by Danielle Edwards, MSW, LCSW
I watched a recent episode of “This is Us” where one of the characters, Randall, finds out that his birth mother did not die of an overdose shortly after his birth as he has always believed. He finds out that she survived the overdose and died just 5 short years ago. This news, of course, opened up old wounds and poured salt into them. As a newborn Randall was adopted into a white family who loves him. Although his adopted family is great, he still struggles with grief, attachment, anxiety and identity issues. If you’ve ever watched the show then you already know it is too much to unpack here. However, I was so excited to watch this part of his journey.
In an effort to process the wide-ranging emotions of his new found connection to his mother, Randall decides to wade in the same waters that he had just recently learned his mother used to wade in when she needed to work out her pain. It was so beautiful and touching. I was all for it until his mother “appeared” in the water with him. I’ll be honest my first thoughts were, “This is too much. This doesn’t fit with this show. This is corny. Why did they need to go the supernatural route?” Before I could get the words fully off my tongue I connected with the supernaturalness of it all and began to weep. I wept because I connected with my own lived grief experience and remembered how my loss left me desperate for connection –
even if it came in the supernatural. This is grief.
Dictionary.com describes grief as, “keen mental suffering or distress over affliction or loss; sharp sorrow; painful regret.” Grief is more than the period of mourning after a loss. Grief waxes and wanes. It can be unsuspecting and sneak up on you when you least expect it. It can make you replay and rethink decisions wondering if there is anything you could have done to change the outcome.
Lastly, grief isn’t just about dying. Any loss can be grieved.
Maybe you or a loved one has been recently diagnosed with a terminal or chronic illness that will change the way you’ve always done things. A loved one’s addiction. Job loss. Retirement. Divorce. These experiences and others can all elicit a grief response. This is normal.
Sometimes you feel like you need permission to grieve because you feel like “enough” time has passed. Maybe you think that you shouldn’t feel this way about whatever you’ve lost. Maybe you feel guilty or responsible for your loss. Whatever it is I want to listen and help you process it, work through it, heal, get unstuck, etc…
This is therapy.