• Heartful Academy

Is it possible to leverage grief to become more alive and grateful?

When faced with extreme grief and loss, do you choose life or death? Do you choose to go up, or to go down?

I first met Kirsten Stendevad 7 years ago. At the time I was scouting for important Danish non-fiction books to translate for the English market. Kirsten had written a lovely book about feminine leadership, and now we were meeting to talk about bringing her insights to the UK and US market. During the conversation I learned that Kirsten had an experience that will make every parent shiver. She lost her 7-year old son to cancer only 2 years earlier. My own daughter was 6-years old at the time. At first I didn’t know what to say. How could I possibly relate to such a tragedy? My own belief at the time was that if anything should ever happen to my daughter, then my life would be over too.


But Kirsten didn’t look dead to me. On the contrary she seemed very vibrant, alive, creative, present. It made me curious and I asked for the full story. As Kirsten shared I could feel her journey in my own being. The disbelief when the bad news arrived. The determination and the struggle to keep hopes high, and to manifest a miracle. The journey around the world to find healing, and her resolve to never give up. How the miracle was almost delivered - but then in the end took a turn to be another kind of miracle than the one Kirsten and her family were praying for. The shock, denial and grief when the battle was over - and the loss so unbearable that Kirsten saw the ultimate existential question held up in front of her, and impossible to get around: Do you choose life or death? Do you choose to go up, or to go down?


The powerfulness and clarity of this questioning woke Kirsten up from her nightmare, and she made a choice for life. This marked the beginning of a new life, with a door held open to experience even more meaning, love, gratitude, authenticity and growth than ever before. The Kirsten I know is not a broken person, even though what she experienced ought to be more than enough to break a human being into thousands of pieces. I am deeply inspired by Kirsten, and her example has given me strength, insights and new beliefs. During this session at Heartful Academy, the gift that I have received from Kirsten is being made available to all of you. Together we are invited to learn from Kirsten, and gain for ourselves some of the freedom and strength she has worked so hard to achieve.


Today, Kirsten works with great passion, enthusiasm and wisdom to support others on their journey to navigate crises, become compassionate leaders, and to get ready for what she calls the feminine century.


In this session we learned about:


1) Kirsten’s personal journey with loss, grief and bouncing back to life


2) The most profound realisations that can come from the devastating experience of the death of one’s beloved child


3) According to Kirsten, what is death really, and are there missing pieces in our mainstream culture’s understanding of the topic


4) Constructive ways of dealing with loss, and pitfalls to avoid


5) How to leverage our most extreme experiences to become (even) better leaders, in our lives and in our organisations


6) Why is Kirsten so passionate about Illuminary Leadership, and is this something also men can learn


7) What is Kirsten’s most important advice to all of us in business right now, with COVID-19 having shaken up things, and many people are experiencing los