Stephanie Sarazin: What Is Ambiguous Grief and How To Show Up

Divorce. Losing a family member to addiction. The end of a friendship. Empty nesting. Even the loss many of us felt during the Pandemic. These are all examples of ambiguous grief. Today’s guest is Stephanie Sarazin, a writer, researcher, and experiential expert in ambiguous grief. We talk about what ambiguous grief is and how it’s different from grief brought on by death, how different people cope with it, the stages, and the importance of empathy to help people heal and feel witnessed. We discuss the well-intentioned reactions we have that are actually the opposite of empathy,  and what we can do and say instead. If you want to be a more empathetic colleague, friend, manager, and teammate to those experiencing ambiguous grief, take a listen to this powerful conversation.

To access the episode transcript, please click on the episode title at 

Key Takeaways:

  • Grief is the invoice we pay for love, and it can only heal if it is being witnessed. 
  • Ambiguous grief is something that nearly everyone will experience for a variety of reasons. We need to build into our benefits and HR policies in our companies ways we can support our team through all of their grief experiences, not just those associated with death.
  • Empathy is not judgmental and is not resentful. Grief, especially ambiguous grief, shows up in different ways for every single person. 

“We don’t have the societal norms for an ambiguous grief experience that we do for grief by physical death. There’s often no outward expression of our grief, yet, it doesn’t make it any less pronounced.” —  Stephanie Sarazin

About Stephanie Sarazin, Author & Certified Grief Educator

Stephanie Sarazin is a writer, researcher, and experiential expert in ambiguous grief. Her work began with her own experience of mid-life trauma, which sparked an ambitious journey—spiritually and around the world—to understand, name, and heal the grief she found within her.  

Her efforts revealed a first-of-its-kind definition for “ambiguous grief,” whereby grief is onset by the loss of a loved one who is still living and wherein the experience of hope presents as a stage of the grieving process. Stephanie’s work brings new resources to reframe disruptive, activating events as a gateway to discovering your highest self, in turn championing ambiguous grief as nuanced, natural, and navigable.

Stephanie is also the founder of Rise Up Rooted, an online resource center for those navigating ambiguous grief, a grief educator, and a TEDx curator in her community. She is a graduate of Michigan State University and earned a Master of Public Policy from The University of Chicago. Her book, Soulbroken (one word) was published by Balance in October 2022 and has received praise from leading voices including Adam Grant, Elizabeth Lesser, and Maria Shriver.

Connect with Stephanie Sarazin




Book:  Soulbroken: A Guidebook for Your Journey Through Ambiguous Grief. Available at Barnes & Noble, Amazon, and wherever you buy your books.

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