Four Major Lessons about the Grief Process
Blake is committed to personal development and mental health and his guests are stellar.
Will Jiang suffers from schizophrenia and his story is the epitome of inspiration. If you’re in any affected by or interested in schizophrenia, you need to listen to Blake and Will’s discussion.
Given this extraordinary podcast, I invited Blake to write something he learned from one of his other guests. He did. What follows is Blake’s educational summary of the Half Hour Intern episode 94 with Pascale Vermont, a grief counselor with special insight for those suffering from, or who may work with grief.
Here’s the grief counselor episode summary per Blake.
Grief can be an unbelievably difficult emotion to manage. Stare grief in the face too much and too often, and one can wind up wandering down a path to depression.
Conversely, avoiding grief frequently leads to unhealthy coping mechanisms or a disassociation from anything that could bring the grief to the surface. Handling grief in a healthy way can be really, really hard.
So how do you hold a hot coal in your hand and try not to get burned?
I had the fortune of interviewing San Francisco-based Grief Counselor Pascale Vermont on my podcast. We talked about just that. Pascale is a truly amazing woman. She is a clinical psychologist that has devoted her training to helping those who are going through the most difficult times of their lives.
Currently, Pascale is working for six (yes, six) different organizations to help people in need, including Relief International and The American Red Cross. When she is not working for these organizations she donates her time to UCSF hospital, providing counseling to expectant parents who miscarry.
It is through these roles that Pascale has become a true expert at coping with grief.
During our interview, I gleaned four major lessons on the healthy process of grief.
1. Allow yourself to be sad.
One of the catalysts that led Pascale to becoming a grief counselor was the experience of moving from France to America. In France, people held wakes in their homes. People talked about death and sadness openly.
After arriving in America she says she was, “really surprised and confounded that people were not comfortable talking about death.” She realized that many people grew up with the message to ‘be strong’ or to ‘get over things quickly’.
Pascale decided it would be her job to help people feel okay with being sad. The first step in processing grief is allowing yourself to truly feel it to begin with.
2. Grief affects everybody differently.
Everyone is going to have their own personal experience of grief. Pascale often sees this with parents that lose a child. Each parent will handle their grief differently. Depending on how each parent’s grief manifests, this difference can really strain the relationship.
One person might want to talk through it all, while the other might not want to speak for a few days. There is no right way to feel your grief. We need to be open to allowing ourselves, and our loved ones, to experience it in all its forms.
3. Be okay with letting go.
This sounds strange at first, especially when so many people have difficulty letting themselves show sadness to begin with. Yet, after a period of grief, you have to be okay with letting go. We often feel that we are being disrespectful to a deceased loved one if we allow ourselves to feel happy again.
This goes even deeper in that we fear we might lose touch to our connection with, and memory of, someone if we allow ourselves to ‘move on’. Letting go allows us to move into a season of appreciation for whatever is causing the grief rather than being in a perpetual state of mourning.
4. You must maintain a personal care routine.
There are many stages of grief and many stages of letting go, but one of the first should be getting back into a personal care routine. It can be difficult to think positively and clearly when you let the mental and physical weeds start growing. As early as you feel you can–get out of your house, get some sun, get moving, maybe even exercise. It could spark a catharsis within you, and at the very least will cut back the weeds a bit.
You can learn more about the incredible work Pascale is doing, and hear the full audio interview here. If you enjoy her interview you can subscribe to the podcast for free on iTunes and hear other interviews relating to the interesting jobs and hobbies people find passion in.
Bundrant, M. (2017). Four Major Lessons about the Grief Process. Psych Central. Retrieved on February 23, 2018, from https://blogs.psychcentral.com/nlp/2017/05/blake-fletcher-half-hour-intern-podcast/