The role of a therapist is to build a relationship with the other person so they can gain an understanding of grief for that person and find healthy ways for them to express their grief.
Grief is invisible and people will be told that they look well, but underneath the person will feel let down because they’re really feeling terrible.
Pain and sorrow is the agent of change. It forces you to adapt to the new reality that you don’t want to face.
Counselling is the way to get help to adapt to this new reality.
The length of the grieving to some extent lasts years and a lifetime because we hold memories in our bodies and they live on in us, whether this be for a spouse or a pet. Understanding the longevity of grief is part of understanding grief. What we know from good recent research is that the bond is still there, the relationship continues even though the person has died and we mourn them.
Everyone uses a mechanism that they use to default to coping with loss. This may be to work hard, to drink, to have sex, keeping busy. People use these as blockers to stop them feeling so we need to find different, healthy, mechanisms to allow us to feel and reconnect with our past experiences with the close person we have lost.
As society we don’t accept people suffering because it makes us feel awkward. We don’t know how to say they must be really gong through it so we avoid these intense conversations with platitudes. But this is no support.
Every thought has a physiological outcome, we feel pain in e,g. our chest and it can affect our breathing. This can quickly start to take over if we’re not expecting it and we feel like we’re losing our mind. It’s easier to panic about the physical effects than deal with and recover from our emotional loss.
This is why exercise can help because you are telling your body that you are flying, your using the panic pro-actively. Massage helps simulate this same outcome by stimulating your blood flow and endorphins as sport would.
Grief is a small tidy word that describes a chaotic process.
Around 15% of psychological disorders come from unresolved grief, so understanding grief has a massive impact throughout the world on our mental health. The process of grief is finding the level of our grief, expressing the emotional loss that we feel in our being. The pain is what forces you to express your grief. Some people painting, others play music but these ways are outlets that allow us to express our grief and move forward, hence why we say that pain is the agent of change.
When we are grieving, we block our grieving and then we block our healing. We function on a daily level, but our emotional capacity to engage with love is shortened and often confused.
Pain is one of the most confusing aspects of grief and most people feel guilt. It could be that you’re alive, that they didn’t have the last conversation, there are many regrets and there aren’t any rules about how to cope with this.
The thing that helps the most is self-compassion. When we’re hurting we end up attacking ourselves. When we’re already down. The best thing is to allow yourself to feel what you’re feeling and treat yourself as you would a friend. Be kind and give yourself some compassion.
When someone dies the whole family system is disrupted. You have the different members of the family and one thread is cut out which tilts the balance. Each family members have different ways of expressing and dealing with their grief. Grief doesn’t follow one linear path.
What’s critical is open communication where people are allowed to be different, grief will likely subside for some people faster than others who struggle more with getting back to normal. These family units with open communication are the most successful at reorganising because they understand the intensity of your grief is different, but no more or less relevant. Often a family is ruptured so not only the person dies, but the source of comfort is also now missing.
So, family and friends are the source of comfort, but when they’re missing this is when you need the bereavement after death services the likes of which Essential Feeling offer. A compassionate ear, a clear space to express your thoughts in a safe environment, whilst understanding the importance of how physical pain and emotional release interact and connect to help you with getting over grief.
How to help someone who is suffering with bereavement after a death.
1. Acknowledge the loss. Don’t try and avoid it, or negate it. Don’t say it’s a relief, they’re in a better place. The person who is grieving doesn’t feel this, they feel loss and grief and will probably want to punch you.
2. Be in it for the long-haul. There are many stages of grief, so stay in contact and allow the person to be honest and either speak or not speak as the person who is grieving feels the need. If someone is suffering from complicated grief, recognise this and help them with how they are coping with grief.
Men and women grieve differently.
Men tend to want to get on and fix things and not talk. Women want to go over the circumstances and focus on their loss. This can cause issues within a couple, if e.g. there is a miscarriage or loss of a child.
The biggest single factor in having a good outcome then it is love that helps us survive the loss, so we need someone who we can feel supported by. And also having anything that helps us relax our body and remove stress, such as a massage. And we mustn’t try and forget the person. Don’t try and push their memory away, we need to reconnect to them in a positive way.
Give yourself treats and have a break away from the grief. Watch a movie with a happy ending that will likely make you feel better, even for the short term. Being around friends helps even though you don’t think it will because its that emotional contact. And if you can’t face friends, then you can always book in with Essential Feeling who understand about your grief over the loss of your loved one.
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