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What is 'body grief'? Women share what it's like to mourn their former selves.

Watching our bodies change is a natural part of life. But we rarely talk about the complicated feelings that come from that.

body grief
@aleahelizabeth/TikTok,@sami.rose/TikTok

We've all been through it.

It was only yesterday when a friend and I (two women in the 30-to-40-year-old range) were having a conversation, and this friend made more than one wistful comment about being “skinny and sexy” once upon a time.

Her self deprecating jokes were so casual and nonchalant that actual sadness underneath was almost unnoticeable. Almost.

Except I did notice it, because I have it too. That same sense of unease at being a different size that my former younger self. I have it, my friend has it, and nearly every adult woman has it to some degree.

Now we even have a name for it—”body grief.


Author Jayne Mattingly, who first coined the term, defines body grief as “the universal experience of disillusionment, sorrow, and loss that comes with simply existing in a body.”

Body grief basically sums up all the anger, loss, frustration, sorrow, and general sense of mourning that so many women feel from the “loss” of their former body, and the former self it represents.

@jayneimattingly Replying to @olivepfox i am so happy you are here!!! #bodygrief #disabledtiktok #bodygriever #disabledhumour ♬ original sound - Jayne Mattingly

Body grief can manifest in a myriad of ways—growing older, having children, chronic illness or injury, disability, reactions to medications, huge life changes, trauma, stress. And while it often denotes weight gain, plenty of women who lose a lot of weight can feel body grief too.

Sami Rose, an Australian-based counselor and body image coach, spoke about her own challenges with body grief, especially after reaching her goal weight, then gaining the weight back.

“I’d spent all of my teens and all of my 20s having this number in my head, and this body in my head, that I thought was gonna solve all of my problems,” she said.

@sami.rose_ Replying to @eneesece letting go of the thin ideal can be really difficult, and its okay to miss your old body or old life, but i hope this strategy helps shift your perspective 💖 #bodyacceptance #bodygrief #bodyimagecounsellor #counsellor #bodyimagecoach ♬ original sound - Sami Rose • Counsellor + Coach

After losing about 55 pounds, getting all the compliments from her friends, even being told that her abs were “goals,” Rose was still left with the same insecurities. For her, body grief meant “letting go of the thin ideal” and “griev[ing] the notion of what a good body meant to me.”

Rose’s experience is not uncommon. Countless women are sharing their stories of body grief in a new TikTok trend titled #bodygrief, which has reached nearly 880,000 views.

Women like Aleah Elizabeth, who went from being “super skinny” most of her life to gaining 60-70 pounds after taking birth control.

@aleahhelizabeth Its hard ass thing to go through #gainingweight #beingskinny #fy ♬ original sound - aleahelizabeth💗

“I thought I was gonna be a happy girl because the boys like girls who are thick,” she said. “But as I kept gaining the weight, I literally hated my body more and more and more…And then you gain so much weight and everybody around you notices it and talks about it, and then starts to make you feel bad about it. It is the worst thing I think I ever went through in my life.”

Or Eliana Hope, who, two months into postpartum, cried in an REI store after realizing “the body that used to take me up mountain trails is now stretched and loose in all the places it used to be strong.”

@thesamfamm 2 months PP and feeling like it today… Outdoorsy moms, tell me it gets better? #outdoorsymom #nationalparks #rei #parksproject #newmom #youngmoms #bodygrief #postpartumbody #bodyimagestruggles #bodyafterbabies #hikinggirl #girlswhohike @rei @thesamfamm ♬ Into the wild - Cartwright

Honestly, the list goes on and on.

@olivepfox Some thoughts on body grief and reconciling disability #crps #crpsawareness #complexregionalpainsyndrome #crpswarrior #chronicpain #disabled ♬ original sound - olive fox

And just what are we supposed to do about this body grief? For starters, Rose suggests writing down a list of all the things you appreciate about yourself that are completely unrelated to your body.

