Grief & Bereavement

Grief and loss can suddenly enter your life and when it does, it can often feel overwhelming. This is not always the result of losing a loved one, it can be triggered by through a major change or stressful transition. For instance grief can come from losing your job or home, betrayal, or even a relationship break up.

The emotions involved can leave us feeling that we are paying a heavy price. Some people may try to cope by being practical and working their way through these feeling. They could even try to protect others by not showing their grief, and at times this works in the short term. However the eventual impact can still be devastating.

Denial and the Five Stage Model

How many times have you heard a well intentioned person say; “I am not a therapist but isn’t denial a common part of loss?”

Unfortunately the commonly used five stage model of grief, which is now part of common culture, has no research or evidence base to support it and has four main problems:

  • It was NEVER originally developed for the bereaved and was only intended for the palliative care model.
  •  The main emphasis is on resolution of anger, as it was based upon, and influenced by, the author’s own experience alone.
  •  There has been no controlled research into this model, nor experimental tests to check that this theory works for the wider population.
  • The underlying assumption that anger is a valid and natural response to grief is an indicator of risk potential, not one of healthy behaviour.

Unfortunately the simplicity of this model has helped it find its way into popular psychology and culture, where many people use it as a rule of thumb to try to help their family and friends through what they believe to be a process of grief.

What real factors determine your experience of loss?

  • Did losing someone close to you take away something fundamental in your life? For instance did the person you’ve lost rely on you every day, giving you a framework and purpose?
  • Does the loss feel irreplaceable and like you will never recover or have a similar relationship in your life ever again?
  • Has the loss altered your personal identity? Do you feel like you have let yourself down or perhaps even allowed the loss to happen to you?
  • How has the loss affected your choices and your ability to choose the right path to take for yourself?
  • Has the loss affected your social networks? Have you lost friends or cut yourself off from contact with family and friends?

If you have answered yes to three or more of the above questions then there is a very good chance that therapy could help you develop behaviours and techniques for dealing with your loss.

In the first instance you may require a strategy for getting through the initial transition, arrangements, or challenges.

Effective therapy sessions will then help you come through grief and loss, teaching you how to stay on track and process the associated emotions and feelings.  You can emerge from this process feeling psychologically flexible and emotionally resilient.

To find out more about how a session could explore how therapy could work for you, and the options available to you, please book an appointment where we can talk through your situation.

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