A Season of Change

Hi Friends!

Summer is almost over and fall will be here soon. This change in season marks a transition for many of us - sometimes it's back to school, or a change in work temp, an end to languid summer days and the beginning of a more focused time in our lives. I've been thinking about this as my family goes through its own big transition - this month we relocated from Los Angeles, California to Charleston, South Carolina. We are excited for this change and for a different pace of life but it hasn't been without difficulty.

As we said goodbye to our friends and community in Los Angeles I was reminded of the many ways we grieve in this lifetime. Most people associate grief with death and the loss of a person, but grief takes many forms and can grow from almost any kind of transition. We can lose a job or end a relationship with a friend, say goodbye to a sweet pet, or move across the country - grief arises for all of those things.

And each time I experience fresh grief in my life I am reminded of how simple it is. I mean, grief is always layered and complicated, but the way to move through it is always the same. We simply must face it. We must steep in it and feel it and let it have its way with us. There is no way around it. The feelings of sadness and yearning and heart-wrenching angst - they are unavoidable. We must give way to them in order for them to pass.

It can feel scary to do this - to really let grief wash over you and through you, but I promise that surrendering to it is easier than fighting it. When we fight grief or try to suppress the feelings that come, it will manifest in anger, depression and anxiety. So hold tight, reach out to a friend and grab a box of tissues, and let yourself grieve. You're not the only one. You're never alone.



grief meditation claire bidwell smith

Meditation for Grief

grief meditation claire bidwell smith

Grief is an inescapable experience. Yet our first impulse to it is usually to run away from it. Facing all the painful feelings that come along with a loss can be overwhelming. Often we are experiencing this much pain for the very first time in our lives, and it's completely normal to try to do everything we can not to feel it.

Yet the truth is that when we can allow ourselves to open up to the pain of loss when we can create space to feel all the emotions that arise...that is when we heal. Sometimes people are afraid that if they open that door the pain will engulf them, or that if they start crying they may never stop, but the opposite is true - it is when we can let all the emotions come forth that they will eventually begin to ease.

Meditation is a beautiful way to make space for all the thoughts and feelings that arise when we are grieving. We spend so much of our days filling in any quiet space - we watch the news, we scroll through social media, we go to work, socialize with friends, keep busy with errands and tidying our houses - it's a wonder any of us ever sit still anymore. But sitting still when we are grieving is deeply important to the process, even if it's the last thing you want to do.

I remember when I tried meditation for the first time after my parents died - it seemed so hard and scary. I had spent years filling up all of my time so that I wouldn't have to feel anything. When I finally sat still it all came rushing forth. In the beginning, I cried a lot during meditation. But that was good! I needed to cry. I needed to release all the sadness I'd been carrying around. Eventually, I stopped crying and I was able to go even deeper into my meditation practice, something that led me to the peaceful place I'm in today.

Meditation has been the single-most helpful tool that I’ve learned in twenty years of struggling through grief. I know that for many, meditation can seem intimidating but the only requirement is that you have an open mind and that you don’t put pressure on yourself to do this perfectly.

In order to help you get started, I’ve created a meditation mini-course to guide you through the beginning steps of creating space for this in your life. Use the meditations in this course as often as you feel necessary and remember that creating space for all that you are feeling is what will see you through to a more peaceful place. 



View my Meditation Mini-Course Preview

Summer Grief Support

Happy Summer, friends.

This time of year is often relaxing, but can be stressful as well. Routines are thrown off and it's easy to feel off-center. That's why I want to share some Summer Grief and Loss Support resources with you.

  • Free 7-Minute Guided Meditation
  • With concrete tools and coping strategies for panic attacks, getting a handle on anxious thoughts, and more, Anxiety: The Missing Stage of Grief  bridges these two emotions in a way that is deeply empathetic and eminently practical.
  • After purchasing Anxiety: The Missing Stage of Grief, enter your receipt information here to gain access to my 50-page workbook that goes hand in hand with each chapter and helps you apply the concepts and tools to your unique situation.
  • A Safe Place to Grieve (Self-Guided Course) is based on the process I use every day with my grief therapy clients. Now anyone anywhere can take advantage of these tools instantly.
  • My Meditation Online Course is for anyone seeking relief from the depression and anxiety that accompany grief. Cultivating a meditation practice can enable us to return to the present moment and alleviate much of the anxiety and sadness we feel swept away by when we are grieving.

