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How do I move on? Understanding grief and all its complexities...

Grief happens to everyone and grieving can be hard work. It can feel all-consuming and like it’s never going to get easier. It is an ongoing process of going back and forth between getting over the loss of a loved one and moving forward to incorporate the loss into the reality of living.


Grief is not passive but active; psychological, it uses up a lot of our mind, it’s embodied; we literally feel it in our body. Muscle tension, skin problems, stomach issues and exhaustion are just some of the physical symptoms grieving patients report. Freud believed that it is through allowing ourselves to feel the pain of grief that we heal. As 21st century human beings, we do everything we possibly can to avoid the pain of loss. But it is the things we do to avoid that pain that causes us the most harm….


Drinking more alcohol than usual, smoking, overworking, turning to porn and experiencing conflicts in our relationships are just some of the ways we unconsciously attempt to avoid the pain of grief. The problem is, if we shut down on grief, we often shut down other more restorative emotions and behavioural patterns – the things that are essential to enjoying life again.


Fear is prevalent in grieving, people are afraid of whether friends and family will be able to handle their grief. You might well be afraid that you are going to be overcome by the feelings you’re experiencing when you least expect it. Society’s need for us to start functioning again as soon as possible leads to further avoidance of this distress so what can we do about it?


Counselling is a place where it’s ok to be overcome with your feelings and verbalise the pain you’ve been holding on to. Once you start to talk about the person you’ve lost, your memories of them, what you loved and disliked about them, the feeling they gave you, what you learned from them, you start to integrate that person into who you are and you are able to start to heal. Incrementally you start to feel more distant from the pain of grief. It’s an ongoing process that sometimes takes longer than you want it to but it is an organic process that can’t be rushed or short circuited.


Counselling gives you the chance to understand that what you’re going through is normal and is acknowledged by someone else. You will also be able to explore real life ways to support yourself and discover the ways of expressing your grief. Essentially methods of connecting yourself with your feelings about your lost loved-one.


Gradually you will start to give yourself permission to enjoy yourself and feel pleasure again.


For a chat about whether counselling might be able to help support you through your grief, please get in touch with me: kelly@hertfordtherapy.com.



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