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ELAINE BOND: Tips for dealing with grief and loss


This is a subject which is very close to my heart at the moment as I lost someone I was very close to only a month or so ago. So, I thought I would share with you what grief does to us.

Whenever we lose someone, a relationship, a pet or even a job, we feel loss. So anything from losing a close family member to redundancy starts a whole host of emotions and sometimes even physical reactions.

So what are the emotions that loss causes? In no particular order they can be:-

  • Shock – What do I do?  Who do I tell? What just happened? We can stop functioning properly and become inert and allow others to take over, which is something we may regret or feel guilty about.
  • Disbelief – What am I going to do without them? How can life ever be the same again? Why did that happen?
  • Searching – Going out to look for the person, seeing them in crowds, talking to photos and hanging round where they used to be. The mind is constantly searching for them as it cannot accept that they have gone.
  • Numbness – Death/loss does not feel real or denying the loss or the emotions that we are feeling at that time. Do you ever wonder why some people don’t cry at funerals – this can be what’s happening to them. The mind is trying to protect us from the pain it know we have to feel.
  • Anguish and pining –The period of real mourning and longing for them to come back starts here. We look at what we ‘should’ have done and said constantly, so this where the guilt and regret set in. Physical symptoms appear now and the feeling of ‘going mad’ can set in.
  • Anger – At the person we lost, the whole world, those involved in our loss and ourselves. This leads us to internalise the anger which in turn makes us depressed, or we rage at people around us. This is the stage that scares us the most as we have sometimes have never been depressed before or we are scared at the strength of our anger. Often we visit the GP at this point.
  • Despair – Once it sinks in that they are not coming back, a powerful and empty feeling overcomes us and then we simply don’t see the point of carrying on without them. This often has a negative effect on our relationships.
  • Guilt – We are still alive and they’re not – all the things we could have done come back to us again and again. We question why we are alive and they aren’t.
  • Sadness – This can lead to depression especially if our anger remains unexpressed and internalised.
  • Fear – We get scared of dying ourselves or fear the loss of other close relative/partner/friend.
  • Relief – The loss comes as a relief for us or for who we lost and it’s over now. But this often leads to guilt.

These stages do not happen in the order listed. We have to experience every one and we often go back to each stage several times. We never let go of the deceased, we all change after loss and we have to accommodate the loss into our lives. This differs from person to person so some of us may visit a grave or set up a memorial, whilst others simply have a photo of them at home as a reminder. However you accept the loss in to your life is ok so long as you do.

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The depth of our emotions caused by loss will often cause us to become physically ill, especially if we don’t express or accept them. Some of the things we may suffer from are –

  • Tiredness and exhaustion that cannot be cured by any amount of sleep and rest
  • Aches and pains like backache, rib-ache, headache, chest pains that feel like a tightening around the lungs
  • Issues with food (too much or too little)
  • Insomnia
  • Inability to concentrate
  • Panic attacks

We all differ with how loss affects us but William Worden came up with the four things we have to do to get through a major loss.

  1. Accept the loss and its reality. – Make death real.  We have face up to the fact we have lost someone/thing, especially with death, as there can be no return. Funerals and rituals help us here as they make us say goodbye.
  2. Feel the pain – When the intensity of the loss hits us we have to feel it. We can get stuck here as others interrupt us because they want to cheer us up and move us forward because they can’t cope with our grief. We need to be determined to grieve, because if we don’t the next loss will devastate us as it will add to the unexpressed grief.
  3. Adjust to life as it is now- This may mean doing things we let someone else do for us and asking for help from outside of our normal support mechanisms.
  4. Accommodation of the death – We have to accept the loss and move on with life. We can feel guilty because we think that if we don’t feel down we simply didn’t love them enough.

So what can we do to make this easier? The first thing is self- care, eat properly, get plenty of rest and take some gentle exercise. We have to be kind to ourselves.

We have to find a way to relax – meditation, mindfulness or relaxation videos are all available on YouTube. We need to use whatever method works best for us.  We should not make any life changing decisions until we feel ok again, as the whole grief process will influence us.

Sometimes grief makes us lonely especially when the funeral is over. We have to reach out to friends and family for support so that loneliness does not add to the weight of our grief.

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Finally, we must express our grief by crying, yelling or whatever makes us feel better. But if after sometime we haven’t moved on its time to ask for help.

If you feel this affects you counselling can help – give me a call 07769152951 –

CRUSE is a great source of support

You can learn more about Elaine Bond’s counselling service on her Facebook page:

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