Help With Bereavement
The grief that results from the loss of someone important to us is unequalled in its severity. Bereavement is hard, painful and takes time to work through. When something causes us pain it’s because our expectations of the world have moved significantly out of step with the way the world actually is. When we are in the midst of bereavement, when someone is physically lost to us we have to learn to live with the hole that they left and life is changed forever. It can be a terribly hard road to travel, particularly when everyone else has returned to normal.
Bereavement is something which will touch us all at one time or another, but regardless of circumstance its often the toughest challenge we face. Not only because of the person we lose but because it can often bring back thoughts of other losses we have experienced and amplify the emotional pain as a result. As we grow older bereavement also brings us face to face with the reality of our own mortality.
We’re not terribly good at dealing with death in the Western world. We seem to be fearful, awkward and embarrassed, unaware of what we should say. Usually what we most need when we are bereaved is the space and time to grieve, the knowledge that there are people around us to support us, and the acceptance that, for us, life will never be quite the same and, most of all, someone to talk to who will really listen.
The re-organisation of our life after the death of someone is often very challenging, and it can take a great deal of time. There is no “rule” that says we must finish our grieving after six months or a year, and every person’s experience is different. It can be hard to find the support we need in friends and family because they are so invested in our life and have their own expectations of how quickly we might be expected to return to “normal”.
It can be incredibly challenging to think that we “should be feeling better by now”. If anything, these thoughts make progress harder and slower . The best way through bereavement is to allow it to take its natural course, to accept and face the emotions that we have and to resist the temptation to shut them away. This is difficult and so its often helpful to have someone work through it with you.
I am a professionally trained bereavement counsellor and you might find that just having the opportunity to talk about how you’re feeling helps more than you had imagined.
If you feel you need some help, or just a space to talk please don’t hesitate to contact me.
Tonkins Model Of Bereavement
When I was doing my training with Cruse Bereavement Care I came across Tonkin’s Model of Grief. Since that day I have shared it with so many clients because it sums up perfectly the impact that bereavement has on us.
Imagine a tennis ball, and that this ball represents your grief when a loved one dies.
Now imagine a jam jar, and this jar represents your life.
If you put the tennis ball in the jam jar how much room is there left in the jar? Not much.
The tennis ball in the jam jar is the amount of your life that the grief seems to occupy straight after a death, almost all of it.
Now imagine some time has passed, not a specific time, just the time that you need for things to have changed.
Now the tennis ball is no longer in a jam jar, it is in a demijohn or a beautiful large vase. The grief (tennis ball) is still the same size, because the person you lost will never be any smaller or less significant than they were. But your life will grow up around the grief, still carrying the person lost, but no longer consumed by it.
I find this image comforting and, most of all, real.