Intellectualisation and Grief

Quite often my sister and I have stated the blog has become a part of our learning experience in our grief journey.

We have discovered many things that we wouldn’t have been aware of had we not created this blog. We have become connected to many great people whom we wouldn’t necessarily had crossed paths with had we not created this blog.

We are learning through people sharing their stories and experiences with us. We are also learning through research of topics.

We are also learning through research of topics.

Please see Intellectualisation and Grief which covers:

  1. Introduction
  2. Illustrative examples Intellectualisation and Grief
  3. YouTube Video Iz Harris: Intellectualisation
  4. Intellectualisation and Grief
  5. Our Final Thoughts/YouTube Video

© Copyright 2019 Grief Probate Journey Blog *PLEASE NOTE THIS INFORMATION IS SOURCED FROM UK and AMERICAN WEBSITES* It is also based on our own experience. *We are not experts in this field, we are speaking purely on our own experience with information sought from the internet to give further examples. *


1. Introduction

Quite often my sister and I have stated the blog has become a part of our learning experience in our grief journey.

We have discovered many things that we wouldn’t have been aware of had we not created this blog. We have become connected to many great people whom we wouldn’t necessarily had crossed paths with had we not created this blog.

We are learning through people sharing their personal journeys with us which we are always humbled by. Humbled because we appreciate those who feel comfortable enough to share their experiences with us. As we share together bonds are formed and this is something we are thankful and grateful for.

For the reasons which we started our blog, being we wanted to share our journey and give examples of things to look out for or things to maybe expect when faced with situations involving a loved one being in hospital, when a loved one passes away, dealing with probate and things like that. We had no idea what to expect, so for us to have formed these bonds we truly appreciate them as we move forward.

We are also learning through research of topics. As an example, this topic came about through researching links for a topic that hasn’t yet been published. When doing so we came across an article titled: Defence Mechanisms in Grief.  One of the terms was Intellectualisation. When reading the meaning of this term it’s like alarm bells started sounding in our minds. Please see the description below:

“When a person is confronted with painful or frightening emotions, they might try to intellectualize them, rather than actually experience them.  In this way, they avoid making contact with their feelings by examining them from an arm’s length away”.

My sister and I over and over have stated we are aware that we have avoided making contact with our feelings in order to be able to function and deal with everything we’ve had to do since our Dad sadly passed away in March 2017.

We quite often feel our sense of thinking has somewhat been warped because of the nature of the circumstances of our Dad’s passing. Because of this, it can sometimes make us have less emotion and a more technical way of thinking. We do not like this because it feels like we are almost being unempathetic to ourselves.

One example of this would be our Dads time in the hospital. He was diagnosed with a life-threatening heart Disease Infective Endocarditis, but even with this we would never have expected things would have turned out the way they did. When our Dad was diagnosed our thoughts and focus was his mental health and wellbeing and care, its like we had tunnel vision and that was our focus. We rarely acknowledged how big this situation was and how it truly made us feel. We were dealing with it at arm’s length as though it wasn’t really happening to us. But when talking to someone about something that might have happened at the hospital and hearing their reaction or seeing their reaction, this is when we would realise this is really real, and it is happening to us. even though we knew it was real and happening to us, keeping it at a distance made it easier for us to manage. (We have a topic on Infective Endocarditis and Infective Endocarditis and Blindness).

Another example of this would be, when dealing with probate and our Dad’s estate, we had an extremely stressful time dealing with the authorities of the council that our Dad bought the property from. Matters got so bad that we had to make a choice and a decision that would be somewhat “within our control”. We decided to sell the property. It was an extremely hard decision to make. Heart wrenching almost, as this house was part of our childhood, our family home. A memory and connection to our Dad and the life he had before he became an inpatient in the hospital. We had to push all of these feelings aside and just get on with the task at hand, getting the property on the market, clearing the property and getting it ready to be sold.

Saying something and doing it are two completely different things. When it came to clearing the house. WOW we really were not prepared for the feelings and emotions we experienced. The nostalgia of discovering our childhood and our memories of living in the house as a family. In those moments it would be bittersweet. But then almost right away we had to snap back into reality and get on with the task. We did not have much time to get the property ready and so, like most situations since our Dad was hospitalised, our feelings were pushed aside to deal with practical matters. Matters that no matter how hard it was or how much we might have felt overwhelmed, or feeling like we might have been making the wrong decision, we had to get on with it, and keep going trying our absolute best to make the best out of the circumstances and situation we were in.

