Grief is the loss of a loved one by death. Grief can affect your feelings, your thoughts, your body and your behaviour. Grief often brings with it a sense of foreboding, that often debilitating question of “Now what do I do?” This feeling of helplessness is a close cousin to anxiety. One widower recently experienced the death of his spouse, they had been married for over 50 years. He talked about walking into her “cubby” beside the kitchen where she ran the household, paying bills, organizing household services, and “everything else”. He said he would sit and just stare, unable move or figure anything out. He felt physically constrained, as if bound by clothing that was too tight, making it hard to breathe. He would pick up a piece of paper and feel confused and overwhelmed.
We mentioned on the Welcome page that death of a loved one can also create feelings of confidence and optimism alongside guilt, which is an extremely confusing emotional state. One young man we worked with was for many years the sole caregiver for his ailing father. He had two siblings, but they were not involved at all other than Christmas cards and the odd phone call. The young man followed his father’s wishes to not be placed in a care facility. His father died of natural causes and this young man talked about finally feeling free. At the same time, he struggled with guilt for not placing his father in a home, and shame at the feeling he had caused his father’s death. He was overwrought with these conflicting emotions.
Loss is also experienced through alienation, estrangement from family, friends, and community. Ghosting is all too common these days. Divorce and separation, the falling out from relationships, the loss of personal connection, isolation, may bring on feelings of despondency, confusion, disgrace, and others.
So too with the death of a beloved pet. We are close to our pets and they are sources of comfort. They are often our confidants and give us unquestioning loyalty and companionship. When they die it can leave a gaping hole in our lives. John was in his late 80s, lived on his own in a ground floor condo. He was in reasonably good physical health, except for arthritis, which kept him at home. His constant companion was a small black and white cat, Chrissy. He and Chrissy were constant companions, she got him up in the morning, and spent the day near him, on his lap or beside him where he sat. Caring for Chrissy gave John connection to another living thing, he took care of her comfort, kept her clean and they played together. During a routine check with Chrissy’s vet a malignant growth was found and John had to put Chrissy down. John’s despondency was deep.
It doesn’t have to remain this way. One woman was alienated from her religious community for entering a relationship with a person that was not part of their community. She was an artist and describe how she was feeling as being like “a pencil sketch”, a mere outline of what she used to be. Toward the end of counselling she said she was no longer a sketch, she was feeling warmer and fuller like, “a water colour”. She felt that she could take it from here, and said she knew she could be the “oil painting” she once was.
We Can Do This Together. We have made it easy to take action, getting started is simple and has no obligations on your part, other than picking up the phone, or writing an email. Beach Grove Counselling is here to help.