Losing someone we love is a certainty for each of us and yet talking about death is something most people struggle with.
In the past, children grew up witnessing death as the conclusion of the life cycle. Today people die in hospitals, care homes or hospices, but rarely in their own beds. Parents buy books to teach children about death.
The process of grieving is the key to feeling better and this can take a different length of time for different people.
Why is it that we struggle with the raw emotions of a bereaved person? Why are grieving people handed antidepressants when their pain is appropriate to their loss, and being grief-stricken for longer than two weeks can be classed as depression?
I think there are several reasons for this, and one is that we all feel uncomfortable when faced with grief. We wish the crying stopped so life could go back to normal.
The process of grieving is the key to feeling better and this can take a different length of time for different people. At the end we come to terms with the loss and find the strength to build a meaningful life.
I have seen clients with “complicated grief”, which often is the case when an individual has not been able to process a loss. This can happen when someone had a conflicting relationship with the dead person, or when they believe they must be strong for the sake of everyone else. Tears can be viewed as a weakness.
Grieving allows time for introspection and forces us to think of our spiritual beliefs. People with a religious background can find comfort in the belief that there is life after death. But what about those who believe that death is final, or have never thought about death? I regularly see people who have experienced emotions they do not know how to deal with.
Counselling offers a space to display feelings without fear of being judged or the pressure not to upset another. Together we look at ways to keep the memory of a loved one alive.
Anna Dallavalle is a counsellor working with individuals and couples and has a private practice in Morpeth. Visit www.steppingstonesne.co.uk