Surrey-Langley Grief and Loss Counselling
What is grief?
Grief is the experience of loss – it could be the death of a loved one, but it can also involve the loss of a relationship, a dream, a role or the diagnosis of an illness. Grief can be very painful and at times, a lonely experience with potentially intense emotions of disbelief and shock. Grief changes you – whether sudden or anticipated, it may leave you feeling out of control, disoriented and broken. We will all inevitably know grief and loss at some point in time throughout our lives – it is part of the human condition.
Everyone’s experience is different and as such, grief is a complex process. Individuals work through their grief in their own way and in their own time. Some may feel angry, sad, anxious, scared, numb or even relief, experiencing a multitude of emotions and feelings. It can feel like an emotional rollercoaster, with ups and downs and no end in sight – you may feel like yourself one day, and the next, feel like your world has come crashing down. We often feel ill-equipped to deal with the sadness and mourning, and many of us were never taught to deal with the emotional pain. Instead, people tell you to “be strong” and that “time will heal”, until eventually you are told to “get over it” – others don’t understand what it feels like since it is difficult to explain or put into words if you haven’t experienced it. Our culture doesn’t provide a lot of support for grief – this leads to feeling more alone than ever.
Mending your heart
It is common to feel changes in our minds and bodies as a result of grief, including tears, numbness, persistent sadness, memory loss, insomnia, shock, physical and emotional exhaustion. Sometimes you feel you will never be healed and, in some sense, life will never be the same. The process of grief does not progress in a step-by-step fashion, and even though you may have returned to life’s commitments, you still experience upsets and distress. Grief doesn’t have to mean a lifetime of suffering.
You are not alone… You can work through grief with the help of family and loved ones. For extra assistance as needed, a therapist may also help you to express your grief in ways that are more nurturing and supportive. Counselling can help a grieving person to navigate their emotions and release repressed feelings, helping you to process the experience of grief and loss. There are many arts and body-based tools to help heal your heart and reconnect to a sense of health and wellness.
How Expressive Arts therapy can help with grief?
For some, talk therapy can feel onerous and exhausting, with the repetition of grief feelings being rehashed with little relief. Expressive Arts Therapy may provide a valuable release for the expression of grief by helping to heal your sorrows by opening up channels to the body of grief. What is difficult to verbalize may be unblocked through the imagination as we find our way back to wholeness through the grieving process. Expressive Arts therapy provides a safe space from which grief may be processed and integrated – through creativity and writing a narrative around their story, clients are able to share their personal experience of their grief and loss. Words are not necessary with drawing, visual arts, play therapy and movement – a connection is fostered between the heart and hand, allowing the expression of grief of those emotions that were trapped inside. The creative process of art making provides a new way to make sense of the world in the face of loss.
In grief counselling with Expressive Arts therapy, you may take a step towards growing and healing your pain through sharing your grief. Creative expression can help provide a different perspective on grief and if you can stay with the grieving process and allow it to unfold naturally with acceptance and mindfulness, you can find optimism in these difficult times. My heart goes out to you in this burdensome time – I have experienced grief in a multitude of ways and times; I understand what it is like to lose greatly and yet, to rise above and integrate these often intense emotions. You can too.
Epstein-Johnson, Valerie. Retrieved from https://www.focalpointarttherapy.com/grief-therapy
Retrieved from http://www.healmyheart.ca/
Retrieved from https://cmhahamilton.ca/documents/grieving/