“Grief is not a disorder, a disease or a sign of weakness.  It is an emotional, physical and spiritual necessity, the price you pay for love.  The only cure for grief is to grieve.”

Dr. Earl A. Grollman

 

GRIEF IS NATURAL

It is a natural response to loss that is both universal and highly individualized.  Grief is also complex and multifaceted, often complicated, and at times messy. 

Generally speaking, as a culture, we don't grieve well.  Grief is misunderstood and typically experienced alone, privately, and without adequate support.  There is an expectation that a person will grieve for some arbitrary amount of time and then "get over it". 

This is unrealistic, and it's not helpful.  

Grief is neither finite nor something to "get over".  It it necessary.  By allowing ourselves and each other to grieve, we are tasked with learning how to live with all that has been lost, and to connect with that which remains.  Grief needs space, and it needs support.

Grief is love in another form ... and love does not die.  

"If it's important, the heart remembers."

 ~ Barbara Kingsolver

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GRIEF RESOURCES

There is no "right" or "wrong" way to grieve or mourn a loss.  What one person finds helpful or comforting may be unhelpful to another.  The resources included here are just a sample of what is available to support your grief process.  If you do not find something here that resonates with you or addresses your specific needs, please know there are many more grief-related resources that may be of value or of use to your process.  I encourage you to keep looking.

I hope you will take all the time you need to grieve, and that you will find support and comfort along the way.

We are not meant to grieve alone.

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LOCAL GRIEF SUPPORT

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BOOKS

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ONLINE

Duke Hospice Bereavement - Counseling, support groups, children's programming 

Transitions LifeCare - Counseling, support groups, children's programming

Comfort Zone Camp - Children's grief camp 

Triangle SOS - For those coping with loss due to suicide, including support groups

Growing thru Grief - Weekly groups Durham 

The Compassionate Friends - Peer-led groups for those coping with loss of a child

Grief Oasis - Weekly groups Chapel Hill

Healing After Loss: Daily Meditations, Martha Whitmore Hickman
Bearing the Unbearable, Joanne Cacciatore
A Grief Observed, C.S. Lewis
It's Ok That You're Not Ok, Megan Devine
The Grieving Brain, Mary-Francis O'Conner
Ambiguous Loss, Pauline Boss
Widow to Widow, Genevieve Davis Ginsburg
Motherless Daughters, Hope Edelman
Lifetimes, Bryan Mellonie and Robert Ingpen
The Memory Box, Joanna Rowland

 
Image by Mike Labrum

“Grief is praise, because it is the natural way love honors what it misses.”

Martin Prechtel, The Smell of Rain on Dust: Grief and Praise

 

WHAT IS PROLONGED GRIEF DISORDER?

Prolonged Grief Disorder (PGD) is a diagnosis that has been included in the most recent edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Health Disorders (DSM-5-TR).  It is defined as a persistent and pervasive grief response characterized by intense longing or yearning and/or preoccupation with the deceased person, accompanied by at least 3 of 8 additional symptoms that includes: disbelief, intense emotional pain, feeling of identity confusion, avoidance of reminders of the loss, feelings of numbness, intense loneliness, meaninglessness or difficulty engaging in ongoing life. The diagnosis requires that it has been at least one year since the loss for a bereaved adult (six months for children and adolescents), and that symptoms have been present daily for at least the prior 30 days and cause clinically significant distress and/or impairment in functioning.

This diagnosis is complicated and has been controversial, as all of the symptoms mentioned above can be common and natural grief responses that may, and often do, extend beyond any specific time frame, cause significant distress, and affect a person's prior functioning. The notion that there is a difference between "normal" and "abnormal" grief has been discussed, studied, and debated for many years.  Historically, "abnormal" grief has had various names: Complicated Grief, Persistent Complex Bereavement Disorder, and now Prolonged Grief Disorder.  In the mental health field, it is understood that although grief is individualized and no two grieving processes will present in the same way, there are a number of factors that can further complicate and derail a natural grieving process and interfere with a person's ability to return to a prior level of functioning.  

The Center for Prolonged Grief (previously known as the Center for Complicated Grief) at Columbia University has been at the forefront of the research and development of an evidenced-based treatment protocol for those experiencing a prolonged grief process.  Provided over 16 sessions, the goals of treatment are to identify and overcome the barriers that have interrupted a person's adaptation to loss and to work towards restoring the person's capacity for well-being.  For more information, visit their website here.

To be clear, grief is not time limited and often remains with us for a lifetime.  There is no timeline in which a person should be "over" grief. We do not get "over" the loss of a loved one; instead, we are tasked with learning how to live with the loss in a way that life can still hold meaning and purpose.  For many, grief naturally changes and becomes less intense and painful over time.  When it does not, seeking more support can be an important first step.  I invite you to reach out here if you'd like to talk about the support I can offer.