What is Bereavement?
Bereavement is a period of mourning or an intense state of grief after a loss or a death of a loved one.
What is Grief and Loss?
Grief is the normal process one goes through after a loss which can be physical (death of a loved one) or social (divorce) or occupational (loss of a job). Emotional reactions to grief can include any range of emotion including anger, irritability, despair and anxiety.
Symptoms of Grief:
- Extreme and overwhelming fatigue
- Difficulty or fear of sleeping
- Loss of appetite
- Comfort eating
- Restlessness and lack of focus
- Bodily aches and pains
Although these feelings are a normal part of grief, seek medical attention if you feel concerned.
Some people may find that they are unable to cope with the pain and suffering of their loss if, for example, they have minimal social support or a history of poor coping. They may turn to addictions (drugs and alcohol) or reckless and impulsive behaviors (overspending, compulsive sex) in an attempt to minimize or alleviate their despair. Unfortunately, although such self-medicating strategies may provide temporary relief, they can often do more harm than good and distract a person from reality and truly begin to heal.
Healthy Coping Tools:
- Managing Dysregulated Emotions
- Cultural or mourning practices
- Social support resources
What to Expect in Your First Session
In the first and all subsequent sessions you can voice your feelings and concerns in a compassionate and nonjudgmental space. Over time, I will be an ongoing support and can offer you knowledge and skills to make your unique healing journey more manageable. If you are someone who is at a high-risk of entering into a long-term form of complicated grief, it is recommended to seek assistance sooner. While most people recover from loss, some may not.
Although there is no exact definition, complicated grief can occur when a person cannot move past intense feelings of grief after a year or so. In such cases, grief can mimic that of major depression and should be treated with a combination of grief and loss counselling and medical attention. This may be more likely for high-risk individuals such as those with a history of depression and or anxiety, are already socially isolated or have experienced a sudden death. For more information, visit Mayo Clinic – Complicated Grief
Understanding the 5 Stages of Grief
The five stages of grief otherwise known as the Kübler-Ross model are: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. A person will go through some or all of these stages which do not necessarily follow a linear pattern. These stages are dynamic in nature and may fluctuate from minute to minute or day to day. The grief you experience is as unique as you are as a person.
Denial: Shock and denial is an initial coping stage akin to a survival instinct. This stage allows you to process the loss at a rate your body and mind can handle.
Anger: This stage is necessary and helps you feel a sense of control but it also hides deeper feelings of pain and despair. You may ask yourself: “Why me?”
Bargaining: Your mind becomes preoccupied with all the ways you can negotiate your way out of the hurt. You are fixated on the past and with various statements such as “If only …”
Depression: This occurs when you enter into the present moment and face all of the deepest feelings of grief and loss. (This is a normal part of grief but can turn into a medical condition over time if not dealt with properly and the intense emotions do not subside – Mayo Clinic – Complicated Grief)
Acceptance: You learn to live in the world with what you have lost, you have come to terms you cannot turn back time and you begin to build a new life with new meaning.
Nature of Change
Life is fluid and evolves with time. All of us experience change of one kind or another. Whenever a change occurs we lose something but at the same time we also make a gain if we work hard enough toward it. It’s when change is unwelcome, unexpected or hits us harder than we thought we can suffer the most from its effects and consequences. This can happen with a divorce, ending a close relationship, career changes, moving residencies or losing someone or something that we hold dear. Often change means our life will look differently than it did before. Humans naturally thrive on familiarity, routine and loving connections. Life changing transitions can have a huge impact on how we feel and function in everyday life.
Each of us deals with change and loss differently. There is no right or wrong way. Adjusting to change can bring up lots of questions about the future and the unknown which can invoke feelings of anxiety and panic in addition to grieving over what once was. There are also many logistical concerns that run parallel to change. Depression and anxiety are common emotions that can turn into actual mental health issues wreaking havoc on our wellbeing if not addressed properly. I can assist you in emotional regulation to improve the quality of your life as you go through grief and transformation.
Pain VS Suffering
Pain is a natural part of our human existence. Without it, we would not be aware if something is wrong or needs to be addressed. In addition, without pain we may not have the alternative experience of joy as there would be little to compare our experiences with or a way to notice when our experiences have brought up different feelings and sensations. Suffering however is a choice and an ineffective habit of ruminating or getting lost in a tornado of layered feelings and thoughts which only further intensifies pain to the point of chronic suffering.
Suffering is a choice and it’s how we react to pain that matters most and is in our control, limiting or allowing ourselves to enjoy life.