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Image by Lukasz Szmigiel
"If the condition of grief is nearly universal, its transactions are exquisitely personal."
Meghan O'Rourke

About Grief

If you are grieving right now, I am sorry. For most of us, grieving is the most difficult and painful emotional experience we will have in life.


What is grief? I think of grief as the loss of someone or something that we are emotionally attached to. Each grief is as individual as the griever, the grieved, and their relationship. While I can’t think of anything that is universal in grief, there are some reactions that are more common than others. Your reactions and personal characteristics will point the way toward your unique path through your grief.

Most of us have heard of Elisabeth Kubler-Ross’s stages of grief. Kubler-Ross was a pioneer in talking with dying people and discovering they had a range of emotions that changed and developed over time. (Note that she did not study grievers, but people who were dying.) Subsequent research revealed that grief does not limit itself to the five emotions she named and does not move linearly or predictably on any path.

What is helpful in grief? Many things, depending upon the griever. A majority of people find talking to a non-judgmental, empathetic person helpful. This can be family and friends, or it can be a professional. Repeated expression as the story unfolds can help the griever accept, mourn and integrate their experience. Eventually, people who experience the full extent of their mourning will naturally turn their attention toward what the future might look like without their loved one with them.

Grief is not something people ever “get over”, although it should become less sharply painful over time. We are not ever the same after losing someone important to us. We will always carry a scar as a reminder of the ways we were changed by the experience.

How do you know when you might need help? While most people make it through the intensity of their grief without professional help, there are many signs a person might benefit from the support of a professional. People who may want to consider therapy include those who have...

  • few non-judgmental listeners in their life,

  • a pre-existing mental condition such as depression or anxiety,

  • coping and relaxation skills that are overwhelmed by the grief,

  • a traumatic loss (e.g. violence, suicide, overdose),

  • a sudden loss,

  • multiple losses,

  • loss of a child,

  • a loss not always recognized by others, such as a miscarriage or affair,

  • difficulty functioning after several weeks (eating, sleeping, working),

  • non-death losses such as estrangement, divorce or medical issues,

  • an increase in addictive behaviors,

  • symptoms or behaviors that are negatively impacting their lives, or

  • anyone who would like ideas for processing, remembering and growing.



There is a great deal of good support available in  books and on websites. Some of my top recommendations for general grief are listed below. Please feel free to contact me for more specific resources. I have many.





  • The Courage to Grieve, by Judy Tatelbaum

  • How to Go On Living when Someone You Love Dies, by Terese Rando

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