Personal growth following grief

By Deborah Baxter, The Spirit Within Hypnotherapy, Fareham, Hampshire

We deal with grief in many different ways. We may be devastated, shocked, angry, relieved or even pleased.

When our grandparents or parents get to a certain age and they become frail we come to an acceptance that one day they will die. But when someone dies suddenly and unexpectedly that’s when we can go into denial. You simply cannot comprehend what has happened and you may suffer shock, a kind of numbness where life happens around you. You will feel like you are in a bubble and nobody understands what you are going through.

There are different stages to grief:

  • Shock & Denial – You cannot believe this is happening. You may tell yourself this isn’t really happening. You carry on as if it isn’t happening. You tell yourself it will all go away if you don’t talk about it.
  • Then comes Pain & Guilt – I am pleased he is dead. Does this make me a bad person? I should have told her I loved her. My heart is broken now he is gone.
  • Anger – How could this happen to them? They were such a good person. Why did this happen to them? Which goes back to denial.
  • Bargaining – You may say things like if you bring my mum back I will never drink again.  Or take me, not my child.
  • Depression – A feeling that you simply cannot go on with your life because theirs has been taken away.
  • Acceptance – You reach the point of accepting what has happened and start to move on with your own life and plan for your future.

This is sometimes easier said than done and this is where hypnotherapy can help you with your grief. If you are stuck in the cycle of grief and unable to move because of shock, hypnotherapy can help you make sense of things in a gentle, nurturing and supportive way.

There is no right or wrong way to the emotions you may be experiencing.  We all grieve at different rates and whilst other family members may be moving on you can’t.

You may be grieving the loss of a pet.  This is just as heart-breaking and sometimes more so to that of losing a person.  We become so attached to our animals that they are a part of our family.  Sometimes friends don’t understand how you can be so upset over an animal.

Hypnotherapy taps into your subconscious and helps you make sense of what has happened. Your brain can then process it. Hypnotherapy can help soothe and calm you, gently and easily and coax you into thinking about what your future now holds for you without your loved one. Their life may be over, but you are still have a life, so live it.

One elderly gentleman I know lost his wife, quite unexpectedly. As in any partnership we tend to compromise. One person may like to dance and the other doesn’t. So, you may find that one person gives up their passion for dancing. In his case he gave up travel because his wife never wanted to leave home. Therefore, when she died, he then in his eighties started to travel and found his passion for Italy. He decided to spend the winter months in Italy and the summer months back home in England with his children and grandchildren. This enriched his life. It was something that would not have happened if his wife were still alive. He helped him grow and experience a new country and culture and he even though in his late seventies started to learn Italian.

Sometimes people let their grief consume them. I recently had a client whose husband died suddenly. She was young and had many years of fun and laughter and personal growing ahead of her but she decided to beat herself up and not eat or drink properly and made herself very ill. This can be what is known as “survivor guilt”. Why did he die and not me? When I pointed out to her that she would potentially have another thirty plus years of life if she looked after herself, she then started to change. She has now set up her own business selling clothes which she had always dreamed of doing. So, in essence it may force you to realise and fulfil your dream or create a lightbulb moment. A wake-up call to force you into action.

One thing I always say to my clients is it’s good to wallow. Yes, go ahead and wallow. Kick, scream, punch a pillow, watch a sad film and cry. It’s good to cry. The reason being is that when we are stressed our body is full of a hormone called cortisol. Cortisol builds up in our body and needs to be released. The safest way this can be released is by exercise, working out at the gym, running, gym work, kick boxing. However, if you are already feeling exhausted you may find that relaxation will help you more. Meditation, hypnotherapy, Tai Chi, even a bubble bath or watching football can help reduce the cortisol, which is turn reduces your stress and anxiety.

What happens when you have a good cry? Do you feel better? The answer is yes. Because cortisol is released in your tears, therefore this negative hormone is literally pouring out of your body. When do you “need to get over it?” Nobody can answer this. Some people will never get over someone dying. Some people move forward very quickly. It really depends on the situation, the person and their choice to stay stuck, frozen in the moment or to seek help in moving forward and ultimately enjoying their life.

You may be familiar with the saying fight, flight or freeze. We can fight being grief stricken, but it will not go away. We can run away, (denial) and pretend it is not happening. Or we become frozen, almost glued to the spot unable to move forward. You may choose to stay there but the healthier choice is to seek therapeutic help to embrace your life whilst you are still living.

It can be extremely helpful to mark the person’s life. Some choose to start a charity in their name, others choose to let some balloons float into the sky on their birthday. You can choose to have Heart in Diamond create a diamond from your loved one’s hair or ashes or you can name a rose after them. Or you may be contented with the memory of them. Again, there is no right or wrong way. It’s what is right for you. Just remember to not look back, the future isn’t that way.

Deborah Baxter
MHS, GQHP, Hyp, Dip, MFHT

Deborah Baxter

Learn more about how hypnotherapy can help you: http://www.thespiritwithin.co.uk/hypnotherapy/bereavement/
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