Navigating Grief Seeing with Perspective


I remember as a young girl going through the library of the educational Time/Life books my parents had on the den bookshelf. Perhaps you remember these, too. One book would be delivered each month focused on a different topic based on the Library of Nature, or Library of World or other series.  In fact, I recall they were glossy, photograph hardcover books just like the storybooks you can publish today!

There was one in particular that included the subject of optical illusions. Inside were pages featuring illustrations of a never-ending staircase, boxes facing different directions, vase/face and flying birds/sea.  The instructions were to look at the picture, name what you saw (such as vase), then to find the opposite (such as face). I think this must have been one of my first encounters with recognizing that people may see things differently. I would often spend some time looking at those pictures and squinting to make the picture change from one to the other. The first time I spent what seemed like forever to find the opposing pictures. Then in a moment, the picture changed! That was very a powerful realization for a young girl: to have the ability to change how I saw things, and to see from another perspective. I was, and still am, in awe of how the artists conceived of, and then created, these illusions as well.

Perspective is the key.  How do you see the pictures? Can you see both, or just one? Which comes first? Does it matter? Can you change your viewpoint enough to see the second perspective as the predominant choice? Do you remember? For fun, here are some links to classic illusions, animated illusions, and background information from Wikipedia on illusions.

In grief reflection, your perspective can change as you contemplate the possibilities. This doesn’t require you to let go of any preconceived notion, but to apply a different view on what you know. If grief reflection becomes life reflection, are you more willing to embrace confronting your pain? If your perspective on looking at your photographs means joy rather than sorrow, would this make it easier to open that box of memories? Just like the initial moment I tried to change those first optical illusions I encountered, it seemed like it took forever. But it was just a few concentrated minutes. Some were harder for me to switch my brain, but I did it, and now, decades later, I still remember this experience. You too can change your viewpoint on grief. It may be difficult at first, but through some concentrated effort, the reward will come.

In the Storybooks For Healing program there are many exercises to help you discover your own opposing viewpoints to expand your perspective for healthy processing of grief.

What do you think? Can we change our perspective through training our brain to perceive differently, and thus create a new viewpoint on our loss experience?

1 reply
  1. Dale Dupont
    Dale Dupont says:

    Yes you can change your perspective but be honest about what went on. yet somethings cannot be healed by other people only God can. you can cope


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