Catastrophic Thinking

crazy

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...]

Grief Exhaustion

Thoughtful

Columnist Maureen Dowd recently commented on Vice President Joe Biden’s possible decision to run for president. She wrote that Joe Biden has a dilemma: “How does he honor the wish of his late son, Beau, to run when the death of Beau has left him so depleted he may not be able to run?” “I have … [Read more...]

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...]

Compare And Contrast

Bench

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 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...]

High Achiever Grievers

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Many grieving people come to see me already self-diagnosed. They believe they are behind in their grieving. They either have read about the model of Stages of Grief or have heard enough to know they are behind or “stuck.” I call these folks “High Achiever Grievers.” They are typically very … [Read more...]