How To Deal With Grief & Loss

The first thing to be aware of is that the sadness and depression that accompanies any sort of loss serves a very important function.

Depression slows us down and forces our focus towards it’s cause. This enables us to process what has happened, reconfigure our lives without the person that has died and determine how we will remember that person moving forward.

The process of grieving involves a number of well documented steps beginning with shock and denial, through to anger, bargaining, depression and finally acceptance.

The process is not linear and the complexity of the loss will determine the length of time it takes for a person to complete it however most important to bear in mind is that the process of grief is vital to our emotional and psychological well being and so cannot be skipped or avoided.

The steps below have been developed by the Clinical Psychologists and Counselling Psychologists at The Harley Psychology & Therapy Group to ease an individual’s path through the process of grief, enabling them to complete it in as least painful a way as possible.

They are based on Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) principles which, in a recent study reported in The Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, were found to be more effective than non specific supportive counselling.

The steps aim to help those dealing with loss to, come to terms with the reality of the loss, work through the emotional pain, anxiety, anger, guilt and suffering that accompanies loss.

Then to readjust to life without the significant person, take the emotional investment that had been placed in the significant ‘other’ and rebuild connections and relationships with others and finally build ‘living memories’ which recognise the quality, importance and irreplaceable impact of the person in their loss, and build awareness of the impact and meaning this has for the person now.

Steps to deal with grief and loss:

1. Put aside a period of time each day to think about the person that you have lost. Either write your thoughts down and reread them or record yourself talking and listen back. This task will allow you to gradually process the loss and work out how to continue living without the person who has died. It will also help you to manage the often overwhelming feelings of anxiety, depression and grief by containing them, to a certain extent, within a particular period of the day.

2. Endeavour to fill your days with routines and tasks that trigger a sense of achievement and pleasure and that draw you back into the reality and normality of life. This task over time will stabilise and eventually lift your mood by focusing your mind in the present and by high lighting what the world still has to offer you.

3. Understand that other people’s reactions and comments tell you about them and what they are thinking and feeling. Your experience of grief and loss is individual and personal to you and will take the time it takes to settle and dissipate, the comments of others will be made with the best intentions and as a result of their concern for your suffering but are frequently unhelpful as they are tangled up with their own ideas and experiences which have nothing to do with you.

4. Look for support in the right places and as soon as someone is no longer able to give you what you need move on and find someone else who has the capacity to meet your needs. This may be a psychologist, counsellor or therapist.

5. Do not rush or judge yourself. The process of grief has evolved to enable us to adapt to loss, trust this and try to go with it.

For more help and advice contact our Clinical Psychologists and Counselling Psychologists at The Harley Psychology & Therapy Group. Formal support in the form of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) Counselling and therapy is available in our clinics across London: Richmond, Clapham North, Clapham South, Fulham, Marylebone, Islington, Canary Wharf, Kings Cross, and in West Bridford (Notttingham) and Stamford (Lincolnshire).

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