Check out my interview on the popular Trauma Therapist Podcast

It’s been a while since my most recent blog post, but I’ve been busy promoting my book “Beyond Loss in a Pandemic: Find Hope and Move Through Grief After Someone Close to You Dies.” I’ve appeared on a few podcasts, most recently on Guy Macpherson’s Trauma Therapist Podcast. We had a meaningful, very nice back-and-forth about the many ways people grieve, how the pandemic specifically impacted our collective experiences with loss, and how to get help when you’re really struggling no matter when the loss happened. Here are two of the many things we discussed. This interview has been lightly edited for clarity.

Guy: How do you define grief?

Linda: You carry it with you, you have to work through it. It might hit you on the birthday of your lost loved one. I tell people in my grief support groups that the first birthday of the person who died might be difficult because they’re not there. On the first birthday after my husband’s death, I threw a party in his memory. I told people in my grief support groups to do that. Bring together friends, people you know, or just someone you know, and share memories, eat their favorite food, and laugh. Instead of that being a dreaded event, celebrate the person.

Guy: I’ve felt that we [as a society] generally have an expectation of how we’re supposed to grieve. There’s this feeling that I’m supposed to feel this way or that way, or I’m not doing it right.

Linda: There’s no right or wrong way to grieve. You move at your own pace. Do something that makes you feel good each day. Even though it’s difficult, reflect on something you’re grateful for. I don’t sweat the small stuff now. When I used to get stuck in traffic, I’d get really angry. Now, if I have a setback, it’s no big deal. Nobody died. It gives you a whole different perspective on what’s important in life.

Guy: I think it’s important to give people permission to feel whatever they’re feeling. They don’t have to conform to any strict grief protocol. People have their own timeline, their own evolution of dealing with this. I think it’s important, as you’re saying here, to be intentional about experiencing it rather than shoving it down.

Linda: One thing I talk about in my book is identifying triggers. You have to know [your triggers] in advance. I know a woman whose husband died, and a month later, she went to a memorial for another person’s husband. I told her not to drive there herself, and to go along with someone else because she might be triggered by the similarities of the event. Even at good events like weddings and births, you might find yourself crying because your loved one isn’t there, and you’re dealing with unknowns. Triggers can be Father’s Day or Mother’s Day if you’ve lost a parent, or anniversaries for couples. Understand you might not be able to go back to the same restaurant you went with the other person to. It’s normal. It’s part of grief.

To learn more about how to process grief at any time, check out my latest book “Beyond Loss.”