I get asked a lot about what The Grief Recovery Method is, how it works and why I use it with clients… Here are my answers.
What is the Grief Recovery Method?
The Grief Recovery Method is a program that helps people heal after life-altering transition and loss… It’s been around for 35+ years and helped millions of people.
Who is the Grief Recovery Method for?
The Method is for anyone who is broken-hearted and who wants to feel whole again.
Although many participants have experienced traumatic events, like the death of a loved one, or a divorce or breakup, a serious accident or illness, people also come when they’re hurting because of more abstract losses, like losing their self-confidence, or their sense of safety and security.
Ultimately, there are countless losses that can affect our lives deeply — and that change how we see ourselves, and the world, and each other.
The program helps people draw on their own experiences and courage to make sense of their pain, to make peace with the present, and find hope for the future… even when it’s hard.
It helps people communicate the truth of their story in a way that makes healing possible.
How is the Grief Recovery Method different from other programs?
- First, there’s an emphasis on personal agency for healing. Although you may or may not be responsible for what has happened, you can make choices about what happens next. We focus on taking action steps; not just on sharing our stories… although we do that. What we try to avoid is rumination, social comparison, and unhelpful commentary that can hinder healing.
- Second, it’s a limited duration program – it is six to eight weeks long, depending on whether you prefer a one-on-one or group experience. There is also an intensive weekend retreat option. The shorter duration actually fosters accountability and action.
- Third, there’s an actual “method” that participants learn which fosters healing after a relationship has ended, and equips people to approach current relationships with greater authenticity. So the value of the Method extends well beyond the duration of the program.
How does the Grief Recovery Method work?
Grief is complicated and messy and it’s unique to each one of us.
We often feel disconnected from other people in our life after experiencing loss… like no one really understands what we are going through.
Not surprisingly, we internalize a lot of emotions and often feel bad about ourselves, and how we’re coping. And there are things we want to say out loud – to talk about our loss and to make sense of our story — but there are so few places where it feels safe to do so.
People might offer unhelpful advice – or try to fix us… or, without meaning to, they might minimize our loss… and all of it is upsetting.
To complicate matters, the demands of everyday life keep swirling around us and we feel like we can’t keep up. We can’t think straight. We feel emotionally overwhelmed and like we’ve forgotten who we are.
We experience this emotional vertigo… like we’re off balance and struggling to find our bearings.
In my experience, what the Method does is slow things down… it normalizes grief…. It takes a topic that is messy and complicated and systematically walks you through a series of small action steps that increase self-awareness, acknowledge the emotions that are arising, and allow us to be honest and vulnerable about our loss and our life story. This is what ultimately fosters healing.
What do you talk about?
During the program, we talk about cultural myths and misinformation about how to navigate loss and transition. We unpack some of our default behaviors and beliefs about coping – things that we’ve done and believed since childhood. And then we focus on one specific relationship, with someone who may or may not be alive, but a relationship that still carries unresolved, ruminating pain.
We work through the Grief Recovery Method handbook to reckon with and release what is emotionally unhealthy and unhelpful to our sense of wholeness and well-being.
Most people just need to be heard. And there are so few places where they can be fully honest and fully themselves… experiencing the Method has a profound effect on the people who are courageous enough to participate honestly because they’re committed to healing.
How did you find the Grief Recovery Method?
After my husband Noah died, my grief felt utterly unbearable. Until his death, I had never lost anyone close to me. It was a wholly unfamiliar terrain. I was disillusioned, disoriented, and truly in the depths of despair.
I scoured bookstores, websites, and community groups for the best possible resources to help me understand what was “normal” — grasping at anything that might provide some measure of comfort and consolation and ultimately help me to rebuild my life.
I stumbled upon The Grief Recovery Handbook about a year after Noah’s accident. I did the exercises on my own and found they were helpful so I decided to become a Grief Recovery Method facilitator a couple years later. Part of my training was to work through the method as a participant.
Completing the Method in a group context was life-altering for me in a way that no amount of reading, independent self-reflection, or traditional therapy could have been…
There is tremendous power in having someone bear witness to your story without judgment, analysis or commentary in a way that helps you reckon with reality and rumble with your story.*
It was different than any other support groups I’d been a part of. There were no layers of religious judgment. We spent time in reflection; not rumination, shame, and regret. The Grief Recovery Method also helped me to unload some of the cultural baggage I’d been carrying about what “appropriate grief” looks like (FYI, it’s not for anyone else to judge, nor are comparisons helpful in grieving although sharing our story with others humanizes us).
Ultimately, working through the Method normalized my grief and allowed me to make sense of the breadth and depth of my loss in a way that was profoundly cathartic and healing.
What I love about the Grief Recovery Method is that it fosters resilience and hopefulness.
When we take inventory of all we’ve been through, we see how strong we are. When we allow ourselves to honor the full range of emotions, we can connect more deeply with others in joy and sorrow. When we learn how to navigate adversity and grief in healthy ways, it inspires confidence that we can, in fact, handle whatever the future holds…
The reality is that life is hard. And life is also beautiful. And it’s by acknowledging these two truths together that we are emboldened to live more wholeheartedly and to rebuild meaningful lives after loss.
* During my healing journey, I also read a lot of books by Brené Brown, Lucy Hone, Kristen Neff, George Bonanno, Thomas Lynch, David Whyte, Joan Didion, Krista Tippett, Richard Tedeshi, Martin Seligman, and others. One of my favorite books during some of my darkest moments was Healing After Loss by Martha Whitmore Hickman. One of my favorite meditation resources is Tara Brach’s website.