Good grief - the reality of grief and loss
Grief, bereavement and loss; simultaneously a universal yet a unique experience we will all feel. Everyone has or will suffer loss, yet how they meet their emotion to it will be very personal and unique.
One model for grief that helps many is to think of floating down the river of life, suddenly and without warning you are thrust over a waterfall (a sudden loss). You are plunged into a maelstrom of water current and rocks that throw you around, (the shock and denial as you try to understand the grief). The whirlpool caused thrusts you repeatedly against the bottom and the rocks causing pain, (the pain and grief of loss). You feel unable to get out, then slowly you start to work with the currents, avoid the worst of the rocks and get out of the plunge pool flowing on down the river, never quite forgetting the experience.
Although grief and loss are unique there are common themes and using these themes we can see that there are things we might do that can help us to deal with our loss and grief.
- It is okay to ask for help. If you are drowning you would not think twice about getting help from the lifeguard. If you are struggling, drowning in difficult feelings with your grief ask for help. Friends, family, your doctor and counsellors are all in good positions to help you to talk through your feelings.
- You can not rush the process. You can’t avoid the waterfall or the plunge pool. It’s a process and you work your way through that process as you come to terms with the loss. The change in your life as you move on with your life forever altered. How will you cope without that person, how will you choose to remember them, these are not easy questions or ones with instant answers.
- Notice how brutal the process of loss and bereavement can be emotionally, the sudden changes, the pain and the hurt. Resolve not to add to that and be compassionate to yourself. Think about how to look after yourself, do things that are important to you and take time out for yourself.
- When thinking about a person who has died try to take a balanced view. Often we focus on the loss and the pain of loss and we forget to remember the positives that the person brought to our lives. Often there are funny or family stories that are worth re-visiting that counterbalance the loss.
Talking about loss and taking action to process out loss can make a huge difference to how we feel and cope with loss and bereavement. Remember that there is neither a good nor a bad way to grieve nor a correct amount of time. It can be worth talking to someone or taking up bereavement counselling. But it can also be effective talking to friends and family about your feelings.
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About Graeme Orr
Graeme is a counsellor and author living and working on the south side of Glasgow. In his practice he sees a number of clients with emotional, anxiety and self-esteem that have relevance to us all. His articles are based on that experience and are offered as an opportunity to identify with, or to challenge you to make changes in your life.