How Human Connection Helps Heal Grief

What really helps when you are grieving? It’s a question I’ve been asked many times, and there’s never a clear answer. I was thinking about this again last night, and here’s what I came up with.

Walking the grief journey alone can be paralyzing. Many people need someone to validate where they are and what they are going through. Having company on the road helps because when someone connects their heart to yours, it feels right.

As a therapist, we “play back” what the person said or what they must be feeling. And when we don’t get it right, the client lets us know. We shape and re-shape until we hit the target—“Yes, you do understand what I’m saying. That feels good.”

Walking with someone (a friend, relative, or therapist) who connects to your heart is powerful, soothing, and eventually healing. It does not help to walk with someone who doesn’t get it, or who judges for “not grieving the right way,” or feels that you are taking too long to grieve. That lack of understanding opens up the wound that may have just begun to form a scab. 

You immediately see life with a different lens once “the diagnosis” is given, or when you hear the phone ring in the middle of the night. When the fire burns everything you cherish, or your baby hasn’t moved in the womb for the last few days, or your spouse says “I don’t love you anymore, I want a divorce.” When you hear of yet another shooting and pray your child wasn’t in that vicinity. Instantly, your world is colored by fear and uncertainty. Every moment feels surreal. And you begin that long journey back to… back to where? Back to normal? Not really, because you are forever changed by deep loss. Some people don’t like the term “new normal” but I believe that describes it.

I have walked with hundreds of clients who have navigated the journey to a place of healing—whatever healing means to them. I’ve made mistakes with good intentions. We all do. But I hope I’ve connected with their hearts. Grief does soften but it has its own timetable—your timetable, no one else’s.

My heart is heavy today for all those in pain from grief. But I will hold the light for you and hope you see the glimmer ahead.

Posted on November 16, 2018 .