Claire Willis Claire

As a child, grief was the wall paper in my home. Unspoken traumatic deaths and losses swirled through the lives of both my parents. As a child I felt the unspoken sorrow in my home. I made a vow at that time to live differently. After college I went to social work school to become a clinical social worker. Initially my work was focused on working with those at the margins - the voiceless ones - and when my mother's health failed, I switched the focus of my work. I started working with people living with cancer when my mother was dying in the late 80’s. Before she died but with death clearly on the horizon, I had conversations with her that I had yearned to have my whole life. I saw how rich and healing these weeks could be in people's lives. I wanted to have conversations with people that were meaningful – that were open, honest and heartfelt. I found a place where my intensity was welcomed. About 12 years ago, I developed pulmonary emboli and had a near death experience. At that point, my life took an unexpected U turn. The first book I read after my hospitalization was called Living Fully, Dying Well. As it happened it was written by someone who had also had a near death experience with pulmonary emboli. He had experienced, as I had, that coming to terms with death enhanced his life. I felt even more deeply called at this point to working with people who were dying and grieving. Having come to that edge of life and death shaped my work going forward. Shortly after, I was drawn to a Buddhist practice when i met my teacher at a workshop. Buddhism emphasizes the impermanence of life and the inevitability of suffering. But I also came to realize that coming to terms with what is instead of what or how I wished things to be was essential to lessening the suffering in my life. I have had a daily practice ever since.


Transform Grief into Purpose

Devoting to a Cause We’ve all heard of courageous people who after experiencing a painful loss, transform their suffering into passion, purpose, and community. The word passion derives from the […]

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Our Aching Earth: When We Grieve About Our Natural World

Species are Threatened We don’t have to look far to read or hear about the devastating events that are happening in the world around us. Everybody knows this on some […]

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Finding Your Way From Loss to Peace

The ending of this “story” is happy…. There is joy to be found in realizing that long-held, shame-filled, buried grief, however painful, can be uncovered, looked at, handled tenderly, shared, […]

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Begin Grieving With Kindness to Yourself

“Be kind whenever possible. It is always possible.” ~ His Holiness the Dalai Lama Offer Yourself Great Kindness No one can say or hear this enough: The weeks, months, and […]

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