Psychological counselling services in Singapore

How counselling helped me overcome loss and grief

Hello Readers,

Time flies, it is now April 2022 and a quarter of the year has passed. It has been two years since the World Health Organisation (WHO) declared the Covid-19 pandemic in March 2020. Many of us have been affected in different ways. Millions, globally, have lost their loved ones to the virus; a relative perhaps, or even a friend. Some of us have also lost our jobs or know someone who went through a very similar situation. Not only did we have to live with the fear of a highly contagious virus, we also experienced constant distress about losing our jobs, and the worry of how our livelihoods will be affected.

For some, the pandemic might not have affected you as much. However, life is never a smooth sailing journey, it’s a journey that might occasionally land us in gentle waters, and other times, treacherous waters. Over the past 2 years, you might have experienced major changes in life. Maybe you experienced a loss of your job which helped maintain your livelihood and provide you with your daily necessities, leaving you feeling grief. Others might have lost loved ones or lost the freedom they once had.

Such a test in life not only affects us physically, it affects us emotionally and psychologically as well.

‘Breaking down’ was never allowed in my family. A family that strongly believed that, despite whatever happens in our lives, we ought to keep up a strong front. When the dearest person in my life, my maternal grandmother, passed away, the entire family was told to hold our tears and not display any form of great loss and grief. I broke down silently in my heart, and my mind. It felt as though I died on the inside, on the very same day when grandma passed.

My world shattered, I felt as though my being was detached from my body, which was just a shell. Time seemed to have taken a standstill. You could tell that everyone around you was moving, doing what they were supposed to do. The world was also moving along with time, evolving the way it always was. But for myself…I just stopped. I remembered using a word to describe how I felt – Emotionless.

It seemed easy for friends, colleagues and other relatives to say “I understand” how it feels. Each time I heard that, I answered immediately in that little brain of mine, “No, you don’t”. “How could you understand what I was going through, how could you so easily say that you understood how I felt and how it was going for me?”

I shut down completely. I was not only dealing with my own loss and grief, I was also constantly told to look after and care for my mother, who was grieving as well for the loss of her mother. I was not given the time, the space to process and mourn over my grandma.

My days, weeks, months passed and I felt the same. I recalled that there were many incidents back in the work that I used to do, that were deliberately done to push me to the edge, but I was emotionless, and did not have the strength nor energy to deal with it.

I knew that something was amiss, but I didn’t know what it was. There was a day that I chanced upon an Instagram post that briefly talked about the need to be aware of how to process grief and how psychotherapy can be a form of support to help one process their grief.

A sudden feeling of the need to find out more struck me and the next thing I knew, I was learning about the different stages of grief (that was developed by a psychiatrist, Elisabeth Kubler-Ross):

  1. Denial
  2. Anger
  3. Bargaining
  4. Depression
  5. Acceptance

Most people will go through these stages after a loss. As I did self-reflection, I was constantly moving from denial, anger, bargaining to depression then, and definitely unable to progress to acceptance.

That’s when I decided, I needed to seek professional help. It was through talk therapy with someone, who was a stranger when we first met, that made me understand how important it was to learn about our emotions after a loss. It was really helpful in healing the pain and grief, and that eventually led me to acceptance.

What I learned during my grief counselling sessions

This was my first experience with a counsellor, and it debunked my misconceptions about psychotherapy and counselling. There was respect, empathy, non-judgmental views, and compassion from the therapist that allowed me to trust them and work together as a partnership, patiently in the therapeutic journey. Of course, it was not solely relying on counselling that helped. There were also other mechanisms and coping techniques that were being taught and which I learned in therapy. I was able to apply the techniques, and skills taught to my daily life and bring back some of the positive emotions that I had lost through that grieving period.

It took several setbacks to make me realize that I needed help, but I was glad that I asked for help. Now I have learned that it is perfectly okay to ask for help, something that I would not have done in the past.

Despite who you are as a person or the journey that you’ve been through, it is okay to not be okay. If you resonate with what I have written, or if you know anyone who might be experiencing a hard time, feel free to reach out. Our therapists here at A Kind Place are trained professionals, who are all more than happy to help. Reach out to us at team@akindplace.co or drop us a WhatsApp message here. Remember, asking for help shows strength, accepting your vulnerability is the first step to growth.