Three Myths About Grief

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However you describe grief, it’s fair to say that it isn’t neat. We experience it when we lose a loved one or a family member, but there are also more ‘taboo’ forms of grief few people talk about: the loss of an unborn child, the loss of children, the loss of a relationship, the death of a pet, or estrangement in an important relationship—perhaps even from a parent you’ve never met.

Many of us have heard about the five stages of grief: Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression and Acceptance. And these are all valid. You will wade through them as you remember what you’ve lost, and by taking the journey through them you will find healing. The deep ache will still be there, but the acceptance of what was lost won’t cloud your days as much.

Yet, we don’t all navigate grief that ‘easily’. In fact, none of us ever grieve in the cookie cutter mould of what is often described. This can leave us feeling like a failure months and years after a loss, and can make us depressed and feel perpetually numb and isolated.

This infographic by Happify disproves three common myths about grief.

  1. That grief happens in sequence.
  2. That the only way to work through grief is to express every negative emotion (even the ones that harm you, or the people around you).
  3. Women suffer more in grief.

Take a look at the infographic and learn more about what grief looks like in reality. Happify also include some tips for getting through the early, middle and late stages of grief.

Remember, your grief is valid whether your loss happened days, months or years ago. We hope that by breaking these myths and taboos you are reminded you aren’t alone in this process, and you can get through it.

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Are you grieving a loss? Do you know someone who is grieving a loss and you don’t know how to help them? Talking to a Counselling Professional about your experience in a safe and nurturing space may be the support you need to navigate your grief experience. For a FREE 10 minute consultation as to how we can help you, ring Colleen on 0434 337 245 or Duncan on 0434 331 243 or press book now to book on the online diary.

The 8 Faces of Grief

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There is no one-way to grieve. If you think back to a time when you have grieved the loss of a loved one, you might notice that you reacted very differently to another family member or friend. In this article Colleen wrote for PsychCentral, she talks about the 8 faces of grief, and how they may appear in your own life. Whether you have experienced abbreviated grief from a need to ‘move on’, a chronic grief that causes you ongoing pain, or a delayed grief, each experience is valid and needs to be acknowledged. You can read the article here.

Are you grieving a loss? Do you know someone who is grieving a loss and you don’t know how to help them? Talking to a Counselling Professional about your experience in a safe and nurturing space may be the support you need to navigate your grief experience. For a FREE 10 minute consultation as to how we can help you, ring Colleen on 0434 337 245 or Duncan on 0434 331 243 or press book now to book on the online diary.

Rewriting The Rules of Grief

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In 2012, Jim Stynes, the Melbourne Aussie Rules footballer, lost his 2 I/2 year battle with cancer. Upon his death, there was an outpouring of public affection for this Irishman, described as ‘a true gentleman of the game,’ an ‘inspirational man’ who was ‘loved by the people,’ ‘a true champion both on and off the field’, ‘ always humble and genuine in his passion to help others,’ and a ‘wonderful family man with a rare ability to inspire all those around him.’

Jim Stynes had achieved more than most of us dream in his 45 years; AFL consecutive games record holder, a Brownlow Medallist, youth leader, Victorian of the Year, OAM and Melbourne Football Club president. He was also a father to 2 children and husband to wife Sam, who is the true subject of this blog.

How does a partner ‘move on’ when their loss feels like a freight train has irreverently rampaged its way through your heart, leaving a gaping void? How does a partner ‘move on’ when their loved one has risen to such dizzying heights of public adoration? I really have no idea, but I imagine that it is a moment at a time, an hour at a time, a day at a time; living in the enormous shadow that their loved one cast in life and now, in death. It has got to be one of the most challenging tasks this life presents, to keep on living and make sense of their new reality. It is a lonely and isolating journey that rarely needs or even welcomes the commentary of well-meaning family and friends. Grief only asks for the other to be present, to listen, to companion.

So it was with some sadness when, just over a week ago, I read the headline:

Jim Stynes widow, Sam Ludbey, opens up about re-marriage backlash

Sam revealed on radio that she had remarried in April 2015, but had withheld the information from the public out of respect. In spite of Sam’s desire to consider others, she still faced criticism from friends, feeling that she had to ‘defend her choice to move on.’

