SPECIALIST COUNSEL SUPPORTS THE GRIEVING
TODAY we experience constant change and encounter loss throughout our lifespan in our western culture. Grief and loss can arrive at any time, “it seems as if all our lives we are trying to cope with loss – either the fear of it, or the memory of it, or its raw immediate presence”.
In one’s lifetime we may experience a primary loss of a parent or sibling, or a specific traumatic event, losses such as abortion, divorce, imprisonment, health or unemployment can cause subtle changes in an individual’s lifestyle and cause secondary loss of friends, homes, jobs and pets.
We begin to grieve the loss of the person as well as the loss of ‘life before the loss’. For most, the ability to process the sadness of loss usually occurs quite naturally but for some, grieving can cause us to become stuck as we are confronted by lost expectations that a once difficult relationship may be repaired.
I experienced this all too painfully when my own father passed away suddenly in January 2018 – diagnosed with bile duct cancer, he died just ten days later. As I sorted through the belongings of this man I loved, anger became my strongest emotion during this time and I understood it was due to the realisation that my relationship would never become what I desired it to be. He was gone – and so was the possibility of our relationship being repaired.
Complex grief is when grieving becomes unhealthy and can cause great distress to us. Researchers, such as Parkes, Bowlby, & Sanders (2008), divide the grieving process into four to five phases including numbness, yearning, anger, disorganisation and despair, emotional acceptance and finally reorganisation where the individual begins to pull their life back together.
Insight into developmental stages will enable a counsellor to offer age-appropriate treatment responses for someone seeking assistance while grieving. If you are experiencing difficulties arising from a recent loss, please seek help from our counselling service as it is never too late to begin a healing journey.
Michelle Govan, Counsellor / Psychotherapist at Kansha Natural Therapies
- Masters of Counselling
- Bachelor of Education
- Member of the Australian Counselling Association
- Trainer and Assessor for students studying in the Diploma of Counselling and group facilitator