EP 33: Grief with Bridget Caletka, LPC

Grief is a natural response to loss. It might be the loss of a loved one, a relationship, a job, or a way of life, like many of us are experiencing during COVID. Today’s special guest is Bridget Caletka, a Licensed Professional Counselor in Texas and a Licensed Mental Health Counselor in New York. Bridget has ten years of direct counseling experience within academic, agency, and outpatient mental health settings, and a particular focus of her practice is working with grieving clients. She helps clients with end of life issues, those coping with serious or chronic illnesses, and provides crisis intervention for individuals and organizations in the aftermath of tragedies, such as the sudden death of a loved one. In this episode, we talk about grief – the five stages of the process, some misconceptions about it, and understanding when to get professional help. Bridget shares some words of advice for those in bereavement, including turning towards feelings of grief rather than suppressing them and, while grief never fully goes away, hope and transformation are possible. Listeners hear about the power of fully inhabiting our grief, creating micro-rituals, and Bridget shares some of her favorite resources, as well as what to do to help a bereaved loved one. Learn more about grief and grieving in today’s episode of Hope Pieced Together.

Key Points From This Episode:

  • Bridget introduces herself, her practice, and shares a bit about her background.
  • Living in a grief-avoidant culture, and how that makes grief more difficult.
  • Why Joanne Cacciatore says the world is not a safe place for grievers.
  • How the five stages of grief inform us about the grief process – denial, anger, bargaining, depression, acceptance.
  • Sometimes, individual family members can experience different stages or forms of grief.
  • Grief often coincides with trauma, and trauma can be the result of big or small losses.
  • Death, loss, and grief are universal, but some people may feel it more deeply than others.
  • The importance of turning towards difficult feeling rather than resisting or suppressing them.
  • Understanding that grief never fully goes away but rather transforms over time.
  • When to seek professional help – grief becomes problematic when it is not attended to.
  • Bridget talks about the intensity and duration of what she calls “normal” grief.
  • What to look for in a counselor to help you navigate the grief process.
  • Bridget explains why it’s important to tell your counsellor when they mess up.
  • How Bridget sees grief support groups play into the grief journey of the individual.
  • How to assist someone grieving by asking them what they need or getting them out in nature.
  • Bridget cautions against pushing your own meaning onto others.
  • Micro-rituals can be just as meaningful as grand gestures in someone’s honor.
  • Bridget pays tribute to those who have inspired her, including Elisabeth Kübler-Ross, Alan Wolfelt, and Dr. Joanne Cacciatore.
  • Bridget equates the goal of grief work to piecing hope together like a mosaic.
  • A story of hope to end the show: Bridget shares a counsellor’s example of getting closures



“Whenever we have a loss in the present, it very often can cue those past losses, whether or not they are fully processed, but especially when we have been avoiding them. There is this idea of experiential avoidance – we’re avoiding thinking about things, avoiding letting our emotions come through, avoiding going places that remind us of a tragic loss.” — Bridget Caletka [0:14:35]

“I continue to learn about the nuances of this work, and I do mess up but, because I am a relationship-based counsellor, I like to think that my clients tell me [when] I mess up, but it strengthens the bond.” — Bridget Caletka [0:32:15]

“Everything feels like it needs to be big, but actually there is such beauty in simplicity. I think it can be just as meaningful to have your micro-rituals in your life and in your day, giving yourself some time to talk to that person [that has passed], if that’s in your belief system. To write about them, or to say good morning to them over your cup of coffee can be just as meaningful, maybe even more so [than the big gestures].” — Bridget Caletka [0:45:05]

“Grief can’t be treated. I don’t think we can treat grief, what we can treat is everything around the grief, the [lack of] sleep, self care, teaching people ways of inhabiting that grief, ways of writing about it, or getting out there in the world and doing something with it. All of that stuff, we can work on, but the grief itself is what it is, as hard as that is.” — Bridget Caletka [0:48:57]

Links Mentioned in Today’s Episode:

Bridget Caletka on LinkedIn

Bridget Caletka on Facebook

Forge My Path

On Death and Dying

On Grief and Grieving

Center for Loss & Life Transition

Bearing the Unbearable

All Our Losses, All Our Griefs


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