What is grief?
Grief describes the numerous thoughts and feelings we experience when we lose something or someone we love and value. Grieving comes in many forms and may not necessarily involve the death of a person, although this is the most widely known cause of bereavement; we can find ourselves grieving at the end of a relationship or a friendship, at the loss of a job or of financial security, after a miscarriage, because ofinfertility, or because of serious illness or disability – our own or someone we love; or even at the death of a pet. The more central to our lives the thing we have lost, the greater the sense of loss and grief.
Although the experience of grief is absolutely natural and normal, and something which everyone goes through at some point in their lives, it is nonetheless extremely difficult and painful. And although we all go through the process of grieving, each individual experiences it differently. Some authors on bereavement and grief – the most well known being Eizabeth Kubler-Ross, who was in fact writing about the grief felt by patients facing terminal illness – have talked about “grief stages” or the “cycle of grief”, setting out the changing emotions and reactions which people may commonly feel. These include initial shock, denial and disbelief, followed by suffering, sadness, anger, guilt, anxiety and, finally, recovery. However many people don’t in fact experience every single emotion which are stated to be part of the grief stages, and very few people experience them in the order in which they’re set out. It can even make you feel worse if you try to fit your own feelings into this sort of pattern, and find that they don’t match. This can lead to a feeling of isolation and of guilt that you are failing to grieve “properly”.
Everyone’s grief is different
It is not necessary to experience all of the grief stages in order to recover. Many people do not suffer all the stages; some people do not suffer any of the stages. You should not worry about how you ought to be feeling or which stage you ought to have reached at a particular time. Just as there is no typical loss, there is no typical response to loss. The grief stages are not meant to be an inflexible structure for grieving which applies equally to everyone – they are simply indicators of what some people may feel. There is no timetable for grief – you may feel better after a month or two; for others, grieving may take years. There is no normal amount of time that it takes to recover from bereavement and loss.
How do hypnotherapy and counselling help with grief?
You may believe that if you simply attempt to ignore the pain, or try to keep it under the surface, it will simply fade away. For some people, time alone is enough to help them come to terms with their loss. However, this doesn’t always happen. If you are finding it difficult to cope with bereavement and loss, then it can be helpful to piece together what has happened and to think about your response to it – to really face your loss. It is often difficult however to talk to those closest to you about a bereavement. You may feel that you are burdening them or upsetting them. In the case of loss of a family member, then those members of your family whom you would normally turn to for support will also have been deeply affected by the loss. You may feel that you do not wish to cause them further pain by talking about it; you may want to protect them by appearing “strong”.
Bereavement counseling can help by allowing you time and space to discuss your loss and the feelings you have about it, without worrying about burdening the person you’re talking to, distressing them, or taking up their time. Many grieving people have a need to simply tell the story, sometimes over and over. This is absolutely normal and nothing to feel embarrassed or selfish about. Talking about your grief to a professional helps you to do this in your own way – to laugh or cry or shout – without feeling that others may misinterpret or judge. Bereavement counseling helps you to find a way to understand your loss, and to deal with those emotions arising out of it.
Anxiety, stress and emotional problems following bereavement and loss
Many people feel guilt at things they did or didn’t say or do; feelings of anger and blame are also common, as is increased anxiety and stress. You may suffer anxiety about how you will cope without the person you have lost, about your own health, about dying, about financial insecurity, or about the loss of your place in the world. You may lose confidence and self esteem, or develop a fear of loneliness. You may also experience physical symptoms of grief – loss of appetite, weight loss or weight gain, sickness, fatigue, sleeplessness, increased susceptibility to illness. Hypnotherapy can give you positive suggestions to help cope with anxiety, insomnia, deep sadness and depression, and other symptoms of grieving; it can reduce feelings of guilt and blame, and help you to find ways to cope in the future. It can give you suggestions to encourage you to look after your physical health. Hypnosis can also help you to begin to move on, to begin to live your life again and to learn to enjoy yourself once more without feeling guilty. It can help you to find ways to remember the person you have lost, and to still feel that they are part of you and part of your life. Hypnosis also helps to rebuild confidence when you have suffered the loss of a job or financial security, and to get rid of anxiety and insecurity when you are getting over the loss of a relationship or the death of a pet. Hypnosis helps you to regain confidence, enthusiasm, and motivation in your daily life.
For some, grieving is a process which does not improve over time; it may even become worse. You may have continued feelings of emptiness, hopelessness, anger and blame, frequent intrusive thoughts about the person you have lost and about their death. You may feel totally preoccupied by your grief, finding that almost everyone and everything is a reminder; you may be unable to go about your daily routine or to function normally. If this is the case, bereavement counseling, CBT and hypnotherapy can help to identify what is causing this “complicated grief” and give you strategies to help overcome it. Complicated grief and clinical depression share many similarities, and bereavement counseling can help you to identify whether you are depressed, – in which case anti-depressants may be advisable in addition to counselling, hypnotherapy and CBT.
Grief following the death of a pet
Many people find it hard to understand the depth of loss suffered after pet loss. However, for an increasing number of people, pets are a hugely important part of life, and the loss of a dog, cat or other animal can be deeply distressing. What makes it worse is that sympathy and support are not always available. People may express surprise that you are so upset – “But he was only a cat”; “Why don’t you just get another dog?”. This increases the pain and feelings of loss, as you feel that no-one understands what you are feeling, and you are unable to talk meaningfully about it. Unlike the death of a person, it is unlikely that many people share our memories of an animal – his or her habits or funny ways – again making it hard to talk about it. The love we feel for our animals is usually uncomplicated – we are not let down or abandoned by our pets; they don’t judge us, shout at us, lose their tempers or refuse to speak to us. If you lock them in the garage by mistake or feed them late, or let them out in the garden rather than walking them because its dark, rainy and cold, they simply forgive you, and love you unconditionally. They don’t make unreasonable demands. It is no wonder that the loss of a pet can cause such hurt.
There are many on-line support groups for those who have lost loved animals and these are a good form of support when those around us have difficulty understanding why it is that we are so upset.
Bereavement counseling helps those who need to talk to someone about their loss when no-one around them seems to understand – no matter what that loss is.
Hypnotherapy in Stockport
The therapists at this Stockport hypnotherapy clinic are Manchester’s top independently rated therapists in anxiety and phobia treatment. If you are looking for hypnotherapists in south Manchester to help stress and anxiety, claustrophobia, emotional problems such as jealousy and insecurity, panic attacks, or low self esteem, then go to any of the independent websites which list and give reviews of hypnotherapists (for example www.freeindex.co.uk – you can also see reviews on Google) and see what others say about us. If you would like further information about hypnosis in Stockport, for insomnia, tostop smoking, self esteem and confidence, depression, for help with weight loss, to nail biting, teeth grinding, or for any other problem, please call 07779 575 816 for a free, no obligation, confidential discussion.
Hypnosis and hypnotherapy in Didsbury, Manchester – convenient for Chorlton, Gatley, Cheadle, Stockport, Altrincham, Hale and all areas of south and central Manchester. Click here for further details ofhow to find us.