“I think that can be really special in just rebuilding your identity and proving to yourself that you’re more than just a body,” she says. “That your appearance is a part of you, but it’s not the most important part of you.”

But also, like with all forms of grief, sometimes sharing what you’re going through in a safe space with other people who have been through it, or are going through it too, really helps you process those difficult feelings. And that’s why this TikTok movement is so important. No one should have to go through it alone.

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From political science to joining the fight against cancer: How one woman found her passion

An unexpected pivot to project management expanded Krystal Brady's idea of what it means to make a positive impact.

Krystal Brady/PMI

Krystal Brady utilizes her project management skills to help advance cancer research and advocacy.

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Cancer impacts nearly everyone’s life in one way or another, and thankfully, we’re learning more about treatment and prevention every day. Individuals and organizations dedicated to fighting cancer and promising research from scientists are often front and center, but we don’t always see the people working behind the scenes to make the fight possible.

People like Krystal Brady.

While studying political science in college, Brady envisioned her future self in public office. She never dreamed she’d build a successful career in the world of oncology, helping cancer researchers, doctors and advocates continue battling cancer, but more efficiently.

Brady’s journey to oncology began with a seasonal job at a small publishing company, which helped pay for college and awakened her love for managing projects. Now, 15 years later, she’s serving as director of digital experience and strategy at the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO), which she describes as “the perfect place to pair my love of project management and desire to make positive change in the world.”

As a project manager, Brady helps make big ideas for the improvement of diagnosing and treating cancer a reality. She is responsible for driving the critical projects that impact the lives of cancer researchers, doctors, and patients.

“I tell people that my job is part toolbox, part glue,” says Brady. “Being a project manager means being responsible for understanding the details of a project, knowing what tools or resources you need to execute the project, and facilitating the flow of that work to the best outcome possible. That means promoting communication, partnership, and ownership among the team for the project.”

At its heart, Brady’s project management work is about helping people. One of the big projects Brady is currently working on is ASCO’s digital transformation, which includes upgrading systems and applications to help streamline and personalize oncologists’ online experience so they can access the right resources more quickly. Whether you are managing humans or machines, there’s an extraordinary need for workers with the skillset to harness new technology and solve problems.

The digital transformation project also includes preparing for the use of emerging technologies such as generative AI to help them in their research and practices.

“Most importantly, it lays the groundwork for us to make a meaningful impact at the point of care, giving the oncologist and patient the absolute latest recommendations or guidelines for care for that specific patient or case, allowing the doctor to spend more time with their patients and less time on paperwork,” Brady says.

In today’s fast-changing, quickly advancing world, project management is perhaps more valuable than ever. After discovering her love for it, Brady earned her Project Management Professional (PMP)® certification through Project Management Institute (PMI)—the premier professional organization for project managers with chapters all over the world—which she says gave her an edge over other candidates when she applied for her job at ASCO.

“The knowledge I gained in preparing for the PMP exam serves me every day in my role,” Brady says. “What I did not expect and have truly come to value is the PMI network as well – finding like-minded individuals, opportunities for continuous learning, and the ability to volunteer and give back.”

PMI’s growing community – including more than 300 chapters globally – serves as a place for project managers and individuals who use project management skills to learn and grow through events, online resources, and certification programs.

While people often think of project management in the context of corporate careers, all industries and organizations need project managers, making it a great career for those who want to elevate our world through non-profits or other service-oriented fields.

“Project management makes a difference by focusing on efficiency and outcomes, making us all a little better at what we do,” says Brady. “In almost every industry, understanding how to do our work more effectively and efficiently means more value to our customers, and the world at large, at an increased pace.”

Project management is also a stable career path in high demand as shown by PMI research, which found that the global economy will need 25 million more project managers by 2030 and that the median salary for project managers in the US has grown to $120K.

If you’d like to learn more about careers in project management, PMI has resources to help you get started or prove your proficiency, including its entry-level Certified Associate in Project Management (CAPM) certification program. For those interested in pursuing a project management career to make a difference, it could be your first step.
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