You loved, hoped and lost. Grief is the emotion we feel when we lose someone or something important to us.
Sometimes that is the death of someone close to us. The sudden person-shaped hole in your network of relationships is so real you feel you can touch it.
Sometimes it is the accident or illness impacting on someone you love. Your feelings respond to the loss of health in their life that they and you are experiencing. If we also know that death is approaching in a terminal illness, like cancer, grief is already there as we walk towards the time we fear and know is coming.
If you lose a really important person in your life: husband, wife, boyfriend, girlfriend, best friend or family member through a relationship breakdown, break up, divorce, conflict, falling out, even simply moving towns or countries, that can be like something in your life died as well. They were there and now they are not. Sometimes, when they are still in your wider life but not in the same kind of relationship, that can be excruciating.
More subtlety, but often still deeply affecting, is when our hoped for life or relationship isn't how we feel like it should be. There is a gap between our expectations and what we are experiencing in reality. I have worked with many people who have had a parent or partner treat them abusively (physically, emotionally or mentally - all are equally affecting). Often, one of the many emotions they are working through is grief about the gap between their internal expectations of what a parent should be and what they experienced. They feel a deep sense of loss that their experience of a parent was not what they felt it should have been.
Grief has many faces. What I have described is in no way a complete picture.
What I want you to know is that to hurt is okay. The grief is there because you loved, hoped and had faith in people or yourself. To grow and cultivate love, hope and faith is to be human and to be fully alive. They are the sign posts that point us to the way a relationship ought to be. We aim for goals in our life, creative endeavours and business opportunities. Being part of a network of friends and whanau where we love, are loved, and find our place in the world is the heart of human experience.
We have loss because death is a part of life, generated by the best parts of life. But it hurts in a potentially all consuming way, and that's OK.
Finding your way in the midst of grief can sometimes feel impossible. Talking to a counsellor who is outside of your situation and who won't tell you how to feel, judge you for how you are feeling, or tell you that "you should be over it by now" can help you find your way to the other side of grief and loss.
Equally some of the emotions you have been feeling confused about might be grief. It's very possible to be grieving and have not named it as such. If you’re feeling really sad it might be because there are some very good reasons for you to feel that way, even if you maybe haven't put your finger on it yet. A counsellor can help you explore feelings you’re having that make no sense to you but are happening to you in a very real way. I think of it as helping you map it out so you can see it clearly and then decide how you want to respond to it.
Read my counselling page if you would like hear what a first session will be like with me.