Many people who are experiencing severe challenges after a loss are doing so because the social expectations around them are not supporting them. One way to answer the question of whether or not grief is a disease is to ask if the treatment provides a cure. Muldberg says CGT taught her how to live with grief as part of her life. She still carries her grief for Eric with her, but she is also back in the world. She travels with her husband and daughter. She volunteers for the Valerie Fund, an organisation that supports families of children with cancer and blood disorders, and that helped Eric and their family when he was sick.
I ask Shear when her fear of sitting with intensely grieving people had subsided. In that sense, what Shear has done with CGT is to create a form of evidence-based compassion. We are too busy, too secular, too scared to deal with grief. The idea that a story needs a beginning, middle, and end goes back to Aristotle. Most of us, when faced with a loss, find a way of putting what happened into the form of a story: this is what happened, this is who I was, this is what the person who died meant to me, and this is who I am now.
Grief is a problem of narrative. A story, in order to be told, needs a narrator with a point of view who offers a perspective on what happened. Start with the grief diary, which records the emotional story of your everyday life. Follow that by imaginal revisiting, akin to a wide-angle shot in cinema, which helps organise a story arc amidst intense emotion.
Plotting out the story restores the narrator and the narrative. Then, you can begin to imagine a new story, a new plot for yourself. The book of life is a multi-volume set. You can find our Community Guidelines in full here. Want to discuss real-world problems, be involved in the most engaging discussions and hear from the journalists?
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