Grief is a normal and natural emotional reaction to loss or change of any kind. Grief is the conflicting feelings caused by the end of or change in a familiar pattern of behavior. Grief produces a sense of deep sorrow, suffering or distress. But grief isn’t just about losing someone you loved in death. It also relates to the end in a marriage or relationship, moving from a longtime home you lived in to a new one, experiencing the loss of a meaningful job or going into retirement, a major health change, the empty nest syndrome that typically mothers experience when their children have left home, even the end of a drug addiction for many addicts.
Sometimes families or friends make grieving even more difficult, by trying to protect you from your sadness. You can receive mixed messages such as don’t cry, replace the loss, grieve alone, just give it time, be strong for others, keep busy. But, what we all need to know is that there is no right or wrong way to grieve. The point to remember is to allow yourself to grieve in a way that brings you a sense of clarity and peace in your feelings and thoughts regarding your losses.
The theory of five stages of grief developed by Kubler-Ross, is intended to explain the process of grieving. Although not necessarily presented as a linear process, it is suggested that many people go through some experience of feeling denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance.
In many ways I have worked with clients in my psychotherapy practice who have experienced grief and loss. I have found it very rewarding to play a role in being a respectful and empathetic witness to those who are grieving. What I know is that foremost my clients need to believe that I care enough to be present in their pain. They also want to know that I will help them make sense of their loss the way that they chose to do so.