Grief: The deep river of the soul

Grief is a beautiful, languid, and powerful emotion that is very different from sadness. Sadness arises when you’re holding on to something that isn’t working anyway; sadness arises to help you relax and let go.

Grief is different: it arises when something is lost irretrievably, or when a death occurs – be it actual death, or the death of important attachments, ideas, or relationships. Grief does not simply bring you the capacity to relax and let go (as sadness does); grief transports you to the deepest places when you have no choice but to let go – when the loss of vital relationships or vital attachments feels like (or is) death itself.

Grief will arise in response to many kinds of loss: to the end of a love relationship, to the irretrievable loss of your health or well-being, to the loss of a cherished goal or possession, to the end of normalcy and stability, or to a stunning betrayal of trust. Grief will also arise in response to never having had something we’re all supposed to take for granted, such as health, strength, security, or a happy childhood.

Grief enables you to survive losses by immersing you in the deep river that flows underneath all life. If you can’t move into your grief, you may only experience destabilization and dissociation in response to the shock of loss, injustice, inequality, and death – instead of being cleansed and renewed in the river of all souls.

GRIEF: The Deep River of the Soul

GIFTS: Mourning ~ Lamentation ~ Release ~ Remembrance ~ Complete immersion in the river of all souls

WHAT YOUR GRIEF DOES: Grief arises when something has been lost irretrievably or when someone has died. 

WHAT NEEDS TO BE DONE: Mourn, grieve, and honor your losses.

THE INTERNAL QUESTIONS: What must be mourned? How do I honor what was lost?

The Gifts of Grief

Language of Emotions Cover Medium 432x648px(This excerpt is from the Grief chapter in my book, The Language of Emotions)

A few years ago, I saw a TV news report about a young child who had wandered into a neighbor’s pool and drowned. The news crews got onto the scene quickly, and they caught the reactions of the large African-American family who had lost their little one. On the front lawn of the neighbor’s house, the entire family (including teenaged boys) were wailing, weeping, hugging, and collapsing to the ground, calling out to Jesus.

I was mesmerized by this family’s grief, both because it was so visceral, and because I had been socialized in white culture never to show true grief. In the funerals I had attended, everyone was hushed, dressed in their best and least comfortable clothes, looking uneasy, and offering bland platitudes. The mourners I knew sometimes cried, but they usually apologized for it. In my culture, there was no real grief – just polite, suppressed sadness and uncomfortable silence. The grief of this family, however, was real and honest, and I could clearly see the grief pulling them downward.

Like most people, I avoided the downward movement into grief for most of my life. All four of my grandparents died before I was eleven, but I didn’t grieve or mourn for any one of them, because I was unable to truly feel or process their loss. I never wailed, I never dropped to the ground … I didn’t even cry. I’m not alone in this. Grief impairment is everywhere.

Many people move to numbness, rage, acrimony, distraction, or dissociation — many people will do everything but drop and grieve when death or irretrievable loss occurs. But avoiding grief doesn’t help; in fact, it only makes things worse. We trick ourselves into thinking that we can guard ourselves against all pain if we just refuse to grieve (or think about or prepare for death).

In that refusal, however, we make a tragic mistake, and each death and each loss, because we don’t feel it properly, just stacks itself on top of the last death or loss – like papers on a disorganized desk – until we’re filled with unfelt, unlived, unresolved losses and deaths. Without the ability to grieve, we are repeatedly traumatized by loss and death.

Grieving is necessary and sacred, yet in our grief-impaired culture, we move dead bodies into boxes and urns, and gather quietly in our somber outfits around tables full of food. We tell each other it was all for the best, or that little Bobby’s in a better world now. We devise perfect explanations and rationalizations, we imagine our dearly departed in heaven or nirvana, we anesthetize our emotions, we dissociate from our bodies – and we “hold up” very well (what an amazingly accurate description of grief impairment!).

When we see someone actively dropping into grief and mourning, we often turn away. It’s embarrassing, it’s frightening, it’s distasteful – it’s just not done! Many of us turn away from the grief around us, because we don’t want to feel anything that deeply. It’s too threatening, so we straighten our clothing and turn away. And that’s the real death – of compassion, of community, of feeling, and of understanding.

And yet our innate capacity to mourn and grieve is never lost — which is a blessing, because moving intentionally into and through grief is an intrinsic part of becoming whole.

