News & Stories

March 7, 2024

Testimonials

I am so very grateful to the clients and friends who have shared feedback from their experience working with Good Grief Doula. Please take a look at their comments below :)

"Kat has been a lifesaver for me since I lost my husband.  Ever good natured and reliable, she has helped me to organize and downsize from one house to another—moving, categorizing and labelling, storing, saving, giving away, shedding the unnecessary—never judgmental. Despite my easily distractible mind, with her uncanny ability to remember details and to remind me of what I’ve said I want for my new life and home, she helps me maintain focus and to move forward toward that goal. She never loses sight of the bigger picture. We’ve made huge progress together in this long, interesting, creative (often hilarious), collaborative process that makes this chapter of my life very, very good." - JP

"After struggling with the loss of my parents for over five years, I googled "grief doula" on a whim and found Kat. What a blessing! Kat customized our sessions to fit where I was and what I needed and did so with compassion and grace that my heart so needed. She helped me navigate not only the loss of my parents, but other losses in my life. I will carry what I learned from Kat throughout my life and will always be grateful for the healing that she facilitated." - MP

"Kat was the light I needed during a dark period in my life. I lost my mother unexpectedly right before the start of the new year and wasn't sure where to turn. I found myself opening up very quickly; it was extremely cathartic. I highly recommend speaking with her to anyone who has lost a loved one, a pet, a relationship, a connection." - MM

"I’m grateful for the support I received from Kat during one of the hardest times of my life. She was my person as I: had questions about my existence, dealt with this new and very real vacancy in my life, and processed some raw emotions. She personalized every interaction, brought authenticity, and was flexible in how she leveraged her tools and frameworks through her approach. Everything we discussed resonated and I can’t imagine not having this kind of support in my life. I’ve told my inner circle about Kat and think everyone who is ready to embrace this type of processing should engage with Kat!" - LL

"I feel so much better. Expressing everything to someone really helped. 10/10 would recommend - thank you!" - Anonymous

"My experience working with Kat was simply amazing! I felt seen and heard from the first interaction onward. The grief sessions were a safe space where I was able to be myself and make sense of my grief. I loved how the grief release package was structured in such a way that each session responded to a need I had at that specific time. I also enjoyed each homework assignment and how Kat drew from several practices to help me see new things and old things in new ways! I am reminded of a quote by Carl Jung reflecting on my experience with Kat: 'The meeting of two personalities is like the contact of two chemical substances: if there is any reaction, both are transformed.' Kat gave me a toolkit to bravely face my grief and I feel empowered to do so with confidence now. If you are reading this, I am sorry for the loss that brought you here, but also you will be in great hands working with Kat!!" - RB

"Kat was so empathetic, tender and kind. Very grateful for her intuitive grace." - HF

"Kat was AMAZING, she gave me so many resources and amazing service, she was so kind and made me feel respected. I'm so happy I met her." - Anonymous

"Kat did the most beautiful job of counseling me through a very profound loss in my life two years ago. My most beloved non-human family member was facing her final days, and Kat graciously held space for her loss as she would have if she had been a person. I think that's so important: loss of an animal isn't always given the weight it deserves in our culture. But Kat understood what this transition symbolized for me and how hard it was. I can't recommend her enough." - LK

"This woman has an innate ability to both calm and inspire, igniting something in me. Kat has a wonderful presence and I always feel better after working with her." - ST

"'Kat was super helpful... I liked that she shared resources with me that feel like tangible things I can use as I continue to work through the things I am trying to unlock. She obviously couldn't solve my problem, as it was out of her control, but did everything possible to help" - Anonymous

"Kat is a real life angel. She is one of the most intuitive, calming and nurturing humans I have ever met. She is always there to show empathy and support especially in time of need. She creates a safe space to help open up and guide you through what you are trying to process. You can express yourself to her with out judgement. She helps guide you to exactly where you need to be (even if you don’t know where you should be). I have nothing but kind things to say about Kat. Her dedication to helping others speaks volumes, she is truly one of a kind and I am forever grateful to know her. I give her 5 stars and HIGHLY recommend her!" - JF

"I received an understanding ear, I was comforted and uplifted, and then was able to talk about self-care step by step to slowly get back up. It helped me a lot and felt genuine." - Anonymous

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February 3, 2024

The Nine Contemplations of Death - a Guided Meditation

Thank you for joining me for this 22-minute Contemplating Death meditation. Let’s turn down the volume in our mind, body, and environment and turn inward today.

