Meet Shelby Forsythia: Intuitive Grief Guide and Incredible Soul
Shelby first came into my world as a client, but quickly grew to a friend and colleague whose work I respect immensely.
Her first book, Permission to Grieve, is a book I wish I’d had at the start of my grief journey. She’s created such a powerful process for navigating grief from her own experience, and I recommend her work to everyone.
Shelby was also one of our first guests on Tales from the Journey…
Shelby has since gone on to publish a second book, Your Grief, Your Way, and produces three powerful podcasts to help grieving souls come back to life after death, divorce, diagnosis, and other major transitions.
I’m so excited to share Shelby and her work as part of our Feature Friday series!
I know you’re going to love her, so let’s dive in…
Who you are, what you do, and who you serve?
My name is Shelby Forsythia and I help people come back to life after death, divorce, diagnosis, and other major transitions.
What does purpose mean to you, and how does your work allow you to live yours more fully?
Etymologically, the word “purpose” has a lot to do with the word “intention,” so to me purpose is related to making a conscious decision as to how I show up in the world. In my work supporting grieving people, I get the privilege of working towards many of my purposes including destigmatizing grief, helping people and their emotions feel welcome, and allowing big, impactful losses to connect all of us more deeply to ourselves and our beliefs about the world.
What challenges have you faced that shaped who you are and your work in the world? How did you overcome them, and what did you learn?
Capitalism and grind culture are challenges that perpetually shape who I am and my work in the world. Right now, I can’t say I’m overcoming them as much as I’m questioning them and considering how to work with something as fluid and unpredictable as grief in a system that demands I—and by consequence my work—be consistent and stable. In addition to supporting other grieving people, I am a grieving person. I’m devoting a great deal of energy in this season to building a business that allows not only time and space for my client’s grief, but mine as well.
What’s one piece of advice you’d give someone trying to live their purpose?
Use what breaks your heart as a tool to help you know what your purpose is. My dear friend and dating coach Gabrielle Valdes talks about using past heartbreaks and disappointments to understand your personal values more deeply. For example, if you’ve been ghosted in the past, perhaps one of your values is communication or clarity. In grieving the death of my mother I recognized that society’s unrealistic expectations surrounding loss were incredibly painful to me and made me feel like I was “failing” at grieving. From that, I learned one of my greatest values is permission—allowing all emotions, all experiences, all stories to be true for us in grief. Instead of insisting my clients put themselves and their griefs in society’s boxes, a lot of the work I do–and part of my purpose in helping people and their emotions feel welcome—is metaphorically breaking down those boxes so that people feel like they have permission to grieve.
What’s inspiring you right now?
Everyone in the grief space acknowledging ambiguous or societally-unacknowledged griefs like environmental grief, racial and ancestral grief, traumatic grief, and the grief of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
Tell us some fun, random, or interesting facts about yourself!
- As a child, I was trained in opera and musical theater; those voice skills come in handy each time I record a podcast or audiobook!
- In addition to doing grief work, I’m also a florist.
- I’m a big fan of The Golden Girls; Bea Arthur is my dream “dead or alive” dinner guest.
- I drink hot chocolate in all seasons.
- My dad planted Forsythia in our childhood yard; it’s one of the reasons I adopted it as my last name when I began authoring books!
Shelby Forsythia (she/her) is the author of Your Grief, Your Way and Permission to Grieve and podcast host of Grief Book Roundup, Grief Seeds, and Coming Back: Conversations on Life After Loss. Following the death of her mother in 2013, she became a “student of grief” and set out on a lifetime mission to study the human experience of loss. Through a combination of practical tools and intuitive guidance, she helps grieving people come back to life after death, divorce, diagnosis, and other major transitions. Her work has been featured on Huffington Post, Bustle, and The Oprah Magazine.
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