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.
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, 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
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.
Counselling and psychotherapy:
We aim to support you - in your own time - to piece together your “new” life and sense of purpose. Our counsellors and psychologists can help you:
- understand 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 and bringing awareness to those that hold you back
- addressing 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 identify activities and habits that make you feel better, like:
- physical activities; 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; and reducing consumption of alcohol if that is a problem.
- practicing self-care and self-compassion.
- reconnecting to a sense of meaning and purpose; depending on your beliefs, practising prayer, and mindfulness/meditation
- talking to close friends, connecting with people who have experienced something similar or joining a group activity.
Nutritional, herbal and homeopathic support:
Herbal medicine can support your nervous system and stress response, as well as help with sleep.
Though your appetite may be low, eating some of the right foods can support your mental state. 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 to treat people who feel low emotionally and energetically. Studies show it can support those with anxiety and depression.
Our Osteopaths can relieve tension and distress which can build up during the grieving process. While they treat a number of physical health conditions they can also help address the emotional.
Treatment is hands-on and involves stretching, gentle pressure, and resistance, and massage – assisting your body back to a state of balance.
Craniosacral therapy is a nurturing, relaxing and healing therapy, providing much needed comfort.