Over the years, I have met with many clients who have, or are, experiencing grief. A happy and excited expectant mother getting a step closer to the birth of her long-awaited baby only to have it abruptly swept away from her. The helplessness she feels at the loss, feeling completely overwhelmed with the lack of understanding and why this happened. Constantly asking herself what she did wrong when, in fact, fact she did nothing wrong. Trying her best to come to terms with the loss and progress with her life and still feeling alone and like no one understands.
What about a mother and wife who loses her husband and then her son to suicide. It’s incomprehensible to even try to imagine how she feels and where she would find the answers she’s looking for, as well as the support and comfort needed to come to terms with her loss and then to start working through her grief.
These are just a couple of examples of stories I have heard, alongside of many others. Unfortunately, where there is life there is grief. For some, it comes very early in life, for others much later, and just maybe there are some out there who never experience it at all. Mentioning the word “Grief”, the responses are many and varied from each soul. So how does one help and support or how does one work through whatever it is that causes them pain? I believe each soul has the strength to work through their pain, it may never leave you, but it will change and eventually it will become a part of your life and go into making you especially who you are.
Many of us will experience some type of grief during the course of our journey. We have grief with death and dying, losing those we love so dearly we can’t imagine life without them, we have grief from losing a job, a friend, a lover or partner, a pet, a mother, father, sister, brother, son or daughter. We suffer grief over our relationships, be it a relationship with a partner or a family or friend relationship. Relationships bring us tests and challenges, some of which are not so easily resolved. We can also suffer grief through health issues that affect our way of being and living and we have grief, sometimes on a daily basis, with the daily challenges of living.
Grief does not discriminate who we are or what we do; But it is here to teach us. We learn to be more caring, more compassionate. We learn patience, tolerance, understanding. It helps us not to pass judgement, because you may not know a person’s story and what has gone into making them the way they are. Some people will put up huge barriers as a result of experiencing a loss – that is their way of protecting themselves from further pain.
Many people go through life keeping their pain well hidden and just in “coping” mode, trying to put on a brave face to the outside world, intending for people to think they have it all together and that life is all good. While there are times when we do have to keep it together, while we work away at our chosen profession or fulfilling other responsibilities, at some point grief needs to be addressed, pulled up from the depths of where you have stuffed it down, telling yourself that it’ll get better sooner or later – or not!
Because grief comes in many guises and often very unexpectedly, it can leave us in a state of shock and completely unprepared for the effects of it. As a result, we can feel bereft of the skills or strength needed to deal with it. There is no right or wrong way to do grief – there is only your way. What works for one may not work for another. What is important, is to acknowledge it and feel it, no matter how painful and debilitating it may be. The more it is pushed down the stronger it will get – the only way out is through. It’s important for you to work out what is your way of grieving. Is it to pull down all the blinds, shut the world out and take yourself to bed where you spend a day, a week or a month crying and wailing, screaming and shouting, telling the world how unfair it all is. Or is it to acknowledge your pain and loss and then to find yourself a cause or a project to immerse yourself to help others in pain – often when we are in pain and we use the energy to help others it magically gathers an energy of its own and you find yourself healing through your compassion. Is it that you need to find someone, a friend a colleague, a counsellor, where you can talk about your pain and slowly but surely work through all the emotion that you have felt unable to deal with.
If you find yourself supporting someone on their journey through grief, don’t be fearful or think you can’t help. Just be there, listen to them, ask what if anything they would like from you, but being there first and foremost, sometimes without words being spoken, is enough.
For those of you working through your grief, please know that you are not doing this journey alone, you do have the strength and wisdom to work through your pain. Treat yourself with care, love, patience – one day at a time, one foot in front of the other, and slowly but surely you will find your way. However you decide to deal with your grief, remember to be patient with yourself and the path you are currently on. It will feel like a roller coaster ride at times, with some days better than others or some weeks better than others. Do not have high expectations of yourself in regard to how long it will take, what takes one person a few months may take another a few years, there is no rule or right and wrong here, there’s only your way!