Grief and bereavement are experienced by everybody at some point in their lives. The feelings and emotions associated with this are unique to you and can have a ‘knock on’ effect into other aspects of your life.
Below is a list of what you could consider a ‘loss’, as it isn’t always bereavement;
• Losing friends
• Children moving out of their parents’ house
• Loss of sentimental items
• End of sessions
• Car breaking down (may need to be scrapped)
• Getting older/losing their youth
• Losing eyesight/hearing/physical movement
• Loss of autonomy
• Accidents which may have involved the client or friends/family
• Loss of self-esteem/confidence due to an incident
There are 5 stages of bereavement listed below. I’ve given an explanation on how these stages work. You may not experience these in any particular order and you may not experience all of them.
• Denial and Isolation – When you’re first told about a situation where someone important to you has passed away or is in a serious critical condition, you may deny the reality of the situation. This type of reaction is a defence mechanism to protect you from the shock by rationalising your overwhelming emotions. This is a temporary response to the situation. This raises statements like ‘this can’t be happening to me…’
• Anger – Emotions can and often do get expressed in the form of anger. Your anger may be expressed towards objects, family, friends, complete strangers and even the loved one who is dying or is deceased. We do know the person is not to be blamed for what’s happened on a rational level however emotionally you may resent that person for causing the pain or for leaving you.
• Bargaining – When we feel vulnerable or helpless you try to regain some control. The way in which this is done is by ‘making a deal with God’ or a higher power depending on your beliefs in order to stop the inevitable from happening. This is to protect yourself from the painful reality. Raises statements like ‘if you stop this from happening, I will do….’
• Depression – May be due to the illness itself or it effects on you. This could be a result of anticipating the loss of life shortly to occur, you withdraw yourself from others/situations, you develop sleep disturbances, hopelessness and possible thoughts of suicide.
• Acceptance – Accepting that death is inevitable; ideally, you’ll be able to talk about facing the unknown.
Grief can be a rollercoaster of emotions/feelings – at times things may be going OK and other times the emotions/feelings are very powerful and can feel like they’re uncontrollable, throwing you and your life off balance. These feelings/emotions can be experienced in the following ways (these are just some examples):
• The constant worry of potentially losing someone
• The thoughts/feelings you have about what you could have done differently
• Thinking of the things you would have liked to have told that person/persons
• Feelings of guilt because of situations which have occurred in the past
• Worries/concerns over what will happen as a result of that person passing away
• Feeling like you don’t want to get out of bed
• Neglecting yourself, not bothering with your appearance any longer
• Loss of appetite
• Loss of concentration, unable to work
• Experiencing emotional outbursts (taking your feelings out on other people)
There are some myths surrounding grief and bereavement. Below are the myths and facts surrounding grief and bereavement:
Myth: “The pain will go away faster if I ignore it.”
Fact: Trying to ignore your pain or keep it from surfacing will only make it worse in the long run. For real healing, it is necessary to face your grief and actively deal with it.
Myth: “I should be strong” in the face of loss.”
Fact: Feeling sad, frightened, or lonely is a normal reaction to loss. Crying doesn’t mean you are weak. You don’t need to “protect” your family or friends by putting on a brave front. Showing your true feelings can help them and you.
Myth: “If I don’t cry, it means I am not sorry about the loss.”
Fact: Crying is a normal response to sadness, but it’s not the only one. Those who don’t cry
may feel the pain just as deeply as others. They may simply have other ways of showing it.
Bereavement counselling offers you a space to offload, where you can be open about what’s going on with you, with the knowledge that your therapist won’t be judging you. It provides you with a safe environment, to work through what’s happened and what is happening to you.