Grief as an ecosystem—a young person loses a friend to suicide

I was seeing a young client because she was struggling with the pain of losing a dear friend. He took his own life by jumping off a bridge. She was taking a college course about our ecosystem and gave a presentation in class using the example of her grieving process as an ecosystem. I just loved the way she took deep reflection on the pain she had been dealing with.

Her teacher spoke of the five elements in our ecosystem—energy, waste, diversity, change, and connectivity—which my client likened to the stages of grief. She described the energy around hearing her best friend had killed himself. Her energy was zapped. The Waste part was when she turned to drugs because she had no tools to cope with the tragedy of her loss. The Diversity was her spending time in nature to heal (she also does yoga and Tibetan bowls).

Her teacher told her that nothing in the natural world goes to waste, but in the human world we tend to be wasteful. In the natural world, there’s decay and renewal. So for my sweet client, what had to change was the myth she held about her loss—that his death was somehow her fault. She was clinging to that notion, and it only prevented her from dealing with her grief.

Finally came Connectivity. Many of her insights came while trusting the process of grief counseling. This then connected her back to her family and friends. I hope her insight resonates with others.

Posted on April 21, 2016 and filed under Suicide.