In my work with grieving people I have found the following issues are very common.
- I THINK I SHOULD HAVE MOVED ON BY NOW
What does moving on mean?
When I ask people that question they often cannot answer it.
What does moving on mean to you?
The usual answer I get is that other people feel they should have moved on.
Other people think they are crying too much, or focusing too much on their grief.
Occasionally I may be told “I am fed up with crying”.
The truth is you never “move on”. You just learn to live a new way that incorporates the pain you feel.
There may be factors that prevent you from incorporating that pain.
- OTHER FACTORS CAN DEEPEN THE IMPACT OF YOUR GRIEF EXPERIENCE
If you have experienced other losses in your life that you have not been able to process and find a new way to live with the pain, then you will likely find it hard to process your current grief.
If you have experienced trauma in the past you may find it hard to process your emotions.
If you find it hard to regulate your emotions you may find it hard to manage the processing of the emotions associated with your loss.
- WHAT WAS THE RELATIONSHIP LIKE?
Are there any unresolved issues?
If there was anything unresolved in the relationship with your loved one it is hard to process the emotions until you resolve the emotions related to that.
Kayla was finding it hard to process the emotions over her father’s death. He was very abusive when she was a small child. The abuse tapered off as she grew through her teenage years but it was never resolved. She thought she had left it behind her and “moved on” from its impacts. But the death of her father left her with the anger of what he had done to her and the regret she had never challenged him on what he had done.
Before Kayla could process the grief over her father’s death, she needed to address the unresolved abuse.
- I WAS SUPPOSED TO GO FIRST
Philip’s daughter died in a skiing accident when she was just 20.
Philip couldn’t shake his distress that he hadn’t died first.
Added to that was the belief that he had failed to protect her. The fact she was skiing with friends and he wasn’t there and that she was an adult who could make her own choices didn’t prevent him from suffering over that belief.
- I WAS IN SURVIVAL MODE
Therefore shut down and not experiencing the emotional experience of watching a loved one die.
Emma’s husband of 30 years died after a long illness with cancer. She became so caught up in her concerns for him and the pain he was in that she didn’t experience her own feelings at the time.
- I DIDN’T FEEL I HAD PERMISSION TO FEEL THE EMOTIONS
Ben’s brother was the one dying. He was the one who was dying too young and too soon. Ben was struggling to cope with the emotions he was feeling at his own much loved brother dying. He felt he couldn’t ask for help or talk to anyone because his brother was the one dying and deserving all the attention. And his parents were losing their son. Then there was his partner who was also devastated at losing the person they felt was their soul mate.
Ben felt selfish feeling upset and sad.
- I WAS LOOKING AFTER MY CHILDREN’S NEEDS
When Corinne’s husband died she felt she had to look after her young children and their needs. She felt she needed to put their need to comprehend and understand their father’s death first. She didn’t allow herself to experience the pain of her own emotions because she wanted to look after her children.
- HOW DO I FORM A NEVER ENDING BOND?
John came to see me because he was terrified he would forget his wife. He was frightened that if he stopped feeling the extreme pain of losing her, he would forget her.
When someone we love dies their physical life is over. But the relationship never ends. Some people can resolve and find meaning in that new form of the relationship. Occasionally people don’t. This is known as continuing bonds.
It is now accepted that the bond with the person you love continues after their death. This is why grief never ends. The relationship never ends and the longing for that person’s physical presence never ends.
What John needed was reassurance he would not forget his wife and help to negotiate a new way of relating to his wife that allowed him to continue to live without her, but still have her in his memory.
- I DON’T WANT TO SAY GOODBYE
One of the worst things about losing someone you love is having to continue living when they are no longer alive with you.
It is so hard to accept that and feel able to live, to be happy, have fun, have new experiences that your loved one cannot have.
You don’t have to say goodbye. You can still have a relationship with this person. Yes they are dead, but the relationship you had with them is still very much alive. Yes your brain will remove the neurons that connect you to the living person, but not to the memories of your relationship.
You can continue with that person in your life, just not in your physical life.
Live and continue to remember them.
Live and be okay to live.
You don’t have to forget them and you don’t have to say goodbye to them. Just continue with your life and bring their memories with you.
If you would like to talk to me about how I can help you with your grief, please contact me on 0409396608 or firstname.lastname@example.org
If you would like to learn more, I write a regular newsletter with interesting information, tips, information on courses, and the occasional freebie. At the moment I have a free mindfulness meditation for anyone who signs up to my newsletter. This meditation offers a way to safely explore your feelings and learn to be okay with them. If you would like to subscribe please click on the link here: http://eepurl.com/g8Jpiz
*please note than whenever I mention someone in my blogs I never use real names and change the circumstances to de-identify the person who has generously given permission for me to use their story in my blog.