lean into and have some faith in and believe in. That is an important part of going through any kind of grief and loss. Life struggle is opening up to the idea that we’re not just this one person that’s all here. We’re connected to so much. There are many ripple effects happening all the time and we don’t know what they’re going to lend themselves to.

You’re able to look back and connect the dots. Some people haven’t lived enough or haven’t had the perspective of looking back to connect how these dots in our lives happen but I did a vision quest process a few years ago. One of the things I was tasked with was to look back over every decade of my life and write down the things that I viewed as incredibly powerful and positive and the things that I viewed as dark and sucked. I did all of that. As I looked back over them, I saw the dark crappy things. There was the flip side of, “Look at the extraordinary that came out of that in creating who I am today.” To be able to see the dot connections was transformative, honestly.

I bet that’s a cool exercise. Everybody should do that. We should all be doing that all the time. I’m going to do it.

The other thing I’m thinking about is who you turn to, bookwise, that helped you transform your journey. There were times when I pulled Byron Katie or Eckhart Tolle off the shelf. I accessed things when things were tough. I was like, “My skills reach for this or that.” Who did you reach for?

Initially, I was so young. I was 18 or 20. This was late ‘90s. I started reading memoirs. I wanted to read any story by someone who went through something difficult and came through the other side somehow. That was helpful to me. It was helpful to me to see that other people struggled, felt shame, blame, guilt, made mistakes, and yet still kept trying. That initially was what helped me. I love Pema Chödrön and Byron Katie. I did a lot of meditation so all kinds of people in that space. I love poetry. I like Mary Oliver and where you can find language for some of this, anguish, pain, sorrow, and beauty.

I’m a huge reader, podcast listener, and all of the things. I’ll hear a phrase and I go, “I want to capture that one.” You can feel it almost like comes into you and there’s this little shift that takes place.

We have to keep seeking out those things. You won’t always find the right fit but you keep looking, reading, and listening. There’s going to be something that gives you one of those a-ha moments.

What I want our readers to read to here is keep reaching out and searching. Get outside of yourself and look for the people whom you can resonate with, whom you can feel safe with, and ask for what you need. That’s another one that we haven’t necessarily touched a lot on but what we’ve alluded to what we’ve been doing in our journeys is we’ve, in some form or fashion, been asking for what we needed to navigate wherever we were.

It’s scary to ask for what you need. We become afraid of rejection or abandonment but we have to keep asking, searching, and not keep our worlds too small.

I tend to frame everything in the skillset that can be developed because it feels like anybody can do that, to me. The skillset of test driving and asking for what you need from somebody safe that you feel pretty certain you’re going to get, “I can do that.” Keep doing that to build that particular skill up so that when you do need to ask for something that you need, you’ve already got it in your pocket so to speak. It’s baby steps. We all have to start somewhere. Do you have a favorite book that you’ve written?

I have written five. My first book felt meaningful. It’s my actual story. It’s a memoir of my experience. That one’s very special. I wrote a book that is called Anxiety: The Missing Stage Of Grief. It is meaningful because it’s one of the first times that anxiety and grief have been called out in the correlation. It’s been an important book. I have a new book coming out called Conscious Grieving. It’s about leaning into our grief as a way to move through it. I wrote about the afterlife. That was fun to explore as well. They are different. They’re like kids. Each one has a personality. I love them all.

Voices InCourage | Claire Bidwell Smith | Conscious Grieving
Conscious Grieving: The Path of Awakening Through Loss

The origin stories are always amazing to know from where once we came but I love the Conscious Grieving. I’m getting into The Map of Consciousness and David Hawkins’s work but I love how it’s married up with chakras and all of the things, and then the reverberation out in terms of how we show up in the world and the level of impact that we can have in helping shift humanity. You’ve done huge work.

Thank you. It sounds like you have too. You’re doing so much amazing work creating the space for people to heal, and think about and understand their process.

It wasn’t available when I dropped to my knees that day. I was like, “Are you serious that I have to put this together?” I was like, “Okay,” then that’s what it is. I start doing it.

I’m grateful that you’re doing it.

Thank you. As we’re wrapping up here, is there something we haven’t touched on or a question I should have asked you that would serve our audience in the midst of their journey?

I want to reiterate this idea of giving yourself permission to grieve. For a long time, we relegated grief to death and it’s not. We’ve grieved for many things. Grief in this realm around addiction and the people we love is so valid and real. It’s a process that shouldn’t be rushed through, needs support, self-compassion, and tending to. Creating that space for yourself and giving yourself permission to grieve is important.

I do think understanding that is part of the human process. It is part of being human. The way that I think about it is that deep love goes with deep grief. I’d rather deeply love. Thank you so much. This has been a great weaving of a conversation. Thank you for your deep gratitude for the work that you’re doing in the world, the lives that you’re changing, the perspective, and all the things in the books.

Thank you so much. Thank you for the work you’re doing.

How can people get a hold of you?

ClaireBidwellSmith.com. It’s a hub. Everything is there.

Reach out to her. That hub is fantastic. She is a great resource for those of us who are going through the process of being human. Thank you.

 

Important Links

 

About Claire Bidwell Smith

Voices InCourage | Claire Bidwell Smith | Conscious GrievingClaire Bidwell Smith, LCPC is a therapist specializing in grief and the author of five books of nonfiction, published in 21 countries: The Rules of Inheritance, After This: When Life is Over Where Do We Go?, Anxiety: The Missing Stage of Grief, Grief and Anxiety: A Workbook for Clinicians and Conscious Grieving.

Claire offers numerous online programs for grief in addition to working with people one-on-one, as well as training other clinicians to work in the field of grief and loss. Led by her own experiences with grief, and fueled by her work in hospice and private practice, Claire strives to provide support for all kinds of people experiencing all kinds of grief.

In addition to having given dozens of talks on grief, Claire has written for and been featured in many publications including The New York Times, The Atlantic, The Washington Post, Scientific American, The LA Times, CNN, MSNBC, Forbes, The Today Show, The Chicago Tribune, Goop, Oprah Magazine, and Psychology Today. She deeply loves her work and is devoted to expanding the conversation about grief and loss.

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