- Michelangelo


Getting through grief is a learning process in which you must lovingly nurture: faith, learned in the lessons of our shared human history; trust, that you have the inner resources you need; courage, to engage the work you must do; and patience, to see you through this very difficult rollercoaster experience embedded in the landscape of your living process.


“No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main….any man’s death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind, and therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee.” Devotions Upon Emergent Occasions
- John Donne,


          The living process is not so much a circle that begins with birth and closes with death. It is rather an endless spiral, open to and connecting with the universal energy surrounding us. In this connection, we truly are “all a piece of the continent.” We are all connected with and “involved in mankind”.

          In our on-going quest for meaning and purpose in our lives, we come to know the meaning and purpose of all life. Learning is inherent in all experiences of the living process. In these myriad experiences, opportunities for growth are made manifest as the evolving spiral becomes increasingly complex--making our choices ever more challenging.
          Learning happens through the experience of the interconnected symphony of our thoughts-feelings-sensations coming to us in wholeness: listen and attend to that inner music. Contrary to the dualistic system bequeathed to us by Descrates, seventeenth century philosopher, the mind and body are not “separate and distinct”, nor is the body with its feelings “irrelevant”. Certainly, anyone who has experienced the rollercoaster feelings and sensations so common in grief knows that the physical body is not “irrelevant”. It is, in fact, through the body that we are situated in the world: it is not reason or thinking alone that teaches us but the

“It is not wisdom to be only wise

And on the inward vision close the eyes.”
George Santanyana, 1863-1952

wisdom of the body residing in the inward vision of our thoughts-feelings-sensations. Trust that inward vision.
          Our “inward vision” represents our individual interpretation of the interconnected  thoughts-feelings-sensations that have to do with the myriad, chaotic “bits and pieces” of unorganized information constantly coming to us from the world, not all of which reach the level of our explicit awareness. As these bits of chaos compete for our attention and focus, we search through the ambiguity of this chaos for a familiar pattern, knowing that within the chaos is always a pattern waiting to be born. We find a pattern of organization that “fits” our unique interpretation of our experience. It is through the complex interaction of thoughts-feelings-sensations that we begin to make sense of our world. At some of the nodal events of our lives, like post-death grief, we are assailed by an enlarged cacophony of chaotic thoughts-feelings-sensations. This explains, in part, the confusion, disorientation, and inability to focus that is so common in the grief experience. (This paragraph is taken from Chapter Two of my recently published book:
                     Conversations About Loss, Grief, and the Opportunity to Grow)
          Learning surfaces as you dwell with the inward vision, the symphony of thoughts-feelings-sensations arising from all the chaotic “bits and pieces” of information enfolding you; choose from among options available; move beyond the present situation; and always reaching, albeit at times with great difficulty, toward joy, fulfillment, serenity and, a different way of being happy.


Beliefs that Guide Practice:

  • The experience and expression of grief is lived within the context of that living landscape, making every loss different and every grief unique
  • The core of one’s being is the continuously unfolding mystery of who each one is---and yet will be, always in relationship – with people, animals and things…
  • The mystery of one’s being is both veiled and disclosed through individual
  • Individual choices offer opportunities for growth as one embraces responsibility for and consequences of those choices...
  • Through these life choices, each creates a story that identifies an overall pattern and rhythms of his or her living landscape…
  • The place where health dwells is at the center of each individual…

Direction and Purpose of the Counseling Practice

          At the Dwelling Place, counseling is directed toward fostering growth through the grief experience as persons are guided to seek their truths, in their way, and in their time. It is rooted in the philosophy and beliefs as articulated and invites people to re-examine the experience of grief situated in time as a past-present-future spiral where grieving and mourning unfold.
          The purpose of the practice is to guide the work-of-grief with individuals, families, and groups, within the context of each individual’s beliefs, values, and living rhythms.



The Medical Center East

211 North Whitfield Street - Pittsburgh, PA 15206

(412) 441-5187