Mention the name Elisabeth Kübler-Ross and most people will nod their heads and say something about the “five stages of grief“. But unless they’ve lost someone themselves, very few people understand that grieving is seldom clear cut. And it’s seldom a linear process.
The truth is people generally shy away from talking about death. It’s taboo in many social situations. We are also under considerable pressure to continue our daily lives as if nothing has happened.
Losing a relative, partner or close friend ruptures the fabric of your life. What ensues is a complicated—and intensely personal—bereavement reaction. You might find it hard to re-establish satisfying interpersonal ties in the absence of the deceased.
Oftentimes, those in your immediate circle are grieving too. Some research shows that up to 15% of psychological disorders arise from unresolved, or complicated, grief.
By talking about your grief you can reach a new understanding. If no one in your immediate circle lets you talk enough about it, you need to find someone you can to talk to. By consulting with a grief therapist you can get effective support to resolve your bereavement issues.
Why Go to a Grief Therapist?
Dr Cassidy Blair is a licensed clinical psychologist at Blair Wellness Group in Beverley Hills. She says that effective treatment and supportive therapy improve the quality of life.
We should stress from the outset that grieving is natural, not pathological. While grief does have different stages, people deal with each stage in different ways. This too is natural, and to be expected.
There is no fixed period for grief. Every situation is different and depends on a host of factors.
In broad terms, it depends on the circumstances surrounding the death of the person for whom you are grieving. It depends on the relationship you had with that person. It depends on the gap they leave in your life when they die.
As Julia Samuels, British author of “Grief Works” notes, “Grief has its own time, it’s messy and chaotic and it doesn’t really care what you want”. She maintains that grief should only become a concern if the grief does not lessen. If you are not dealing with the issues as they arise you cannot progress through the process and feel whole again.
It is as simple as that. It is also complex, as already stated. This is an important reason to consider grief therapy. A clinical psychologist has the skills to guide you through this tricky territory. With compassionate counselling, you can move towards meaningful acceptance of your new reality.
Pillars of Strength
If you are currently grieving, you might be annoyed with remarks friends and colleagues make. The kind of remark that says you’ve been a pillar of strength during the last few months of a partner’s terminal illness. Or during the years you looked after an aged parent.
The truth is that during the trauma of caring for someone who is dying a person feels like anything but a pillar of strength. And they definitely feel very weak and even afraid for a long time after the person dies.
Each grief therapist will have developed their own approach helping individual clients with their grieving.
Nevertheless, you might like to read about the aspects of healing from a loss that Julia Samuels calls the eight Pillars of Strength. They will give you an idea of the kind of work grief therapy entails.
In summary, the eight pillars are:
1. Relationship with the Person who has Died
The degree of pain you are in depends on the quality of the relationship you had with the person who died and how much you loved them.
2. Relationship with Oneself
Just as our relationship with the world changes when we grieve, so does the relationship we have with ourselves. We need to give ourselves permission to be compassionate with ourselves.
3. Ways to Express Grief
Each of us needs to find a way to express our grief. There is no right or wrong way to express it. What is important is to connect with our inner feelings, and finding a way that works for us personally.
Grief takes longer than we want it to. It takes longer than we expect. Contrary to the platitude, time itself does not heal. We need the passage of time to allow ourselves to adjust naturally to the changes that have occurred and engage with life again.
It is helpful to know that your time frame will be different from others. The pace and time of your grief will be uniquely individual.
5. Mind and Body
Neuroscience tells us that the mind and the body are interconnected, interwoven. We hold the pain of grief in our body. We need to do things like exercise and relaxation or meditation to better manage the anxiety caused by this pain.
When combined with regular eating, such habitual activity builds up our emotional resilience.
When you experience grief, it is important to recognize that your social capacity and your capacity for work will likely be affected. Learn to say no to things that don’t feel right for you while you’re still experiencing the intensity of grief.
Grief is chaotic. The physical and emotional turmoil can derail you, even if you normally organize your life well. Sticking to a simple plan when you are feeling vulnerable can be very useful.
Eugene T. Gendlin devised a technique called called “focusing” to help you create bodily awareness to deal with physical ramifications of grief. This is just one example of other, similar techniques.
Taking Steps Toward Wellness
Some say the best way to honour someone’s life is to properly and fully live yourself. Navigating the complex path to feeling well and whole again after someone significant in your life dies can be a daunting prospect.
If you are grieving and feel overwhelmed by it, we recommend seeing a grief therapist. If you live in the Beverly Hills area, Dr Blair would be happy to help you through the process.
Together you can work on dealing with your grief and coming to terms with unresolved issues. Believe us when we say you deserve to develop effective coping skills for your radically changed life.
Why don’t you call to book an initial consultation now?