Grief & Deep Loss 

Understand how to cope with bereavement and navigate life after being affected by grief & deep loss…

The death of a loved one is one of the most difficult experiences a person can go through, and there’s no simple answer or formula for overcoming such a profound loss. However, there are some simple steps and resources that can help you navigate this challenging and upsetting time which might give you some inner peace and comfort. If you think this may be helpful please do read on…

I’m so sorry for your loss…

First of all, please let me extend my deepest sympathies. If you are here reading this today, I presume you too are dealing with grief & deep loss in some way and my heart goes out to you if that is the case. I’m so sorry to meet you here under these incredibly sad circumstances and I am truly sorry for your own personal loss. I hope I might be able to help alleviate your pain in some small way…

Allow yourself to grieve

It sounds like an obvious thing to say but it’s important to understand that grief is a natural response to loss so please give yourself permission to feel and express your emotions, whether it’s sadness, anger, guilt, or confusion. Don’t bottle it up. It’s important that you give yourself space to process your feelings, however, they bubble up to the surface. There is no right or wrong way to feel. We all process loss in a different ways and will adapt our own personal coping mechanisms.

Healing grief & deep loss is not linear

It’s also important to remind yourself that grief & deep loss have no set rules or time frames and healing is never a linear process. It’s okay to have good days and it’s okay to have bad days. We all heal in our own time frame. All we can really do is take things day-by-day and try and find a gentle path through this difficult time. I know it might not feel like it right now but I promise the pain will eventually start to soften and subside and become easier to bear.

Imagine what your loved one would say to you

If you are feeling overwhelmed by the grief. Imagine what your loved one would say to you about this. They wouldn’t want you to be sad and in pain for ever would they? I’m sure they would want you to remember them fondly but they wouldn’t want you to spiral into a state of despair. Think about the silly goofy times and the funny times too. And remember, little by little, you will let go of the searing pain of loss but never the love. That will always be there. And eventually you will find you focus more on the happy memories rather than the sad stuff.

Don’t isolate yourself 

Please don’t isolate yourself. It has been shown that distancing yourself from others can exacerbate the grieving process and I don’t want that for you. None of us are islands and you deserve all the love and support at this time. You don’t have to talk to everyone but please do reach out to close family and friends who you do trust (you know who they are) and allow them in a little more now too. Sometimes all we need is a safe space, a hug, and a cuppa and things can feel a bit easier…

Seek professional support

You might also like to consider speaking to Jane at the Wisdom Room or seeking the help of another therapist or counselor who specialises in grief and loss. Professional guidance can provide coping strategies and emotional support. And sometimes it’s good to chat to somebody outside the family unit. You might also like to reach out to support groups, whether in-person or online, where you can connect with others who have experienced similar losses. You might find people in this space can give a level of support and understanding that others might not be able to offer too.

Keep talking about them

I know it may feel difficult to begin with but it is healthy to keep talking openly and honestly about the person you lost. And can help other family members too, particularly children.  I often find the most healing chats are the ones we have while we are walking the dog or chopping up carrots for dinner! So start there. It doesn’t have to be all or nothing. You can cry and laugh. Laugh and cry. And interdisperse it with talking about other things. This way you can start processing some of the emotions and talking about your loved one without feeling engulfed by it. Of course, this might bring up feelings of sadness but it’s also healing and important to remember all the happy times and all the wonderful memories you have stored about your precious time together. This way our loved ones will always stay alive in our hearts.

Keep their memory alive

When you are ready you might even like to consider creating a memorial, such as a photo album, planting a tree, naming a bench, or participating in a charity in your loved-one’s name. It’s not essential but it can help keep their memory alive and provide a sense of purpose which you might find cathartic.

Don’t avoid your feelings

If we feel overwhelmed by grief & deep loss sometimes we can avoid our feelings altogether and bottle things up. If you are burying your head in work, exercising frantically, or avoiding talking about your loved one with family and friends because it feels too painful. It’s probably an avoidance strategy. I know looking raw grief in the eye can be such a scary prospect but eventually, you will stop burying it and bring it more and more into the light for healing. I’d love to say it won’t hurt but sadly as you know there is no way to avoid that pain altogether. But the key is to take small steps in allowing yourself to feel the feeling and talking about your emotions without becoming the emotion. Witness it. Honour it. Allow it. Then keep releasing it… eventually, you will move into a more peaceful place

Look after yourself

Grief & deep loss can be physically and emotionally exhausting. So, please don’t underestimate this. Please look after yourself and check in with all your needs too. Try to maintain a routine that includes adequate rest, nutrition, and physical activity. And also be a mindful observer of your own self-talk. Treat yourself with the utmost kindness and compassion and speak to yourself like you would speak to your best friend. You deserve all the care and consideration at this time. 

Try and find deeper meaning

Over time, you may find ways to make sense of your loss or find new meaning in life. This could be through new relationships, hobbies, deeper spiritual connections, or ways to honour your loved one’s memory. I’m always in admiration of people who despite having their hearts broken harness the pain, learn valuable lessons, and let their experiences ‘make them’ and decide to inspire and help others instead. But you will know if and when something feels right for you. There is no rush and you might have a lot on your plate right now.

Leaning into spiritual practices

Personally in my dark night of the soul. I found the most healing thing for me was actually focusing my attention on helping others with my therapy work and leaning into my personal spiritual practices. That probably gave me more comfort and a sense of connection than anything. If you are spiritual or religious, leaning into your faith community or personal spiritual practices can provide comfort, meaning and support. But, of course, there is no right or wrong way to grieve, and what helps one person may not help another.

Be kind and patient with yourself

Ultimately, please be patient, kind, and loving to yourself. Allow yourself time to grieve. Give yourself permission to feel and express your emotions and allow yourself to talk about your loved one with friends and family.  Nobody is expecting you to suddenly be fine. Grief can be a lifelong process but you will get through this with the right support and you don’t have to do it alone. Be gentle with yourself and recognise that there might be triggers and moments when the pain feels overwhelming. And there will be other times you think of your loved one and will simply smile…

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