In the Mexican culture, which honors its dead in an exquisite yearly festival called Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead), there is great wisdom about death. I found this saying on a Dia de los Muertos shrine bench at Chicago’s O’Hare airport: “La muerte nunca muere; la muerte es la ventana al otro mundo.” It means “Death is undying; death is a window to the other world.”

Grieving and the importance of ritual

Grief is a very powerful emotion that can easily overwhelm people, which is why all cultures have sacred grief rituals. Good rituals help humans process change, transitions, shock, and loss — yet in our modern world, many of us have lost our vital connections to the ritual traditions that help us create sacred space for the incredible shock of death and loss. We’ve moved our dead out of our parlors (parlors in traditional homes were actually built for wakes!) and into funeral homes – and we’re slowly losing our connection to community-based grief rituals.

However, we all witness people creating roadside shrines at accident scenes, or impromptu candlelight vigils for sudden deaths in their communities, so it’s clear that we still have a tremendous underground capacity for grief rituals. Fortunately, we can create new and meaningful grief rituals for ourselves and our loved ones, even if we’ve lost connection to our heritage.

In most funereal traditions, certain elements appear with regularity. There is usually a “shrine of the dead,” whether it’s the actual coffin or body, a shrine or altar, a photo, an image, or a collection of items associated with the dead person. Mourners nearly always gather in groups separate from the shrine, and those closest to the dead are given a position of honor nearest to the shrine. Music is often used to delineate the space of mourning, and people often speak out to the mourners about the dead, usually by standing with their backs to the shrine (but not too close at this time) and facing the area of mourning.

When the mourners are united in their collective remembrance of the dead – with their stories, their griefs, their songs, their laughter, their regrets, and their tears – they move forward individually and visit or commune with the dead by paying their respects directly to the shrine. When the mourners make their final goodbyes, they either return to the area of mourning and close the ritual with song or sermon, or leave the space of direct mourning and gather to share food and companionship.

Each aspect of a grief ritual helps delineate the dead from the living by creating a sacred space for the dead and a sacred community for the mourners to hold onto in this world. If these ritual components are overlooked, the delineation becomes blurred, and the mourners essentially cross over to a middle place where they don’t truly release their dead or join fully into life again. Without healthy ritual, many mourners, and their dearly departed, become trapped in a kind of netherworld.

Ritual exists to help us navigate and survive the necessary (and often wrenching) passages of our lives. Our unfortunate disconnection from meaningful ritual not only strips us of community and the sacred, but also of our ability to live, love, feel, and grieve fully. Most of us have participated in funeral ceremonies (which are often excruciatingly stilted), but I think very few of us have truly experienced the full release of our losses and our dearly departed into the next world – because we haven’t been given the time or the space to make the profound movements grief requires of us. In many areas of modern culture, funerals usually last a few hours, which simply does not allow enough time for mourners to create true communal space, let alone pay their full respects to the dead.

With my husband Tino, I had the great good fortune to participate in a number of indigenous West African grief rituals with the late, great Sobonfu Somé, who was a ritual keeper from the ancient Dagara tribe. This grief ritual lasted for two full days, but in Sobonfu’s village, they last for three. I didn’t think there was any way to maintain direct grief and mourning for an entire weekend, but now, I don’t see how anyone can truly grieve in less time than that.

The practice for grief is steeped in ritual because grief is a lengthy and profound process; however, if you can simply focus your attention in your body, you can gracefully move into your own grief. Your body is a brilliant mourner, and if you trust it, it will convey you into the river of tears and bring you back out safe again. Your instinctual body knows grief and will carry you through the process if you put your trust in it.

A practice for grief

A central task during grief is to stay integrated by grounding and centering yourself instead of rushing off into distractions or becoming dissociated. Another important task is to create a shrine for the dead (or the loss) so that you can create a container for your mourning and some delineation between yourself and your loss.

When I work with highly empathic people, I use shrines a great deal so that these people can create some distance between themselves and their extensive emotional activation. In a very real sense, a good shrine (or altar) can help people create a little bit of distance from their intense emotions — so that they can catch their breath, yet not suppress, repress, or dissociate from their emotions or the situation. Grief shrines can help you separate yourself from your losses in a healthy way so that you can locate your sense of grounding and self-soothing, even in the midst of shock and loss.

A healing shrine or sacred space can help people do what I call “disembodying without dissociating.” They can get some distance from the situation without running away from it, and they can begin to heal.

