I too have had My Own Journey with Loss and Grief 0406 005 177
My grandfather died when I was 22 years old; two years later, my beloved mum passed due to cancer. The following year I experienced an ectopic pregnancy, the next year my dad died very suddenly, I was in shock and denial after he passed, “how could this possibly happen”? I was only 26 and far young to experience such significant Loss and in such close succession. Later I had another ectopic pregnancy and miscarried twins. I lost four babies in total. I fought for years to hold back the grief because I thought if I did start to cry, then I won’t be able to stop. Well, it finally came out, after I surrendered to the pain the tears flowed like an unstoppable river, but the tears did stop, and I was then able to live my life a little lighter. I finally came to a place of acceptance that what happened was real, and it wasn’t anyone’s fault, and no amount of anger or sadness could return them to me. When I finally accepted this, I had more space for peace and happiness in my heart.
Having experienced Loss on so many levels gave me a unique perspective and understanding of the five stages of grief. Unfortunately, there was more grief to come my way. In 2016 after raising four beautiful children and being married for 26 years, I experienced the most significant Loss of all, my marriage. My family of 6 as I knew and loved it to be, would be permanently altered; this was without a doubt, the toughest time of my life so far. I went to a very dark place, one that I truly questioned if I would ever rise above from. I felt as though I had been shattered into many pieces. After some time I slowly with support put myself back together again, I finally feel whole and complete once more, but I am a very different version of myself, this may seem strange to say, but it does feel like I have been reborn, I am so different on so many levels.
It’s now 2019, I am 53 years of age, and I can honestly say that I am truly the happiest and the most grateful that I have ever been. My pain was deep & real, and so is my joy that I am now experiencing, and I know that I would not be feeling this deep joy if I had not felt that depth of pain.
I am sharing with you this personal part of my life because as a counsellor who has had many years of experience and knowledge about grief, could go to such a dark place, especially after the separation and I thought, ” my god how are all the other people coping who don’t have that training”?
I am not going to let all my pain be in vain. I am going to use my training and my personal experience with grief to support other women travelling through the same pain. There are so many families being torn apart due to separation, and I am going to be here to help them to put themselves back together again piece by piece, so they to can find their version of joy.
Feeling the five stages of grief due to Death and Loss is a natural process for the body to experience, and we hurt so much because what we lost meant such a great deal to us, but you don’t need to go through it alone.
What is Grief ?
Grief is the process of moving through different stages of feelings and emotions after we have experienced a loss. Grief is a process we go through with no particular end date. Everyone handles grief his or her own way, there is not a right or wrong way to go through grief. The level of grief can vary depending on the closeness of the relationship we had with that person or experience.
When we speak of grieving and loss, we often think of the death of a loved one, however, there are many other kinds of loss. In divorce, a child potentially loses a parent and the partners lose each other and the love they once shared together. Illness or the loss of a job or even moving to another country can produce the feelings of grief. What is particularly surprising is that any change—even positive change—involves loss.
Getting promoted or married are changes that we think of as positive, but these changes also involve elements of loss.
There are five stages of Grief
1. Denial or disbelief
When a person is in Denial a part of them is numb to the reality of what has just happened, such as the death of a loved one. This numbness is much needed and its the body’s way of protecting the person from the pain straight after the loss, as the pain is too much to bare and the person needs time to comprehend what has occured.
When the numbness of denial is wearing off, a person may begin to feel again; anger is usually the feeling felt at this stage. Anger is pure energy that needs to be felt and then moved out of the body healthily. Anger is present because there was love, and what was cared for deeply was now gone. This is a good time for counselling, to have someone who is experienced be able to guide the client to release and understand their anger .
This is another normal reaction of feeling hopeless, we start to ponder the what if’s, about the situation, what if I had taken him to the doctor sooner, what if I tried to be a better friend etc.
There is a lot of sadness and regret associated with loss. First, there are the practical things such as the cost of the funeral, or not being able to give our attention to others who may need us.
Not everyone is able to feel acceptance, it is the final stage of grief, but if someone has been taken away unexpectedly or they were very young, then this can be hard to accept and the person may stay in anger and regret. Coping with loss is a very personal experience. Counselling is here to support someone in how to understand their emotions and bring you care and kindness through this process.
These stages may overlap, or come in a different order. During this time, we may experience a myriad of emotions, such as confusion, sadness, fear, guilt, hopelessness, and helplessness.
These feelings will vary in intensity according to the size or extent of a given loss the best thing to do is to allow yourself to feel these feelings, resisting them will only extend the process of healing.
DO CHILDREN EXPERIENCE GRIEF?
If children are old enough to love then they can feel grief so yes children can feel the symptoms of grief.
Children may grieve differently to an adult, they may not understand what is happening so they may be confused and they may struggle to express their feelings and emotions. At times when they do try to talk to an adult the adult may themselves feel uncomfortable and not know how to support the child. The child may act out in displaying behaviors that are not usually shown by that child. They may become quiet, more aggressive, act out towards siblings etc. It is important to also be available for children at the time of loss and not to minimise or exaggerate their experience. An experienced counsellor can help children with their grief, talking to someone outside the family who knows how to listen and what behaviours to be aware of to support their experience. Counselling can also provide tools for the entire family if necessary.
SHOULD I TAKE A CHILD TO A FUNERAL? HOW SHOULD I PREPARE THEM?
My own daughter was just 13 years old when a family member died. She insisted on viewing the body, initially, I was hesitant but I could see how important this was to her so I allowed it, and she found her own closure.
It’s ok to take a child to the funeral as long as there is someone with them. If they do request to go then it may be important for the child to say goodbye and if the child does not want to attend that should also be honored. The best thing to do if they will be attending is:
- Prepare them, tell them what is going to happen, how long it will last, let them know that people will be crying, there may be music and flowers.
- Support them during the funeral, make sure someone is with them at all times, to comfort them to be there for them if they are sad.
- Talk to the child after the funeral, about what they experienced, how they felt etc help you child to share their experience and for you to share yours.
HOW DO I HELP SOMEONE EXPERIENCING GRIEF?
People are usually overwhelmed with even the day- to- day running of their life when going through grief so asking someone what can I do may be too much, it’s a time to just jump in and help your loved one, do the dishes, pick up the kids for them, make a meal, the less pressure they have at this time the better for them.
There are gifts in a loss. When a painful loss first occurs, it is impossible to imagine that anything good could come from it. With time and perspective, however, you may be able to see something positive. People may be able to appreciate good times more than ever before. Or you may have an increased respect for your strength and resilience. Most importantly, you can better empathize with others as a result of your experience.
Everyone grieves in his or her way and in his or her own time. Some people recover from grief and resume normal activities within six months, though they continue to feel moments of sadness. Others may feel better after about a year, and sometimes people continue to grieve for years without seeming to improve or find relief even temporarily.
Diane has the genuine ability to express empathy and compassion and to meet the client where they are at in their grieving process.