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She tells me she is there by leaving white feathers. Thank you so much for posting this. I am Catholic, but have a Jewish friend who lost his father over the weekend. He told me he and his family were sitting Shiva, prior to the Jewish holiday, and I wanted to learn more about it so I could honor him and his father appropriately. Your article was thorough and helpful in every way. I live across the country from this friend, so I can't pay a Shiva call. Is it appropriate to send a sympathy card? Is there some other appropriate way I can honor my friend's father?

Thank you so very much for this article I lost my beloved David, my Dovid His passing has broken my heart The rest of the world "did not exist" for those few hours. I am working through this one day at a time, sometimes one moment at a time. As I told him while he was in the hospital, we will get through this together Sylvia , April 20, AM. My soul mate, best friend and loved one passed away 24 March The article on mourning and the letters from others who have pain is a great comfort, may The Almighty comfort all the mourners of Zion and Jerusalem.

My year-old son's former teacher passed last week after long illness. Funeral and Shiva hours were communicated by his school. We plan to attend Shiva day after funeral in early evening. We are Christians and have noted how Shiva call differs from a wake or visitation, especially to family or mourners' home. Can we leave a card or donation in lieu of flowers during Shiva visit?

Or should it be mailed? Memorial service date hasn't been made public. Thank you for earliest reply. A Skokie family. My mother died on Feb. I thought it would be like home and wonderful Jewish tradition. I am haunted with the care she received. Chemical Restrants, stage 4 bedsore, no dignaty, no respect. Too many details. I have guilt. I know she is at peace now but I am having a hard time. My mother just passed away on purim and although I am feeling the waves of emotion I understand that each day I must take as it comes and try not expecting too much from myself.

I feel grateful to be able to relate to others in their time of greif and also feel sad for their loss just the same. I am wondering specifically what the protocol for attending functions for the entire year are as I mourn my mothers death. The Jewish traditions although different depending on your level of belief are still not clear for me and it would be good to get more clarity if you would kindly post.

For example, taking an exercise class that has music is not allowed, specifically a yoga class with calm music for instance? I very recently lost my mother and now faced with the reality to move forward, I am grateful to Hashem, that my mother died in her sleep in the hospital without pain.

As an only child, the pain is not distributed amongst siblings, but I alone sit. What helps me, although I am in pain, is that Hashem is there to listen and comfort me.

Press Past the Pain of Feelings - Part 1 - Enjoying Everyday Life

I am also blessed that I have a wonderful husband, children, friends and extended support. I have been living with a widowed jewish man who's wife passed away 6 years ago.

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They met on the 23 of the month so every 23rd of the month he as flowers sent to her grave. This seems a little strange to me. We are planning on getting married. What'd youn think of the monthly flowers. Chasina , June 10, AM. Although it is not a traditional act, I believe your bethrothed has this habit in order to pay respect to the relationship he had. It does not take from your relationship.

Think of it as proof that he respects and values marriage as an eternal love, and that means he also will carry a love for you through eternity. I am married to a widower, and we display a photograph of his late wife proudly in our home. She was a woman whom he loved deeply and was a part of his life before he met me.

She helped him become the wonderful man he is today. Join him in honoring her memory, and never feel his love for her in any way diminishes his love for you. Anonymous , November 2, PM. Hi, My wife passed away August 12th, and I miss her very much, she was 41 and I am 43, I really understand what you are saying and that it feels strange to you, it would to me too.

I dont follow a lot of what is on here, but if you accept that what happened was part of his life, he will be grateful to you and love and respect you more, its just a matter of compassion and knowing that you accept him, on the other hand, he has to understand some of the things may hurt you, but mourning the loss of your spouse and in my case the mother of my 3 little ones is natural. If he didnt, then there would be something wrong. Good luck. Thank you for your derailed information about the Jewish tradtitions surrounding mourning, and how to properly and respectfully, make a Shiva call.

