Many grief counselors believe all death is traumatic. I don’t agree. I have worked with too many people who have experienced the peaceful death of a loved one to believe all deaths are traumatic. Even with a peaceful death, however, the grief is painful but not traumatic.
Personally, I think of grief and trauma as existing on a continuum. This was reinforced for me as I listened to this conversation with Ezra Klein and Dr. Bessel van der Kolk. I kept thinking he was also offering tools for moving through grief as well as trauma.
Some of what struck me as applying to grief include:
- How important community is for healing which is why support groups provide the best outcomes for most people who are grieving.
- How important it is to integrate body and mind. I would add integrating the heart as well. Moving through grief is ultimately about integrating our relationship with the person who died, their death, and our grief, into our changing sense of self.
- How important movement (yoga, dance, etc.) is because movement helps us integrate our emotions, memories, and bodies.
Also interesting was how our memories evolve and change over time, and how normal and healthy that is. Though some who are grieving might find that hard to accept, I think it speaks to how our loved ones continue to live on in our memories.
I hope you’ll listen to This Conversation Will Change How You Think About Trauma in which Ezra Klein interviews trauma expert and researcher Dr. Bessel van der Kolk.
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