I to have had My Own Journey with Loss and Grief 0406 005 177
First my grandfather died when I was 22 years old, then Mum passed when I was 24, then Dad died suddenly when I was 26. Yes, I was young to experience such a great loss and in such close succession. I fought for years to hold the grief and pain back because I thought if I start to cry, then I won’t be able to stop. Well, it did finally come out and I was 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 then experienced more peace in my life. Losing both parents gave me a new perspective and understanding on the experience of grief.
I can connect with my clients so well because I have had my own life experience that helped me to understand and have compassion and at the same time, understanding that no two situations are the same. I never take anyone’s experience lightly or assume that it’s like mine.
Death and Loss is a natural process of life, it’s the cause of someone experiencing grief. The feelings of grief are nothing to be afraid of, we are only afraid of the unknown, hopefully, I can shed more light on this process for you so as to provide relief, acceptance and a little more understanding.
Please make an appointment if you are experiencing grief, you are not 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
This first step of grief helps us to survive the loss. In this stage, everything seems overwhelming.
When the feeling of denial is wearing off we start to feel again and we normally feel anger at this stage, the pain is real and we are not ready for it so we may lash out at the ones closest to us or we may even get angry at the one who has passed, then we can feel guilty, and this may increase the anger even more. This is a good time for individual counselling, to have someone who knows how to support and guide you through the 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.