Grief and all that is happening now
“The world has gone mad!” has almost become a mantra with clients recently and it’s not hard to understand what they mean in a world in disarray, with increasing instability.
“If one isn’t at least partially sad in witnessing this world, then one is not paying attention”, (Ingram, C. 2003, Passionate Presence. Element: London, p.41). I recently read this and intensely felt its resonance for current times and wondered if this is what my clients were feeling. Although it seemed easy to understand what they felt, none of us can ever really know what another is experiencing and so it was important to explore each individual meaning. Themes of loss and grief emerged, both of which have different meanings and different realities for everyone.
Each of us knows loss, it is a part of the human condition which we live with every day. There are
daily losses such as ageing or unfulfilled desires and lost opportunities. Then there are larger losses such as the death of a loved one. The current chaos being witnessed in the world seems to be triggering these old feelings of unresolved loss and grief.
“In the midst of the pandemic we’re finding a new language of loss, one that holds space for all the ways we grieve”, (Leslie Garrett, “Living in a world of grief” https://www.mindful.org/a-world-of-grief/, Dec 21, 2021).
Grief is highly specific for every individual because of their unique relationship, personal history and circumstances surrounding loss of any type. Religious, cultural and philosophical beliefs also play a role in how someone grieves and recovers. Working with loss and grief requires us to walk beside clients, remaining open to their individual process and acknowledging the complex feelings involved.
In the article, “How your brain copes with grief, and why it takes time to heal”, Berly McCoy says,
“The range of emotions that someone experiences when they’re grieving is as long a list as the range of emotions we have in any relationship. Commonly there’s panic, there’s anxiety, there’s sadness, there’s yearning. But what we sometimes forget is that there’s also difficulty concentrating and confusion about what happens next”. (https://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2021/12/20/1056741090/grief-loss-holiday-brain-healing. December 20, 2021)
Worden provides a framework of four tasks that help in the understanding of how people journey through grief. He says that healing happens gradually as each task is addressed, going back and forth from one to another over time, in no specific order. The tasks are; 1. accepting the reality of the loss 2. experiencing the pain of the grief 3. adjusting to an environment in which what was once there is missing and 4. emotionally relocating the loss and moving on with life. (Based on Worden, J. W. (2009). Grief Counseling and Grief Therapy: A Handbook for the Mental Health Practitioner, Fourth Edition, Springer, N.Y.)( https://www.ourhouse-grief.org/grief-pages/grieving-adults/four-tasks-of-mourning/).
Holding a space of acceptance, support and encouragement gives clients an opportunity for the development of deeper states of awareness, meaning and insight about themselves, their loss and their life, until acceptance is reached.
Perhaps the current madness in the world is providing us with an opportunity to get back in touch with ourselves, to resolve past pain, to reassess our values, our meaning and purpose in life and to make a decision about what we want to make of our lives.
“Grief is a journey that must be taken. It is often perilous and without clear direction. The experience of grieving cannot be ordered or categorised, hurried or controlled, pushed aside or ignored indefinitely. It is as inevitable as breathing, as change, or as love. It may be postponed, but it will not be denied”, (Fumia, Molly (2004) Journey of hearts. http://www.journeyofhearts.org/jofh/grief/complicate