Healthy Living

24. Grief is Fucking Hard: A Conversation About Attachment, Loss, and Mental Health with Dr. Annelise Cunningham

May 6, 2024

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In this episode of Healthy Living Doesn’t Have to SUCK, Melyssa explores the complexities of navigating grief and promoting mental health with Dr. Annelise Cunningham, author of Grief is Fucking Hard: Love Notes from a Trauma and Loss Psychologist. In recognition of Mental Health Awareness Month, the episode discusses breaking the stigma around mental health struggles, emphasizing the importance of support systems and self-care during tough times. Special guest, clinical psychologist Dr. Annelise Cunningham, discusses her journey into specializing in infant mental health, trauma, attachment, and grief, highlighting the need for mental health support in unexpected scenarios like the NICU. They explore the concept of procedural memory in grief, the impact of attachment styles on emotional well-being, and the power of recognizing and tending to one’s vulnerabilities. The conversation offers listeners reflective questions to explore their emotional narratives and attachment styles, encouraging active engagement with one’s mental health. The episode wraps up with offering practical advice on finding personalized coping mechanisms, underlining the show’s mission to make healthy living accessible, empowering, and interconnected with mental well-being.

**Disclaimer: The content of this podcast is intended for educational and informational use only – it is not a substitute for seeking professional mental health services. If you find yourself in crisis, please dial 988 for the National Crisis Lifeline.


Dr. Cunningham is a licensed clinical psychologist with expertise in attachment, trauma, and loss. She has worked in community, inpatient, and outpatient settings providing both assessments and psychotherapy. Throughout her work, she developed an interest in the grief process; noticing stages, checklists, and a desire to “move on” did not work well for those grieving. With her background in attachment, Dr. Cunningham instead believes grief is a relationship that requires an honest and authentic communication style. In her relational approach to grieving, Dr. Cunningham places a focus on decreasing self-judgement and increasing self-compassion to build an understanding of the complicated thoughts and feelings about loss. Dr. Cunningham resides in Chicago where she has a private practice which offers telehealth services to residents of Colorado and Illinois. 


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00:00 Welcome to Healthy Living Doesn’t Have to Suck Podcast
00:52 Kicking Off Mental Health Awareness Month
03:08 Deep Dive into Grief and Loss with Dr. Annelise Cunningham
12:37 Exploring the Complexities of Grief and Healthy Living
22:31 Embracing the Duality of Grief and Healing
23:36 Exploring the Power of Movement as Medicine
24:55 Embracing Self-Compassion and Grace
26:43 Understanding Attachment and Self-Esteem
28:05 Navigating Emotions and Vulnerability
30:31 Reflective Questions for Self-Discovery
33:07 Engaging with Attachment Styles and Self-Exploration
41:07 Concluding Thoughts on Healthy Living

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