This Is Us

Instead of cheating, I decided to make myself into more of what I desired

Person’s hands holding a lit match.
Person’s hands holding a lit match.
Photo: Azahar Adnan/EyeEm/Getty Images

I’d been married eight years when Brian sat next to me at a writers’ workshop. I didn’t know his name was Brian then… I didn’t know him at all. Being new to the workshop, I’d taken my own seat in the circle of writers, and busied myself by reading through the stack of writing samples I’d been given when I walked in. With my eyes down, I saw his cowboy boots first. That caused me to look up slightly at this man who, staying true to form, also wore some kind of jacket that I guessed was called a duster. His face, again in character — handsome and weathered. Improbably, no cowboy hat, but a full head of good hair. …


This Is Us

The type of love I feel for my clients is something we can all practice

3 long-haired people sitting in a cafe looking at a phone. The middle one is being comforted by the others.
3 long-haired people sitting in a cafe looking at a phone. The middle one is being comforted by the others.
Photo: urbazon/E+/Getty Images

A coward is incapable of exhibiting love; it is the prerogative of the brave. —Mahatma Gandhi

I am a therapist. More specifically, I am a grief therapist. This is not to say that I only work with clients who’ve lost loved ones — though that is often the case.

Not one person on this Earth will leave life without having lost something or someone — a job, a marriage, a friendship, an identity, a beloved pet, an era of good luck, health, a great love, and even the opportunity to repair a pained relationship. Though it’s said that Death is the Great Equalizer, I want to quibble with that. …


The Addiction of Politics Online and Restoring Ourselves to Sanity

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From the movie, War Games, released in 1983

As I dragged the trash cans to the street the other Sunday after dinner, I heard my two teenagers yelling at one another through the closed doors and windows of our home. I wasn’t surprised, since as I’d been cleaning up the kitchen, things were growing heated. Not the typical, “You ate the last Oreo” or “You always get to choose the music — you’re so selfish!”

They were arguing about WAP. Depending on your age and taste in music, you may know this song by Cardi B and Megan Thee Stallion song, as well as video (I’m struggling with an adjective for the video — maybe just watch it) which we’d recently also made my mom/their grandma watch. …


This Is Us

On the masks we wear to face the world

Blurred series of mime faces.
Blurred series of mime faces.
Photo: mediaphotos/Getty Images

I never knew what I’d walk into when I went to a death.

When Danny and I found ourselves at Mr. Richardson’s death, for example, we never would have imagined we’d be 1) coerced into a photo session with Mr. Richardson’s dead body and 2) chastised into joining a prayer circle surrounding the dead man.

Danny was my intern. I had several during my years as a hospice social worker, and he was my favorite: an ambitious young man, with a good sense of humor. …


This Is Us

Apps, adult braces, and a strong commitment to my own independence

Creative picture with zoom technique of illuminated hearts creating tunnel effect with light trails.
Creative picture with zoom technique of illuminated hearts creating tunnel effect with light trails.
Photo: Artur Debat/Getty Images

Marriage is a great institution, but I’m not ready for an institution. — Mae West

Improvisation (noun): the art or act of composing, uttering, executing, or arranging anything without previous preparation

When I got divorced, I imagined that after 18 years I might be “out there” dating again, and concerns arose about my appearance.

I know that’s very superficial, but if you ask any newly divorced person, it is realistic.

When I got divorced, I definitely thought dating would be a part of my life because that’s just what people do. It was part of everything I was told or read or witnessed about that unwanted passage. …


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I often think of Wilson from Castaway when I think about surviving isolation

I live with two teenagers. And no one else. They are sixteen and fourteen-years old and they are good kids. They get good grades. They can be trusted to have good judgement on social media (maybe not the amount of time they spend on it, but the content of what they post). My oldest has a girlfriend of 7 months, and she’s a good kid too. (Thank God, because she lives on the next block and I can only imagine how hard it would be if he were dating Rizzo from Grease).

But, they are still teenagers. They watch TikTok, share memes, speak in slang, scream, emote, occasionally punch a wall, and think about the opposite sex A LOT. One of them dances constantly and the other one mocks her for it. The other longs to be eighteen so he can have some new kind of freedom he imagines comes with being an “adult.” …


I’ve Been Thinking About Mothers

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Lament, a nonnarrative poem expressing deep grief or sorrow over a personal loss. The form developed as part of the oral tradition along with heroic poetry and exists in most languages.

Definition of keen (Entry 2 of 3)
intransitive verb

1a: to make a loud and long cry of sorrow : to lament with a keen
b: to make a sound suggestive of a loud cry of sorrow
a keening siren
2: to lament, mourn, or complain loudly

To me, a poet, George Floyd’s last words looks like a poem. It is a poem of terror and I feel terrified reading it. Mr. Floyd’s last words do to me what only poetry can do. His words make me know something in my body, make me know it fast, and make me feel something beyond my immediate access to words. …


The Global Pandemic and the Musings of a Grief Therapist

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The Zombie Fighting Single Mom by my friend — artist and chicken lover, Missy Castro

A client of mine — a young mother who also happens to be divorced — is fighting stage 4 cancer. She’s athletic, a hard worker, a devoted and active mom. Cancer is one of the most unfair parts of being human…so, every day, she fights for time. Every day, she fights for more life with her children and the people she loves so deeply.

And, like the rest of us, she is practicing social distancing. She works, she takes care of her children, she cleans her house, she “home-schools.” She must accomplish all of this mostly as a lone adult in her home because of COVID-19. …


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March 20, 2020

The clouds hung low and foreboding. The highway, strangely quiet as we sped East on Highway 44. Though it was mid-March, the fauna, still suspended in winter grey-brown, did not harken to spring or new life. My son and I really needed to stop to go to the bathroom, but we had such a small bottle of hand sanitizer and the world of contagion seemed so large.

“Let’s stop before Columbia,” I said.

The kids and I glanced at one another — I made eye contact with my daughter in the back seat.

“College town,” I said authoritatively, conveying the unsettling new reality of a world where we understood students called back to the U.S. from semesters abroad would be a greater risk to us. …


Humans 101

We won’t be the same, but we’ll get through this

A photo of a woman submerged underwater, with a ton of water bubbles.
A photo of a woman submerged underwater, with a ton of water bubbles.
Photo: Denise Kwong/EyeEm/Getty Images

So when you call up that shrink in Beverly Hills

You know the one, Dr. Everything’ll Be Alright

Instead of asking him how much of your time is left

Ask him how much of your mind, baby

— “Let’s Go Crazy” by Prince

In a very basic nutshell, the theory of shattered assumptions says that people operate according to a conceptual system based on a set of assumptions about the world, the self, and others. These personally held assumptions about how the world works, help you make sense of the world and your role within it. They also help you to feel safe, capable, and in control of what happens to you and, in some ways, those around you. …

About

Katy Friedman Miller

I’m a grief therapist and former home hospice social worker- recently finding myself a storyteller. Check out my TEDx at www.ted.com

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