Grief – Case Example

Melanie: A Case Example

Melanie is a 29-year-old lawyer, who has been married to Joe for 6 years. They have two children; Noah, 4, and Sarah-Jane, 2. Melanie has been working as a litigation lawyer for one of the most established law firms in town. She is highly respected by her bosses and colleagues.

Five months ago, Melanie’s world was shattered when her beloved sister, Christie, died in a car crash. Melanie and Christie were the closest in age and the closest to each other emotionally in a family of five siblings. “She was my sister and my kindred spirit,” says Melanie, “and I can’t imagine how I am going to go on living without her.” Melanie and Christie used to talk on the phone a couple of times a day and spend many hours together each week. “Everyone loved Christie,” Melanie says, “my kids adored her, my husband liked to joke around with her… our friend… everybody… .and I loved her so much… more than myself… ” Melanie adds, sobbing uncontrollably. “It’s been over 5 months and I’m still hurting so much inside… I still can’t accept that she is gone forever… I don’t know what to do – I’m in such a dark place,” Melanie says.

Shortly after the death of her sister, Melanie believed that she was coping well with her loss. Despite the shock and the pain, she seemed to function quite well. However, as time went by, she started feeling depressed and lonely. Her work performance suffered, and her boss suggested she take a few weeks off. While her husband was doing his best to be supportive, he noticed that Melanie had been crying a lot and her communication with the kids was very poor. She could not enjoy things that she used to enjoy before, like golfing. He noticed that the kids had started to react to Melanie’s mood and behaviour by having crying spells and temper tantrums. It was one evening after Noah had been crying for a whole hour, that Joe suggested that Melanie seek professional help, which she agreed to do.

In therapy, Melanie was able to express the myriad of feelings that she had been experiencing in a safe and understanding environment. She was able to start using some strategies that helped her to function better at home. She wrote in her journal every day and performed some rituals that helped her say goodbye to Christie and experience some closure. After a few weeks in therapy, Melanie decided to go back to work and was feeling much better.

After 5 months in therapy, Melanie was functioning well at home and at work. “I still think about Christie every day,” she says, “I believe I always will… and I really, really miss her… but I don’t cry as much anymore and I manage to have good days… even my bad days haven’t been as bad as they used to be,” Melanie explains. “Besides,” she adds, “Christie would have wanted me to go on with my life and enjoy my family and everything… she would want me to be happy.”

Melanie was able to get through her journey of grief and reach a place of acceptance and well-being. She is never going to forget her sister. She is always going to miss her sister and cherish her memory. At the same time, with the help of her therapist, Melanie learned that while there is no way around the pain of loss, there is a way through it.