Working Through Grief – Part 2

September Trent, MS, LPC

Inner Struggles of Grief

When grieving a loss, you may experience inner struggles. This article discusses common inner struggles and positive ways to work through the grieving process. It is very normal to go through the following struggles. Grieving involves feeling a mix of emotions. These emotions may occur all at once or at different times of the day or at different points of your grieving process. It is very important that you acknowledge and experience all these emotions.

Relief- This relief comes from not seeing a loved one suffer any longer or that an event is over. Most importantly, your relief comes from a calm period after a storm of pain.

Emotional Rest- You may experience emotional mood swings throughout your grieving process. Remember that no emotion is right or wrong.  You may find it helpful to write down your feelings or journal about them.

Regrets- Almost everyone has regrets of some sort.  No one is perfect, and you cannot do everything the way you hoped. It is important to examine your regrets because they may root in a deeper personal issue. It is important to give yourself some slack and forgive yourself for not doing all you had hoped. It may also be helpful to write a letter to a loved one and tell him the things you regret and the things you wish you would have told him.

The Story- The story of your loss is very significant. If it is a loss of a loved one, you may tell the story of her death many times. As time goes on, you may not tell the story at all because it is too painful. It is very important for you to tell the story because it is important for the grieving process. Telling your tale emphasizes its importance and value. It may also be helpful to write down the story and memories of the loved one lost.

Fault- When we experience a loss, we ask questions about whether the loss could have been prevented. We often blame ourselves for things we should’ve done. It is difficult to get out of this mind set. In their book On Grief and Grieving, Küber-Ross and Kessler say it well. “The real question is: If you have been spared in order to live, are you living? Can you be fully living if you don’t grieve your loss (pg. 70)?” Remember that you are responsible for yourself and your actions, not the actions of others.

Resentment- After a loss you may find yourself feeling resentment for what was lost. In regard to the loss of a loved one, you may feel resentment because the loved one did not treat you as you should have been treated. Resentment is anger that you have not dealt with or have not had the opportunity to deal with. Resentment may be resolved intellectually, but it also needs to be resolved emotionally.

Past Losses-When we experience a loss of a loved one, feelings from past losses may be brought up while you are trying to grieve the current loss. This can be confusing and frustrating. When this occurs, it means that you need to grieve two losses: the current loss and the loss from the past. For whatever reason, you may not have been ready or prepared to grieve the past loss at the time it happened. It is important that you fully grieve this loss now.

Isolation- If you do find yourself feeling isolated for a long period of time, you may need to ask for assistance from friends, family, or professionals. If you are unable to connect with friends or family, bereavement groups are help in which you are surrounded by people who understand grief.  Another idea is to start an activity that you enjoy. This may help you feel less isolated and may even help you meet new friends.

Control- When you experience a loss, you feel like you have no control. In order to feel more in control, you begin taking control of things and people in your life. It is important to know that needing this sense of control is a way to avoid experiencing grief and emotions tied with grief (sadness, anger, and fear). Be aware of the motivation behind your controlling behavior. The action of controlling may actually be hurting your grief work rather than helping it.

Strength- When you experience a loss, at least someone will tell you to “be strong.” This statement can be very irritating because it is difficult to know what is meant by this statement. Often, we think of being strong as not feeling emotions. Yet, if we do not experience emotions we can never work through grief. If you try to put off feeling emotions or ignore them completely, they will return later. The best thing you can do after a loss is sit with the emotion that you are experiencing and process through it.

Remember that you are not alone in your grief. There are many resources including your family, friends, and support groups to help you through this process.  Grief is a process and being willing to experience it now will only help you through the process.

Reference:

Kübler-Ross, E., & Kessler, D. (2005). On grief and grieving: Finding the meaning of grief through the five stages of loss. New York, NY: Scribner.

Recommended Readings:

Kübler-Ross, E. (1969). On death and dying: What the dying have to teach doctors, nurses, clergy, and their own families. New York, NY: Touchstone.

Kübler-Ross, E., & Kessler, D. (2005). On grief and grieving: Finding the meaning of grief through the five stages of loss. New York, NY: Scribner.

September Trent, MS, PLPC is a Provisional Licensed Professional Counselor with The Relationship Center. She has a heart for “showing God’s love through serving others.” September obtained her Bachelor’s degree in psychology and Master’s degree in counseling psychology from Evangel University. She specializes in marital therapy and working with individuals struggling with a variety of issues including eating disorders, depression, and anxiety. September’s experience includes working with children and adolescents residing in inpatient facilities as well as completing an internship working with adults struggling with severe mental illness. She also has experience in gerontology where she has counseled individuals residing in nursing homes, provided in-home mental health services to elderly individuals, and assisted families in coping with mental illness. September and her husband have one daughter and reside in Springfield.

September Trent sees clients in Springfield, Missouri.

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