I use the term “Complicated Grief” to refer to a situation, where an already painful loss of someone is complicated by an added layer of trauma. One way that trauma may be defined, is when something occurs that is:
3. Contributes to a feeling of isolation and
4. Leaves you without a sense of being able to cope adequately
When there are added complications around a death, the natural organic process of mourning can become stalled or derailed. Instead of working through the waves of various emotions, memories and possible regrets, the whole experience can put a person into shock or overwhelm. You may be flooded with distressing thoughts and feelings, driven to addictive behaviors in an attempt to "self-medicate" or feel so shut down that you can't even think straight.
There is a way to help you through this time... A way to help you with your shock and disbelief and pain and grief. Having gone through a "complicated grief" myself many years ago, I have dedicated myself to helping others get support, when it can be the most difficult to be found.
Some of the Issues That Can Lead to “Complicated Grief” Include: -Homicide -Suicide -Death Due to Malpractice or Neglect -When the Physical Body is Unavailable for Burial -When It's A Family Member Who Abused You -Delayed News of the Death (Months or Even Years Later) -Multiple Deaths At Once, or Rapid Succession -Death Complicated by Major Financial Abuse (Inheritance Fraud, Neglect of Elder for Financial Gain, etc.) -Death Where There is Disturbing, Intrusive Media Involvement -Death of Stillborn or Miscarriage
Most deaths are challenging to deal with. However, when the survivors of the deceased have to deal with such added trauma and difficulties, the trauma surrounding the death may need to be addressed, so that the mourning process can then proceed more naturally.
One of the most important things about complicated grief is to find compassion and be gentle with yourself. Know that each person has their own style and timing in dealing with grief. Trust that over time you will be able to come to a better sense of integration and a greater sense of peace and perspective. This is not "disloyal" to the person's memory, it is actually more loyal.
As you receive help processing the "complicated death" there is more room for you to remember the fullness of that person's life. Rather than the tragedy of their ending filling your consciousness, their death becomes only one part of the full and rich experience that you shared together. With help and processing, you are better able to access all of the many special memories and experiences that made this person so important to you.
Dr. Kubler Ross helped to study the 5 general stages of Grief.
The general stages she identified are:
1. Denial & Isolation
However, as many have experienced, mourning is not something that happens in neat and orderly stages. It can be messy, devastating, make you question your own desire to live, and at times leave you feeling quite alienated and alone, even when surrounded by well-meaning friends and relatives.
Unfortunately, many of us are not given the proper opportunity and support necessary to fully heal through all this trauma and grief. I've worked with people, who have never had the chance to fully process their grief. They are often surprized, that they are still carrying around a variety of intense unprocessed emotions, as if it were "yesterday." Fortunately, even years later, these various emotions can be processed and released.
Robert Scaer, MD, in his groundbreaking book: “The Body Bears the Burden” helps us understand what happens to unprocessed, overwhelming emotions. It turns out that when we experience something that is too much emotionally to bear, we encapsulate the whole experience, and push it into the unconscious, in an attempt to function. However, when undealt with, these unprocessed emotions continue to unconsciously trigger the fight/flight/freeze response, which can create havoc upon our body, especially our immune system. Emotions unprocessed also distort how we are able to perceive and interact in the world. Therefore, it is crucial that we all find ways to process these various emotions, in a safe and gentle way.
Fortunately, we are starting to recognize the crucial need for this trauma release grief work. My approach work goes way beyond typical "talk therapy" to recognize, process and heal the layers of various emotions arising, both consciously and unconsciously. In addition, my work allows healing of lymbic system's response to the traumatic death itself. This approach helps you move beyond the various layers of overwhelm and numbness, allowing these various emotions to be gently met, honored and soothed. This natural therapeutic process then allows your life, when the time is right, to begin moving forward again...
