If you can't feel it, You can't heal itOct 12, 2021
By Teresa Peters.
'Every loss has meaning, and all loss is to be grieved and witnessed' - David Kessler
At the time of writing, It's that time of year when I embark on The Great North run and think about loved ones. This compelled me to share my finding, in a positive and solutions-focused way, about how to help others deal with loss.
As a culture, we are unprepared to talk about loss, but we can't move forward without recognising our emotions. Emotions are neither good nor bad – it's more about how we react to certain events that results in the outcome.
I write this as a very positive person – my number one Gallup talent (one of the scientific tools I use with my clients) is positivity. So my written approach today is about solutions and what to say or do when a friend or colleague loses someone or something.
I personally have experienced redundancy, divorce, lost loved ones, and a week ago today, my cat was knocked down. Every year, I run the great north run and plan to shed a tear as I run to let out some of those pent-up emotions. I share this as a trained coach and someone who has experienced loss which I hope qualifies me to share my thoughts. We all have our own ways of dealing with loss, but we can't heal it if we don't feel it. Every loss is unique, no matter how significant or small it may seem to others. DO NOT compare and minimise.
What is grief?
Grief is the normal and natural reaction to loss. It can also be about unrealised expectations and dreams or undelivered communications.
Grief is like glitter; you keep finding it unexpectedly. Or, in my case, this week, fluffy white cat hair!
Change affects our sense of identity, and we can have a lack of self-clarity.
Uncertainty is what leads to stress reactors that engage a fight or flight response. Even a change like winning the lottery may seem a positive change, but the winners are letting go of the way things used to be. Career changes, setting up a new business, and moving house represent an ending and starting something new.
We need to learn to hold and embrace certainty and uncertainty. Be in the present moment. Emotional experiences, whether good or bad, leave strong traces in the brain, and if we don't label or feel these emotions, we can't heal them.
How many of you have heard or even said the following statements to someone grieving?
- Buy something nice.
- Have a cake and cookie
- Be strong
- Move on for others
- Everything happens for a reason
- Time heals
- I understand it happened to me
What CAN WE DO or say?
- Don't try to solve or rescue
- Listen with your heart
- Listen listen listen
- Say, 'I can't begin to imagine what this must be like for you."
Every experience is unique. I recall so many people after mum passed saying to me, 'I understand – I remember losing my mum' – inside, I wanted to scream, knowing that I wouldn't dream of saying this to any of my clients. And no one could possibly understand, and nor would I expect them to.
There are four stages to go through in times of uncertainty:
1. Accept what has happened and let go
2. Process and allow yourself to feel the emotions
3. Adjust your life
4. Find an enduring connection- continued connection to the thing that we have lost is a healthy part of moving forwards.
A great exercise is to list memorable events – positive and negative. There are specialised ways to do this with a coach. I often do this for clients post redundancy.
Endings are as important as beginnings.
STERB's is short term energy-releasing behaviour. These can include TV, addiction to alcohol or drugs, social media, isolation. These things appear to work in the short term, but it's just a sticking plaster and doesn't get to the heart of the matter.
These behaviours can continue for a long period, and whilst they may curb the pain for the initial first few months, it catches up with us.
Find ways to explore happiness with a coach using positive psychology. Focus on your strengths. Notice positive emotions and reflect
Have gratitude and journal, try to achieve something new, seek structure in other ways – like exercise or art and set a routine. Limit STERBS and focus on self-care and compassion. Helping others releases happy hormones too.
Thanks for reading this article. I had some grief training with Barefoot Coaching because the topic of loss comes up for so many of my clients at Accelerator Coaching ltd. The best advice I can give is to listen with your heart, without judgement and allow the emotions to be felt. I'd love to hear from you with your thoughts to learn from you when working with my clients. I welcome you to search accelerator coaching and email ([email protected]) or direct message me with your experiences and thoughts.
Teresa Peters is accredited at Senior Practitioner level with the EMCC, as an Executive Coach and Personal Performance Coach. She is also highly trained in managing teams effectively in a virtual world. She empowers Entrepreneurs, Intrapreneurs and Teams to find clarity, focus and transformation, both professionally and personally, using a solution-focused approach and DiSC profiling.
Accelerator Coaching offers a range of online and face to face support services using an empathic, human-centred approach combined with Teresa's corporate experience, 20 years in sales development and business acumen. She also co-founded another successful business where they've published 32 recipe books. She is an ethical coach who has 500+ hours coaching individuals and she has regular coaching herself. You can find out more about Teresa and her brilliant Accelerator Coaching here.
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