I have forwarded this on to my daughter who will be making such a visit to her boss whose father just died my daughter is Christian, but works for a Jewish pre-school. Also,I will never forget my daughter's previous place of employment, owner Jewish and many Jewish co-workers, providing a kind of Shiva for my daughter in honor of my mother her grandmother after her death - all her co-workers stocked the work refrigerator with food for my daughter when she returned from the out-of-state services.

My daughter and I were very touched. For a mother, the loss of a child results in a pain that never leaves. I don't understand the lack of attention to this unnatural occurrence. We expect our children to out-live us. Dina , October 2, PM. The torah dosn't really have to command us for things that are intuitive.

The loss of a child is, as you say a pain that never leaves, while the los of parent, though sad, is more within the nature of the world. Therefore, one might morn less for a child then for a parent as time passes. The torah therefore has to let us know how to mourn and never forget those who brought you into this world as partner to Hashem.

As a Catholic, Jewish traditions may seem a bit different or confusing. This guide is helpful in making sure I, and other non-Jewish people attending, are respectful during the Shiva call I will be making. Thank you for writing this. Oh how I wish I had a Shiva and Shloshem way to find my way back. I happened to love m family-My father was in Tx. Then 4 yrs later, I moved back to Tx, My mother died but wasn't supposed to I got to see her before this happened, but I was on my way back to Tx to move to be with her. While I was on the train, my sister decided without my knowledge to take her off her machine-I was sick, mad and told my sister something I regret, then I stayed in TX, and after about 5 mos, my Sister died unexpectedly.

Oh how I wish I could find a way to break this feeling I have had for yrs! I am the only one left and have never had anyone to sit with me, to help me through this and I can't seem to get closure. I try but I feel like I let them all down because I was always the other direction.

I do not understand and now all I want is to be in Israel and have a family to love. Thank you for all this-it is something I can do for others. Marge Downie. Eric , June 20, AM. Marge, we do not control the show. Most of the time, we are physically awake, but unaware of so much. That is our initial condition. The shock of death awakens us and that is when we can ask for help as it seems you are trying to do. I say ":trying" because you say, "I do not understand Find a temple in which you feel comforted and ask for help.

Otherwise, you are just making plans to run around some more. You cannot "do for others" until you can do for yourself. Ask for, and receive help, for yourself, and THEN you can ask for, and receive help, for others.

Does God care about your pain?

Best wishes, Eric. Thank you for this detailed explanation of the Jewish death and mourning customs. I'm a Christian who will be visiting a friend sitting Shiva, and I had only the vaguest concept of what that meant. I would have done everything wrong tried to talk too much, tried to distract her, etc. The Jewish way of handling death seems so much more respectful and appropriate appropriate to the emotions and suffering the mourners are going through than the Catholic wakes I was raised with Irish Catholic, and if it wasn't a young person or a tragically unexpected death, it was often a festive occasion , or even the Christian funerals I've attended.

While I pray that God will give my parents many more years, I may adopt some of what I learned from your article when that horrible day comes that I lose one or the other of them especially taking the entire week to quietly think of them and remember them, and fully experience the grief, rather than trying to smoosh it down. Thank you again for this thoughtful, detailed explanation.

Thank you for this excellently written article! As a Catholic who is paying her first shiva call for my friend's mother, I wanted to ensure this visit was as respectful as possible. Thank you for the article on Shiva. I enjoyed reading it and being Jewish remember my father explaining things to me when I was young. I just find no comfort though with the fact that parents or grieving for parents is put in the front row of grief time. Losing a child, which I have, was far harder than losing my parents. Different dynamics which makes the grief of the loss of a child much harder than the loss of a parent.

My friend lost her great aunt and I came to your site to learn about the tradition of shiva.

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I am not Jewish and wanted to make sure I understood shiva before I go into their home. Your article is fantastic: thorough, comprehensive, comforting, etc. I truly appreciated the meaning behind the traditions and your insights into the grieving process. Thank you! New year's day is my late husband's birthday. He passed away last June 7th. I've been making a lot of progress, taking courses, joining a gym, leaning on the support of my shul, feeling like I'm getting on with my life pretty well. I've also been in the process of closing out my house, preparing to move, and sorting through a lot of stuff.

