Grief is one of our most overwhelming experiences. It touches our most existential beliefs and often shakes our sense of safety to its core.
The emotions that we feel during grief often seem impossible to recover from. Along with a great deal of pain, there is the awareness that we can’t control or predict the future, and the deep fear that right now, or someday, we are or will be alone. Humans are designed to live in community and connection, and when alone it is the survival or instinctive part of the brain.
Our very first loss, whether seemingly significant or not, shapes the way we perceive loss. When a major loss happens, we process it with the only tools we have. The younger we are when our first loss happens – the more limited the tools and strategies we have to manage. This prevents us from processing the loss as we would at the developmental age and stage we are in now, leaving us with the inability to cope in a healthy way.
How children deal with grief
When we are young and are experiencing something as big as loss, we feel not only deep sadness but also very real fear. This combination is often quite overwhelming.
When adults are uncomfortable with their own difficult feelings or overwhelmed themselves, they can either intentionally or unintentionally push away a child or their feelings, not only discouraging the free expression of the very feelings that need to be expressed but leaving them with their feelings- isolated and alone.
This leaves anyone, especially a child, with the impression that his or her feelings are bad.
On the other hand, positive emotions are experienced as acceptable because we reinforce them with love, attention, and support, so those become easier to express, and we have difficulty experiencing feelings like anger, sadness, or anxiety.
What happens next is the pushing away, or lack of understanding or expression of these emotions, and the inability to process them as an adult when they are there and need to be expressed.
How can Beachwood help grief?
In order to heal, we have to open our emotions and move through the stages of grief by feeling and expressing those feelings in healthy ways. They are natural and should not be feared.
The truth is that we need to feel the pain, anxiety or grief to recover. If we avoid, or push them away, we can suffer from more complicated mental conditions.
At Beachwood, we work with the intuitive power of horses to help us experience feelings and perceptions without judgment. This helps stored emotions to be expressed, and for the healing process to take place.If you or a loved one is experiencing grief or feeling stuck and unable to express these important emotions, scheduling an IET session at Beachwood can help.