Nationwide premiere of documentary focused on grieving and support to air May 5

'Speaking Grief' — a WPSU production — to broadcast on public media stations across the country

Darin Jensen, whose husband, Daniel, died in 2015, is featured in the documentary. Credit: Christel CornilsenAll Rights Reserved.

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — A documentary aimed at creating a more grief-aware society by validating the experiences of grievers and helping guide those who wish to support them will premiere at 8 p.m. Tuesday, May 5, on WPSU-TV.

“Speaking Grief,” produced by public media station WPSU Penn State, features diverse representations of grief through candid interviews with families whose losses include stillbirth, suicide and more. The documentary shares stories from families in Bellefonte and Collegeville, Pennsylvania; Houston; Los Angeles; Philadelphia; Oakland, California; and Collins, New York.

The documentary explores the transformative experience of losing a family member in a grief-avoidant society and aims to validate grief as a normal, healthy part of the human experience rather than a problem that needs to be “fixed.” It also addresses the role that support from friends and family plays in a person’s grief experience, offering guidance on how to show up for people in their darkest moments.

Watch the trailer for WPSU's documentary, "Speaking Grief," which aims at creating a more grief-aware society by validating the experiences of grievers and helping guide those who wish to support them.  Credit: WPSU Penn State

Lindsey Whissel Fenton, the documentary’s producer and director, said “Speaking Grief” aims to explore the reality of grief and offer guidance on how people can get better at showing up for those who are grieving.

“Even though it’s something we all go through, grief is still seen as somewhat taboo,” she said.  “We don’t talk about it and because we don’t talk about it, we aren’t very good at responding to it. We want to support our people, but we don’t know how.”

One family member featured in the documentary, Carmichael Khan, said the sudden loss of his wife forced him into an unexpected role: father and mother to his daughter, Asia, who was 14 at the time of her mother’s death.

“I wanted Asia’s life to be stable, to not have to deal with a post-trauma event,” said Khan, who is from Houston. “Recovery is a journey. You are the walking wounded, but there is always hope. I believe I would not be where I am if it were not for the people who assisted me through it.”

American Public Television is distributing the documentary to public television stations nationwide beginning in May. The documentary is scheduled to broadcast on public television stations in South Florida, Indianapolis, Las Vegas, New York City, Seattle, Denver, Los Angeles, Kentucky, Nashville, Northern Minnesota and South Carolina.

“Speaking Grief” is part of a multi-platform project aimed at elevating a national conversation around grief by creating the space for the journey to recovery. The website includes original video content and learning resources with additional stories of grief from other cities throughout the country. The Speaking Grief Project has been made possible with philanthropic support from the New York Life Foundation.

Visit the Speaking Grief website for more information about the project, to learn about the families in the documentary and view airdates. WPSU is a service of Penn State Outreach.

Last Updated April 30, 2020