banner image


“The one thing worse than loss is for that loss to spin adrift, a footnote with no point of reference. Grief makes it possible to connect a smear of stars into a constellation. If you can name this loss, even the nameless gain a foothold, if only for a brief moment” – J.S. Park, As Long as You Need: Permission to Grieve

Some of the hallmarks of grief are a sense of chaos, messiness and confusion. It can feel like we are spinning adrift in a sea of painful thoughts and emotions with no discernible signs of rescue. All of them remind us of the loss we have sustained, and their constant chorus is often too much for us to bear. We long for someone who can be with us in the midst of this tumult; a lifeline that helps to mitigate the loneliness. Sometimes, though, the platitudes that people offer only further amplify our pain. I’m sure you have experienced some of these in the midst of your own grief journey. The intention may actually be well meaning; however, these offerings land in a way that causes the grieving parts of our system to flare up. One such sentiment is, “Oh, you seem to be doing better!” To which you may respond, either internally or externally,

“Am I really though?”

“Do I need to be doing better?”

“What does better mean anyways?”

“I’m uncomfortable with being assessed.”

 Assessments like these do not help us to make sense of our grief because they are often driven by agendas. The agenda is to ascertain that we are somehow “Okay” in the midst of our grief journey.

NOTE: Please keep in mind that we are not out to shame those who are trying to comfort us; however, being assertive about our needs (e.g. for compassionate witnessing) along our grief journey can be very liberating and restorative.

What I think many people fail to understand about grief is that it is, “OK to NOT be OK.” (Megan Devine). As much as we may feel compelled to, we don’t have to fix grief. Accepting this fact can actually help us be with our grief rather than trying to appear okay, which is often meant to relieve those around us. It may seem counterintuitive, but being with our grief is of greater therapeutic benefit than trying to rationalize it away. It can turn the, “smear of stars into a constellation.”

You deserve to have access to someone who can act as a compassionate witness to your grief rather than offering an assessment on how you appear to be doing on the surface. This is one of the main benefits of accessing grief informed counseling along your journey, whether is it Day 1 or Day 366 (yes, grief continues beyond one year). In this setting, be it virtual or in-person, you will have access to time and space to name and attend to the grieving parts of your system. As you do so, you may find that these parts start to soften, but they won’t ever disappear. I don’t think they are meant to either. They simply become clearer within your constellation of loss, and that constellation will act as a guide – or point of reference - as you continue to navigate the waters of grief.


J.S. Park (2024).  As Long as You Need: Permission to Grieve.

Megan Devine (2017). It's OK That You're Not OK: Meeting Grief and Loss in a Culture That Doesn't Understand.

Photo by Milada Vigerova on Unsplash