When we lose a loved one we can often feel very alone. This is especially true for young people whose peer group find it difficult to relate to their loss. Grief is a very different experience from anything else you may have encountered in your life and lack of support and not having someone understand what you are going through, seems to make everything worse.
A client once told me that when she lost her sister she was told by a friend who had also had a loss, “Welcome to the club”. Someone who has not lost anyone cannot imagine what it’s like, while someone who has, is going to have to live with that loss forever. She told me that there is definitely a feeling of relief at finally being understood when speaking to someone who has also experienced grief.
Sara* lost her father when she was 29. She had young children and her family lived abroad. She was a stay at home mother who was very busy with her children. She naturally found herself becoming more and more isolated, as she just stayed at home with her kids and rarely left the house. None of her friends had ever lost anyone and she didn’t want to burden them with her heavy feelings, and if when she tried, they just didn’t understand her. Despite being surrounded by friends, Sara was all alone and had no one to talk to. She was becoming depressed and losing her ability to function properly. The slightest mishap would make her snappy and tearful and she began to experience awful headaches. But the worst was how impatient she was now with her children. Sara knew she was in a downward spiral, but she had the strength to know that she had to break out if it, and so, she gave me a call.
We discovered that Sara kept pushing all her sad feelings away so that she could be “happy” for her children. She was denying her feelings and refusing to express them. But this made her much worse. Her emotions would eventually force their way out. This explained her sudden mood swings, her headaches and her impatience. Pushing away her feelings had drained her of all her energy.
Sara and I worked on trying to change her focus, on giving herself time to herself, giving her permission to think about her father, and finding some “alone” time. Once she allowed herself to feel sad and to giver herself time to grieve, she was able to be more “present” with her children.
Sara also talked about the fact that she didn’t know how she was supposed to feel or behave. Sometimes she was happy and laughing with her children and then suddenly she would feel terribly guilty – how could she be happy when she had lost her father! We worked through the grieving process. When we grieve, we go through every emotion and however we feel at any specific moment is how we are supposed to feel. There is no right or wrong way of feeling – the important thing is just to let yourself feel these emotions. Sometimes we think it is easier to push away our sad feelings but in reality this takes up much more energy.
Slowly but surely, Sara began to feel a little stronger. She allowed herself to sometimes feel sad and weepy and sometimes to feel fine and happy. Most importantly she began to grieve for her father in a healthy and meaningful manner. She was happier, had more patience with her children and was feeling relief from her headaches.
If you have experienced a loss and need help to grieve healthily, give me a call for a free first consultation Life Coach Helen Abelesz 0544829815.
*Not her real name and all identifying features have been changed.