That's been slow going. I'd had a tough time on my birthday in November, now it's his birthday. During Shabbat services last night, when we started doing the silent meditation I suddenly felt overwhelmed with grief and had to get up and leave the room. When I could finally manage to compose myself and come back in, it was time for the kaddish. I said my stepmom's name, but I couldn't say my husband's. I just stood there hyperventilating. I finally got it out, then I couldn't find my voice to continue.

Afterwards I had to sit in the lobby of the building and cry some more. I haven't been this distraught and emotional since he actually died. The emotions are barely under the surface and threaten to burst forth at any time. It's scary. I've really been dragging my feet with the move. It's as if when I finally get rid of all his stuff and leave the house we lived in together. I've sometimes had a surrealistic feeling he might come walking in the door any time, among all the familiar surroundings.

Eight ways that family and friends can help

But now I think it's finally become real to me. That part of my life is over, behind me, and now I have to continue on alone. The rabbi talked with me for a bit, saying some steps forward and some back were part of the process. Being really emotional was as well. I get alarmed at how intense it feels. I think parts of the services can really bring it out, just about anything can at ant time. Part of the sermon was thar G-d hears and answers our prayers.

And somrtimes the answer is "no". We may not get what we want, but we ger what we need. Just one foot ahead uf the other, dear G-d. My mother passed away a year and a half ago. Being with her during the last week of her life, and mourning her for the next 12 months was the most difficult and emotional experience I've ever had to endure. During that experience, I committed to writing a book which would help guide others through similar experiences.

I dedicate a few chapters to explain how prayer can be used as a healing tool based on Jewish sources. I also describe the proper way to deal with a loved one who is dying. While there are many wonderful guides to Jewish mourning, I believe that learning from someone's personal experiences is the most powerful and effective way. May 12th I lost my husband and friend. I have an 11 year old son and we are doing pretty well although it troubles me he has not come to the cemetary yet.

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I am told my many that in time he will go. Visiting the grave has been very helpful but also very difficult as well. I appeciate this article and information as I feel our North American society mows through life without a great deal of thought or process to keep our souls filled and alive. Consequently we breed a society with scared, empty people unprepared for an inevitable aspect of our existence. I have a created a few of my own and I think its working. I lost a friend unexpectedly. He has no family left. I know he was Jewish and I want to learn about Jewish rites.

I believe I will take it upon myself to call a Rabbi tomorrow. This article helped me to understand the Jewish customs. Beautiful, humble, simple; just like Our dear Lord. I am not Jewish but I feel inspired to honor my lost friend by contacting a Rabbi.

Thank you for this article which brings so much comfort to my heart. We lost our only son 11 months ago. He was Our grief has been deep and long. Your article helps me very much to find ways to honor our son's memory here on earth and to wait for the joyful reuniting that will come. My father recently died on October 6th. He lived until the age of 86, dying shortly after his birthday. My sisters and I flew from Israel and NY to be with him for portions of this summer when he was hospitalized.

He survived the Shoah and thus he had no extended family members to share our grief. The shiva, a new experience for us, was incredible. There were myriads of visitors, bringing food, drinks, plasticware, literally serving us, and offers of help for everything. For that week we were able to focus completely on our father's life without the distractions of laundry, cooking, shopping, etc..

The entire process of shiva was so beautifully thought out by the rabbanim. People sent us emails, spoke to us by phone, and wrote cards consoling us. Sitting together as a family was also so beautiful. Usually we are so so busy raising our own families and working, and communication is by necessity, brief.

We reconnected in a meaningful way that week, and now call each other often to ask after one another's welfare. Planning the shloshim, the words on the headstone, and finally the yahrtzeit are all topics we are currently discussing, and we once again feel like the close knit family we were living under the same roof thirty years ago. Although it doesn't bring our father back to life, the essence of the family he created and the soul of our family dynamic has been reignited with his passing.

I doubt it would have happened without the Jewish process of Shiva. Your article captured the flavor of this important mitzvah! Dear Mrs. Palatnik, I lost my beloved father on Oct. I wish I knew what we as Jews mean when we say that nobody should mourn excessively for the deceased. I also wonder what sentiments are commonly felt by the mourners during the different stages of avelus. I'd hate to commit an aveira by mourning excessively over my dad.

