On Triangles with Dead People Comments from Social Media

On Triangles with Dead People by Ronald B Cohen MD

 Read On Triangles with Dead People

This makes so much sense to me. I never got to uncover all of the information about history, but to even contemplate where my grandparents came from [whom I have never met] at that particular time in history, has done so much to heal my own perspective [and, maybe, to take things a little less personally]. You want to look around for someone to be angry with, but when you get down to it, where do you start?

Sharon Aumani

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This is a very interesting post Dr. Cohen. Depending on how are relationships were with our now deceased relatives, we may have been able to make more progress or peace with family issues after their deaths. It is also intriguing that some people still speak of late relatives as if they are alive. Most probably the work that you’re suggesting here is actually working!

Lee J. Ross, LMSW

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Very helpful, thank you!

Anisa Glowczak MSEd., NCC | Bereavement Counselor & Educator

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Excellent summary. Thank-you Dr. Cohen.

L.W. – LPC-S Licensed Clinician

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I think letter writing and family research are both great ideas. One thing history sometimes shows is that the parent of our parent treated our parent the same way. Thus, the challenge is to break the chain of behavior. Letter writing is also good for you can organize all of your thoughts, feelings and memories. I would recommend that if you have reached the point of being able to let those go that burning such a letter outside and casting the ashes to the wind can be a rather freeing experience. I do have a question. How do we make peace and differentiate ourselves from the voice of our parent still living in our head and influencing our lives painfully from the grave?

Rev. John M. Crowe, D.Min. 1st Clergy at United Methodist Church

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Thanks Ronald – some great thoughts

Jennifer Simpkin consumer companion at Qld health

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Death does not end a relationship in totality they still are a function of the person in different permutations, making peace with the passing and moving on while the person exists in heart and mind.

Eric Linn

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My mother and I were very close, I cared for her up until the day she passed away, 7 years ago today at the age of 84.I have 2 grown children and grandchildren, but still miss my mother every day, the emotional pain of loss just seems to continue. Sometimes I feel her presence with me, don’t know if this is normal or if others experience this same feeling??

Myrna Reid

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It involves helping a person begin to develop self-focus or more objectivity, and see their part in the emotional system, as well as making them aware of triangles, and fusion. Etc.

Eric Linn

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Also, doesn’t the idea of coaching imply that the client is the one who is active, responsible for doing the work, and that the coach is more like a guide, a fellow explorer who has made similar journeys before?

Art Zoller Wagner

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Ah, I didn’t realize that this was a rhetorical question introducing a very well-done article!

Art Zoller Wagner

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In “On Triangles with Dead People,” Ronald B Cohen, MD reminds us that death ends a life but not a relationship.

Lauren Anzaldo
Chief of Counseling Services

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An accessible synthesis, and steps to take, about this struggle our clients might find too knotty to untangle. I appreciate your sharing rich information! Thanks

Joy Clarke
Therapist and Supervisor at Joy Clarke Therapy,

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Thanks for your article. It provides a process that I would and have tried to use with family members. Unfortunately, there are resistances to communicating about dead members in our family. This is a delicate matter. I am determined to be patient and keep communicating with my family.

Laura Nolan, MA, LMHCA Experienced Children’s Counselor

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This is most helpful as both my Bio-Mom and my maternal grandmother -who adopted me at the age of 2- have now passed. A most recently narrative exercise just showed I am STILL CONNECTED- Arghhhh – to these two. And I am now 63 (blush).

Marc Rajotte MA Counselling (MFT) Student at Briercrest Seminary, Briercrest College and Seminary

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Thank you for Ronald for the good methods suggested here. What are your thoughts on how to help individuals de-triangle from a deceased parent where ancestor worship is the cultural norm and any thought of separation and great reverence toward that parent is anathema to their religion.

Jerry Rosser

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Great Article, Ron! As Always …

Jill D. Cox 1st
M.A. Clinical Psychology

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Thank you! Very helpful.

Anne Mahoney 1st Therapist Intern at The Day Center at the Psychiatric Institute of Washington

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“I see triangles of dead people” – the Sixth Sense. A bit of summer humor…

Melissa Killeen 1st
Author of Recovery Coaching: A Guide to Coaching People in Recovery from Addictions

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Hi Jerry. I like Ron’s ideas. A couple of other ideas that may help…

First, Gregory Bateson’s premise that information lies in difference and change comes about as a result of the release of new information. This suggests the approach of being curious about the client’s experience and how it affects them and shapes their ideas. Introducing “news of difference” through a discussion of contrasting western values and viewpoints and how such other viewpoints may shape their perception of reality and their choices may be helpful.

Although she is not formally a MFT, I’ve always liked Lorna Smith Benjamin’s writings on interpersonal dynamics in personality disorders. She discusses the concept of attachment and notes that as children and subsequently as adults, all of us want to feel a sense of closeness or psychic proximity to the “Important Persons and their Internalized Representations” (IPIRs) we carry within us. She says that we achieve this sense of psychic proximity through three “copy processes:” 1) Be like him or her; 2) Act as though he or she is still there and in control; and, 3) Treat yourself as he or she treated you. Unfortunately, sometimes these loyalty based “gifts of love” to a living or deceased parent are negative and destructive to oneself and don’t fit with current needs. Benjamin talks about a grieving and letting go process, accepting we won’t get what we needed (when relationships have been invalidating or dysfunctional). However, I would think that a process of systemic questioning around these ways of showing loyalty and their relevance to one’s current life might generate change in the client.

Hope these ideas are helpful. Good luck with your work with this client.

Malcolm M. MacFarlane

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