Ep. 399 Grief Rituals and Transcending the “Five Stages” with Dr. Terri Daniel

Learn how rituals can help us with grief and what the Five Stages model gets wrong about grief.

My guest this week is Dr. Terri Daniel, inter-spiritual hospice chaplain, end-of-life educator, and grief counselor. She shares some of the powerful rituals she uses for grief at funerals and workshops and we dive into the Five Stages model and why it continues to be popular in our society. Terri is also the author of four books on death, grief and the afterlife and the founder of The Conference on Death, Grief and Belief, which focuses on how religious beliefs and cultural ideologies influence one’s relationship with death and grief. Learn more at Terri’s websites:

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This episode includes:

  • Terri’s journey from caring for her son Danny at the end of his life to the work she is doing now
  • Why she started The Conference on Death, Grief and Belief and how to attend
  • Unique and powerful grief rituals Terri has created for people at the end of their lives and also for funerals and workshops
  • How rituals help us with grief and mourning
  • How the Five Stages model initially became applied to grief
  • What the Five Stages model gets wrong about acceptance
  • How the Five Stages model persists in our society
  • What ChatGPT says about why the Five Stages model is popular
  • Other models for personality and “love languages” that have attained widespread popularity in spite of having no evidence of accuracy (and why this happens)

Links mentioned in this episode:

If you enjoy this content please share it with others and consider leaving a review on iTunes. Thanks again to all supporters on my page at Patreon.com/eolu, especially my latest patron Catherine Paton, and to Anne Jungerman for increasing your pledge, Amrita for buying me a coffee, Suzie Hopkins for your donation on Paypal, and Ray Burleigh for your donation and poem! Your contributions make all the difference.


Special Episode: Vigil for Exploring Our Grief

On the ninth of each month we have been called to hold space in our communities on life, death and transformation by ObservetheNinth.org. Today’s vigil will hold space for the we have been carrying for the past year and help us explore it for the hidden blessings it contains. May it bring you peace and comfort.

Vigil for Exploring Our Grief
Miracles Abide There by Bruce Sterling 
(from Not Enough: Musings on Grief)
We each have loss none escape it. 
the healing process that reintegrates feelings and thoughts, desires and regrets, the past and
no future. 
Through life, through living we choose the palate but never
the timing, 
the circumstances or the outcome. 
So there it is,
then sadness,
an unreal reality
the likes of which you've never experienced. 
Like taffy
you're pulled
into shapes
that leave you
in a state
from which you can never return. 
Like flying in the clouds you can't tell which end is up even when firmly planted in your seat. 
Like walking the streets on Christmas morning when gifts are exchanged and no one’s outside. 
Like you've walked into the emotional post-apocalypse. 
Like love has filled your heart but the drain plug
is three times the size
it should be,
and the vacuum left collapses everything 
that made sense, everything
that gave you substance, everything. 
the humanizing, humbling shape-shifter
that tears
the fabric of you and explodes your heart into newer dimensions you didn't realize you signed up for. 
I don't wish the pain on anybody
I just know the value of the outcome. Miracles abide there,
if you can just see. 
EOLPodcast, Grief, Spirituality

Ep. 229 How to Create a Mini-Pilgrimage as a Ritual for Grief

Learn how to incorporate the ritual of pilgrimage into your daily life, especially as a tool for grief.

In this solo episode I discuss the benefits of pilgrimage for spiritual growth and for helping with grief. I’ll share with you how I’ve created “mini”-pilgrimages in my own community that have helped me on my own grief journey to shift my energy, honor my loved ones, and deepen my own transformation. You’ll learn how and why you might want to try this ritual for yourself.

Listen here:

This episode includes:

  • Why pilgrimages are beneficial
  • Characteristics of sacred spaces that inspire pilgrimages
  • How a pilgrimage can help with grief
  • How to choose a time and place for a mini-pilgrimage
  • Planning for the journey
  • Tips for getting the most from a mini-pilgrimage
  • Rituals during the journey
  • The Sacred Sites Meditation Technique from Martin Gray
  • Returning from a pilgrimage

The sacred sites, the pilgrimage places … are where people most passionately give praise and prayer to God. Go there, be present in that divinity, be in love with that love.

– Martin Gray

Links mentioned in this episode:

  • Special offer on Patreon: Autographed copy of What Really Matters! (Offer lasts through 1/27/2020)
  • Sign up for the Teaching Guidelines for a Death & Dying Class
  • Martin Gray’s websiteSacred Sites
  • Join the team at Patreon.com/eolu and get access to the EOLU mug“Mind if we talk about death?” (only Patrons can purchase it). PLUS get our new bonuses: the monthly EOL News Update, movie reviews from 2 Doctors and a Movie, and automatic access to A Year of Reading Dangerously!

If you enjoy this content please share it with others and consider leaving a review on iTunes! Thanks again to all supporters on my page at Patreon.com/eolu, especially my newest Patron, Richard Schneider; your contributions make all the difference!


Ep. 219 Rituals for Letting Go with Gia George

Learn why and how to create rituals to deal with the normal losses of life.


My very special guest for this episode is my beautiful daughter Gia George, who is a singer-songwriter, yoga and meditation teacher, sound and energy healer, and spiritual teacher. As part of her work in the world she creates ceremonies for people going through life’s transitions, including channeling music for those experiencing loss. We discuss our own losses, the need for rituals, and how to a craft a ceremony capable of holding our grief. Learn more at her website:


Listen here:


This episode includes:

  • How rituals can help us let go and “cross the bridge” into a new life
  • “Grief-cleaning” and how it can help us open to our pain
  • A spontaneous ritual for leaving and letting go of the past using gratitude and mandala-making
  • Why we can’t rush into letting-go rituals
  • Why rituals can be valuable even many years after a loss and how to create one
  • The balance between holding on and letting go
  • The things that weigh us down can prevent our creativity
  • A ritual can be an accessible container for our grief process
  • The power of music in rituals

Mantra for letting go: There will come a time to leave, but I will never stop loving you.

-Gia George

Links mentioned in this episode:

If you enjoy this content please share it with others and consider leaving a review on iTunes! Thanks again to all supporters on Patreon.com/eolu, your contributions mean everything to me!

End of Life, EOLPodcast, Grief

Ep. 209 How Religion Can Harm the Grief Process with Rev. Dr. Terri Daniel

Learn how our beliefs can become an obstacle to healing and growth during times of trauma and grief. 


My guest Terri Daniel is an interfaith clinical chaplain, certified trauma specialist, end-of-life educator, and the founder of the Afterlife Awareness Conference. She recently published a new book titled Grief and God, which explores the ways in which religion and “toxic theology” can interfere with the healing process after a profound loss. She’ll share some key takeaways and stories from her extensive research on this important subject.  Learn more at Terri’s website:



Get the book here.

Listen here.


This interview includes:

  • The elements of “toxic theology”
  • How religious beliefs based on toxic theology can increase guilt, fear of death, and complicated grief
  • Types of complicated grief
  • Why platitudes like “thoughts and prayers” no longer suffice after sudden trauma
  • Non-directed vs. directed prayer
  • A “healing prayer” for times of difficulty and trauma
  • Tools for dealing with complicated grief
    • ceremony and ritual
    • art therapy
    • narrative therapy
  • Why talking about grief doesn’t help without ceremony or ritual

Links mentioned in this interview:

If you enjoy this content please share it with others and consider leaving a review on iTunes! Thanks again to all supporters on Patreon.com/eolu, especially my new patron, Susan Glogovac–your contribution means  everything to me!