I hope you will take care of your heart and mind over the next couple of months with some of these support tools. Enjoy the rest of your Summer!


Do You Wish Your Partner Understood Your Loss?

Have you ever wished that your partner understood your loss on a deeper level? Or wished that they had the understanding and tools to help you through hard moments or anniversaries?

One of the hardest parts about losing my parents has been just wanting my partner to understand this part of my life.

I've wished simply that my husband could have met my parents. I've wished that he could really understand why certain days are hard for me. I've struggled with having in-laws when I don't have my own parents. And I've struggled with feelings of security or trust within my partnerships, as a direct result of having experienced so much loss.

Parent loss at any age plays out throughout our lifetimes in a variety of ways, but most often within the dynamics of a romantic relationship. Often when I sit with groups of other women who have lost a parent I wish that my partner could be listening in. I want him to understand that I'm not the only one, that I'm not crazy for still being sad or having hard days. And I've had so many clients tell me that they have the same wish, and the same struggles in their relationships. I've even worked one on one with clients and their partners to help them better understand loss as a way of improving their own relationship.


Partner Support through Loss

I'm so excited to announce that I've now designed a whole course around this: Supporting Your Partner Through Loss.

If you are a woman who has lost a parent (at any age) and you wish that your partner understood your loss on a deeper level then please consider taking this course. The course is something you and your partner can do together, at your own pace, and I guarantee that you'll come out of it stronger and more connected.

We'll be talking about why losing a parent is difficult for a woman, what the long-term effects are like, why certain days or life experiences can make her feel the loss more acutely, and then tying it all together with practical tips and tools for a partner to learn so that they can help support her through it all. I know that something like this would have saved me years of angst and miscommunication in various relationships throughout my life. The course is online, inexpensive, and I swear it's relatively harmless - I even picked my own husband's brain about what he would or would not tolerate for something like this!

If you'd like to explore this opportunity, go here.


father loss

Father Loss and Grief: 3 Common Questions

My dad died when I was 25 years old. I miss him every day and sometimes I can scarcely imagine how wonderful it would be to still have him in my life. Losing any parent is difficult but father loss comes with its own set of challenges. Whether your loss was recent or years ago, you may find yourself feeling as though there is a hole in your life and something missing.

Here are 3 common questions about father loss and grief with my answers. We will explore much more during my Understanding Father Loss 6-week live online course, starting April 29th!

1. Will you address what it means to grieve for an absent father and what does it mean to do so?

Yes, I will be addressing absent fathers in my online course. There are many similar aspects of grieving an absentee father and a deceased father. The loss of a father figure is a permanent reality for both, but there is also frustration and a feeling of abandonment that comes with an absentee father. Sometimes there is also a hope that the relationship could yet be healed. But the feelings of isolation, grief, and insecurity are all common for both losses.

Both losses will see struggles in their ability to be in romantic relationships - they will either find themselves avoiding relationships or seeking them out but feeling deeply insecure in them. However, both losses also tend to create profound independence and resilience in those who lose a father. Losing a father to abandonment is as profound as losing one to death, but it does come with its own particular set of issues that must be recognized and explored. Educating yourself and processing your loss with the help of a therapist or support group is incredibly healing.

2. Am I just remembering an idolized version of my dad?

I think we all do this to a certain extent. It is natural for us to idolize the people we lose. When we miss someone and the promise of a lengthier relationship is gone, we tend to cling to the best version of the person we remember. I think what's important to remember is that our relationships with the people we lose continue to evolve. We may go through periods of time when we idolize them and other periods of time in which we find ourselves coming to new understandings about our fathers. As we age and move deeper into life we will continue to understand our fathers and our relationships with them on different levels.

