Coping with loss: a bereavement from the past

October 22nd, 2023
bereavement journey and dealing with a bereavement

“Grief is like the ocean; it comes on waves ebbing and flowing. Sometimes the water is calm, and sometimes it is overwhelming. All we can do is learn to swim.”
Vicki Harrison

Bereavement journey and dealing with a bereavement from the past

Dealing with a bereavement is a complex and deeply personal experience.

There is no “right way”, no one-size-fits-all approach, or an expiry date at which the bereavement process should end.  

Even if the person you lost died years and years ago, you may still feel it intensely on a day-to-day basis.

Or that pain can lie dormant and resurface unexpectedly – triggered by a memory, a song, or a moment that only the person who died would truly understand.

Feelings of grief don’t have a timeline, and in this blog we’ll explore that idea and discuss how people who still struggle with a bereavement from the past can navigate this ever-changing journey.

The unpredictable nature of dealing with bereavement

There is no formula for dealing with a bereavement – it doesn’t follow a linear path and there isn’t an average duration of which it should last.

Some people may find themselves overwhelmed by grief immediately after a loss, while others might experience it weeks, months, or even years later.

This unpredictability can be confusing, both for the person grieving and for those around them.

Here at The Therapy Room, we speak to a range of people who are looking for help and support to navigate the bereavement journey.

Some people come to us straight after a bereavement. While others want to speak to us about a loss they experienced decades ago that they thought they had dealt with at the time but has recently surfaced and is starting to affect their quality of life.

Others come to us as part of their journey toward tackling addiction issues which were triggered by the loss of a loved one in the past.

Whatever the reason or however long has passed, if you need help with a bereavement, it’s important to understand that this process is unpredictable but that your emotions and feelings are valid and deserve to be listened to without judgement.

The pressure to move on or to conform to expectations

Society has a lot of invisible rules and the bereavement journey is no exception.

If you’ve experienced a loss, you may feel pressure to do a lot of different things.

For example, to cry, to provide support to others, and to “move on” or “get back to normal” after a certain period of time.

All of these expectations are extremely unhelpful and can lead to unnecessary feelings of guilt and isolation.

The truth is that no one should feel any expectation when it comes to bereavement.

If you don’t cry it doesn’t make you any less sad.

You shouldn’t feel pressure to help others to the detriment of your own wellbeing.

And as previously stated – grief is not something that can be simply cast aside or neatly packaged into a finite period.

Grief as a ball in a box

A really great analogy to explain how the feelings of grief can evolve over time but how they can still sting ten years after a bereavement just as powerfully as they did on the day that bereavement happened is the “ball in the box” idea.

In this analogy, the feelings of grief are like a box with a ball in it and a pain button on one side.

In the early stages of a bereavement, the ball is very big. It will not be able to move around the box without it frequently hitting the pain button. It hits that button again and again and all you can feel is pain every minute of every day.

But as time progresses, the ball gets smaller. It will never disappear completely no matter how hard you wish it would, and when it hits that pain button it’s just as horrible, but it hits the button with less frequency and that makes it a little easier to get through each day.

The analogy of the “ball in the box” can be a really useful tool to explain to other people how you’re feeling.

For example, on some days the ball might be small and it might avoid that pain button for days, for weeks, for months.

However on some days, it can feel massive – relentlessly hitting the button and leaving you feeling worn out and sad.  

Support through a bereavement

Navigating a bereavement can be a lonely journey, especially if you’re uncomfortable discussing your loss with friends or family members.  

Thankfully, therapy exists and allows people who are suffering with grief to get the help and support they need in a safe, non-judgemental environment.

If you are unsure about seeing a therapist, contact The Therapy Room for an initial chat. This will allow you to talk freely and openly about the issues you are experiencing and allows us to recommend a course of action.

You have already taken the first step by reading this blog.

Let’s get you back to good.

Founder Jay L Pink Ad.Prof.Dip MBACP PC MNCS (ACC) established The Therapy Room to offer high quality, expert counselling and therapy services to people of all ages, as well as to couples for relationship and partner counselling and groups for corporate and family therapy. Jay’s commitment to anyone visiting The Therapy Room is to unconditionally respect values, lifestyle, background and beliefs, offering a discreet and professional service tailored to their needs.

Therapy is held either in-person at The Therapy Room in Northampton or online.

To organise a booking, please visit our bookings and payment page or get in touch directly at the button below.