Ben Wrigley

Our denial does not kill grief, it merely emboldens it

LelandFuneral

Approx Reading Time-10A sad fact of life is that grief comes to us all. However, due to the naked horror of it, we often shirk it. But this denial comes at its own price.

 

 

What do you think of when you hear the word “grief”?

I’ll take a gamble and guess you thought of grieving the death of a loved one, and yes that is definitely one example. I wonder the death of a loved one is the one time we actually allow ourselves to use the word.

I think that grief deserves to be acknowledged in a much wider context. In fact, as a counsellor/therapist I think grief shows its head in some form or other with most of the clients I meet, regardless of why they came to therapy in the first place.

Can we also grieve the loss of a significant relationship, our youthful looks, the years we lost being unhappy in a job, the safe childhood we never had, the safe childhood we did have, the years we lost making other people happy?

With that in mind, I’ll wager that there is something in your past that was a loss and you haven’t yet grieved. If you are shaking your head, you are one of the few that can process grief well, or you are in denial. And so if you haven’t grieved yet, then what have you done with your feelings of loss? Perhaps you have found a useful “box” to store them in? Perhaps you found a rational argument for why it was a good thing: “He wasn’t good for me anyway”, “It wasn’t mum’s fault, she was depressed”, “I had to take that job to pay the rent”. That sounds like a great pat on the back and a “chin up” you gave yourself and I don’t deny the value of that. Are you also allowed to feel sad and angry and truly experience the loss?

How we manage to process the loss we feel depends on so many factors, but the better prepared we can be in understanding ourselves, the better abled we will be to allow ourselves to grieve, wholly.

Why am I asking you this? Why am I trying to churn things up for you that have been done and dusted? Let sleeping dogs lie!

Because I wonder if you can be kind to yourself.

One thing I have noticed with clients who come to counselling following a bereavement, is that not only are they trying to cope with the tragedy of losing someone, they are also trying to cope with themselves, with their own built-in coping strategy that often leaves no room for self-nurture. “Why am I not crying?”, “I should be over this by now, it’s been x weeks/months/years”, “I’m really worried about [significant other], I don’t think they are coping”.

Everyone will experience the death of a loved one at least once in their lives but probably more. How we manage to process the loss we feel depends on so many factors, but the better prepared we can be in understanding ourselves, the better abled we will be to allow ourselves to grieve, wholly.

Counselling can provide a safe and confidential space where you can explore what makes you who you are today. It can help you identify if and why you block feelings and with that understanding, decide if you want to continue as you have been.

So who killed grief? Well, you did. I wonder if this evening, if you have the time for yourself, you might light a candle. A candle for you, for whatever you have lost and never grieved.

 

Ben Wrigley

Ben Wrigley works in private practice and the NHS as a humanistic counsellor. He is driven to help people in and out of counselling to question why they do, think and feel about themselves and the world in the way that they do. Most of Ben's written work can be found here http://activelistener.co.uk.

Top