If your grief relates to physical death, your shrine can contain photos, personal items, or reminders of your dearly departed. If your grief relates to the death of a relationship, a goal, an idea, your health, your trust, or that which you never had, your shrine can contain any items that symbolize your loss. It’s important to place something disposable in your grief shrine – something that can eventually be buried or burnt in a funeral ceremony – so that you can signify the end of this ritual as clearly as you signify its beginning and its unfolding.

Your grief process can be undertaken individually, or in a community or family group. If you include others, let them place their own items in the grief shrine as well, and make sure that their access to the shrine is not hindered. If you can place this grief shrine in an accessible, though private (as opposed to central) part of your home, you can delineate an area of direct mourning that you (and others) can enter and leave as you move through the layers of your grief. In this way, you can maintain your shrine for as long as you need to grieve.

Two days, two weeks, two months – it doesn’t matter how long the process takes (mourning periods differ from person to person, and from culture to culture). What matters is that you have a secluded physical space where you can work through your grief in your own time, sanctify your loss in your own way, and release your losses and your dead into the next world through the quantity of your emotions and the quality of your mourning.

When you move into your grief, you may feel a tremendous weight upon you. If you don’t understand what’s going on, you may feel crushed and suffocated by loss – and you may dissociate in response. If you can remember that the movement required in grief is downward, you’ll understand the necessity of this heaviness, which anchors you and presses you into your body so that you can feel the weight – and the depth – of the situation. The proper questions to ask in grief are What must be mourned? and What must be released completely?

When you move through grief in an intentional and ritual-supported way, you’ll feel pain, but it won’t crush you; your heart will break open, but it won’t break apart. If you can send your grief – in tears, in rages, in laughter, or in total silence – into your shrine, you and your heart will become conduits through which the waters of life can flow. If you let the river flow through you, your heart will not be emptied; it will be expanded, and you’ll have more capacity to love, and more room to breathe.

When you’re done grieving, you won’t need or want to erase the memory of your loss – instead, your loss will become a part of you: a part of your ancestral lineage, your strength, and your recognition of the fragility of life. You won’t become bulletproof and grief-hardened – instead, you’ll soften into the true strength that arises when you connect to grief and loss in sacred ways.

When your grieving process is done – when you have no more intense emotions to send into the shrine, and when you feel that you’ve achieved some closure – you (and anyone else involved in your grief ritual) should take some part of the shrine and wrap it or seal it in a way that signifies closure to you. Take this bundle and burn or bury it ceremonially, and dismantle your shrine completely (you can continue to display photos or items from the shrine, but you should remove them from the shrine area and place them in new configurations).

It’s important to create a clear end for your grief ritual so that the parts of you which feed on imagery will be able to demarcate the end of your formal mourning process. It’s also very healing to mark your closure with music and a food-based celebration of some kind. Party!

Honoring grief in others

To create sacred space for grief in others, it’s vital not to rush in and pull them out of the river – not to sermonize or philosophize about death, the past, or the future. Grieving people need to be treated as sacred vessels through which the river of life is flowing in all its power and all its beauty – as people who have one foot in this world, and one foot in the next. Mourners are in deep ritual space, and your behavior should be reverent of that.

It may be very hard not to interfere with platitudes, homilies, and pep talks, but you must restrain yourself. This is the time for you to hold the world at bay and let the mourner fully experience his or her grief in words, in sobbing, in rages, in complete silence, in despair, in fits of laughter, in denial and blaming – or in whatever way the mourner chooses. If you can see yourself as an assistant to grief instead of as a counselor, you’ll be able to take your proper place in this ritual.

Your task as an assistant is not to collect and process the mourner’s grief in your own body, but to create a container and shrine that allows the person to release the emotions, the losses, and the dearly departed into the next world.

If you can help the mourner set up a grief shrine or area of mourning (with music, photos or sacred objects, candles, privacy, or anything that occurs to you or the mourner), you’ll be able to establish sacred space for the mourner and yourself. When a ceremonial container exists, the mourner can pour their words and emotions into the shrine – instead of into you (shrines also help people achieve some separation from intense emotions — without repressing or dissociating from them). 

When the grieving is finished, move yourself and the mourner away from the shrine (or the mourning area), and have something to eat or drink as a way to ground yourselves. Follow your instincts as to whether to break down the shrine. The mourner may want to preserve the shrine and continue grieving alone – now that there’s a sacred space for grief.

