Grief Out Loud

Remember the last time you tried to talk about grief and suddenly everyone left the room? Grief Out Loud is opening up this often avoided conversation because grief is hard enough without having to go through it alone. We bring you a mix of personal stories, tips for supporting children, teens, and yourself, and interviews with bereavement professionals. Platitude and cliché-free, we promise! Grief Out Loud is hosted by Jana DeCristofaro and produced by The Dougy Center for Grieving Children & Families in Portland, Oregon.
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Grief Out Loud





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Remember the last time you tried to talk about grief and suddenly everyone left the room? Grief Out Loud is opening up this often avoided conversation because grief is hard enough without having to go through it alone. We bring you a mix of personal stories, tips for supporting children, teens, and yourself, and interviews with bereavement professionals. Platitude and cliché-free, we promise! Grief Out Loud is hosted by Jana DeCristofaro and produced by The Dougy Center for Grieving Children & Families in Portland, Oregon.

Jun 13, 2017
In March of 2015 Joe DiNardo's wife, Marcia, died of pancreatic cancer. Before her death, he started writing a letter to her which would eventually become the beginning of his first book, A Letter to My Wife. In the midst of the pain of Marcia's diagnosis, illness, and death, Joe turned to his four decades of meditation and mindfulness practice to be as present as possible, both with his wife and his own heartbreak. 
To learn more about Joe and his story, visit his website:
Jun 2, 2017

John Mayer first encountered grief when his older brother Stephen suddenly died at age 29 in 2007. Nine years later, John's second daughter, River, died 90 minutes after her birth. John talks about how he keeps Stephen and River present in his daily life and the ways he and his family reached out to their community for support. John also describes how his older daughter, who was 2 when River died, is making sense of her sister's death. 

May 16, 2017

Our guest is Darwyn Dave, creator and host of the Dealing With My Grief podcast. In 1978, when Darwyn was ten years old, his father was killed. 38 years later, in January of 2016, Darwyn turned to podcasting as a way to explore grief and how it continues to shape the adult he is today. With his unique mix of candor and insight, Darwyn illuminates the interior world of what it was like to be 10 and suddenly without his father. 

Dealing With My Grief Podcast
Darwyn's Facebook Group
Apr 28, 2017

Heather Stang, thanatologist, mindfulness speaker, and author of Mindfulness & Grief: With Guided Meditations To Calm Your Mind & Restore Your Spirit, joins us to talk about cultivating self-compassion as a powerful avenue for self-care while grieving. She shares an accessible technique that you can use anywhere to get connected to your emotional and physical needs and bring ease and understanding to the some of the most painful aspects of grief. 

To learn more about Heather's amazing work and listen to guided meditations, visit her website. (

Apr 6, 2017

What do you tell children when someone in their life is diagnosed with an advanced serious illness? How do you support them and everyone else who is affected by this devastating turn of events? Mia Nyschens joins us to talk about her work with families who are faced with the knowledge that someone they love is going to die. Mia is part of The Dougy Center's Pathways Program, which provides peer support groups for children, teens, and their adult family members when someone has a life-limiting illness. 

To learn more about Pathways, visit our website.

For more tips on supporting children and teens when someone they love is dying, click here. 
If you know a teacher or school administrator who would like to learn how to support students, click here. 
Mar 27, 2017

What happens when the term widow or widower doesn’t fit because you weren’t officially married to the person who died? This is often the case for young adults who lose their partners - especially in their twenties and thirties. They find themselves grieving their person, the one they were building a life with, and also dealing with the ramifications of not being an official family member in the eyes of the law. In this episode, we talk with Lynsey, about the power of words and the ways she judged her own grief after her partner Jared died in 2009.


