Each time we tell our story, a little healing takes place. Sharing time and space with another who cares about your well being, identifying unexpressed emotions, putting words to feelings, exploring thoughts and their impact, and holding space to acknowledge what you’ve been through, to honor your experience and growth, is the path toward healing.
People who are experiencing grief, but cannot or do not openly share their loss due to stigma, feelings of shame and embarrassment, societal unacceptance of the loss or how it occurred, or who don’t have the developmental capacity to fully understand a loss has occurred or the significance of the loss at the time (such as children, elderly) are “disenfranchised grievers”. Disenfranchised grievers often suffer in silence. Examples of this could be the loss of a loved one due to suicide, homicide, auto-erotic asphyxiation, AIDS, loss of pregnancy, selective abortion, loss of a pet, loss of an affair or lover, loss of a life partner or significant other, just to name a few.
At my practice you will be met with warmth, understanding, and acceptance.
Some losses are more significant than others. Experiencing a loss and having feelings of grief isn’t always related to the death of someone close. In fact, “loss” is one constant that continues to re-emerge throughout our lives. As much as we want to not lose anyone or anything dear to us, it happens. We lose friendships, homes, neighbors, jobs, lovers, innocence, children, foster children, foster parents, pets, in-laws, step-parents, caregivers, roommates, pregnancies, marriages, physical health, children given up for adoption, classmates and colleagues.
Sometimes our reaction to loss can vary throughout our lives depending upon our age or developmental stage, and the support we have through our close relationships. It is important to remember that grief is a natural response to loss. You may experience feelings of shock, deep sadness, relief, numbness, remorse, guilt, shame. Or, you may not experience these feelings at all. Your feelings may be completely different from someone else experiencing the same loss. Your feelings are unique to you. There are no right or wrong ways to feel.
In addition to having an emotional reaction to grief, it is possible to have physical reactions, as well. Physical symptoms of grief may leave you feeling weak, breathless, anxious, constricted, overly sensitive to loud noises, lack of appetite or overeating, and experiencing physical pain, just to name a few.
Sometimes behaviors such as sleep disturbance, absentmindedness, restless over activity, dreams, clinging to reminders, avoidance of reminders, appetite disturbance, and social withdrawal can also be symptoms of grief.
Elizabeth Kübler-Ross identified five stages of grief that patients with terminal illness experience prior to death. The stages are: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. With time, the “stages of grief” became popularized and widely known as the stages people experience when there has been a significant loss in their lives. Kübler-Ross’ work is credible, no doubt! The problem is the misperception that once we pass through each of the five stages, we are then healed. Not to say this doesn’t happen for some people, some of the time, but grief typically has no set linear pattern. People often describe feelings of grief as hitting them like waves in the ocean, coming and going, some smaller, some bigger, and some crashing down hard without warning.
Grief is the emotional reaction to loss
Mourning is the external demonstration of grief
Bereavement is the objective situation of having lost