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Online Hypnotherapy for Grief and Loss

When we have lost or separated from something that was important to us, it makes us sad. The feeling of grief is complex and grief processes occur in different waves. If we get stuck in one of the stages of grief, feelings of grief cannot be adequately processed and the grief remains unresolved. This can last for years and eventually cause symptoms on a mental and physical level.

In the course of our lives, we can lose many things: a long-standing marriage, love relationships or friendships, a loved one, our job, our home, childhood and youth, as well as opportunities and chances.

Even though each form of grief and loss is very different in itself, there are psychological commonalities that explain the reactions, feelings and behaviours that occur during a loss or separation. The following phases do not proceed linearly one after the other, but occur alternately in waves and cannot always be delimited in terms of time.


The stages of coping with grief

Denial, not wanting to admit it

Pretending that everything is fine. Some people remain in the denial phase for a very long time. Feelings of anger, disappointment, pain, guilt and sadness are suppressed. Phrases like „That’s just the way it is!“ are quick on the heels.

In this phase, idealisation can occur, in which the former partner or the deceased is exalted and placed on a pedestal that other partners or basically other people cannot reach.
It is also not uncommon for a false substitute to be sought. In the process, other people are used as classic stopgaps. This can happen, for example, when new partnerships are entered into too quickly after a break-up without the previous relationship having been processed. In extreme cases, children can also be abused as gap fillers, for example by replacing a deceased child.

Emotions bursting forth

A veritable chaos of feelings can arise, some of which can be very contradictory. Feelings of anger and sadness, guilt and accusation, fear and confidence, pain, self-doubt, longing and affection can appear in violent form and alternate with each other. Many people have the feeling of losing the ground under their feet during this phase.

Searching and separating

There is a conscious search for memories of the lost person, for example, visiting places that were connected to the other person, looking at pictures, collecting snippets of memories. In the process, too, feelings arise again and again. We deal with the loss in our thoughts. This integration of the past time into new phases of life is a slow process.

New inner balance, new reference to self and the world

New strengths are (re)discovered within oneself. This is the time when one realises that one has learned something from the loss or separation, has matured and new enriching life patterns develop. It is possible to free oneself from old ballast and to conclude inwardly with reconciliation.

Many people have not learned to go through the different phases of grief, e.g. due to a lack of role models. Accordingly, feelings are held back or repressed and thus cannot be processed. This can lead to fear of loss.

How do I get over the loss of a loved one?

One focus of my therapeutic work in coping with grief is the inner contact with the deceased. The grief for a deceased person is often deep-seated, full of longing, marked by anger, despair, and often accompanied by feelings of guilt and fear of being alone. Even those who show less emotion in front of others do not necessarily grieve in a lesser form.

It makes a difference whether we had the opportunity to say goodbye to the deceased or whether the death was sudden and unpredictable. It matters what relationship we had with the deceased, whether we lose a close relative, a child or a friend or mentor. In all cases, there is often much that remains unsaid and unresolved between the deceased and the mourner.

It is important for mourners to know in which way the deceased has passed away. A suicide, a fatal illness or an accident have different effects on the feelings of mourning. If a loved one is facing a process of suffering that is not clearly foreseeable, such as a diagnosis of terminal illness, then feelings of rising grief can also arise even before the death.

We lack a healthy mourning culture

For many mourners it is difficult to experience that the people around them usually only show open understanding, empathy and support for the loss for a relatively short time. This can be seen, for example, in the fact that employers usually only provide one day off for mourning, and that is for the funeral.

The expectation that the bereaved will quickly regain their composure and continue their daily lives in normality is great in our society. It is not uncommon for those around them to be given advice that is not helpful to those who are grieving, and which is incomprehensible to those affected. For example, the advice that one must „cry properly once and then let go“, „build a life without the deceased“ or phrases like „Time heals all wounds!“

In fact, it is often the case that those affected continue to grieve for a loved one for years after the death, if they have not been able to integrate the loss properly for themselves. In our society, grief is often not openly lived out and poorly processed due to a lack of role models and a mourning culture.


