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Help for Grief & Bereavement: Coloring & Journaling

 

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Although one of my heroes in college was Dr. Elizabeth Kubler-Ross (who postulated the stages of grief), I never set out to specialize in grief and bereavement (I also treat other issues-Anxiety, Eating Disorders, and more see here).  But like the Dr. Deborah Derman, author of Colors of Loss and Healing, an adult coloring book and journal, I suffered a lot of significant loss at a young age. Starting at age 8, our family dog died, then at age 12, I had the usual losses of my beloved Great-Grandmother, then my grandfather. Then aunts, uncles, and close family friends passed. At age 24, my first husband died of a rare form of leukemia-followed three months later by my grandfather and several more family pets. My mother died when I was 30. My sister died suddenly of an embolism and nearly a year to the day, my father died of leukemia. Therapy helped me find my way through those losses. And it is important to me to help others through their grief and loss.

 

I am often asked "Will it get better? Will it stop hurting so much?" And yes, it will. It will always hurt, but we can find our way to live around the holes in our hearts by loving more and hurting less. But I won't lie-it's a long journey. There is a sad beauty to it though and comfort can be found in poetry, art, music, and supportive psychotherapy. 

 

Loss and grief are natural and part of life and not to be viewed as dysfunctional. Therapy can help get us through the pain and fear by helping us assimilate our losses in healthy ways. Empathy and compassion are key elements of this kind of therapy, as well as learning how to cope with the tidal waves of grief that make us feel like we are drowning. 

 

I really like Dr. Derman's book and recommend it to my patients. Another book that is quite a great read is Wave by Sonali Deraniyagala, who lost her entire family to a tsunami. 

 

Dr. Derman's book Colors of Loss and Healing on Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Colors-Loss-Healing-Coloring-Getting/dp/1530602130/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1463837783&sr=8-1&keywords=Coloring+through+loss

Sonali Deraniyagala's book Wave on Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Wave-Sonali-Deraniyagala-ebook/dp/B009Y4I4QU?ie=UTF8&qid=1463837949&ref_=la_B00ABOWEWW_1_1&s=books&sr=1-1

 

And the New York Times article on Dr. Derman's book, where I first heard of it:

http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2016/05/16/coloring-your-way-through-grief/?em_pos=small&emc=edit_hh_20160520&nl=well&nl_art=7&nlid=65386032&ref=headline&te=1&_r=0http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2016/05/16/coloring-your-way-through-grief/?em_pos=small&emc=edit_hh_20160520&nl=well&nl_art=7&nlid=65386032&ref=headline&te=1&_r=0

 

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