Loss and Grief: Grief reaction is a normal and natural response to significant loss
Counselling can assist people going through the extreme experience of deep grief and supports the grieving person through the stages of grieving.
People develop attachments to many things, other people, pets, belongings, jobs. Freud used the term “grief work” to describe the process of dealing with “object loss”, whether the loss was that of a person or something else to which the person was attached.
The deeper the attachment, the bigger the loss, the more painful the grief reaction
Adverse life events, or the loss of anything to which we are attached can cause emotional pain which can be hard to resolve.
Counselling can help to normalise the extreme experience of grief and help clients understand the grieving process, and provide a safe place to express their pain.
The grieving process consists of three high level phases:
- Being able to let go of the past by recognising the significance of all facets of the loss
- Re-building the present with adaptation to the changes
- Experiencing the sense of future with its new opportunities and developing new pathways by which to find a way to live
The aim of grief counselling is to help clients move through the grief process whatever the cause of the grief or the stage they are at.
While every person may experience significant loss differently, there are ways to facilitate your survival and healing in the face of difficult loss.
- Feeling numb, sad, disbelieving, confused, angry and guilty are common reactions to a major loss
- Added to this are the body’s physical responses such as loss of appetite, nausea, tension in the body, restlessness and sleeplessness, vivid dreams
- After a few days reality sets in and feelings of loneliness and despair may come to the forefront
- It often takes some time to accept the reality of a major loss – that ‘this has really happened’
- As time progresses, the bodies defense mechanisms such as disbelief go and the feelings of despair and pain are allowed to surface fully so more healing can occur
The person in grief needs to be allowed to talk about it over and over. They need to be able to express their loss and grief and talk about their feelings again and again as they slowly rationalise what has happened.
Counselling can help the grieving person to successfully move through the various stages in the grief process without getting stuck at any point. The counselling process provides support as they experience the severe pain of grief, and move to a less painful stage where they are more able to tolerate the loss.
Grieving can cause difficulty in sleeping and can lead to physical symptoms. If these physical symptoms are persistent, it is important to check with your doctor to exclude other causes.
Mary Ingamells has recently written a book, Searching for Spirit: Grief and Transformation which will be published shortly.