Grief & Loss
Is your sadness so deep that you lose sleep in fear that you will be alone forever?
Do you feel stifled in your ability to grieve and move forward?
Are those who were once supportive now moved back into their own lives and left you alone with your pain?
Loss happens in everyday life. We can’t stop it nor can we ignore it. From infancy through death we lose things. In her synopsis of psychoanalytic theory in 1986, Judith Viorst wrote, as her thesis in Necessary Losses, that in order to grow we must confront and accept our losses.
There are times when we are supposed to have loss and times when loss is unexpected and unwelcomed. We are intended to lose our parents and grandparents; we are not expected to lose our children. We are supposed to lose our childhood and our adolescence and stages as we proceed through the lifespan; we are not expected to lose our breasts or our myelin. We are, in many cases, intended to have children; we aren’t supposed to have miscarriages. With each passage, there is a crisis: that is, we emerge differently than when we entered—there is growth.
With loss that follows the natural order, the grief is typically easier; for loss that is outside of the logical sequence, the process is more complicated. These latter losses might include the loss of a child, typically the most complicated, or that of a loved one, spouse or family member through illness, suicide or catastrophe; the tragic loss of a home or a secure job, or major financial or relationship loss via betrayal. Expected losses include those parts of ourselves that we lose as we emerge throughout the lifecycle, losing our youth, our singlehood or our elasticity and resilience. There are good crises as well; becoming a parent replaces the solitude of the couple and creates new identities for those involved.
With loss, we grieve. This involves reconciliation—a letting-go and moving through life with a new reality and without the prior connection or relationship. Grief can take may forms, but most common are the instrumental grievers, those that keep moving and involve themselves in projects or activities, the intuitive grievers, those that show heightened emotion and address the meaning of life, or a blending of the two. Grief can lead to resilience and growth or, alternatively, to serious psychological issues.
Although there is no right or wrong way to experience and process loss, there are variables that make it easier and those that make grieving more difficult. Factors that help organize our grief experience include, but are not limited to, the nature of the death event, the qualitative aspect of our relationship with our loved one during our lifetime and at the time just prior to their departure, pre-existing emotional conditions, unhealed wounds from developmental trauma(link to trauma page), attachment style and available supports, changes to our own lifestyle and, in the end, how much our ego can handle.
Bereavement is not a linear process. The 5 stages of grief, first identified by Elisabeth Kubler-Ross—denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance—can happen in any way and at any time.
When normal grief does not occur—when we are overloaded and the movement stops, we may experience difficulty managing intrusive thoughts and images and the overwhelming pain, sadness, melancholy and depression (link to mood disorders). There may be a current reactivation of the trauma or loss, numbing and dissociation, a longing and detachment. Here, grief becomes complicated.
Grief can be Stifling … We get Stuck
For some, the process of grieving seems stifled. Sadness, anger, despair, longing, emptiness and a whole host of other states are part of the process. Yet, it may be impossible to access and process feelings or experiences; memories can remain alive for a long time, presenting an interference in day-to-day living and relationships. Despite unrealistic expectations of what the bereavement process should look like, at times, an inability to gain traction or movement or your emotions becomes impossible and you get stuck. Once the dust settles and those who were there for support have resumed their lives, we are left alone with our pain.
Grief Counseling can Help
There is help! Grief Counseling can be a powerful tool to help manage expectations and create a supportive space for the deep grief and emotions that accompany it. Coming into and through grief means crafting a new life in the absence of a meaningful relationship. It means learning to love and live without that person or that object or experience the way it was. It also means learning to be without that unhealthy relationship, disease or addiction.
Through the use of various conventional therapies as well as state-of-the art evidence-based techniques, established in both Western and Eastern philosophies, Dr. Winter can help you mobilize your emotions, rid the numbness and help you move forward. She understands that each person has his or her own grieving process and no two people do it the same way in the same time.
Grieving is a universal experience. There is no stopping the fact that we will leave behind loved ones and parts of ourselves during our lifetime. In the end, we need to live with meaning and purpose beyond the bereavement.
What Stands in the Way of Your Recovery?
“I’m afraid I am not grieving the way I’m supposed to.” . . . There is no right or wrong way to grieve. Healing is never the same for two people. There are no expectations, nor is there judgment. Your grief needs your own grieving process.
“If I move on I will forget those who were important.” . . . Loved ones with whom we were close can remain with us forever but their loss does not have to be painful on a daily basis. Moving forward is not a betrayal for them; life is for the living. Even relationships that end via termination or change hold a place of growth in our life and a moving-on from once was; we don’t need to forget as we move ahead.
“Time heals all wounds. I can do it myself.” . . . Time does soften the impact of the pain, but it doesn’t alone help you integrate the loss and help you grow from it. With loss, no one is completely healed. There are parts of the past we preserve in ourselves, but they no longer need to have a negative impact on us.
Grief Can Be complicated—Healing Starts Here.
Contact me at my Boca Raton office by phone or email with any questions or to schedule your first appointment.