I recently met the inspirational Geraldine Mace, who specialises in supporting people through grief. My instant assumption was that grief was solely associated with bereavement. But over a coffee, I learnt a lot more, and Geraldine kindly offered to write a guest blog for Social Vision covering some of the common misconceptions and signs to look out for…
The Many Faces of Grief
Recently I gave a talk about grief to a local group. At the end of the talk I was approached by a lady who told me that she had never associated the painful emotions she felt after her divorce as being grief. Listening to the information I shared during my presentation, she now recognised that she had felt a huge amount of grief following the end of her relationship. This isn’t the first time that I have heard a story like this. Quite often people only associate grief with someone having died. The reality is that there are over 40 life events that can be sources of grief.
Every change that we encounter can bring about feelings of grief. Have you ever had a family relationship that became estranged? Lost a much loved pet? Lost trust in someone? Retired or was made redundant? Diagnosed with a long term health condition? The likelihood is that you may have had a grief reaction and not realised what it was.
The English Dictionary defines grief as: intense sorrow, especially caused by someone’s death. Having worked with grieving people for several years now, my favourite definition of grief is from the Grief Recovery Handbook which states: ‘Grief is the conflicting feelings caused by the end of or change in a familiar pattern of behaviour’.
Can you relate to any of these?
Feeling a sense of relief when an unfulfilling friendship ends but at the same time really missing parts of the relationship that you enjoyed
Being excited having moved to a new house or to a new area but at the same time missing your old friends and the place you used to live
Realising the dream of moving in with a new partner but at the same time having to adjust to someone else living in the same space as you do
Are you surprised at any of these? Grief can be caused by many different types of loss but quite often we just don’t recognise them as grief.
There are other clues that we may be dealing with grief: only seeing the good or bad in a lost relationship; being unwilling to talk about a loss; or you may experience fear when you think about the person or relationship. In addition you may feel angry a lot of the time, you may be eating or drinking more in an attempt to block out the pain. It may be that even though everything in your life is currently fine, you just don’t feel as happy as you would like to.
Is recovery possible?
Many people believe that you can never get over a loss, particularly the death of a loved one. Our society is ill equipped to deal with grief and as a result it is not spoken about openly. As children we aren’t taught the tools that can help us work through our grief. As a Certified Grief Recovery Specialist I teach clients an evidence based programme which equips them with the tools to take action and move beyond the pain of loss. I teach in groups or one to one.
If you would like to know more contact me on 07707 644445 or email firstname.lastname@example.org and we can have a chat.