Psychotherapists refer to the process a bereaved person will encounter as “grief work.” This is because the process is not one that just happens to you, or that will be healed only with time. “Grief work” means tackling some very difficult emotional tasks. Those families who work through these tasks do eventually experience relief from the intense pain. It has been said that there is no way around grief. You must go through it in order to come out of it. Working through your grief can take many, many months or years and only begins once a funeral has been laid with victoriafunerals.com.au
- Accepting the reality of loss.
When a loved one dies, people often experience a sense that it isn’t true. The first task of grieving is to come to the realization that this person is gone, and that reuniting with him or her, at least in this life, will not happen. Some families tell us they sense their loved one’s presence through sound, sight, smell or touch. Whether or not these experiences are “real” is a matter of belief. However, they are common and not a sign that one is “going crazy”.
- Working through the pain of grief.
One of the goals of grief counselors is to help people through this difficult time, so that they do not carry their deep pain with them throughout their entire life. Those people who allow themselves to feel and work through the deep pain find that the pain lessens. Some things may prevent this experience. Friends, relatives, and co-workers may give subtle or not so subtle messages to “pick yourself up and go on” as if nothing has happened. Or, sometimes family members cut off their feelings and deny that pain is present. Allow yourself the time to cry or to be angry. Many people find these feelings appear while going through their daily routines such as grocery shopping or driving to work. Know that these experiences, though very hard, are normal.
- Adjusting to an environment in which your loved one is no longer present
Your loved one had a special place in your heart and in your family. They can never be replaced. But bereaved families can eventually adjust to the absence of a loved one. This process might involve finding new ways of interacting with your surviving family members and friends.
- Withdrawing emotional energy and reinvesting it in other relationships
Many people misunderstand this task and believe it means forgetting about their loved one. They believe that this would be dishonoring their loved one’s memory. This task is simply a continuation of the first three tasks. It involves the process of allowing yourself to make relationships with others. It does not mean that you care any less about your loved one or that you will not keep your special memories.
- Rebuilding faith, beliefs and values that are tested by the loss of a loved one.
The loss of a loved one can test your faith and philosophical views of life. Talking with a spiritual leader or advisor such as a rabbi, priest, minister or holy person may be helpful since they have experience counseling others who have experienced a loss. Many bereaved families, whom we have known over several years, can remember their loved one and smile. Sometimes there is still sadness, though it does not come as often and is not as draining.
Over time and through these “tasks”, you will begin to remember your loved one without experiencing the unbearable pain. It will be a different kind of sadness. Do not hesitate to seek professional help. Counsellors are trained to assist you in working through these tasks and other issues you may be facing. It is okay to ask for one session with a therapist to see if you both will be able to work together.