What Was, What Will Be, What Might Have Been

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This year I have experienced the death of my uncle and the birth of another grandson. The day I am writing this post is the 35th birthday of my son Ryan who died in 1981. My Uncle Frank was my last relative in the generation before me. He was deeply loved by his family and all who knew him. He … [Read more...]

Family Support

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I have observed a pattern in many grieving families. They fear that if all the family members express the depth of their pain at the same time, the family may cease to function. “What will happen to us if we all have our hardest day on the same day?” The community may assume that family members … [Read more...]

Grieving a Difficult Relationship

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Many clients who are mourning come to therapy because they wonder if their grief is too intense or lasting too long. Yet some come because they are not having an intense emotional response to their loss. Often those individuals had a complicated attachment to the one who died. A complicated … [Read more...]

The Beginnings of Grief

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Grief begins with attachment. We are designed to attach. Loving and being loved grows from that attachment. Death breaks the attachment to the one we loved in this physical world. Understanding the specific ways we were attached to our loved ones helps us understand the unique story of our … [Read more...]

A Pity Party

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Grief clients often tell me they fear they are having a “pity party” or are “feeling sorry for themselves.” Perhaps they are being self-centered or seeking attention, they wonder, or maybe they are lingering in their grief and should be feeling better by now. Many feel pressure, real or imagined, … [Read more...]

Compare And Contrast

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We all remember the assignment we were given in English class to compare and contrast. I often hear folks do this exercise with their grief. It is almost always done in a minimizing form, such as “My loss pales in comparison to the story I read in the paper today.” Perhaps there is some value in … [Read more...]

How Is She Doing?

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Words used to describe grieving people often measure them in terms of how well they are doing rather than how they are feeling. “How is our mutual friend doing after the death of her mother?” “She is doing really well. She is back to work and looks really good.” Or, “She is a mess. Really not doing … [Read more...]

How to Talk to Someone Grieving

Dr. Patrick O'Malley-Healing Grief

Many years ago I was in a men’s group. One of our group had recently experienced the death of his dad. The leader asked this man if he was “back on track” after the month had passed since his dad’s death. The fellow, who was a soft-spoken sort, looked confused as to how to answer the question. He … [Read more...]

Sitting With

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A grief counselor in my town tells about a conversation he had with a taxi driver. Making conversation, the cab driver asked why he was in town. The counselor said, “I am here to teach the staff at a hospital how to be helpful someone who has experienced the death of a loved one.” The cabbie looked … [Read more...]