Saying Goodbye in Your Unique Way by Elana Clark-Faler, LCSW

My aunt was the biggest influence in my life. No one has influenced me more. Not even Obama…Love you Obama! She was a social worker, psychologist, advocate, radio host, black business owner who made a great impact in Detroit, Michigan. She taught me resiliency, unconditional love, knowledge, self-motivation and to defy any barrier. She died one year ago. And, I don’t think I’ll ever stop missing her.

Grief is a funny thing. We all process and experience it in our own unique way. There aren’t two people who grieve in the exact way. Each one of our relationships are unique and personal. When my aunt died, I couldn’t go to the funeral. My family couldn’t understand why I didn’t fly out to Michigan to be with them. As painful as it was to say no, I needed to honor my relationship with her in a different way. I think I needed to live with my memories of her for awhile longer. Than a year later I went back to Michigan to visit with family and to visit her home for the last time. My returning to Michigan a year later was my memorial to her.

You will experience grief and loss your entire life. You will lose cars, homes, friends, family, jobs, pets, the list goes on and on. One could make a decision to never attach or only attach to a certain degree in order to make his or her loss less painful. This limited behavior would keep you from experiencing a depth of love and joy. Limiting your attachment may be a habit created from trauma and loss. Some losses come from traumatic situations. These types of losses leave lasting impressions in our psyche that can cause suffering.

We are all walking around with loss. Some individuals greater than others. Connecting with a community can support you with processing grief. I know I couldn’t go to the funeral to get support from my family. I would be doing the supporting. I stayed in Los Angeles and received love and support from my community. My friends and support team could hold me and allow me to grieve. This is what I needed at the time of my aunt’s death. Some looked at my behavior as avoidance (not going home). Maybe it was to some degree, but it’s what I needed. It can be difficult to voice and follow your desired needs. I find people regret far less when they honor their true needs.

I encourage you to seek support if you are experiencing a great loss. There are many resources in our communities, you might have no awareness about. Here are a few resources:



Our staff are trained in grief support from Our House. We support individuals, couples and groups with processing their grief in their unique way. It’s important to reach out for support if you’re finding yourself not getting the support you need or if you are feeling alone with your grief. You can reach us at 888-851-2666 x1. We’re here to support you and our community.

Elana Clark-Faler
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