The fact that we could relate to this description so much but hadn’t previously been aware there was a term for it is why we have decided to make this a topic. There could be other people experiencing this but are not aware there is a term for it.

We did not search for this, or do not seek terms or labels, however, when we become aware of a term that defines how we have felt along our journey, we try to find out more about it.

We are aware grief is an individual process, therefore this might not be relatable to anyone, but as sharing our experience is what we do, this is why we are doing it.

Please see Intellectualisation and Grief  (we also add our own experience to some internet examples where we feel we relate to it):


 2. Illustrative examples Intellectualisation and Grief


3. YouTube Video Iz Harris: Intellectualisation and Grief

Iz Harris

212K subscribers

I’ve been sitting on this video for almost a month, unwilling to share this part of me for two reasons: Patreon //

One, it is terrifying to share the parts of me I hardly know myself, and two, sharing this feels significant, symbolic, set-in-stone as the transition from a coping mechanism that has been a literal life-saver. And while I explain this in the video, it is important to note here that it isn’t a forever goodbye, the protective parts of us are trying to do exactly that, protect, and so while I am off to learn other coping mechanisms, ones that allow my wounds to heal and heart to open, I will still be able to call upon intellectualization when the times are right, and the need fits.

If you are struggling and in need of help, please reach out, therapy has been an integral part of my own healing in many parts of my life, and it can do the same for you. This hotline can help you get started: 1-800-273-8255

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Iz Harris is a full-time writer and filmmaker focused on sharing stories about the beautiful & the hard. For the past four years, she, her husband, and two kids have travelled the globe and have shared their adventures. In addition to traveling the globe, Iz is an outspoken advocate for human rights and mental health awareness. She pulls from her own life experience as a mother of a child with special needs and advocates for a kinder, more accepting world.

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4. Intellectualisation and Grief

4.1 Why is intellectualization bad?

“Rational problem-solving and emotional awareness are equally valuable for a healthy life. Intellectualizing can give you the time and space you may need to keep going during a painful situation, so you can process your feelings afterward. However, it can also be an unhelpful defense mechanism when overutilized”.

4.2 Why Intellectualisation Is Not Always Healthy | Betterhelp

“It can also be busying yourself with funeral arrangements to the point where you have no time to grieve. Unlike other defense mechanisms, intellectualization” …

My sister and I are very aware that we busied ourselves with almost every single thing that we had to deal with. We did this to the point that we had no chance to fully acknowledge our feelings. Our Dad sadly passed away four years ago, but in honesty we do not feel that we have truly grieved.

We have been so caught up in processes and ensuring that we have completed everything to the best of our ability that we have allowed these tasks to become distractions. That we still use to this day as a way of coping.

4.3 Intellectualisation – Defense Mechanism – Psychology

Intellectualization means engrossing oneself so deeply in the reasoning aspect of a situation that you completely disregard the emotional aspect involved”.

4.4 Using Defense Mechanisms in Grief –  Whats Your Grief

“Intellectualization: We’re definitely guilty of intellectualizing our grief here at WYG (I mean, have you seen our grief theory section?) When a person is confronted”…

4.5 What are the 6 Defense mechanisms?

Here are a few common defense mechanisms:

  1. “Denial. Denial is one of the most common defense mechanisms”. …
  2. “Repression. Unsavory thoughts, painful memories, or irrational beliefs can upset you”. …
  3. “Projection”. …
  4. “Displacement”. …
  5. “Regression”. …
  6. “Rationalization”. …
  7. “Sublimation”. …
  8. “Reaction formation”. (More items..). (11 Feb 2019)

4.6 5 reasons to Quit Intellectualising Your Emotions – Lifehack

“23 Nov 2020 — Intellectualization makes us feel smart and wise, but bury anything … Fear, anger, sadness and grief are not just painful psychologically, but”…


 5. Our Final Thoughts/YouTube Video

We would like to end this topic with a quote that we feel is relevant to the topic:

“Reality is always the moment of vision before the intellectualisation takes place. There is no other reality” Robert M. Pirsig

We hope this topic might be of use to someone, and as always we would like to wish anyone who reads this a safe day, evening, week ahead and beyond.



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