Grief and loss happens to us all at some point in our life. The one experience most people think of is the death of a loved one. It is a raw emotional time that can be all consuming, even life changing. Society as a whole is sympathetic to the loss of a loved one, there is collective understanding because we will all experience it.

Yet there are other experiences in our lives that can evoke the same thoughts and feelings. Most of us don’t think or talk about these unless they happen to us or someone we know, so when they happen we feel lost and alone in our struggles. Our friends and families can struggle to understand, to talk about it and to give you the space you need to work (and keep working). There can be some initial support but clients I have worked with often say it’s short lived and that you are expected to “just get on with it”

Counselling can help, it gives you a safe space to express yourself, to ask the questions you keep inside and to be heard without judgement.

Here are other grief and loss experiences that visiting a therapist can help you with..

Relationships

Relationships come and go, some end amicably, some don’t. Some end after a short while others afters years. Either way there can still be a sense of grief and loss no matter how good or bad the relationship was. There is a questioning of ourselves, our emotions. We can be angry at the other person or even ourselves and that can be confusing. It can help to talk to someone who doesn’t know either of you about these thoughts and feelings.

Disability/chronic illness

Having a disability or a chronic illness, whether you are born with it, it happens over time or it happens suddenly, can create a number of struggles with grief and loss around identity, independence and difference. Therapy can help through this and aid in your acceptance of your new way of life.

Unemployment

Losing your job has a huge effect on a persons life, it can be a confusing and uncertain time. Our sense of self can be shaken, we may lose our financial independence, there is also the loss of work colleagues and the camaraderie of belonging, as well as the fear of letting down those around us.

Pets

The loss of a pet can create the same grief responses of any bereavement. Even though there is understanding in society, there still isn’t much in the way of recognition over the depths of emotions when grieving a pet. Initial reactions are supportive but after a while there is a sense of having to “get over it”. When you have spent a long time with a pet it becomes your closest companion, to some their pets are their ‘children’, the loss is as overwhelming as losing any human loved one.

Be kind to yourself

As with all forms of grief there is no right or wrong way to grieve, there isn’t a straight line from one stage to another. It is messy, chaotic and confusing, one day you feel as though you are coping the next you feel like the rug has been pulled out under your feet. Take each day as it comes, allow yourself to feel. If you are really struggling it may help to talk to your GP.

As well as counselling and your GP, finding others who are ‘in the same boat’ such as self help groups, online forums and charities tailored to your experiences can all help make sense of your life, as it is now.

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