Meet Joan Hitchens,Navigating Grief
Life and Energy Coach


Joan Hitchens, founder, author, coach Navigating Grief

Joan Hitchens is founder of Navigating Grief, support programs of coaching and guidance through transition after loss. From an integrated health and wellness background, ongoing education, and profound personal loss experiences, Joan translates the universality of grief into your individual path for healing.

Navigating Grief, establish 2012, is the evolutionary combined resources from Storybooks for Healing® an eight week bereavement group support and writing  curriculum  (2009) plus Grief Reflection, a caregiver’s blog for end-of -life care (2010). Grief Reflection itself is the term given to the writing process in Storybooks for Healing.

Since widowed in 2012, Joan has overcome significant physical challenges, reinvented and focused her career, and found life affirming meaning and purpose through grief. Joan’s interests include the new brain science on health and aging; writing and wellness; nutrition based on whole foods and healthy fats; natural healing energies and alternative care; Yoga, Tai chi and body mechanics; travel to warm weather locations; plus, fun and laughter with friends. She welcomes your questions, comments and dialogue.

Joan employs professional coaching methods, grief and transitions theories, energy healing practices and hard earned wisdom in working with you through your grief. The forward directed and self-responsible accountability of the coaching process is particularly effective, yet gentle, for moving through loss.  Joan writes regularly, notably Grief Reflection, a caregiver and widow’s blog, Storybooks for Healing, a story preservation curriculum for bereavement specialists, and guest articles on multiple platforms.


As difficult as the circumstances that bring you to seek out support, Joan knows that there is equal opportunity to grow in unexpected and enlightening renewal after loss of any kind.

Her coaching philosophy is that grief is a period of transition which often begins personal discovery and growth arising from the process of change after the death of a loved one. Healing after loss is challenged by honoring the memories and longing for the deceased while embracing a new life to be lived today. Joan approaches grief as a holistic journey for the mind, for the body and for the spirit. She believes everyone can find their individual path on the universal trail through grief. Humans are whole, creative and resourceful, even if this moment you feel broken and lost. Loss may be the topic that brings you to this point, but it is the focus on life that will propel you ahead.


Education: academic studies

Certified Life Coach, Institute for Life Coach Training, an ICF certified school, Illinois

Bachelor of Arts, emphasis dance movement and psychology studies, The Evergreen State College, Olympia, WA

Training and Certification: specialty intensive worksop/ retreats and continued learning interests.

Feng Shui Intensive, The Emerald Feng Shui Institute, Seattle WA

Primus Activation Healing Technique; Becoming the Human Crystal, Samaya K Aster (formerly, Naisha Ahsian) Chystallis Institute, Sedona, Az.

Reiki Master, Olympia, WA

The Circle Way, Whidbey Island, WA; Art of Hosting, Bowen Island, BC

Professional Memberships: education and alignment with ethical standards:

International Coaching Federation (ICF) The International Coach Federation seeks to Advance the Art, Science and Practice of Professional Coaching. ICF preserves the integrity of coaching through internationally accepted professional standards and is specifically recognized worldwide for: Developing coaching core competencies; Establishing a professional code of ethics and standards; Creating an internationally recognized credentialing program; Setting guidelines through accreditation for coach-specific training programs; and Providing focused discussion through Communities of Practice.

Association for Death Education and Counseling (ADEC) The Association for Death Education and Counseling® is an international, professional organization dedicated to promoting excellence and recognizing diversity in death education, care of the dying, grief counseling and research in thanatology. Based on quality research, theory and practice, the association provides information, support and resources to its international, multicultural, multidisciplinary membership and to the public.

National Alliance for Grieving Children (NAGC) The National Alliance for Grieving Children promotes awareness of the needs of children and teens grieving a death and provides education and resources for anyone who wants to support them.

National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization (NHPCO) The National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization is the largest nonprofit membership organization representing hospice and palliative care programs and professionals in the United States. The organization is committed to improving end of life care and expanding access to hospice care with the goal of profoundly enhancing quality of life for people dying in America and their loved ones.





Joan engages in ongoing professional development through local, distance education and research in journal writing, thanatology, wellness and related disciplines.

In Memoriam:

David L. Hitchens, Ph.D., American History, Founding Faculty Member, The Evergreen State College

Dave, husband for 28 years to Navigating Grief founder Joan Hitchens, taught at the college level for over 49 years, 40 at The Evergreen State College (TESC) in Olympia, WA.  TESC is an innovative Arts and Sciences college featuring interdisciplinary studies presented through small group seminars. David’s overarching approach to teaching was in the field of “reading, writing, thinking, and talking” which provides the fundamental skills for life-long learning and personal  insight. Dave’s spirit lives on in Joan’s work and her heart through their mutual desire to utilize self-discovery as a means to life fulfillment.

A memorial scholarship, the David L Hitchens Scholarship in honor of Frances Marie Rasmussen (his mother) was established in 2011 to carry on his desire to provide opportunity for higher education to anyone who desired to learn. You can learn more on the Evergreen State College scholarship website. In 2013, Dave’s family gifted and established The Evergreen Legacy Garden through the TESC Foundation as a contemplative space in lasting memory of the life and work of lives to be remembered in freedom and academic pursuits.

Storybooks For Healing(tm) is grateful to the family and memory of Brynn Marie Davis, whose short seven months on this earth was inspirational in the origin of the writing through grief program.