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Befriending Grief

What helped is that I finally found a purpose for this sometimes-excruciating feeling.

Illustration of people hugging each other

We Hold Each Other Up by Mali Fischer

My first clue that I had an issue with sadness occurred in college when I volunteered to be a client for an acquaintance getting her master’s in counseling. I approached my first session as a “fun” excursion from studying. We met in her living room, and after settling in she simply and sincerely asked me, “So, how are you doing?” What I remember vividly is bursting into tears, followed by wracking sobs—while my mind freaked out over my embarrassing loss of control. Afterward, I shared the story as a humorous anecdote about the hidden stresses of college life. Ha-ha. It took another dozen years before I addressed my backlog of tears—by crying a river through a good part of my 30s. At times, it was like being swallowed up by a merciless current, sucking me into whirlpools of unrelenting anguish before spitting me back to shore, sputtering with temporary relief and a mysterious longing I couldn’t quite name. It wasn’t until my 40s that I learned to appreciate such powerful feelings as a navigational system for living a more authentic life. I saw my earlier outbursts as a longing to know my …

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