Loss and Grief
“Our quest for meaning is key to mental health and human flourishing”
- Robert Niemeyer, Professor of Psychology, 2009
Everyday we plan our lives around the certainty of things: our lives our predicated on what we know, what we believe in, what we rely on, what we deserve, what we expect. Often, our whole outlook is predicated on our reliance of our entitlement to only positive outcomes and this helps to give us direction, purpose and meaning which then helps us to organise, plan and set ourselves some life goals. However when we lose someone we love or care about or our expectation of a life event is not met, the loss creates a profound transition which brings complex patterns of adaptation in understanding and integrating that loss into our lives.
After a loss or bereavement what arises is a disconnection between what life is and what it should be. This can be experienced as a loss of meaning, certainty, stability and identity. It is important to understand our attachment to the person, the expectation and the event. When we lose someone or something either through separation, death or an unexpected ending, then grief follows.
It may be helpful to facilitate the mourning process and work towards adaptation, integration and acceptance. The symptoms of grief (for e.g. sadness, anger, guilt, denial, anxiety, fear, isolation, loneliness) can interfere with ordinary life functioning and it is important to be fully accepting of the loss as you experience it. It will be important to understand the significance of coping with the lived experience of 'absence' and 'existence'; bearing the loss of a trusted 'witness' to shared experiences and memories.
In offering you my warmth, genuineness and acceptance it is hoped you will feel safe to share all your feelings and, within this trusted relationship you will feel able to make meaning of your loss and adjust to your day to day living.
In therapy you will understand that your reactions will be unique to you and it is important that they should be allowed and expressed. The way you feel and behave is exactly how you need to feel and behave in order to make the loss part of your life.
We can work through together the natural process and sequences of grief and understand that this a normal price we pay for our commitment, investment of emotion for another or for things we value.
We will explore your responses to both past and present losses and consider your habitual responses and if these have been imposed and contradict your current beliefs and values.
We will learn together the continuing and affectionate bonds that tie us to people, places and events. We will honour your loved ones and pay tribute to those relationships and experiences.
We will assess those protective factors around you, within family systems and socialising support groups that offer compassion, kindness, soothing that help you to adjust to your loss.
We will identify the relevant sequences of grieving from acute separation anxiety and overwhelming sadness, to periods of disorganisation, then to acceptance.
We will review your own personal stories of life’s transitions and cumulative losses and how this has impacted on your personally but on those around you.
We will consider how you adapt to your changed reality and to integrate the loss into your own identity.
"In reality, grief, much like life, love and death, it is far more nuanced and confusing state. Weeks stretch inside a shapeless void where the only certainties you're faced with every day are absence and existence.... Grief is messy, unforgiving and cruel"
(Kat Lister, 2021 - The Elements: A Widowhood).