Dealing with bereavement grief and loss“You’ll get over it…” It’s the clichés that cause the trouble. To lose someone you love is to alter your life for ever. You don’t get over it because ‘it” is the person you loved. The pain stops, there are new people, but the gap never closes. How could it? The particularness of someone who mattered enough to grieve over is not made anodyne by death. This hole in my heart is in the shape of you and no-one else can fit it. Why would I want them to?”
― Jeanette Winterson, Written on the Body
When we lose someone close to us whether it’s bereavement or separation, it can be the most heart-rending experience. I use that term, because in my experience that can be what it feels like, that your heart is split apart, or feels broken.
Loss is part of the human condition. In being born, we open ourselves to loss and with loss comes pain and grief. Of course it’s important to say that grief and loss can apply to so many aspects of our lives, not only the death of a loved one.
For example, a child leaving home can bring up feelings of loss; being made redundant or retiring from a job whether cherished or not; having someone close become ill or disabled; having a much loved pet die; losing something precious. No doubt you will have other examples in mind too. The thing is, loss can touch us in every day ways and at different levels.
In acknowledging or allowing our grief, loss or bereavement we start to be able to move into it and then through it. Of course that in itself may not be the easiest thing to do. Sometimes we may even think something else is going on. Have you had the experiencing of being irritable or tetchy with someone, apparently for no reason, lashing out suddenly? Or did you feel blue but couldn’t really explain it? Of course there could be many reasons for this but one possibility is that you are experiencing an unacknowledged loss.
So how do you do know if you it is loss or grief you are experiencing?
Each person responds differently to loss and bereavement. But maybe you might be caught up in one or more of the following feelings: anger, panic, stress, anxiety, suicidal, loneliness, sleeplessness, depression?
Rest assured, however, that there is no ‘normal’, when we experience loss but there are some typical phases of adjustment we go through. Elizabeth Kubler-Ross in her work with terminally ill patients identified these as:
Shock and disbelief that the cherished person or status or possession is lost or gone
Denial – it seems impossible that the loss has been experienced; we push that possibility away as it is too painful to bear
Anger – rage that the loss could have happened; sometimes a feeling of injustice
Depression – a feeling of defeat and that nothing will be ok again
Acceptance – a coming to a realization that the loss is permanent, and a rebuilding of hope and trust, and an openness to new possibilities.
It’s very important that if you are experiencing these feelings you have some solid and compassionate support for your process.
Counselling can help with bereavement and loss as it provides a non-judgmental space to bring all your feelings in relation to your loss. If you feel like screaming ‘why did you leave me’ or need to cry inconsolably or sit in seething anger, counselling offers a safe space. If you have experienced a loss or bereavement and would like some counselling help in Totnes, Paignton and Newton Abbot, please get in touch or call me on 07443 640556.
Resources to help you
Cruse bereavement counselling – www.cruse.org.uk
Author: Matt Fox, Counselling in Totnes, Paignton and Newton Abbot
Image copyright Wayne Wilkinson licensed under creative commons