The funny old business of Grief

The funny old business of Grief

Grief is a funny thing

People experience it differently – different times, and in different ways. There is no right or wrong. But EVERYONE does and will experience grief eventually. Love’s biggest price tag. Definitely not a linear experience – you don’t get to go through neat little stages of denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance with a little tick box that says Stage Completed. Please move to next stage on this journey of grief ……

I wasn’t prepared for the fact that grief is so unpredictable. It wasn’t just sadness, and it wasn’t linear. Somehow I’d thought that the first days would be the worst and then it would get steadily better – like getting over the flu. That’s not how it was.

Meghan O’Rourke –  The Long Goodbye

Please move on… Nothing to see here….

Nor will you display it in the same way as someone else hit by the same loss. You see, everyone communicates it differently. Some people have a large outpouring of grief where it is really obvious to any observer – tears, emotional shut down, anger at the deceased or another person. But others can appear stoic and calm. Go back to work the next day – get on with the organising, or life goes on just as normal. 
Is there a right or wrong?  No.  The person is simply doing what is right for him or her at that time.  

Who grieves the most?

I have worked with people over the last 15 years who have lost parents, spouses, pets, children, siblings, friends, with people who can’t understand why they have been hit so hard, following the death of a celebrity or acquaintance.  Bereavements might be through suicide, old age, accident, murder, illness, and might be sudden or expected and anticipated.  People who have a religion / spiritual belief, those who don’t know what is out there, and those who don’t hold any belief. Indeed, I have experienced my own grief following anticipated deaths, and those who came as a shock, people who were too young to die, and people who slipped away quietly, people who were clients from my work in social care, and members of my close family.

Does any loss trump another loss?

No.  It isn’t a race or a competition.  It isn’t a game of Top Trumps for the person who is grieving.  There isn’t a formula which prescribes how much loss you are allowed, or how long it must continue or what emotions you must experience.   It is personal.  Personal to the person feeling it, living it and experiencing it.

“It takes strength to make your way through grief, to grab hold of life and let it pull you forward.” – Patti Davis

 And is grief still funny?

I started with “Grief is a funny thing”…. nah…. Nothing funny about the anger, rawness, fear, sadness, guilt, distress, blankness, confusion, pain, shock, overwhelm, loneliness, depression or any of the other words that might fit your personal box of grief.

From Gabriel

 I did not know the work of mourning
Is like carrying a bag of cement
Up a mountain at night

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Look closely and you will see
Almost everyone carrying bags
Of cement on their shoulders

That’s why it takes courage
To get out of bed in the morning
And climb into the day

Edward Hirsch From Gabriel

Time to let go of those feelings?…

Grief doesn’t have to form your whole identity and your whole way of being.   It doesn’t have to cause you ongoing pain and difficulties years later. It is possible to let go of the pain of grief and move towards a future of peace, hope or excitement.  To move forwards to your future.   We can get used to carrying those feelings of pain – of feeling slightly shutdown or as if there is an invisible sadness.

Those feelings don’t have to be there.

It doesn’t mean letting go of memories and happy times.  It doesn’t mean that you love the person any less.  But it does mean that you can put down that bag of cement around your shoulders and feel lighter.

What can I do?

If you want to see how I can help you feel differently – get in touch. I always feel so honoured when someone chooses to work with me about something so personal.  As a therapist, I trained to support people through bereavement in 2002 and now specialise in helping people resolve longstanding grief issues.  It normally takes one session and it can be content free.  You don’t need to talk about anything you don’t want to talk about.  I would really like to help you if you are experiencing any emotions such fear or anxiety, depression, anger or guilt since your bereavement.  Grief and bereavement can be a root cause of emotional eating, phobias, OCD, relationship difficulties, and lifestyle choices.  
I look forward to hearing from you.

Liz

I am a Hypnotherapist, Counsellor and Coach, with 20 years experience in supporting people get through difficult times in their life.  Get in touch for a complementary consultation on 07786 134541.
If you have enjoyed this blog, please leave me a comment.  My next blog will be on ways to support someone who is grieving.
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