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Oct 14 / Peter Lichtenberg

Talking Publicly about Grief and Healing

My presentation at the American Psychological Association. Susan watches over my shoulder.

This week I gave my first two continuing education talks about grief and healing; trying to weave in my personal story with the universal aspects of grief. I tell less of my own story than I do in my book and instead weave in the academic side of grief: developmental perspectives to understanding grief and healing, grief theories and how they have changed. My writing is more personal, more vulnerable, and my talking is more focused on helping others to think about their own experiences with grief and healing.

Both talks appeared to go very well. I was happy with them and I left from each feeling a sense of encouragement from the audience and their appreciation for my sharing. For me it was joyful to “introduce the stars of my talk,” Becky and Susan, to bring them alive through my stories about them and to share them with the audience.

My internal reactions during the talks also reflected more of my healing. I can talk about these two women who I was devoted to, and not be overwhelmed by yearning or feelings of separation. Instead I view myself as their legacy, determined to live with as much joy as I can. My healing is still a work in progress. Thirty-one months ago Susan died, and I don’t think I am as fully healed as I will be at month 48 or month 60. Last night, Kathleen Hardy (whom I wrote about in an earlier blog) was in the audience. It was comforting to have my lifeline right there. As always she encouraged me warmly, as few people can.