Grief & Loss Counselling

by Diane Rooker


This is a time for empathy, compassion and understanding

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.

When we may experience Grief ?

  • Death of a loved one
  • Separation/Divorce
  • An end to a friendship
  • Moving house/school etc

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.

Are you Separated or Divorced –  Are you still grieving for what you lost?

When a couple has a separation then grief will follow, and it’s ok not to be ok, and to travel through at your pace.

  • Grief is a healing process, just as surgery is to heal the physical body, pain can heal the emotional body. Its a deep emotional response to loss or change
  • Grief is a natural process; it’s a healing process, and it can be a transformational process; it’s transformed my life.
  • Grief is felt when the deep love has become disconnected, its become broken,

Learn how to BE with the pain & sadness and then how to move forward gently…. a step by step process through the difficulty and the beauty of the five stages. To stay present with yourself, accepting where you are at, without self-judgment and further unnecessary pain and suffering.
Knowledge is wisdom, and the intensity of grief can be lessened with the support and understanding of someone who has already walked a similar path.

After being married for 26 years and having four children together, I to experience a separation/divorce, and it was incredibly painful at the time.
My thoughts then turned to all the women who were going through a similar experience, the woman who did not have the training and knowledge that I had, I thought” my god how are they getting through this”?  That’s when I knew that it was my duty, calling whatever you want to call it, to help other people travelling down a similar path and I know there are many of you out there.

I am officially out of the dark woods and in the sunshine on the other side of the grief, and I can now be here fully and offer some of the wisdom I have learnt and discovered moving through the stages of grief.

The symptoms of grief are usually in 5 different stages ( I generally say as they can vary for different people) are all required and are normal: Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression and finally acceptance.

The body always knows what to do to move through the different stages and are all necessary and essential. I found after my painful journey with grief to follow my body to flow with it and at times to get support from certain friends and having grief counselling.
I found when I resisted what my body needs to do in order to complete the process, it can linger, and it may become a longer and harder process to move through. Imagine a flowing river, and you can either walk against the energy of the water. It’s difficult, time-consuming and takes more energy leaving you feeling exhausted or flow with it and somewhat accept the ride; we always have a choice.

Learn how to overcome Grief and create your ‘new normal’

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.

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 bear, and the person needs time to comprehend what has occurred.

2. Anger

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 .

3. Bargaining

This is another normal reaction of feeling hopeless, and 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.

4. Depression

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.

5. Acceptance

Not everyone can feel accepted, 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 a 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.

Diane has the genuine ability to express empathy and compassion and to meet the client where they are at in their grieving process. Make an appointment today at Diane’s counselling rooms in Capalaba, Bayside Brisbane or her Thornlands room in the heart of the Redlands.

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