Ninette Larson MFT
GRIEF is a normal, natural response to major loss. Then why does it feel so "crazy"? What is this powerful experience that can knock you down, take your identity away and explode your life as you know it?
How do you maneuver through the maze of intense feelings of despair, anger, longing, fear, and the biggest ones of Guilt and Powerlessness without getting stuck?
Grief consists of two things: Feelings and Changes. Getting through it requires Movement and Connection.
Everyone grieves differently. When we know what tasks are needed to move through it, and when we know the warning signs and guide posts that keep us from getting stuck or lost, we can heal. We can even grow and experience transformation on the journey through healthy grief.
Grief enters our lives in a variety of ways, some of which are: death in the family; divorce; life-threatening or life-limiting illness; the end of a meaningful relationship; change in career direction; fertility issues; empty nest or a major move.
Profound Grief is a multi-layered, complex process that can impact every corner of our lives. Unprocessed, it can get stuck and become chronic depression, anxiety, anger, substance abuse, family dysfunction, or it can be projected onto future generations.
For the past 25 years I have been exploring Grief, learning from my clients, students and my own experience. I built my work on the foundation of a Master's degree in Psychology with a Clinical Specialization in Grief Therapy. I have added my own experience and insights gained from working with thousands of children and adults while running a Children's and Family Grief Program at a local hospice for 8 years, teaching classes on Grief at JFK University, and doing more than a hundred presentations on Grief for Conferences, Mental Health Agencies, Doctors, Churches, and Schools, as well as working with clients in my private practice.
Over the years my clients and students have expressed to me how valuable my concept of "The Grief Closet" (copywrited 1998) has been to them. Grief doesn't go anywhere unless we have a chance to process it. It just gets stuffed into our "Grief Closet". Then, when we have new losses, the "Grief Closet" door swings open and all the old grief tumbles down on top of us and we feel overwhelmed. Entering a new developmental stage also opens the closet door. Children's Grief and National Grief (Sandy Hook trauma, etc.) can also trigger our old grief that we haven't had an opportunity to process.
The "stickiest" feeling in Grief is GUILT. We can go through layers of guilt throughout the grieving process, often ending with feeling guilty about finishing our acute grief. We most commonly know about survivors guilt and the "woulda, shoulda, coulda" built on hind-sight.
Children, besides being very confused due to developmental limitations on understanding concrete thought, find amazing, creative ways to feel guilty. Why? It took me many years of asking myself this question to realize that it was because of powerlessness. At least if we're guilty it means we were powerful enough to cause the death (or other grief), if it's my fault, then I'm not powerless. But we are powerless over some things, and in death it's an existential crisis since we weren't given total control over life and death.
Men and Women Grieve Differently Men tend to be "action oriented" and women tend to be "process oriented". Men want to know what they can "do" and women want to "talk". These differences, added to intense emotions (and men often have to catch up on "emotional literacy") can create Family Challenges in grief.
The Serenity Prayer is our way out of thedilemma of powerlessness: to figure out what we can and what we can't do, and the wisdom to know the difference. Then we can take our power and not get trapped in those places where we don't have power.
Often our grief also includes Trauma. I can also help you work through trauma using EMDR.
If you are experiencing Grief, past or present (remember: it doesn't go anywhere unless you have a chance to process it), I CAN BE OF HELP. Through a combination of support and education I can help you make your way through this very important journey. We don't get "back to normal" but we can move through "the wilderness" towards a "new normal". Growing in depth, wisdom, compassion (including self-compassion) to a new, richer life filled with HOPE and new LIFE.
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Please let me know how I can be of help.