What history teaches us about the lost ritual of ‘grieving’

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Photo by Kristina Tripkovic on Unsplash

Most of us haven’t been taught to grieve. Yet, COVID is making it impossible to escape grief.

It shows itself in news feeds, social media posts, vacant shop windows, and in the worried voices and anxious expressions of our loved ones. Moment-by-moment, we are experiencing grief.

Most of us are ill equipped to navigate this emotional landscape. Modern Western culture, including psychology, has not provided an adequate understanding of the human experience of grief. Instead of viewing it as a natural and normal experience, we are taught steps, stages, and terms aimed at quickly finishing the ‘work’ called grief.

Recent history provides insight as to why we struggle to grieve. Patrick O’Malley’s book Getting Grief Right offers an in depth discussion of the topic. He writes that prior to the Industrial Revolution, communities offered space, time, and support for those who mourned. …


Heather Tuba

Consultant. Coach. Writer. Specialization in supporting partners/supporters of individuals with complex PTSD. www.heathertuba.com

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