I cry when I daven, for instance. I am Catholic. We also understand the pain of death, the importance of ritual and faith. This article was beautiful. What makes you so sure that the funeral and mourning rituals that your cousin followed did not provide her with the comfort and solace that she needed at the time of her mother's passing? You should not assume that IF she followed the traditional shiva, she would have had greater comfort, nor should you assume that your offering of Ms. Palatnik's pamphlet on the Jewish Mourning Customs would have been appreciated.

The passing could very much have been a blessing to your aunt and your cousin.

A guide to revealing the hidden power of loss

If you believe in God, then YOU should find comfort in knowing that your aunt's soul is now on its way back to God. It was your aunt's time to die, the circle of life is complete. Jewish mourning customs as any other religion's customs were developed to provide comfort for those left to grieve.

They do not always offer the comfort that people need. Sometimes prayers are the last thing one wants to hear, or seeing people around them for 7 days, when they just want to be left alone. It is not one size fits all. Don't judge your cousin. You only lost an aunt. She lost a mother. This was a very nice article and I am sure helpful to many. However, grief is very personal and the shiva process, while might seem nice, is not appropriate to all. I lost both of my parents within 6 months of each other.

The last 3 years of their lives was not always happy and marked with increasing illness. Dad died first and for the next 5 months, Mom was telling us the day she was going to die. Because of a chronic and progressive illness, she wanted to pass years earlier, but my Dad would beg her to live for him. With him gone, she knew she could die peacefully. I kept telling him that he was loved and I know those were the final words he heard.

My mother's last words to me, 3 days before she died, was that I was a good daughter and that she loved me. She spoke nothing after that to anyone. She KNEW she was dying. Their deaths were a relief to themselves and to me. I sat shiva for 3 days. Not for me, but for them and other relatives who "needed" shiva or needed to see me sit shiva. I light a candle on my parents' birthdays and on their anniversary.

I choose to commemorate and celebrate their lives, not their deaths. That is what feels right and good to me and offers me comfort. The yarzheit, yiskor, Rosh Hashanah or Yom Kippur and visiting their gravesite offers me no solace at all. My parents are NOT names engraved in a stone of granite. They live on in my heart and in my mind and when I think and speak of them.

That is how I truly honor them. If one feels the shiva process gives them comfort in their time of loss, okay. But they should not be made to feel as if they are doing something wrong if they do not follow the "traditional" shiva. I attended my year-old aunt's funeral last week. I am frum, and my aunt and her only child, a daughter, were non-practicing Jews.

I had been concerned that I I'm female might be called on to be part of a minyan. They didn't even HAVE a minyan. In fact, they didn't sit shiva at all no worry about 3 days vs. The mourners wore polo shirts and khakis to the funeral. At the "party" after the funeral at my aunt's home, my immediate family and I were the only ones there who weren't goyim. It was pointed out to me that I should be happy that at least she was buried in a Jewish cemetery and her service officiated by some sort of rabbi, and that my aunt's wishes weren't to be cremated, which is sadly more and more common these days among Jews.

I gave the daughter, my cousin, a copy of Lori's book and hope it gives her some perspective and comfort, if she is even willing to read it. My mother went to be with Lord 5 weeks ago. My father went to be with the Lord 3 years ago. I didn't have time to grieve my father because I started taking care of my mother My heart has been broken without her and I know it's selfish.

She is at peace with my father - and more importantly with God but I miss her terribly. Friends and family keep pressing me to "get out and have fun" but I don't want to. I've gone back to work - but when I'm not working - I just want to sleep and have down time. I really appreciated your discussion about a "public face" because that's what it is I'll be going to a funeral tomorrow for a friend that passed away on Friday I'll be praying more about that to get peace about going.

I just don't feel that I have much to give others right now. God knows my heart and I trust He will restore my soul to find joy in life again In Him I have suffered sudden, traumatic loss repeatedly in my life. I am broken hearted and it takes me years to overcome the pain and trauma.

