Grief, loss and bereavement
“To hold, you must first open your hand. Let go.”
– Tao Te Ching
Death. It sounds so harsh and final and yet it is inevitable and a natural occurrence. Losing someone at any age is difficult to process and grasp. But grief is not limited to the death of a loved one, it can occur when we lose something or someone of importance, for example the end of a relationship, a divorce, redundancy, retirement, or even the end of a personal aspiration..
We help you move through the stages of loss and give you a safe place to express difficult feelings. We aim to support you as you adjust to a new sense of self, however long that takes. Many physical symptoms can arise when grieving (e.g. sleeping issues, exhaustion, loss of appetite, and changes in your hormones.) We can recommend potent herbs and natural supplements to help nourish your body and nervous system during this difficult time. Restorative therapies, such as acupuncture or osteopathy are also available and can help rebalance your energy.
There is no set pathway for grief but there are signs and symptoms that typical correspond with the stages of grief you may be in.
Common signs and symptoms of grief include but not limited to: Mental and emotional reactions can include denial, shock, numbness, anger, appreciation, guilt, sadness, emptiness, despair, irritability, moodiness, worthlessness and isolation. And for many, in time gratitude and acceptance. Physical reactions can include fatigue, sleeping problems, changes in the adrenal and hormonal system, changes in appetite, weight loss or weight gain, increased consumption of alcohol and illness, panic attacks, intense anxiety, unpredictable crying Social reactions can include, withdrawal from others, seeking isolation; added pressure and responsibilities to take care of others in the family; mixed or conflicting feelings about seeing family and friends, or worries about returning to work. The process of grieving and bereavement can vary considerably from one person to the next depending on the circumstances and the person’s age, relationship background, and culture. For example, many western cultures display death denying traits, other cultures have specific rituals and taboos. Social norms also differ between showing emotion, how much to involve children, and whether to include or exclude ex-spouses or partners.
Grief is the natural response to loss:
- Death of a loved one. (Bereavement is not restricted to the death of a person, it can include the passing of a pet.)
- Divorce, or the end of a significant relationship
- Job loss
- Miscarriage or still birth
- Retirement (the loss of identity and reliable income)
- Aging (loss of physical strength and health)
- Disability from an illness or severe accident
- Onset of a chronic or terminal illness
Counselling aims to support you - in your own time - to piece together your “new” life and sense of purpose. IMI counsellors and psychologists can help guide you through this difficult period in your life, by helping you with the following:
- understanding your mourning process - not asking you to fit into a theoretical model
- respectfully exploring and expressing your feelings and your relevant personal history
- exploring and developing areas that resource you (see below) and bringing awareness to those that hold you back
- addressing any issues of anxiety, depression or suicidal thoughts
- adjusting to life beyond your loss, coming to terms with the absence of a family member, partner, close friend or companion who had felt central to your life
- moving towards developing a new sense of self and acceptance.
We also seek to support you by helping you to identify and develop activities and habits that make you feel better, such as:
- physical activities such as walking or swimming; taking rests rather than pushing yourself when you are tired; enjoying a nutritious diet, even if your appetite is low; establishing a supportive sleep schedule if you are having difficulty sleeping; and reducing your consumption of alcohol if that is a problem.
- emotional activities such as beginning counselling or practicing self-care and self-compassion;
- spiritual such as reconnecting to a sense of meaning and purpose, and, depending on your practising faith and beliefs, practising prayer, and mindfulness/meditation
- social, such as talking to close friends, connecting with people who have experienced something similar or joining a group activity.
IMI seeks to provide a safe, confidential, person centred, ethical and professional space and holding for all its clients.
Nutritional, herbal and homeopathic support:
Taking care of your physiology will give you support whilst you move through the grieving process. Potent herbal medicine can be prescribed to give support for the adrenals and nervous system, as well as for help with sleep and overall stress. Though your appetite may be low, eating some of the right foods can nourish your system and even support your mental state during this time. Many people also respond well to carefully prescribed homeopathic remedies – tailored for your personal constitution and the way that you respond to grief and loss.
Acupuncture, Osteopathy and Craniosacral:
Acupuncture can be used not only to treat specific conditions (e.g. back pains, tension headaches and migraines) but it can also be used to treat people who feel “unwell” in themselves, with low energy without necessary showing any obvious physical symptoms. The principle aim of traditional Chinese acupuncture is to recover the balance between the physical, emotion, and spiritual aspect of the individual, which can be unbalanced by a number of factors (i.e. grief.) Acupuncture aims to stimulate the body’s own healing process.
Our Osteopaths are well-placed to help relieve tension and distress which can build up during the grieving process. While they treat a number of health conditions (e.g. back pains, neck pains, arthritis, sports injuries) they can also help conditions that aren’t directly related to the muscles, bones and joints, such as grief. Treatment is hands-on and involves stretching, gentle pressure, and resistance, and massage – and helps assist your body back to a state of balance.
Craniosacral therapy is a nurturing, relaxing and healing form of therapy. Some people find this can be really nourishing - offering much needed comfort and gentle re-balancing for your system at such times of stress.