Grief and Loss

Stuart’s empathy and compassion can help clients as they move towards integrating the unique, painful and sometimes complex experience known as grief, if there is one certainty in life it is that loss is an integral part of human existence.

Traditional theories on grief and loss have generally focused on the emotional responses associated with death and dying, however contemporary models have expanded somewhat by acknowledging the multidimensional nature of grief and of how it can include; developmental and deprivation losses, as well as the less tangible private losses experienced as a result of inevitable life changes.

The process of grief described by Elizabeth Kubler-Ross is perhaps the most well known and provides a framework to identify what a person may be feeling.

 

The Five Stages of Grief

 

Denial:

Is characterised by feelings of shock and numbness, this is natures way of helping us to pace our grief, only letting in as much as we can handle, enabling us to survive the loss.

At this point a person often begins to question how and why as they begin to search for meaning, as denial slowly fades it is replaced with the reality of the loss.

Anger:

The experiencing of anger is not necessarily valid or logical and is often the forerunner to feelings of sadness, panic, hurt and loneliness.

Anger may be all consuming but it is essential to the process of healing.

There can be strength in anger as it provides an anchor and structure to the nothingness of loss, it can extend to friends, doctors, family and yourself, it is important to remember that anger is a natural reaction to the unfairness of loss.

Bargaining:

As we attempt to avoid the pain of loss, we try to negotiate a way out of the hurt and remain in the past. Guilt often goes hand in hand with bargaining- a maze of “What if” and “if only” statements dominate our thoughts. Eventually the mind concludes that the loss is real.

Depression:

This stage is often seen as unnatural, something to get out of, in fact depression of this kind is an appropriate, normal response to great loss and is not a sign of mental illness, and it is just one of the necessary steps towards healing.

Depression slows us down and essentially takes us to a deep place in our soul, a much needed step before we can begin the rebuilding process.

Acceptance:

Is the realisation that this is the new permanent reality, we learn to live with it. Our lives forever changed, we begin to re-adjust, reorganise and begin the process of reintegration as we put back the pieces that have been shattered. We begin to reinvest in life and put our loss into perspective.

There are a number of feeling states associated with grief and loss: sadness, anger, guilt, anxiety, loneliness, fatigue, helplessness, shock, yearning, emancipation, relief and numbness

Counselling can help to reframe grief as an experience of change that allows clients the freedom to choose how, when and where to grieve, emphasising the core values of autonomy, choice and empowerment.

Grief can be a lonely and overwhelming experience.

 

The process of grieving can also be subject to many internal and external influences and is an individualised, dynamic experience that can affect all levels of the personality: physical, emotional, mental and spiritual.

The reality is that the experience of grief and loss is an inevitable consequence of the journey through life.

When working with a client who is experiencing Grief, Stuart adopts a creative, flexible, active stance that encompasses a broad perspective, designed to allow for exploration into the unique, multidimensional experience known as grief.