Mar 15, 2017

Megan Devine joins us again, this time talking about another shadow aspect of grief - anger. Anger shows up in many ways, including being angry at the person who died, at ourselves, and at someone or something we hold responsible for the death. Megan shares her personal and professional insight on the importance of acknowledging this anger and finding ways to navigate what can often be a very uncomfortable emotion. Megan is a teacher, speaker, psychotherapist, and also the author of the book, It’s OK That You’re Not OK: Meeting Grief and Loss in a Culture That Doesn’t Understand, coming from Sounds True in September 2017. It's available for pre-order on Amazon and you can order it here. To learn more about Megan's practical, no-nonsense approach to grief, and her ability to guide people inside some of the most devastating experiences of life and love, check out her website. Want to listen to our first conversation with Megan about dating after the death of a partner? You can find it here.

Feb 16, 2017

While we usually focus on the death of a parent or sibling, this episode explores what it's like for teens when a best friend dies. The best friend connection is unique, particularly in adolescence. It's the person a teen feels closest to in the world, the person who knows everything about them, even parts that are hard to show other people. Today's guest, Debbie, was 15 when her best friend died the summer before they were to start high school. 

Feb 10, 2017

Jodie Brauer, founder of the annual Celebrate Silas Memorial 5K, joins us again as a guest to talk about the everyday rituals and routines that can be helpful in grief. These routines can be as unique as the relationship we had with the person who died. Head here to learn more about the Celebrate Silas Memorial 5K and to sign up or donate. 

Jan 20, 2017

What does it mean when grief becomes part of our dreams? In this episode, we talk with Joshua Black, a Ph.D. student at Brock University, about his groundbreaking grief dream research. Joshua shares his findings on themes in grief dreams, how to better remember dreams, and suggestions for changing negative ones. To learn more about Joshua and his research, check out his website: 

Be sure to listen to his Grief Dreams Podcast and consider joining his Facebook Grief Dreams Group.
Jan 6, 2017

A lot goes into talking about the people in our lives who have died. Who do we tell? What do we share, not only about the person and what they meant to us, but about how they died? The words we choose - passed, lost, died - are heavy with meaning and emotion. Sometimes we choose words to make other people feel less uncomfortable. Sometimes the words we choose are the only ones we can make ourselves say out loud. How we talk about the death can be as personal and unique as our grief. Our guest is Sarah whose brother died just over five years ago. Sarah shares about her struggles with talking about her brother's death and what she's discovered in deciding to be more open with her story.

Dec 19, 2016
Holly Pruett, a certified Life-Cycle Celebrant who helps families to design individualized rituals for the end of life shares the wisdom she's acquired from years of working with people who are seeking to create meaningful ways to mark the major transition from life to death. In our conversation, Holly recounts examples of ways children have played roles in memorial services and gravesite ceremonies. She also provides suggestions for how to explain terms like burial and cremation to young children. You'll learn about possibilities around witnessed cremation, green burial, and caring for a loved one's body in the home. 
To find out more about Holly and her important work, check out her website, The Death Talk Project, and PDX Death Cafe
Nov 18, 2016

Jill, a longtime educator, incorporates mindfulness and other strategies for emotional regulation in classroom settings. We discuss how grief, stress, and trauma affect our bodies, brains, and emotions. Jill also shares some easy to implement suggestions for both adults and children to increase awareness and ease in response to stress, grief, and trauma.   

Nov 11, 2016

The term comfort food usually brings to mind mac and cheese, lasagna, brownies, and other combinations of sugar and simple carbohydrates. When someone dies, the casseroles start to arrive, even when grief can evaporate your appetite. In today's episode, we talk with Dr. Drew Ramsey - a psychiatrist, farmer, and advocate for using food to support our bodies and brains. Dr. Ramsey outlines what foods are truly comforting when it comes to grief. He also shares simple, affordable ideas for choosing foods that are nutrient dense. To learn more about Dr. Ramsey's work, please visit his website: where you can find great recipes and suggestions in his three books: Eat Complete50 Shades of Kale, and The Happiness Diet. Want to be part of National Kale Day on 10.5.17? Visit

