Loss & Grief

How a person responds to loss is affected by the closeness of the relationship with the dying or deceased person, the nature of the loss — sudden/violent death for example, and the dreams and hopes they had involving the loved one.

Grief is dependent upon the person's unique perception of the loss. It is not necessary for the loss to be recognised or validated by others for a person to grieve.

Each person's response is unique, but there are common reactions. These are:

  • Shock, numbness.
  • Protest, anger (feeling that others don't understand, why me?).
  • Denial, searching, hope (belief in a cure, miracle).
  • Despair, hopelessness, sadness.
  • Integration/acceptance.

Bereavement reactions consist of:

  • Waves of distress, for example, crying, panic.
  • Somatic symptoms such as:
    • fatigue/tiredness
    • loss of appetite
    • loss of concentration
    • disinterest in the world
    • sleeping difficulties
    • restlessness
  • Preoccupation with the image of the deceased, that is, can't stop thinking about him/her.
  • Guilt/search for negligence.
  • Hostility/anger towards the deceased, doctors, family, God.
  • Loss of patterns and routines.
  • Fear of the unknown.

Recovery involves:

  • Working through the pain of grief.
  • Reviewing your relationship with the loved one — to accept the change in self-identity that evolves.
  • Readjustment to the changed life, gradual integration of the new reality.

What to do in the recovery process:

  • Accept that it will be very painful and that the pain may last longer than others think it should.
  • Accept that depression is an inevitable but transient part of the process.
  • Accept that others will try to distract you from experiencing your grief.
  • Know that recovery will occur.

Grief Counselling

Grief does not only occur when someone dies. It can also occur at the end of a relationship, death of a pet, miscarriage, having a child with a disability, loss of job, theft/burglary, significant illness, migration, or transitions such as becoming parents, children leaving home. Counselling will support you through any of these difficult transitions.

The only way to grieve is to go through the core of the pain. If you try to walk around the perimeter of loss, it will remain unresolved, and you will be more likely to endure painful emotional, psychological and physical consequences.

Grief counselling may help you:

  • Express the significance of the loss.
  • Cope with the feelings of fear and anger that arise.
  • Verbalise feelings of guilt.
  • Accept that loss and grief are a normal part of life and from which we can recover.

In 2015 the Perth Sunday Times interviewed Leonie Sinclair about grief — read the interview here.