Grief is a natural process. When we lose a loved one, it is only natural to grieve our loss. However, after a certain time period, we should be able to get over our grief and function normally. Obviously, the thoughts of the person will be with us forever, especially if we have lost our parent, spouse or child. But it doesn't have to hurt forever! There comes a point after which grief is just not healthy anymore.
If you find yourself not able to stop crying, or focus on your work, or look after yourself or your family, or have disturbed sleep, or have a sense of guilt which refuses go away long after the person is gone, it is a sure sign that you need help. This is called Pathological grief and it may lead to Depression. Hence it needs to be treated properly.
I want you to answer this question truthfully. Would you rather not remember the person who died at all, so as to never feel the pain ever again? If you answer truthfully, the answer would be 'Absolutely not!' You do want to remember the person, but not feel the pain anymore!
Let's see how this can be achieved with some simple NLP ( Neuro-Linguistic Programming) techniques.
1. Close your eyes and think of the loved one you lost. Notice what you are seeing, hearing and feeling. Well, some people will visualize the funeral or the last interaction with the loved one. In case of a long drawn out illness before death, some people will remember the time in the hospital or home. Some may remember a lovely time spent with the loved one, but may feel sad remembering this.
2. Notice that in the first two cases , you will only see the loved one, as if re-experiencing the sad times.That is, you are 'associated' with this sad memory. If you remember a happy time, you will notice that you see yourself out there, thus giving you a sense that you had a good time then, but cannot have it now as the loved one is no more! That is, you have a sense of 'dissociation' from this good memory.
3. Now I want you to 'dissociate' from your sad memories, that is , see yourself out there with the body of the loved one in the hospital as a third person and in black and white. Let go of this image of yourself and your loved one, or any other images of the unhappy time. You can let go of this image about 3 times.
4. Now, think of all the good times with this loved one in an 'associated' way. That is, bring large, colorful images of your loved one in front of you, smiling, laughing or having a great time. Hear the voice of the loved one as if they are with you right now. Notice that you will feel better.
5. Now take all your unhappy memories and place them far behind you.
6. Imagine a happy future in front of you where you honor the memory of the loved one who is no more. Because that is what they would have wanted for you.
I hope this helps, I will discuss handling guilt in my next article.