4 Healing Truths About Loss & Bereavement Counselling
The experience of deep loss is more common than we often realize; the need for bereavement counselling is greater than we often suppose.
Often, bereavement counselling issues arise in /a-midlife-transition that was begun for other purposes.
Loss is Very Individual
Everyone grieves differently. Differences in personality type, culture, life experience, and many other factors all directly bear on how an individual grieves.
Every relationship that an individual has with another is a unique combination, and this uniqueness also colours the character of each grief.
Grief and Bereavement: a Journey
Grieving individuals often fear that they will be “stuck” in bereavement forever — that the pain will never diminish. Certainly, loss is permanent, and the sense of loss of a loved one is always in a person’s life. But the acute pain of an initial grief reaction is something that, in his or her own time, and in his or her own way, the individual’s unconscious transforms into another way of holding the person who has passed.
Grief has a course in our lives. Although Kubler-Ross was right about the range of emotional states and stages that a person can experience in grief — Denial; Anger; Bargaining; Depression and Acceptance — it appears that the order and intensity of these stages can vary, and not all of them are necessarily experienced by every grieving person. The path of grief is indeed a journey, as individual as each of the people who travel it.
Grief, Emotion and the Unconscious
Grief goes on in both the conscious and the unconscious minds, and is reflected in the meaning of dreams. Jungian Mary Mattoon tells of a middle-aged woman who dreamt of visiting her deceased mother, who was unaccountably “crabby and inhospitable” in the dream. In therapy, she began to realize that she had been quite depressed for many days leading up to the dream. It turned out that the dream occurred almost exactly on the first anniversary of her mother’s death. Due to the very serious illness of a child, the woman had been unable to be psychologically present to her loss. The unconscious mind summoned her back to do her own grief work.
Grief, Healing and Individuation
I believe it is the master work of human life to be able to look at grief and death, and to say: soul is here; meaning is here.
Grief makes us acutely aware of the human condition. With its keen pain, it sharpens our awareness of the way in which human life is finite, bounded by the mystery of death. Yet, it simultaneously makes us powerfully, achingly aware of the miracle that is life — our own personal, individual life — and the imperative need within each of us to live and become the one we carry within us, as much as we possibly can. Mark Knopfler expresses these realities powerfully in his fine song, Haul Away (video by ThePhil909 ):
Bereavement counselling from a depth psychology perspective is about accepting, ultimately making peace with, and finding meaning in, loss.
PHOTOS: Some rights reserved by familymwr ; Nicholas_T VIDEO: “Haul Away” Musical copyright Will D. Side Limited under exclusive licence to Mercury Records
© 2013 Brian Collinson, 2238 Constance Drive, Oakville, Ontario (near Mississauga)