Grief & Loss
Similar to taxes, grief & loss are another universal human experience. But just because it's universal does not mean that you should get over it and move on with your life. Losing someone or something can be a gut wrenching and life altering experience. You likely feel overwhelmed and lost; one minute you think you're doing alright, and the next minute, out of nowhere, you're reeling again. Or maybe it doesn't feel real. They're just on vacation, they'll be back next week (or I didn't suddenly lose my job or ability to work, I'm just on vacation, I'll be back at work next week!).
Types of Grief & Loss
Losing a Close Family Member or Friend
This is the type of grief that comes to mind first when we think of "grief". Whether we've expected it in the case of a prolonged illness, or if it's out of left field from an accident, or a bit of both. This could be a parent, a best friend, a sibling, or a child. But even if it's the most recognizable grief, the impact is immense, suffocating, heavy. You wonder - how can I live like this? How do I continue living my normal life when I've lost this person who meant so much to me?
When we lose someone who we did not have a positive relationship with, grief becomes quite complicated. Others might say "oh, you must be *so* sad to lose your parent", and you play along but inside part of you is relieved they're gone. And then the guilt punches you in the stomach. How can you be relieved?! you wonder to yourself. It is so normal to have these feelings. Relationships are complex and messy, and grief is, too.
You're watching all your friends graduate, get married, have kids, land their dream jobs. But you're feeling stuck, wondering what the life you were supposed to live would be like. Losing a possible future is ambiguous loss.
Or you did graduate, land the dream job, got married, had kids. But it doesn't feel right. You were just kind of thrown into it. This is also ambiguous loss. You got something, but you lost freedom, your old life, who you used to be.
My Expertise & Approach
Personally, I have experienced all of the above types of loss, and have supported many individuals and families work through all three types of loss as well. I believe the best way to move forward with loss is to develop a dynamic and present relationship with the loss. Especially when we lose someone close to us, finding a way to connect and communicate with them in the here and now can be immensely powerful and healing. With ambiguous loss, I work similarly - acknowledging and honoring the loss is crucial. We can't properly mourn what we ignore. Making meaning of what has been lost and what has been found is the best way I have seen to move forward.
This type of work often looks like story telling - I want to hear all about your loved one and the relationship you had with them, and I want to hear about the life you dreamt of before your world changed. It also looks like writing (journaling, letters, lists, etc.) and art (painting, mixed "tapes," collage, etc.). I love hearing about actual dreams and their meaning, as well as finding meaningful signs and symbols that note a loved one's presence. But most importantly, I am open to the wide range of possibilities as healing from loss is a deeply personal and individualized journey that can't be prescribed or cookie cutter.
If the above sounds right to you, please reach out below to see if we could be a good fit.