I had planned on writing about grief later in the month, but after my 99-year-old grandmother passed on Sunday, I decided it makes more sense for me to talk about grief now.

“Grief is what we feel inside. Mourning is what we experience and show to others on the outside. So I can never see your grief or judge your grief by whether or not you’re crying or angry or upset. Only you will ever know your grief.” David Kessler

In my experience, those of you who find a way to mourn have a healthier path to healing.  Holding on to your grief can be destructive in small or big ways.  It can also impact you years down the road. 

Mourning can include traditions of attending a funeral and going to a wake or Shiva.  Maybe you participate in a collective bathing and dressing of your loved one.  Maybe you say prayers.  Others might light a candle, wear a piece of jewelry or clothing, and/or make a donation or plant a tree.  Mourning is an individual, and can be a collective, process.  I encourage you to find something that is meaningful for you.

The emotions related to grief are encapsulated in the Five Stages of Grief developed by Elisabeth Kubler Ross, M.D. in her groundbreaking book, “On Death and Dying” (1969).  The non-linear stages are:

A couple of weeks ago, I was listening to Brene Brown’s podcast, Unlocking Us, and her discussion with grief expert, David Kessler.  (https://brenebrown.com/podcast/david-kessler-and-brene-on-grief-and-finding-meaning/) In his newest book, Finding Meaning: The Sixth Stage of Grief, David discussing this healing step that helps folks “move on.”  (Though I have to tell you, I find the phrases “move on” or “get over it” diminishing and hurtful.)

Finding meaning is a way to help us understand and remember those you lost to death with a focus on loving memories rather than pain.  He shows us how to move forward in a way that honors our loved ones.

This really stood out to me as this is the struggle I see when working with those of you dealing with grief.  I have often seen acceptance delayed because someone cannot find meaning to the loss of their loved ones.

I know when I think about my grandmother, or “grams” as I always called her, I am fortunate to have a lot of positive memories.  Her laugh, her favorite drink, all the summers spent in the backyard pool and garden are just some of them.  There are ways I will mourn now and will continue to mourn and honor her throughout my life.

If you need help processing your grief and healing, please reach out.  I am here for you.

Dr. Irgang
Dr. Lisa Irgang is a Clinical Psychologist and the Owner of Relationship Solutions Center. She provides a variety of services to meet her clients needs. Dr. Lisa has worked with people throughout Chicagoland, helping with adjusting to significant life changes, ADHD, Alternative Sexualities, Anxiety Disorders, Bipolar Disorder, Dealing with Chronic Illness, Depression, Low self-esteem, Parenting special needs children, Relationship concerns, and Trauma. She's a graduate of Argosy University Chicago and a Fellow at CLII - Collaborative Law Institute of Illinois.

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