The mourner may also want to read through the Grief chapter in The Language of Emotions to gain input on how to proceed. Honor the mourner’s wishes and close your session with thanks to the shrine. Check in with all of your Empathic Mindfulness skills, and make sure to burn contracts or rejuvenate yourself when you have time alone for a few minutes. Working through grief (even as an assistant) changes you, and when you can rejuvenate yourself intentionally, you can integrate those changes gracefully. Amen.

What to do if your grief won’t move

It’s very important to make a distinction between being caught in grief because you’ve fallen into the netherworld, and being caught in grief because your grieving process has not yet completed itself. Most of us are rushed through our public grief and left to do our real grieving on our own – without ritual, ceremony, or community. In many cases, trapped grief is actually just unfinished grief.

If your grief is stuck simply because it is unfinished, walking yourself through a ritual practice for grief (and creating a shrine or altar) may help you complete your grieving process. Grieving takes its own time, and it won’t leave you until the ritual of your grief is finished. If your grief ritual isn’t quite finished, you’ll know it by the quality of connection you still have to your lost person, idea, or situation – you’ll still feel a wrenching physical connection and a sense of unfinished business that requires more time to feel and process.

However, there is a form of grief called “complicated grief” that seems to be similar to addiction. In essence, you can become addicted to grief! If you’re still actively grieving, crying, physically missing your loved one (or the idea or situation, etc.), and spiraling into anxieties and depressions more than 6 months after a death, please see your doctor or therapist and mention the possibility of complicated grief. Current data suggest that this form of grief can affect your endocrine system, your sleep, and your hormonal balance, so don’t ignore it!

You can also experience stuck grief when you’re trapped in the netherworld of distraction and dissociation, as I was as a young person. In this situation, you may not be able to identify your emotional condition. You won’t feel true grief, because you won’t actually be in the territory of grief. You’ll be in the territory of running from grief, rationalizing grief, numbing grief, or making grief unreal. As a result, you may feel furious, depressed, anxiouspanicky, or even suicidal.

You may feel isolated from humanity and yourself – cheated by the dead, and betrayed by the living. You may also have trouble reaching out for help, companionship, or counseling.

Reach out anyway. You’re in the emotional rapids, and you need human contact, counseling, and community in order to finally allow yourself to drop into the river and grieve.

Thank you for supporting empathy and emotional awareness, and for bringing more depth into the world.

In the next post: Ingenious stagnation: Understanding depression

20 Responses

  1. Angie
    | Reply

    Can you offer some specific thought or advice on working with grief, and other emotions we are often taught to ignore, after an affair in our marriage has been discovered? It regularly feels like I’m being crushed under many different emotions. I think I may be incorrectly identifying some of what I am feeling is sadness (which certainly exists) rather than recognizing it and working with it as grief. How do those of us that are going through this experience and choosing to stay and work on our marriage manage the voracious torrent of emotion in a healthy manner? Especially when our spouse has their own torrent of emotions such as shame and anger. Don you have any suggestions for resources? Thank you for any insight or support you can offer.

    • Karla
      | Reply

      Hello Angie — this is a time when multiple emotions are needed, because the situation is so intense. I’d expect grief, anxiety, guilt, shame, anger, jealousy, shock (panic), sadness, depression — it seems that nearly every emotion might be called upon.

      With this many emotions roiling at once, therapy or counseling are really important. Couple’s therapy with someone who has experience in adultery as a specialty would be wonderful, but not always possible. Getting therapy for yourself would be very helpful in any case. A helpful thing to know is that with support, this too shall pass, and the roiling emotions can calm down when you’ve addressed each of them. If you can remember that each emotion is arising in response to the situation, and that each one is trying to bring you gifts, skills, and energy to make it through, it can feel a little bit less daunting.

      Take care!

  2. Carolyn
    | Reply

    Hi Karla,
    I’m just finishing up your book “language of emotions” and I have so many questions! After reading the chapter on grief, the feeling seemed to resonate with me but i have a hard time knowing why I would be feeling a sort of general grief. I have a hypothesis that I like potential and generally like to leave things open: jobs, relationships, possibilities; instead of bringing definitive closure to them, I let circumstances and other choices get in the way as opposed to closing the door. I don’t like to give up on possibilities because I have hope despite challenges. Have you come across this kind of persistent but low level grieving of the loss of possibilities before? What would you do to deal with this?

    • Karla
      | Reply

      Hello Carolyn. I’m not sure about this — it seems as if it’s a saddens issue — which is not letting go of things intentionally. With grief, you don’t have a choice, and it seems that you’re choosing not to let go.

      It also sounds a bit like confusion is at work — where there is a fog of possibility but one can’t choose.