I'm interested in how we distill memory - what is it that becomes important after someone is gone? What it is that was important about that person and that relationship? Taking a look at that can be very revealing. But remember that these relationships and even the memories themselves continue to change. If you are yearning for more truths or more stories I think it's always a wonderful thing to do a little research, no matter how long ago your loss occurred. Reach out to people who knew your dad. Ask them for new stories, anecdotes, descriptions. Grief and the relationships we had with the people we loved are an evolving process. Be open to this and you will find a lot of healing.

3. I find myself wondering what my dad would say about people I'm dating and success at work.

This is such an important topic! For a long time in the grief world the emphasis was on letting go and moving on. We have more recently made a pivot and realized that what is more healing and healthy is when a person finds ways to stay connected to their loved one. For people who have recently lost a father, the goal should be to find ways to stay connected to him - either spiritually or by cultivating an internal relationship with him. For those of us who lost a father a long time ago, it's never too late to find ways to reconnect and to open up that relationship again.

I know that even though my father has been gone for 15 years I can still conjure up his responses to various questions. For instance, I can imagine what he would think about my career or my husband. I can ask him advice in my head and usually hear the answer, simply based on how I knew him. I tend to lean into this. I continue to consult him, ask him for advice, and tell him things I hope he'll be proud of. It feels good to do this and I think we can all do a version of this with the people we have lost.

If you are looking for support and understanding of your loss, I hope you will go here to learn more about my online course. Email support@clairebidwellsmith.com if you have any questions.


Someone Died. What Do I Do?


My person died. What do I do? I get this message all the time, from clients, from friends and family members, and on social media.

My mother died last week - what do I do?? My girlfriend just lost her father and she doesn't know what to do. I lost a friend this month and I don't know what to do. 

What are we supposed to do when someone dies? I wish I had a simple answer. And in some ways, I do. There is nothing you can do except ride the waves of grief. Loss is so unexpected, even when it is expected. We cannot fathom what it will feel like to lose someone close to us. There is no comparison to the experience of deep grief.

I understand why people ask me what they should do. The feelings of grief can be so overwhelming and consuming and confusing that you just want to know what to do. You want a formula, a plan, a prescription for how to move through it. You want to know that you will survive the pain. You want to know that you will be okay.

You will be okay. You will never be the same, but nor should you want to be the same. Your life will be forever transformed because of your loss.

Other people may not understand this all the time. Other people will say dumb things sometimes. Other people will fail to show up in the ways you most need. But you will be okay. In fact, if you give yourself over to the grief process you will be transformed into someone who is wiser, attuned and compassionate than you were before.

But before that happens you must allow yourself to move through the motions of grief. This looks different for each person. Our grief is as unique as the relationship we had with the person we lost. We cannot know what we need to do or feel until we listen to what grief is asking of us. And that is what I tell people to do. Listen to your grief, allow yourself to feel your pain. It won't be easy, so seek support during the process. But there is nothing to do except to be in it. Only when we can allow ourselves to fully grieve, can we allow ourselves to fully heal.

If you have lost someone you love, either recently, or decades ago, ask yourself - have you fully grieved?

Are there ways in which you still need to feel sad or angry? Are there aspects of the loss that you have yet to face? Do you need to seek forgiveness with yourself or others? Are you finding ways to make meaning out of your loss? Are you finding ways to connect with your loved one? Are you finding ways to connect with yourself?

Grief is never easy and unfortunately, there is no simple answer for how to move through it. But by allowing yourself to really feel it, you will find relief and healing.

Mother loss

Q&A: Understanding Mother Loss

Mother loss


My Understanding Mother Loss 6-week live online program starts March 4th! Get the details on the course here. Below I've added my responses to some of the questions sent in ahead of my recent live call on mother loss.

Question: I would love to know how to enjoy life moving on and not feeling guilty for living. I struggle with that big time.

