How do I know if I am grieving properly?

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How do I know if I am grieving properly?

21st December 2015 01:39 PM


"How do I know I'm grieving properly?" is a question a client asked me last week.  How do we grieve properly? What is proper grief?  I'm a cognitive hypnotherapist, and I don't know the answer to that.  I'm happy to admit that I don't know the answer to that, as I'm pretty certain that everyone experiences grief differently.

"Today is the first and it's my birthday" my client explained, and it wasn't the first of the month.  "It's the first birthday we've not shared together.  I have a whole year of 'firsts' coming up.  The first Christmas without her. The first time we have to celebrate her birthday without her.  The first time the children have gone back to school and I've not proudly shown her the photographs I took of them in their uniforms.  I've already passed the first week without her, and the first month...and eventually it will be the first year.  The year since she was taken away from me.  From us...and I just don't feel as though I'm grieving properly."

As I explained to my client, our lives are made up of lots of different sections, a little bit like building blocks. They all fit together in the very unique way that makes us what we are - us!  If we imagine ourselves as our own little (or very grand) castle, and each experience we have had has made either one of the bricks, or part of the mortar that is holding the bricks together, and then imagine removing one of the very large foundation stones, you will get some understanding of how grief can affect you.  Prior to your grief, your foundations were probably pretty secure, or at least familiar.  When we lose someone close to us, it is like moving one of those foundation stones right out of the equation.  Suddenly, nothing is the same.  Nothing is familiar.  

When a person has lost a parent that they did not have a good relationship with, they are often surprised by their own reaction to that persons death.  That is because whatever your experience until the point at which that person dies, it is familar - whether the experience was good, bad or indifferent, it is familiar.  And then it becomes unfamiliar, and that is when we start to experience worry or panic along with our grief and loss.  It is about adjusting to the removal of that once familiar foundation stone.  Our inner system craves familiarity.  We function best when things are familiar and secure.  When foundation stones start to move about, crack and sometimes crumble, it makes us question that familiarity, and can give us feelings of uncertainty, which in turn can lead to panic and anxiety.

So in the case of this client, as I say to lots of my clients, give yourself time to heal.  Things will never be the same again, because time does not go backwards, it goes forwards, and you deserve the time it takes to discover what is the new you.  The new you who lives in an existence where someone you love has passed away. It is likely that this will involve feelings of sadness, and anger, and feelings of extreme loss, amongst the many, many emotions that grief brings...and all of that is ok.  It's ok to feel angry that someone left you's ok to feel as though you might never create a new relationship, because the pain of this one feels as though it is too much to's ok to feel.  That, I think is the main point that I try to convey, that whatever you feel is ok.  It is when you try not to feel that things might start to go a little awry.  So give yourself time, be as kind to yourself as you would to a dear friend who is experiencing loss, and allow yourself to feel, because it really is ok.


Franca is an experienced Hypnotherapist, Counsellor and Mind Coach with a broad range of expertise; specialising in Anxiety, Sexual Issues and Fertility Issues.  See her website for more details.


Tags: Bereavement, Grief

Treatments: Hypnotherapy

The views expressed in these blogs are those of the blog authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Bridge Centre for Natural Health.

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