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Finding Meaning

The Sixth Stage of Grief

In this groundbreaking and “poignant” (Los Angeles Times) book, David Kessler—praised for his work by Maria Shriver, Marianne Williamson, and Mother Teresa—journeys beyond the classic five stages to discover a sixth stage: meaning.

In 1969, Elisabeth Kübler-Ross first identified the stages of dying in her transformative book On Death and Dying. Decades later, she and David Kessler wrote the classic On Grief and Grieving, introducing the stages of grief with the same transformative pragmatism and compassion. Now, based on hard-earned personal experiences, as well as knowledge and wisdom gained through decades of work with the grieving, Kessler introduces a critical sixth stage: meaning.

Kessler’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, Kessler taught physicians, nurses, counselors, 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 honor his son. That, ultimately, was the sixth stage of grief—meaning. In Finding Meaning, Kessler shares the insights, collective wisdom, and powerful tools that will help those experiencing loss.

Beautiful, tender, and wise” (Katy Butler, author of The Art of Dying Well), Finding Meaning is “an excellent addition to grief literature that helps pave the way for steps toward healing” (School Library Journal).

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David Kessler is the world’s foremost expert on grief. 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. He coauthored On Grief and Grieving and Life Lessons with Elizabeth Kübler-Ross and You Can Heal Your Heart: Finding Peace After a Breakup, Divorce or Death with Louise Hay. He is the author of Finding Meaning; Visions, Trips, and Crowded Rooms; and The Needs of the Dying, praised by Mother Teresa.

David’s work has been featured in the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Business Week, and Life Magazine, and on CNN, Fox, NBC, PBS, and CBS. David has served on the Red Cross Aviation Disaster Team and has volunteered for decades as a Los Angeles Police Department Specialist Reserve Officer. He lectures for physicians, nurses, counselors, police, and first responders and leads talks and retreats for those dealing with grief.

no credit

David Kessler is the world’s foremost expert on grief. 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. He coauthored On Grief and Grieving and Life Lessons with Elizabeth Kübler-Ross and You Can Heal Your Heart: Finding Peace After a Breakup, Divorce or Death with Louise Hay. He is the author of Finding Meaning; Visions, Trips, and Crowded Rooms; and The Needs of the Dying, praised by Mother Teresa.

David’s work has been featured in the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Business Week, and Life Magazine, and on CNN, Fox, NBC, PBS, and CBS. David has served on the Red Cross Aviation Disaster Team and has volunteered for decades as a Los Angeles Police Department Specialist Reserve Officer. He lectures for physicians, nurses, counselors, police, and first responders and leads talks and retreats for those dealing with grief.

"Grief expert David Kessler's narration has the stamp of a healer or mental health practitioner. The collaborator of Elizabeth Kubler–Ross discusses how the final stage of grief—acceptance—is not usually the end of the story for the loved ones of those who have died. Kessler sounds earnest, relaxed, and, above all, palpably committed to his work and message. His vocal intensity always sounds fitting and authentic. He recounts personal stories of loss from clients and his own life that are central to illustrating his point that grief is different for everyone and will always express itself in its own way. He says what's important is quieting ourselves enough to honor and listen to it, in ourselves or others, rather than smothering it with advice or denying it."

– AudioFile Magazine

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