Grief - our own personal experience
Death, the loss of someone close; no matter how much we hear about others loss, no matter that it’s part of life, the fact is that when it happens to us, it’s our own unique experience, personal to ourselves, dealing with our own feelings, our own emotions, our own pain. Frequently nothing can prepare us for how we’re going to feel when someone close to us dies. Even when we think we know where we are with that particular relationship, the reality can be very different. Grief is sometimes complicated, perhaps because of things that were left unsaid, good or bad. Perhaps because we’re grieving a closeness that we wished we’d had, or because of the loss of future plans never fulfilled.
The grieving process is not linear, but rather it ebbs and flows, and within that process there’ll be a huge range of emotions; shock, disbelief, confusion, sadness, guilt, anger, fatigue, to name just a few.
It can be a very difficult time. Work environments can be challenging, where within a matter of weeks, people can feel under pressure that it’s business as usual, and everything needs to get back to normal, whilst inside they are feeling anything but normal. For others, work can bring a distraction, at least for that part of the day.
At a time when there can be a need for acknowledgement of this life-changing event that has happened, it can be distressing to find that it’s frequently not mentioned when in conversation with others, or worse, that people who would normally stop to pass the time of day, actually avoid any interaction at all. Often this is through a fear of not knowing what to say, of saying the wrong thing, or that it might open a floodgate of tears. Nevertheless, for the recently bereaved, (and recently can be any time in the last year, not just a few weeks), this can be a very isolating situation to cope with. Additionally, the bereaved can feel that there’s a limit to how many times they can keep bringing up their loss, or how they are feeling, even with close friends and family, and particularly if they are supporting a loved one through the bereavement at the same time.
It’s normal to go through a huge range of emotions, and this can include feeling angry/jealous that friends still have parents/grandparents etc, when you no longer have these in your life. An experience that’s often only spoken about within the confidentiality of the counselling room.
Sometimes it’s a case of reminding yourself to be as compassionate and kind towards yourself, as you would towards a close friend going through the same thing. Or it may be a case of finding a counsellor that you trust, in order to be able to express everything that you are trying to come to terms with.
By all means take into account what may have helped others, whilst keeping in mind that whatever others have been through, does not diminish your loss in any way, that it’s ok to put your needs first when it really matters, and that self-care is key.
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About Isabel Fulcher
I work in private practice and am passionate about the benefits and healing properties of talking therapies, both because of my own experiences and all my one-to one client work.