I want to heal naturally, humanly and I have wondered what is missing in my religious faith that helps me to do this.. This article is reassuring and human. It provides comfort into how to grieve which is not taught generally. I think it is beautiful. Thank you. My mother passed away three weeks ago and I came across this site.

I have to say that after I read the article that explained the one year mourning time for those that have lost a parent, I felt relieved. Thank you for writing this, it is encouraging and validated the way I feel about not rushing back to a hectic lifestyle. I was looking for some traditional way to mourn my mother's passing and I came across this article. This way of mourning is very tradtional and I believe it a precise way to accept death as it is another process in our lives.

If there is no exact way to mourn than someone may tend to feel like lost as I do but mourning this way makes it a normal process, something that would help me deal with this death. Very thorough explanation and really helped me understand that this pain will heal in time. I have a Jewish friend whose father just passed and have been told a plant is better to give than flowers.

Does anyone know if there are particular plants that would be more meaningful in this situation? Thank you so very much. I fortunately have not had a death in my family in over a decade, and now that my Grandfather has passed, my children are going to have questions. I would like to have the answers and be able to prepare them. The way you explained the Stages of Jewish mourning was so clear and concise. For a Roman Catholic your article was extremely helpful for me to understand the process of a Jewish mourning and as such it made me feel much more comfortable to partake in the Shiva.

Thanks so much for writing this extremely important article. Anthony C. I am Christian, but still believe in the deep "rightness" in many Jewish practices--the Jewish mourning traditions are poignant, beautiful and timeless. They allow the mourners to not feel "guilty" about missing work, they allow them to not feel guilty when they don't want to entertain or go out following the death; but they also encourage restraint and the type of "slow" healing modern culture moves too fast; I really don't think this is slow at all. A week of deep mourning is more healing than months of half-sorrow Anyhow, thank you for providing this wonderful guide to these wise traditions.

Thank you for this wonderful report it has been a great help to me. In fact the whole site is wonderful. I am 47 and adopted and have only just found out that I actually come from a Jewish family. I can not express how wonderful this whole site is and how happy I am to have found it.

Thank you very much for having this information available on google. Today I'm going to an unveiling of my very good friend and former partner, and although he did not practice his Judaism as an adult in his death it has been important for me to honor it's ritual. Had I not read this, I would not know about bringing the stone instead of flowers.

It is also interesting that on the night of his death I had a strange but relevant dream, and last night I had one also. I do not think this is a coincidence. Dear aish. My best friend married into a Jewish family, but I have always only experience Catholic ceremonies for the deceased. Her father-in-law passed away today, and this article has helped me understand what will be happening and how to fulfill my role for my friend and her family. Thank you so much for explaining the process so well! A close Jewish friend has suffered a bereavement and I was searching on-line for information.

I found your article very useful as I have gained greater insight in to the mourning rituals and what they signify. I think I am better equipped to support her after reading this page. Thank you for providing this resource. I recently took care of a family who was Jewish, I had heard them talking about their religion and sitting shiva, I wanted to know more about it and this article was really informative for those who are not of the Jewish faith.

You Can follow the link below for the full story you were looking for. This was really useful to send to people attending the service who were not accustomed to tradition. Very sensitive considering how difficult these times can be. Thank you so much for a beautiful and sensitive article. I was very moved. I would add that in Sefardi homes it is customary to offer foods for the brachot. All the best. I lost both my parents within a year, but that was 7 and 8 years ago.

I was not "permitted" to mourn their loss at all, so now here I am still feeling like it just happened yesterday, and in therapy. I wish for everyone who experiences the loss of a loved one to have people surrounding them who know how to grieve with them. My friend's brother just passed away and he sent me this link to understand shiva.

Very informative and beautiful. I am no Jewish and when my dad passed away it was like a party after his funeral and I will never forget that feeling of why are they all happy when I am so sad and missing him. Shiva makes much more sense for mourning. Thank you for sharing. I have recently loss my mom and now I no longer have parents. They were both survivors of the holocaust, and with their suffering which included their bouts with cancer All that is written provides guidance and understanding, but in no way does it provide and understanding of how a concept of G-d would allow people to die with such suffering and loss of dignity.