There is so much we do not know about death, that we cannot know until we experience this transition ourselves. It is only natural then, that we may greet the unknown with fear and anxiety.

Thankfully, there are a variety of wisdom teachings that can provide refuge as we approach our human condition.

The lineage for today’s Nine Contemplations of Death comes from Atisha, an 11th century Tibetan Buddhist scholar, and contemporary scholar, teacher, and social activist Joan Halifax.

These contemplations have been passed down for many generations because they are full of truth and insight. When practiced regularly, they can help us explore the inevitability of our deaths and allow us to center what is truly important to us, while we are still alive.

When you’re ready, I invite you to settle into today’s practice, finding a comfortable seat or perhaps lying down in Savasana, or corpse pose. Feel the earth’s gravity hugging your physical body towards your seat or whatever surface you are resting on. Close your eyes or lower your gaze, and if it feels supportive, place one hand on your heart, the other hand resting under your diaphragm on your low belly, grounding and signaling to your nervous system that you are safe now and can relax. You are supported here and are joining a long line of ancestors by affinity, who have practiced death contemplation for hundreds of years before this moment. Honoring this connection, take notice of your breath, inhaling and exhaling, inhaling and exhaling, present and rooted.

And from this place of safety and relaxation, I invite you to please consider these truths.

1.    The first contemplation of death: All of us will die sooner or later. Death is inevitable, no one is exempt.

The most noble person who ever lived, the wealthiest human alive, and the humblest human alive will also die. Death is an inescapable outcome of life. No one can avoid this fate. Reflect on the profound equality that death bestows upon all, rendering meaningless all distinctions of wealth, status, and relationships.

Do not lose the opportunity to be with this simple fact. I, too, will die. Watch what the mind tries to do to avoid being present with the inevitability of death. Can I face this truth?

Death is inevitable, this is the first contemplation.

2.    The second contemplation: Our life span is decreasing continuously.

Each breath brings us closer to death. Our movement towards death never stops.

Consider the relentless passage of time, and the brevity of life, in the grand scheme of our universe. We are living “in the dash,” somewhere in between our birth dates and the day we will die.

How might I live more fully today, in this moment, and in every moment, amidst this truth?

Our life span is decreasing continuously. This is the second contemplation of death.

3.    The third contemplation: Death will indeed come, whether or not we are prepared.

We may spend time contemplating death and preparing for our spiritual needs, the needs of our logical minds, physical bodies, our dependents, and our belongings. Or we may not. Death does not discriminate and will come regardless of whether our affairs are in order.

It is wise to be mindful of death, and to use time, energy, and resources to prepare for this inevitability. When we are not in active crisis mode, we can make decisions with authenticity and integrity rather than panic and fear. What do I need now to feel prepared for my inevitable death? What do I seek now, to find peace with the spontaneity of death?

Death will indeed come, whether or not we are prepared. This is the third contemplation of death.

4.    The fourth contemplation: Our life span, like that of all living beings, is not fixed.

Human life expectancy is uncertain. Death can come at any time moment, sleeping or waking, while we are healthy or in pain.  

Think of the 116 people who die every minute on this planet, the nearly 7000 people who die every hour, and the 166,000 people who die every day. Approximately 8people have died in the 4 seconds since I started sharing this contemplation. How many of these humans really thought they were going to die today?

When it is time for me to die, it will happen in an ordinary, human moment, just like this one. How much time do I have left?

Our life span, like that of all living beings, is not fixed. This is the fourth contemplation of death.

5.    The fifth contemplation: Death has many causes.

Contemplate the infinite ways in which death can manifest. From accidents to illnesses, conditions inherited from family and inherit in being a modern human, heartache, heart disease, and the latest plague - there are endless causes that can lead to death.

Allow the mind to consider these possibilities without avoidance. One way or another, whether I have spent precious energy worrying about a potential condition or never saw it coming at all, I will still have the same end result. How may lack knowledge the unknown and release any hold on preferences for my death?

There is a vast spectrum of conditions that can end a life.

Death has many causes. This is the fifth contemplation of death.

6.    The sixth contemplation: Our human body is fragile and vulnerable.

One breath. One moment. One mistake can bring life to a surprising and rapid end.

Life is precarious and requires many interwoven systems functioning with precision to continue. At any time, for any reason and sometimes for no reason at all, these systems may fail.

