After a major loss in our lives, we can feel shattered. Losing a marriage, having a miscarriage, or experiencing the death of a loved one can leave us emotionally, and sometimes physically, wrecked. Grief is the process of fully experiencing the loss and making meaning of it. Grief often feels different to different people, even those experiencing the same loss. It can feel uncomfortable, disorienting, and extremely painful to face the effects of loss. Sometimes grief can feel inconvenient. We have busy lives and do not necessarily want to take time to grieve. But it is important to take the time to honor what you are feeling because the alternative to ignore it may cause more harm.
It can be tempting to hide from the grief and pain. But in that avoidance, difficult emotions usually bubble up, often at inopportune times. These painful feelings might also be misdirected, sometimes harming someone else in the process. Our grief demands to be felt and feeling it is what allows the healing to begin. Sometimes we may think we finished grieving and tell ourselves, “It’s over and I’m fine”, when in reality the loss lingers and we feel stuck in it. This can negatively impact our lives and relationships.
Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) is a type of therapy used to help people process through emotional pain and find peace. When doing work with grief, EMDR helps to specifically target the loss, whether it is a recent tragedy or the wound of an old loss that has been lingering for years. The therapist and client work at a pace comfortable to the client, ultimately feeling all the emotions associated with the loss in a safe, supportive and contained manner.
An EMDR trained therapist helps clients move through their grief by using a process called Dual Attention Stimulation, which uses eye movements or tapping, alternating in a bilateral fashion (tapping one hand and then the other). The end result is that the client experiences a decrease in emotional pain. When clients regulate their emotions and physical distress, space is made to give meaning to the loss. It allows people to make a clearer sense of the loss. What once felt futile about the future, can become the basis of a new reality, new beginning and new meaning. When we integrate this loss, we honor it, and acknowledge that it also means we have the capacity to love deeply.