A Tribute to Max… and Grieving Resources

I wish there was an easier way to explore and understand the exquisite beauty and pain of grief without having to actually experience it.

I introduced my Spirited Living community to my 21-yr-old nephew and godson, Max, last Fall when he was starting his battle with Non-Hodgkin’s B-Cell Lymphoma.

That fight ended on May 3rd when, after a courageous journey toward healing with every possible treatment employed, Max died quietly in a hospice in Providence, RI. My brother Jeff and my sister-in-heart Lara were holding his hands, singing the Boat Song, and our big, close extended family had gathered and were able to say goodbye to him in the days before.

You already know this if we’re friends on social media or you subscribe to my newsletter, and I can’t thank you enough for the outpouring of love and support there. I debated sharing it here, but ultimately, the commitment to celebrate his life through every channel possible won out.

You can read the beautiful obituary written by Lara HERE, and also get a sense of the very special young man he was at the Caring Bridge site where Lara chronicled his journey with exquisite grace, humor, and eloquence.

The Gifts of Grief?

Ironically, I started a powerful 7-week coach training program on Positive Intelligence the week before Max went into hospice. One of the key principles in developing your “PQ” is to look for the gift in every circumstance. Now, I’m a pretty positive, optimistic person by nature, but it’s been close to impossible to look for any “gifts” right now. Fortunately, the program acknowledges that deep grief is one of those circumstances that may not reveal it’s gifts for awhile, maybe even years. Frankly, I’d rather just have Max back with us.

That said, my own grieving process — which always involves lots of tears, hugs, and talking — has also led me to explore resources to comfort, soothe, and support myself and my family as we navigate this heartbreaking time. I shared some of those in my May “Deb’s Picks” newsletter and would like to offer them to you here as well. I hope they bring you solace when you need it, too.


Elizabeth Kübler-Ross’ seminal book, “On Death and Dying” introduced us to the 5 stages of grief. I discovered it years ago and have found it invaluable in being able to normalize the range of emotions that we all experience when we’re mourning a loss. Her original model outlined these stages: Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Acceptance, and Acceptance. Since then, she and others have added two or more stages. For the younger members of my family who may not want to read the whole book, I’ve shared some articles online (click on the picture) and you can also learn more about her work HERE.


The founder of Grief.com is David Kessler who actually worked closely with Elizabeth Kübler-Ross and co-authored “Grief and Grieving” with her which expanded the original five stages to seven, including “meaning”. His website offers a wealth of grieving resources — events, classes, directories for grief counselors and grief support groups and much, much more. Even if you don’t need any of that now, definitely tuck it away so you can refer friends and/or family when they need it.


I was introduced to the concept of Death Cafes several years ago by a former client and they’ve fascinated me ever since. Started in England in 2011, they’ve now spread throughout the world. They’re not a grief support group or counseling session, but rather a space where people can gather informally to discuss and “increase their awareness of death with a view to helping people make the most of their (finite) lives”. We have such a complex relationship with death in modern times and it feels to me like these cafes can ultimately help us navigate the mourning process when we face death in our personal lives.


Re-discovering this breathtaking choral piece in the midst of my mourning truly has been a poignant gift. I was researching Julian of Norwich for my May 12 FB Live Goddess Team video (her feast day was May 13th) and I’d already chosen to highlight her weeks before. You can click on this link to learn more about her, but I’ll tell you here 3 things that so touched me:
— her most famous quote is “All shall be well, and all shall be well. And all manner of things shall be well.”
— those words were incorporated into the choral piece “Vivos Voco” by Joan Szymko, which means “Call for the Living” (really!). You can click on the photo to hear a beautiful rendition of it.
— SoHarmonimums sang Vivos Voco in our Spring ’15 concert which I’d completely forgotten! I love how God(dess) works!

5. SoHARMONIUMS VIRTUAL SPRING CONCERT (was live on Sat., May 22nd now available on YouTube)

In case you haven’t figured it out, music has always been one of my “therapies”, in happy times and sad. This concert was the most complex (and therefore expensive!) one we’ve ever produced cuz all of us (~ 50 voices) had to record the audio & video separately for all of our songs, then some amazing technical whizes are putting it all together. We sang our usual terrific repertoire but with tap dancing, “commercials”, and silly solos woven in. You don’t want to miss it, especially if you’ve never been able to make it “live” n the past! Here’s the link to watch it, and please do consider making a donation on our website!

I hope you’ve resonated with some of these poignant offerings and will draw on them for comfort and/or support, now or in the future.