Grief and the Holidays

Rockwell-freedom from wantsmallcrop

Those who mourn often wish they could avoid this time of year. They wish they could start a nap before Thanksgiving and wake up in January. The holidays create a collision between cultural expectations of celebration and the personal reality of sorrow. If your loved one died during the holiday … [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...]

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

Pond3

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

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 Is She Doing?

Path

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...]

When a Classmate Dies

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Many years ago, I was a consultant at a school where a kindergarten student had died. The parents of the other classmates wanted help as they helped their own children process the tragedy. I met with the parents to help them understand what to expect from their children, and I also consulted with … [Read more...]