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Each week on Two Guys on Your Head, Dr. Art Markman and Dr. Bob Duke, explore different aspects of human behavior and the brain.

Life After Loss: How To Reshape, Move On And Let It Go

A traumatic event in life is like a scratch on a record. Every time the record player, or your mind, runs over the scratch, it skips. 

This skipping record thought pattern is called rumination. Until we’re able to fill the scratch, it will keep skipping. So how do we fill the scratch, move on and heal?

On this episode of Two Guys on Your Head, Dr. Art Markman and Dr. Bob Duke talk about the various ways we live with and explain grief, and they offer some strategies that might help it make sense.

We use the grieving process to weave the story of our traumatic loss back into the fabric of the narrative of our lives. It’s natural. Our natural reaction is to ruminate on our loss, or the event, or the slight, or whatever causes us grief, and the pain that we feel because of it, in effort to try and make it make sense. 

We like things to make sense, but if our narrative is so disturbed, things no longer make sense in the same way. How can we possibly make things make sense in the midst of struggling with a traumatic loss? We can rewrite the narrative. 

The act of simply writing, or typing, allows us to find an avenue of thought surrounding the story of the traumatic event that will make sense and tie it back into the scheme of the larger narrative of our lives. It’s also extremely helpful to engage socially with other people in our community who can help us to make sense of the loss, even if our natural inclination is to be alone and feel miserable. 

If we keep our grief internalized and hide it from the rest of our community, that grief will be dragged out longer. Your best option: get it out. Whether you write it out, talk it out, laugh it out, run it out or do something else, you have to get it out in order to let it go. 

Give yourself permission to feel something other than sorrow over the loss in your grief. Positive experiences, moments of humor or enjoyment of good company can help to break the cycle of the record skipping back over the painful memories that leave us wallowing in grief. 

Historically we've had religious or cultural traditions, like funerals, that connect grieving individuals with their communities in their time of need. Always remember that nobody is an island and you are not alone, even if you may want to be.

This post was originally published on Feb. 14, 2014.

Rebecca McInroy is an award-winning show creator, host, and executive producer for KUT, KUTX, and KUT.ORG.
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