When Loss Changes Everything …

Coping after the loss of a loved one …. a new normal ….

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It is strange how the universe keeps pointing you in a certain direction. Over the last few months I have spent more and more time reflecting on the concept of grief and my own grief. I have made changes in business that bring me closer to this topic … something I would have never thought possible 12 months ago… and the prompt for this article seemed to be the significant sign that it was time to start listening to the all the clues…

On 4th November 2007 my world as I knew it and the rules, I believed we lived by changed forever – as did I… At 5 and half months pregnant with my 3rd child we had been given the news that our son had a life preventing condition. It was unlikely he would make full term and if he did, he would not survive past a few days in our world. And on the 4th November, he was still born ……  The next few weeks were a whirlwind of emotions, anger, confusion and chaos.  Like many parents who lose a baby I was encouraged to get on with things, go back to work and it seemed as though quietly my son just disappeared.

After the initial ‘expected ‘grief I began to notice that something fundamentally had changed and shifted within me.  Pre grief as I call it bad things happened to other people – they were things that you read about in the paper and felt sad about – or they touched on the edge of your world, but they didn’t come into your circle. I had also experienced other losses but ‘normal losses – grandparents even work colleagues … but now the world was a different place. Bad things happened to anyone … they came crashing into your world, intruding into your space, and like an angry poltergeist they trashed everything you knew and loved.  18 months after he died, I also found myself a single parent to two teenage daughters as the strain on our marriage and with honest reflection the change I experienced proved too much.

For many months I carried on and actually life wasn’t too bad – but just as I was getting my life back on track, I started to experience severe panic attacks… they impacted my life in every aspect … and it was then that I started to heal. My husband to be persuaded me to seek therapy and I realised that I had in no way processed my loss, I carried immense fear of the world, I felt immense guilt and anger at so many people and most of all myself. Therapy allowed me to experience real grief, gut wrenching grief, to allow myself to dive in head first and give myself permission to feel all those things I had suppressed for so long.

Therapy also started me on a journey of re training to be a therapist myself – to provide support for other women and through this continued study, to find new ways to work through grief. Mindfulness and meditation have taught me the concept of living in the now and of accepting what has happened. To enable myself to feel worthy again and to allow myself to experience the happiness I have in my life without guilt or shame. My new husband and I have gone on to have a child of our own and of course though nervous in pregnancy, I was able to have moments of enjoyment.

Recently I have started to work with more clients who have encountered grief and I have also trained as a community Celebrant supporting families through loss and conducting funerals. I have learned that grief is not time bound – it is infinite – I will never not grief for my son and often I will still cry – but that is OK because grief is mine to have – but so is life… and life is good

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