All of us have, at some time or another, experienced grief. While it’s an emotion we most commonly associate with death, it’s not limited to the loss of a life. We can grieve for friends or family who move far away, for a lost item that had powerful sentimental worth or for an opportunity we should have taken but didn’t.
As children many of us have lost treasured pets or older relatives. And as we get older, death’s footsteps fall closer to our daily lives, claiming friends, parents, siblings and others we cherish.
Grief in all these circumstances is entirely normal. In fact, it’s also entirely healthy. And most of the time it’s transitory, a process with a beginning and an end that we move through on the way to reclaiming emotional equilibrium at some undefined near-future point.
For some of us, though, the sense of loss is so great and so overwhelming that it’s impossible to find what we often describe as ‘closure’ – that point where we can allow ourselves to close the door on the past and concentrate again on today and tomorrow. Often this inability to move beyond grief has strong links to guilt.
Just as chronic grief can manifest itself in all sorts of ways, so different people will find different coping mechanisms for it – a process that often involves compartmentalising the raw emotion and boxing it up out of sight of our conscious self. Our subconscious, though, is adept at opening up those boxes from time to time, sometimes most unexpectedly; and unless we deal with the root cause of the grief, we can never be completely free of it.
Most of us experience grief in a relatively safe environment made up by people who know and love us, understand us and with whom we are comfortable sharing pain. Talking about loss is an integral part of healing because it allows us to articulate how we feel and, more importantly, why we feel the way we do.
Others, though, have to live through their grief in a very public way, never finding the personal space needed to recognise, acknowledge and deal with the pain they feel.
When it comes to grief in the public eye, there can surely be no greater example than the experiences of Prince William and Prince Harry following the death of their mother, Princess Diana, in a car crash as she and her consort, Dodi Fayed, fled paparazzi through a Paris tunnel.
Listening to Prince Harry talking this week about the two years of what he describes as ‘total chaos’ in his late twenties probably did more for raising awareness around grief and its effect than this blog or any newspaper article or interview could ever do.
Admitting to spending the last twenty years not thinking about his mother because ‘why would that help?’ will have resonated strongly with the thousands of people who are still living with grief long after the loss itself occurred.
As he spoke of feeling anger, of succumbing to dark periods where he felt violent tendencies and of struggling to cope with his grief in the public eye, it turned out that Harry, who always seems to have been something of a barometer for normality within the Royal Family, is, well, exactly that: normal.
In a podcast with The Daily Telegraph’s Bryony Gordon Prince Harry talks about how the pent-up grief affected his ability to work, aspects of his personal life and how it was his brother who eventually persuaded him to seek help.
He also describes how talking about grief makes you realise you’re part of a very large club and that it’s okay to feel the way you do. And that’s why hypnotherapy for grief is a really effective way of removing the subconscious blocks that prevent people from coming to an acceptance of their loss and then moving beyond it.
Coincidentally, yesterday we received some wonderful thanks from a mother whose 11-year-old son was not only being bullied at school but was also experiencing acute grief trauma following the sudden loss of his grandad.
In her note to our amazing associate Elaine Hodgins, who treated her son, the mother wrote: “We cannot thank you enough for the help you gave him. He enjoyed seeing you and you made him aware that it’s okay to feel certain ways and that he can control things. We think you are awesome. Much love.”
If you, or someone you know, is suffering from chronic grief please get in touch and see how we can help you come to terms with your feelings and rediscover the happy life you deserve.
Grief may feel like agony, but you really don’t have to – and shouldn’t – suffer it in silence.