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Growth and Grief

by Maya Jourieh, Clinical Mental Health Counseling Student at Counseling@Northwestern

I have come to learn, in my own experience, with growth can come grief and with grief can growth.

In one of our last Group Counseling class meetings, a few of my classmates ran a counseling group focused on growth. Their goal was to have us reflect on how we have grown as people and counselors during our time in our program, and how we feel about our growth.

As a counselor in training, daughter, sister, friend, partner, I am continuously growing and have learned that I need to allow myself the permission to grow. Growth has been a roller coaster— beautiful, experiential, uncomfortable, painful, unapologetic. Much of my growth has directly correlated with grief, both death and nondeath related. Oftentimes, it is hard to share with others how significant of an impact grief has had on my growth and development. However, I did not feel alone amongst my classmates. In an online program, although many miles and a screen apart, we connected through our experiences and provided support for one another in sharing our stories.

The following quotes shared in class stood out to me the most:

“Go at your own pace and grow at your own pace.”

“We’re all on such different walks of life right now, and in such different seasons of life.”

“Growth is really hard and affects everyone really differently. …I’m like having growing pains because I'm growing but it is extremely painful.”

I deeply felt the overlap of emotions associated with growth and grief in the midst of their shares. Just over a year ago, I received a medical diagnosis that left me to mourn my body that was. It changed everything for me. I grieve my energy. I grieve my strength. I grieve my memory. I grieve my dreams. My brain and body were at a disconnect.

My roller coaster was spiraling downward for some time before reaching a gentle track. I am continuously working through, and learning my new normal arm in arm with grief. I welcome it. Textbooks teach us that grief and loss are tied to end of life. I know it to be more than that now and want to receive is as part of the end of a stage, transition, and a part of my growth. I now believe it to be a partner and a teacher; as long as I trust it, trust the process, and give myself the permission to grow through and with it by my side.

In grief, in growth… there is sadness, there is discomfort, there is pain. But there is also beauty and hope that can follow if we allow it light. Even the most beautiful flowers grow in the dirt and bloom.

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