An inner connection to the deceased

Grief processing is not about a complete detachment from the deceased, as the approach of many psychotherapies implies. Rather, the bond with the deceased changes. The bond never breaks, because the love remains. Discovering and nurturing this inner connection is very important for most people and can lead to a healthy acceptance of loss and new inner balance.

Mourning the deceased is more than saying goodbye. The deceased may no longer be physically present, but they can still be present. For example, in inner and outer images, in memory signs and memory rituals or as an inner companion and helper. In therapy, there is space for remembering the deceased, for all that is unresolved and unsaid, for an appropriate farewell and for establishing a new healthy connection.

Dealing with separation and divorce

The feelings of grief over a separation can be very ambivalent. With losses of this kind, in most cases there are both beautiful and negative moments and experiences. In many cases, the separation has not been for the better, but there are unresolved conflicts and points of contention, or we only become aware of many negative circumstances in retrospect, which were not visible to us before.

Partnerships, be it marriage, love relationships, friendships or professional partnerships, can be the „battlefield of grievances“ par excellence. In them, for example, mutual expectations are not fulfilled. This results in many disappointments that can lead to deep grievances and psychological injuries.

In interpersonal relationships, people often distance themselves and live apart unnoticed at first. In the course of time, mindfulness can diminish or be lost altogether. In love relationships, unkindness occurs more frequently.

When reconciliation and cooperation become impossible

Conflicts arise in relationships, through which offenses and injuries can multiply and accumulate. If they are not discussed, they can lead to mutual reproaches and at a certain point escalate completely.

If one or both parties are not prepared to reflect, to change perspectives and to recognise and admit their own misconduct, there is often no sincere apology and clarification.
There are partnerships in which one party claims to be offended to the highest degree and at the same time shows no consideration for the emotional injuries of the other.

In most cases, this makes reconciliation and cooperation impossible. As a result, many people experience revenge and the need for revenge, which can prevent inner closure and final detachment from the partner. The so-called victimhood and perpetration are very close to each other, can merge into each other and create a vicious circle of anger and offending.

How a break-up in partnerships goes can be formative for further relationships

If the final consequence is a break-up, we may be angry about „lost“ years in partnerships that, in retrospect, brought a lot of stress and anger. At the same time, we may grieve over the beautiful memories and valuable experiences or have fears about what will happen after the break-up.

How a break-up and conflicts in partnerships go is formative for further relationships. Sometimes people withdraw completely from interpersonal relationships because of extreme disappointments and hurts. They lack the feeling of being able to trust (again). It is not uncommon for old feelings from the past, for example from childhood and adolescence, to be reactivated in partnerships and separations.

Therapy for separations aims to process the relationship and partnership in a healthy way. In the process, very old hindering feelings can also be changed. In many cases, separations can also be concluded peacefully for clients when no joint clarification and no appropriate farewell are possible in the personal confrontation with the other person.

Characteristics of unresolved grief

The following signs can occur not only in connection with deaths, but also in the case of separations:

  • Not being able to talk about the loss
  • Losses suffered by others lead to strong reactions and feelings
  • Objects of the deceased are hoarded, one cannot part with the things of the deceased, the room remains furnished exactly as it is and may not be changed
  • Imitation of the deceased, behavioural patterns of the deceased are adopted.
  • Development of symptoms similar to those of the deceased. Fear of dying in the same way
  • Phobia of illness and death
  • Unexplained sadness, e.g. on anniversaries related to the death of the deceased and experiences with the deceased
  • Avoidance of all things reminiscent of the deceased (not being able to go to the grave)
  • Inappropriate euphoria, feeling driven, throwing oneself into activities as an unconscious attempt to ward off grief
  • Anger and rage can be directed against oneself, desire for suicide, feelings of guilt and shame


Dealing with grieving people

Friends and family members are often unsure how to deal with the bereaved person. Thus, it often happens that help is provided in an inappropriate or unsuitable form or that no support is given. It is not uncommon for mourners to feel left alone and misunderstood. It is advisable for helpers to know the stages of grief. If one wishes to devote time and energy to helping the grieving person, there is a wide range of information available on appropriate support.

