Counselling and grief: no quick fixes

Why won’t I try and fix you? Because I believe you are the expert on your own self. 

When it comes to physical health, I can see how an expert position can be helpful. With a physical ailment, this can be understood from an objective viewpoint. You can either see it or there will be some kind of physical evidence for it, be it a test or a cluster of physical symptoms which point to a diagnosis. If I had a broken leg, I would certainly want someone to fix this for me, someone with more skill in this area than I have. 

When it comes to mental health, to our inner worlds, I believe that you are your own expert. 

Most people may not acknowledge this, as we live in a society where we have a lot of dependency on others opinions and expert advice. We look outwards when we want an answer to something. However, what happens when we try and look inwards?

We might not be able to feel anything, to be in touch with ourselves, to hear our own voice... We might not trust ourselves... We might be overwhelmed with pain and grief...

All of these feelings and emotions can lead us to look outwards and find some kind of relief and distraction externally. Some level of distraction and activity can be helpful for us in terms of functioning and feeling a connection to others. But if we don’t allow ourselves the time to look inwards and reflect, to allow our feelings to be felt, then we may start to numb our pain and inadvertently numb any other feelings or emotions we may have.  

The difficult truth with grief is that there is no quick fix or cure, and I don’t believe that there should be. Grief is a natural response to a loss and although the feelings and emotions that accompany grief are likely the most difficult ones you will face, grief is very human and needs to be acknowledged. 

Well if you can’t cure me, you can’t take my pain away - then why come to counselling? You might ask, what are you actually going to do for me?

A counsellor can accompany you on your grief journey, providing you with the safe and secure space you need to feel heard, to feel understood and truly listened too. A place where you do not have to worry about having an impact on others, or to worry about others judgements and expectations. You do not need to hold back. With time you can explore your darkest deepest feelings and emotions. Counsellors are there to receive you how you are in any one moment in time and facilitate you to access greater self-understanding, acceptance and peace. 

Woman eyes closed

As we grow to know ourselves and accept ourselves, we begin to look inward rather than outward when we seek a way forward. We can know and trust our own experience and see this as a base for personal growth and change. We accept that we will make mistakes and we learn from these. We also take greater accountability for our decisions and choices, weaving these experiences into our life narrative. 

Looking inwards and exploring our own psychological landscapes can come with a mixture of feelings - fear, avoidance, numbness, overwhelm or intrigue to name a few.

I view the counselling process as a bit like having stabilisers on a bike. You go on a journey bringing out your worst fears, your worries, your deepest thoughts, knowing that you have a secure base to keep you safe on this new venture. When we acknowledge these parts of ourselves and bring them to the foreground - we say them out loud - we bring them out of shame and darkness towards owning them as a part of ourselves and accepting them; Becoming more authentic. The stabilisers start to come off and gradually we begin to show our more authentic selves outside of the counselling room, as we grow towards acceptance. We may not even realise we are doing this, but we may notice a greater sense of peace, cohesion, and relatability and connection to others.

None of this happens overnight, but counselling can start something. The smallest shift or movement within yourself can lead to the insight and understanding you are seeking, and it can be very empowering when this comes from within.

Counselling Directory is not responsible for the articles published by members. The views expressed are those of the member who wrote the article.

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Written by Jane Fellowes Registered MBACP

I am based in Lancashire and offer Counselling for people living with loss in both Ormskirk and Lancaster. I work in a person centred way, drawing upon my vast experience working in the voluntary sector with bereavement and other significant life changes and transitions. I also offer creative ways of working with grief in my private practice.… Read more

Written by Jane Fellowes Registered MBACP

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