Grief Resources


Cracked open: The Nature of Grief, Loss and Illness – by Petra Lentz-Snow. Posted on The School of Lost Borders.

Vain and Alone: The heart broken a thousand times, reassembled a thousand and one – Gregory Hoskins (Stephen Jenkinson’s ‘Band’ on his 2015 Die Wise tour) on the saying goodbye to his father.

We doctors can’t prescribe a good deathSeamus O’Mahony – A very candid telling of how death and dying have become ‘medicalized’ and why this is not a good thing for anybody as told from the front lines by a British MD.


  • “Our ancestors in pre-industrial Europe “tamed” death by communality and ritual. In our atomised societies, death has replaced sex as the new taboo; the churches have emptied and people no longer know how to “tame” death or how to mourn”
  • “Medicine, and our culture, would be healthier and happier if we stopped expecting it to solve our existential problems, if we stopped thinking of our bodies as machines, and if we gave up our fantasies of control and immortality”

How Doctors Choose to Die – Ken Murray – An American physician discussing how many medical doctors choose opt out of life-prolonging treatments during their own dying times.


  • It’s not a frequent topic of discussion, but doctors die, too. And they don’t die like the rest of us. What’s unusual about them is not how much treatment they get compared to most Americans, but how little. For all the time they spend fending off the deaths of others, they tend to be fairly serene when faced with death themselves. They know exactly what is going to happen, they know the choices, and they generally have access to any sort of medical care they could want. But they go gently.

We don’t ‘lose’ our mothers – the reality is more violent than that – A vital and raw piece that tackles one of the most common ways we use language to dull the what we do to our dead.


  • “We have not “lost” our mothers. We say that to be polite, but in truth, we have become un-mothered, like Marie Antoinette was un-headed or that wilderness hiker who sawed off his arm was un-handed.”

Learning to Die – Brother David Steindl-Rast – How death gives meaning to our lives from the perspective of a Christian mystic.


  • “Our problem at the moment seems to be that we have outgrown our child-like integrity in dealing with eschatological myths, but have not yet achieved the integrity of mature minds capable of accepting these myths more fully than the child could. We are like awkward adolescents who laugh at fairy tales that were deeply meaningful to them not long ago and will be more meaningful still a short time hence.”


Stephen Jenkinson – This is a collection of interviews that the Orphan Wisdom school has made available.


Griefwalker – Tim Wilson – A documentary about Stephen Jenkinson that he describes as a film that asks the question “What does it take to fall in love with being alive?”


The skill of brokenheartedness – Stephen Jenkinson – A speech given by Stephen at a palliative care convention in the USA.


Die Wise – Stephen Jenkinson – An amazing book with an equally amazing forward by Martin Shaw that challenges everything we think we know about the place that death has in our culture.

The Smell of Rain on DustMartín Prechtel – If there ever was a book that makes a case that grief is vital to the ability of our culture to survive then this is that book. Declaring that grieving what we lose and praising what we have are two inseparable parts of the love of life.


Orphan Wisdom School – the home of Stephen Jenkinson, one of the master story-tellers of our times.

The Aching Heart Blog – Harry Kloser-Pitcher – The founder of The Aching Heart Day

The School of Lost Borders – The School of Lost Borders offers vision fasts and rites of passage training which cultivate self-trust, responsibility, and understanding about ones’ unique place within society and the natural world. Its programs provide guided opportunities, perspectives, teachings, and much needed self-reflection time in a non-judgmental yet challenging environment.


Stephen Jenkinson

Martin Prechtel

David Whyte – poet

News Of Death

For Tom Charlotte

Last night they came with news of death
not knowing what I would say.

I wanted to say,
“The green wind is running through the fields
making the grass lie flat.”

I wanted to say,
“The apple blossom flakes like ash,
covering the orchard wall.”

I wanted to say,
“the fish float belly up in the slow stream,
stepping stones to the dead.”

They asked if I would sleep that night,
I said I did not know.

For this loss I could not speak,
the tongue lay idle in a great darkness,
the heart was strangely open,
the moon had gone,
and it was then
when I said, “He is no longer here”
that the night put its arms around me
and all the white stars turned bitter with grief.

From River Flow – New and Selected Poems 1984 – 2007, Many Rivers Press, 2007

The Well of Grief

Those who will not slip beneath
the still surface on the well of grief

turning downward through its black water
to the place we cannot breathe

will never know the source from which we drink,
the secret water, cold and clear,

nor find in the darkness glimmering
the small round coins
thrown by those who wished for something else.

  —  from Where Many Rivers Meet, Many Rivers Press, 2007

Francis Weller