Similes and Metaphors

OMalley-R1-041-19 - Version 2People who talk about their grief often use similes and metaphors to describe their experience. “Grief is like being on an emotional roller coaster.” “Grief is like being in the ocean, and waves of sadness wash over me.” “Grief is a mountain to scale.” “Grief is shattering.”

They also use examples of physical injury to express the experience of loss. They may feel their grief as a deep wound that requires time to heal. A wound implies that as it heals, the pain of grief will lessen and end. Yet for many, grief is an experience that does not end.

I also hear the bereaved say their grief feels like the loss of a limb, which suggests that bereaved people must live their lives with a part of themselves always missing.

Find words and images that describe your grief experience. Use them to help you navigate your way in this uncharted territory of loss.

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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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