Dealing with Death and Loss
There is a solution to your feelings – it does not have to be such a struggle. Most likely it can change significantly from the first meeting, no matter whether the loss is recent or years ago. At first you might find this hard to believe.
Most people will tell you that situations of loss and grief are painful, and will take many months and perhaps years to adjust and finally accept. This is not necessarily so. There have always been people who have grieved easily and quickly, despite having a deep and loving attachment to their loved one. How is this so?
Consider the example of a friend who told me her story.
She had an older brother. His father died when her brother was young and before she was born. Her mother remarried her husband’s best friend, who had lots of great stories he used to tell about his mate. So my friend’s brother used to hear about his father, amidst fun and laughter. This naturally happened and there was not any loss of the wonderful times. No therapy was needed….mother was just a bit quiet once a year, which was hardly noticeable.
That is an example of what can happen. People are different and have different situations, but that story gives a clue.
Since some people can grieve easily and quickly, researchers were interested to discover what those people did in common that made the difference. They found the elements that were essential, and developed a process to guide people in the best way to imagine and remember their loved one. It’s now known the way they make the remembered pictures of their loved ones, makes a huge difference; so too the way you remember their voice. Many people think that “you just remember,” in that it happens and it’s not something you consciously do. That’s mostly true. However, you can learn how you do it, compared to other people, so you have more choices.
The optimal way for you is different than the next person, but can be identified quickly and explained.
If you want to have more options about how to think about your past and your future, contact me.
You don’t have to be stuck, or ruminating about the same things. You don’t have to be drained of energy, or crying and wondering when you will feel normal. Some people think that it just gets better naturally over a year or two. For most people it will. However, why wait that long? And for some, they just get to coping, or maybe to acceptance, but not to feeling really great, ever. Do you want to think of your loved one, and automatically feel joy that she or he was in your life? And feel grateful as you recount the wonderful times you shared together? We know how to do this now, so it does not have to take months, or happen by chance.
For some people it will be new to realize they can manipulate their thoughts (pictures and internal dialogue) and effectively create lasting changes. You are guided through a process where you learn to do different things. You create choices about HOW you think, much of which will become automatic. And when you think differently, you will feel different.
For people who know they can influence their thoughts, but still have trouble, I can give you more options, so you can have lasting relief, ongoing peace and greater happiness.
Is this Grief Counselling? It is more like practical Psychological Education, which will equip you with mental skills. Counselling implies lengthy conversations, which may be aimless and not necessarily change anything. In this process, people will learn how to use your mind, so that you are better equipped the next time there is a loss.
In my work, I will ask you specific questions, which will enable me to understand WHAT you are doing with your internal pictures and dialogue. Then I will make suggestions to try out in the session. Thus we can learn to improve the way you think and feel. I expect we can make a significant and lasting difference. It’s not like other skills where you have to practise to get good. This is like learning there is something you could always do, but did not know you could do. From the moment you realize, you just do it because it is better.
Is this process for you?
This process is for those who want to feel better quickly, who want to resume ‘living’ and want help to do that.
It’s not necessary to believe before coming along, as I will demonstrate it.
What grief is, and is not
The process referred to above aims to reconnect the person to what they feel they lost. When they feel connected again, they do not feel a sense of loss. Most people can do this, resulting in amazing relief and emotional change.
In this sense, “grief” is about the loss. There may be related aspects which are not exactly the same as the loss. When someone had died, for instance, and she or he was the earning the income and paying the mortgage, there may now be anxiety about how one will manage – worries such as these are not part of the loss, and do not magically disappear by using the grief process. Sometimes therapy helps, and sometimes practical things need to be done. I am happy to provide ongoing therapy where that is required.
Sometimes a death will trigger other memories and feelings. When major events happen, people tend to respond in the way they usually respond. So angry people will respond angrily; sad people will respond feeling sad, and anxious people will feel anxious. This is not grief; it’s not loss. It is the pattern that has been learned, and this may be a time to learn to respond the way you’d like.
You may think that if I am no longer sad so soon, then it means the deceased person was not really that important after all. The fact you want to find a way to feel wonderful when she or he is mentioned is a sign of the person being important. When you can talk freely and comfortably about the person, you will be honouring their life and able to share why they meant so much to you.
Others may judge you if you are smiling and happy sooner than they expect. It may be enough to explain that you are remembering the best times, or it may be useful to shed some tears or show a little sadness in some circumstances.
“If I feel sad sometimes, does that mean I am still grieving?” Sadness is different than debilitating grief. You might feel sad at times; that is human. People can feel incapacitated if they dwell on the ‘loss.’ Dealing with a sense of loss can bring peace.
Sometimes people like to cry – there’s the expression of ‘having a good cry.’ Afterwards people often feel better. Through crying they may also feel connected to their loved one. After this grief process there is nothing to stop them having a good cry if they wish. However, they will generally feel they have other ways to connect and remind themselves the other person was important.
You can expect me to be professional, caring and knowledgeable. I am a member of the Australian Association of Social Workers, and have worked with individuals, couples and families for more than 25 years.
There is other content on this site which is pertinent to read. Continue to “Reconnecting with Joy.”