Our general tendency is to avoid raw, distressing emotions, or attempt to medicate ourselves with a variety of substances or activities. However, when we are either flooded, or try to numb our feelings, the pressure builds and builds. By working gently and compassionately with these various emotions, you will learn to shift from a sympathetically aroused distressful state, to a more parasympathetic, resourceful state. You'll still be grieving your loss, but it's as if your various thoughts and emotions can learn to stand in line and take turns, instead of all crying out and all needing your attention.
Being swamped by all these various thoughts and feelings can be really exhausting. My work helps you to regain your footing, so that you can take whatever steps you need to take, integrating this death into the larger experience of your life. *****
Here Are Just a Few Testimonials About My Work with Complicated Grief:
EFT for Client Coping with the Death of a Close Friend:
"I came to Suzanne for help in getting past some terrible grief related to the tragic loss of one of my closest friends. I was simply not functional in daily life. After one 90 minute session, I felt greatly relieved. The transformational results were apparent upon my waking the next day. I felt renewed, and able to begin handling the things that were previously overwhelming me. Of course, I still had sadness over my friend; but it no longer paralyzed me emotionally. Suzanne's deft use of EFT and Psychotherapy reopened possibilities for me to go on. After a few more sessions to deal with some other core issues, I am on much more solid footing, and feel a new lightness and increased joy everyday. I am grateful that my path led me to Suzanne. She is a blessing."
-S.M., EFT Practitioner
EFT & Unresolved Grief Over Husband's Death: “Today, I am at peace with Bruce’s death. I know that I did everything I could do to take care of my husband and that 99% of the time, I did that from a loving, caring perspective. I also realize that Bruce was trying to do his part that day, just as by being at work I was doing mine. I can't recommend Suzanne's services highly enough. I will never be able to sufficiently thank her for what she did for me on Wednesday night. She lifted a burden from my soul and replaced it with joy, light and even more importantly, she allowed me to celebrate the generous contribution my husband made that day. How can you ever thank someone sufficiently for bringing you out of a deep morass into the sunlight?
So Suzanne, please accept my deepest gratitude. You are a gifted healer and a very special person.”
Woman Who Had Never Fully Dealt with Her Brother's Suicide Thank-you for your help in dealing with the loss of my brother. I was very surprised at the intensity of emotions I was still feeling after all these years. All the details were so vivid! There was also so much guilt, shame, self-blame and fear that I might do the same. I feel much more at peace, knowing that he made his choices, and I get to make mine. I choose life!
-R.F. Massage Therapist
********** Woman Whose Sister Provided Inadequate Care Leading to Premature Death of Father
AMAZING! Suzanne is wonderful! I highly recommend you heal yourself with her! I feel really different now, better and more able to tap into my own resources. I am dealing with a very difficult death. I lost my father, who also happened to be my best friend. On top of that, there has been family "ugliness" around finances and also health care failures that probably took a year off my Dad's life! So I had extra anger and regrets, on top of all the other feelings of normal grief (whatever that is)!I really feel more calm and less overwhelmed now as we cleared some of the many layers of emotion in just one session. Suzanne's unique techniques also helped me create a kind of "emotional energetic armor" to protect me with my extreme sensitivity at this time. We also created an "inner peaceful sanctuary" together. I've used these visualizations several times already in very helpful ways.
Heartfelt thanks for your work with me!
-V.K. Singer & Healer
********** [ Note: The time it takes for each person to regain a sense of ease and peace, varies with each person, depending upon a number of factors. Trust that whatever is arising can be met with grace and healing. Our work together will provide you with a variety of coping skills that will suport you in many different areas of your life. ]
Please feel free to call me for a brief consultation to see how I may be of gentle service to you...
Dr. Suzanne Lerner Psychologist, Hypnotherapist Advanced IFS & EFT Practitioner PSY# 11485 Working Locally in Santa Cruz & Monterey & Around the World by Phone, ZOOM & Skype firstname.lastname@example.org 415-275-4607