Searching Behavior


We hope you’ll enjoy this post from Roger Edwards, previously shared on his own blog
several years ago:


Last week, I attended a ‘Complicated Grief’ seminar for Continuing Education Credits. The presenter, (a Fellow of Thanatology), taught that there is one main difference between grief and depression. Grief possesses the quality of yearning, whereas depression is sadness without yearning. The yearning, of course, is for the someone (or something) you have lost. You want them back; you think about them.

Perhaps you even search for them. They call this ‘searching behavior’. I’ve seen this in counseling; people find themselves at places where they used to hang out with their lost one, they sometimes ‘hear’ them walking in the next room, they ‘see’ them in a crowd of faces.

I sat there the whole time, thinking about my cat, Trucker. Just a week before, I had taken him to the vet to be ‘put to sleep’. And since that time, I’ve been having searching behaviors. It most often occurs in the morning.

Over the past 17 years, Trucker and I had a one on one relationship in the morning. I was often the first one up. In the dim light, Trucker would meander from his chair into the kitchen. He’d look up at me and mouth a silent meow, angling for milk. Then he’d check his food bowl, circle my legs and stand by the door. On cue, I’d let him out. Lately, I was grateful that he’d want to go out, since he was losing control of what had always been a circumspect bladder. In his last days, he couldn’t stay warm enough and so he’d be back at the door within minutes. I tried to hold out, ignoring him as he peered through the glass door. “Go pee first” I’d say. But he trumped me by scratching at the weather-stripping around the door, slowly destroying it with his claws. So I’d let him in, with an obligatory scold and he would sit in the middle of the floor blinking at me.

Now he’s gone. But, in the dark morning, I still ‘hear’ a soft thump, I am sure it is him jumping down from his chair and clicking across the hardwoods. Sometimes in dim light I mistake the pair of shoes by the wall for him that he is sitting there with his white front paws together. I glance at the bottom pane in the glass door and could swear that I see a white chest and eyes. So yes, I search for him.

Now that I know what it is, I realize that I have a lot of searching behaviors (web browsing, channel surfing, planning, fantasizing, regretting). Perhaps all my behaviors are searching behaviors?

Every morning I thump out of bed and click across floor. I meow silently and blink at the day. I circle and beg and check my food bowl. There is something I want. There is something that I am missing. But I don’t know where it is. I go outside and then want to come back in. I meander, sniff, listen.

I am missing something. I am grieving.



Roger Edwards joined The Barnabas Center in 1991. He works with both with individuals and couples, helping people confess their need and embrace their available choices to lead healthier lives. Roger also teaches and leads discussion groups and retreats applying the Gospel to everyday life. He is a licensed professional counselor (LPC), holds a master’s degree in biblical counseling from Grace Theological Seminary in Indiana and earned a bachelor’s degree in engineering from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. He is married to Jean and they have seven children and nine grandchildren.

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