Grief needs to be worked through, not ignored

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What do Prince Harry, Joey Essex and Martin Lewis all have in common? All their lives have been significantly impacted because of unresolved grief – grief that had lain for many years unnoticed, except in the behaviours born out of their unmanaged emotions. From the exuberant lifestyle of Prince Harry to Joey Essex’s infidelity and Martin Lewis’s crippling anxiety – which prevented him leaving his house for 6 years – their loss, trauma and grief played out in their actions.

 

Their stories aren’t unusual. Few people bridge the gap well. According to census data around 40,000 children are left bereaved from the death of a parent every year in the UK alone. Many will try anything to avoid, deny, or numb rather than acknowledge, understand and express their emotional pain and work through it.

 

Time alone heals nothing if a person doesn’t have the right support and isn’t taking the right actions to resolve their grief. Those who do receive the right support for their trauma saw a 25 per cent greater improvement in their grief healing, compared to those who had either not sought support or found the right support.

 

Throughout my 20s and 30s my emotions were hidden behind a smile, suit and heels. I fell into unhelpful patterns of behaviour. Eating disorders and associated addictions prevalent in my teens, were now swapped with working harder, doing more, seeking ‘perfect’ as I desperately sought control of a world I felt lost in and overwhelmed by.

My life spectacularly imploded, and I lost my husband, health and career in quick succession. Everything I had worked for was gone in a matter of weeks

It was only six years ago, after suffering multiple losses in quick succession that I finally took a pause.  My life spectacularly imploded, and I lost my husband, health and career in quick succession. Everything I had worked for was gone in a matter of weeks. I didn’t know how I was going to cope or what I should do. My four-year-old nephew innocently observed at Christmas that year. “Now that Uncle Chris is dead, Auntie Lollipops has nothing”.

 

He kindly offered to look after me for 100 days! That feels like a long time when you’re four, but I was 42, and it wasn’t going to get me much past March! But the question wasn’t how’, but ‘what’ was I coping with? His words were the catalyst for me deciding to truly acknowledge my loss and move through my grief.  Only in losing everything, did I realize I had MYSELF, my resilience and resourcefulness. I chose to build and embrace a new life. It took work and was only possible by first acknowledging my grief for the old losses I had experienced.

 

Roll forward six years, and I have moved 90 miles around the M25, bought a house in a town I didn’t know, renovated that house into a home, made friendships far deeper than I ever had before, and retrained and set up a business I am passionate about. I now help others to acknowledge and move through grief and build a new and fulfilling life. By offering them a space where they’re heard, without criticism, judgement or fear of rejection. They too begin to acknowledge their grief, to understand, to find their voice, to connect with themselves and a world in which they wish to live and indeed love again after their loss.

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