Grief Resources

Films, audio and books

Griefwalker – A lyrical poetic portrait of the work of Stephen Jenkinson by director Tim Wilson. Griefwalker shows Jenkinson in teaching sessions with doctors and nurses, in counselling sessions with dying people and their families, and meditative and often frank exchanges with the film’s director while paddling a birchbark canoe about the origins and consequences of his ideas for how we live and die.

The Skill of Brokenheartedness: Euthanasia, Palliative Care and Power – Stephen Jenkinson – A talk that tries to make sense of the despair that is endemic to our way of dying and fuels the debate over decision-making, and offer up a little heartbreak as one sane response to our palliative poverty.

Die Wise -A Manifesto for Sanity and Soul, is Stephen Jenkinson’s new book about grief, and dying, and the great love of life.  An exquisite book with a beautiful forward by Dr Martin Shaw. Here is an excerpt from the book and the video trailer.

A collection of Sound Cloud Interviews with Stephen Jenkinson

The Smell of Rain on Dust – Martín 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. 

In every case where grief and praise are still honoured, there is one aspect that remains the same with all people: grief, even for an individual’s loss, is a thing for which a lot of people are necessary. A tribe is necessary even if it’s just to be a kind of resilient nonjudgmental human basket, against which the griever is able to thrash. I doubt if anybody’s relatives could be that for us. A tribe lets us say things we may or may not believe, be filled with the grief in whatever form it takes without hurting ourselves or anybody else, unworried that the sometimes uncharacteristically expressive being we might turn into when in the necessary state of grief will be held against us when the blessing of life has healed, and we can continue slowly returning to its more regular flow.

The Wild Edge of Sorrow – Francis Weller 

Excerpt from his book:

The First Gate: Everything We Love, We Will Lose

I’ve have come to have a deep faith in grief; have come to see the way its moods call us back to soul. It is, in fact, one of the voices of the soul, asking us to face life’s most difficult but essential teaching: everything is a gift and nothing lasts. This is a painful truth. To accept this fact is to live on life’s terms and not try to deny the simple truth of loss, what the Buddhists call impermanence. When we acknowledge grief, we acknowledge that everything we love, we will lose. No exceptions. Now of course, we want to argue this point, saying that we will keep in our hearts the love of those who depart his earth before us: our parents, or our spouse, or our children, or our friends, or, or, or – and yes, that is true. It is grief, however, that allows the heart to stay open to this love, to remember sweetly the ways these people touched our lives. It is only when we deny grief’s entry into our lives that we begin to compress the breadth of our emotional experience and live shallowly.”


We don’t ‘lose’ our mothers – the reality is more violent than that – An article by David Ferguson that highlights how our language contributes to death phobia and the turning away from our ancestors. 

Why the Irish get death right – We’ve lost our way with death, says Kevin Toolis – but the Irish wake, where the living, the bereaved and the dead remain bound together, shows us the way things could be done

We doctors can’t prescribe a ‘good death’ by Seamus O’Mahony – An article exploring how society has thrust the messy and insoluble aspects of life, principally old age and death, on to doctors, nurses and hospitals. 


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

Dr Martin Shaw  – Writer, teacher and mythologist and founder of The West Country School of Myth. 


Pushing Through – ~ Rainer Maria Rilke (Translated by Robert Bly)

It’s possible I am pushing through solid rock

in flintlike layers, as the ore lies, alone;

I am such a long way in I see no way through,

and no space: everything is close to my face,

and everything close to my face is stone.

I don’t have much knowledge yet in grief

so this massive darkness makes me small.

You be the master: make yourself fierce, break in:

then your great transforming will happen to me,

and my great grief cry will happen to you.

WILD GRIEF – Cathi Pawson

Don’t touch me

Don’t pat me down

Nor soothe me, nor lay any part of your sympathetic arms around me

Because I will growl, and more. I will snarl.

This sob-wrenching grief for lands and waters poisoned

Hearts broken and losses shattering

Will not be contained. Cannot be borne in proximity with another.

This wild grief needs to raise its ear-piercing screams to the hills

Needs to reach the Grandmothers

Who have known loss of children and land all their lives.

This woman will not be silenced, nor prettied into comfort

She is hag-hung with snot and salt tears, wailing and keening into the mud.

Uncaring, unfeeling of her body because

If she does not keen then she will not live.

If she does not mourn the dead and dying, the wounded and the poisoned

Then she herself dies and with that a clamour of grandmothers grows cold,

If all her relations cannot come to the party then come none at all.

So she brings the torn and broken ones,

The hopeless and the whimpering ones,

The pleading and hollow-eyed ones.

Don’t smother their wailing with your love,

Stand with this woman and hear with all you have.

And if this breaks open your own dam of grief

Then we will wail together as women will.

Leave the peacemaking now, leave the talking

And tend to this tide of grief or it will drown us all.

You were born to breathe in salt water,

So dive:

Dive deep for your lives.

Time Does Not Bring Relief – Edna St Vincent Millay

Time does not bring relief; you all have lied Who told me time would ease me of my pain! I miss him in the weeping of the rain; I want him at the shrinking of the tide; The old snows melt from every mountain-side, And last year’s leaves are smoke in every lane; But last year’s bitter loving must remain Heaped on my heart, and my old thoughts abide. There are a hundred places where I fear To go – so with his memory they brim. And entering with relief some quiet place Where never fell his foot or shone his face I say, ‘There is no memory of him here!’ And so stand stricken, so remembering him.

The Well of Grief – David Whyte

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.

You Darkness – Rainer Maria Rilke (trans Robert Bly)

You darkness, that I come from, I love you more than all the fires that fence in the world, for the fire makes a circle of light for everyone, and then no one outside learns of you.But the darkness pulls in everything: shapes and fires, animals and myself, how easily it gathers them! —powers and people —and it is possible a great energy is moving near me.I have faith in nights.