You won’t heal somebody’s pain by trying to take it away from them. Megan Devine, a psychotherapist and writer of Refuge in Grief has created an insightful animation that talks about the alternative. Even though it may sound counter-intuitive, Devine argues that acknowledging your friend’s pain will help them much more than telling them to cheer up or look on the bright side.

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“I started my professional career as a psychotherapist in 2001,” Devine wrote on her website. “In those first years, I worked with people wrestling with substance addiction and patterns of homelessness. In subsequent years, I worked with private practice clients facing decades-old abuse, trauma, and grief. Way back before I became a therapist, I worked in sexual violence education and advocacy. Through it all, I studied the cutting edge of emotional literacy and resilience (and being the social anthropologist I am, I also studied comparative religion, mythology, women’s history, and the use of art for social change).”

The psychotherapist had helped people explore their inner worlds, hear their own hearts, find truth and meaning in their lives. And then, on a perfectly ordinary summer day in 2009, she watched my partner drown. “Matt was strong, fit, and healthy – just three months from his fortieth birthday. It was random, unexpected, and it tore my world apart.”

“When sudden death erupted into my life, all my professional experience felt meaningless. None of what I knew applied to loss of that magnitude. None of what I’d learned mattered. I quit my practice the day Matt died. I never saw my clients again.”

“In those early days of my own grief, real talk – real help – was extremely hard to find. Back then, there were very few people talking about grief as anything other than pathology, or some unfortunate thing you just had to shake off and get back to your normal, happy life.”

That endless search for real support and understanding, “with all its dead ends and wrong turns and disappointments” is why Devine does the work she does now.

Watch the entire video below

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