Dealing with Grief
Written by: Robin Showalter
It wasn’t until I was hit with catastrophic loss myself that I realized how unprepared I was to deal with it. As a licensed professional counselor, I knew all about the stages of grief and what it would (probably) take to move through them and be “healed”. My grief experience taught me that our models of grief are broken. Society seems to want us to work through the stages and be “all better” in six months to a year. Our pain is uncomfortable for others. They don’t want to witness it. They want to cheer us up. They want to solve the problem. They want to fix us but there is no fixing grief.
I had friends, family, an office full of mental health professional colleagues, a psychiatrist, and a therapist. None seemed to truly understand my situation. Underneath it all, I felt like they wanted to fix me. I needed support but people seemed to be mainly offering solutions.
I finally found the help that I needed in a book It’s OK That You’re Not OK: Meeting Grief and Loss in a Culture That Doesn’t Understand by Megan Devine. In this book, Megan said that as a culture we need to make a new model for grief. We need to validate the pain and suffering of early grief without time limits or making promises of a happy ending. She suggests that a middle ground is possible where the pain and suffering are acknowledged and allowed. “A place that doesn’t ask us to deny our grief and doesn’t doom us forever. A place that honors the full breadth of grief, which is really the full breadth of love.”
As hard as my situation was, I know that I have been better able to help my clients deal with their own grief using what I learned from Megan’s book. She said that grief cannot be fixed it can only be carried. I like to think that with the proper support it can be carried into a new life.