I often use visualisation when working with my clients. I talk with them about the feelings that they are holding in, feel unable to share, or in some cases feel pressure either spoken or unspoken to appear to be doing well.

It’s a bit like sitting on a box. The box is over filled with feelings and if the lid isn’t allowed to open frequently and the feelings let out, they build and build until they burst out, uncontrollably, and often at a time that is inappropriate.

Many bereft tell me they feel afraid of crying, of letting go, because they fear that they may never be able to stop. This fear is real and understandable, but in my experience, the outcome of  “a good cry” is a sense of relief of calmness and of feeling empty.  Anxiety levels drop and for a space there is a gentle acceptance of the grief.

Crying openly, in the presence of those who understand something of how you feel is OK. Too many people think that when someone cries, it needs to be stopped. They cuddle, distract or try to “jolly” the person out of it. This in my experience is because they/we don’t know how to manage the tears of another. We clumsily attempt to squeeze the feelings back into the box and push down the lid. We think: If someone is crying and we stop them we have achieved something haven’t we?

I think not. Talking about feelings, letting them out, expressing our sadness and anger at our hurts is a healing process. If you are able to tell those around you about your feelings, reassuring them that there is nothing they can do, but if they feel able simply to be with you to stay with your pain, that might be enough. This enables release and open them to hope.

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Alex James

Alex James, MBACP is a professional bereavement counselor/consultant, agony aunt, and author who has worked with bereaved individuals and families for many years. Specializing in sudden traumatic bereavement, Alex has worked for agencies as a trauma support worker, trainer and voluntarily for a charitable trust supporting those impacted by road death. Alex, who lives and works in the UK, is currently based at a hospice, developing specific services for children, supporting children and their families pre- and post-bereavement. Alongside this much-needed work, she continues to manage a bereavement website where she offers confidential e-mail support 365 days a year and also publishes an online bereavement magazine. Alex has appeared on national and local radio and is the author of Living with Bereavement.

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