  3. Valentina
    | Reply

    Hi Karla,
    I stumbled unto the podcast you did with Tami Simon. I haven’t read your book ( I just ordered it). I’m struggling with sadness and grief after an ivf pregnancy,miscarriage and a divorce shortly after that. My sadness and grief not only comes from the miscarriage but from the idea of being able to have a family. I am currently going to therapy. I guess my question is more on how to go through the emotions of that idea or goal of having a family.

    • Karla
      | Reply

      Hello Valentina. I’m sorry about your multiple losses, and I’m glad that therapy is available to you. This is a lot to deal with at once.

      In the Grief chapter of the book, I talk about grief rituals, and you may find something helpful there.

      Miscarriages are a special kind of loss, however, and it may help to be with people who understand it specifically. These organizations are a good place to start to find support in your area.

      Unspoken Grief
      Mission: to build and support a community of individuals and families who have been touched directly or indirectly by miscarriage, stillbirth and neonatal loss. Working together to remove the stigma of perinatal grief by sharing our stories and increasing awareness of the lasting effects of perinatal loss.

      And this group has chapters in the US for grieving the loss of a pregnancy in a supportive community:
      Share Pregnancy and Infant Loss Support

      I hope these resources are helpful. Take care of yourself, and rest if you can.

  4. Susan G
    | Reply

    Dear Karla,
    I have read Language of Emotions and given it several times as a gift to people I knew would love it too. I use it’s wisdom almost everyday as I teach elementary kids mindfulness. I have a friend who is struggling. I looked to your website for articles on betrayal, My friend’s father committed suicide when she was 11 years old. She is now an adult with kids who are leaving the nest to go to school and begin their adult lives. She seems to talk of betrayal a lot. She drinks pretty much and says she’s been diagnosed as bio-polar. But the feeling betrayed- by her therapist, her priest, even her kids (she doesn’t say her kids are leaving for school- she says, “now that everyone is leaving me…). I re-read your section on grief, unprocessed grief, and that’s where the word betrayal appears. I’d love to give her this piece on grief, but I don’t know how to approach this. Her therapist mentioned that she may benefit from MBSR, which I have studied, but am not certified to practice. Do you think to a sufferer of complex unresolved grief, that this might be helpful if unsolicited?

    • Karla
      | Reply

      Hello Susan, and thank you for supporting your friend. I think you’re right to be cautious about suggesting anything, if she’s feeling betrayed.

      This site at Columbia may be helpful, though she may not want any input. It can also help to simply ask her what has worked so far, or what she thinks would help.

      The Center for Complicated Grief: Grief is a form of love.

  5. Jennifer
    | Reply

    Black river Rising
    Inundate my Soul
    A great migration flowing South
    With thousands upon Thousands
    Of ebony egrets Emerging
    Falling back I Release
    And rise to the surface Light

    • Karla
      | Reply

      Gorgeous, Jennifer.

  6. Mel
    | Reply

    Dear Karla, I’ve been reading your book the Language of Emotions slowly over several months – reading about different emotions as they show up in my day to day. This book is so awesome and has given me so much insight and helped me to connect with myself in a different way.

    It’s Easter morning here.
    This morning I woke up from a dream where I was in a house similar to the house I grew up in but it had turned into a bar/restaurant. I looked around, seeing a similar format of my the house I grew up in. Similar floors and walls.

    (I now live abroad and most of the connections I had with the past have shifted) . A lot happened in my life over the last 3-4 years, loss of father, selling of childhood home, moving out of country, endings of friendships.

    In the dream, as I looked around the bar/restaurant in the dream I started remembering my family home. Then a cat came to me from the entrance. I picked it up and another one appeared. ( I used to have two cats when I was younger so I think it was them.)

    I started feeling very sad in the dream realizing what happened to me in my life, like all the changes.

    As I walked out the house, I put my hand in my pocket and found various sets of keys. 2 belonged to the restaurant house and there were some other random pairs of keys. As I walked outside holding the cat, a person was sitting on the porch and said that I needed to return the keys. I had given them the first one and as I jangled around my pocked found the other set of keys with a beautiful precious stone key chain. They told me I needed to return the extra set I had been holding onto. I needed to let it go.

    With this I woke up crying so deeply in pain. I was startled but let myself continue to cry. Later in the day I read your chapter on grief and continued to bawl while reading this chapter. It was very intense but I was cool with just letting myself be.

