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Blog > Loss & Grief Recovery
Licensed Professional Counselor
Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist
Certified Cognitive Behavioral Therapist
Certified Clinical Hypnotherapist
Grief is an altered state of consciousness that we have experienced sometime in our lives. It is a natural response to loss of someone or something that we have attached affection and a belief that we cannot or do not want to live without. Grief is different from depression. Grief appears to be emptiness with many memories and depression is a more hollow emptiness. Grief is more active in our mind. Depression feels more vacant. Sometimes they seem to be opposites to a loss.
There are many memories that live within grief. It is difficult to believe our linear thinking brain can have two seemingly contradictory perspectives simultaneously. It is possible when we learn to calm our thinking and view the event from a different space and time. The painful experience will still be encoded in our memory; however, it is possible to learn how to incorporate that memory into other grateful experiences. We can learn to appreciate the time spent with the loved one and learn to move forward with a different perspective of self and life.
We can meet new people and engage in new events. Moving past a loss is extremely difficult. Easier said than done. However, we can learn skills to help us move forward with new experiences and still keep the memories with sincere appreciation for having had those past experiences.
I know that is not an easy task. However, I believe it is possible with continued practice of the Skills. You get to decide if you are worth the effort to manage this loss in a way that will help you move forward with appreciation for your life.
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Loss is inevitable. It is a matter of who, what, when, where and how the loss occurred. Experiencing a sudden and unexpected loss can create a steep decline for a person as they attempt to deal with the loss and trauma.
Everyone experiences loss differently. Some people feel helplessness; others have extreme fear about any event that reminds them of the loss; others buckle-up and move on (until it hits them later). Everyone is different. If you are a friend of the one going thru the loss/grief, please be patient and accept them as they are in the moment. Be kind.
Trauma is embedded within the grief. Sometimes it can be difficult to differentiate between posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), grief and traumatic grief. PTSD is about fear and grief is about loss. Traumatic grief will have both and it also includes a sense of powerlessness. A grieving person may experience many symptoms and question if they are “losing it” – becoming too mentally and emotionally involved in the loss event that everyday life is difficult to plan.
The grieving person may experience: upsetting memories, feeling empty in life, longing for the person, having disbelief or anger about the death, having difficulty caring about or trusting other people, feeling lonely most of the time, feeling stunned, etc..
We may all share some common experiences; however, we each have our own way of thinking, feeling, and responding to the loss event. When it is the loss of a loved one, our basic/core beliefs about life and what happens after this earth life are a part of our being able to adjust to the loss. Do we view the loss as temporary (later on we will see our loved one in another form) or do we view it as forever?
Loss, grief, and trauma are all a part of human experiences. It is important for self and our remaining loved ones that we learn how to deal with this loss (whatever it may be). Express your loss in words and actions and give yourself time to mend and then move forward. Learn to express your thoughts and feelings in a way that is productive and helps you move forward with your life. Be patient and kind to yourself. Moving forward does not mean that we forget the loss; it means that we have learned to deal with the loss and still have a meaningful life.
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There is no right or wrong way to deal with grief. Losses occur in all our lives in many forms. Stop and think for a moment about the losses you have experienced in your life. How did you deal with your grief? Did you ask someone to help you through that grieving process? As you look back, what would you do different today?
We know that time does not heal all wounds. So, how do we move forward and create a life that we believe is worth living? Let’s look at a way of coping that is often overlooked.
Acts of kindness may not be accidental. Some researchers believe being kind pays off in many ways. Their research shows that acts of kindness help us feel better and healthier. Kindness helps us evolve and survive as a species; we’re hard-wired to be kind. However, it is a main part of human wiring that we take for granted; not really paying much attention to its significance.
We know those emotions of anger, fear, sad and hurt (basic emotions). Those emotions come quickly. The feelings that we get from being kind is rarely included in those automatic feelings. The feelings from kindness seem to be excluded from the basic emotions list.
Kindness seems to be universal. One of the basic reasons we are kind -– we are social animals. We are kind because under the appropriate circumstances we all benefit from kindness. Kindness and friendliness pay off when it comes to species survival; they help us feel more connected to the world. Kindness helps us be happier and being happier helps us want to do kind acts. Acts of kindness are very powerful for self and for others; survival – if we all work together.
How does kindness tie to loss and grief? Being kind helps people feel better mentally, emotionally and physically. It redirects us away from our own problems. Acts of kindness give us a new focus and purpose.
Humans have the ability to reason — if we use our Cognitive Behavioral Skills: communicate effectively, problem solve, and team play. Humans realize that some day we may need our relatives and even strangers to help us. Sounds like a no-brainer to make a small effort to be kind. Being kind can be as small as holding a door open for someone or as big as donating blood.
The opposite end of the pendulum shows us that humans can become angry and lash out when they feel threatened – whether it is to protect themselves or someone they love. Loss is a threat for humans. Let’s learn how to deal with loss so we are willing to accept the love and comfort from people that want to help us. Some days life is not easy.
Note: Find a purpose for your life. Set goals and then establish plans to accomplish those goals. Be true to yourself: be responsible and accountable. Make a daily “List for Life” until you are able to believe that life is truly worth living.
Remember: You get to decide how you Think – feel – Behave.
(Didn’t say it was easy. Just said it was possible.)
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Lisa H. Lang Ph.D. is a licensed professional counselor (LPC) & marriage and family therapist (LMFT) located in Flower Mound, TX with over 30 years experience. She is a Certified Cognitive Behavioral Therapist and life coach offering psychotherapy, hypnosis, and other solutions to those seeking counseling. Dr. Lang is conveniently located to residents of Flower Mound, Lewisville, Carrollton, Southlake, Grapevine, Coppell, and the Dallas/Fort Worth area.