Attending to my inhalation, I deepen my appreciation for everything that has functioned adequately and allowed me to make it to today. Bringing awareness to my exhalations, I acknowledge that death is not a failure, but an inevitability for my fallible physical form. 

Our human body is fragile and vulnerable. This is the sixth contemplation of death.

7.    The seventh contemplation: My loved ones cannot keep me from death.

I came into this world alone, and I must face death alone.

I may turn to loved ones in time of hardship, but even if they are doctors, witches, or spiritual gurus, they are ultimately powerless in preventing death.There are limitations to our attachments, and clinging to them in sorrow may actually make dying more difficult.

The inevitability of death cannot be altered by even the strongest bonds. I will not burden my loved ones with this expectation.

Holding this thought in mind, I exercise non-grasping. I ask myself – what will actually help me at the moment of my death?

My loved ones cannot keep me from death. This is the seventh contemplation of death. 

8.    The eighth contemplation: At the moment of death, material resources will be of no use to me.

My cherished belongings, potent medicines, and stores of money must all be left behind. As the ancient tombs of Egyptian royalty have proven, I can take nothing with me. No matter how much I have accumulated, and how carefully my belongings have been preserved, no-thing will help me avoid my inevitable death.

Furthermore, my possessions must be redistributed after my death. I will have to let go of everything.

With this in mind, I contemplate how I may release attachment to my possessions now.What do I wish to invest in, for the remainder of my days? How might I leave a lighter footprint, when I am gone?

At the moment of death, material resources will be of no use to me.

This is the eighth contemplation of death.

9.    The ninth contemplation: My own body cannot help me at the time of death.

Despite the care and attention invested into the body, it too will be lost at the moment of death. All the exercise and rest, nourishment and abuse, self-love and burnout will come to an end at death.

My most intimate companion, the vehicle through which I have traveled this lifetime, from conception to death, must ultimately be left behind.

I am dependent upon my body now, as it allows me to breathe and exist in this present moment. And yet, I will join every human ancestor before me in letting go of this vessel.

How might I better prepare for this departure? What can I do to strengthen my awareness and capacity to surrender to death? 

Inhaling, I find refuge in my earthly body. Exhaling, I practice letting go.

My own body cannot help me at the time of death. This is the ninth contemplation of death. 

The nine contemplations of death allow us to confront our inevitable end. Now that we have discussed them all, I invite you to notice which contemplations are challenging for you, and which you can approach with ease.

These are the nine contemplations: Death is inevitable. My life span is decreasing continuously. Death will come regardless of whether I am prepared for it. My life span is not fixed. Death has many causes. My human body is fragile and vulnerable. My loved ones cannot keep me from death. My material resources cannot help at the moment of death. And my own body cannot help me at the time of death.

Consider these truths deeply. Allow these contemplations to invite a profound awakening to the existential realities of life and death. May they guide you towards amore mindful existence.

Honoring the connection to all humans who have died and have contemplated death before you, I invite you to wiggle your fingers and toes, connect with your life-giving breath, and when you’re ready – open your eyes.

Thank you for practicing with me. You are a good grief doula.

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December 12, 2023

My Favorite Practice for Navigating Big Emotions

This short 18 minute guided meditation is one of my favorite tools for acknowledging and attending to challenging emotions in grief. Utilizing a mindful acronym - RAIN - which stands for Recognize, Allow, Investigate, and Not Identify With or Nurture - you are invited to practice moment to moment mindful awareness of emotions in the body.  

Press play and be enveloped in the soothing pink noise and rainfall recording that accompanies the meditation. These soft, soothing tones (created by Christopher Sousa) offer a serene backdrop for mindful awareness as you practice letting these emotions pass through, like the changing weather.

Incorporate this meditation into your daily routine and watch as it helps you make room for more spaciousness in your grief. Embrace the opportunity to reconnect with the flow of a rainstorm, and let the gentle guidance be your pathway to inner peace.

YOU are a good grief doula when you take time to ground yourself, witness the emotions that are arising in grief, and allow these emotions to be present - if only for a moment.

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October 29, 2023

Nature Transitions - Autumn Good Grief Guided Meditation

This short 20 minute guided meditation is inspired by the changing seasons. In this immersive experience, you are invited to release that which no longer serves you, mirroring the gentle process of leaves falling gracefully to the ground.

YOU are a good grief doula when you take time to rest and release the weight of worry, stress, and grief - if only for a moment.

