To grieve is to encounter a paradox. Loss is an inescapable human experience; most people—and certainly most adults—have endured the death of a loved one. And yet, loss can feel utterly isolating, a solitary cell without a window.
Lori’s columns on death are written for anyone inside that cell, or those just outside who are trying to help. People ask her, “What will make this pain go away?”
In her responses, Lori guides them away from that question. “Healing doesn’t mean that the pain goes away. It means that the pain becomes a sacred part of you that you carry inside forever. Often grieving people come to me hoping I can help them find ‘closure,’ but I’ve always felt that closure was an illusion,” she writes. “Besides, how can there be an end point to love and loss? Do we even want there to be?”
But if the hope is not to feel closure, what is it? Lori cites the work of the grief psychologist William Worden, who’s said that one of the “tasks” of grieving is “to integrate the loss into our lives and create an ongoing connection with the person who died—while also finding a way to continue living.”
For many people in the depths of grief, that advice might feel incomprehensible, like no way forward at all. But in reading through these columns, one theme emerged: The first step is leaving that isolated cell. As Lori writes, “being alone in one’s grief greatly compounds it.”
So reach out of that cell, or open the door for those reaching in. Doing so, Lori writes, was what most helped her through her own loss. Her therapist, and her memories of her father’s advice before he died, “couldn’t take away my pain,” she writes, “but they sat with me in my loss in a way that said: I see you, I hear you, I’m with you.”
Read the full article and related content on The Atlantic here.
If you are suffering from a recent loss related to the death of a loved, the loss of health, or self-esteem in these challenging times, call Dr. Barry Richman today to ask about Grief Counseling in NYC.