Working With Loss – Sitting With the Helplessness

How many times do people decide to see a counsellor/psychotherapist because they are depressed, anxious, experiencing relationship difficulties, numbing their pain with addiction etc? These are the difficulties people or those around them notice, difficulties that prompt them into getting help.

Often, as I listen to clients and explore with them what it is like to be them in their world, we stumble across a loss or losses. Not only is there the pain of the loss, there is a universal truth to be faced – that we are helpless to do anything about that loss. Part of our conditioning as human beings seems to be to respond to pain and helplessness by doing something. When a loss occurs those around us have plenty of advice on how to “think positively”, “keep busy” or “focus on the good things in life”. While these are useful strategies for taking respite from our grief, if they become our sole focus they serve only to prolong the grieving process, a process of acceptance of our pain and helplessness in the face of our loss. These strategies can also distance us from others as they are unable to see the real struggle going on inside. Connection happens when two people open up and share their vulnerability, not when someone seems to be coping well. Sometimes others need us to be coping well so they don’t have to face their own pain and helplessness and this leads them to distract us from our vulnerability, shut down our pain, try and fix our pain as though it’s a problem rather than just where we need to be right now.

A gift is someone who has acceptance of their own pain and helplessness and who can sit with us as we experience ours so that we are not alone.

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