Understanding Grief as an Antidote to Trauma

Gabor Maté on Making Sense of Troubling Times

Gabor Maté

These days, given racial injustices on top of coronavirus-related stress, how do we know whether what we're feeling is just grief, or trauma? And how can we help our clients work through it constructively?

According to physician and bestselling author Gabor Maté, the grief we're experiencing is actually an antidote to trauma—a healthy outlet for what we're feeling. While trauma leaves us stuck in our sadness, grief abates and eventually allows us to tap into an innate sense of agency.

Gabor Maté, MD, is the author of the upcoming books The Myth of Normal: Illness and Health in an Insane Culture and Hello Again: A Fresh Start for Adult Children and Their Parents.

Grief, Maté continues, shouldn't be confused with pain, suffering, or fear. And people who are currently working through trauma may be disproportionately affected by recent events. But therapists can help clients keep trauma at bay by promoting agency. He uses the example of activists and protesters, who, in avoiding pitfalls like feelings of helplessness or isolation, are actively countering trauma.

"Healing is a highly subversive act in our culture," Maté writes in this Networker article. The therapist's task, he adds, is to help clients "see the connections among their existence, the nature of the culture we live in, and the functioning of all of humanity. It’s about challenging the idea that someone’s value is dependent on how well they fit into an abnormal, unhealthy culture."

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Topic: Cultural, Social & Racial Issues | Trauma

Tags: 2020 | African American | black issues | Cultural, Social & Racial Issues | culture | Depression & Grief | Gabor Mate | grief | grief and loss | healing | loss | psychological healing | sadness | Trauma | trauma and recovery | trauma recovery | trauma therapist | trauma therapy | trauma treatment | traumas

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