Hypnotherapy to Help with Grief and Loss: by Dublin based hypnotherapist Ailish McGrath


Grief and Loss

When we lose someone through death or through the ending of a relationship or through emigration, or when we lose someone to an illness like Alchemizes or when we lose an aspect of ourselves to a new stage in life (old age, loss of appearance, retirement), or when we lose an investment or miss an opportunity we will commonly feel loss and grieve for what once was or could have been.

This is especially so when we are very attached to the person or situation and when we believe that we cannot be happy in the absence of whatever has gone from our lives. Grief is a normal reaction to a significant loss.

While there is no right or wrong way to grieve and to handle the loss, there are healthy ways to cope with the pain that, in time, can heal, renew and help you to move on.

While grief is more often associated with death of a loved one, we will commonly feel grief (involving feelings like: sadness, loss, heartache, upset, anger, frustration, despair, hopelessness, helplessness) over many significant losses in life.

  • Divorce or relationship breakup
  • Loss of health
  • Losing a job
  • Loss of financial stability
  • A miscarriage
  • Retirement
  • Death of a pet
  • Loss of a dream
  • A loved one’s serious illness
  • Loss of a friendship
  • Loss of safety after a trauma
  • Selling the family home

    Grieving is an emotional process, that in most cases takes time. Each person will go through the grief process in their own way. How you grieve depends on your personality type, your coping strategies and how you have learned to deal with strong emotions. So while one person may talk a lot, cry openly and write letters or poems as a means to come to terms with a loss, another person might be inclined to shut down, go inside themselves and take long solitary walks in nature.

    There is no right or wrong way to grieve a loss. Dealing with loss is an inevitable part of life and we will each, by necessity, find our own way of handing the losses that occur as a result of living.

    When to consider getting help in handling a loss is when you feel stuck, when your relationships are suffering as a result of the way you are handling (or not handling) the loss, when you feel you need support from someone not personally involved or when you think the feelings you are having are not warranted (or fully explained) by loss itself.

    Stages of grief

    In 1969, psychiatrist Elisabeth Kübler-Ross introduced what became known as the “five stages of grief.” These stages of grief were based on her studies of the feelings of patients facing terminal illness, but many people have generalized them to other types of negative life changes and losses, such as the death of a loved one or a break-up.

    The five stages of grief:

    Denial: “This can’t be happening to me.”

    Anger: “Why is this happening? Who is to blame?”

    Bargaining: “Make this not happen, and in return I will ____.”

    Depression: “I’m too sad to do anything.”

    Acceptance: “I’m at peace with what happened.”

    The stages are not linear; they can occur out of sequence and go through iterations until the loss is fully accepted. You may feel like you are at acceptance and then another wave of grief can be triggered at a later stage. However it’s helpful to know about the stages, understand that grieving is a process and reassure yourself that it’s normal and natural to be able to handle loss and come to resolution.

    Dealing with loss and grief

    The most important thing when dealing with loss or set back is self care. The loss is difficult enough and will be the least destructive when it is faced with an inner attitude of self-love. Loss that is met with an inner attitude of blame, anger, guilt or fighting against the situation or person makes the loss more stressful and usually the grief feelings last longer as a result.

  • The pain will not go faster if you ignore it, deny it, suppress it or repress it.
  • Admitting, accepting, allowing and releasing your true feeling is helpful and a show of inner strength. You are not stronger by pretending you are fine if you are not. It doesn’t really protect anyone else by bottling up emotions. There are ways to release the emotions safely.
  • There’s no set time for how long grief should or will last. Everyone is different. However if you feel it’s lasting longer than you expect it would be helpful to seek support to help you get through the loss.

    Contact a grief counselor or therapist if you:

  • Feel like life isn’t worth living or are having real difficulties considering a future life that is pleasing
  • Wish you had died with your loved one
  • Blame yourself for the loss or for failing to prevent it
  • Feel numb and disconnected from yourself or others for more than a few weeks
  • Are having difficulty trusting others since your loss
  • Are unable to perform your normal daily activities
  • Don’t think you ‘should’ be feeling as bad as you do – especially if you have judged the loss as not that significant or are embarrassed about the strength of loss you are feeling

    Help for loss and grief is available

    Better emotional coping skills can be thought. There are therapeutic processes that are designed to help with the feelings of grief. There is support available and you can be helped through the loss you are facing.