Grief is what we feel when we experience a loss. From mild discomfort to feeling utterly bereft, when we lose: someone, something or experience an unwanted or forced change in our lives.
How much we feel and for how long depends on the importance and significance of our loss as well as the circumstances and how we cope with loss and change generally. That said, you lose a favourite jumper and you might feel sad for a while. Lose a loved one and you may be affected for the remainder of your life, no matter who you are.
The general wisdom is that our grief never actually reduces in size. IE: When you think about your loss, you may at times feel exactly as you did at the time of loss and that would be normal. Years passing may not change that. What hopefully changes is that your life grows around your loss and you also gain the strength to cope with the times you feel and remember what your loss means to you.
Often grieving is described as needing to pass through certain stages. It is true there are common phases for many, however it is important to understand there is no set pattern and everyone grieves differently. This can be difficult for other family members who have a fixed picture of what grieving should mean for you.
You could suffer the same loss as someone else and yet they may react and feel differently to you. Circumstances such as: a sudden loss, unanswered questions and regret can make grieving that much more difficult.
A significant factor in how we can feel, is how we emotionally attach or don’t attach to those things and people who matter in our lives. This is our unconscious pattern of how much we are willing to feel the value and therefore their loss. Our patterns are often laid down in our early lives, without us even knowing.
Therefore the reason some may struggle to grieve their loss and get stuck is because of their unconscious pattern of coping. A common example would be someone who has grown up believing that crying is weak and that they have to simply keep going no matter what. In this situation they may bottle up their true feelings and having supressed them, could become depressed.
I’m also often asked why others such as friends and family often find it so difficult to be with someone who is grieving. Why those awkward moments, crossing the road to avoid someone or good intended advice which completely does the opposite to what is intended.
I think the following poem by an unknown author explains this nicely:
If you cry, I might cry
If you cry, I might know I am in pain,
If you cry, I might feel self-conscious about my own difficulty in crying,
If you cry, I might not be able to maintain my pose or strength
(or dignity, composure or whatever)
If you cry, I might cry for all the pain in my life
and never stop crying
Therefore, if you cry, I will have to run away or shut you up
to save myself
How Counselling Can Help
I’m told by almost all my clients that having a place in which they can just “be” and away from others, gives them space to breath because they find themselves taking care of others in their day to day life or having to be strong for family.
A place to: say, think and share what they dare not share with others. To allow their insides to scream out and have their pain witnessed without being interrupted with well – intended advice.
To have someone professionally trained to know how to help them find a way forward and work through their feelings. Be it: anger, sadness, guilt, relief or shame.
To find a place to set down unanswered questions and finally make the intolerable, tolerable.
To help someone find value and support them as they begin to build a different life.
To learn how to remember without becoming overwhelmed and help change patterns of being which slow the grieving process.
If you would like to know more or think counselling might be right for you then please feel free to contact me.