Making Sense Of Loss

with Patrick O’Malley

The Question

“Tis a fearful thing to love what death can touch. A fearful thing to love, to hope, to dream, to be. A thing for fools, this. And a holy thing. Tis a human thing, love, a holy thing, to love what death has touched.” – Yehuda HaLevi

To love is the fiercest and most essential of human callings and in our loss, our grief becomes the mirror to the depth of that love.

When we lose a loved one to bereavement or separation, it is often the case that we feel swallowed whole by the vastness of that grief and the pain of the loss.Making sense of this pain, weaving gold out of the suffering, is a delicate art form and an essential responsibility for us to emerge with deeper clarity, meaning and integration from our losses.

If you’ve been affected by loss, this episode is for you.

Our Guest

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Patrick O’Malley Ph.D.

Grief Psychologist and Author

Dr. Patrick O’Malley is an author and psychotherapist in Fort Worth, TX. He has been specializing in grief counseling for 35 years after going through a personal tragedy with the loss of his first child

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The Talk

In exploring the process of grief, the popular five stage model of grief emerged in the 1960s to help people comprehend their feelings. The model speaks of a chronological step-by-step process of denial, anger, bargaining, depression and finally acceptance. To find closure, it is posited that one must go through each of these stages, but not everybody fits this process.

Through his own tragic loss and decades of therapeutic practice, grief specialist Patrick O’Malley soon discovered that what we need to process these events and the unpredictable spectrum of feelings that accompany them is to create our own grief story. A narrative that helps tell the full sweep our of our loss, that encompasses all of our interiority so that we may be with it in its fullness.

In his book Getting Grief Right Patrick speaks of the vital healing power of story-telling to reframe grieving as an act of the deepest form of love. He invites us to explore grief not as a process of recovery, but as the ongoing narrative of our relationship with the one we’ve lost—to be fully felt, told, and woven into our lives.

In his own words: “Sadness, regret, confusion, yearning—all the experiences of grief—are a part of the narrative of love.”

When we learn to embrace these we create a compassionate environment for our feelings and a story that honours the loss and moves us forward in a deeper, enriched and vulnerable way.

What’s Your Feeling?

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The Questions

  • How did you personal experience of grief lead you to look at the process of grieving in a different way?
  • What is the popular five step model of grief and what was it originally intended to cater for?
  • How does the five step model of grief fall short for helping us?
  • What kind of difficulties have people had with trying to process their grief through the linear five step model?
  • How did the breakthrough of story-telling as a means of processing grief come out?
  • What are the chapters we need to write in our grief story?
  • How do we tell our grief story? What questions should we ask? How should we let it out?
  • How important is it to share that story? To be witnessed?
  • Why is ‘closure’ for grief a myth for so many people?
  • How does attachment play into grief?
  • Why is it so important to integrate our grief into our daily lives?
  • What is social splitting and how does the West’s culture of positivity encourage it?
  • How can we improve our grief literacy?
  • How and why have we become so afraid of death and grief in our culture, when it is a fact of life?
  • Does our shying away from death contribute to our inability to be authentic with life?
  • Why should we face grief straight on?
  • What happens we tell our grief story? What beautiful connection occurs?

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