Hypnotherapy for grief
We normally associate grief with the death of a loved one. Whereas, it is actually our body’s response to loss in general.
Grief is one of the most complex processes we can go through. It triggers so many thoughts, feelings and emotions; many of which we were probably not anticipating. And there is no escape from it. No matter how we live our lives, or how many walls we put up to keep our feelings protected, we will all experience grief at some point in our lives.
Grief can make us feel that our hearts are actually physically hurting from the pain at times. And there are no shortcuts to feeling better. We may have good days, but these may be followed by bad days. Until we have finally worked our way through the process.
People may turn to hypnotherapy as a way to help them through these difficult times. And hypnotherapy can definitely help in certain circumstances. In this article, we will look at the grief curve and talk about the stages that you will go through in the process. We will also look at two of the many forms of grief in which hypnotherapy may be able to help you come to terms with your loss.
The 5 stages of grief
Kübler-Ross identified that we go through five stages of grief. These are denial, anger, bargaining, depression and then, acceptance. But we may not go through these stages in a set order and very often we will revisit a stage that we had thought we had moved on from.
For example, we may struggle at first to accept that someone has died; especially when their death has been sudden. We go through a period of anger, which could be aimed at a whole host of things. The person responsible, the doctor that didn’t save them, the disease that took them, even God for taking them too soon.
We bargain about what we are willing to do, stop doing or give up, to achieve a different outcome. I love the line in The Script’s Breakeven when they sing of their broken-down relationship, “Praying to a God that I don’t believe in”. And this is very often the case. When we run out of alternatives, we seek help from some divine source bigger than ourselves to change the situation for us.
And when we come to terms with what’s happened – that the person isn’t going to come back to life, the organisation isn’t going to change their mind about the redundancy, the partner that we love isn’t coming back – we are left with the loss and emptiness of grief. This stage can often feel numb and bleak. We can disengage with people and withdraw from activities.
Until finally, we reach a level of acceptance and are able to move on from the pain. The loss is still there but it’s no longer the dominant thought or feeling. At this stage, we can begin to access our memories again and look back on them with a smile instead of the pain.
The death of someone or something
When we lose someone or something that we love, such as a pet, it is going to take time to move through the grief process. As much as we would love the pain to go away, suppressing these feelings is not healthy in the long term. And so, while generally, hypnotherapy would not be used to treat the grief itself, it could support in other areas, such as teaching you progressive muscle relaxation and working on breathing and relaxation techniques. This may also help you to rest and sleep so that your body has time to heal from the emotional trauma it’s experiencing.
Sometimes, however, we can get stuck in one of the stages of grief, unable to move past it. This is known as complex grief. When we are experiencing complex grief, there are many ways in which hypnotherapy could be used to support us to move through the process in a healthy response.
But this isn’t just restricted to the death of just those who we love. Often, when someone who has treated us badly passes away, we go through a similar process. The finality of death means that regardless of whether we loved or hated them, we will never have the opportunity to say what is left unsaid. To build bridges, or reach a point where we are able to forgive or be forgiven.
How hypnotherapy can help
Hypnotherapy can be used to help us facilitate any conversations that we would have liked to have in a safe space and at a pace that feels comfortable. It can help us to process any traumas that have been triggered by the death. Sometimes, it is about processing the emotions that surround the death, such as guilt.
The loss of a job, purpose and/or freedom
The pandemic has seen many people lose their jobs, so this is a very topical form of grief that we around the world are experiencing right now. And when we lose our job, we can also feel like we have lost our purpose. Without the routine of going to work, what reason do we have to get out of bed, for example?
Or for many, who cared for sick relatives who sadly passed, they too may not only be feeling the loss of the person who has died, but also a loss of their sense of self; no longer needing to carry out the role that they have done for so long.
We have also needed to adapt to the loss of our freedom over long periods of time and on repeated occasions. The disappointment of not seeing our loved ones and having holidays and events cancelled. For many of us who are law-abiding citizens, this is a reality we never thought we would be facing.
And it can be hard to keep morale high during these times. The news is bleak and our financial situation may be stretched. And often, the longer we experience this sense of loss, the more of our confidence we will lose.
How hypnotherapy can help
Hypnotherapy can be hugely effective with this kind of loss. It can help us to visualise the future that we want and a path on how to get there. Setting goals and looking for ways to proactively overcome obstacles if we face them. It can arm us with techniques to dial-up our confidence and reduce down our fears, as well as helping with relaxation and breathing techniques, which can help to manage attacks of anxiety.
It’s important to know that grief takes time to overcome. And there is no one-size-fits-all solution. We will all respond to grief in different ways, depending on the situation and many influencing factors. You should not compare your feelings to others. Beating yourself up for not being further along the process is not helpful behaviour, nor does anyone really know what someone else is going through.
Keep in mind that what you perceive to be resolution may, instead, be someone else’s armour that they’ve put up for their own protection. So above all else, it is important that we remember to be kind to ourselves.
Are you ready to find a hypnotherapist? Simply browse profiles until you find a person you resonate with, and send them an email.
If you’re struggling with your mental health, or you’re worried about a loved one and how they’re coping with loss, you may benefit from speaking with a counsellor. Visit Counselling Directory to learn more about bereavement counselling and to find a therapist near you.