Leslie Hunt Palumbo, LCSW
Leslie is a psychotherapist, grief counselor, author, & speaker with over 25 years of clinical experience helping people move through loss feeling restored and expanded. Her extensive work, which has earned her the nickname “The Angel of Grief”, encompasses individual & group clinical work; guidance for families through the hospice experience; presenting workshops worldwide; and consulting with the Chicago Public Schools, Yale’s Smilow Cancer Hospital, and other professional organizations. Leslie studied at Boston University, Yale University and Loyola University School of Social Work. She completed the intensive Presence Training for Professionals with Eckhart Tolle and studied in extended meditation retreat with Pema Chodron, and always brings a deep presence into her work.
Recently remarried, Leslie lives with her son, stepsons and superhuman cat, Sunday. Her favorite thing is to be in contemplation in nature, on the beach, or on any travel adventure. Her greatest desire is to change the collective conversation around grief so it is recognized as a universal developmental passage that, while accompanied by deep pain, also provides an opportunity for each of us to increase our resilience and expand into a greater version of ourselves.
On a sublime Indian summer morning, my mother walked herself out to one of the most breathtaking spots on this earth, sat herself down, and did the unthinkable- she took her own life. That was the day the sky opened up and took what I thought I knew of life and grief with it.
I was changed. Walking through those first days I felt awestruck. I was writing everything down- I could not stop- I was stunned by the extent of my anguish and even the physical pain I felt from the grief, but I was even more shocked by the beauty that I saw all around me in the midst of it. How could both exist in a moment?
In my intense sorrow, I felt an urgent imperative to grab the joy as it passed by and hold onto it.
My grief became a sacred study that transformed me. I had not realized that while loss took so much, grief could offer so many gifts. Helping people locate those gifts has become my great honor.
Four years later, on the eve of my son’s 10th birthday, my larger than life husband was diagnosed with a rare and fatal blood cancer. The result was a journey of extreme suffering and eventual death. Watching someone suffer so was unbearable to me. How could anything bright be found amidst that? Yet beauty persisted. I saw how much perseverance it could take to see it through the heartache that engulfs the mourning of a partner.
Grief has followed me both professionally and personally. It is the curriculum that life has chosen for me this time around. I am grateful, not for my losses, but for my grief. It humbles me. It holds my integrity. It has transformed me in ways that I cherish, and time and again I have watched it expand the very best of people’s human qualities.
Grief is a noble teacher. It directs us to acknowledge sadness, feel it in our bones, and then get up and ground ourselves in the beautiful again. If you would like to do that, if you are doing that, I look forward to connecting with you.
Leslie Hunt Palumbo, LCSW
Guiding grieving people toward joy again by changing the conversation around grief to include the perspective and empowerment to live lives their loved ones would be proud of.