Everyone’s experience of grief and loss is different and unique to them. It is normal to feel sad and even angry when a person close to us dies or leaves. People can experience similar feelings when a relationship ends.
Mourning is a ‘cycle or process of loss’ which often includes stages of denial, about
Grief, although normal, can manifest itself differently in people. Some people move through its different stages almost effortlessly and others can get stuck at one stage.
For these there is the possibility of grief turning into depression as the feelings turn inwards to despair.
Symptoms of Bereavement
- Physical pain – tightness in the body, breathlessness, lack of energy
- Confusion, hallucinations, disbelief
- Obsession with the deceased, sleeplessness, lack of appetite
Most cultures and societies have rituals which allow the bereaved to be supported and move automatically through the early stages of their loss in a structured way. Funeral services and memorials fill the early days of shock and disbelief with activity and other people. For many, decision-making becomes difficult and concentration can be lost for long periods. Anger may be misdirected at relatives, health professionals or others directly associated with the deceased.
There may be an extended longing for the person to return and an inability to accept the loss. If the relationship was a difficult one the conflicting emotions can make the loss even harder to deal with and result in feelings of guilt or shame which is hard to shift. Professional support may help make sense of the different feelings.
The main tasks of mourning are:
- To accept the reality of the loss and understand its significance
- To work through the confusing pain of grief
- To adjust to life without the person we have lost
- To let go of the person and find a place for them emotionally
What issues can Counselling address?
- It can offer an understanding of the mourning process
- To explore areas which might restrict moving on such as past issues
- Help resolve areas of conflict which still persist
- Help to adjust to a different and new sense of self
- Check whether the mourning has turned to depression
Talking about the loss is usually helpful and allows people to adjust to their new life with all its changes, good and bad. Keeping things inside, or denying the sadness can prolong the pain.
Any loss should be acknowledged for us to move forward. Bereavement means finding a suitable place for the lost person in order that life can continue, not forgetting or erasing the memory.