Nov 4, 2016

What does it mean to be a child, grieving the death of a parent, when you're technically not a child? Rachel Ricketts, author of the site loss&found, shares what it's like to grieve her mother, who died after a long illness. As a teen, she became her mother's primary caretaker, which meant Rachel grew up being both the child and a parent. She talks in this episode about how grief radically changed her, along with what she's found to be helpful in making her way through this life-altering experience. Be sure to check out Rachel's site at

Oct 28, 2016

When someone dies, many of us are left with if onlys. Some are interwoven with thoughts that we could have somehow prevented the death, "If only I had asked him to pick me up later," "If only I made her go to the doctor sooner." Others relate to wishing we had connected more with the person - talked to them, asked in-depth questions about their life. We long to hear their advice and know how they would respond to events in our lives or the world. Sometimes though, we discover something about the person that we never expected. We learn information that leaves us shocked, disappointed, and angry. In this episode, Matthew shares his story of finding out a secret about his father, who died of cancer in 2009.


Oct 21, 2016

In this episode, the last in our 3 part series on grief after an overdose death, we talk with Liam who was just starting middle school when his brother died from a heroin overdose. Now a junior in college, Liam talks openly about what he experienced when the death first happened and how grief continues to be a part of his life. Liam shares suggestions for teens and their adults on how to talk about the death and provide ongoing support. 

If you are looking for a peer support program for teens in your home community, you can search here. For more tips on supporting grieving teens, check out this resource from The Dougy Center.

Oct 16, 2016

In part two of our three-part series on grief after an overdose death, we talk with Samina, whose son Ayaz died of a heroin overdose. The episode starts with Samina reading a poem that came to her while sitting on an airplane. She describes the poem as coming through her, as if Ayaz was speaking and she was the one with the pen. We discuss the heartbreak Samina and her family faced as they tried to help Ayaz through his addiction. Samina also shares insights from her experience and describes what helped and didn't help in the early parts of grief. 

To learn more about their national networks of support groups for grieving parents, please visit The Compassionate Friends

Oct 10, 2016

Based on numbers from the National Institute on Drug Abuse, heroin overdose deaths increased by six times from 2001 to 2014. In one state it is estimated that heroin overdose deaths jumped by 85% in the last two years. With this huge rise in overdose deaths, there is little out there on how to best support those who are left behind. Parents, children, siblings, partners, family members, and friends are left with broken hearts and so many questions. 

This episode is one in a 3-part series about grieving when someone dies of an overdose. We talk with Jessica whose younger brother died in 2011. In our conversation, we discuss what it's like when you didn't know the person was struggling with substance use along with the challenges of talking about the death with well-meaning others. 

Be sure to listen till the end for a special post-script by Jessica. 

Aug 2, 2016

Jana is joined by Dougy Center staff member, Heather Dorfman, to talk about what helps (or might help) in grief, outside the realm of more formal support. As you listen to this episode, keep in mind:

  • These ideas may help for some, not others. What’s helpful can be unique for each person and very much informed by culture and other identities (just like grief).
  • Some may have more options around taking care of self and children than others. Support people can focus their efforts on creating opportunities for their grieving loved ones to engage in self-care and compassion.
  • Grief is holistic – involves emotions, body, mind, spirit/heart, community/relationships. Engaging in intentional activities to support each of these dimensions can be helpful.
  • Consider writing down the ideas you’d like to try - it can sometimes be tough to remember them in the moment they’re needed.
  • If accepting help from others is challenging, consider that your acceptance of support is often experienced as such a gift by your friend or loved one – so do it for their sake if necessary! 

Body/movement –

  • Grief can show up in our bodies as sluggishness, excess energy, stomach and sleep upsets
    • Walking, hiking or otherwise moving and spending time outside
    • Dancing, yoga, swimming
    • Punching pillows/bed
    • Knitting
    • Setting a fitness goal that is safe for you
    • Pay attention to what sorts of foods help with stomach upsets, and activities that help with settling into sleep and staying asleep at night.

