Bereavement, Loss & Grief

“Grief I have learned is really just love, its the love you want to give and cannot.

All of that unspent love gathers up in the corners of your eyes,
Forms the lump in your throat and is the hollow part of your chest.
Grief is love with nowhere to go"
(Anon.)

Ther are so many ways to feel loss, a loved partner, a child, a miscarriage, a parent, a sibling, best friend, our own health or career; we lose the future we thought we would have had, we lose the part of ourselves that was shared with them, we lose confidence and sometimes hope.

They say that grieving goes through stage; Denial, anger, bargaining and depression prior to acceptance, that these stages can be experienced in any order, as anticipatory grief in the case of terminal illness and as a guide in the months or years that follow loss.

We try so hard to make sense of loss, we may feel anger with medical services, injustice with God or with others that do not share our feelings leaving you feeling isolated and misunderstood.

The pain of heartache is real, the loss of control is real, there can be anger and shame but also there can be nothing but sadness sometimes with regret or guilt.

Coming to terms with a new future withem them is hard, coming to terms with the new you, the person who has lost so much you can never be the same again, being a different person to your family, your friends who may want you to be the person you used to be but, you can't the experience will have changed you, redifined you and it's a new you, one you will need to get to know well.

Copyright © Ros Welch 2020. All rights reserved

Read more about Bereavement

Some of us have had anticipatory grief

…watching a parent deteriorate through illness, seeing a little less of the real them with every visit or a reversal of roles as they need nursing care.

You may have been anticipating the loss of the second parent but the knowledge that with the loss of your final parent you become the older generation can be just one of the issues that brings unexpected feelings from guilt to abandonment.

I have chosen some poignant phrases from two excellent books which may resonate with your own particular situation.

“We may function quite well as an adult but it is not until we lose the last parent that we discover just how close to the surface the child within has been lurking”(JB)

Of all the relationships we experience, our relationship with our parents is the first significant one.

“Our parents values and their experiences are tightly bound into our lifes history tangled with threads that we weave for ourselves as our individual character evolves”(JB)

When you lose your last parent you lose a significant link to the past, to your own history, a disconnection with ancestry….a shield between death and us, we have become the older generation.

As long as one parent is alive you can still be the child but, when they are gone its like…shit; I have to do this myself!

“With that death you can no longer alter the relationship, change what they thought of you, win their approval”(JB)

“No-one to disapprove or disagree but no-one to applaud or be there for support”(JB)

With each death that we experience we learn that no bereavement is isolated, each death evokes renewed grieving for previous loss.

The death of the last parent in particular often reactivates mourning for the first parental loss.

We often do not properly mourn the first parent as we are so pre-occupied with the surviving parent. It is not always obvious which parent we are mourning when the last one dies.

EXTRA COMPLICATIONS

If the parents gave extra support to the ‘child’ in adulthood, following a divorce or through addictions, the loss may be more difficult to manage.

Guilt may be felt if the ‘child’ does not believe that the care they gave their parents in later years equalled the care that they were given in their childhood”(JB)

A difficult relationship with one or both parents may cause feelings of anger or rage, that there is no time left for apologies or explanations.

“Life is unfair. Death is unfair. Anger is a natural reaction to the unfairness of loss. Unfortunately anger can isolate you from friends and family at the precise time you may need them most” (KR)

Loss changes us, we cannot go back to who we were, we must get used to the new reality

“Acceptance is not about liking a situation. It is about acknowledging all that has been lost and learning to live with that loss”(KR)

The grieving process is helped by getting to know our parents as individuals; to see them as products of their own upbringing and life experience, it allows us to think of them gently.

It is about exploring the changes that this loss has made, the impact on you, your family, your finances, accepting the change.

It is recalling both unpleasant and meaningful memories, internalising them so that the ‘child’ can move on.

“Acceptance is a process that we experience, not a final stage with an end point”(KR)

References

REFERENCES:

(KR) – Elisabeth Kubler-Ross ‘On Grief & Greiving’ 2005 Simon & Schuster.
(JB) – Jane Brooks ‘Midlife Orphan’ 1999 Berkely

If you have suffered a bereavement and are seeking counselling or psychotherapy in the Aylesbury area, please feel free to call me to discuss a possible initial appointment on 07900 580 300.

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