grief and loss

At the beginning of the year I lost my mum. It had been a long journey since 2004, when Mum was diagnosed with Alzheimers. She then had a major stroke in 2011 which left her unable to walk or talk. Mum has always taught me how amazing the human spirit can be, having survived an extremely traumatic childhood yet becoming the most loving, wise and kind mum you could imagine. And although the last 17 years have been really tough, her spirit remained strong. She was still able to find happiness in music, food and people, usually smiling and laughing. Her death although expected was still a shock, as the relationship with our mums is unique, special and primal.

Grief is a rollercoaster and the main thing I’ve always taught clients  – and practised myself during this time – is to be kind to yourself and to follow your feelings. I cried if I felt like it, I laughed and celebrated her if that felt appropriate, if I didn’t feel like talking I didn’t, and I focussed on my needs and let go of any other obligations in my life so I could be with family or by myself.

The physical processing of grief is quite an experience – sheer exhaustion, a foggy mind, and a feeling of being not quite in the world were all aspects of grief I experienced, and this is completely normal. People are often surprised at their own physiological reactions to death, but this is part of the process. Grief isn’t terribly understood in our culture, with the expectation that you’ll “get over it” quickly and people are often uncomfortable with tears or the expression of pain.

Being in the profession I’m in and being surrounded by many sensitive loved ones, I was lucky, but not everyone is. If you’ve experienced loss – or know someone who has – know that there are no magic words anyone can say to ‘make things better’ (or worse for that matter). The thing that helps most is being honest with your feelings and connection with those around us. Whether that’s through a loving text, a cup of tea, making a meal or just sitting together.

Grief isn’t neat or linear and there is no time limit. Intense emotions can pop up years later and this is normal. There is no ‘right or wrong’ way to feel. If you want to talk about your loved one then talk and if you cry while you do, they’re just tears and they’re a part of life. Just ride those waves – some will be rough, some gentle, take things day by day and most of all be kind to yourself.

Jacqui Manning

If you are experiencing hard times, grief or loss, or know someone who is going through some challenges you may be thinking what can a psychologist help you with and what does Jacqui Manning offer? See more about Jacqui in the link below. For further enquiries or to make a booking please contact us at reception on 02 9555 8806 or email reception@darlinghealth.com.au