Grief and Loss Articles

Some Things We Might Learn from Robin Williams’ Death

Friday, August 15th, 2014

Plato Bust“Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.” – Plato

As shock waves resulting from Robin Williams’ suicide begin to settle, we might reflect upon what we might learn from this tragic event.

Viktor Frankl, a Holocaust survivor and author of the classic book, Man’s Search for Meaning, reminds us that we may sink into despair and depression unless we find meaning in tragic circumstances. What meanings and wisdom might we gather as we mourn the loss of one of our great actors and humorists — and by all accounts, a kind and generous human being?

Building Empowerment After Sexual Assault

Tuesday, August 12th, 2014

Building Empowerment After Sexual AssaultHealing from sexual assault is a process, and recovery is different for everyone. When working with clients who have been sexually assaulted, I attempt to provide some general guidelines that may prove useful in their individual journeys.

The healing process is multifaceted. It involves:

1. Asserting boundaries related to disclosure.
2. Assigning accountability to the perpetrator.
3. Managing self-blame.
4. Realizing that many people lack education or experience related to dealing with survivors.

Depression in Common: Losing a Friend to the Sadness You’ve Silently Battled

Wednesday, August 6th, 2014

depression-different-everyoneDepression is personal. It is this aspect of depressive thoughts that make them seem impossible to share. I let mine hold me in silence and agony for years. It had me convinced that nobody cared, nobody could or would help. It played into an overall sense of hopelessness.

I struggled for many years, reading books, going to therapy and soul searching, before I finally felt depression was a thing of my past — not something I was always just staying one step ahead of.

And then an old friend committed suicide. I had known him since childhood, during my darkest days and yet I had no idea he was struggling with depression.

3 Tips for Talking to Children about Traumatic Events

Sunday, August 3rd, 2014

3 Tips for Talking to Children about Traumatic EventsIt is almost impossible to shield children from negative world events. In our ever-connected society, breaking news stories reach far beyond the evening news. All too often, these tragic stories involving mass casualties are in the news for days and become the topic of conversation for many.

We see this with any major domestic or international story. As adults, these heartbreaking stories often take an emotional toll on us. Some make us cry; others evoke anger or frustration. For children, however, these reactions can be far more complex.

10 Tips for Navigating Heartbreak

Sunday, August 3rd, 2014

10 Tips for Navigating HeartbreakRejection is a part of life — a painful part.

Intimate relationships involve vulnerability and risk, and the ending of a relationship causes many to seek professional help and guidance.

The following is by no means an exhaustive list, but includes some suggestions to consider while undergoing the inevitable transitions that follow a breakup:

A Very Public Suicide and Those of Us Left Behind

Wednesday, July 16th, 2014

A Very Public Suicide and Those of Us Left BehindI saw the news Monday morning that there was a jumper on the Williamsburg Bridge. In a city of eight million people it’s not uncommon news. The report said: black male in his early 30s, no name, a note was found in his briefcase.

They emphasized how he had snarled early-morning traffic.

A person commented on one news site: “This city will chew you up and spit you out.”

Four days later I would learn that man was my long-time friend Don. He had stopped traffic. What may have appeared to be an inconvenient commute was actually a lot of joy and light leaving the world.

Letting Go and Moving On After a Breakup or Divorce

Wednesday, June 25th, 2014

Letting Go and Moving On after a Breakup or DivorceHeartbreak hurts. Loss is shattering. Put these two together and you’ve got the lovely one-two punch that can come with breakups of short-lived or long-term relationships.

It brings most everyone down. Otherwise emotionally-guarded people crumble into a mess of anger, sadness and confusion. Task-oriented folks lose focus and motivation. Forgiving types start learning how to hold a grudge.

The Funeral

Monday, June 23rd, 2014

The FuneralMy aunt — my mother´s youngest sister — left a chilling message on my cousin´s voicemail.

“Suzanne has to be institutionalized,” she pronounced without conscience or hesitation. “Don’t enable her delusions.”

Just like that. Suzanne was bipolar so she should be committed; lose her freedom, her rights. My aunt, whose exact qualifications elude me, was now a self-anointed/appointed psychiatrist.

5 Steps to Find Calm: An Interview with Robert J. Wicks

Friday, June 20th, 2014

New Photo

Renowned psychiatrist Peter Kramer once said that the opposite of depression isn’t happiness. It’s resilience, the ability to bounce back from tragedy, to regain a healthy sense of perspective after traumatic or stressful experiences.

In my recovery from depression and anxiety, it is calm — more than excitement or joy or contentment — that I seek. I want merely to enjoy a good night’s sleep and an evening without negative intrusive thoughts. I want to keep my heart rate down during challenging weeks, to let emotion take a back seat to rational thought, if that is even possible.

The Positive Effects of Heartbreak

Monday, June 16th, 2014

The Positive Effects of HeartbreakI read with every broken heart, we should become more adventurous. ~ Rilo Kiley

My heart hurts, I would say to others. And that kind of emotional pain is not just specific to me or only relevant to my life circumstances. I consider heartache to be a universal truth that comprises the human experience.

However, every cloud has a silver lining, right? I know, I know. It’s incredibly cliche. Once the dust settles — once we are able to process our feelings accordingly and obtain a bit of distance from that gut-wrenching state — while finding some semblance of closure, we could grasp the benefits of heartbreak as well.

A Technique for Feeling Painful Feelings

Thursday, June 12th, 2014

A Technique for Feeling Painful FeelingsMany of us avoid feeling our feelings because we worry that feeling them will be more painful than just pretending they don’t exist. Or we assume they’ll simply skulk away (and stay away permanently).

However, according to therapist and author Tina Gilbertson, LPC, in her book Constructive Wallowing: How to Beat Bad Feelings By Letting Yourself Have Them, “You let feelings ‘go’ by feeling them fully. Once they’re felt, they can leave.”

The Five Stages of Grief After a Diagnosis of Mental Illness

Wednesday, June 11th, 2014

The Five Stages of Grief After A Diagnosis of Mental IllnessIn the eight years that I’ve lived with schizophrenia, I’ve seen good days and horrible days, I’ve had successes and I’ve had failures. But nothing can compare to the despair I felt in the first few months and years of living with the illness.

They say there are five stages of grief when you lose a loved one. I can tell you from personal experience that those five stages also exist and are just as intense when you’re told you’re crazy.

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