Grief and Recovery: Whatever Gets You Through the Night

Stan Goldberg, PhD

THOUGHT OF THE DAY.  “Whatever Gets You Through the Night,” is the title of John Lennon’s 1970’s hit single. The phrase, credited to Reverend Ike, a famous black radio evangelist in the 1970’s, should be the theme song for anyone coping with the grief from losing a loved one or an ability.

In looking over the many books and articles on dealing with grief, what becomes apparent is suggestions are abundant. Some are unambiguous, such as “If you want to get over your grief, here are six steps you MUST go through.” Other approaches are less dogmatic. “Here are x suggestions that worked for others, determine what works for you.”

I find since grief comes in so many forms, the value of set religious and nonsectarian approaches are limited. A person is often asked to fit the approach, instead of modifying the approach to fit the individual.

Why Grief?

What I think most approaches miss is why we grieve. It’s not because of the loss of a specific person or ability. If it does, then women would grieve the loss of an abuser as much as another person would grieve the loss of a kind and gentle husband. The man who doesn’t use his hands for anything more taxing than opening a can of beer would mourn the developing of crippling arthritis as much as the concert pianist who no longer can even play the simplest of pieces.

We don’t mourn the person or ability taken from us, but rather the emotions vanished with the loss. What can get us through the night is finding something to recreate those emotions. Whatever you identify is fine, whether it’s a new partner to provide the companionship you lost or volunteering at an organization generating a sense of being needed.

How To Recover

I think the beginning of recovery comes when you search for the missing emotion and try recreating it in whatever manner that works. As Reverend Ike said, “Let me tell you guys, it doesn’t matter, it’s whatever gets you through the night.”

Preventing Senior Moments, by Stan Goldberg

Offers practical and achievable prevention strategies for senior moments.


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