David Kessler: Finding Meaning – The Sixth Stage of Grief

This event is kindly sponsored by Marie Curie

David Kessler is the world’s foremost expert on grief and co-author of the classic On Grief and Grieving with Elizabeth Kübler Ross. His experience with thousands of people on the edge of life and death has taught him the secrets to living a fulfilled life, even after life’s tragedies.

We welcomed David to Good Grief to discuss his books, his work and his experiences with Dr Lesel Dawson from the University of Bristol.

In his groundbreaking new work, Finding Meaning: The Sixth Stage of Grief, David journeys beyond the classic five stages to discover a sixth stage: meaning. Based on hard-earned personal experiences, as well as knowledge and wisdom earned through decades of work with the grieving, he introduces a critical sixth stage.

Many people look for ‘closure’ after a loss. David argues that it’s finding meaning beyond the stages of grief that most of us are familiar with — denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance — that can transform grief into a more peaceful and hopeful experience.

In this book, David gives readers a roadmap to remembering those who have died with more love than pain; he shows us how to move forwards in a way that honours our loved ones. David’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, he taught physicians, nurses, counsellors, 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 honour his son. That, ultimately, was the sixth state of grief — meaning. In Finding Meaning, David shares the insights, collective wisdom and powerful tools that will help those experiencing loss.


Dr Lesel Dawson