Overcoming Grief

Grief and bereavement mean- intense sadness related to some sort of loss, especially death (bereavement).  But loss is not limited to death of a loved one or pet.  It can include the sense of loss after ending something of value eg: unexpected divorce.

The things people grieve over

Apart from death of a loved one, the sorts of things people can experience grief for are:

  • A loss of relationship – separation and divorce, end of friendship, or children leaving home
  • A physical loss or change – such as aging or losing a limb or some physical ability
  • A loss of employment – even if financial compensation is paid eg redundancy
  • A status or financial loss – your public reputation or financial reputation eg bankruptcy
  • A loss of self-esteem – losing self- confidence and belief in ourselves can result in a long term grief for the person we used to be but are now just a shadow of.

Give it time

Grief is not something to be hurried and instead needs to be moved through as the stages of grief come to each individual.  Otherwise there is a risk of emotions not being properly processed and possibly repressed and expressed later in an unhealthy way.   Each person has their own way of grieving; some may take years and some may take months.  The grieving may be seen by expressions and actions outwardly or be unseen and experienced only inwardly. The process is personal, based on the person’s own unique set of emotions, thoughts and personality.   Rather than hurrying the process a therapist/counsellor should be available to support the grieving person through each stage as the person is actually ready to go through each stage.

Stages of grief

Psychiatrist and author Dr. Elisabeth Kübler-Ross identified five core stages of grief as denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance.  Later models of grief recognize that resilience, hope, and growth are also essential components of the grieving process and that attending to loss will bring about feelings of gratitude and forgiveness.

The stages of grief are largely known as follows:

1) Shock

2) Emotional Release

3) Preoccupation with the Deceased or Crisis (denial)

4) Symptoms of Physical and Emotional Distress

5) Hostile Reactions (anger)

6) Guilt (which can include self -blame or blame of others or bargaining type of thinking-

such as “if only I had ____ this wouldn’t have happened” “if only he had listened to

me” etc)

7) Depression

8) Withdrawal

9) Resolution and Re-adjustment  (acceptance)

Grieving over a loved one- when is the mourning process over?

The mourning process is completed when the grieving person can:

  • reinvest their emotions back into their life
  • think of their loss or deceased loved one without experiencing intense pain
  • integrate their experience of loss into their life
  • make steps towards a new life without their lost loved one

The Resolution and Readjustment stage (acceptance and moving on) comes gradually at the end of all the stages when the person starts to engage again in life.  Activities that are likely to resume in this stage would include:  socialising with others, eating our favourite foods, laughing, sleeping peacefully at night, and feeling good about ourselves and the world. In other words, the grief is still there in memories recalled, but it does not rule our life.  In fact, the experience may help us grow and stretch emotionally after having experienced such deep feelings of pain and painful thoughts, making us aware of them and being able to see them in others.

Possible reactions to grief

Denial: although denial can act as a protective mechanism that buffers you from the reality of trauma,  if it chronically continues to be pathological then it can lead to feelings of disorientation and disassociation. The person tries to live in a way as if the event didn’t happen or as if they weren’t impacted.  Obviously this cannot be sustained for the long term.

Anger: It is common to experience anger, rage, resentment, and blame as part of grief. You might feel abandoned, powerless, and helpless. Grief brings up unfulfilled hopes and wishes that things had been different. You might miss someone who’d been there for you, but now is gone. Or you might miss the chance to connect with some someone who hadn’t been there for you. It is common to have regret and lingering resentment. You might feel angry at yourself, your loved ones, or life itself.

Bargaining: The core emotion of bargaining is guilt. You might relate to self-blaming statements such as “I should have been able to stop them from fighting,” or “If only I had done something I could have prevented the abuse.” Bargaining is characterized by magical thinking and beliefs that you can somehow turn back time to make a different, often unrealistic choice.

Acceptance: Acceptance is the ability to acknowledge what happened to you and to choose to live your life. This does not mean that you will feel okay about what happened. However, you can still invest in and find joy in your current relationships and engage in the world in a meaningful way.

