Heart In Diamond Talks with Dr. Patrick O’Malley: Psychotherapist who specializes in grief counseling and author of the book, “Getting Grief Right”
Empty. Alone. Depressed. Hopeless. Emotions experienced by a person following the death of a loved one are intense and often come in waves.
Every single person copes with major life events differently, and death is no exception. While some people grieve alone – for many, the therapeutic benefits of reaching out and talking about their emotions surrounding death is the healthiest way to work through grief.
That is where Dr. Patrick O’Malley steps in and helps. He is a psychotherapist in Fort Worth, Texas who has helped people manage feelings associated with bereavement for 35 years. Over the years, his grief counseling services have helped families, couples, individuals, businesses, and medical practices.
How the Experience of Grief Led to a Career in Grief Counseling
Altruistic are his services that have provided comfort for many over the years, but perhaps even more inspiring is his personal experience that paved the way for his specialization in grief counseling.
Tragically, Dr. O’Malley lost his own son from complications related to prematurity during his second year as a practicing psychotherapist. He explains to us, “I had not set out to have a specialty in grief counseling but when folks in the community, particularly bereaved parents, heard I had suffered a loss the word got out that I was a counselor who had ‘been there’. So my practice grew significantly in the area of grief counseling and continues to be a specialty area of my practice today.”
“Embracing Loss as a Unique Story of Attachment and Love to the One Who Died” – Dr. Patrick O’Malley
Dr. Patrick O’Malley decided to reach a larger audience and share an important perspective on grief by writing a book, “Getting Grief Right: Finding Your Story of Love in the Sorrow of Loss” (Published by Sounds True, 2017).
He explains to us that psychology and culture have treated grief as an illness or something to be cured of, rather than a natural response to the loss of a relationship through death. His publication gives a different perspective and is effectively a “guide on how to connect with your story of love and loss and how then to integrate that story into the rest of your life. Included in the book is a study guide for groups to use to create a community of support for the sharing of stories.”
When asked one piece of advice that he would give to someone that just experienced losing someone very close to them, Dr. Patrick O’Malley replied:
“One piece of advice in the early days of loss for those who grieve is to stay open to whatever feelings occur and to be careful to not be self-critical. Grief can be confusing and disorienting. There is not a right way to grieve. Your unique way of grieving will unfold in the weeks, months, and years to come. Remember, you grieve because you loved so the size of your grief is the size of your love for the one who died.”
Why Rituals of Funerals or Memorial Events Matter
Funerals. Cremations. Memorials. We wanted to know from the doctor if the traditional practices held after someone has died have any effect on how the bereaved grieved the death.
“The rituals of funerals or memorial services are important in the grief process,” explains Dr. Patrick O’Malley. “These events create a moment in time to honor the one who has died. It is also a time for the community to come together to offer love and comfort to the family and to be a part of the family’s story in remembering the one who has died. These rituals are not an ending but help with the beginning of the process of accepting the reality of the loss.”
At Heart In Diamond, we create cremation diamonds from the ashes of loved ones. In our line of work, we have witnessed first hand how cremation diamonds change people’s lives. We agree with Dr. Patrick O’Malley, that the memorial practices surrounding the death of a loved one are important and affect the grieving process.