You don't have to go
through this alone.
Grief or loss can be
without slogging through it alone.
Perhaps, it has been just a few weeks or months, since you lost your loved one, and now you find that your well-meaning friends have disappeared.
Or, maybe, you feel like a burden when you want to talk about your feelings.
It could be that others around you are going through their own feelings and cannot be there for you.
It isn't weak to ask for help
Would you perform your own dental work...
or would you seek a professional?
Yet, that is exactly what we do...
we struggle through alone.
After all, it's just grief, right?
Going through this alone compounds your misery and isolation.
A grief specialist accompanies you on your journey through grief.
A qualified grief therapist is your personal guide, your personal teacher, coach,
Grief can feel unbearable--and we wonder how we'll get through the day, much less how we'll get through the rest of our life without that person.
Grief is so difficult to endure and live through because the loss of someone significant rips out a big piece of and leaves a glaring hole.
Add to that the trauma of loss by suicide or murder, or being present at the time of the traumatic death, and you might be suffering from grief and PTSD (Post-traumatic Stress Disorder).
Suffering through PTSD by yourself is a recipe for a lifetime of misery.
Conventional wisdom has it that children don't really experience the loss due to death, and that this is especially true
the younger the child is.
It is true that the younger the child is, the more likely it is that s/he will not understand, but that does not mean that they do not experience the loss.
Normal child development means that the child will personalize the loss. In other words, they will take full responsibility for what everyone around them is feeling, they will believe that they caused those feelings, and they will believe that they did something to bring on the loss.
THE AVERAGE YOUNG CHILD
MAY BE UNABLE TO INTELLECTUALLY UNDERSTAND DEATH,
BUT THEY CAN CERTAINLY
SOAK-UP ALL THE EMOTIONS
IN THE HOME, AND, THEN,
TAKE FULL RESPONSIBILITY
FOR EVERYTHING THAT IS HAPPENING.
And, if all that is not enough, the average child, age 3 to 12,will fill the void left by no information. To put it another way, if you do not tell your child the truth (at a level appropriate to their intellectual and emotional age), then they will create a story to fill that void. And, trust me, their imagination can create something far more horrifying than anything you could tell them.
Case in point, the 7-year-old I treated, who believed that her grandmother was, and I quote,"In the box, in the ground. It's cold and dark, and she's hungry and scared, and trying to get out."
Or the 11-year-old who believed that his grandmother had died because the family brought her home on hospice. If she had stayed in the hospital, then she would have lived. In short, he believed that his mother had killed his grandma.
Leaving a child to suffer alone with their grief or loss, ESPECIALLY if they don't understand what is happening, has long term consequences...and none of them are good.
LOSS can be experienced as the result of:
GRIEF (the understanding that there is a loss) can be experienced as the result of each of the above circumstances.
MOURNING (the actual expression of the grief, e.g., crying, melancholy) is perfectly human.
Whether you are experiencing GRIEF DUE TO LOSS ISSUES or GRIEF DUE TO THE DEATH of someone (human or fur-covered) you love, I am certified in thanatology (the study of death, dying, and bereavement) and one of my masters degrees is in Counseling Psychology with a Specialization in Loss issues and Bereavement.
When someone significant in our life dies,
they take a big piece of us
...and they leave a big piece of themselves behind.
experiences grief in their
own unique way
...and that each loss is
unique to that person.
If others have belittled your loss ("Seriously? It was just a cat."), told you to "Get on with your life," insisted that you "Let it go," then you have experienced grief American-style.
Americans have unrealistic expectations for how to handle grief.
What is mind-boggling to me is how soon they expect the bereaved to MOVE ON. TO LET GO.
What does that even mean? Who really lets go? We cannot truly let go. All we can do is figure out how to live our life without the person who played such an important role in our life.
A qualified grief therapist can help you to learn how to live your life without the loved one present. And, truth be told, s/he may even help you to learn how to live your life with the loved one present.
No one should ever tell that you are nuts if you talk to him at bedtime, or if you feel her presence in your home, of if you press your nose into their robe to smell them, or if you have a ongoing conversations with your loved one.
In my career in grief, after thousands and thousands of hours of working with grieving persons, the record for hearing the grossly insensitive, "You have to let go, you have to move on," goes to the young widow (mid-30's) whose friends cleaned out her husband's wardrobe closet while she was out of the house, donated everything to Goodwill, and committed this violation 5 days after the man had died. FIVE DAYS!!!!
Welcome to grief American-style.
There is no right way to grieve.
Grief is an intensely personal experience that is defined by the meaning of the loss. Meaning is defined within the context of the bereaved's life and how the deceased enhanced (or diminished) the bereaved's life.
For example, if a person loses a spouse and the spouse was EVERYTHING to the bereaved, then there will be some glaring holes in the bereaved's life.
If the bereaved enjoyed being married, or felt that the spouse was his or her reward for a harsh or traumatic childhood, he or she may find feel desperately lonely to find another soulmate. Or, conversely, adamant about not "replacing" the deceased.
Some widows and widowers worry about how soon is too soon to remarry. The answer to that question might be found in the person's religion (e.g., Judaism teaches that one year and a day is a respectful waiting period), or it might be found in the course of uncovering a person's true needs and values.
But what about the widow or widower and their "baggage"? Responsibility for children or aging parents can complicate the process of rebuilding a life after the loss of a spouse.
How best to deal with these issues
might be determined with the help
of a trained thanatologist,
or someone who has participated
in a program of thanatology education.