    I thought of my dad and my grandmother who have both passed on. Whenever I thought of anything from my past, I just bawled. It feels like a crazy kind of grief. I had not been thinking about any of this so was surprised for it to show up so intensely.

    I think it’s related to all the changes and shifts that have occurred in my life over the last 3 years. It’s like I woke this morning only realizing how much loss I actually feel.

    How can one process this kind of grief. I want to work thru this. Do you have any articles or resources on grieving the past? I know my soul has come thru a lot and I just realize now the need for reconciliation.

    Thank you in advance much for any info/advice you can share

    • Karla
      | Reply

      Hello Mel, and welcome. This post contains the suggestions I have for grief, and it could be that you simply need some time and a supportive group or individual to speak to.

      Here in the U.S., hospice agencies in each town provide grief support groups so that you can be with people who are also grieving. And this level of grief could be related tot he changes and to the sudden memory of what you’ve lost. Crying and grieving are the appropriate responses, so you’re doing the right thing.

      I would suggest that you look into a local grief support group, or talk to a counselor so that you can get some support. It’s not unusual to grieve long after a loss occurs, but it can be intense!

      Take good care of yourself while you’re in between the worlds.

  7. Max
    | Reply

    Hello Karla I have an old friend that has ghosted me for more than a year and may very well never hear from him again. Is grief or sadness the correct emotion to handle this matter or a combination of the two? I wish I could hear from him again, had entreated to no avail many times before:(

    -Thanks, Max

    • Karla McLaren
      | Reply

      Hello Max. I’m so sorry about the loss of your friendship; it can be so painful to lose a friend in this way.

      I would say that, because you did not choose this ending, and because you aren’t able to contact your friend, that this is a situation that calls for grief.

      Certainly sadness would be there to help you let go of ideas about your friend that aren’t working for you any longer, but the absence of choice in the matter is what makes me think that this is a grievous situation, and not just a merely saddening one.

      Some form of a grief ritual might help. Or Burning Contracts, if you know that skill. It can be very difficult to move forward when a relationship is dead, but the person is still alive. These rituals can help to support you through this difficult transition. And of course, talking to a counselor or a friend can help you as well.

      Take care of yourself in this time of loss.

  8. Christie
    | Reply

    Do you have any recommendations about how to proceed with grief when you realize you haven’t properly grieved multiple things? I do have a therapist but still feel a bit overwhelmed by the sheer magnitude of the amount of grief there is for me to process.

    • Karla McLaren
      | Reply

      Hello Christie, and welcome.

      It sounds as if a grief ritual would be very supportive for you. In DEI, we have a grief ritual process, and you can read about it in The Language of Emotions (in the Grief chapter). However, I also know a DEI Trainer and Consultant, Sherry Olander, who really understands and honors grief in her own life and in her practice. She’s a friend to grief and really understands it. It might be worth consulting with her.

      Here’s her profile page: Sherry Olander

  9. nick
    | Reply

    Thank you Karla
    I’m moving with my family to Northern Thailand soon from Australia. Your work has been really inspiring and extremely helpful for me. Its helped me process alot going on for myself and close family members. I’m actually studying all about Grief and loss care at the moment which is how I found out about you. Your words have really sunken into my soul.
    oh and if your ever in Pai (northern Thailand) come and say hi. We’ll be at Shekina Gardens…


    • Karla McLaren
      | Reply

      Thank you Nick! I’m glad this conversation about grief has been helpful for you.

      I appreciate your invitation to Shekina Gardens, and if I’m ever there, I’ll stop in!


      • L
        | Reply

        Hi Karla,

        Your book is awesome. I love it. Thanks for introducing a sane way to feel emotions.

        I don’t know if what I’m experiencing “qualifies” as grief. As I process the trauma of my sometimes abusive upbringing, I notice so much loss: years of isolating, unemployment, self-loathing, turning down romantic experiences, retreating from city life to move back in with my parents. I feel like I squandered my 20s, and they’re not even over. Is there a role that grief plays in healing from depression? I can’t seem to figure out what I’m supposed to do to move beyond this heaviness.


        • Karla McLaren
          | Reply

          Hello L. So many emotions support us in the wake of trauma, but the mix is different for each person.

          Depression arises to stop us from moving forward, and not grieving can be a reason that we need to stop.

          The heaviness has a purpose, and there are some good books about grief that may help. Anything by Megan Devine is good, and I just got another book called The Myth of Closure which brings a matured awareness of the difficulties of life.

          I hope these books are supportive.

          Take care.

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