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Find the Good in Grief

Illustration of woman in window at night

The Night Hug by Lidia Tomashevskaya

I couldn’t imagine why I would want to dedicate two years of my life to studying with a man who could be confused with the grim reaper himself…

I should begin by explaining that I had zero interest in studying grief. And for every right reason. I lost my best friend to suicide when I was 15, and my best friend in college to a car accident. By the time I was 30 I had lost eight loved ones, and knew what it was to live with grief. So I couldn’t imagine why I would want to dedicate two years of my life to studying with Stephen Jenkinson, who was featured in a documentary called Griefwalker, and could be confused with the Grim Reaper himself, considering how many deathbeds he has visited. (Legend has it that he has sat with over a thousand people as they died, while working as director of palliative care at Toronto’s Mount Sinai Hospital.) No, thank you. But my friend Day pleaded with me, saying that it would serve me well to sit at the feet of a Great Rememberer. He wanted me to study with a man who employs eloquence as the old bards did—as a way to remember life again. I had watched Day go through a phoenix rising of sorts since he began his studies at the Orphan Wisdom School, cofounded by Stephen Jenkinson and his wife, Nathalie Roy, …

Leah Lamb is a writer, storyteller, and educator living in the Bay Area.

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