Reflections on Grief

I am finding it very difficult to know what to reflect on within this learning journal. After having 3-weeks away from the counselling course over Christmas, I am left with only those memories of Christmas, which are somewhat depressing. I am trying to somehow link this experience to my course for the purpose of this journal, but the feelings are still very ‘raw’ and I am lacking focus.

My mother passed away on 29th December 2011 and we had her funeral on Thursday 12th January 2012. Not the best start to the year. The funeral was the hardest part. The reality of the situation never truly hit me until I was on my own after the funeral.

While we were at the funeral it started to become more real. I didn’t want them to close the curtains around my mum’s coffin. That seemed too final. I needed to keep looking at it, so that she was still there. The person who held the service did read out some words for me, which helped me feel closer to my mum during the service.

Afterwards, everything was far too chaotic for me to process everything. People who attended the funeral came and spoke to me and then it was so busy at the wake. I felt overwhelmed and wanted to get away, but had to socialise with people. This was difficult and made feel quite angry, an emotion that I usually avoid at all costs. I was angry because I wanted to be on my own and to process my thoughts. In many ways, I felt like these people who were surrounding me were stopping me from grieving. I hope that doesn’t make me seem selfish or ungrateful. Social situations have always been difficult for me, but especially during this emotional time where I felt that my space to be with my mother in my thoughts was being invaded.

When I was finally on my own, it hit me out of the blue . . . so very hard. It was physically painfully and continues to be physically painful. My emotions are everywhere. Sometimes I can just get on with what needs doing, while other times I need to sleep. I am thinking about my mum a lot, questioning the ‘what if’s’ and ‘if only’s.’ I have sadness, regret, guilt, pain, anger, emptiness, and so much more. I can’t stop listening to the music we chose for the funeral. It is like it brings me closer to her. That is all I want as I miss her so much.

Something I have learnt is that people grieve in many different ways. We all deal with loss in the best way we know how. Something we all have in common is that we will all lose someone through death. However, despite this commonality, we will all deal with it in different ways. There is no right or wrong way to deal with the loss of a loved one. This is something I will take with me into my counselling training, recognising the differences between myself and others during a time when respect of individuality is essential for healing.


Categories: Counselling, Psychology

Tags: , , , , , , ,

6 replies

  1. It is not unusual to grieve at the loss of someone we love so much; but it would be if we did not. I have always found it too hard to attend funerals as there is such am mixture of personalities and emotions that confuse my own. Sometimes while one is knowing grief even a kindly smile tears open the wound that the loss has left.. Taking time away, giving oneself space, going one’s own pace is sometimes the best remedy . .only the person going through it can understand it.. no matter how much others claim to.. I wish you strength in your journey to acceptance and healing of that new terrible wound in your heart.. It will get better ..just when depends on how you are able to accept what has happened and how you carry this knowledge. Perhaps asking yourself how mum would want you to go on .. how would mum want you to feel.. she still watches over you and perhaps is whispering to you in your grief but you cannot hear her through all your emotions.. she’s saying I’m here still.. I’m with you forever in your soul, mind and heart.. only the physical me has and prayers.


  2. That was a powerful and brave piece as a Cruse bearevment volunteer I would just say that all the emotions your experiencing are normal and totally expected at this difficult time. As an academic I would say that Strobe and Schut’s (not sure of the year off the top of my head) dual process model of grief may help in your CPD.
    Finally the ‘continuing bonds’ that help bring you closer to your mum, such as the music etc are generally overlooked but can be extremely powerful.

    Kind regards

    @psychstew (aka Bethan)

  3. Nicola, you are so brave to post this and my thoughts are with you at this awful time. It’s hard to know what to say, except talk to people about her, and keep on posting to your lovely blog. Take time off to reflect. Look after yourself. Talk soon. xx

  4. Allow yourself to grieve as long as it takes. Grieving is a long, painful, healing process. Sending prayers and sympathy your way.

  5. I wanted to THANK everyone who acknowledged this blog. It was really touching to have the feedback and means a lot at a time when I do feel I need my thoughts and feelings validated.

    Joy, I needed to hear that sometimes ‘alone time’ is the best course of action when grieving. At a funeral, there is so much socialising that you can feel almost ‘strange’ to want to get away and be by yourself. Thank you for confirming that alone time is fine and, in fact, important during bereavement.

    Bethan, I must say that I did a big sigh of relief when I read that you, as Cruse volunteer saw my feelings as ‘normal.’ As a professional, I would be able to advise someone else in my position, but do not currently feel able to apply the same advice to myself. Your words were very reassuring and I will definately take a look at Strobe and Schut. You are doing some amazing work at Cruse and I would love to hear more about it some time.

    Susan, you say you aren’t sure what to say but your words were perfect – thank you.

    Patricia, thank you my dear friend – your prayers and sympathy are greatly appreciated.

  6. Thanks for sharing so openly, Nicola. That’s very moving…

    My first major loss was also of my mum, when I was in my early thirties, and it hit me like a freight train. I was the only one home when she passed on while we were waiting for the ambulance I had called…and then I had to call and tell my brothers and my dad what had happened. I was actually quite strong to and through the funeral, because I felt others needed me to be strong, but right after that the loss suddenly swept in and overwhelmed me.

    In my need I reached out to someone whose spirituality had been a rock to me in other situations and the message she gave me was “Your love is needed right where you are.” Coincidentally (?!) I then got a call from someone else, asking ME to help THEM to sort through an issue spiritually, and as I turned my attention to doing that I found my own sense of loss lifting…and a clear conviction came to me that my mum’s life goes on, if unseen.

    I still miss my mum, of course, but it somehow feels like a positive missing rather than a negative one – if that makes sense – a fond remembering of her character and all her qualities, rather than a thwarted desire to hang on to her companionship or to make amends for lost opportunities.

    I love the basic idea in that message shared with me, that there is a continuity to our calling to express our love, even if the most familiar object of our affections is no longer there to express it to.

    As an earlier commenter said, grieving involves healing and I feel we can trust there to be some real light at the end of the tunnel.

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