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  • Inside Out Counselling & Wellness

Grief, The Unseen Weight

“Each person's grief is as unique as their fingerprint. But what everyone has in common is that no matter how they grieve, they share a need for their grief to be witnessed. That doesn't mean needing someone to try to lessen it or reframe it for them. The need is for someone to be fully present to the magnitude of their loss without trying to point out the silver lining.”

— David Kessler, Finding Meaning: The Sixth Stage of Grief

What is Grief?

Grief is a profound emotional response to loss, a testament to love and what was once cherished. It’s a universal experience that touches everyone, yet our culture often struggles to address it effectively. We live in a society where grief is sometimes met with awkwardness or superficial comfort, rather than genuine empathy and support - often because we may be afraid to show our vulnerability.

Grief can arise from various types of loss, not just death but also the end of relationships, changes in health, or the loss of dreams and aspirations. The emotional experience of grief includes sadness, anger, guilt, and disbelief, as well as physical symptoms like fatigue, appetite changes, and sleep disturbances. As therapists, we know and understand that each person’s grief journey is personal and influenced by their cultural, spiritual, and individual perspectives. Understanding and navigating grief involves moving through stages of longing, adjustment, and acceptance.

In a world that often values productivity and positivity, grief can seem like an inconvenient truth. This is especially true for disenfranchised grief—grief that is not widely recognized or understood, such as the death of a pet or the loss of a loved one to suicide. Those experiencing disenfranchised grief may face additional challenges of shame and isolation due to a lack of recognition of their loss.

Common Signs of Unresolved Grief in Our Patients

Unresolved grief can lead to ongoing and prolonged emotional distress and difficulty finding closure. Here are some common signs of unresolved grief that we see in our patients:

  1. Intense Emotional Pain: Persistent feelings of sadness, despair, guilt, or anger long after the loss can indicate unresolved grief.

  2. Prolonged Numbness or Detachment: Emotional numbness or detachment from feelings and relationships may signal unresolved grief.

  3. Persistent Intrusive Thoughts or Memories: Recurrent, distressing thoughts or memories about the loss that disrupt daily life can be a sign of unresolved grief.

  4. Avoidance of Grief Triggers: Avoiding people, places, or situations that remind you of the loss might be a coping mechanism for unresolved grief.

  5. Difficulty in Acceptance and Adjustment: Struggling to accept the finality of the loss and adjust to a new reality can indicate unresolved grief.

We have seen unresolved grief in sudden losses such as divorce and losing someone unexpectedly. These abrupt changes can intensify the grieving process, making it harder to find closure and move forward.

Seeking Support for Grief

Addressing unresolved grief is crucial for emotional well-being and mental health. If you or someone you know is dealing with grief, remember that you don’t have to face it alone. Seeking support from friends, family, or a grief counsellor can be incredibly beneficial.

Grief support can come in many forms, from individual counselling to support groups for those experiencing similar losses. Healthy grieving involves acknowledging the pain of loss and gradually finding a path toward healing and acceptance.

For professional grief counselling and support, consider reaching out to a registered/ experienced therapist or mental health professional who specializes in grief and loss.

Written by Sandra, Inside Out Counselling Wellness Practice

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