How Can I Help You To Say Goodbye?

Most people manage their grief using the love of their families and friends. We know it's normal to grieve so we anticipate that it will take some time. This normalizing factor plays a big role in why most people don't seek counseling for bereavement, however a counselor can help us understand and deal with our grief in ways that family and friends can't.

Not Moving Beyond Your Grief?
Receiving comfort for a loss is not the same as resolving that loss. If someone is not moving on with his or her grief, counseling is often helpful--but not for the reasons most people assume. For these folks the comfort of family and friends may not be sufficient. Instead, what they need is to resolve their loss. They need to move through or work through their feelings of loss in order to move on. This means they must allow the feelings to flow through them. This is how counseling is beneficial where the words of a kind friend often fall short.

Loss is experienced to the degree to which we have experienced other losses. Bottom Line: the more loss you have experienced in your life and the earlier you went through it, the more difficulty you will experience moving through grief later in life.
 
Experiencing a loss easily triggers other losses especially those losses that have not yet been fully resolved. The reason that this happens is due to the interconnectivity of the brain and how our experiences are mapped out via neuropathways.

The reason why it is important to consider how early your loss occurred is that the brain is more impressionable during our formative years. This is especially so when the nervous system is growing in the first 3 years of life. We are learning more at this stage of our life than the next 13 years. So this learning has greater impact. "I can't feel but I think I should be feeling."

A loss, sudden or otherwise, is sometimes flooding to the nervous system. It can increase your physiological arousal so much so that you move outside your Window of Tolerance (or also known as the Zone of Comfort). One way the nervous system responds to an influx of energy is to cap it. We subsequently feel numb. The brain couples up our experiences and because our experiences form neuropathways it is easy to see that the interconnectivity of the brain makes us tap into other losses.

(If you have a hard time seeing how this works, imagine a time when you were really angry at your brother, or your sister, or your friend or your partner. Many people start to experience anger that was left unresolved: "And I remember the other time when you…!" One moment of anger triggers another and suddenly we remember all the other times when we felt that way.) Just imagine the last time that your partner was angry--even if the anger wasn't directed at you. You no doubt felt some of that distress in your own body.


We need the comfort of others.
As I may have suggested elsewhere, being around others who are more grounded helps us to regulate also. In other words, we affect each other more than we realize. And thankfully, science is catching up with what many of us already know in our hearts. That is, we know that it's a comfort to have others around. But some of us don't always know that we know--if you know what I mean. It sometimes takes the progress of science for us to believe what is real.

For an interesting article on what neuroscience has found about the effect we have on each other, read a recent essay in the New York Times by the well-known Daniel Goleman. As you may already know, Dr. Goleman wrote Emotional Intelligence, a ground breaking best seller.

Dr. Goleman cites research for instance, that suggests the physical presence of loved ones can lower our blood pressure. You probably already knew how the opposite feelings can effect us...
Friends for Life: An Emerging Biology of Emotional Healing

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How Can I Help You To Say Goodbye?

"Mama whispered softly, Time will ease your pain
Life's about changing, nothing ever stays the same
And she said, How can I help you to say goodbye?
It's OK to hurt, and it's OK to cry
Come, let me hold you and I will try
How can I help you to say goodbye?"
By Patty Loveless