Answer: My answer to this question is always the same: When we are grieving we need to remember that two things can be true at the same time. We can deeply miss our person and we can also live a meaningful life. Often people feel stuck in their grief because they are afraid that if they start to live a meaningful life again it means that they are moving on and letting go of their person. But the two are not mutually exclusive. We will never "get over" the loss of a loved one. We will always miss them and wish they were here. But we can also go on to enjoy our lives and create meaning and move forward. My advice to you is to actively carve out space and time to honor and mourn for your mother, while at the same time taking steps to build up your life again.

Question: When just when will I be able to let go so to say? It’s been 18 yrs and the pain never eases up. I want to be whole and not sure I can. I feel so empty without her. 

Answer: The truth is that you may never let go and that's okay. You may never feel whole without your mother. And that's okay too. Finding ways to bolster support in your life, to give yourself the sense of being nurtured, and to create meaning from your life choices is what is important. Losing a mother is a profound experience that will follow us all of our years. It will never be okay that we lost our mothers too soon. Accepting that is the key to moving forward. And moving forward does not mean letting go. I do think that we need to find ways to mother ourselves though. For a long time after my mother died I thought the answer to not having a mother was to not need a mother. And eventually I realized that the opposite was true - I did need a mother and since she isn't here anymore I realized I needed to learn how to mother myself. Ask yourself what that might look like for you. For me, mothering myself meant taking better care of myself both psychologically and physically. It also meant showing myself the same kind of compassion and forgiveness my mother would have shown me. Figuring these things out for yourself will help you to feel whole again.

Question: I am approaching my birthday and will be turning the age my mother was when she passed. Do you have any tips on how I can cope with what I anticipate to be a very emotional day? 

Answer: Hope Edelman, author of Motherless Daughters, calls these "neon numbers." Those overlapping ages and dates and anniversaries and milestones that line up with our mothers. You are not alone in feeling big emotions and anxiety around these dates. I've found that often the lead-up to the date is more intense than the actual day itself. The biggest one I've hit so far was the year I turned 36 - this birthday for me marked half of my life that my mother had been gone and I knew that every day after that birthday I would have been alive longer without her than with her. Thinking about it like that caused a huge swell of grief to rise up within me and as the birthday approached I experienced many feelings of sadness and anxiety. It helped me to write about it and to talk about it with other motherless daughters. Knowing I wasn't alone and hearing how other women had coped eased my anxiety. I know I will face this again when my daughters turn 18, the age I was when my mother died, and also when I turn 58, the age she was when she died. It's completely normal to experience intensity around these milestones. Find ways to bolster your support system and also find compassion for yourself as you go through these markers.


Don't forget to sign up for the live call and enter the giveaway if you're interested!



How to release your fear of death

Death anxiety is more common than you might think. Most people have unconscious fears and questions around death. Yet most of us don't talk about it. But that wondering (even when unconscious) about what happens when we die has a profound impact on our thoughts, feelings, and behavior. The fear is often so great and so painful that we protect ourselves by repressing the full realization of death and dying.

In order to overcome that fear and to manage anxiety, we need to both face death and also reimagine it. There are many ways to begin to think about death in a positive way. I have found that personally facing death and my fears about it have eased my anxiety in significant ways. When I first began to work in the field of death and dying my anxiety increased as I was forced to stare head-on into the reality of it all, but then after a short time of really having to face it, I realized that I was growing more comfortable and that my fears were dissipating. I've since been able to find many beautiful ways to look at death, one of them being the comparison to birth.

Regardless of your religious or spiritual inclinations, what is like to think about if birth and death are really the same thing? What if birth is simply the death of something that came before? Just as babies are born from the world of the womb into the arms of a mother, maybe the same happens upon death. And maybe if we listen closely enough during this lifetime we’ll hear the heartbeat of something bigger than we think we know now. Fear of death is really just fear of what comes next. But what if that death is really just another birth?

