Anna Fowke Counselling
Grief and loss therapy
What is grief? We tend to think that grief and loss happen when someone dies, but I invite you to widen that thought. Maybe life is actually a series of losses of different sizes and types as we progress through life. Don't we lose our childhood as we enter adulthood, leave school, start university or enter a work world? At times we lose friend groups and social circles. We lose roles at different times in our life too. Retirement is the loss of our job or career—the loss of our full-time parenting role when our children leave home. Even the difference between parenting a primary school child and a secondary school child is a loss in a way. Each of these losses can cause pain ,as can the loss of a loved one or a loved pet. Sometimes these losses shatter our assumptive world - how we thought things would be. That shattering can mean we question everything around us and lose trust in our ability to live. At times if the loss is very sudden or very traumatic, it can cause very complex grief and we may need support to deal with it. However often times we live with our grief in a stoic way and it isn't until later that we realise it is affecting us in uncomfortable ways.
The Australian Centre for Grief and Bereavement has many great resources which may help support you or be of interest to you or any one who is experiencing grief or supporting someone experiencing grief. There are many stereotyped ideas floating around about how grief should be. Grief can be as varied in its presentation as we are varied as human beings. It is important not to have expectations of stages or recovery times. It is much more helpful to think of three things and these are;1) self-compassion 2) how day to day living is being affected and 3) how we can process the pain of loss and maintain a healthy connnection with the person or role or thing we have lost.
Often our ability to function and reintegrate back into our day-to-day life is affected, and we may need support to do so. This is an important part of grief therapy. Looking at who we are after the loss and how it affected us helps us re-emerge. Also we need to process the grief and learn to face those waves of pain which may at first crash upon us like huge, fierce walls of water throwing us onto the sea bed and scratching us along the sand, leaving us gasping and spluttering, with sea water burning the back of our noses. These waves will pass, but at first, they may crash every five minutes and feel insurmountable. When you are feeling like this you need support to take tiny forward facing steps and practical steps to keep yourself going. These may include eating, hydrating, sleeping and keeping yourself clean and communicative. It can be as basic as that. Slowly those waves seem to have more time in between each one and you can breathe a little in between and think of re entering your life in tiny ways. As time passes the waves may change in intensity or timing. Helpful therapy should help you to process the pain and overwhelm until it reaches a bearable stage. The aim is not to forget but to be able to have memories and triggers without feeling like that huge wage just crashed you to the sand again.
The grief I am talking about above may not be the type you experience because there are so many variables, you may experience a slow sadness and realisation of loss as you ease into a life transition or leave a relationship. This too is grief and the same process can help. So much of our progress through life is affected by gfrief, big loud grief and slow sad quiet grief and everything in between. By speaking with a good therapist or counsellor we can start to understand what we are experiencing and find helpful ways to feel better and to remember in healthy and comfortable ways.
As a PACFA registered counsellor and therapist I am well placed to support you in your particular situation if you feel we might work well together. I believe your story is important and deserves deep listening and support. I want you to move forward and breathe. If I can help please reach out here.