ALL TYPES OF LOSS
Grief is a process which can occur when we experience loss. It is normally associated with bereavement, and it is also to be found in other painful losses. Not only can grief be experienced when someone dies, it can occur with endings, and loss of relationships with partners, family, and friends. When we make life changes we can experience loss in identity, work, home and life roles, and things we expected to happen but didn’t.
A GRIEVING PROCESS
Grieving is an individual process and everyone is different in how they experience their loss. There are similar phases and tasks in the grief process that can be recognised which can help people understand that what they are going through is quite normal and to be expected. These can include feeling numbness, disbelief, shock, and disconnected; feeling sadness, tearfulness, gut wrenching pain, guilt, regret and anger etc. There can be a period of pining where we are trying to keep connected to our loss and seek constant reminders which can provide comfort and sometimes further pain. We can question and be critical of the endless tears however tears have many therapeutic purposes in loss and are part of the healing process, please see > crying. Loss does not need to be about letting go but rather about how we eventually learn to adjust to our loss.
DIFFICULTIES WITH LOSS
Sometimes there are difficulties in accepting what has happened and also adjusting to what has happened. It may seem easier to deny thoughts and feelings, or you may be overwhelmed with them. Sometimes we may already have so much going on that we are not able to process our grief properly. This can sometimes lead to delayed grief, and it can come a surprise when 2, 10, 20, years down the line we might find ourselves dealing with past losses and grief when we are in a more able place to do so. Unprocessed grief is also known to contribute to issues with depression.
WORKING THROUGH GRIEF IN COUNSELLING
Working through grief is not easy, so counselling is sought for support. Counselling grief can be about:
– facing and working through difficult thoughts
– being with feelings and processing them
– addressing behaviours and challenging them if needed
– exploring how you are adjusting to your loss
– reaffirming your values in life and hopes for the future
This all needs to occur in a supportive, accepting, patient environment. It also helps to support clients how to help support themselves in this process.