When someone close to us dies, two things have to happen: we need to attend to the – often unfamiliar – feelings that we are faced with; and we need to get on with living our lives. Most of the time, we work through a period of mourning with the support of friends and family. Sometimes, however, grief becomes complicated and we can end up feeling both overwhelmed and stuck. Having somewhere safe to talk things through can help.
In my experience, complicated grief comes about when, for whatever reason, we are unable to work our way through our feelings and they become a tangled, uncontained burden that we drag around after us through our relationships, our careers and our daily lives. There are many reasons why feelings associated with grief are not successfully worked through. Perhaps we have decided for ourselves or been encouraged by others to ‘move on’ too quickly. Perhaps we have been unable to share our grief with those who are mourning the same loss. Maybe we are (or were at the time of the loss) a child or adolescent and our feelings of grief are getting mixed up with our normal development in such a way that everything feels confusing or numb. Perhaps our response to a recent bereavement is being amplified by feelings from a past loss that hasn’t been talked about or accepted as real.
Allowing ourselves time to feel our feelings – whatever they may be – and talk about them with someone who is willing to listen even if this means going over and over the same ground for as long as it takes, can allow us to grieve. Good therapy will help us take a confusing mess of emotions and shape them into a package of feelings and memories that belong to us but do not necessarily have to define who we are. A part of us might always be mourning our loved one, but that part is contained in such a way that we can grow and change without our grief leaking out into all areas of our lives.
For help with problems associated with bereavement, grief and loss in Brighton and Hove, please contact me via email or telephone 07585 910742 for more information and to arrange an initial counselling consultation.
Postscript: recommended reading – ‘Grief Works’ by Julia Samuel (2017, Penguin Life).
Copyright: Caroline Clarke, Psychotherapist in Brighton and Hove
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