A psychologist at McMaster University in Canada, Dr. Leeat Granek talks with the Association for Death Education and Counseling (ADEC) about coping with grief. Like many in the bereavement field, Dr. Granek was drawn to the industry because of personal experience. Her mother died of breast cancer, and Dr. Granek immediately set her sights on the field of grief, death, and loss. She’s well-known in her field for her academic work, as well as working with family and patients who are struggling with their own losses. Dr. Granek organizes meetings across Canada to discuss loss.
Becoming more comfortable with death is the first and best thing you can do. Acknowledging your own mortality is part of the Buddhist tradition, but it can help anyone. Getting familiar with death and realizing it’s a natural part of life is key. However, getting cozy with death looks different for everyone. Some practice a Buddhist meditation technique, imagining leaving their bodies and disappearing from earth. Some monks say thank you each morning for the gift of another day.
A Unique Approach
Know that there’s not one right way to grieve. “There’s no such thing as typical grief,” says Dr. Granek. How you grieve is going to be completely different from everyone else’s grief, although many may benefit from sharing the same grieving tools. Grief and love are both highly subjective, and it’s all normal. Accepting death as part of your life and part of others is a great thing. Although grief and death are normal, they shouldn’t be medicated away.
Understand that death is a process and there aren’t any predictable phases/stages. When in grief, recognize that it can take years to feel okay again. There will be ups and downs. Creating rituals to commemorate losses is a useful way to heal.