HarperCollins Speakers Bureau

Michele Reiss, PhD, RN, CS

Expert on Grief and Bereavement; Psychiatric Clinical Specialist


  • Grief and Bereavement, from the Perspective of Individuals, Families, and/or Children and Adolescents
  • Coping with Serious Illness
  • Special Bereavement Challenges, Including Loss of a Child, Sudden and Unexpected Loss, and Family Caretaking
  • Coping with Adversity through Positive Thinking, Bearing Witness, and Balancing Optimism and Pessimism
  • Normal Versus Complicated Grief, for a Professional Audience
  • Grief and the Family



As a Family Medicine Residency administrator and faculty member, Dr. Michele Reiss trains young physicians in the psychological aspects of health care. As a psychotherapist, Reiss sees clients with varied interests. Major clinical commitments include working with patients struggling with life threatening illnesses such as cancer, and with those coping with loss or grief issues. A sought-after keynote speaker, Reiss has presented nationally and locally on such topics as grief and bereavement, the physician's role in terminal care, and the psychological aspects of cancer survival. Her book, Lessons in Loss and Living: Hope and Guidance for Confronting Serious Illness and Grief (Hyperion), is based on her years of work with those facing serious illness or acute grief.

A highly respected therapist, Reiss counseled Randy Pausch, author of The Last Lecture, and his wife, Jai, as Randy was dying of pancreatic cancer. With the public disclosure of her role as counselor to the Pausches, Reiss hopes to encourage others to seek support and guidance when facing the stresses of a serious medical illness.

In her keynote speeches, as in Lessons in Loss and Living, Reiss provides comfort and counsel for audiences who are coping with the challenges of serious illness or grief. Through real-life examples of people who have dealt with cancer and other illnesses, she teaches audiences and readers about hope and the art of living and loving well, despite significant adversity, while emphasizing that time is precious, and that we should live our lives fully, generously, and with joy.

Reiss currently resides in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania where she maintains a private psychotherapy practice. She also functions as the Assistant Program Director and behavioral medicine faculty member for a large, well known, family medicine residency program in the Pittsburgh hospital community. Additionally, Reiss is a clinical assistant professor for both the University of Pittsburgh's School of Medicine/ Family Medicine Department and the Graduate School of Nursing/ Community and Mental Health Department.

Reiss received both her masters degree in psychiatric nursing and her doctorate in higher education/ child development from the University of Pittsburgh. She is board certified as an advanced practice Psychiatric Clinical Specialist. She has taught and mentored young physicians, family medicine and pediatric residents, psychiatry residents, and graduate nursing students for over 25 years, and has run a consultation service for a local hospital's oncology and burn units while consulting with an area Hospice program.

Praise for Lessons in Loss and Living:

"Michele Reiss reminds us that it should not take a life-threatening illness, or loss, or trauma to awaken us to living each day with joy, blessings, passion, and purpose. This book, with its profound lessons, is a gift."
-- Ann Webster, Ph.D., Benson Henry Institute for Mind-Body Medicine, Harvard Medical School

"In reading Lessons in Loss and Living, I felt that I was listening to a wise, trusted friend. Give yourself the gift of this necessary read, and then give it to a friend."
-- Lulu Orr, Executive Director, Good Grief Center