By Jennifer Irish
Every single one of us grieves. We grieve the death of a loved one or friend. We grieve the loss of an important relationship. We grieve the loss of a city or neighborhood when we relocate. We grieve when our children go to college. We grieve when we fail to land the job of our dreams. Grief can feel like an ending, but often times, it also serves as a beginning.
Grief is a complicated experience, and it is important to recognize the way in which grief can transform us for the good. In the words of Friedrich Nietzsche, “To live is to suffer; to survive is to find some meaning in the suffering.” In the midst of grief, there are several ways we can embrace pain, accept support, and pursue hope.
Our grief is real, and often, we tend to want to dismiss it. This may lead to a more complicated grief process. Although it can be uncomfortable, it is important to process the loss. Family and friends can be helpful. In addition, seeking professional mental health support, whether it is individual or group therapy, is another opportunity to process your grief.
Group therapy is an option for those who are grieving. Researchers have suggested that therapeutic group support can improve ones’ overall wellbeing following a loss. Although group therapy may not reduce symptoms of grief, it can improve a person’s sense of connection to others, facilitate social support, and reduce the feeling of being a burden to family and friends.
Finding meaning in the midst of our grief can be excruciatingly hard, and it has been found to be extremely important. Making sense of a loss is shown to improve outcomes later in life. This existential process is an important facet of group therapy, and is often a primary focus in grief support groups. Being surrounded by other individuals who have experienced a similar loss can provide a more comfortable avenue for engagement in the meaning making process.
“Grief is like the ocean; it comes on waves ebbing and flowing. Sometimes the water is calm, and sometimes it is overwhelming. All we can do is learn to swim.” – Vicki Harrison
May we each embrace the individual process of learning to swim our grief.
Irish recently earned her PhD in Clinical Psychology from Fuller Graduate
School of Psychology. She has interests in rehabilitation and health
psychology, with an emphasis on helping patients find meaning in the midst of
hardships. Jennifer is completing her post-doctoral fellowship at the Dallas
VA. She is passionate about quality relationships, instilling hope in the
world, and coffee.
 Stroebe, W., Schut, H., & Stroebe, M. S. (2005). Grief work, disclosure and counseling: Do they help the bereaved? Clinical Psychology Review, 25, 395–414. doi:10.1016/j.cpr.2005.01.004
 Coleman, R. A., & Neimeyer, R. A. (2010). Measuring meaning: Searching for and making sense of spousal loss in late-life. Death Studies, 34, 804–834. doi:10.1080/07481181003761625
 Yalom, I. D., & Leszcz, M. (2005). The theory and practice of group psychotherapy. New York, NY: Basic Books.