Speaking out loud to a dead loved one is actually good for you
As we go through life pleasantly distracted by epic fantasy TV shows and fanny packs with built-in wine coolers, it's easy to forget one's mortality. Then, when someone close to you dies, the blinders of diversion fall off. You remember we're all living on borrowed time, and it's tremendously difficult to reckon with the loss of a loved one.
People grieve in various ways, such as creating a memorial, visiting the gravesite and posting messages on the deceased's Facebook page. If you've ever caught yourself speaking out loud to a dead loved one, rest assured, that is perfectly normal. In fact, that coping mechanism is actually good for you, according to Dr. Alison Forti, an assistant professor in the Department of Counseling at Wake Forest University.
"Speaking out loud to a loved one who has passed - whether at a grave site or out loud at home - is helpful for many people processing grief," Dr. Forti told Teen Vogue. "I will sometimes encourage my clients to speak to an empty chair in an effort to help them cope with grief. Many people will experience a sense of disbelief after they lose a loved one. By encouraging people to speak out loud to their loved one it helps them resolve that disbelief."
In addition, people grieve at different paces, and the journey is unpredictable. "Many people have heard of the stages of grief and make a false assumption that grief is linear," Dr. Forti told the publication. "However, grief comes in waves and can hit people when they least expect it. People can actively grieve, move forward in life with their grief, years go by, and the simple smell of a perfume brings them back to an angry or sad moment of grieving."
Writing letters to deceased loved ones is another effective way to deal with grief, according to licensed counselor Dr. Sherrie Campbell. She told Teen Vogue that the letters give her clients an opportunity to air grievances and say what they wish they would have said before their loved one died:
"When a relationship is ripped away from us through death, it takes the heart time to let go. We still have things left unsaid, emotions and experiences we want to share, things to get closure on and a place to receive or feel a sense of connection and comfort. I tell my patients, young and old, that although our loved one's may not be here in physical form, that they are right next door watching over us. We can find a sense of comfort in feeling that they are still close to us, conversations can still be had."
It's difficult to comprehend losing people to oblivion, but at least these coping mechanisms help, nudging us gently back to the pleasures of epic fantasy TV shows and fanny packs with built-in wine coolers.