When speaking of hypnosis, I like to think of the opportunity to heal. I was recently asked to look at a way I could possibly help Hospice patients and their families. Remembering my training in “Healing Through Grief” as part of my medical hypnosis certification, I was reminded of how grief is really a natural part of life.
Karen Webb, MSW, ACSW, C.Ht. and Cheryl Beshada, C.M.Ht., the authors of the training in “Healing Through Grief” describe grief as, “a normal response of sorrow and confused emotions that comes from the loss of someone or something important to you.” Many of the emotions associated with grief lodge in the body tissues and spirit. There are a variety of ways grief effects the body including increased inflammation, joint pain, headaches, and digestive problems. It can also lower immunity, making you more susceptible to illness. Grief also contributes to cardiovascular problems, difficulty sleeping, and unhealthy coping mechanisms. Experts believe that if you do not grieve at the time of loss, or shortly thereafter, the grief may stay within the person, causing emotional problems or physical illness later on. Working through grief to acceptance is a painful process necessary to insure future emotional and physical well-being.
There are many situations that cause us to grieve: Obviously we grieve in the case of death of a person or pet. Just think of all the many other situations in life we grieve; it could be divorce or loss of an important relationship, loss of safety through violence, physical disability or disfigurement, moving to a new home, loss of a job, children moving out of the home, aging, infertility, and chronic or life-threatening illnesses, natural disasters or accidents just to name a few. Everyone is different and each person grieves in his or her own way. However, the five stages of grief listed below are experienced by people when they are bereaved. There is no set timetable for these stages, but it can be helpful to be aware of these stages and consider that intense emotions and swift changes in mood are normal as grief is defined as the loss of hope and takes time to come to acceptance. Briefly, the five stages of grief are:
- DENIAL: In the denial stage a person refuses to believe what has happened, trying to tell themselves in their mind things are the same.
- ANGER: People get angry and this anger can manifest itself in a variety of ways. People blame themselves or others for their loss.
- BARGAINING: Bargaining can be with ourselves, or if a person is religious, with their God.
- DEPRESSION: Depression can be a very likely outcome for all who grieve a loss. This is sometimes the most difficult stage of the five for people to deal with.
- ACCEPTANCE: Over time the pain, sadness, anger, and depression begin to lessen. This is the final stage of grief; it is when the person realizes life has to go on.
Hypnosis can be a useful and effective intervention to prolonged grief reactions. Next time we will look at how hypnosis can help people move through grief. Until then be sure to have a beautiful day. You deserve it!