What Do I Say?

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Dear Readers, This post is longer than usual but due to a recent news event, I wanted to offer some specific ideas about how to respond to the bereaved. President Trump recently asked his Chief of Staff the question "What do I say?" as he prepared to call a Gold Star family. Who among us has not … [Read more...]

Disenfranchised Grief

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“I am so embarrassed,” a client said recently. “My dog died, and I called into work sick for three days. I know so many people who have had real tragedies in their life, and I can’t get it together to get to work because my dog died. I really feel like something must be wrong with me.” Losses … [Read more...]

Shadow Grief

Shadow Grief

A mother, whose son died more than five years ago, was concerned something was wrong with her. She had ongoing feelings of sadness when much of her life was going well. “Everything is really good right now. My marriage survived our loss and is stronger than ever. We have had a new baby we adore. I … [Read more...]

What Was Big Is Now Small

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A bereaved father recently shared this story with me: “I had to walk out of a work meeting the other day. It was my first week back to work after my daughter’s death, and I found myself completely impatient with my team. The topics were so trivial, and they were so worked up as they talked. At first … [Read more...]

A Season With Myrrh

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It is a story often repeated this time of year. The three magi come from the east, following a star to find the Christ child. When they find Him they worship Him and present three gifts – gold, frankincense, and myrrh. Theologians and Bible scholars have offered ideas about the symbolic meaning … [Read more...]

Grief, Bereavement and Mourning

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Grief, bereavement and mourning are words often used to describe the experience of loss. Each of these words describes a different aspect of this experience. Grief is the noun used to describe all of the feelings inside us after a loss. Bereavement means to be deprived of someone by death. … [Read more...]

Vicarious Trauma and Grief

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Relatives and friends of the recent victims of violence have been emotionally devastated by the recent traumatic deaths that have occurred nationally and internationally. The communities where these events occurred will be changed forever. Even if you do not have a direct connection to those who … [Read more...]

Acknowledgement

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In 2011, writer Meghan O’Rourke and psychologist Leeat Granek wrote a series of articles about grief for Slate magazine based on a survey they conducted (see http://www.slate.com/articles/life/grieving.html). Eight thousand readers responded to questions focused on the emotional and social … [Read more...]

Clichés

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Did you ever have a paper returned in English class with a red mark through a phrase and the notation “avoid clichés?” Imagine this red line when you are talking with someone who is grieving. A cliché is a phrase that once had meaning but has been overused and now has lost its meaning. We use … [Read more...]

Catastrophic Thinking

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People who grieve sometimes respond to “normal events” with catastrophic thinking, a psychological term used to describe when a small event provokes thoughts of a dire conclusion. Your daughter is late, so you fear she has been in an accident. You feel a pain and suddenly you know it is cancer. … [Read more...]