Grief and Loss Articles

Hopeful Lessons from Robin Williams and Kurt Cobain

Tuesday, August 19th, 2014

Hopeful Lessons from Robin Williams and Kurt CobainI’m old enough to remember Kurt Cobain’s suicide in 1994, and what a major cultural and news event it was.

Although there have been other celebrity deaths in the years since, it’s only now with Robin Williams that a suicide has had as much attention and social magnitude.

The differences over time are striking. Social media has changed the nature of news as well as the conversation about news, and blogs make it easy for anyone to publish online what once might have been op-eds and letters to the editor in paper newspapers and magazines. Retweets and faves on @unsuicide reached an all-time high this week, with more people interested in both learning about and sharing information on suicide prevention. Mashable noticed a powerful and far-reaching positive change in the dialogue about suicide.

Answering Children’s Questions about Foster Care

Monday, August 18th, 2014

Answering Children's Questions about Foster CareRecently, a colleague came to me for advice on addressing a very tough question from a child: Why don’t I live with mommy anymore? With roughly 400,000 children in out-of-home placements in the United States, this is a question that gets asked by hundreds of thousands of children every year.

If you’re a foster parent, you’ve probably answered this question many times. However, if you’re a relative taking custody of a child, this question may not be one you’ve prepared for. Instead of anxiously awaiting the child’s question, I recommend being proactive and facilitating a meaningful discussion with the child about the move.

Psychology Around the Net: August 16, 2014

Saturday, August 16th, 2014

suicide-prevention-lifeline

This week’s Psychology Around the Net explores suicide and depression, happiness, and finding your life’s purpose.

Robin Williams Death Spotlights The Growing Risk Of Suicides Among Baby Boomers: Not only has Robin Williams’ suicide shined a spotlight on depression and how it can take hold of even those who make us happy, but also it highlights statistics not may are familiar with, such as the suicide rates among middle-aged Americans has climbed 30% in the last decade.

15 Myths About Suicide and Depression: Even though it’s more prevalent than AIDS, cancer, and diabetes combined, many people just don’t understand depression and the suicide risk.

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.

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