Even when we work as qualified therapists we continue to work on ourselves, and as someone who deals with grief as part of my work I am perhaps more aware than some people of the longer term effects of loss.
Some losses cannot ever be totally cleared or fixed, they can only be carried and with help we learn the skills and tools to manage the feelings that accompany these losses. As a therapist I cannot change what happened to anyone, nor take away their pain, I can however help them cope with it and to navigate through it in a way that works for them. Listening, understanding and helping to build resilience and teach new coping skills.
This week while some us were still reflecting on the weekend’s events including the stoicism of the Queen, the incredible send off for Prince Philip, and the untold losses and consequences for so many families from Covid and the past year I had an unexpected and major reaction to some news about someone I’d loved so very dearly. This sadly tied in with the news that a very dear, beautiful, lovely and incredibly brave friend died last week of cancer, after a Herculean effort to remain with her family for as long as possible. I will never forget her radiance, and her loving and generous spirit.
I have been in a good place for a long time now. So combined with the week’s events and the sad news I heard something which took me almost back to the start of my previous and incredibly intense grief journey. I was so sad, and the intensity of my reaction even took me by surprise, although I know that the continuing lack of social connections due to Covid rules have exacerbated these feelings of mine, as there are so few distractions. However by admitting to myself out loud that I needed support, that I couldn’t actually manage this by myself, I gave myself permission to acknowledge the pain and come up with a plan.
I picked up the phone. I reached out and talked and face-timed with a few close friends and family who knew the whole story and it helped; as did allowing myself to feel it all, while also understanding the why’s and how’s of those feelings and just taking a break from work.
The more I tried to work on my computer, or make a start on the end of year accounts (the annual challenge), the less able I was to do so. So I sat quietly occupying my hands with crochet and I just said to myself it’s ok, tomorrow will be another day. I sat with the pain and the intense sadness, in truth there was nothing else that I could do. I gave myself a half duvet day, without the bed.
I applied some of the tools I share with my clients: I thought about what I could control, and what I couldn’t and how I could use the former to help the latter. This brought me into the present moment, grounding me, and slowing the sadness and lessening the grief reactions.
After a lot more crochet, a warm bath while listening to a gentle story on Spotify, followed by an uninterrupted night’s sleep I felt so much better. On waking my head was clearer and I was back on the computer the next morning creating content and completing the regular weekly task of updating the back ends of my websites, and I started on some of the printing out and other preparation for the year end accounts.
The lesson in this for me and for everyone reading this, is that we are human. So many different things affect us; the weather, our hormones, our moods, our blood sugar levels and what we eat, the environment we are in, what’s going on around us and in the world and more.
The majority of us retain the ability to feel compassion and empathy for others, despite any previous history, griefs or disappointments. I wouldn’t be true to myself if I didn’t feel love and compassion for someone’s struggle. This is who I am, and I’m proud of it.
Do your thoughts overwhelm you at times? Visit the MBF store to access my FREE mindful download called Leaves on a Stream which guides and helps you to pause your thoughts with a tried and tested coping skill. It’s in the second row, click on the box, there is no charge. My clients really rate this exercise.
My colleague and dear friend Sasha Holyoake and I are also running a series of free mental health workshops in our group https://www.facebook.com/groups/3631297006996209 on the next 4 Monday nights at 7pm. Please click on the link to join the group. Each live will be available until the following Saturday to watch on replay. Next week’s session is on the conscious mind and how to harness it to your benefit.