Liminality

dreamstime_s_591103“I feel in between two worlds,” a woman whose husband recently died told me. “I know the life we shared is over, but I don’t have a vision of what my life will now be. I look around and see so many memories of the past. How do I live in the future without him?”

Liminality is the space between what was and what will come. Liminal comes from the Latin root limen, meaning threshold. A threshold separates one space from another. Grieving can be described as the movement between our life as we knew it with our loved one and the uncertainty of our life without them. We have left something behind, and we are not fully somewhere else.

It can feel disorienting and exhausting to manage the demands of the present and future, when our thoughts and feelings are pulled to our previous life with our loved one. Know that the movement between what was and what is yet to be is normal, and there is not something wrong with you. Be compassionate with yourself as you live in this liminal space of grief.

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Dr. Patrick O’Malley is a psychotherapist in Fort Worth, Texas, specializing in grief counseling. For 35 years, he has counseled individuals, couples and families in his private practice. Dr. O'Malley has recently published a book, "Getting Grief Right" about grief recovery.

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