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Monday, 19 September 2011

Grief and Therapy

I hope, by now, it is evident that I have a deep respect for therapists and for the therapeutic process. I have benefited many times throughout my life by spending time with wonderful, competent therapists. Yet, as I do more work in the area of grief and grieving, I become more convinced daily that a great deal of time and money is being spent on therapy when what is actually needed is simply somewhere to grieve. So many of us carry so much grief: we’ve lost lovers, friends, jobs, homes, pets. We’ve lost our youth, our energy, our faith. Add to that a significant death and we have a perfect storm of grief; with no where to express it, and no one to witness it. With no one to guide us, or help us feel like what we’re going through is normal. In this day and age it is easier to assume that we are losing our minds and that we need a therapist in order to “sort everything out.”

If this weren’t such a tragedy it would be amusing. Here we are, in North America, able to benefit from the insights of psychology and psychiatry, able to spout clich├ęs about healing our inner child and getting free of co-dependency, yet unable to grasp the simple truth that grieving is a necessary part of living. We continually deny the depth of change and transformation that comes with death and loss. We don’t even have words to describe who we are without our sister, without our child, without our in-laws. It’s as if some types of grief can be recognized and affirmed, because they bestow names: widow, widower, orphan.

I wish that all of us who are carrying grief could simply be purple for a day, so that our grief could be witnessed and affirmed. I know that we like to have our protective walls up sometimes, especially at work. But, I think if we could meet our fellow travelers, the pathway of grief would not be so desolate. At the very least, we could be sharing our experience, strength and hope, as other self-help groups advocate. It seems to me that our grieving selves need to see the light of day if true healing is to happen. That light may be found in a therapist's office, but it might also be found in the eyes of a friend.

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