Recently, it was announced that the American Psychiatric Association is currently revising the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), a tool used by clinicians to diagnose patients. Shockingly, they’ve added grief as a treatable disease as part of the proposed changes.

Put simply, grief is not a clinical illness that can be “treated” but rather the normal, natural way in which people respond when they lose someone or something that is of deep value to them.

This topic will be widely covered in the coming months and has already garnered attention from the New York Times and other media outlets. As stated in the New York Times, this decision will affect millions of Americans for years to come. Following is what we need to remember:

We need to teach people of all ages how to grieve, rather than just diagnosing them. They need to learn how, where and why they need to grieve and they need a support system. That is what our society is often lacking.

If grief is added to DSM, clinicians will start prescribing drugs for this disorder, which will in turn mask the real pain of grief. Grief is painful and it lasts a long time. But eventually one can heal from the wound of loss.

As a society, we also need to be aware of the impact grief has in order for us to be more compassionate.

I was recently interviewed by CBS-2 Chicago on this topic and you can see the full article at: http://chicago.cbslocal.com/2012/03/28/labeling-grief-a-mental-disorder-sparks-strong-debate/.

Suzy Yehl Marta 2012

Suzy Yehl Marta

Suzy Yehl Marta

Suzy Yehl Marta, a divorced mother of three sons, gave up the security of her three jobs to do something she knew in her heart had to be done for our youth who were grieving a life-changing loss. She established Rainbows, now the world’s largest not-for-profit organization dedicated solely to helping families cope with loss. While growing up, Suzy dreamed of being a good wife and mother. She never considered the possibility of divorce and was devastated when her marriage ended. She was relieved when family and friends told her there was no need to worry about her kids. “They’re resilient. They’ll bounce back,” she was told. But soon Suzy realized her sons were hurting as much as she was. She searched for the type of support that she was receiving as an adult. There was no place accessible for them to talk about what they were feeling. Certainly, there was therapy available, which she tried. At the end of the counseling session, she was advised not to return. The therapist said they were just fine adjusting to their loss. But he never told them how to do it. What Suzy learned later was that they were all grieving the death of their nuclear family. In addition, her sons needed to be with other children their age going through the same experiences so they could understand their feelings. Working with other concerned single parents, Suzy began organizing weekend retreats for children in single-parent and step-family homes. In three years, more than 800 youth benefited from the retreats. After hearing their stories, Suzy was compelled to do more. She began working on a formal curriculum- the foundation of Rainbows. Rainbows has served nearly 2 million youth throughout the U.S. and 16 countries. Now the nation’s largest not-for-profit organization dedicated solely to helping families cope with loss.

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