Grief Revolution: Part 1

Grief is everywhere. I am a therapist specializing in grief and loss, so I see it more, perhaps.  However, I amGrief (2)
also a relative, colleague, neighbor, and friend to grieving people. A few years ago, I ran a camp for grieving children– nearly 100 children and teens. We did not have trouble finding them. Grieving people are everywhere. I am a griever myself.

Despite how common grief is, there is a lot that is simply preposterous about how we approach grief in our society at large and at the micro-level one-to-one. This is more than a harmless misunderstanding. It can really hurt. The harm is done to grieving children who are not given the support they need to process their loss, to grieving spouses who are told to stick to a grief stage prescriptive, and to dying people who end up isolated because we can’t speak frankly about what they are going through. For these and many other reasons, I am talking about a Grief Revolution. The nice thing about this revolution is that there are no enemies or outsiders. This revolt is a gift we can give to those we love and to ourselves. 

As a health professional I have a few ideas for starting the revolution. The first most obvious one is what I am doing here… talking about it. Here is another one:  

Provide training in grief and loss to counseling and other health professionals. Many, if not most, graduate programs in mental health do not include training or coursework in grief and loss. Sometimes it is an elective. This is true despite the fact that–

  1. Grief is everywhere;
  2. The death of a family member can be THE most stressful of life’s events; and
  3. Navigating bereavement is key to mental health.

Similarly, doctors and nurses rarely receive this training, nor do they necessarily get any practice in talking about death and dying even though it is a major concern in their work. As a result, most clients and patients are receiving services from people who may know the same or only a little more than they do, themselves.  This is not acceptable.

I have many other ideas about what else we might do for this revolution including everything from pet peeves, serious frustrations, and broader social issues. I will be posting more about this in pages to come and invite readers to be part of the grief revolution. Feel free to email me ideas through the blog comments or my contact page.

We can learn to do this differently, but it is about time we got a little irate about it.