Last fall I gave birth for the third time in my life, an experience so singular and primal that I can only ever liken it to deaths I've witnessed. As I labored that evening I thought about my father and my mother, I thought about friends I've lost, and I thought about patients I've seen through their final moments of life. It is not easy to leave this world, nor is it easy to come into it. I do believe there's an in-between place, because I've felt it in these brief moments of becoming a mother, and I've seen it in the people I've lost.

We are not these bodies. We are so much more. But we come in as these people and are here for a short time to live and to love.

Are there ways in which you can better face the idea of death? Are there ways in which you can even bring yourself to see the beauty in it? Face your fears in order to overcome them. You can start today by simply having conversations about death with trusted friends or therapists. There are also many other ways to think about tackling your fears that I outline in Anxiety: The Missing Stage of Grief. I promise that it doesn’t have to be as scary as you think it will be.

holidays claire bidwell smith

Support with Grief During Holidays

holidays claire bidwell smith
The holidays can be a complicated time if you are grieving—or even if it’s been a long time since you’ve lost someone, but they were a significant person in your life. Today I want to share some options for support and resources that may be helpful to you this holiday season.


NEW and limited time! A Safe Place to Grieve: Release Your Anxiety (Live 6-week guided experience + Online Course with lifetime access)—Starting January 7th, I’ll be guiding participants live through my online course step-by-step, tuning in to interact with you every week, plus giving special attention to how anxiety can manifest after loss and how to find peace and progress with this challenge. I use this approach every day with my grief therapy clients. You'll be able to gain access to these tools and support from anywhere at any time. If you are looking for extra support with your anxiety and grief this holiday season, starting this program is a powerful place to begin.

One-Time Personal Consultation—I'm offering one-time consultations at this time. I'm currently based in Los Angeles and have been working with clients from around the globe over the past ten years. This might help you process a particular aspect of your loss or trouble-shoot bigger picture issues. I provide tips, tools, resources, and overall symptom management strategies.


Coping with Grief During the Holidays—In this podcast episode, I share my own experience on coping with the holidays and offer you actionable tips to help you cope this holiday season.

64 Tips for Coping with Grief During the Holidays—This is a very helpful list of tips and suggestions for coping with grief during the holidays.

Holiday Survival Strategies for Coping with Grief—A wonderful article on specific strategies you can implement this holiday season to help you with your grief during this time.

Anxiety: The Missing Stage of Grief—In my latest book, I break down anxiety, giving readers a concrete foundation of understanding in order to help them heal the anxiety caused by loss.

10 Helpful Tips for Resilient Grieving—In this blog post, I explore resilient grieving, which is the idea that we can take active measures and steps to find strength and learn coping tools in the face of loss, even when the pain seems unbearable.

Honoring Holidays, Anniversaries, & Birthdays for Loved Ones—There are so many difficult dates after you lose someone you love. In this blog post, I offer my thoughts on how to honor your loved ones during the holidays and other significant days throughout the year.

I hope this list is helpful for you. If you have any suggestions you'd like to share, please add them to the comments below.

Wishing you peace this holiday season. Remember, you are not alone.



grief during the holidays claire bidwell smith

Coping with Grief During the Holidays

grief during the holidays claire bidwell smith
Today I want to talk about grief during the holidays. The holidays are upon us and it can be a loaded time if you are grieving—or even if it's been a long time since you've lost someone, but they were a significant person in your life. The holidays can bring up so much, like sadness and reflection and other big feelings.

I know this is a time of year when my clients want to talk about the holidays. The actual day is hard, but sometimes the whole season can be hard. Even just the anticipation of the holidays can bring on a certain feeling of anxiety and sadness. The holidays can also be very sweet, with lots of great memories associated. So this is a time when things can be confusing and big feelings can come up.

In my podcast episode below, I share my own experience on coping with the holidays and offer you actionable tips to help you cope this holiday season. In this podcast, I share:

  • My own recent experience with the holidays
  • How to be kind to yourself this holiday season
  • A list of things you can do to get through the holidays this year
  • And a way to honor your person during this holiday season