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The question, “Why did I do that?” can be asked in so many different ways – with embarrassment, anger, guilt. I often talk with grieving people about approaching their emotions, thoughts, and behaviors with curiosity rather than criticism.

Imagine approaching your emotional responses without judgment, but with a genuine sense of wonder and a desire to understand yourself better.

“I wonder why I’m angry so often.”

“I wonder why I feel so anxious at night.”

“I wonder why I snapped at my friend.”

“I wonder why I feel guilty about the care I provided my loved one.”

As you begin to re-frame your internal dialogue to one of curiosity, you will likely find that you become gentler with yourself. It is a turning of the mind that is both subtle and profound, and because it is a practice…well, it takes practice. When you find yourself under the weight of self-criticism, ask, “What would it sound like to question myself about this with curiosity rather than criticism?

If you have experienced the death of a loved one, perhaps this shift in thinking you will help you begin tending to your grief with care and compassion – like a doctor carefully examining and treating a wound rather than handling it harshly. Blue Ridge Hospice Grief and Loss Support Services has a team of counselors who can support you as you tend to your grief. You can contact our referral line at 540-313-9214 or email

Courtney McCalley, M.S.Ed.
Grief Support Counselor