Grief as Inspiration Porn

For anybody following the NBA playoffs this spring, it’s been difficult to avoid the dominating story about Isaiah Thomas of the Boston Celtics continuing to play – and play well – while grieving the death of his sister a couple of weeks ago. Two weeks ago, on what would have been her birthday and only days after her funeral, Thomas scored 53 points.

The responses have been predictable, if not by rote. TV commentators simultaneously swooned and raved about his bravery. Fellow NBA players unleashed a torrent of inspirational hashtags to commemorate his resolve. Beat reporters wantonly employed terms such as “heartbreak”, “strength”, and “perseverance” to capture the emotional crests and troughs of grief.

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Countertransference, General, Grief

On Sadness

I recently went through an exercise of connecting deeply with sadness and how wonderful it can be.  In May, I closed my psychotherapy practice in New York City, and I had to say goodbye to all of my patients, most of whom I had been working with for over three years.  I was bereft.  I absolutely adored all of these individuals, and I hated the idea of not seeing them every week anymore.  We processed termination for four months, and in that time we talked quite a bit about sadness — their sadness, and mine as well.  I felt the sadness deep in my heart, like a longing.  And, as I shared with my patients when they asked me about my own feeling experience, I treasured that sadness just as deeply.  While I had always found deep meaning in my relationships with my patients, feeling the depth of my sadness at having to leave them brought me to a whole new understanding of how much those relationships meant.  It was like a gift, and one that I could never have allowed myself to open if I hadn’t embraced my own sadness, and felt its preciousness. Continue reading “On Sadness”


Cat Hospice

“We’re running a cat hospice”

I hadn’t really connected the dots in that way until my wife said it out loud to friends. While I had been aware of it on an intellectual level, it was jarring to hear it framed in that way. Suddenly, we weren’t curing our 18-year-old feline’s failing kidneys or reversing her ailing liver functioning. Rather, we were making her comfortable, bearing witness, and waiting.

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A Reflection on Robin

The role of music

It’s taken me some time to process Robin Williams’ death and its impact on me. Whether he was an alien or genie, professor or therapist, grieving husband or cross-dressing father, Williams provided opportunities to share in communal laughter and absorb moments of authentic human experiences that resonated with me as a child and have, in many ways, continued to resonate into adulthood. Reflecting on this I have found is that, in contrast to other celebrity losses (e.g., Heath Ledger and Phillip Seymour Hoffman) wherein I had immediate and relatively brief emotional responses ranging from shock to sadness, I’ve actually been grieving.

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Grief and Loss Outside of End-of-Life Care

Note: This is a guest post by Gabby Ritter-Cantesanu. For more information about Gabby, please refer to the “Contributors” tab at the top. Please feel free to leave a comment here, but if you wish to contact Gabby privately, she can be reached at Thank you!

“Life has no meaning. Each of us has meaning and we bring it to life. It is a waste to be asking the question, when you are the answer.” –Joseph Campbell

This quote comes from the memory cards given out at Hannah’s memorial service. Hannah was a special kind of child, the kind that brought fullness and light to any room. Her smile was contagious and when she laughed, she filled your soul. When she sang, she sang with a full spirit and heart. And when she danced, her clumsy steps showed everyone around what pure joy looked like. Hannah most certainly brought meaning to life. Continue reading “Grief and Loss Outside of End-of-Life Care”