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Mar 16, 2021

Today’s conversation is one I am honored to share with you, and also one that many of us often feel far more comfortable avoiding. Today’s episode is about opening to grief, with one of the most compassionate souls I have ever come across- Claire Willis. 


Claire is a clinical social worker who has worked in the fields of oncology and bereavement for more than 20 years. A cofounder of the Boston nonprofit Facing Cancer Together, Willis has led bereavement, end-of-life, support, and therapeutic writing groups. Willis maintains a private practice in Brookline, Massachusetts. As a lay Buddhist chaplain ordained by Joan Halifax, she focuses on contemplative practices for end-of-life care. In addition to Opening to Grief, Willis is the author of Lasting Words: A Guide to Finding Meaning Toward the Close of Life. 


In this episode we examine the nature of grief; what it is, why we fear it, and how we can honor it in our day to day lives. Plus, Claire discusses the collective grief we are feeling as a world as we face a pandemic and the loss of so many loved ones and ways of being that we hold dear.


In This Episode You’ll Learn:

  • All about today’s guest, Claire Willis [ 1:00 ]
  • What grief is and why we’re so afraid of it [ 3:55 ]
  • What happens when we have an upsurge of grief [ 10:00 ]
  • Where to begin when we have an aversion to grief [ 15:30 ]
  • How to navigate our grief during the pandemic [ 18:30 ]
  • How Claire feels about death [ 29:06 ]
  • The importance of love [ 34:09 ]
  • How to keep your feet on the ground when you know what truly matters [ 37:00 ]
  • Anger and its role in grief (for women)  [ 42:00 ]
  • How to talk to our parents about the legacy they wish to leave [ 50:30 ]

Soul Shifting Quotes: 

  • “If we think about grief as an expression of our loving, it’s important to honor it.” 
  • “It will connect you more deeply to yourself and to other people.” 
  • “There are as many different journeys through grief as there are people who are grieving.” 
  • “Who is the woman you were becoming before you were socialized not to?”


Links Mentioned: 


Tag me in your big shifts + takeaways: @amberlilyestrom 


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