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Jan 6, 2020

Emily Harman, the host of Onward Podcast, interviews Shelby Forsythia, author of Permission to Grieve and host of the podcast entitled Coming Back: Conversations on Life After Loss. After the unexpected death of her mother in 2013, Shelby began a deep dive into studying grief and beginning a lifetime mission to investigate the human experience of loss. Through her book, weekly podcasts, and one-on-one grief guidance, she helps grieving people find direction, get support, and cultivate radical self-compassion after devastating loss. Shelby Forsythia is a Certified Grief Recovery Specialist®, Reiki Level II Practitioner, and Intuitive Grief Guide. Her work has been featured on Huffington Post, Bustle, and The Oprah Magazine. She currently lives in Chicago.


Episode Highlights: 


  • Emily Harman introduces Shelby Forsythia.
  • What constitutes or defines grief? 
  • How long should grief last? 
  • How can you prepare yourself for grief? 
  • What are some action steps for coping with grief?  
  • Honor that the person who we were before the loss is now gone.  
  • There are triggers for grief that can remind us of difficult situations that we are grieving.  
  • Shelby explains the 1% Rule of grief. 
  • What would Shelby recommend to her 21-year-old self when she was grieving the loss of her mother?
  • No matter where you go, you take your grief with you.  
  • It’s a reality that we don’t always like everyone who dies. 
  • Not forgiving people can become a poison where your brain lives and stays stuck.  
  • Your grief belongs to you but if you want a joyful life, your grief can be reframed to make that joy possible. 
  • Shelby opens up about her experience of her mother not fulling accepting her.  
  • Pets are a source of unconditional love. 
  • What was Shelby doing during 2014-2016? 
  • Shelby describes herself as ‘a perpetual student.’ 
  • Step into the life that loss has forced you to live.  
  • Emily talks about losing her ex-husband, her dog having to have all of her teeth pulled, and going away for three days to unwind and to feel the grief she experienced after the passing of her children’s father. 


3 Key Points:

  1. Grief can be experienced when something in your life ends or changes and you can never go back to the way things were before. 
  2. People who are grieving and people who are watching people grieve are speaking two different languages. You can never speak the language of grief until you grieve yourself. 
  3. Check in with people that are grieving and remind them that they are not alone instead of trying to fix it and let them know that ‘I hear you. I see you. I can’t understand what is going on but I understand that this is hard for you.’  


Tweetable Quotes:

  • “I can’t teach you how to grieve. But I can teach you how to love yourself while you are doing it, and that’s where a lot of relief comes in for people because they think that they have to fight the fact that grief is happening.” – Shelby Forsythia
  • “What helps is recognizing that grief is a part of you and who you are and a part of your story, and then learning how to edit that story so that you can develop that long-term relationship with grief.” – Shelby Forsythia  
  • “Prepare for grief: the best thing that you can possibly do is study empathic listening or intuitive listening or holding space or all of these words that are floating around in our vernacular lately about listening.” – Shelby Forsythia 

Resources Mentioned: