It can be the hardest thing in the world to come to terms with when a loved one dies, and the feelings of grief and loss can be overwhelming.
Or at least, that’s what I experienced after my mum passed away 10 years ago after a long battle with cancer. I was asked a few years ago if I’d ever let myself grieve for my mum, and I remember being really confused by the question and a little defensive. Of course I had grieved for her; I felt her absence in my life every single day. But as I began to think about it, I realised I’d never really let myself explore the emotions that often threatened to come tumbling out at the mere mention of her name. I had been suppressing my grief for years, feeling like I just needed to be strong and to get on with my life, as well as to support those around me.
As humans, we are primed from birth to make social bonds with others – it’s a matter of survival as we are born helpless and unable to look after ourselves. Throughout our lives, we seek out connections with other people, we become part of communities and create strong attachments to others, which is why the loss of someone close to us can have such a profound effect. Renowned psychologist and neuroscientistJaak Panksepp, who coined the phrase, ‘affective neuroscience’, identified seven basic emotional systems concentrated in ancient subcortical regions of all mammalian brains. One of these is the GRIEF/LOSS network, which he explains, “forges social bonds and dependencies between infants and caretakers, and probably regulates adult social relationships and solidarity. (S)evered attachment bonds make adults suffer in a distinct way, commonly called grief.”
Elisabeth Kübler-Ross famously described the 5 ‘stages’ of grief – denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance – but explained that they weren’t actual stages, just the predominant emotions she’d witnessed in her research of those dying and those in mourning. So it could be that you experience all or just a couple of these emotions whilst dealing with your loss, the only sure thing is that we all experience grief in our own unique way.
My own experience has shown me that there is no easy way through the process, except to be open to working on your need to grieve in whichever way is appropriate for you, in order to find resolution and peace of mind. For me, discovering and having Kinesiology sessions where I could talk to someone outside of my normal circle really worked - I was able to make huge shifts with my feelings of anger, guilt and denial. In fact, it’s a big part of why I started practicing Kinesiology – the change was so obvious and has been so life-changing that I wanted to be able to help others work through their grieving process.
- Helen Griffiths, Kinesiologist