This is an excerpt from The Five Ways We Grieve, by Susan Berger, available at Barnes & Noble and Amazon:

Confronting the reality of having to live a changed life requires that you accept that your view of the world will change. Your loved one is gone physically.

Psychologically, your sense of identity, security and safety are gone. Socially, relationships with friends and family may change. Spiritually, you may feel abandoned by God and isolated from others. Not knowing  who you are or where to go next, you are now faced with the most challenging task of all—creating a new identity and starting over in the business of living.

As noted in the Introduction, thanatologist and philosopher Thomas Attig calls this challenge “relearning the world.”  It involves adapting to a changed social and physical world and redefining our relationship to the person  we lost.

Most importantly, we are compelled to ask ourselves: Who am I?  What choices do I have? How can I create meaning from my loss?  Who will I be in my new life?

Since developing a new identity is a an important task in the grieving process, finding that new identity challenges us to find the answers to these critical questions.  For most of us, this is a daunting task.

Susan Berger

Susan A. Berger, LICSW, Ed.D. has extensive experience counseling individuals confronting the death of loved ones and other life changes. Drawing on research results and anecdotes gathered from the bereaved over the past ten years, Berger examined how a person’s worldview is affected by major loss. She wrote her book, The Five Ways We Grieve, finding your path to healing after the loss of a loved one, (Trumpeter Books, 2009) to assist professionals, and survivors and the general public understand the lifelong impact of loss on the bereaved. She founded The Center for Loss, Bereavement, and Healing in Framingham, MA, a clinical practice, helping individuals, couples and families cope with life stresses. She also provides workshops on her unique approach to lifelong grieving to professionals, such as physicians, psychologists, social workers, nurses and hospices, as well as presentations to community groups. She has published articles in professional and trade publications, as well as many media, including The Washington Post on mental health, substance abuse, health and human resources topics. She has also been cited nationally in numerous print and broadcast media, and has spoken at many conferences and workshops throughout the country. Previous experience includes academic appointments at Emmanuel College, Northeastern University, Merrimack College, and MassBay Community College. Dr. Berger earned her Doctorate from the Harvard Graduate School of Education, as well as a Master’s degree in Social Work and a Bachelor of Arts in Philosophy from Boston University. To enhance her expertise in the area of loss and bereavement, she earned a Certificate in Thanatology (Death, Dying & Bereavement) from the National Center for Death Education at Mt. Ida College in Newton, MA. Dr. Berger has volunteered as a hospice volunteer working with the dying and bereaved families. She is herself the survivor of early parental loss.

More Articles Written by Susan