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


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...]

What Was, What Will Be, What Might Have Been


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...]

Grieving a Difficult Relationship


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


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


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


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?


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...]