Loss comes in many different forms. Some losses are easier to recognise, such as the death of a loved one, the loss of a relationship through breakdown or divorce, the loss of a home, country, job, status, finances or health.
Other losses may be less easy to recognise, such as the loss of a sense of self (low self-esteem), the loss of hopes and dreams.
When we experience loss it is crucial that we grieve
With some losses, such as a death there are rituals to be undertaken with family and friends hopefully on hand to support and comfort. Society is understanding and accepting of such grief, although that does not make the pain, despair and sorrow any less.
There is also disenfranchised grief – this is where society possibly does not recognise our grief or we feel ashamed or embarrassed to talk about it. What feelings accompany the loss of our job, our home our finances? Do other people support and comfort or reject, judge or abandon us? What feelings accompany the tragedy of miscarriage or stillborn? Being told the baby was not viable as it was not carried for a certain number of weeks can be devastating. Does society fail to recognise these forms of losses making us feel we cannot express how devastated and grieving we feel.
This statue is called "Emptiness" and was created by a grieving parent. It describes how a parent feels after losing a child.
Grief is a natural part of loss. Sometimes we wail and cry and sometimes we feel unable to feel. Sometime we suppress or repress our feelings – perhaps because we want to ‘be strong’, ‘not upset other people’ or because we think it is ‘weak to show emotions’.
Sometimes feelings become somatic and manifest in our bodies – a knot in our stomach, tension headaches, tightness in our chest, sweaty palms, palpatations, irritable bowel.
The reality is that in order for us to move through the grief process we need to firstly acknowledge it in order to connect with what we are feeling, be that sadness, anger, overwhelm, anxiety, guilt, frightened, numbness, shock or possible something else. Sometimes we are not even aware of our feelings until we begin to talk. We need time and space to become aware of our feelings, and gain insight into what may have triggered hidden feelings. By gaining an understanding and processing our thoughts and feelings enables us to think more clearly as we work towards a new beginning and the changes that this will involve. Counselling provides a safe and confidential space where you can express and explore your feelings, good and bad without judgement. A space where you can be heard and listened to without the fear of upsetting someone or feeling a burden or a fraud. It provides a space for you to find a sense of yourself as you begin to move beyond the loss.
The weight of grief.........The artist 'Celeste Roberge' conveys the feelings of grief in a 4000 lb structure.