Press play and be enveloped in the rich warmth of an autumnal forest. The soft, soothing tones in the background (created by Christopher Sousa) create a serene backdrop, aligning with the themes of letting go and embracing change.

Let go of the weight of any baggage you may be carrying, just as trees let go of their leaves in preparation for the coming winter, and connect with your breath, grounding yourself in the present moment.

Incorporate this meditation into your daily routine and watch as it helps you make room for a lightness and more serenity. Embrace the opportunity to reconnect with nature's wisdom, and let the gentle guidance be your pathway to inner peace, mirroring nature's transitions. It's time to let go and embrace the change that life offers, just like the leaves in the autumn breeze.

Please like, share, and subscribe to Good Grief on YouTube for more!

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June 28, 2023

Three things the new "Swedish Death Cleaning" show got "wrong"

I’m a big fan of the new series, “The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning,” which debuted on Peacock late April, 2023. Based on the bestselling book by Margareta Magnusson, this Amy Poehler-helmed show features a charming cast of Swedes including professional organizer Ella Engstrom, designer Johan Svenson, and psychologist Katarina Blom as they gently guide eight Americans through the death cleaning process. 

This Queer Eye-meets-Konmari-meets-Fika format delivers on all the emotional and visual fronts, and yet I found three things this charmer of a series got “wrong” about death cleaning. As a grief doula who helps folks death clean IRL, I feel it’s important clarify some components of the show: 

1. False: There are only THREE categories when death cleaning. 

Professional organizer Ella brings three packs of stickers with her to help clients in sorting their belongings. Green stickers are for items to be kept, yellow stickers are for items to be donated or given away, and red stickers are for items to be trashed. 

While the stickers are an effective tool for first-round categorizing, death cleaning is an eco-conscious process that requires much more nuanced consideration. 

Items are to be repurposed, reused, or gifted whenever possible. 

Items that are designated “trash” may require deliberate processing, such as electronics recycling and toxic disposal.

Items aren’t simply “donated” and done - they may require a scheduled pick up with Habitat for Humanity, attendance at a community drive, shipping to Lions Club International, and/or delivery to local schools/colleges, creative reuse centers, clothing swaps, and neighbors from your Buy Nothing group. 

Items that are “for keeps” may require rewiring, reupholstery, mending, curation, and reorganization.

It is totally OK to do multiple rounds of editing and categorization to ensure each item receives it’s proper designation. The death cleaning movement encourages you to take the time and effort to handle earthly belongings responsibly.  

Bottom line: PLEASE don’t rush to trash things and dump items such as light bulbs, batteries, paints, and electronics in our landfills. 

2. False: Death cleaning only takes one week.

This one is a bit more obvious to everyone familiar with “TV magic” but there is just no way any homes on the TV show were transformed in one week without loads of labor from production assistants and folks behind the scenes. 

It is unrealistic to hold yourself to a one-week timeline, especially considering the emotional labor involved in death cleaning. You would be wise to take into consideration any limitations of health, physical or mental ability that you may have and adjust expectations accordingly before commencing death cleaning. 

The goal of death cleaning is not to rush and be done with it. Magnusson encourages practitioners to go at their own pace and with a relaxed attitude, to truly enjoy and appreciate the process and the contemplation it entails.  

Magnusson also underlines that death cleaning is not a “one and done” life  solution, but rather a way of living. Once you have death cleaned, the intention is to continue doing so until you die. 

This is not a punishment for mortality, but rather a responsibility for being a human with a carbon footprint in relationship with loved ones who must continue to care for you and your belongings after death. 

3. False: You need three cute Swedes to get the job done.

Having three cute Swedes to assist during death cleaning is a bonus, not a necessity. 

Magnusson encourages people to begin death cleaning whenever inspiration arises. 

She recommends inviting interested family members and friends to participate, but notes that you may also death clean entirely by yourself. No waiting, hiring, or scheduling involved - one hour alone this weekend may be a great way to jump-start the process! 

You may decide to invite loved ones for certain stretches of the process, and/or engage a professional death cleaner or organizer to help keep you accountable. 

Get the ball rolling, and ask for support as it is needed - Your future self will thank you!

In the end, the gentle art of death cleaning is a life-affirming practice. And that message is just one thing “The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning” show on Peacock demonstrates beautifully. 

Now that you’ve read my notes on the death cleaning process, I highly recommend you check the show out.

