Navigating the Grief Journey: Reflections from a Therapist Walking Through Grief
Updated: Apr 26
Grief is a complex and deeply personal journey. It can be overwhelming, confusing, and challenging to navigate. At this very moment I am experiencing the ups and downs of grief, and the range of emotions that come with loss. I am also walking through grief as a therapist. I have wrestled with the question of what to tell my clients? I can't always hide a "bad" day." I initially asked myself, given that I'm the one that's supposed to be providing support and guidance to others, can I do both grieve and support?
I came back to work quickly after my mother died and faced a potentially complicated connection with some of my clients. One of the challenges I faced was about being open about my grief with my clients. In this time of mourning, I feel vulnerable and uncertain. But I also realize that my own experience with grief can bring a unique perspective to the topic. I decided to share with my clients that I was grieving, acknowledging that I was navigating my own emotions and challenges. This decision has allowed me to create a space where my clients can also express their own grief and emotions without feeling judged or inhibited. It also provides a unique opportunity for me to model healthy coping strategies and demonstrate that it's okay to seek support and be vulnerable in the face of grief.
The truth is I experience a myriad of feelings that mourners feel. All the questions and conversations that weren't had and the questions that weren't asked. I wish they had happened but I let that go and recall all the ones that did happen.That feeling is so common it felt important to share. I shared how okay it is to have moments of anger, confusion, or even numbness and how different days or even hours bring a flurry of emotion.Grief is not linear, and there is no one-size-fits-all approach to navigating it. If you are grieving, give yourself (meaning me too) permission to feel and process in your own unique ways. It's not simple, even if you are a therapist.
So, how do we do this "thing?" In navigating my grief journey, I find solace in talking to trusted friends and family members and through seeking support from a therapist. Yes, therapists need therapists. I also find comfort in reminiscing about happy memories with my mom and finding ways to honor her legacy like her love of books. I realize that grief is not about moving on, but rather learning to live with the loss and finding ways to integrate it into our lives in a meaningful way.Try to be patient with yourself and practice that "little" thing called self-compassion. I tell my clients this all the time while also adding that it's easier said than done. There is no right or wrong way to grieve.Take time away to process and heal. Honor your emotions and experiences.
In conclusion, grief is a challenging and complex journey, and it's okay to have questions, doubts, and uncertainties along the way. It's been rewarding to be authentic and open about my own grief journey as it allows me to connect with my clients on a deeper level. I am learning to embrace the messiness of grief sometimes parallel to my clients own. I remind myself, while reminding others, that you can't ever do grief the wrong way.