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Grieving the Loss of a Life You Wanted

Where there’s a plan for our personal lives, you’ll likely find some kind of backwards math: If I’m going to have this number of kids by this age, I need to be married by this age, which means I need to be dating my partner for however-many years before a however-long engagement, therefore I need to have met my partner…years ago.

Traci Bank Cohen, PsyD, hears a lot of these calculations in her Los Angeles–based psychotherapy practice. She says these kinds of expectations are often not fully met, and that for people who have “done everything right,” feeling like they’re missing something they’d always imagined they would have by now can be destabilizing. It can be a recipe for not just disappointment but something more difficult to cope with: grief.

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