Relationships and coping with betrayal and bereavement
Written by listed counsellor/psychotherapist: Basia Spalek Accredited Member MBACP, PhD, MSc, Dip Counselling & Psychotherapy
28th August, 20150 Comments
Betrayal and bereavement are linked - a double whammy that we have to deal with. Betrayal can involve being disloyal, false, deceitful, and partners, spouses, relatives, friends and business colleagues can betray us. Betrayal is so painful because it involves an abuse of trust. People that we previously trusted, respected and even loved can intentionally go behind our backs and act in ways that harm us. This can be devastating, and the emotional and psychological impacts can include anger, rage, distress, sorrow, a lack of self-confidence and a loss of trust in humanity. Betrayal can involve bereavement: grief over a relationship that has abruptly ended as a result of disloyalty; grief for that part of ourselves that was connected to the person that did the betraying.
Bereavement can also raise questions of betrayal within us. Bereavement is a complex experience and process and can involve a sense of betrayal of life itself, particularly when the loss that has been experienced is sudden and extreme. The loss of one’s child, a sudden illness, a natural or human created disaster, a murder or manslaughter, such experiences can make us feel aggrieved – how can life and the world around us betray us in this way? How can we begin to trust our environments once more, and the routine activities we undertake each day?
Therapeutic work can offer some solutions. Betrayal and bereavement are deep-rooted, and often confusing experiences, so counselling can help a client to explore their experiences of, and reactions to these. Talking and exploring really can help clients to gain a clearer sense of the impacts of betrayal and bereavement upon them. Therapy can also help clients to explore the positives and the negatives of the people who have betrayed them, to support people in the grieving process that betrayal can bring about. Grieving involves reflecting upon the good and the less good experiences and memories.
Therapy can also help clients to explore possible responses to the BBs – ways of dealing with any anger or rage, supporting positive coping styles, looking at possible strategies for self-growth. What has the client learnt from their experience of the BBs and how will they take this learning forward? It is possible to cope with betrayal and bereavement, a long journey yes, but also a journey with hidden treasures.
About the author
Basia Spalek is a practising psychotherapist, and is a Professor in Conflict Transformation. Basia enjoys walking and running in nature and is interested in helping people to grow therapeutically.
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