Grief and Loss

Loss and Grief ..

A part of all our lives

.Grief comes in to all our lives  at some point. Perhaps we instinctively think of grief as linked to death but in truth it is more correctly linked to loss. Loss is something we can experience in many ways. It may be loss connected to a  broken relationship for example. Loss of a person is  most acutely and powerfully felt when we lose someone in death.

You may  have experienced such losses through ended relationships, separations, the death of a parent, a family member ,a loved one , or a child. Loss can also be more subtle and less obvious, such as the loss of one’s future through illness or infertility.

If any of these reflect any part of your life experience this article may be of some help to you.

What is Grief ?

Grief is a normal and healthy reaction that occurs when you lose someone or something important. It is the emotional working through of your loss. It is the process of grieving and dealing with your feelings that helps you to adjust to your  loss and to live your life with an adjusted horizon that incorporates the loss.

You may try to avoid or postpone grieving but in truth this can lead to complications such as depression or anxiety.

Understanding what is happening to you will help. It is also important to recognise that your grief is unique to you. How you feel and how you handle your feelings is linked to your personality, your history and other losses you have already dealt with. If you are the kind of person who never shares your emotions with others you will likely find it a little more difficult at this time as you have no established natural download for your feelings. Friends and family can be very helpful in this regard. Equally if one’s whole family are grieving it may be important to seek someone outside of the grouping who is unaffected.

What you can expect!

It is entirely natural to feel sadness and yearning for the person, object or future you have lost. Feeling worried and anxious is very usual and is indicative of deeper fears in one about coping with their life changed by the loss. Feeling confused and less competent in many areas is usual as one’s system works through all the emotions one can become less able to concentrate or to complete tasks.

When grieving one can be over-sensitive to other people’s behavior, which can cause difficulties in personal relationships. It is worth remembering that your reactions may be amplified to what others say and do and to notice how you might have responded at another time.

Reacting strongly to  seemingly minor losses or changes. This occurs because they trigger feelings which relate to the core loss you are dealing with or trying to ignore.

You can see that the range of feelings you may experience is quite extensive. Recognising the normality of your feelings allows you not to retreat from them and facilitates you in allowing an emotional working through of each of them .

In other words rather than saying ‘Oh that’s silly’, to be feeling like that, it is more beneficial to you to realise that while it may seem silly it is perfectly normal considering what you are adjusting to and to allow yourself to be that way.

The intensity of what you feel will relate to what you have lost and the timing of that loss in your life. Equally if the loss was sudden and unexpected it is normal for all feelings to be considerably amplified.

Relationships that have been complex in life are often complex in death. A daughter or son who has an on-going rift or conflict with the parent, for example.  The factor of complexity can be that all opportunities for reparation and healing are no longer available. This can amplify and complicate grief. The lack of further opportunity is best acknowledged and worked through.

Grief draws up like a magnet to the surface the deepest feelings within you. For this reason the time of grief can feel powerful, intense and you may feel  somewhat out of control. Losses which have never been dealt with can meet each other in this turbulent rise of feeling and can intensify what you are feeling to a degree that you may find frightening. Such collisions of past and present losses and grief may require a clinicians listening to help you stabilise and understand what is occurring and to guide you forward.

For the very same reason grief can bring a time of growth as you meet the challenge of understanding yourself more and of letting go what is gone.

 So do remember …

Your grief is unique to you

There is an emotional working through process which needs to occur for you to move forward in your grief

You will need time to identify, accept and to work through your feelings.

Give yourself all the time that you need. Do not measure yourself by any one else as their loss is different to yours.

Support is important. Sometimes being able to talk will be supportive , sometimes to be able to enjoy yourself and forget will be just as important.

Connecting with your feelings through writing can be therapeutic

It is good to remind oneself of the necessary cycle of life involving a seamless continuum of endings and beginnings, winter and spring, death and birth.





New Year Resolutions

New Year resolutions!  Think before you start!


If New Year resolutions are about improving yourself or dropping a trait or behaviour that you would long like to change then that’s a good thing. But be very aware that if you are to have any chance of succeeding with those resolutions there are a number of things you need to be really mindful of.

Research shows that more than 50% of all resolutions are broken and that more than 30% will be broken by the end of January. So flippant  thoughtless resolution making will not lead to success and may leave you feeling bad about yourself, despite your best efforts.


Resolutions are not easy to keep, that is why you need the right mindset and some preparations if you are to have a chance of succeeding.




So before you start with all this resolution making for  2019, take some small time out and reflect on 2018. Be realistic truthful and fair with yourself.

Take yourself back to last January and look at any resolutions that you made.Think about why you  made them. Ask yourself what you were really trying to achieve.

Now write down what progress you made with them and where things didn’t go well.

Did you start like a storm and then leave the resolution after one fall or slip.


If so it’s very possible that you expected too much too quickly and or too easily.  You may also not have been mindful that small setbacks are to be expected and planned for. Finally you need to ask yourself if this resolution was something that you really wanted to achieve and if so why did you let it go.




Resolutions are really something we need to be making every week every month, small resolutions that bring us to our best.

Resolutions should not be all about your weight,  or your drinking.

But resolutions that will improve many aspects of your life.


You should think about all aspects of your lifes if you want to be the best you that you can be.Your social life, your hobbies and your work, your love life, your sexual self.


Resolutions are often about giving up, perhaps it would be better if you thought about taking something up.


I encourage clients to take up something new every year,and to learn a new skill or hobby. Try something new , explore a new area, make new connections.  is it imperative to open your world outwards and resolutions are good in so far as they can keep you on the right track and help you to review how you are doing.




Many people are inclined to over count their failures and under count their successes leading to low feelings about oneself, that ultimately damages your motivation. The good feeling that you get from counting your successes maintains your motivation to continue even when there has been a set back. if on the other hand you focus on your mistake, give out to yourself for having slipped in your resolution, you are far more likely to throw in the towel, take out the packet of cigarettes and put yourself back on the smoker list. The attitude that you take to setbacks and the manner in which you count them is going to be key to whether you succeed or not in my view.

Success like any goal is not one single step achievement,  it tends to be made up of many small steps that all move in the right direction toward the ultimate goal.




Think carefully about the resolution you are choosing. Achieving this goal has to be really meaningful to you. it needs to be important enough to place it beyond some other tempting things.


Your resolution should not be based on what other people want of you/ or if they want you to change something

Your resolution must arise out of your own desire to change

Your resolution shouldn’t be vague

and your resolution should be part of a plan, with measurable steps.




Prepare for your resolution  start day , it doesn’t have to be January 01


Do some research, planning, thinking and reflecting

before you choose what you are going to do and what you really want to improve in your life.

You need to explore and give time to your plan and to feel committed to it. Writing it down and mapping it out is important. A visual map of progress is very useful.

If you are not committed it will be very difficult for you to keep to the plan.




Think deeply about why and what you want to change


  • Practice some self control for a few days. Begin by saying NO to something you want. Start with 3 No’s and build each day for a week until you are on 10-15 No’s.
  • Begin your Plan
  • Chart what you do correctly
  • Congratulate yourself for what you achieve for the progress you are making, good feelings will help you to stay on track
  • Expect setbacks and accept them. See what caused the setback, work it out and write it down, resolve to do better


Improving your life happens a step at a time. Most importantly those steps must be in the right direction. Happy New Year now get down to the work of mapping out the improvements you need to make.


Stephanie Regan

Clinical Psychotherapist