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Monday, April 13, 2009

Handouts from my Counsellor


Bereavement Risk Assessment

Factors which may complicate a bereavement


Inability to discuss feelings opening
Uses “denial” to avoid painful feelings
Overly dependent on the deceased
Not attached to the deceased
Personality disorder
Alcohol/addiction in any form
Poor physical /mental health
Low self esteem/sense of personal worth
Multiple losses
Traumatic/violent death
Childhood loss of parent/parent figure/sibling
Loss of a child
Any complicated unresolved loss
Homicide/suicide
Abused as a child/within a marriage
Poor emotional care prior to death
Social isolation
Lack of participation in death/funeral rituals
Other dependants, e.g. children
Financial/housing/insecurity

Apparently, if two or more of these factors apply to a bereaved person, the bereavement can become complicated, ie complicated grief.

I asked if smoking counted as an addiction and Frances confirmed that it did not. I also pondered on the fact that I classed myself as too dependant on Cliff, but she explained that in this context, it means that the deceased was a Carer, i.e. the deceased looked after the bereaved in a fundamental way, e.g. had to bathe and dress them, get them out of bed etc.

So, the good news is … I’m not likely to “get” complicated grief.

IT DOES NOT BEAR THINKING ABOUT. THAT THIS COULD BE ANY WORSE. I CANNOT IMAGINE. THIS PUTS MY PAIN INTO PERSPECTIVE, only for a short while, but even so … THERE ARE PEOPLE OUT THERE WHO HAVE IT WORSE THAN ME.

I am going to do this. (perhaps) I CAN DO THIS.



Bereavement/Mourning and Grief

Bereavement is the state of having sustained a loss.
Mourning is the conscious and unconscious process evoked by loss; it is influenced by culture and society.
Grief is the process of letting go of what was and moving towards the future.

Phase

Numbness lasting less than a week to two months or more. Periods of panic. Persistant denial is common.

Task

Accepting the reality of the loss. May include “selective forgetting”, or denying death is irreversible.

Phase

Yearning, protesting, searching. Pre-occupation with the dead person (or places/possessions identified with the deceased). Anger and guilt.

Task

Experiencing the pain of grief.

Phase

Disorganization, aimlessness, apathy. Feeling powerless.

Task

Adjusting to an environment in which the deceased is missing. I’m trying my hardest.

Phase

Building a new identity and establishing a purpose in life. THIS MAKES ME FEEL UNCOMFORTABLE. I AM STILL ME. MY PURPOSE IN LIFE IS NOW TO MAKE HIM PROUD OF ME, TO DO MY BEST WITHOUT HIM, TO WORK, TO LOVE MY FAMILY AND FRIENDS AND ENJOY THEIR COMPANY. MY PURPOSE IN LIFE HASN’T CHANGED. I SEE THIS AS A JOURNEY THAT I HAVE TO GO ON. THE DESTINATION IS LESS IMPORTANT. ALONG THIS JOURNEY I WILL ADJUST TO HIM NOT BEING HERE AND WILL EVENTUALLY PARTICIPATE IN A SOCIAL LIFE AS A SINGLETON.

Task

Withdrawing emotional energy from the dead person and investing it elsewhere – new causes, new relationships etc. I DON’T THINK SO!!!! New causes may have a chance though.


Taken from: “Bereavement” – Penguin Press 1975 and “Grief Counselling and Grief Therapy” – Tavistock Publications 1984


Sooner or later, some of those who avoid all conscious grieving, break down – usually with some form of depression. (John Bowlby)


I have highlighted in pink the behaviours/feelings that I have already displayed or am currently experiencing. I am wrestling with the stuff in red especially the NEW RELATIONSHIP thing. Ain’t going to happen. EVER. Watch my lips.


The Loss Cycle

EVENT - Your loved one dies

Your energy levels rise

You experience GUILT, SHAME, BLAME
It’s my fault
It’s their fault

Energy levels drop

WHY ME?

ANGER – often unfocussed, repeated searching, bargaining, sleeplessness, unpredictable behaviour

Energy levels continue to drop

DESPAIR – What’s the point? Depression, Apathy.

Energy levels start to rise, eventually returning to normal

RENEWAL



Frances made it VERY clear to me that it takes YEARS to journey through the “Loss Cycle”, that it is NOT a linear process, that I may experience ALL of it, MOST of it, or SOME of it. Everyone is different and I should avoid comparing my “progress” with anyone else, no matter how similar the situation.

I’d concur. So far … at a little over three months since my world crumbled … I have bounced erratically from an ALMOST MANIC STATE where I was obsessing with the tiniest details, refusing to take a break from all the funeral arrangements – I WAS ON A MISSION - and could almost feel the adrenaline coursing through my veins – I could definitely feel my heart beating loudly and so, SO fast for that whole month (ENERGY LEVELS RISE), to GUILT, to ANGER, to a DEEP DARK PLACE (almost certainly DEPRESSION and APATHY), to IT’S NOT FAIR, WHY YOU? WHY ME? The day after the funeral my energy levels plummeted to an all-time record low. They are still very low, albeit a little higher than two months ago. It is a struggle to get out of bed for work every day. By Wednesday I am wiped out. I am dreading returning to a 5 day week. It’s a massive achievement to vacuum ONE ROOM for the first time in 3 months. Yep, I am most definitely bouncing around, as though EACH OF THE ABOVE WORDS WERE A TRAMPOLINE, and landing on them COMPLETELY AT RANDOM.

They should call it The Vicious (or Cruel) Cycle not The Loss Cycle




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