Not a great prospect is it? Grieving is no fun at the best of times, but at Christmas? When everybody else seems to be surrounded by the people they love… Grief can be a debilitating emotion at any time, but seems so much worse at Christmas – it’s seems to be amplified, sharper and far more painful.
So what is grief, exactly? Grief is the natural process we go through when we lose something we love. It can be a loved one, a friend, a cherished pet or it might even be an inanimate object or something like a job. Whatever the loss is to you, it’s no less real than the loss somebody else may be feeling, and it’s a perfectly natural reaction to grieve.
The five stages of the grieving process are usually:
- Denial. (It can’t be true, I only saw him/her yesterday…)
- Anger. (How could he/she leave me like that, when we had so much more to accomplish…)
- Bargaining. (If I pray 3 times a day for the next 10 years, would that bring him/her back?)
- Depression. (A natural progression from severe anxiousness and feelings of hopelessness.)
- Acceptance. (The final stage in the process.)
However, these are only ‘usual’ emotions. If you’re going through one or all of these, in this order or another (and maybe you’re not feeling any of them) then that’s perfectly normal too. If it’s what you’re feeling, then it’s OK – there is no right or wrong way to grieve and whatever is going on for you is fine and perfectly natural. The time to get help is when those feelings become overwhelming, and take over your life to the extent that you are no longer functioning properly.
What about the people that tell you to ‘get over it – you’ve had enough time now…’ Quite honestly, nobody should have the right to tell you how long you should grieve for, as everybody is different. If you seem to feel better after a short time, that’s OK. And if it takes a lot longer, that’s OK too. You need to allow time for the natural grieving process to take its course (whatever course that may be for you) and you shouldn’t be under any pressure to conform to anybody else’s idea of what form, or how long, that should take.
A few steps that you might consider to ease the process are:
- Don’t beat yourself up for grieving, it’s a perfectly natural and normal state.
- Take as much time as you need – you will know when you’re ready to move on.
- Have a memorial somewhere that you can go to – maybe a photo, a memory box, a special walk; a plant or tree planted in the garden – whatever works for you.
- Allow yourself some specific grieving time – maybe in the morning before you start your day, or on the drive home from work – allocate a specific amount of time for grieving, then give yourself permission to get on with the rest of your day.
- Consider how the person you’ve lost would want you to feel? What would they say to you if they could talk to you now? How would they want you to grieve?
Lastly, give yourself permission and time to grieve. And at some point, you will be able to let go of the grief and just visit your memories. Think of those memories like little jewels that you can bring out, dust off, and let them sparkle for little pockets of time in the future. Christmas is only a day. Like any other day. You will get through it. It’s hard, but you’ll manage. And remember, it can only get easier with time.
Please accept this blog in the spirit in which it is offered. I am intending only to give you some light hearted food for thought here – not reams of indigestible facts that you can find elsewhere all over the internet. If any of the suggestions ring a bell for you – great. This is a simplified version to give you a taster, so if your problem is more serious, and you feel you need more in-depth professional help, please contact me. I can help you identify any underlying issues that may be holding you back, and allow you to kick-start the process of moving you forward again. And of course, if you feel the need to visit your GP please go straight away. NLP, hypnotherapy and counselling are not a substitute for professional medical advice, but a complementary therapy. Thank you for reading this, and I hope to meet you soon.