Tuesday, December 3, 2019

What's New In Grief?

I find myself wanting to be profound and engaging and write something that will change everything.  Instead I find myself unable to find words to articulate the experience of the death of my child.  Everything I think of and start to put on paper feels puny and inadequate to capture the enormous depth and breadth of my feelings and the profound changes her death has wrought in me over time.   In the over 40 years since my daughter’s death I have learned a great deal about grief and that terrible process, but there is not much new in grief.  We have spent much time, energy and money trying not to cry, all to no avail.  

Grief is analogous to throwing up and serves the same purpose, to rid the body/psyche of toxins.  To some degree a person can control both vomiting and grieving, with similar results, control prolongs the suffering.  

 We try our hardest not to and use every possible trick, pill or drink that can, hopefully, stop it, or make it go away. And there are rather punishing consequences to that avoidance. 

The death of my child still hurts and has profoundly changed me and sets me apart from others in ways that are hard to bridge.  I have found refuge in a few wonderful people that can tolerate my grief and my strangeness.

As a therapist I have never worked with anyone that doesn’t have as a core issue some profound loss that has not been expressed.  When that issue is identified and the person can grieve, the healing starts.

Thursday, October 24, 2019


As the years have passed since you died, the changes in me have made me stranger and stranger.

The first few years were simply full of pain suffering and an intense longing to have you back.  Learning to breathe again was a major achievement.

Healing all those connections to you continues to this day.

The first change I noticed was how little tolerance I had for chit-cha, seemed insipid to me in the face of what I wanted to talk about. 

The next thing I noticed was that no one wanted to hear about your death.  In fact, as soon as people find out I am a bereaved parent, the start drifting away, that is still true.

Certainly, my priorities altered dramatically.

The profound loneliness and aloneness has altered me and taught me much about me and everyone’s humanness. 

It would be easier, safer and nicer if I just walled myself off or permitted myself to be bitter and cynical, but I have made different choices, to honor your life and my love for you.

I take my strangeness with me wherever I go and I get strange reactions from people, mostly they don’t know what to do or say, most folk turn away.

What impact I have, I can’t say, but to do otherwise feels like a betrayal of all you have meant to me and a discount of my grief in your profound loss and all the hard work I have done to have a rich and deep life without you. 

Oct 2019



Wednesday, September 4, 2019

Levels of Listening

I hope people find this interesting and useful

Levels of Listening
1. Hearing the words
2. Hearing the words and partial feelings
3. Hearing the words, accepting feelings
4. Hearing the words, accepting feelings, making plans to deal with issues

                  Levels of speaking
                        1. Saying the words
                        2. Saying the words and partial disclosure
                        3. Saying the words acknowledging meaning
                        4. Saying the words, acknowledging meaning. Checking out impact

Levels of Impact
1. Reporting information
2. Reporting information, partial challenge
3. Reporting information, full challenge, engagement
4. Reporting information full challenge, engagement. Transformation

                  Levels of Learning
                        It is not the same as study, finding out what others know, knowing                                                         answers or measured by exams.  It is the process of solving our own problems for our                          own purposes by questioning, thinking, feeling and testing until the solution is part of                          our lives.
                        1. New skills and information
                        2. New thoughts and beliefs
                        3. New identity and behaviors
                        4. New intuitions and creativity