Resilience and growth:   It is possible to also react by feeling profound appreciation for your life. As a result of your unique life experiences, you might experience a deeper capacity to connect to others in meaningful ways, have an increased willingness to be vulnerable, or be more willing to ask for help. Resilience is a learned behaviour and developed as part of the healing process.

Depression: Grief normally shows up in deep sadness. However, with depression there is an accompanying despair or feeling, as though your life is meaningless. You might ask yourself, “What is the point of living?” You might wonder how you can go on or why you should. Recognize that this is not something to fix directly; rather, it is the warning sign of what needs attending to—the feeling of emptiness that accompanies great loss.

Complex grief

Like complex PSTD a person can suffer from complex grief depending on their attachment style, the number of childhood adverse events experienced, and the sequence of trauma and grief events throughout their life.  In some cases, it is known as persistent complex bereavement disorder.  The person has such long term and severe painful emotions that they have great difficulty moving on and/or coping with day to day life tasks. They often have overwhelming, intrusive or preoccupying thoughts about loss.

Complex/complicated grief exists when the intensity of grief has not decreased at all in the months after your loved one’s death. Some mental health professionals diagnose complicated grief as: when grieving continues to be intense, persistent and debilitating beyond 12 months. (1)

Professional Help to Heal Grief

There are various counselling techniques to help a grieving person, including cognitive restructuring, reframing and guided writing exercises. By writing letters to the person who has passed (or even pet that has passed) the grieving person can put down in writing their thoughts and feelings regarding any loose ends or unfinished business that they feel the need to express.  Common counselling techniques also include Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) and Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT).

Art can be a way to express when there are no words for the emotions.    Art therapy is a powerful healing modality due to its quick way to access deep thoughts and feelings and uncover unconscious beliefs, a lot of which may have not been uncovered when the loved one was still alive.   The grieving person can both express what was not previously expressed, and at the same time show respect for and celebrate the life of their loved one eg: by creating a commemoration through art.   Art therapy helps those bereaving and grieving in the following ways:

1) it facilitates the expression of trauma and/or conflict and trauma and looking deeper at the individual feelings behind the grief;

2)it contains the suffering and pain they are experiencing to be contained within the physical art work;

3) it helps one come to view that death and loss as a natural end to life or relationships, which will also help to pass through the final stage of acceptance.


The Richards Trauma Process (TRTP) differs from traditional therapy in several key ways. While traditional therapy often focuses on talking about feelings and experiences, TRTP focuses on the physical sensations and emotions that are stored in the body as a result of traumatic events, and unlocking those in a safe way. Instead of just discussing experiences. TRTP works with the unconscious mind to give it a bit of a “reset” in the areas that are causing problematic emotions and behaviour. There is no need for deep hypnosis either.

The therapist uses techniques that help access the subconscious mind and allow trauma to be released and let go of, so that it no longer plays like a broken record in the individual’s life.

3 Stage Process -Finished in just 1 Month

TRTP™ Therapy resolves trauma related issues – quickly, safely and effectively, with a 3 step process. These trauma-related issues include PTSD, anxiety and depression. It helps individuals overcome chronic emotional dysregulation without retraumatizing to the extent of reliving the past. The therapy is heavily guided by the therapist and not like traditional “talk therapy” where the client keeps repeating all the details of past distressing events. TRTP therapy is a holistic and gentle approach that provides a supportive environment for individuals to heal, grow, and thrive. As it can be fully completed in one month it is ideal for people with acute or situational stress, anxiety or depression to get a solution right away.

The Ideal Online Therapy

There is no need to have TRTP sessions in person; in fact sessions via video conferencing are highly effective because they minimise distractions, have a better audio receptive for the TRTP technique, and help the client to be at ease in their own home.

Book a free Discovery Call

If you would like a complimentary no obligation free introduction telephone call to see if TRTP is right for you and have the chance to ask any questions, you can book here: I want to book a free introduction call


  1. Mayo Clinic: www.mayoclinic.org
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