Bereavement

Bereavement Counselling WilmslowHave you experienced a loss or bereavement recently, or know someone who has.? A beloved friend or relative? A parent or child? We can feel lost and not know how to express our condolences when we meet someone who has recently experienced a bereavement.  It can help to talk.

I provide bereavement counselling as part of my therapy practice.  In this post I wanted to provide some information on what you might experience if you are the person who has experienced the loss.  I also though it might be helpful if you know someone who is going through this experience.

When someone you know has recently died the world can suddenly be a very confusing and difficult place. You might find that you cannot stop thinking about the person who has gone.  Eating and sleeping may be difficult.  You might feel exhausted one minute and restless and agitated the next. You may think you should be coping better and be worried that you are not.

Thoughts, Feelings and Physical Sensations

It is quite normal to experience feelings of sadness, anger, guilt and helplessness when someone you know has died.  Along with these feelings people often find themselves experiencing anxiety, loneliness and fatigue. Sometimes the experience of losing someone can be shocking and traumatic so that the person may feel numb.

You may also find yourself feeling confused, being unable to believe the person is dead, or alternatively find yourself feeling a sense of their presence or hallucinations.  Repetitive and intrusive thoughts about the person and the way they died are also very common.

Difficulties with eating or sleeping and feeling restless are also normal, along with other physical symptoms such as a lack of energy, muscle weakness, tightness in the chest, hollowness in the stomach, dry mouth and sensitivity to noise.

All of these thoughts, feelings and sensations are  normal part of the grieving process.  Experiencing bereavement can be very difficult.  Each person’s response will be different, each person mourns in a different way.  Although it is a cliché time will bring relief from the intensity of the feeling.

Mourning

There is no time limit to the grieving process.  William Worden writes of there being tasks of mourning.  The first being begin to accept the reality of the person’s death – that the person you knew is gone and will not return.

The second task is to work through the pain of the grief.  Even though it may feel incredibly painful over time it is important to allow yourself time to think and feel about the death, to recognise and experience your feelings which will allow you to move forward.

The third task is to adjust to an environment in which the deceased is missing. This is not about “getting over” or replacing but about adjustment to the changes in the person’s daily life.

Finally the last task is to find an enduring connection to the deceased while moving on with a new life.

Anniversaries, Christmas, birthdays important events will most likely be a time of remembrance and sadness.  Moving on with a new life does not mean forgetting – it mean being able to engage with living again and a moderation of the grief from it’s raw intensity.

Bereavement Counselling Wilmslow

I provide bereavement counselling in Wilmslow and in working with people I know that support through this painful process is very important.  For many people having family and friends available can be support enough.  Not everyone has this though and some deaths are difficult, possibly very unexpected, traumatic or difficult in some way. In these situations it can helpful to talk to a counsellor or therapist to help the person move through the grieving process.

Quote of the Week Six

Quote 6

I very much like this quote from EM Forster, it reminds me of some definitions of the concept of script in transactional analysis.  In TA the concept of script is that we make an unconscious life plan and live our lives accordingly.  It seems to me that both and Berne and Forster were encouraging us to free ourselves from any life plan and find autonomy.

Quote of the Week 4

Quote 4

In some ways I think this describes the task of therapy to work out what is known, what is unknown, explore our perceptions of what is remaining and then to see if our perception may change through that exploration.

Quote of the Week 2

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Second quote – I’m setting myself the challenge of a quote for every week of the year.  I’m often struck by the wisdom in some of the French philosophers and thinkers.  From a transactional analysis perspective a way of thinking about autonomy?

 

How does Change Happen – Or Notice the Little Stuff.

I’ve been remembering some of my experiences of change. One that was very significant for me was a few years ago now. I had been walking my dogs first thing in the  morning and I was reflecting on my internal sense of self and how I was feeling on a day to day basis. As I reached the front door, I had a profound realisation that I was content with myself in a way that I hadn’t ever felt before. I was amazed and astounded by this realisation. I found myself thinking but when did I change?  How did this happen?  As I thought about the difference I was experiencing I realised I wasn’t able to identify any particular moments of significance, but that what had been happening was slow, incremental moments and shifts and change that I had not been aware of until then.

So, how does change happen? There are probably 100’s of books that have been written on the subject, numerous blog posts and theory about how it all works. The impact on people, how we cope and deal with changes in our lives or how we make changes for the better.

Change in Therapy

Clients often talk to me about change during their therapy.   If the desired change is something about self, what seems to be very common is a sense that we will know immediately when change happens.  And that the desired change will happen quickly.  There seems to be an internal expectation that people will immediately think about what they want to do differently and be able put that in place.  I suspect this is often because the distress of the current situation is difficult and people want things to be different and for this to happen quickly.   I see a lot of this with people I work with.   I often find myself saying something like “you’ve been thinking/feeling/behaving this way for x number of years – it’s likely to take some more time for you to make the changes you want.”

The two aspects I’m noticing most as I’m writing this post are about our expectations:

  1. about the speed of change and
  2. that we will notice immediately when we do change.

My “how to support yourself” tips from this post are that we have to learn to be patient with ourselves.  In some ways I often think this is one of the tasks of therapy.  To learn to be more forgiving of ourselves, to be more patient with ourselves, to have more realistic and kinder expectations of ourselves.  And notice the small stuff. I suspect that in my journey to being more content with myself there were numerous small shifts and changes along the way that I didn’t account or was aware of.  If I had been I suspect it would have been very helpful in motivating and encouraging me that I was changing.

I’m going to give a couple of examples of what I mean by “the small stuff”.  If I’m the kind of person who can’t relax until all the jobs are done I might find myself leaving the washing up until after I’ve watched that TV programme.   Or, if I’m really nervous around people and find it difficult to interact I might find that I say hello to one of my work colleagues in the kitchen at work instead of being silent. So my final tip is take time to do a self check and notice those tiny shifts in thinking, feeling and behaviour. They are important and over time can add up to the significant change you are working towards.

Have you made big changes in your life that you would like to share?  How did that happen?  I’d love to hear people’s stories of changes they have made.

 

Quote of the Week

I’m going to be posting a quote of the week along with a local photograph. Living so to close the Peak District I get lots of opportunities for wonderful walks and inspiring countryside. So I thought I’d share them along with an interesting quote once a week. And here’s the first.

Curbar Edge.

Curbar Edge.

“Our patience will achieve more than our force. ”

Edmund Burke.  Via http://www.brainyquote.com/

 

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