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Sometimes, there is simply no cure for great sorrow, such as losing a child, a loved one, a family member.

In our culture, people often try to cheer up their sad friends and family, and to help them ‘move on’. “Don’t cry” is a familiar expression fathers say to sons.

I have a different suggestion. When you are deep in sorrow, let yourself be there. You may feel raw, miserable, empty, or beyond human redemption. Stay in your sadness, as there is really no place else to go. Any place else would be inauthentic, and papering over your deep and true feelings.

Some sorrows will scar you for life and your life will never be the same. Think about it….another human has made such an impact on you that you will never be the same. You might think of that as a very special state of being—that you have allowed someone to penetrate your being so deeply that his or her absence has changed you forever.

So what can you do when you are immersed in great sorrow? Nothing. Just be in it. Take one step at a time, one day at a time. Just be in the sorrow and see where that leads you. It may lead you out; it will certainly lead you through.

And as you experience this pain and sorrow, you will be fully experiencing your humanity, and the fragility of life.

Our American culture doesn’t always include a full acknowledgment of death as part of life. We avoid and deny it in many ways, from the endless cosmetic and plastic surgery treatments our populace puts itself through, to keeping children away from dying relatives and funerals.

You can allow yourself and those around you to do it differently.

What do you do when you’re in great sorrow? Join the conversation.