Every Wednesday

Every other Wednesday, I will post a reflection on the landscape of grief. This blog isn't just for widowers. It's for everyone who grieves. I want to encourage people to share their stories and compassion with each other, build up a community of support, and help everyone understand the trauma that death brings.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Third Path For Grief

Book: It’s OK That You’re Not OK: Meeting Grief and Loss in a Culture That Doesn’t Understand, Megan Devine

            Our culture hides from grief. We no longer know how to take care of those who are grieving, and we expect people to get over grief quickly and get back to work. Megan Devine wants people to listen to their emotions, and she wants grief acknowledged as a normal part of life. She talks about this in her book It’s OK That You’re Not OK: Meeting Grief and Loss in a Culture That Doesn’t Understand.

            The first year of grief is an area that has remained unexplored in books, and this is when people need help the most. It’s also the most wibbly-wobbly time because there are no set steps to follow. Everything depends upon where the griever is feeling the most loss.

            The grieving want companionship, not correction.

            Even though she was trained in counseling psychology, when her partner died in a drowning accident, Megan found that she had been taught little about the hard reality of grief. She set off on a mission — to tell the truth about grief and get our culture talking about it in intelligent ways. She has gathered everything she’s learned about helping the grieving, and included her own struggles with grief.

            Megan is saying what our great-grandparents and ancient cultures knew well, that the trauma of grief doesn’t lessen until we deal with it. Rather than ignore grief, thinking it will fade away in time, or be so overwhelmed by grief that we feel forever broken, Megan says there is a third path—learning to live with grief. This is important because grief never goes completely away. We will always miss the people we’ve loved who’ve died. 

            Grief is not an illness that needs treatment. It needs support.

            Besides her book, an excellent place to find help with your grief, especially in the first year, is at the Refuge in Grief website. Megan runs an online, 30-day writing course where you can explore your grief in an organized way. If you want, you can share what you’ve written with the group. Just reading about the struggles of others helps you realize that you’re not alone in what you’re going through. 

It is intense, because every morning a new prompt is waiting, asking you to go deeper into your grief. The prompts help you look at grief in new and unexpected ways. Those who go through the course have access to the ongoing community that continues to support each other.

            In the book, sixteen chapters address such matters as the reality of loss, the emotional illiteracy of our culture, the need to take care of yourself when grieving, and how creating art (like drawing, painting, music) can help us express what words cannot. There is also a section of ideas for what friends and family can say and do to help those who are grieving. 

            If you haven’t lost someone close, you really don’t understand the traumatic impact of grief. You can’t imagine yourself into the grief zone. And yet, even if you don’t understand, there is still the power of your compassion, and you can help someone who is grieving simply by being present and listening to them share what is going on. You can also offer to do something specific — “Would you like me to bring over chocolate chip cookies? Would you like me to pick up groceries at the store, or mow your lawn?”

            Bottom line – If we love someone, we will grieve them when they die. The only alternative is to not love anyone at all, and that’s a losing proposition.


  1. Megan writes about grief with raw honesty and does not mince words about the reality of grieving. Her book works. Her book educates. Her book is what I need. I've taken her writing courses (2), working hard to write my own personal truths about my grief...some things I'm sure I never would have addressed or been aware of until I dug deep into my own self and got it out with my own words. It was often times painful to put down my grief feelings, but I did it and it has helped me tremendously in this After life of mine.

    1. You are right. Megan has a lot of guidance for those who are grieving.