What is grief?


Grief is the normal emotional reaction to a loss, it is not an illness to be cured and is not something we simply overcome. We can’t always recognise what’s happening to us, both physically and mentally, we don’t consciously acknowledge these changes, we just feel consumed by the weight of grief – in the early stages, it often leaves us feeling totally disconnected from who we were before the loss – the world can become a strange and distant place and people often say how lonely and isolated they feel with their grief, as if no one else can fully imagine their pain and in many ways, they are right because it is so unique –

there is no ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach for living with grief.

The psychiatrist, Elizabeth Kubler-Ross pioneered five grieving stages, with acceptance being the last stage, a model adopted by medical professionals and therapists to work through a grieving process but this model is now perceived as out-of-touch. However, David Kessler who worked closely with her explains that this model has been misunderstood and that the stages of grief were only an indication of the different states and range of emotions that the bereaved often experience. Even so, newer, updated models are frequently quoted now which imply instead how people grow with and around their grief throughout their whole life and that there isn’t a nice, neat tidy box that we can close to put a lid on it.

There is much more understanding that a time measurement for grief does not exist – a time when we should have fully recovered; rather the intensity of grief will change over time, and this is a natural, organic process over which we cannot control. And we each grieve differently, so there is no right or wrong way in which we manage grief. What is more important is

self-compassion – kindness to ourselves to properly allow time and space to work through our grief.

Bereavement support

Therefore, understanding how grief can affect us so deeply and profoundly, it can leave us shattered and broken-hearted and can cause us to close down and retreat, to protect ourselves and in doing so, we avoid our pain – we often seek escapisms with alcohol, drugs, food, cigarettes, even work but this doesn’t help us in the long term .…. what we need is to be loved, supported, held, connected with others who will hear our story but what makes it more difficult is that this pain is an invisible one, it’s not as obvious to others as a broken leg, so harder for people to recognise and easier for us to hide. But our culture doesn’t like talking about death and grief, at least not in any meaningful way, the superficial stuff is easy but most people don’t want to go to that darkest place with you.

So in order to survive grief, we have to go through the process of mourning, to go through that pain…. working through the pain is part of a normal, healthy healing process – if we bury it for too long, pain can become toxic for us as it’s impossible to suppress the gut-wrenching emotions of grief for too long, grief needs an outlet or many outlets for it to be released.

And that’s where bereavement support can provide the space and time to explore those deepest feelings in a safe, compassionate environment – to live alongside loss, not to fix it but to find ways of navigating your own way through it.

Sessions can be carried out around the St Neots area (for face-to-face) or via Skype/phone.

Sessions are £75 per hour.

Please enquire for more details.


Life After Loss series: Online courses in bereavement 

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