Grief is not a one-time event like a memorial service. Grief is more like a journey. It may be a rocky road full of unexpected detours, but it is a trek we all must take as we encounter various losses in our lives. When we know what to pack for this necessary trip we avoid getting stuck in a ditch. We are better prepared so that eventually we’ll get to the other side and experience healing. By healing I don’t mean that our grief will be “cured.” Grief is not an illness to be cured. Grief is a normal and natural response to loss. We never “get over” our losses; we get through them and learn to live with them. We may get some scratches or a sunburn on our grief journey, but if we have the courage to travel this road, we will emerge healed from our wounds, left with scars that remain with us but don’t define us. Read More
I heard my daughter use the term “frenemy” recently. I immediately had a memory of the “Frenemies” episode on the TV show Sex and the City. My next thought was how the notion of “sometimes a friend/sometimes an enemy” applies to grief (I know it sounds strange, but as a grief educator this is how I think!).
There are some grief responses that can be helpful (i.e. friendly) and lead us toward healing, but sometimes those same grief reactions can be detrimental and prevent us from grieving well (i.e. enemies). Read More
One grief. Two grief.
My grief. Your grief.
Oh, the losses you’ll grieve!
Can you count them on one hand?
Or do they spread across miles of land?
Could they, would they make you sad?
Or lonely or guilty or even mad? Read More
Grief is like the month of March. You never know what to expect from March in New England. One day it’s snowing with blizzard-like conditions and the next day it’s sunny and 70 degrees. It is a month of surprises.
We never know what to expect from our grief either. Our grief is unique. It doesn’t look like anyone else’s. There’s no set order or stages to our grief. One day we feel like we are handling everything quite well and the next day we feel so sad and distraught that we wonder if we will ever feel “normal” again.
Are you a “Neat Freak” or a “Messy Bessie” in your grief? When losses occur in your life (due to death, loss of good health, job loss, relationship break-ups, financial struggles, etc.) do you expect your response (i.e. grief) to be orderly and predictable or do you immerse yourself in the chaos of grief?
Neat Freaks expect grief to follow a certain path. They cling to “stage theories” of grief such as Elisabeth Kübler-Ross’s five stages of dying (denial, anger, bargaining, depression, acceptance). They believe this is a road map to a sequential order of grief (even though these stages were never really meant to be stages of grief). They are convinced that if they deviate from this plan then they are not grieving normally or are stuck in denial.