I am sad that Sam felt she had to celebrate her engagement in secrecy.

I am sad that Sam felt that she had to keep her marriage a secret.

I am sad that she had to bear the pain of recrimination from friends and strangers.

I ask myself, who made these rules about when it is okay to ‘move on’ anyway? Is there a book of indelible rules that no one has informed me about? Does Australia Post send me a copy of the rules in the event of the loss of a loved one? Or are these rules internalised in our psychic; informed by the society we live in, our parents & friends, media and teachers? When we internalise these rules, they largely lay in our unconscious self, un-critiqued until we are confronted by our own great loss. Suddenly those unspoken rules take on an authority wielding a power that can devastate the already fragile, vulnerable, grieving heart.

When we observe our friend ‘not moving on’ we get anxious, perhaps frustrated or impatient with them. Perhaps ‘our’ rules inform us that it is not okay to leave their loved ones clothes hanging in the closet long after they are gone? We wonder how normal it is to continue to set a place at the table for dad months after he has died, or suspect there is something very wrong when a bereaved parent leaves their dead child’s room untouched long after they’re gone. Yes, it is confronting, but confronting for whom? May be there is no ‘normal,’ and your loved one is just trying to navigate their daily life and find a different way to maintain a connection with their loved one.

On the other hand, when a person apparently does ‘move on’ (as it appears to be in Sam’s case), we feel offended – it is ‘to soon’, ‘on the rebound’, or ‘disrespectful to their loved one,’ are familiar phrases. Our internalised rules declare how inappropriate that person is behaving.

Who made those rules? Why do we feel the need or believe we have the right to dictate the rules around grief when it isn’t even our journey?

Recent research into how we grieve has moved quite profoundly from the old notion of doing ‘stages of grief’ (Elizabeth Kubler-Ross), to a more dynamic notion where the person who is grieving interacts with the loss experience. People move between their overwhelming loss and the new life they must attend to, oscillating between the two (M.S.Stoebe & Shut 1999). Their task is not so much to ‘let go’ or to ‘move on,’ as it is to work out a way to interact with their loved one even though they are physically absent. We can ‘move with’ rather than ‘moving on’ from grief and the relationship with the person we grieve (Klass, Silverman & Nickman 1996).

After all, there is no right or wrong way to grieve – we just do the best we know how at the time, forging a different, but no less significant connection, with the deceased while at the same time, continuing the task of living and forming new attachments. That is what Sam Ludbey is doing, as we all must do when confronted by our own great loss.

Are you grieving a loss? Do you know someone who is grieving a loss and you don’t know how to help them? Talking to a Counselling Professional about your experience in a safe and nurturing space may be the support you need to navigate your grief experience. For a FREE 10 minute consultation as to how we can help you, ring Colleen on 0434 337 245 or Duncan on 0434 331 243 or press book now to book on the online diary.

Coping With Grief

Grief is such a personal experience and yet at the same time, it is a part of the fabric of our human experience. Can you remember some of the losses you experienced as a child? One of my most significant childhood losses was that of my ‘best friend' Patsy. Patsy and I had been constant companions throughout the first 8 years of my life: kindergarten, sunday school, primary school, Birthday parties. Patsy's grandparents were our next door neighbours, where I spent many happy hours at play. When I was 8 years of age, my parents made the decision to relocate to Melbourne. It was a very exciting time as I anticipated this ‘new beginning' but it was also a very sad time, having to say goodbye to my best friend. The grief I felt at the loss of my beloved friend remained a constant ache throughout the latter years of my childhood, adolescence and even my adult years. Grief has its' own life. No one else can tell you how your grief ought to look or the length of time grief should take. Yet it happens!

In this 8 minute video presentation, I talk about loss and the messages we receive about how to grieve – well meaning as these message are meant to be, they are not always helpful or even accurate. You are the expert on your own grief. It is my belief that when we learn to grieve well, we become stronger, wiser individuals.

