“When loss is a story, there is no right or wrong way to grieve. There is no pressure to move on. There is no shame in intensity or duration. Sadness, regret, confusion, yearning and all the experiences of grief become part of the narrative of love for the one who died.”
By the time Mary came to see me, six months after losing her daughter to sudden infant death syndrome, she had hired and fired two other therapists. She was trying to get her grief right.
Mary was a successful accountant, a driven person who was unaccustomed to being weighed down by sorrow. She was also well versed in the so-called stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. To her and so many others in our culture, that meant grief would be temporary and somewhat predictable, even with the enormity of her loss. She expected to be able to put it behind her and get on with her life.
To look at her, she already had done so. The mask she wore for the world was carefully constructed and effective. She seemed to epitomize what many people would call “doing really well,” meaning someone who had experienced a loss…
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