Grief and Loss Articles

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

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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.

Meditation on a Friend’s Suicide

Monday, June 9th, 2014

Meditation on a Friend’s SuicideA friend killed herself this weekend.

Stop for just a moment and measure how you feel on reading that. Feel into your shoulders and your chest, your gut. Feel the visceral reaction to the statement of fact that someone loved took her own life. Own it.

It is our inability to physically, let alone emotionally, deal with the choice made, the act, that threatens to keep someone so special from living on in our memories.

The Other Person Behind a Chronic Illness

Saturday, June 7th, 2014

aamft.orgMy husband asked me this morning how I slept.

I wasn’t sure if I should tell him the truth.

Yesterday was a bad day in a string of good days, which feels like a blizzard the first week of April. Aren’t we done with this?

Hallucinations of Loss, Visions of Grief

Tuesday, May 13th, 2014

Hallucinations of Loss, Visions of GriefWhen I was a boy and there was a death in the family, the mirrors in our house would be covered with a sheet, as Jewish tradition dictated.

The “official” explanation of this custom, according to our rabbi, was that gazing at one’s reflection in a mirror is an act of vanity — and there is no place for vanity in a period of mourning. But my family had a different understanding of the practice: the mirrors were covered so that we would not see the face of the deceased instead of our own reflections.

As a psychiatrist, I think this bit of folk wisdom may see more deeply into the human soul than the theological teaching.

Falling out of Love is Simply Awful

Monday, May 12th, 2014

Falling out of Love is Simply AwfulNearly all of us know the feeling — the blissful first days of new love. We get swept away with the emotional highs, exhilarating new experiences and stomach-tingling thrill of falling head over heels for someone new. It’s an amazing experience and can happen oh so fast.

To fall in love is awfully simple … but to fall out of love is simply awful.

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