Deep Bench: Coping with grief on the anniversary of a loss

Published: Mar. 22, 2021 at 5:37 PM CDT
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WAUSAU, Wis. (WSAW) - Monday marks four years since a shooting spree in the Wausau area left four people dead. We remember the lives of Marathon Savings bank employees Karen Barclay and Dianne Look, attorney Sara Quirt-Sann and Everest Metro Police Detective Jason Weiland, who died on March 22, 2017.

For many of us -- it feels like the tragic events only just happened, and that grief can bubble up unexpectedly.

“It’s just one of those days where you know there’s a lot of people who are thinking, ‘Here we are again’, back on the day when those emotions just come flooding back as though it just happened yesterday,” said Behavioral Health Clinic psychologist Dr. Brian Weiland. “I would imagine for some people it’s probably a day when they feel particularly supported, and for other people, it’s a day when they don’t.”

Dr. Weiland joined NewsChannel 7 at 4′s Deep Bench to discuss grief on anniversaries of a loss.

He said when grief happens it can feel like a black hole that’s taken up our entire lives.

“As time goes on, the pain doesn’t ever shrink or go away, but instead we sort of create a life around it. And that’s why anyone that you talk to, if they’ve experienced any sort of grief or loss in their life, is that they can easily tap into that pain,” he added.

No certain amount of time needs to pass for that grief to subside in some even 15, 20 or 30 years later.

“But as time goes on, and as we develop experiences outside out the grief and outside of the pain of loss, it can feel like it’s smaller.”

Dr. Weiland said there are both healthy and unhealthy ways to deal with the grief you experience, but it all depends on the person.

“I would say that there’s one unhealthy way of coping with grief, and that is to do or say nothing… to bottle it up,” he added. “So as long as we’re finding some sort of outlet for that, then we can move through it gracefully.”

He added that if there’s something that protects us from going through this, it’s support for each other and reaching out to do just that.

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