Grief and responsibility: How do we carry a legacy, and transform loss into lasting impact?

How do we turn loss into positive impact? My 3rd TEDx Talk from an unexpected transformation

My most recent TEDx Talk was in Jacksonville, Florida, 4/7/18 for TEDxFSCJ: Barriers, and is now live, in honor of my grandmother, a Holocaust survivor, my grandfather, an ex-partisan from Poland, and in honor of the losses we all have experienced, which leave us with the heavy weight of grief and the even greater burden of asking ourselves…”What do we do to remember?”

“As a 13-year-old, Amy Oestreicher decided to throw a surprise birthday party for her grandmother, Hannah Stochel. Neighbors and relatives gathered about the kitchen table, but when Hannah arrived, she burst into tears, explaining that her friends were not there to join in—they had all died during the war. Shocked and unsettled, Oestreicher eventually spent years recovering the hidden threads of her grandmother’s life. As a Holocaust survivor, her grandmother was forever haunted by loss, yet she still found the strength to celebrate when times were good. That was the lesson Oestreicher needed to learn to survive trauma in her own life. Each of us, ultimately, has so much to learn from the lives of those we’ve lost, but it is up to us—to learn their stories, and tell their stories, reweaving loss into lasting memory. “

What do we do when we’ve lost something in our lives? Can we get it back?

What if that loss is someone we’ve loved? What is our responsibility? How do we grieve?

And then…what do we do with it?

When we become a survivor of loss, do we have a responsibility to share their story? And can that help us? Can it impact the world?

I started examining that when trying to grieve the loss of my grandmother, an amazing woman.

When I woke up from my coma, I didn’t know that I would never see her again. Later on, I realized that learning about her struggles, as an amazingly resilient woman and Holocaust survivor, I could piece together her memory, learn lessons I needed to learn myself, and also help share her lessons with the world, who needed them now, more than ever.

We all have to deal with loss in our lives. We can lose a person that’s close to us, a material possession, an identity, our sense of home, or we can be struck by a shocking tragedy on the news. Unfortunately, the nature of life is unpredictable.

So how can we transform that loss into something positive — some way to celebrate the legacy of that loss and make an impact on ourselves and our world, while the spirit is “no longer here” can somehow live on?

See theTEDx Talk, Learn about the play, FIBERS, I discuss in the talk. See pictures from the event. Learn about the oral history work that inspired the play.

What I’d like to ask is…when you’ve lost somebody in your life, how to you grieve? How do you move on? Have you mourned their loss in a way that continues their mission, connects their story to the world now, and makes an impact?

I’d love to hear about it — write a comment or send me a note!

Amy Oestreicher is a PTSD peer-peer specialist, artist, author, writer for Huffington Post, TEDx and RAINN speaker, award-winning health advocate, actress and playwright, sharing the lessons learned from trauma through her writing, artwork, performance and inspirational speaking. She has headlined international conferences as a keynote speaker, and as author and star of Gutless & Grateful, her one-woman musical autobiography, since its NYC debut in 2012. Her writings have appeared in over 70 online and print publications, and her story has appeared on TODAY, Cosmopolitan and CBS. She’s currently touring a mental health advocacy/sexual assault awareness program to colleges nationwide. See her first two TEDx Talks at

About the Author
Amy Oestreicher is a PTSD peer-to-peer specialist, artist, author, writer for Huffington Post, speaker for TEDx and RAINN, health advocate, survivor, award-winning actress, and playwright, sharing the lessons learned from trauma through her writing, mixed media art, performance and inspirational speaking. As the creator of "Gutless & Grateful," her BroadwayWorld-nominated one-woman autobiographical musical, she's toured theatres nationwide, along with a program combining mental health advocacy, sexual assault awareness and Broadway Theatre for college campuses and international conferences. Her original, full-length drama, Imprints, premiered at the NYC Producer's Club in May 2016, exploring how trauma affects the family as well as the individual. To celebrate her own “beautiful detour”, Amy created the #LoveMyDetour campaign, to help others cope in the face of unexpected events. "Detourism" is also the subject of her TEDx and upcoming book, My Beautiful Detour, available December 2017. As Eastern Regional Recipient of Convatec’s Great Comebacks Award, she's spoken to hundreds of healthcare professionals at national WOCN conferences, and her presentations on diversity, leadership and trauma have been featured at National Mental Health America Conference, New England Educational Opportunity Association's 40 Anniversary Conference, and have been keynotes at the Pacific Rim Conference of Diversity and Disability in Hawaii, the Eating Recovery Foundation First Annual Benefit in Colorado. She's contributed to over 70 notable online and print publications, and her story has appeared on NBC's TODAY, CBS, Cosmopolitan, among others. Learn more: and support her work at Amy is currently participating as a playwright and performance artist in the National Musical Theatre Institute at the world-renowned Eugene O'Neill Theater Center.