• On Monday, April 15, the Notre Dame Cathedral—a staple of Paris—caught fire and collapsed, leaving many to grapple with difficult feelings that come with grief and loss.
  • While some think of grief as a consequence of death, the reality is that we can experience grief after losing anything of importance.
  • For many, that means that the destruction of the Notre Dame Cathedral has triggered symptoms of grief like numbness, irritability, an inability to show or experience joy, and even fatigue.
  • The good news is that you can take action to properly manage your grief: first, you should validate your emotions by acknowledging that they exist.
  • Also, take a break from work or school if you need to, and remember that there is good in the world despite this upsetting news.
  • Finally, if you think you could benefit from talking to and working through your grief with a professional, consider working with a trained counselor or therapist.

Today, many grieve the loss of the Notre Dame Cathedral, a historical monument and popular attraction in Paris.

Often, we think of grief as a consequence of death: a loved one passes away, and we struggle to cope in the aftermath. We experience complicated emotions like anger, denial, guilt, even depression. But grief isn’t only a consequence of death—it’s a consequence of loss. In addition to grieving the loss of a person, we can grieve the loss of a job, the loss of a pet, the loss of a relationship, and even the loss of objects or places that hold a special place in our heart, like the Notre Dame Cathedral.

The Aftermath of Loss and the Symptoms of Grief

The bottom line is that grief can be triggered by the loss of anything that is important. As more information is released and people begin to process the destruction of the Notre Dame Cathedral, many—such as those who belong to the Catholic church or those who have other emotional ties to the cathedral—may experience the following symptoms of grief:

  • Detachment
  • Numbness
  • Irritability
  • Preoccupation with the loss
  • Inability to show joy
  • Fatigue
  • Headaches

In the wake of a tough loss, we might need to take a break from work, school, or any kind of social event in order to process all of our emotions—as tough losses often shake our identity and can cause us to question the world as we know it. Some of us may even experience an existential crisis, in that we begin questioning our meaning or purpose in life. Fortunately, there are steps you can take to manage your grief and ensure you stay in a healthy place, mentally and emotionally.

Grief Management: Grieving Loss That Isn’t Death

If you haven’t experienced grief rooted in a loss that isn’t death, you might need some advice for confronting how you feel and moving forward from here. Here are 4 tips for those of you grappling with the loss of the Notre-Dame Cathedral:

1. Validate your emotions.

It might feel strange or confusing to experience difficult emotions like anger, despair, or guilt in the midst of the destruction of Notre Dame Cathedral. But you should know that it’s completely normal to feel this way. Validate your emotions by acknowledging and accepting them—this might involve journaling or simply talking with a loved one about how you feel and why you this loss is so difficult on you.

2. Take a break.

If you need to take a day off of work or put some other responsibilities on the backburner to prioritize your health, then so be it. It’s okay to admit you’re not okay and that you need a break. Either way, you should allocate some time for performing a little self-care: meditate, exercise, play with your dog, spend time with your best friend or significant other. Do something that makes you feel happy.

3. Remind yourself of the good.

It’s hard to process upsetting news, like that of the fire at Notre Dame Cathedral; and it’s easy to feel like there’s only bad news out there. But the truth is there’s a lot of good in the world, too. If you feel deflated by this news, you should remind yourself of the good: the big things—like the people who bring love and positivity to your life—and the small things, like a sunny day or a soothing cup of coffee. You can also seek out positive news that isn’t plastered on major news outlets.

4. Consider talking to a professional.

Sometimes we need to enlist help from a professional. If you don’t feel comfortable talking with a loved one about how you’re feeling or think you might need additional support (now or later in your grieving process), consider working with a trained counselor or therapist who can help you process the destruction at the Notre Dame Cathedral and move forward from here.

Note: Thriveworks offers premium mental health services from individual counseling to couples counseling, family therapy, and life coaching. You can get help for challenges like grief, depression, anxiety, and more. To schedule an appointment with a therapist or counselor near you, click here. To explore our online counseling opportunities, click here.