For those of you who have not met me before my name is Diana Hutchison and something you may not know about me is that 17 years ago, I found myself struggling with anxiety, feeling lost and losing a sense of purpose in my work and life. This experience was due to burnout, and even though I was a psychologist, I had not been applying self-care practices myself. I decided then to begin applying self-care and took a long break.
10 years ago, I found myself recovered and having experienced the death of both my parents over time I decided to help people again but in a new direction. I took action and studied grief and loss counselling.
7 years ago, having qualified, I started my business and began my counselling practice, seeing people individually and later holding grief and loss support groups.
The Problems with Grief
During that time, I discovered there is a major problem in the world where people don’t usually understand about the grief experience and its only when you lose someone or something very dear to you that the realisation hits home.
To some degree, there seems to be a taboo around discussing grief and loss in the community. There is perhaps an expectation that you should ‘move on’ or ‘get over it’ after about the 3 months mark. What this means is that those experiencing grief are not heard and their grief is not witnessed, which is necessary for healing. We all have a need to be heard, listened to and understood.
And that is exactly why I decided to dedicate my life to empowering people to heal themselves and to release their pain from grief and loss.
4 Important Things to Know About Grief
I would like to share 4 important points about grief. Have a think about them and see if you are able to apply them to your own experiences.
1. Everyone grieves in their own individual way. Some people are more expressive and others tend to be more instrumental or cognitive.
For example, emotions may be expressed through many tears right through to being matter of fact and less expressive outwardly. There is no right or wrong way.
2. You don’t really ‘move on’ from grief, especially if your loss is the death of a loved one. Love never dies. You will not forget. However, processing your grief means letting go and releasing the negative emotions that are causing immediate pain.
3. Grief can take time to process. The more consciously you do it, the better.
4. Social support is extremely important – so you feel heard, understood and listened to. It is perhaps not so much about quantity but quality. Ask for help from professionals if you need to – you can’t always do it on your own. And shouldn’t expect yourself to do so.
Grief Experiences in Current Times
Over the last 2 years the covid pandemic has led to many changes in our lives. What this means is that we have all experienced grief and loss through many different situations. However past losses may also have come up for you.
Where you have experienced losses in the past that were unable to be mourned for, due to any reason, then in a lockdown situation where there may be more thinking time, losses may come into your awareness to be explored and processed. Lockdowns can, in this sense, be either difficult or an opportunity.
How this happens in this situation can be explained with the iceberg analogy.
Our minds are like an iceberg. The 1/10th above the water is our conscious mind and our awareness at any one time. The 9/10th below the water represents our unconscious (out of our awareness) which is where, simply put, all our unresolved issues and conflicts are.
If you haven’t had time to process previous losses, due to addictions, work, or needing to care for others, then this area is where your loss waits, waiting for a time when it can grab your attention. This may happen when another loss occurs of any kind, or you have the brain space, or the right trigger occurs in your environment that you pay attention to. This can occur unexpectedly.
So, if this happens, what will help?
The answer to this is to find the right avenue for you to finally process your past grief, and your current grief too. You don’t need to do it on your own. Asking for help is an act of self-care.
6 Points to Consider That May Enhance Better Management of Grief in a Changing World
1. Uncertainty/being in limbo exacerbates anxiety/fear. This means that any amount of certainty and stability can come through getting as much factual information as possible – from trusted and reliable sources.
2. Flexibility wins out every time. The more flexible you can be the better you can manage.
3. Consciously working on yourself to release thoughts/beliefs/emotions you no longer need and enhancing your positive beliefs and emotions about yourself and others enables personal growth to occur which leads to more success.
4. Your values count. The more you value yourself and others – having values of acceptance, inclusion, fairness and equity means we can send out a ripple effect out into our community.
5. Helping others helps us feel better and gives a sense of belonging and satisfaction.
6. There are always things that happen outside of our control. What we can control is ourselves – behaviours, thoughts, perceptions, and all that goes with this.
Taking Personal Action
Now, what can you do for yourself to be kinder to you, to process any grief, whatever your loss?
To start off your thinking, I can suggest five things.
- Talking about it/ getting support/ asking for help
- Considering the meaning of experiences
- Redefining your identity
It is important to try things out and find the practical ways that work for you. When you find something that works and that fits into your daily schedule without too much of a shift, then continue to engage in it.
Diana Hutchison, New You Creations
Diana Hutchison has Honours in Psychology from Macquarie University, a Graduate Diploma in Coaching Psychology from Sydney University, and a Graduate Diploma in Counselling. With more than 15 years’ counselling experience, she was compelled to specialise in grief and loss following her mother’s death in 2011. After this loss, she undertook further training in grief and loss counselling. Her counselling business was begun in 2013 and has expanded over time with extra skill acquisition including NLP and other modalities that help her clients to transform their lives.
Four years ago, Diana began running grief and loss support groups and found the format she had created was beneficial in giving group members the tools and empowerment to heal themselves and their lives. In March 2020 when lockdowns began, Diana decided to create online grief courses to enable people to allow those experiencing grief to heal themselves at home and in their own time. Thus, New You Creations was born.