WDS2015: Megan Devine

Megan left me floored and allowed me to start a different path towards understanding and grieving for my dad and allowing others to do the same thing for their pain. There were too many things that hit too close to home to be fully comfortable writing about them. But that doesn't take away the learning that happened.


  • What do you do with raw emotion that will never go away?
  • We are all overwhelmed with things that don’t have a happy ending
  • There are things that can’t be fixed, and that’s OK

I'm starting to realize that no matter how long I live there are things that will never fully heal and that part of the process is learning to live with them and that, whether we accept it or not, these events we can't change shaped (and continue to shape) me.

I have to keep reminding myself that there wasn't anything I could have done about my dad and his drinking and his shutting himself from the world around him. And, even in the worst times, he made his choices and I made mine... not saying either of our choices were good or bad. We made the best choices we could with the information we have available at the time.

And not all pain is bad. If nothing else dad and his passing has taught me a lot about letting go... I still suck at it but at least now I understand how toxic is to keep things bottled inside


The biggest thing I've learned is to listen and just be there, no judgement and no criticism.

  • When you try to fix someone’s pain, you don’t make it better
  • Just tell them it’s OK to talk about their pain
  • Pain deserves acknowledgement, not repair
  • The path of bearing witness is the true path of love
  • When you bear witness, everything is welcomed
  • Hear someone’s pain and let them have it
  • Bearing witness to someone’s pain is an act of risk
  • How to bear witness:

1. Notice: Notice your impulse to help
2. Pause: Let people tell their own truth
3. Don’t Fix: Don’t fix anything
4. Bear Witness: Make space for things to suck

  • You can’t fix someone’s pain by trying to take it away from them