LILY Letter 139: Recovering From Grief & Completing Relationships

December 7, 2023

According to The Grief Recovery Handbook, grief is defined as:

1. a normal, natural reaction to any loss.

2. conflicting feelings when something familiar changes or ends.

While studying this evidence-based method, proven to lessen the pain of any loss, we learn that grief is much broader than previously supposed. Even positive life changes -- like graduating, getting married, and having babies -- will require emotional processing.

Unresolved grief has three components:

1. Undelivered communication of an emotional nature.

2. Wishing things were different, better, or more.

3. Unmet or unrealized hopes, dreams, and expectations.

Have you ever had a conversation with someone over and over entirely in your head? If so, there is likely unresolved grief there (emotional undelivered communication). The tools provided in this method can help you process it effectively without requiring the other person to hear you out!

This week on the podcast, we are joined by Connie Irick, Grief Recovery Method Specialist. The program she uses is designed to educate people about what is helpful and what is not in recovering from loss. It also encourages the idea that however we respond to grief is something to be accepted as normal and natural for us.

Because each relationship is unique, every loss is experienced uniquely and the specifics for processing that grief will be unique to each person. We can never truly know how another person feels because we didn't experience their relationship or their loss. The best thing we can do is hear and see them with compassion and allow them to have their own unique feelings and process.

There are many myths and unhelpful expressions commonly given to someone who is grieving. Did you know that the "5 stages of grief" (denial, anger, bargaining, depression, acceptance) was created specifically for patients with terminal illness? It's not all that helpful for dealing with any other kind of loss. The following are other common things people say to a grieving person that aren't all that helpful:

  • I know how you feel (because I lost . . . too)
  • Don't feel bad (look for the silver lining)
  • Replace the loss (the best way to get over your ex is to get into another relationship)
  • Grieve alone (cry in private, your expressions of grief burden other people)
  • Give it time (because time heals all wounds, right?)
  • Be strong for others (your kids need you)
  • Keep busy (work is the best way to avoid the pain)

It's important to keep in mind that a logical or intellectual fix won't resolve problems of an emotional nature. The best thing we can do for loved ones who are grieving is to be a heart with ears and no mouth (grievers just want to be heard, not fixed). Grievers do need to be aware of their own Short Term Energy Relieving Behaviors (STERBS) -- the ways we use to cope and avoid pain rather than process it.

Fortunately, there is a way to process grief intentionally and systematically, with a grief coach like Connie or on our own with some guidance from the handbook and a trusted friend who agrees to be a confidential open heart with ears and no mouth to "witness" our emotional expression.

Here's a very brief summary of the process.

1. "Loss History Graph" -- a written inventory of our life span of losses.

2. "Relationship Graph" for each loss, starting with the most emotionally intense relationships and avoiding bedevilment (seeing them as all bad) or enshrinement (seeing them as all good).

3. "Recovery Components" are then created for each relationship graph with all the necessary offers of apology, forgiveness (or acknowledgement), and significant emotional statements.

4. "Recovery Completion Letter" is the final step, created from the recovery components -- a concise expression that we share with a trusted support person (NOT with the person in the relationship).

In a nutshell, those 4 steps (repeating 2-4 for each loss) is how we "complete relationships" and receive healing in ourselves for relationships that are emotionally unresolved (and likely never can effectively be directly with the person, for various reasons).

"Completion means that you have discovered and communicated what was unfinished for you in all aspects of the relationship that you have remembered up to this moment. . . Completion allows you to return to a full range of human emotions. If you allow negative feelings to occur without resistance, they will pass." (page 155 of The Grief Recovery Handbook)

Enjoy this week's podcast which dives much more deeply into all of the above and SO much more!


Jeff & Cathy speak with Grief Recovery Method Specialist, Connie Irick, about what grief actually is, common myths and unhelpful practices dealing with grief, and about the evidence based method she uses to help her clients heal. The personal work required to recover from grief completes relationships that are unresolved, one at a time, with a very specific process that creates a safe space to process everything that is unique to each loss.

LINK TO LISTEN: Grief Recovery with Connie Irick

LINK TO WATCH: Grief Recovery with Connie Irick

To heal from relationship loss and create more love in your life, read Intentional Courtship (available on Amazon).

LILY Coaching is available to support you personally. Simply visit to schedule a FREE Consult with Jeff or Cathy. We will provide you with a roadmap to your desired destination!

If you enjoy this letter, forward to a friend. Our goal is to support as many single adults and later-married couples as possible so please share this letter with those you love!

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