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Grief and loss, whether person or place or part of self, are inevitable. Every one of us will lose someone or something, and every one of us will need to be cared for through it; yet, our culture has no shared language for loss. Grief is a collective experience that feels isolating and lonely.


In her book It’s OK That You’re Not OK, therapist and widow Megan Devine speaks to the complexities of grief from both her professional and personal experiences.


The narrative about grief in our culture is one of stages. Elisabeth Kubler-Ross, a Swiss-American psychiatrist, devoted her career to studying death and loss. She pioneered the theory we have of the five stages of grief; Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression, and Acceptance. Kubler-Ross later discussed that these stages were never meant to be understood as linear; however, the culture we exist in has a present-day expectation of a speedy recovery after loss.


Let’s pause and take a look at grief. Devine writes, “Recovery inside grief is entirely about finding those ways to stay true to yourself, to honor who you are, and what has come before, while living the days and years that remain.”


Grief is not pathology and it is not something to “Get Better Soon!” from. However you feel your grief is the correct way because it is a normal and healthy reaction to a permanent change that you did not ask for. What this means is we are tasked with rebuilding around loss, not “getting over.”


Let’s change the expectation of recovery. If you are grieving, approach yourself with compassion. Our natural inclination is to avoid and distract (brilliant, by the way, for those moments it hits you in line at the DMV and it isn’t a good time). In environments and with company you feel safe with, though, let it be messy and nonlinear. Loss itself is messy and nonlinear.


More words on grief –