Death is part of life and grief is a natural reaction to loss but it can also be a painful and overwhelming experience. Seeking support during this period can be helpful in enabling emotional expression. Here I will offer some signposting and support for you during this difficult time.
JOURNALING can be a really helpful way to process emotions and work through your own story of loss and grief. Expressive writing can support you in releasing feelings and allow you to reflect on your own process. Your journal is personal to you. It can also be used within a therapeutic relationship with a counsellor or psychotherapist to enable deeper exploration and self-awareness. This is always your choice if you wanted to share aspects of your journal within a counselling session.
Dr Lois Tonkins created her model of grief that can be helpful if you are wondering how you will ever get over or move on from your loss.
Dr Tonkin’s model of grief challenges the idea that ‘time heals all wounds’ or that grief disappears with time but rather suggests that this is because we do not move on from grief, but grow around it.
The graphic on the right here illustrated the 'Growing around grief' model. Imagine drawing a circle to represent yourself. This is you, your life and everything you’re experiencing. Now you shade in the circle to represent your grief.
The result is a circle, almost entirely shaded. This is you and your grief; it may be entirely consuming your life. You may feel unable to eat or sleep, or find yourself struggling to think about anything else.
What happens in the following days, months and years is important. Rather than the shaded area growing smaller, the outer circle (representing you) begins to grow bigger. The result looks somewhat like a fried egg, with the white representing your life and the yolk representing your grief – this is why this model of grief is sometimes referred to as the fried egg model.
Tonkin’s theory of grief suggests that over time, your grief will stay much the same, but your life will begin to grow around it. You will have new experiences, meet new people, and begin to find moments of enjoyment. Slowly, these moments may grow more frequent and the outer circle will grow a little bigger.
There are many other models of grief which may more accurately represent how you experience grief. Everyone is unique in how they react to the death of a loved one and none of these models represent the ‘right’ way to grieve.
Watch Louise and Anna, founders of Life. Death. Whatever. – a revolutionary movement that is redesigning the dialogue around death and dying. Louise is a progressive funeral director and Anna is an end-of-life doula who has made it her life’s mission to help those who are living with dying. Together, they were awarded a Death Oscar for their Life. Death. Whatever. work.