I remember telling my wife.. Thank you for providing the material to help me find a way, however I still feel like a lost soul. Thank you so much for this helpful well written and laid out timetable. It was easy to understand and assimilate. I am grateful. My husband died 16 days ago, he was only 56, and had a heart attack I felt better reading this--I have that aching empty pain, and knowing that its' okay to mourn for a month made me also feel better-.

Today I play "Birds in warped time" by Somei Satoh for violin and piano. It expresses my grief Clinicians disagree about how long is too long to grieve, about whether the grieving person should wait for her grief to shift on its own or do something to initiate that process, and about what to do, and what it means, if grief is slow or stalled. The idea of grief as something we need to actively work through started with Freud. Freud thought this would take time and effort and it would hurt. Today, those stages — denial, anger, bargaining, depression and, finally, acceptance — are practically folklore.

In the past several decades, more rigorous empirical research in psychology has challenged the most widely held myths about loss and grief. His office, in a massive gothic brick building in New York, is crammed with books and lined with Chinese sculptures. On a rainy afternoon he outlines the three common paths he identified. The intensity of those first days, weeks and months of mourning subsides.

People with complicated grief, like Muldberg, struggle to recover. One school of thought that has influenced Shear is called the dual-process model: grief is stressful, so we alternate between confronting the emotional pain of our loss and setting it aside. Even grieving people, research has shown, have moments of positive emotion in their lives. Hope returns gradually. If the stage model maps a single, clear path through grief, then the dual-process model could be seen as a charting a wave pattern through grief.

Everything about her conveys equanimity, especially the way she can sit with the stories of patients whose grief is unrelenting. It stomps out our sense of ourselves, too, and our feelings of competence. We think of grief as the great disconnector, but over time, it usually settles down and finds its own place in our lives.

It lets us live in a meaningful way again. It lets us have some happiness again. It is not the truncation of the process but one of its phases; not the interruption of the dance, but the next figure. Attachment is what gives our lives security and meaning. When an attachment is severed by death, Shear says, grief is the response to the lost attachment. These attachments are woven into our neurobiology. The longing and yearning of acute grief, and the feeling of unreality that comes with it, she says, are symptoms of just how much grief short-circuits our bio-behavioural wiring.

Shear agrees with Bonanno that over time most grieving people integrate their loss into their lives. But people with chronic grief face some complicating factors. Complicated grievers tend to be women. They are often excellent carers but not so good at taking care of themselves or accepting help. Often, their emotional reserves of self-compassion and self-motivation have been drained. Think of it this way: her therapy jump-starts a stalled process, the way a defibrillator restarts a stopped heart.

In the s, Shear was researching anxiety and panic disorders at the Western Pennsylvania Psychiatric Institute and Clinic when she became involved with research on depression and anxiety in elderly people. They expressed deep yearning, were often driven to distraction by thoughts of their deceased spouse, and had great difficulty accepting death, to the point that persistent, acute grief became a risk to their physical and mental health. To differentiate grief-related symptoms from depression and anxiety, Shear worked with a research team that included psychiatric epidemiologist Holly Prigerson.

It was Prigerson who, in , had published a questionnaire that identified complicated grief as a specific syndrome and could accurately assess its symptoms. Shear has relied on it as a diagnostic and assessment tool in her research ever since. Shear and her colleagues also used it to design a new treatment, complicated grief therapy. In their first meeting, Shear asked Stephanie Muldberg to keep a daily grief diary, recording and rating her highest and lowest levels of grief.

Muldberg kept this diary for the duration of the therapy. Every day for almost half a year she was paying such close attention to her grief that it became inscribed in her daily life. The diary was one of several techniques Shear used to help Muldberg look her grief in the eye. Using the diary, she began to see that she had some happy moments interspersed with some low times of grief. Complicated grief therapy CGT takes place over 16 sessions, structured, Shear says, by techniques adapted from approaches used to treat anxiety disorders, including cognitive behavioural therapy, a well-researched approach to psychotherapy, and exposure therapy, used to treat avoidance and fear in anxiety disorders.

