“Give sorrow words; the grief that does not speak whispers the o'er-fraught heart and bids it break.” (William Shakespeare)
The one certainty in life for all of us is our eventual passing. Knowing this does not make the shock and pain of dealing with a loss any easier, nor soften the traumatic impact a loss can have in our lives. Bereavement is a very personal experience and if we live long enough we are all likely to experience it. People experience it in their own way.
It is difficult to write about bereavement and therapy without including a sentence about ‘processing the grief’ you are feeling. Indeed, you may have friends who tell you that this ‘processing’ is important for you and you should talk to a therapist. The phrase is too mechanical to cover how we might approach this in therapy, but it does point to something important. Therapy can help you begin to make sense of how you are feeling – it can be common to have complex feelings when grieving a loss; denial, rage, anger, upset, bargaining, some feelings of relief, a sense of injustice and being cheated, a deep pain, a loss of meaning in life – all are common. Even sometimes a numbness, a ‘hole’ where you feel on some level you ought to feel something.
Therapy gives you the space and time to draw these things together in a way that brings clarity; a way that both honours your loved one, and is an act of self-care towards yourself in one of the hardest situations in life. Working with a professional can help you towards a place of acceptance of what is, and reduce the fragmentation you may be feeling inside. It allows room to embrace complex emotions as you adjust to your situation, and can help keep that sense of connection with your loved one alive in your life in helpful ways.
Grief can be so hard to face, and it’s important to remember there is no ‘right’ way of feeling at any given time – there is just how you do feel at any given time. We may move within our therapy through times where the focus is on some of the emotions I mentioned above, but then other things may come up too, this is normal and there is no set order of experiencing things. We may also work in practical ways if you need support.
Although this short article is about suffering a bereavement, please remember that a strong sense of loss can be felt for many reasons. We may experience feelings of grief at the loss of many significant and important areas of our lives – including things such as important relationships ending.
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