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Understanding Grief

Senator John McCain Lies in State in the Capital Rotunda (Reuters TV frame grab)
Aretha Franklin’s Funeral Service in Detroit (Reuters TV frame grab)

Our country is in mourning for two well-known and remarkable individuals, Senator John McCain and singer, Aretha Franklin.

“While we feel connected to these people, most of us never met them. Yet, we grieve for their loss,” says Dr. Dara Bushman.

Why are we hurting?

According to Dr. Bushman:

  • We hurt because humans are filled with compassion. Yet, we all grieve differently. There is often the idea that grief is a sign of love and respect and that people who don’t grieve must not have truly loved the deceased.
  • Many people are thinking that Senator John McCain and singer Aretha Franklin should not have died.
  • Some experience anger thinking their death should have been prevented or made easier.  Often people are left feeling incomplete, that there is more Senator McCain could have completed or impact he could have had.
  • When feelings of respect are experienced for a hero or heroine, disbelief of them passing impacts at an even greater level leaving individuals fearful in their own lives.
  • If it can happen to them, it can happen to me or someone in my family.
  • People feel scared and vulnerable.

“The amount of pain has nothing to do with the amount of love and respect for the person. There are people who had an incredible love who didn’t grieve at all, and there have been people who felt hatred and contempt who grieve forever,” Bushman says.

And she adds, “Sometimes people believe that grief is the only connection left to the loved person. They are afraid to lose the grief because they don’t want to lose the connection they have.”

About Dr. Dara Bushman

If you have questions for Dr. Dara you can send them to us, or directly to Dr. Dara:

Dr. Dara Bushman, Psy.D., NBCCH, RRT



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