The structure itself is part of the therapy, she says, because structure is reassuring to people who are feeling intense emotions. Shear has been testing CGT since the mid s. In , she and her colleagues published a small pilot study that showed promising results. Since then, they have published several randomised controlled studies supported by the National Institute of Mental Health, demonstrating that CGT helps patients who have complicated grief to reduce their symptoms better than conventional supportive grief-focused psychotherapy.

Researchers in the Netherlands and Germany are also exploring variations on cognitive behavioural therapy and exposure therapy to treat traumatic and prolonged grief. A few sessions into her treatment, Shear asked Muldberg to do something she had never done, which was to tell the story of the day Eric died. The intensity of her feelings began to lessen, so that by about halfway through the therapy she began to feel better. Muldberg admits she was sometimes sceptical of what Shear was asking her to do, and she says sometimes she pushed back.

Part of CGT includes psychoeducation, in which the therapist explains to the patient the premise and purpose of the therapy. Sitting in that classroom listening to Shear explain these exercises makes my chest tighten until my heart aches. It seems like a wrenching exercise in repeatedly tearing a scab off a wound.

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  • Shear is more interested in having patients engage with the therapy techniques than she is with getting them to reach a certain point. In one of my conversations with Muldberg, I remark that CGT seems counter-intuitive, almost confrontational, and that these exercises seem extremely emotionally demanding. She is quick to correct me. This also creates an opening for the person to begin to reimagine their life after a devastating loss. Part of losing someone very close, Shear says, is that we lose our sense of identity. Part of grieving is regaining it.

    What would you be doing? Just asking the question, Shear says, can activate our innate exploratory system and spark hope. CGT is challenging, but it works. Shear and Prigerson, once collaborators, now disagree about the best way to diagnose complicated grief, but they agree it should be viewed as a mental disorder. The major issue therapists have with complicated grief is that they believe it pathologises a fundamental human experience. Many people who are experiencing severe challenges after a loss are doing so because the social expectations around them are not supporting them.

    One way to answer the question of whether or not grief is a disease is to ask if the treatment provides a cure. Muldberg says CGT taught her how to live with grief as part of her life. She still carries her grief for Eric with her, but she is also back in the world. She travels with her husband and daughter. She volunteers for the Valerie Fund, an organisation that supports families of children with cancer and blood disorders, and that helped Eric and their family when he was sick. I ask Shear when her fear of sitting with intensely grieving people had subsided.

    In that sense, what Shear has done with CGT is to create a form of evidence-based compassion. We are too busy, too secular, too scared to deal with grief. The idea that a story needs a beginning, middle, and end goes back to Aristotle. Most of us, when faced with a loss, find a way of putting what happened into the form of a story: this is what happened, this is who I was, this is what the person who died meant to me, and this is who I am now. Grief is a problem of narrative. A story, in order to be told, needs a narrator with a point of view who offers a perspective on what happened.

    Start with the grief diary, which records the emotional story of your everyday life. Follow that by imaginal revisiting, akin to a wide-angle shot in cinema, which helps organise a story arc amidst intense emotion. Plotting out the story restores the narrator and the narrative. Then, you can begin to imagine a new story, a new plot for yourself. I'd already pretty much hit the bottom, I can't handle her being gone too. She was one of the first people I opened up to about my sexuality and all that, and I feel like a part of me is dead now too.

    Raychelle Cassada Lohman n , M. Reframing your old way of thinking with a new and improved mindset. Back Psychology Today. Back Find a Therapist. Back Get Help. Back Magazine. Subscribe Issue Archive. Back Today. Educating for the Future. Inflammation and the 3 Paths of Depression in Older Adults. Raychelle Cassada Lohmann Ph. Follow me on Twitter. Friend me on Faceook. Connect with me on LinkedIn. Coping with the Death of a Friend Mourning and coping with death and loss. Coping with Loss 1. Surround yourself with a circle of support. Accept not having an answer. Take care of yourself.

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