If you do, please let me know – what do you think? Are you ready to start death cleaning?! 

With love <3

Kat

P.S. Review my favorite takeaways from Magnusson’s book “The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning” here, order your copy of the book here, and/or learn more about the new TV show here!

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April 1, 2022

The Art of Gathering

Whenever we gather - whether it's a work meeting, celebrating a birthday, officiating a wedding, or honoring a life - we enter into a shared space that has the potential to be full of meaning and memory. So why do so many meetings feel like a waste of time? Why are some gatherings tedious when they're "supposed" to be fun? While it's easy to blame the pandemic for stifling our social graces, one doesn't need to be an event expert to host with real impact. As author, facilitator, and strategic advisor Priya Parker argues, adopting a few simple tools can help ease the way and allow life's rituals to unfold with less stress and more consciousness.


Parker has been exploring the art and science of gatherings for decades and after hearing her speak on several podcasts, I absolutely loved devouring her book "The Art of Gathering: How We Meet and Why It Matters." In reviewing her work, I came to understand why the mechanics behind Circling are so unfailing, why my wedding was the best time of my life, and the reason my dad's funeral was both cathartic AND a good time. What I had been intuiting and appreciating about these major life events was the value-driven organization involved. Indeed, when the true intentions behind a gathering are clear, the event can unfold to a desired effect and create a memorable community moment. It's thrilling to orchestrate, and really empowering to experience.


Since so many gatherings were postponed or cancelled during the pandemic, it is especially important now to do your homework and really consider the How and Why of a meeting before diving headfirst into experiences again. If you're intrigued, I highly recommend checking out Priya Parker's book here and signing up for her newsletter - it's juicy stuff! But if you don't have time for that, you can check out my cheat sheet and my five fave tips from "The Art of Gathering" below:


1) INTENTION MATTERS: As Parker puts it, "Gatherings should have a purpose which is specific, unique, and disputable." Yes, you're hosting a baby shower, she argues, but the WHY (outside of obligation, tradition, etc.) can and should inform everything from invite through to Thank You's. Another way to think of it is A: How do you want to feel during the gathering? and B: How do you want your guests to feel? Once these questions are answered, decisions can follow thoughtfully with these intentions in mind.


2) CHILL HOSTS ARE NOT COOL! My favorite concept from the book is "Generous Authority." We've all been to a party where you can't remember other guests names, it's not clear when the action is starting, or someone is taking up all the space or energy and we don't like it. A host with Generous Authority doesn't dominate, but rather guides the action, protects and connects their guests, and assumes responsibility during the event in a way that allows people to be ushered through the experience from start to finish. Speaking of which...


3) OPENINGS AND CLOSINGS MATTER: After an event, guests remember the first 5%, the last 5%, and the most climactic moment most clearly. So don't ignore the liminal moment between arrival and start of show; usher your guests across the threshold from "real life" to this new moment and be sure to end with purpose, rather than allowing things to fizzle out or end vaguely. Parker encourages you to try to embody the very reason you felt moved to gather this specific group of humans within the first few moments of gathering and then returning to this purpose again at the end, in a mirroring fashion.


4) EVERY GUEST COUNTS: Parker has identified that a group of eight people is ideal for holding a single conversation at a dinner party; twelve is good for multiple small conversations. This calculator helps determine how many guests to invite using square footage and desired density (the more packed, the more energy... to a point!). What's important here is that guests are invited because they have a stake in the event, not because you feel you HAVE to include them, and the guest count reflects the needs and intentions of the event, NOT how many friends you have. Casual, unmotivated guests can detract from the energy and momentum of the evening so grant yourself the freedom to not include every person, every time.


5) AUTHENTICITY BEGINS WITH YOU: If you want your guest to be authentically present and vulnerable, you must display vulnerability first. If you want them to reflect on what has transpired as a group and cement a bonding experience, you have to take a moment to understand, remember, acknowledge, and reflect upon that. This looking inward and turning outward is a beautiful practice, and one which led to a spontaneous group sing-along during my grandma's Zoom memorial. When we leave room for magic, it often arrives, but is not without a little vulnerability and risk first.


What are your favorite takeaways from Parker's work? Do you have any advice for generating more meaningful gatherings? Any rituals that never fail to succeed? Leave a note or send a message, and reach out for a consultation if you need support planning any meaningful gatherings you are dreaming up!

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