Understanding Grief and Loss


Field of Small Yellow Flowers - Counselling for Grief and Loss -Sandra Harewood Counselling


Tragically, the subject of loss has been very present in the collective consciousness this week. When we think of loss we usually do think of death and the loss of a loved one. It can have an overwhelming and painful effect on our lives. But, loss is an inevitable and recurring part of life and it happens in so many different ways. Loss is not just about death.

Here are a few ways you might have experienced loss:

  1. Loss of identity and the sense of who you are in the world. This can happen when a relationship comes to an end, particularly if it has been a long-standing one. You may also question ‘Who am I?’ when you lose a role in life that once defined you or as you navigate transitions such as midlife and reflect on the loss of the younger self.
  2. Loss of health. When this is due to a life-limiting or life-changing illness, the impact can be devastating.
  3. Loss of the authentic personal self as a result of early primal wounding. Alice Miller, in The Drama of Being a Child, argues that this is a loss that most of us have suffered. We lose connection with our core Self To manage the loss you may find yourself adopting coping strategies such as developing a ‘false self’ or ‘survival personality’ or being caught by addictions such as sex, love, drugs or alcohol.
  4. Loss of the family you imagined you would one day have and now find you will not. Infertility, secondary infertility and miscarriage have a shattering effect on people’s lives. Others find themselves frustrated and childless, not out of choice, but because they still haven’t found the right partner; time feels as if it is running out. The list can go on. One loss can impact on another and with loss inevitably comes change.

Healing Through Grief

Any loss may have the same emotional impact on you as the death of a loved one. Bereavement is the term which more specifically refers to the process of recovering from the death of a loved one.

Bereavement is the term which more specifically refers to the process of recovering from the death of a loved one.

Grief is a reaction to any form of loss. Grief is a painful and yet important process. And grief is the way in which you begin to heal from the hurt and loss.

By being compassionate and allowing yourself the space to grieve, it can give you the opportunity to gain a deeper understanding of yourself. It’s perfectly natural to experience feelings of sadness, yearning, loneliness, guilt, regret, despair, fear and anger, amongst others. Some people may experience a sense of meaninglessness, isolation or depression.

You might not have realised it, but some of the symptoms you’ve been experiencing could be the result of losses that you haven’t yet grieved. In Integrative Psychosynthesis we often think about what are the ‘symptoms’ we’re experiencing calling our attention to. Coming into connection with the dark emotions of grief perhaps is the soul’s invitation to connect with your wounds and develop a relationship with a more compassionate and wiser part of yourself.

Everyone’s relationship with grief is unique. There isn’t a ‘right’ way to grieve. It takes time to work through the feelings. What is important is that you come into relationship with the loss and make the time to grieve your feelings. Explore where you can find support whether it beloved ones, drawing on the shared experience of a support group or seeking the help of a counsellor. You don’t have to be alone with your loss.

Over to You.

What losses have you suffered in your life? How did you experience your grief? What beliefs do you have about the feelings of sadness, fear and anger that often accompany loss? I

f you want to explore losses that you have experienced in your life and create the time to grieve get in touch and book your first counselling appointment.

© Sandra Harewood 2017