In our culture, death and grieving happen behind closed doors. We will all experience the death of a close loved one in our lives—and yet, the thought makes us deeply uncomfortable. We’d rather brush it aside until we have no choice in the matter.
When the day finally comes, our grief is very real, present, and can be devastating. It is not simply something one “gets over” or moves through easily. There is no right way to deal with grief. Everyone grieves, yes, but everyone grieves in their own way.
Along with less tangible responses like sadness, anger, and painful memories, grieving can also include physical symptoms, like difficulty sleeping and loss of appetite. Those experiencing the most intense forms of grief may even undergo neuropsychological changes affecting memory or regulation of emotions. Put simply, hiding from grief does not ease its passage.
In a culture that does so little to prepare us for grief, the first step is to recognize it has a valuable part to play in death. Grief is a healthy psychological response to loss.
In her recent article, “When Grief Won’t Relent” Jane Brody writes, “Grief is a normal human reaction, not a disease, and there is no one right way to get through it.”
And this is where therapy can help. Therapy can normalize grief—in a cultural context where it may seem anything but normal—and it can provide a safe place to talk when no one else can or will. Ultimately, grief has its own timetable, but by opening space to grieve, we can deepen our experience and lean in when things are hardest.
This post was written by Noelle Darling,
Registered MFT Intern, IMF#73560.