"In the depth of winter, I finally learned that within me there lay an invincible summer”. ~ Albert Camus
If you or a loved one is struggling with grief you may have noticed a tendency to push it down, push it away, or even deny its reality.
You might be grieving because of the devastating loss of a loved one, ether anticipated or unexpected. But it could also be other difficult life challenges. These include chronic illness, disability, business loss, becoming a full-time carer, retirement, menopause, divorce or relationship breakdown.
As painful as your grief is, it is normal. My hope is you will begin to see a glimmer of light at the end of the tunnel after reading this blog.
There is life after loss.
WORKING THROUGH YOUR GRIEF
Lets look at some of the stages of grief you might be experiencing. It's important to remember that they don’t necessarily happen in this order, and you might oscillate back and forth between them at times:
♦ Recognising and accepting the reality of your loss
Initially you might deny the reality of the loss. This could cause you to feel angry at those wanting to console you, because it confirms the truth. Another response is obsessively collecting evidence of the loss, in the hope of ending the nightmare. You might even feel disconnected with the world around you.
During this time it is normal to have times where you are unable to think
about anything else.
♦ Reacting, experiencing, and expressing the pain of your separation
This is when you are able to react emotionally to your loss by giving into the emotional chaos within you.
However, you might be trying to ‘hold it all together’ preferring to ‘get on with life’. This could be by avoiding memories or distracting yourself with work. The belief is "I need to be strong, crying is weak."
It's important to allow yourself to feel the emotions, otherwise your body will have to deal them. In a quest to push the grief away your body is 'holding its breath'. This causes your breathing to become shallow, depriving your organs and your brain of much needed oxygen. With no where to else go your pain is deposited in your muscles.
It is only when you give up control that tension is released.
♦ Reminiscing and re-experiencing
This stage is about gaining meaning from the telling and retelling of memories, whether it be looking at photographs, or telling stories - verbally or in writing. This is likely to cause a fluctuation in your emotions - between sadness and pain and the comfort of cherished memories. However, it is part of the process of accepting what you can't understand.
Even the sharing of dreams of who or what has been lost can be helpful for working through the emotions.
Relinquishing is about accepting that there is no turning back, your world has changed for ever. In the past it was believed detachment was essential for moving forward. But today the need to maintain a connection with the past is understood as normal.
The challenge is how to reengage effectively with your life whilst still maintaining an appropriate place for precious emotional attachments.
♦ Readjusting and reinvesting
Your loss will feel less acute at this stage and you will feel more able to accept the changes that have occurred. This can bring you energy for living in the now - freeing you from the distress, and offering more hope for the future.
"As you integrate the past into your present reality you will be more freed up to take on new challenges, relationships, and possibilities in life."
Grief is as individual as the person experiencing it, its messy, disorganized and painful. Yet as difficult as it is you can eventually integrate your loss into a new way living.
Note: Sometimes grief becomes complicated, and there is a need for additional support. Signs include, ruminating obsessively, not taking care of yourself or others, or isolating yourself. If you recognise these symptoms then it is a good idea to seek professional help.
If you are concerned about yourself or someone else, then please call me for a Free 15 minute consultation. We can talk about what is going on for you and I can answer any questions you might have. If I am with a client I will get back to you as soon as I can.
Did you enjoy this blog post? Then add yourself to my list.