Help with Loss and Bereavement


Loss and Bereavement

Everyone's experience of grief and loss is unique. 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 of loss' which often includes denial, fear, loneliness, grief, anger and letting go. It is a painful process but allows us to come to terms with the loss.

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 people 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 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 troubled one then conflicting emotions can make the loss even more difficult to bear and could result in guilt which is hard to work through. Professional help may assist a bereaved person in making some sense of the different and sometimes painful feelings that they are experiencing.

    The main tasks of grieving are:

    To accept the reality of the loss and understand its significance To work through the confusing pain of grief To adjust to life alone and to re-draw our own map 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 grieving process To explore areas which might restrict moving on such as child abuse Help resolve areas of conflict still remaining Help to adjust to a new sense of self

    Consider if the mourning has turned to depression

    Talking about the loss is usually helpful and allows a person to adjust to their new life with all its changes, good and bad. Keeping things bottled up, or denying the sadness can prolong the pain and grieving process.

    Any loss has to be acknowledged, to enable us to move forward. Bereavement means finding a suitable place for the lost person which allows life to continue with adaptation and change, but does not forget or erase the memory of that person.

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