This website features the contributions of Alan D. Wolfelt, Ph.D., a respected author and educator on the topic of grief. He believes that meaningful funeral experiences help families and friends support one another, embrace their feelings, and embark on the journey to healing and transcendence. Learn more: www.centerforloss.com
Realizing a tremendous need for people to find a safe place to mourn and wanting a more personal approach to supporting them, respected author, educator and grief counselor Dr. Alan Wolfelt made it his life’s work to help people embrace and express their grief after significant loss.
“Our culture has long tried to go around grief instead of through it. But, as Helen Keller noted, ‘The only way to the other side is through,’” he said.
Dr. Wolfelt discovered his calling as a teen, after experiencing life-changing losses of a friend and two grandmothers. At 16, he wrote a mission statement to have a center for loss where people would feel safe to mourn – envisioning “a sacred space” in the foothills of the Colorado Rocky Mountains.
Today, he’s living his childhood promise. “I found my mountaintop, built the Center for Loss and Life Transition, and more than 30 years later I’m still at it.” Having written best-selling books and traveled the world teaching, he dedicates his life to helping people help others as it relates to grief and loss.
Dr. Wolfelt’s own personal losses, along with decades spent educating and supporting grieving people and their caregivers, inspire him to help others mourn well, so they can live well. His guiding philosophy: Be present, walk alongside those who are grieving and learn from them.
Sadness and grief bursts – moments tied to sensory experiences that remind us of a loved one – are perfectly normal. “Maybe a car goes by like the one your dad used to drive, or a bakery smell reminds you of grandma,” he said. Whatever the trigger, he advocates embracing those instances that make us “sappy” – both sad and happy.
Dr. Wolfelt receives many questions while helping people navigate the space between the past for which they long and the future for which they hope. One question he’s often asked is how long grief lasts. “That’s like asking, ‘How high is up?’ It changes us forever; we’re transformed by it.”
We invite you to submit your questions directly to Dr. Wolfelt through his Ask a Grief Counselor forum.
Understanding Your Grief
This book is Dr. Alan Wolfelt’s most comprehensive, covering the essential lessons that mourners have taught him in his three decades of working with the bereaved. In compassionate, down-to-earth language, Understanding Your Grief describes ten touchstones—or trail markers—that are essential physical, emotional, cognitive, social, and spiritual signs for mourners to look for on their journey through grief.