Death’s Most Powerful Lessons: Trauma Psychologist Explores The Meaning of Grief With Dr. Sherry Walling


“You may create moments that are uncomfortable for others when you speak of the dead. The air may leave the room for a moment when as they freeze with fear and awkwardness. Their emotional uncertainty is not your work.” – Dr. Sherry Walling

Wellness + Wisdom Episode 515

Dr. Sherry Walling, a psychologist, author, and founder of the ZenFounder podcast, joins Josh Trent on the Wellness + Wisdom Podcast to talk about the lessons she learned from her own grieving process and what you can do to cope with the loss of your loved one.

Do you know how to cope with your own grief or the grief of others?

Join Dr. Sherry Walling and Josh Trent as they discuss the stages of grief, how to cope with the death of a loved one, why we shouldn't identify with our emotions, and what it means to time travel for our mental health.

Anger is right alongside longing. We’re angry when we have a need or a desire that’s unmet. - @sherrywallingClick To Tweet

Listen To Episode 515 As Dr. Sherry Walling Uncovers:

[1:30] Knowing God

[10:00] The Stages Of Loss

[14:05] Losing A Loved One + How To Cope With The Discomfort Around Death

  • Putting her knowledge as a trauma psychologist into practice when her dad passed and her brother committed suicide.
  • How she got to understand that deep grief is universal and that no amount of training could make her exempt from the pain.
  • The reason why we feel void when we lose a loved one.
  • Why her patients and clients see her in a different way after reading her book.
  • How her book has parts that are written about her for her and other parts that are written for others.
  • Sharing your experience with others doesn’t mean you’re healed but it means that you’re no longer bleeding.
  • Why it’s ok to let it be painful and uncomfortable for some time when someone’s loved one dies.
  • The importance of not skipping through the pain moment to the silver lining.
  • Why the emotional quality of conversations about death should feel uncomfortable for a while.
  • Transitioning to the celebration of the deceased person’s life without alleviating the pain.

[22:42] We Are Not What We Feel

[29:40] Listening To Your Body + How To Choose Your Therapist

  • Listening to the spaces in our body that get triggered with curiosity.
  • Transference: The client redirects their emotions about one person onto their therapist.
  • Countertransference: The therapist projects their emotions onto the client.
  • How we hold imprints of the people in our lives in our bodies.
  • Why Dr. Sherry believes that a dysregulation is a helpful tool when we listen to it.
  • Her own experience with countertransference.
  • What behaviors we should look for within therapists and why it’s important to observe our feelings toward them.
  • The quickest way to spot the emotions that we have around our therapist.
  • The importance of money and time containers in therapy.
  • How some therapists can get a secondary gain from the sessions.

[39:50] The Privilege Of Witnessing Death And Birth

  • Josh explains why living well and dying well matter to him.
  • The duality of moving between the world of the dead and the world of raising children and being in love.
  • Why she feels privileged and empowered by being able to shift between the two worlds.
  • The death process inside of us when we become parents.
  • Why Dr. Sherry thinks we don’t exist as an autonomous mechanism.
  • The beauty of dyeing she saw when her dad was dying.
  • Why she supports the raw version of her that wrote the book three years ago.
  • How she holds space for her dad and brother during moments of grief.

[48:10] Time Traveling For Mental Health

Power Quotes From The Show

Two dualistically opposed emotions can exist at the same time. We can live in joy and grief at the same time. - @sherrywallingClick To Tweet

Having Uncomfortable Conversations

“If I tell you a painful story and suddenly rush to all that I learned about it and all the reasons it’s ok now, I skip through the painful moment. The emotional quality of the conversation becomes relief instead of discomfort. It’s ok to let it be uncomfortable for a while and let people hold that space.” – Dr. Sherry Walling

Birth And Death

“Birth and death are edge states. They are moments in our lives that don’t happen very much but they get to the depths of what it is to be human, to be in love, and to show up for people in their most vulnerable moments.” – Dr. Sherry Walling

The Challenge Of Middle Adulthood

“There’s a duality between the world of aliveness and the world of the dead. Many of us will at times in our lives be called to move back and forth between those energies, that’s the challenge of middle adulthood. You’re in support and in connection to parents and elders who are further along the journey of death, and young ones who are just beginning life. You’re a bridge between the world of becoming and the world of ending.” – Dr. Sherry Walling




Links From Today's Show 


About Dr. Sherry Walling

Dr. Sherry Walling: Death's Most Powerful Lessons | Touching Two Worlds, Journey of The Wounded Healer, How to Navigate Loss + Grief

Dr. Sherry Walling is a clinical psychologist, author, podcaster, and advocate for mental health. Her podcast, ZenFounder, assists entrepreneurs and leaders in navigating transition, growth, loss, and other complex human experiences.

Touching Two Worlds, her new book, is a poetic, incisive exploration of grief and joy in the aftermath of loss. The Entrepreneur's Guide to Keeping Your Shit Together, her best-selling book, combines the insight and warmth of a therapist with the truth-telling mirth of someone who has been there.

Sherry and her husband, Rob, live in Minneapolis and spend their days driving their kids to music lessons. She has also been seen performing as a circus aerialist on occasion.


Dr. Sherry Walling: The Secret Weapon You Can't Afford to Waste

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About Josh Trent

Josh Trent lives in Austin, Texas with his love Carrie Michelle, son Novah, and a cat named Cleo. He is the Founder of Wellness Force Media, host of the Wellness + Wisdom Podcast and the creator of the BREATHE: Breath & Wellness Program. Josh has spent the past 19+ years as a trainer, researcher, and facilitator discovering the physical and emotional intelligence for humans to thrive in our modern world. The Wellness Force Media Mission is to help humans heal mental, emotional, and physical health through podcasts, programs, and a global community that believes in optimizing our potential to live life well.

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