"What can we do to help?” friends asked me as my husband lay dying and soon after he passed. At first I didn’t know how to answer. I was still feeling my way through early-stage grief, from the inside out. At first I didn’t know what I needed, but others sometimes recognized a need and offered specific help. Or just showed up with it. Sometimes my head was clear enough to ask. Sometimes not.
“Death ends a life, but it does not end a relationship, which struggles on in the survivor’s mind toward some resolution which it may never find.” ― Robert Anderson
In a previous blog, The Structure, Function and Emotional Process of Triangles, I wrote “De-triangling occurs when strategically someone comes into a polarized situation and makes an effort to not take sides, and to relate well to each person.” A highly regarded, well-respected colleague who has, with great equanimity, integrity and compassion, withstood all of Hal’s attempts to befuddle and confuse, wondered, “What if they’re Dead?”, most specifically in regards to the primary parental triangle we all struggle to resolve.
Should mental illness be considered terminal? Consider the following scenarios: Recently, a mentally ill man passed away from kidney failure. While in the hospital, he uttered the phrases “I don’t want to live” and “I’m a little depressed.” The doctor chose to put him into the psychiatric unit for a 72-hour evaluation because of his history of suicide attempts. The question is: Was it him that wanted to die or was it the mental illness talking?
What we call “grieving” is our journey from normalcy into the disorientation, pain and darkness of loss, and then, if we do our “good grieving” work, into a new world. We all make this journey many times, in ways big and small. Learning about the predictable stages of this journey can help bring us into that new world more quickly.
Grieving is the name we give to the ways we respond to change and loss in our lives. We can’t stop change and loss from intruding into our lives, so we can’t not grieve, but we can learn to grieve well and healthily. Our first response to loss or trauma is often denial. If we get the help we need to move from denial to reality, and if we deal with ourselves sympathetically and gently, we will succeed in breaking through the wall of denial.
“Good grieving” is the process of responding and adjusting to change and loss while learning how to keep your heart open to hope. The “good” in “good grieving” is not about “good vs. bad,” but about “more healthy vs. less healthy.” There is certainly a wide range of healthy responses to change and loss and learning the practice of “good grieving” helps us move into the “more healthy” zone.
Grieving is a master concept that helps explain many of the issues that clients bring into therapy. Learning the practice of “good grieving” helps bring healing within and between people. “Good grieving” is the process of responding and adjusting to change and loss, while learning how to keep your heart open to hope. Everyone grieves; it is not possible to not grieve. Your only choice is to grieve well or to grieve poorly.
A delusion is a persistent belief despite evidence to the contrary. It is not an illusion because it is not a perceptual distortion; it is a delusion which is a distortion of thought or a belief which is not based on fact. People with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) behave in dysfunctional ways to diminishing their anxiety. The compulsion typically has nothing to do with actually reducing their anxiety, but as long as they do something, it makes them feel better.