Mind –

  • May experience a slow/foggy feeling in the brain, inability to concentrate/focus, confusion, rumination. Activities that help with focus, connection, and slowing things down can help.
    • Learning/sharing new facts. Making calculations – concrete activities
    • Reading (grief-related and non-grief books), podcasts, tv shows
    • Meditating
    • Crosswords/word searches/Sudoku/other games
    • Debating

Emotional/spiritual/social –

  • Many receive support from a spiritual or other community. Your community might look like being in the trees, at the ocean, in a gym or library, participating in a support group, mosque, temple or church. Here are some other ideas:
    • Meditation
    • Ceremony/ritual, which can offer a sense of control, routine/structure, marking important experiences, dates
    • Making or listening to music; making/experiencing other art (even coloring sheets). It may be helpful to make the activity simple for you
    • Humor – which might look like dark, silly, or wry humor
    • Cooking for self and others – or not cooking!
    • Volunteering, which can offer the opportunity to step out of your own story for a while

To find more formal grief support in your community, visit our website to search for help near you.

Jul 5, 2016

Whether it is a murder, murder-suicide, or a being killed by a driver under the influence, violent death adds multiple layers of complexity to grief. Jana and Joan discuss what children and teens may experience, along with suggestions for how to help. For additional information, refer to our Tip Sheet: Supporting Children and Teens After a Violent Death and our interactive workbook for children. For help with talking to children about mass shootings and other large-scale tragedies, we have two resources written by The Dougy Center's Senior Director for Advocacy and Training, Donna Schuurman, Ed.D., F.T. 1) Dear Lily: a letter to a 12-year old in response to America's most recent tragedy and 2) Talking with children about tragic events.

May 26, 2016

In the two years since his dad died, Mike bought a house, got married, and is expecting his first child. This episode explores what it means to grieve the person you would have turned to the most for advice and guidance on these major milestones in life. It's the story of a son whose father's values, principles, and personality continue to influence who he is and how he lives. 

Apr 25, 2016

Dougy Center staff member, Joan Schweizer Hoff, joins Jana to talk about the top 5 things school administrators will want to consider when a student, teacher, or staff member dies.

Top 5 Things:

  1. Delivering the news - How do you let the community know? What do you say/not say?
  2. The first days back at school - Suggestions for supportive activities.
  3. Memorial activities - What types of memorials do schools consider? Is it better to do something temporary or permanent?
  4. Identifying students who need additional help - Why it’s important to pay attention to all students, not just those close to the person who died.
  5. Ongoing support - What can your school do in the short and long-term to be helpful to students and staff?

Additional resources:

Supporting the Grieving Student - DVD -

For samples of letters to send to staff/families and a school crisis response plan:

When Death Impacts Your School - A guide for school administrators

Tangible suggestions for teachers:

Helping the Grieving Student - a Guide for Teachers



Mar 23, 2016

There is a lot that goes unsaid in grief, particularly when it comes to dating after the death of a partner. Jana talks with Megan Devine, grief thinker, speaker, and author of the audio book, When Everything is Not Okay: Practices to Help You Stay in Your Heart & Not Lose Your Mind, about what comes up when grief and dating overlap. When do you know you're ready? How do you talk with your children? 

Be sure to check out Megan's website: along with her talk at the World Domination Summit, 2015: and a recent article on Huffington Post:

Mar 11, 2016

As a child Rachel Stephenson learned first hand the pain of not knowing the truth about her mother's death. The secrecy in her family led to a disconnection with her remaining parent and added layers of confusion and fear. In this episode, Rachel joins Jana with suggestions for how to talk openly and honestly with children about grief and loss. 

Be sure to watch Rachel's TEDxCUNY Talk: Against Grieving in Silence -

and check out her blog Dear Dead Mother -


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