Facing Bereavement and Loss
Written by listed counsellor/psychotherapist: Jo Couling MA, MBACP(Sen. Accred)
8th September, 2011
When we love somebody, we have to accept that we may lose them. Whether the loss is of a partner, a family member, a friend, or a pet, the experience can be devastating. People often feel that the 'right thing' is to show restraint, to 'be brave' and that it shows a weakness to cry. This makes it hard to express the mass of feelings that grief brings - anger, sadness, loneliness, hopelessness and regret.
It takes courage to face these feelings, but it is necessary to do this for healing to take place. Tears are a release and are part of the mourning process. Telling the story, sometimes over and over again is also part of the grieving. This can feel very difficult when people are trying to protect other family members and why people often turn to counselling at this time.
Elisabeth Kubler-Ross, who did a lot of work with dying and bereaved people, identified a number of stages that a bereaved person goes through: anger, denial, bargaining, depression and finally acceptance. Not everybody goes through all of them or necessarily in that order, but it provides a map and this can be very helpful. Grief can feel really disorientating and the map is a recognition that others have travelled this path before and you are not alone.
It can feel hard to get to the acceptance stage because this involves a letting go of the earlier stages and people sometimes mistakenly equate this with forgetting the loved person. The truth is that we never forget the people we have truly loved and that they remain in a special place inside ourselves for as long as we live.
About the author
Jo Couling is a Senior Accredited Counsellor with The British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy. She has over 25 years experience of working with both couples and individuals and has trained with Relate both as a counsellor and supervisor.
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