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Grief and Loss

Grief and Loss is an excruciatingly painful aspect of life, yet the grief stage is important and leads to emotional healing. It can be a prolonged and intensely traumatising experience and can result in significant emotional distress.

Although grief and loss is one of the most common and strongest emotions we will ever have to bear, we are not taught how to prepare for the death of someone close to us or losing something of importance to us. Grieving is a cycle of loss which often includes denial, fear and loneliness.

Grieving does not actually follow a neat progression of steps; it is much more intricate than that. It is a very complicated and personal thing. There can be a lot of regression, or backtracking to an earlier time. There is no easy way around grief. It is a natural response to the loss of someone special or something we value.

Grief is not well understood in our society and some people try to deny it, postpone it or avoid it. There will be big and small adjustments which have to be made in your life. You will change. Your routine will change. Your moods will change. All of this is called 'grief'.
"Coping and overcoming grief is about acceptance and positively adapting to the changes in your life, your thoughts, your hopes, your beliefs and your future".

Some common reactions to grief are:

  • Shock - I can’t believe it.
  • Numbness - I am not feeling anything.
  • Guilt - If only ...
  • Frustration - Why don’t people understand me? Why did this have to happen?
  • Panic - How will I cope?
  • Depression - I don’t care anymore, I want to end it all.
  • Fear - What if I can’t cope?
  • Low Energy - I am too tired.
  • Confusion - I can’t think straight.
  • Rejection - How could they do this to me?
  • Emptiness - I feel like something is always missing.
  • Pain - Physical and mental pain can feel completely overwhelming and very frightening
  • Replaying - You can't stop thinking about the events leading up to the death.
  • Visions - Thinking you are hearing or seeing someone who has died is a common experience and can happen when you least expect it.
  • Mood swings - One minute you are angry and the next minute you can't stop crying.
 
There are 5 main stages of grief.
They reflect common reactions people have as they try to make sense of a loss. An important part of the healing process is experiencing and accepting the feelings that come as a result of the loss. Here are the common stages of grief that people go through:

1. Denial, numbness, and shock: Numbness is a normal reaction to a death or loss and should never be confused with "not caring." This stage of grief helps protect the individual from experiencing the intensity of the loss. It can actually be useful when the grieving person has to take some action such as planning a funeral, notifying relatives, or reviewing important papers. As the individual moves through the experience and slowly acknowledges its impact, the initial denial and disbelief will diminish.

2. Bargaining: This stage of grief may be marked by persistent thoughts about what "could have been done" to prevent the death or loss. Some people become obsessed with thinking about specific ways things could have been done differently to save the person's life or prevent the loss. If this stage of grief is not dealt with and resolved, the individual may live with intense feelings of guilt or anger that can interfere with the healing process.

3. Depression: In this stage of grief, people begin to realize and feel the true extent of the death or loss. Common signs of depression in this stage include difficulty sleeping, poor appetite, fatigue, lack of energy, and crying spells. The individual may also experience self-pity and feel lonely, isolated, empty, lost, and anxious.

4. Anger: This stage of grief is common. It usually occurs when an individual feels helpless and powerless. Anger can stem from a feeling of abandonment because of a death or loss. Sometimes the individual is angry at a higher power, at the doctors who cared for the loved one, or toward life in general.

5. Acceptance: In time, an individual can move into this stage of grief and come to terms with all the emotions and feelings that were experienced when the death or loss occurred. Healing can begin once the loss becomes integrated into the individual's set of life experiences.

Throughout a person's lifetime, he or she may return to some of the earlier stages of grief, such as depression or anger. Because there are no rules or time limit to the grieving process, as grief can manifest itself differently in people. Some people move through its different stages almost effortlessly and others can get stuck at one stage. For some, there will be an intense period of longing for things to return to the way they were.
 
Some people will try to get on with life and establish some new form of normality, while others may find themselves in situations where they momentarily manage to 'forget' about their grief, only to feel their heart sink as something reminds them - shopping for two or a favourite song for instance.

There is no set pattern to follow when you are grieving. Even members of the one family who are mourning the loss of the same person, will show their grief in diverse ways.

This is because we are all different in:

  • How we cope with stress
  • How we communicate emotions
  • Personality
  • The relationship you had with the person
  • How we cope
  • How the death occurred
  • The support we have around us
  • Personal issues which may be brought to the surface at this time

 

How do we help a loved one who is grieving?

  • Resist giving advice
  • Help in practical ways
  • Do not put a time limit on grief
  • Remember anniversaries, birthdays etc.
  • Most importantly, listen to them

People who are grieving may never stop missing a deceased person or regretting a loss, but the pain will eventually lessen. The most important aspect for grieving people is learning to cope with the loss. You may need support with that, as it is one of if not the most trying times of our lives.

Here are some tactics that can be used to help resolve grief:

  • Acknowledge and accept both positive and negative feelings.
  • Allow plenty of time to experience thoughts and feelings.
  • Confide in a trusted person about the loss.
  • Express feelings openly or write journal entries about them.
  • Find bereavement groups in which there are other people who have had similar losses.
  • Remember that crying can provide a release.
  • Seek professional help if feelings are overwhelming.

 

Grief and Loss Counselling can help the mourning process by allowing a person to move through the stages of grief in a relationship that is supportive and confidential. The Counsellor will try to help the client to accept their loss and talk about it. They will encourage them to identify and express their feelings of anger, guilt, sadness, helplessness and anxiety.

Grief and Loss Counselling will also help the person live without the deceased; it will encourage them to make decisions alone. The client may need to separate emotionally from the deceased and form new relationships. The Counsellor will also provide support and identify ways of coping with the bereavement. They will also help the person to realise that what they are experiencing is normal and a typical response to grief, that they are not "going mad".

Counselling can be the light in the dark. It gives you an opportunity to be heard. A time to talk, cry, shout, vent, share memories or just think aloud. It will help you to look at your problems in a different way or bring relief by being able to communicate with someone who is a neutral party, without being interrupted.

Counselling helps you to sort out some of your feelings and confusion as a result of the death. Having support and guidance in adapting to the changes that grief and loss have made to your life, your thoughts, your hopes, your beliefs and your future could make the greatest improvement to your life.

If you are interested in receiving Grief and Loss counselling from professional Counsellors or Psychotherapists feel free to book an online counselling or telephone counselling session today, we are here to provide you with the therapeutic support you really need.