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Loss and Grief

Loss is such a difficult aspect of our lives and for so many people this is too painful to talk about, so when loss happens, our grief can come as a shock. In this blog

I am hopeful that I can give a greater understanding and that I can normalise what can happen when we face loss and let you know that it is okay to talk about a something that can feel too scary to go near. I will end of a small story of a loss of mine where after 9 years I still sit with a tiny bit of guilt – but that is okay, because I am aware of it and so manage it.

Important to remember:

What is important to understand that loss for everyone is unique to each person and so will be felt and processed differently even if the same person is trying to manage through multiple losses of the same kind the process of the grief will feel different. This is due to the connection that is formed between the individual and who/what they have lost.

Types of loss:

There are so many, such as: break up/end of a relationship, death of a person or a pet, home broken into (loss of feeling safe), loss of health (ntal and/or physical), loss of a home, loss of a job whether it is your choice to leave, miscarriage. I could go on as the list is exhaustive and unique to each individual.

Emotional reactions to loss:

Again, much like with forms of loss there are so many feelings/emotions that can be attached to loss such as: anger, anxiety/fear, guilt, helplessness, jealousy, loneliness, numbness, relief, sadness, shock, tiredness, worthlessness.

Thoughts associated with grief:

Two common thoughts that may go through your mind in times of grief are: disbelief and confusion. However again there will be many others as grief is unique to you.

Behavioural reactions to grief:

These can come in many forms such as: becoming absent minded/forgetful, dreams/nightmares, hyperactivity, loss of appetite, searching, sighing/crying, treasuring objects. Again, there will be others that are unique to you.

Physical reactions to loss:

Some physical reactions associated with grief may be: breathlessness, dry mouth, emptiness in the stomach, lack of energy, panic attacks, sensitivity to noise, sleep disturbance, tightness in chest/throat. As with the others, there will be others that are individual to you.

Unhelpful attitude towards loss and grief:

For as long as I can remember I would hear people say to those who were grieving ‘you’ll get over it’. Observing this it was not difficult to see how shocking this could feel for the person grieving, bringing about a whole lot more emotions, thoughts, behaviours and physical reactions. I am sure you that if you haven’t experienced this yourself then you can imagine what it may feel like to hear those words!

A more holistic approach towards loss and grief:

A more holistic mindset to managing loss and grief I believe is the Lois Tonkin model. Tonkin’s model shows how you can grow around your grief by accepting that your grief will always be there, it’s not going to shrink in size, you’re not going to ‘get over it’! Grief is real and the impact is very real too. Over time however, you can learn to build a life again. What Tonkin is saying is that the grief does not lessen/become smaller, it’s your life that becomes larger and grows around your grief, incorporating it into your daily life.

Bit by bit the pain can lessen and you can gradually building a new life you can ensure you have time to acknowledge the loss you have.

For more information on this model click on the link to this very short (1 minute 24 seconds) YouTube video:

Losing my dog:

You may find it strange or odd (or in fact you may not) that I have chosen to talk about losing my dog and not one of the many humans I have lost in my lifetime.

I have chosen my grief attached to losing my dog for the simple reason that after 9 years I still have a small level of guilt that I sit with, but is okay.

All my life I had wanted a dog – a boxer, I always wanted a boxer. Eventually it was the right time to take on the responsibility needed. So off I went to the rescue centre and there he was 2nd dog in a Dalmatian/Collie cross OMG! I fell for him, hook, line and sinker, and there were 2 boxers – so beautiful, but my heart and soul and gone to the dog in kennel 2.

He was 1 year old when I got him and I had him for a glorious 4 years. What happened? It was such a short time. He was perfectly healthy, full of endless energy. Suddenly one day he started fitting!! He was epileptic! The vets were great, and this was managed with medication. Then one day he couldn’t walk properly, something was wrong with his back! We never did find out what had gone wrong but several discussions with the vet led to the painful decision to have him put to sleep!

I still ask myself to this day – did I do the right thing? Could I have done more? Was I good enough for my dog? Well, I know the answers – yes, I did the right thing, no, there was nothing more I could do (there were other circumstances which I won’t go into here, but I had to but his wellbeing 1st), yes, I was good enough for him.

My grief and my guilt (as small as that is) will always be there, but my world has grown around this grief and my dog remains with me every day. Do I think of him every day? No, but when I do I talk to him, I laugh at his antics (even when he got himself told off). I had the pleasure of having him in my life for 4 years and I gave him the best I could as he did for me. He will be a part of me.

If you would like to explore and understand more about loss and grief that you are trying to come to terms with then contact me through my website and we can arrange a free 30-minute consultation to discuss if what I offer may be of support to you.

Thank you for taking the time to read my blog.

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