To recognise National Grief Awareness Week, Rafan House is looking at how to lift the shadow of grief:
Sometimes in grief we can feel thrown into temporary darkness and there is a shadow of the object that still remains within our mind of that person we have loved and lost. To recover from this grief, we must allow the shadow to lift. What we don’t often realise is that for this shadow to lift your mind must allow the loss to become a part of you. While we often want to avoid the pain, sometimes we must face it to grow and recreate our minds, so you as a person become different. If you stay unchanged you won’t recover from the loss because loss changes you. Giving up a piece of yourself and growing is part of that process to help you move forward.
When we are in grief, we unconsciously fall down the developmental ladder to a different age inside. The age that you fall down to will determine how you react in your grief. The reaction could look like a stubborn teenager or instead wishing to be looked after like a baby, it manifests differently for everyone. As a bystander, we must remember to forgive and be sympathetic because often the grieved person does not have full agency over the way they present themselves to the world at that moment. Grief is also not a process you can hurry due to this existing dynamic which people have no control over. This dynamic is part of that shadow over your mind, so part of your recovery incorporates climbing back up the developmental ladder. However, you will not be climbing back to where you came from but into a different space. One where you acknowledge you are different and have had to grow even if it did not feel good.
Children are no different other than they must re-grieve every stage of development whether that is age two all the way through to twenty-five. This can explain why sometimes children grieve in unexpected ways. It may be that they are behaving badly at school, feeling anxious or physically unwell. They need to be given the space to re-grieve each new developmental stage in life or else their minds can get partially stuck at that age. This is why so often we see people in middle age or later in life react in a child-like manner every time they are faced with grief. We need to all give space to developmentally grieve.
As a final note, we wanted to take a moment to reflect on the loss of Queen Elizabeth II which was felt widely across the UK and the globe earlier in the year. Her death reminded us of all our mortality, those we have already lost and those we may one day lose. We saw a range of emotions as everyone processed their grief in a range of responses, even if they had not met her. Remember grief is not forever but it will take as long as it takes – the old English thought is ‘a year and a day’ as you cover every anniversary and other special times throughout the first year.
Rafan House understands that handling grief can be enormously challenging. We offer specialised, compassionate and discreet conversations with individuals, families, and children that can help you begin to live with a loss, understand the discomfort of others in the face of loss, and learn to talk about it.