Self-Help Shelf: Finding Meaning After Loss

By Sarri Gilman

“Sometimes we can find unexpected meaning in the smallest things.”

Finding Meaning, The Sixth Stage of Grief by David Kessler

David Kessler is considered one of the world’s leading experts on grief.

He has written several books on the subject and has served in the aftermath of disasters. His newest book, Finding Meaning, was released in 2019 and is my favorite.

Finding Meaning book coverI think this book stands out from others because he writes about traumatic grief. It feels like David is in the room with you, sharing stories of traumatic grief that will touch your own experience in profound ways. He has also experienced traumatic loss in his family twice and writes honestly about living with grief.

This book is about a stage of grief – How we find meaning.

David explains the difference between finding meaning and believing everything happens for a reason. You do not have to believe everything happens for a reason to find meaning. When you lose someone you love; it helps to find meaning in the life the person lived. What was the value of their life here? No matter the length of time.

He also helps you move past focusing on the pain in the moment of death. Especially in traumatic grief, the moment of death can be particularly overwhelming. He teaches us the importance of finding other memories to replay in our heads.

“You have the power to bring attention to the memories most meaningful to you,” he writes.

David talks about the feelings that we carry when we are grieving, and it is coupled with a trauma. Self-blame often comes with trauma, and a belief that you could have prevented the death of your loved one. David shares some strategies for releasing self-blame.

During Covid-19, you may have lost a family member. The pandemic has deeply impacted how you are experiencing your grief. Though David is not writing about the pandemic, his words may be a source of comfort during this difficult time.

I think this book has valuable insight that applies to many kinds of losses. Traumatic grief can also come a divorce where there was abuse, loss of a child to addiction, etc.

Often with traumatic grief, it can take a few years before you may be able to read a book. I think this book will be helpful if your loss was years ago and even if you did have counseling to support you.

During Covid-19, other losses may be brought to the surface and you may be feeling the trauma and grief all over again. If this is your experience, this book will be very helpful.

Take good care of yourself and I hope you find this book comforting. Some books are almost as good as therapy.

David Kessler’s “Finding Meaning” is available as eBook and audiobook download from Sno-Isle Libraries.

Sarri Gilman is a licensed marriage and family therapist in practice since 1986. A Whidbey Island resident, Gilman is an author, speaker and community leader. She presented Good Boundaries Free You at TEDxSnoIsleLibraries 2015.


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