There is an important difference between compassion and pity. Genuine helpers are people who can muster loving empathy for the grieving process and for the griever and therefore usually provide intuitive help in an appropriate form.

Helpless Helpers

Helpless helpers, on the other hand, suffer with the mourner. The mourner’s suffering triggers their own feelings of grief. Mostly, these are individual unprocessed experiences and feelings of loss from one’s own history.

In order not to have to feel these feelings themselves, relatives or friends withdraw from the mourner, react with incomprehension or become impatient and look for a quick improvement of the situation. This does not happen out of malicious intent, but because of their own construction sites and the inability to admit their own feelings and therefore also to be able to hold the feelings of the mourner.

The mourners are blocked in their expression of mourning by the compassion of the other. The helper and his or her feelings therefore take up more space themselves. And so mourners not infrequently have a guilty conscience about burdening the other person or even having to comfort the other person.

Just be present

Basically, it is enough for friends and relatives to simply be there and really present. In the first period, this can mean providing support with everyday things to give the mourner space for themselves and to grieve. Taking over some daily responsibilities is a practical and usually welcome help shortly after the death or the shock news (separation, terminal illness).

Mourners often feel like they are in a bubble at first shortly after the loss. The world around them „just“ goes on, while they themselves seem to be outside the world and everyday events. Helpers should therefore try to attach themselves to the mourner. Counterproductive here are encouragement („it will get better soon“) or pointing out the positive things in the mourner’s life. This does not pick them up from where they are emotionally, and so aggressive reactions to this kind of support are inevitable.

Instead, it is appropriate to simply listen and offer genuine understanding. „Yes, that’s really bad, unfortunate and sad.“ By doing this, you allow the griever space for their natural feelings of grief and time to process them gradually. Counterproductive and tactless in the first stages of grief are also comparisons such as „This also happened to XY and now she is a happy person again“ or „With me it was like this…“. Again, it is appropriate to just be present and compassionate.

Finding ways of expressing grief

In later stages, it may be appropriate to find a good place and coherent ways of expressing grief with the mourner to help them process it (music, painting, walking, various individual ways). Turning back to life and remembering together the beautiful memories of the deceased and the valuable experiences before the loss. If the mourner shows resistance to this, it is not yet the right time.

Grieving takes time, sometimes several years. Often offers that scan towards the future come too soon from helpers. If one feels insecure in dealing with the mourner, it is appropriate to stay in the here and now and ask again and again: „What would do you good now? How exactly can I support you now?“
If mourners are stuck in their grief and the stages of grief do not resolve naturally, it is advisable to seek professional help.

Grief and Loss: Integral Online Counselling

Grieving needs courage, honesty and time. There are healthy ways to get over the loss of a loved one. And also after a separation or divorce, it is important to grieve the loss, to understand and process one’s own part in the conflicts as well as the other person’s contribution to the separation.

Inner closure or parting does not mean that one diminishes the difficult situation and decides not to think about it any more. We can consciously decide against reconciliation at first. But in the end it is about accepting that losses and separations are of necessity part of our lives. And that it is possible to mourn them appropriately and make a new start.

All feelings can be met in a healthy way in order to process them sustainably. Blockages in the respective stages of grief can be removed so that the various feelings of grief can be integrated. All emotions are allowed to be present in order to come to an acceptance and appropriate integration of a loss or separation. Feelings linked to the event, for example from childhood and adolescence, can also be worked through.

Unresolved grief can in some cases lead to long-term low self-esteem, depression, stress & exhaustion and anxiety.