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20th June 2024 
Life Events   Bereavement. WaterLillies

Life Events - How They Can Effect Us

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Any case scenarios will be entirely fictitious and be created only to demonstrate how therapy can work. These pages will be changed from time to time to cover other therapeutic areas.

Bereavement and Loss

Loss can effect all of us, from the loss of a loved one, to the loss of a relationship, redundancy, the loss of a pet, each can bring with it a bereavement response. Sometimes people can feel that they are 'going mad'
or 'losing the plot'. Sometimes loss can trigger earlier losses or traumas, complicating the bereavement process. Sometimes people can get stuck in their grief and find it difficult to move on.

The initial reaction to loss can be shock, then denial and numbness, then yearning, searching, bargaining. Depression, anger and sadness can follow through to acceptance and achievement. We can cycle round these feeling in a few minutes, an hour, months and sometimes years. We can feel guilty for many reasons; sometimes we perhaps feel we didn't do enough for the loved one; perhaps we survived when someone else didn't. Our confidence can be shaken; our belief in our own mortality undermined.

Working through these feelings can be difficult and painful but we can reach a place of acceptance and having achieved this live life more fully than before.

Case Scenario

Jill felt she was going mad. Jill had recently lost her husband and thought she kept seeing him, hearing him. Jill had found herself making cups of tea, one for herself and one for her late husband. Jill then found herself getting angry and irritable at small things that ordinarily would not have bothered her. She had been sharp with one of her friends, who had come round to take her out, snapping at her when she arrived a few minutes late. Jill felt guilty as ordinarily she would not mind if someone was a few minutes late. Jill found herself often thinking of times with her husband and wishing she had done more, said more. She badly wanted him back, the way he was, the way she had always loved him. Jill started to feel more guilty about the things she hadn't said and done. She found herself bursting into tears in the supermarket where they had often gone shopping together. It seemed like little things could trigger a torrent of tears. She felt tired and listless and started to wonder what was the point of going on. Jill couldn't understand why she was feeling like this, it wasn't like her. She wasn't even enjoying going sailing anymore, something she had always loved.

When Jill came to me she was very confused and depressed at how she was feeling. It helped her greatly to know that the feelings and behaviours that she was getting worried about were normal reactions to grief and that she wasn't 'going mad.' Jill spent some time working through her painful grief and reached a place of acceptance and started to move on. Jill knows she will never forget her husband and that there will be times when she will be sad still but she can also remember the happy times with a loving glow. Jill started sailing again and found that she could be really happy amongst her friends and not feel guilty for letting go. She started sleeping soundly and her energy levels returned. Jill found her zest for life gradually returning and resolved to take herself off on holiday for a few well deserved weeks of holiday!! Somewhere hot and sunny!

Books you may find useful:

On Death and Dying - Elisabeth Kubler Ross
The Courage to Grieve - Judy Tatelbaum
Healing Grief - Barbara Ward

The Internet can always be a useful place to get information about any therapy topic. You could use Yahoo or any search engine that you are familiar with.

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