Phyllis Kosminsky is a psychotherapist, author and educator with twenty five years of experience in helping people cope with loss and change. Along with her clinical work, she conducts trainings for professionals and speaks to lay audiences about living with loss in everyday life, coping with life transitions, and learning to manage difficult emotions. She is the author of two books, many book chapters and journal articles. Her goal, in all of her work, is to expand and deepen our understanding of the infinite variety of ways that people are affected by death and non-death loss, and how, individually and collectively, we can better respond to the suffering of others.
I find again and again that in the lives of people in this field, at least one episode of profound, life altering loss is more the rule than the exception. In my case it was the loss of my mother when I was 9. My memories of my mother begin and end with her illness, a form of cancer that required frequent hospitalizations and surgeries. My accommodation to this loss has been the process of a lifetime.
At the time, the early 1960’s, there was little in the way of grief support, particularly for children. The common wisdom was to shield young children from painful truth: better not to tell them about the nature of a parent’s illness, better not to take them to the hospital, or to the funeral. This is one way that my work is a process of personal meaning making: every day I am able to give people a chance to tell their stories.