February 2024 – The Ghosts of Stalled Grief

In this month’s article, I’m writing about grief again, given that it is so central to the process of depression, its emergence and resolution. Specifically, I’m discussing how “ghosts” get created when our capacity to tolerate the loss of something that has been life-structuring gets overwhelmed. There’s no quick solution, but more of my point here is that knowing that you are camped out in a necropolis, and not actually in life anymore, is the necessary step to restarting grief and returning to life.

May your winter be progressing with only a manageable level of chill, and may you have the grace to remember that it is always just a phase in the rotation of the seasons.

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December 2023 – “The Stream Which Seems an Endless Lake”: A Metaphor for the Grief Process

Following on the last two newsletter articles (here and here), this month’s thoughts focus on a metaphor for grief that I use frequently, because of the way it seems to usefully embed the different phases of grief as it unfolds from shock to acceptance. Of course, find the metaphor that works for you, that describes your actual experience in a way that gives it shape and language and meaningfulness. But here’s a suggestion of one which you can tuck in a pocket, and bring out in times when it’s hard to find an understanding of loss that isn’t simply endless misery. Given that we’re fully heading into the holiday season (like it or not), and that the archetypes of family are getting lit up along with the fairy lights, it seemed an apropos time to offer up this lake-and-river imagery.

So, however your December is shaping up, may you find a joy that matches your unique self, and enough supports to make use of whatever the stress of the season brings you.

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November 2023 – The Protocols of Grief

Fall (in the Northern half of the planet), with its increasing dark and insularity, as well as the setting in (for some of the planet) of the holiday season, can bring on experiences or re-experiences of loss. Sometimes these are new losses, and sometimes these are losses that we tried to tuck into the attic but nonetheless have made their way downstairs. Given the build of our human psyches, these losses trigger the grief process as the way we’ve been designed to resolve those losses. But as natural as that is, we often initially resist or deny or rationalize the loss. Which doesn’t work.

So, in this month’s article, I lay out a sketch of the “protocols” of grieving, the stripped down elements or principles that make the process flow as smoothly and elegantly as it can. Hewing to these as best you can is a decent (if not cookie-cutter) recipe for engaging a process all of us would prefer to ignore. But since hiding grief is the invitation to depression coming on, it behooves us to surrender to the grieving, and these rules of grief are here to support us in that surrender.

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March 2023 – Our Friend, Futility

For this month’s article, I’m revisiting directly one of my favorite topics, being the boons of aligning with futility. I know that saying futility is full of gifts does not sound right (to say the least), nonetheless the assertion here is that futility, understood and approached properly, is a profound friend. Read through the following piece and hopefully you will come out with a different view of what futility actually is, and what it offers.

Otherwise, I hope that the change in season (such as it may be in your neck of the woods) is bringing energy, reflection, rightly accepted grief, and deeply welcomed joys.

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November 2022 – Depression and the Illness of Loved Ones

As with last month, I’m going to answer another question from the list that folks have sent me, with this being about depression in relation to the long-term illness of a loved one. Although the article below is specific to this question, the thoughts are relevant to any “slow-motion” loss we are experiencing, whether that of a loved one, or loss of a career, or a medical situation of our own.

As we move into winter, I hope you are staying warm, literally and internally, but also enjoying the transitions in whatever way you can.

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May 2020 – Depression and Ungrieved Futility

Last month, I was interviewed on the Sidewalk Talk podcast by my friend and colleague, Traci Ruble. Sidewalk Talk is a project to bring empathic listening to the streets, literally: volunteers set up chairs on sidewalks all over the world, and fellow humans get to sit down for a bit, and just be heard without judgment or trying to be fixed. It’s a brilliant and heartful idea, and Traci has added this podcast to help support the hundreds of volunteers with different interviewees offering different perspectives on how to understand the project, and stay inspired.

So below are a few notes about the interview, and the link to the audio recording. Enjoy.

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