Your Grief is Unique

Rabbi Earl Grollman once asked a fellow grief educator and psychologist, “What is the worst grief?” None of the responses were what he was looking for. He answered his own question, “Your own grief.”


The worst kind of grief is your own. The worst pain is your own. We can sympathize with others, but we can’t really experience their suffering. You also cannot really compare your grief to others - even family members grieving the loss of the same person. No one grieves the same way, or in the same time frame. There are different issues, different relationships, and different personalities.


Allow yourself to experience your own grief. It may be helpful to talk about your grief with friends or family members or even professionals, but don’t expect you will – or should – have the same experiences or feelings. Seek out grief support groups or other individuals with similar losses, but again, don’t expect to grieve the same way they do.


Experiencing some of the ways I experienced grief when my son died in May, I found it helpful to discover more about how I process a loss. For me, one way is to gather stories of the events leading up to and surrounding the death – what people say, what I say to myself, meaningful experiences of others and how the events unfolded. I put all these stories into a narrative until I make some meaning and can accept what happened. I am not trying to find the meaning of why he died, but I am looking for the events that make me thankful, or I am reliving something special that touches me. With Chuck, I found that in these stories God also answered a big question of my heart, and brought me peace. Then I write them down and share with others.


For most people this processing takes a good deal of time. At first, it is important just to let yourself feel whatever you feel, and find a way to share your pain with trusted friends. It’s your grief, so you do what you need to do.


Priscilla Leavitt,  PhD, LPC



Dr. Leavitt is certified in marriage & family therapy, grief & bereavement, hypnosis, stress & Christian counseling. A popular speaker & Executive Coach, she uses her expertise for healing clients & teaching professionals.


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