Grief is a shape-shifter. Every individual’s experience is exactly that: individual. The particularities of loss—the way it prickles, drowns, flares, and aches—manifest uniquely in each of us. Even our personal grief takes on different shapes depending on the day.
Bereavement is a kind of grief, but we also grieve changing relationships, the disappearance of dreams, failures and heartbreaks and betrayals. In seasons of all-consuming loss it can feel like you’ve left the land of the living to float alone in open water. When this happens, one remedy is listening to the stories of others who’ve floated in that ocean before.
These podcasts don’t prescribe answers or pretend to understand the precise quality that grief takes for you. What they do, instead, is give voice to the myriad ways a person can walk through deepest night and grope their way toward the dusky light of morning.
For anyone who's felt stifled by neat answers and platitudes.
Kate Bowler launched this podcast after writing her memoir Everything Happens for a Reason and Other Lies I’ve Loved, about her sudden cancer diagnosis. The book itself is stunning and her podcast perfectly encapsulates the same generous, compassionate, and always-honest tone. Plus, she picks wonderful guests.
For anyone who's wanted to respond this way when a well-intentioned acquaintance asks, How are you?
Nora McInerny—author and founder of the Young Hot Widows Club—is bracing and hilarious and tender, all at once. This podcast is a space where irreverence is welcome and where tears and laughter often arrive simultaneously. Life can be terrible. Thank goodness we’re not alone.
For those grieving miscarriage, pregnancy loss, and infertility.
Black women experience miscarriage and stillbirth four times more than white women. Each week, Erica M. McAfee interviews women of color who have healed from this kind of loss. Their stories offer both hope and solidarity for anyone grappling with the pain of infertility, infant death, miscarriage, stillbirth, and more.
For when you need a reminder of human resilience.
This podcast showcases stories of “love, loss, and redemption.” Each episode features an essay on love and/or loss, read by a celebrity. The episodes are testaments to the bravery and resilience of normal people navigating life’s biggest gains and losses. To start, listen to Amy Krause Rosenthal’s essay “You May Want to Marry My Husband” (a dating ad Rosenthal wrote for her husband as she was dying) and “Need to Find Me? Ask My Ham Man” (a writer’s love letter to Paris and to her mother with Parkinson’s).
For writers trying to make sense of loss through words.
Hosted by University of Pennsylvania creative writing instructor Jamie-Lee Josselyn, Dead Parents Society interviews writers about the loss of their parents and invites them to read works-in-progress. Most guests lost parents at a young age and their art is shaped by this absence. The conversations are candid, and the guest artists don’t shy away from wrapping words around impossible subjects. To start, listen to essayist and songwriter Catherine Ricketts read “Eloquent Limbs,” about the death of her father.
For Black women and girls working toward mental wellness.
Hosted by psychologist Dr. Joy Harden Bradford, Therapy for Black Girls confronts the stigma surrounding therapy through conversations about mental health and healing. Episodes touch on loneliness, collective grief, racism, trauma, and much more. For first-time listeners, check out “Why Am I Grieving Someone I Didn’t Know?” and “Living Well In Order to Die Well.” Bonus: for fans of the show Insecure, this podcast offers season-by-season debriefs.
For when you want to grapple with life’s biggest questions.
The OnBeing podcast features interviews with all kinds of people, from scientists to poets to theologians. The podcast isn't grief-specific, but most episodes touch on questions about spirituality and mortality. You can also search the Dying & Death category on the website for conversations that deal specifically with mortality and bereavement. Meditative and grounding, these interviews often end in awe, even in the face of great loss.