Coming to terms with the loss of a loved one is never easy, it’s not something that you can recover from like an illness, but rather something that you come to terms with over time. Statistics show that this process takes an average of two years, but like all statistics this is infinitely variable depending on so many factors both within us and outside us.
The grief process itself will bring up many emotions, feelings and thoughts, from despair to anger, feelings of guilt or blame and of course there will be regrets and deep sadness. The resulting build-up of stress and anxiety can even lead to depression. These and many other feelings will come and go in varying degrees and can often seem overwhelming, but over time and with the right help, these feelings will give way to feelings of acceptance and resolution.
The manner of the death will also have a profound effect on the grief process. A sudden or violent death, such as an accident is likely to cause shock and trauma with all of the additional, associated stresses added to the grief and will usually take longer to resolve. Conversely, the death of someone who has been suffering a long term, severely debilitating illness can often seem like a relief, due to the fact that their suffering has ended. On the surface, this may seem easier to deal with, but there are often deep feelings of guilt that we have any sort of positive thoughts or feelings around the death of a loved one.
There are many other forms of loss, which can cause similar reactions. Losing your home or job, losing a loved one due to breakdown of a marriage, partnership or close friendship or losing a pet that you have cared for and loved for many years can leave you feeling bewildered, lost and unloved. Indeed, any significant loss will have a detrimental effect on your normal life and a negative impact on your emotional health.
The important thing to remember here is that all the above feelings and emotions are a perfectly normal part of the grief process and you are not alone in suffering them in this way.
Talking things through with close family and friends can be very helpful, but is not always as easy as it sounds because they will be at different stages in their own grieving process and their feelings may conflict with your own because of this. Some may not want to talk about it at all, maybe because of their own feelings, or maybe because they don’t want to upset you by bringing up the subject. Family members often attempt to protect each other by denying their own need to talk.
Talking to a professional counsellor, trained in this area, can make the process much easier, more comfortable and extremely re-assuring. There is no family history to get in the way, no judgements to be made and you can be assured that anything you want to talk about will remain confidential.
I would be happy to help guide you through this most difficult period in your life using the training and experience that I have gained in this field, working at Forest Holme Hospice, a palliative care unit attached to Poole Hospital for over 9 years and also in private practice both here and at Swans Therapy, a general therapy practice that my wife Joy and I run together. For more information visit swanstherapy.co.uk