'Getting over it'
Life changes fast
Life changes in the instant
You sit down for dinner and life as you know ends
Most of us will experience the death of someone we love at some time in our lives. This kind of loss and our individual responses to it can be a lonely, hard and painful journey. Grief is uncharted territory for many of us, with many unpredictable thoughts, sensations and feelings - this can be confusing and frightening in itself.
What is available to help?
A great deal has been written about loss and the process of grief – for example, a very powerful account of grief is found in Joan Dideon’s book The Year of Magical Thinking about the loss of her husband. There has recently been a moving BBC documentary by Professor Green about his father’s death. Reading or hearing about other people's experiences can be enlightening and helpful. And of course there are many self-help resources and websites available too. Support and counselling services such as CRUSE are well known and used. Some of the important ideas, which have helped us to understand bereavement, have now become a part of our everyday language – such as the cycle of grief (developed by Elizabeth Kubler Ross). These ideas have helped us to understand and make sense of our responses to grief and perhaps it is easier to talk about this experience with those around us?
But this is not always the case. This myriad of resources and support, although hugely important, can be problematic, leaving people with an idea of ‘how their grief should be’ – what it ‘should look like’. For some, who experience something different, unexpected or if their grief stays with them, they can start to believe their grief is abnormal or there is something wrong, as ‘they should be over it by now’.
But grief is uncharted territory; we can’t know how it will affect us over time. It is easy to lose sight of this. Each of us will respond very differently to our experience of loss. Bereavement can change us; we may have to reinvent ourselves in a world without our loved one. That is hard and takes time. Models of grief are helpful, but they are not the truth.
Try not to pressure on yourself to ‘get over it’ or ‘move on’. Learn to accept and trust your own feelings. It can be helpful to find someone to talk to, who doesn’t have fixed ideas and has experience of working with bereavement and different kinds of loss.
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About Juliet McDonnell
I am a UKCP registered psychotherapist working in private practice in Guildford. I have extensive experience of working with bereavement, loss and change with individuals and in organisations.