Grief is a part of life that we will all experience at least once in our life, for some of us it might be a frequent occurrence. Wendy Liv, Specialist Grief and Trauma Counsellor, recently presented a Webinar entitled “Talking differently about Grief” as part of the Law Society of New South Wales’ ‘Staying Well in the Law’ series.

One of the most important takeaways was that grief acts in the same way as a temporary brain injury and may lead to lower cognitive capacity. A grieving person may be searching for meaning and understanding and be caught between wanting people to acknowledge their grief and not wanting to discuss it.
Grief doesn’t just arise through the loss of a loved one but can come from a variety of events and circumstances and can be anticipatory, disenfranchised, cumulative, prolonged, delayed, traumatic and collective.

There may also be compounding losses on top of the primary loss, such as the death of a spouse that might lead to a loss of a support system, financial security, confidence, identity, meaning and purpose, touch, faith, health and future.

Each person’s grief journey is as individual as each person and can be influenced by our relationships, the mode of death, our history, our future, and so on. Elisabeth Kübler-Ross authored the widely known “5 stages of grief”. In reality, and Dr Kübler-Ross acknowledges this, grief is not linear. We tend to move back and forth between various emotions and phases throughout our everyday life experiences, between working on restoring our lives to being thrown back into the loss.

Just as everyone’s grief journey is different so are our styles and methods of grieving. Some people may show lots of emotion whilst others take a more cognitive approach and seek to solve problems. Of course, we might experience our grief as a mixture of these styles that fluctuate over time.

Grief does not have an end date. It can be a lifelong process but the good news is that people can have post traumatic growth amidst the pain and suffering. We can also look to embracing grief as timeless and ongoing by continuing our relationship with that loved one and noticing their influence on our thoughts, feelings and behaviours.

As a firm specialising in wills and estates, we consequently meet a lot of our clients when they are either grieving or considering their own mortality. We strive to assist people through these difficult periods by avoiding the myth of closure, allowing people to take their time and working together to get the desired outcome whilst acknowledging their grief and taking a person centred approach. We are here to support you and keep the focus on you and your journey.

Kate Donnan

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