I invite you to tap on this link to view an 8 minute video presentation on the potential of grief to make you a better person in the world.

https://docs.google.com/file/d/0B_8W07_1EjZiRVBYR2JvdEcydzA/preview?pli=1

 

If you feel stuck in your personal grief or simply feel the need to talk, you can contact Colleen on 0434337245 or go to her online diary at www.watersedgecounselling.com

Coping With The Impending Grief And Loss Of Your Parent

The grief that is attached to  watching your parents age can be  confronting and painful. You experience grief as you observe their ever-diminishing capacity to function as they once did.

There is a grief for both you and your parent as you each become increasingly aware of the losses and the inevitability of death. You become more aware of your own mortality and the passing of time. This brings up feelings attached to unresolved issues, the discomfit of your parent become increasingly reliant upon you, perhaps a parents resistance to giving up their independence. It is a difficult and painful life transition that refuses to be ignored .

Here are 5 tips that can help you cope with the experience of impending grief and loss of your parent:

 

1. STAY CONNECTED

Listen to your parents stories. Frequently, as we age , we have a need to talk about past memories. For your parent, this may be their way of forming a cohesive narrative of their life, allowing them to come to terms with that which they had previously been unable to do. Having someone to bare ‘witness' to it can give meaning and closure to their life journey. If you find it difficult to connect with your parent, think about some of their stories and the significant acheivements, interests or themes and ask yourself how you could use that to build a bridge between the two of you. For instance, one friend of mine decided to take a day-trip  to  visit the town where her now invalid father once designed and made trucks. The original trucks were  still on display and so she decided to take her camera and create a photographic record as a special gift to her father.

2. RESPECT THE WAY THAT YOUR PARENT WANTS TO DEAL WITH THEIR IMPENDING DEATH

It is natural that you want to talk with your parent about their death but they may not feel the same way. Your parent will deal with their impending death in a way that is right and most comfortable for them.Be aware that the frustration you may feel about your loved one not wanting to talk about their death is about your need, not theirs.

 3. BE AWARE OF HOW YOU ARE RELATING TO YOUR PARENT

Times of family crisis, marked by a heightened emotionality, inevitably invite us to revert to former childhood patterns of interaction with our parent. What feelings are triggered by the interaction you have with your aged parent? Frustration, anger, fear, anxiety, sadness? Chances are they are familiar feelings that you experienced as a child.How do you deal with them? Recognize that you have the power to change your response to your parent. What would you Iike that relationship to look like? How would you respond to your parent if you responded from an adult position? Do you need to be firm about what you can and can' t do?

4. LOOK AFTER YOURSELF

Be mindful of your own self care. People frequently hold the false belief that a good son or daughter must be entirely attentive to their diminishing parent's needs. Feelings of guilt can have the effect of being ‘overly responsible' for your parents care and well-being, which in turn can leave you feeling exhausted and resentful. Making time for yourself to do the things that keep you energized and balanced needs to be a personal priority. If you neglect your own needs, you will swiftly become overwhelmed by the physical and emotional demands that caring for your parent requires.

 5. FIND SOMEONE TO TALK TO ABOUT YOUR EXPERIENCE

Grief can have the effect of leaving you feeling needy and emotionally vulnerable. If you feel like that, talk to someone you trust who will listen and validate the feelings you experience.Talking allows you to identify what you are feeling and to process the feelings. Be honest about your relationship with your parent- do you have feelings of guilt, anger, bitterness or resentment? Put them out there. Denying our experience becomes a toxin that  ignored, floods our emotive state and hampers the grieving process. Grief is an emotional roller coaster so remember to be kind to yourself and accept that what you feel is okay and part of the experience of acknowledging a significant loss.

For more articles on grief and loss, see ‘8 Faces of Grief'  by Colleen Morris at http://psychcentral.com/blog/archives/2013/08/05/8-faces-of-grief/

If you want to grow, experience wellness and reach toward your full potential then here’s what you need to do contact me on 0434 337 245 for a FREE 10-minute phone consultation on how I can best help you.