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Making sense of loss and grief



Just at the moment, many of us are in a state of pronounced grief.  We have embarked on a massive change, and any change brings loss.  Even those who welcomed the referendum result will still be adjusting to change and the prospect of living in a very different world.

From a therapeutic point of view, thinking about Kubler Ross’s ideas of how we work through grief is helpful.  The diagram shows it as a wave, but it isn’t a linear process, and  it is often shown with stages in different orders, but the important point is that all stages are necessary.  And they take time.

When we are faced with loss, whether unexpected, or anticipated, as when terminally ill loved one dies, there is always an element of shock and denial.  To feel a mix of feelings, or none at all is entirely normal.  As the confusion and denial passes, we start to feel angry, and this anger is important.  People who can get angry and express these feelings when faced with bereavement often process their grief more effectively.  When we find it hard to get angry or turn this anger internally, we may well get stuck longer with unprocessed grief.

The important thing about depression after loss is that it is normal.  It is our wholly human response as we feel great sadness.  The colour goes out of our world, our energy diminishes, and we lose interest in our surroundings for a while as we process the feelings inside.  It isn’t a permanent state, even if it can feel endless. These feelings will pass.

 Much of our work at Solace is about helping people to find some meaning in the losses and trauma they have experienced, to help people tell their story, and to re-emerge as human beings who have suffered greatly, experiences unimaginable losses and who can, accepting all this, live their lives fully.  Over a week on from the referendum, many of us still find it hard to talk about very much else.  This bargaining phase is all about trying to make some sense of it all.

 Acceptance in the case of the referendum result will mean different things to different people.  For some, it means literally accepting the result and getting down to making a success of where we are. Theresa May appears to be doing this!  For others it may well mean finding new energy to stopping Brexit happening (such as the recent growth in the Lib Dems and the Green Party).

 This blog isn’t about politics, but is intended to be helpful in understanding how we might be feeling, and to put our feelings into the context of a very natural process.  A process that we experience every time we lose somebody,  or make a major change in our lives, planned or unplanned.

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