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Your relationship with grief impacts all your relationships – whether you know it or not. 

While the experience of grief is universal, we still react to grief in ways that often stigmatize and alienate our grief or the grief of others in the name of professionalism, boundaries, and self-protection. 

And when we face a loss from suicide and all the layers and nuances of this particular type of loss, it can bring up a lot for us and those we lead. 

Disenfranchised grief refers to a loss that’s not openly acknowledged, socially mourned, or publicly supported–you can see how bereavement by suicide fits one of the most common causes of disenfranchised grief. 

When people who have lost someone to suicide feel like they cannot talk about their loss without judgment or criticism, disenfranchised grief festers. It can lead to complicated grief, where our recovery and healing become persistent and debilitating to basic day-to-day functioning over a long period of time.

The deep discomfort, shame, and stigma associated with suicide can make it difficult to discuss, so that when you experience bereavement by suicide, you often feel isolated at a time when you carry deep hurt. 

On today’s show, you will hear from someone I have known for over two decades who has consistently and steadfastly led with transparency and authenticity no matter what showed up in her life. 

Kathy Escobar is co-founder of The Refuge, a hub for healing community, social action, and creative collaboration and #communityheals: Making Spaces for Transformation Accessible for All, non-profits in North Denver, CO. She’s a pastor, writer, spiritual director, podcaster, and advocate and author of several books, including Practicing: Changing Yourself to Change the World and Faith Shift: Finding Your Way Forward When Everything you Believe is Coming Apart

Content note: Extensive discussion of grief and suicide. Please take care of yourself as you listen.

Listen to the full episode to hear:

  • How speaking the truth about her son’s death became part of how Kathy and her family survived it
  • Why it’s so problematic that we create a split within ourselves as we experience grief
  • What’s really at stake when grief remains submerged
  • How shame shows up with grief, especially in bereavement by suicide
  • Why Kathy says there’s not getting through grief, only learning to live with the rhythms of it
  • Why we need to get comfortable with the paradoxes of living with grief
  • How Kathy reconciles realism with hope

Learn more about Kathy Escobar:

Learn more about Rebecca:


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meet the founder

I’m Rebecca Ching, LMFT.

I help change-making leaders get to the root of recurring struggles and get confidently back on track with your values, your vision, and your bottom line. 

I combine psychotherapeutic principles, future-forward coaching, and healthy business practices to meet the unique needs and challenges of highly-committed leaders in a high-stakes world.

This is unburdened leadership

EP 29: Frank Anderson, MD – Challenging the Fear of Rejection and Leading with Vulnerability – Part 2

Everybody’s carrying a burden that’s weighing them down. If you dare to care, it is inevitable you will end up carrying the burdens from grief, betrayal, and rejection. And these burdens are often unseen. These invisible struggles fuel loneliness, shame, and despair. Eventually, the unaddressed burdens we carry start to impact our ability to live […]


EP 27: Frank Anderson, MD – Challenging the Fear of Rejection and Leading with Vulnerability – Part 1

We watch leaders crash & burn all the time. We watch with morbid fascination as leaders fall out of grace because their unaddressed pain led them on an unsustainable path of poor choices–even dangerous and deadly choices–to avoid feeling the vulnerability of rejection. Those times when you experienced the pain of rejection leave their mark […]


EP 21: Leading With Body Resilience with Co-Author of More Than A Body, Lindsay Kite, PhD

Caring about those you lead means caring about the harm you may unknowingly be doing. Many of us who fit western standards of beauty and live in conventionally abled bodies don’t understand how our choices can cause pain. We’ve internalized ableism and fat-phobia to the point where we can’t even grasp how our words & […]

Mental Well-being

EP 19: Defining Your Own Version Success with Natalie Borton, Founder of Natalie Borton Designs

The quickest way to crash and burn your business and life is to place your worthiness and safety with the opinions of others. This may sound like a captain-obvious statement but the pull to care what others think is something fierce. And it is sneaky. The competitive drive is no stranger to many of you. […]

Work-life Integration

EP 17: Community Over Competition with Co-Founder of The Rising Tide Society Natalie Franke

Community over competition is indeed a well-worn hashtag. The cynical can dismiss it. Those beat up by year after year of injustice understandably call BS. But in practice, leading with the lens of community over competition is subversive and culture-shifting. Community over competition requires deep life-long work to unburden the load we carry of scarcity […]

Leading Teams

EP 02: How Self-Leadership Saves You From The Relentless Drive To Succeed with Dr. Richard Schwartz

My body was telling me to take a step back and reevaluate. Five years ago I had pneumonia and I couldn’t really do anything other than prop myself up on the couch and breathe… …breathe and think about how I ended up in this mess I’d run myself into the ground. My schedule was full-to-overflowing. […]


And clearing the way for a more innovative, inclusive future.

Unburdened Leaders are breaking
cycles of workplace burnout…

Are you about this, too? Let’s meet and see if I’m your coach – no expectations. Just connection.