Ask Golden Willow

Emotional healing with communal support

By Ted Wiard
For The Taos News
Posted 2/28/19

I appreciate your insights about the grief process as well as sharing your experience with your healing process from the loss of your brother.

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Ask Golden Willow

Emotional healing with communal support


Dear Dr. Ted: A few months ago, my brother died, and I was grateful to have many family members and friends who helped me start on the grief path from his death. It has not been easy but sometimes I am starting to feel more strength and I don't feel like the rug keeps being pulled out from under me. In the beginning, I would have emotional "falls" and luckily, my loved ones would help catch me. Do you see this as an important factor as you see many people in the grief process? Thanks, Philbert

Dear Philbert: I appreciate your insights about the grief process as well as sharing your experience with your healing process from the loss of your brother. Your analogy of having the rug pulled out from under you is perfect and it is always helpful when you can have someone help catch your fall. Even though grief is individualized and a personal process, having support from others along the way can help ease the pain as you reestablish your footing. People with a similar loss can be a support for one another during the process and this uniting around a common cause helps expedite the healing process and decrease delayed grief.

There is something therapeutic and magical that happens when people gather, connect and work through loss together. If this gathering process is done consciously and in healthy ways, you realize you are not alone, you can receive help and the grief process naturally flows. People share stories of the past, grieve the loss and honor the deceased person's presence on this earth. This allows the unconscious to absorb that there has been a loss and start moving into the present situation. Many times after a loss, the brain may understand the factual situation but the emotional world needs time to catch up and become congruent with what has happened and to rebuild the internal foundation.

I had someone state they did not want to use friends as a crutch during their loss. Metaphorically, I let them know that if you break your leg, you may need crutches for a while as you heal and restabilize the fracture and regain your balance. As time goes on, the crutches are no longer needed and you move back into your everyday life without the crutches. As your community gathers from a loss you have the opportunity to be each other's crutch - there is receiving and giving while the fracture heals and a new foundation of the present situation is established. As this type of personal and collective healing happens, life begins to seep back into your world, allowing you the ability to honor your loss while building a new foundation of your present situation and life. Thank you for the question, I wish you well in the healing process from the death of your brother.

Until next week, take care.

Golden Willow Retreat is a nonprofit organization focused on emotional healing and recovery from any type of loss. Direct any questions to Dr. Ted Wiard, EdD, LPCC, CGC, founder of Golden Willow Retreat at

This column seeks to help educate our community about emotional healing through grief. People may write questions to Golden Willow Retreat and they will be answered privately to you and possibly as a future article for others. Please list a first name that grants permission for printing.


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