Hi. I'm Karen Austin.
Let's talk about death.

Hi. I'm Karen Austin.
Let's talk about death.

Death Sucks

There. I said it so you don’t have to and we can agree up front: death sucks. Let’s talk about it anyway.

Right here, right now, because you somehow found your way to me, and because none of us are getting out of here alive, I want to share four important truths with you about death: 

  1. At some point in your life, someONE or someTHING you deeply love will die.
  2. When death happens, grief arrives. It’s pretty automatic and natural. It just shows up. Your grief may be life-changing and rock your entire world and for a while make you feel like you’re walking around with your skin on inside out and you don’t know who the hell you are or how to get out of bed anymore. Or you may notice that you don’t feel it much at all. Or you may be somewhere in the middle. Grief is unique to the griever.
  3. You may or may not mourn the someONE or someTHING that died. Unlike grief, mourning is often not natural, which is why I say you may or may not mourn. Mourning is intentional.
  4. WE collectively SUCK AT DEATH

So to recap: Death sucks and we suck at death. And really, you may legit be wondering right now why anybody would want to be GOOD at death. The answer? Go back to truth number 1.

It makes complete sense that we’re not good at death. I mean, nobody teaches us. We learn grief on the fly, in the first shock of a late night phone call, or over the months or years of a loved one’s illness, or when we get laid off from a job we love, or even when a spouse ups and leaves us on a Tuesday, right before our birthday, and on parent/teacher conference night, too.

When someONE or someTHING we deeply love dies, we don’t know what to do. We don’t know how to feel. We don’t know what to say, or how to say it, or how we can be there for those in grief, and we certainly don’t know how to mourn or support someone else’s mourning.

You know why? Because we don’t talk about it. And that causes problems. We live in a culture that says “get over it already” that “time heals all wounds” (it doesn’t), that “when God closes a door, he opens a window.” Blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. That doesn’t work. Healing doesn’t happen in a culture of “get over it.”

What does work? Talking about our deaths. Feeling our pain and sharing it. Acknowledging we hurt and supporting those who are hurting. How do I know? Because I’ve lived through and overcome those problems. I’ve been studying death since it slapped me across the face and spun my head around when I was 15 years old. And what I now know for sure (as you can tell from my picture, 15 was a loooong time ago) is that grief shows up in many places we don’t expect it. It arrives when marriages end. And when dreams die. When we’re collectively impacted by a pandemic and our lives will never be the same again.

Death is the end of the life of someONE or someTHING we love.  Yet we are taught (or somehow collectively believe) that we only experience grief when a person dies.

My life has been blessed with death. And yes, I know that may sound odd and might even ruffle some feathers. But it’s my truth. I am grateful for the death in my life. Life-changing grief offers us gifts if we are willing to look for them. At the heart of pain and loss is an invitation to get to the core of who we really are. 

Grief and mourning are love and healing in action. It is possible to own your grief and integrate it into your life. I know because I’ve done it. Once you own it and feel it, you decide its power. And once you feel it and move it through you, you can use it to create something new and beautiful.

It’s my vision to transform the way we experience death, and grief and mourning.  

Yes, death sucks. And we can grieve better. Let’s talk about it. Our pain, our deaths, our losses, our grief. And let’s mourn together. Let’s look for the gifts in our pain. Let’s challenge the culture.

If this resonates with you, sign up for my email list and I’ll be in touch. Or contact me. And we’ll talk. About death.

Through our conversations, people experience…

Forgiveness Connection Openness Trust Grace

How I Work With People


I’m currently working on a book about my husband’s amazing journey to death by pancreatic cancer. #nametagsfortracy will publish soon. I also ghostwrite books for clients. 


I give talks for organizations, grief professionals, and groups that are interested in shifting the way we encounter and process loss.


Pre-pandemic I presented opportunities in the form of experiential workshops where I work with attendees in a safe environment to uncover, process, and reshape beliefs and experiences of grief. Looking at creating them online. Interested? Please let me know.

Use loss to grow & heal yourself

Lessons from My Journey


Death won’t kill you

You are the one you’ve
been waiting for



There is life on the
other side of death

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It won't kill you