Patrick O’Malley wrote an article for The New York Times entitled, “Getting Grief Right.” O’Malley is a psychotherapist. His article is about the work that he did with a particular client, whom he refers to as, Mary.
Mary lost her daughter to Sudden Infant Death Syndrome or SIDS. She contacted O’Malley because he too lost a child and Mary thought that it would be helpful to work with someone who had an idea of what she was going through. She had gone through two therapists before contacting O’Malley.
During a session Mary asked, “’What is wrong with me? It has been almost seven months.’
Very gently, using simple, nonclinical words, I suggested to Mary that there was nothing wrong with her. She was not depressed or stuck or wrong. She was just very sad, consumed by sorrow, but not because she was grieving incorrectly. The depth of her sadness was simply a measure of the love she had for her daughter.”
Sometimes a client goes into therapy because they feel that they are reacting incorrectly or for too long, to a painful experience.
“To be sure, some people who come to see me exhibit serious, diagnosable symptoms that require treatment. Many, however, seek help only because they and the people around them believe that time is up on their grief. The truth is that grief is as unique as a fingerprint, conforms to no timetable or societal expectation.”
If you have given yourself a timetable to overcome your grief, you may want to read O’Malley’s article in full. What did you learn? I’d love to know. You can contact me here.