Grieving As Learning

Grief As Learning: Coping and Taking Time to Heal

There’s no “back to normal” once the Duchenne diagnosis is made. The grief is murky and often suffocating. It tends to wash over families like waves over sand. Over and over and over.

While the grief process for the family with a loved one with Duchenne often begins at diagnosis, the grief of the family goes far beyond just the prospect (or reality) of a child dying.

Family members also grieve for the loss of one’s own self, for friendships, community, certainty, trust in one’s own judgement, stability, traditions – and so much more.

Unfortunately, it’s not a collection of grievances that can be checked off a list with finality. Family members will grieve those losses over and over again – just in different circumstances.

Grieving is exhausting. Grieving a multitude of losses at once is almost debilitating. Why does it seem like the grieving never ends?

The article How your brain copes with grief, and why it takes time to heal (audio version here), proposes an answer to that very question. 

The article is an interview with Mary-Frances O’Connor, clinical psychologist and author of the book The Grieving Brain. O’Conner explains grieving as a type of learning – learning how to live without something.

Learning how to navigate life with loss takes time, energy and patience, both for the griever and for those supporting the griever. Below is a brief excerpt.

“[O’Connor] says grieving is a form of learning – one that teaches us how to be in the world without someone we love in it…

I, [the author of the article], think when you care for someone who is going through this terrible process of losing someone…the point is to be with them and let them know that you will be with them and that you can imagine a future for them where they’re not constantly being knocked over by the waves of grief.”

It’s a unique perspective and truly is fascinating. We hope this article helps you navigate your own grieving – and that of your loved ones – a little bit better.