Leaving behind, but not forgetting, 2020

There can't be many people who won't be pleased to see the back of 2020. For many it has been a horrible year of isolation, loneliness, frustration and disappointment. We have all grieved for events we have missed from cancelled concerts and postponed weddings to being unable to properly say goodbye to loved ones at small socially distanced funerals.

I was working with a client earlier this month and they were talking about when would they feel better - when the pain of grief would pass. We discussed this and I was tempted to show them Tonkin's Theory of Grief (below).

In the left hand column there is the starting point (life before loss) and then the all consuming darkness of grief. The bottom illustration is how we often imagine grief will feel over time, smaller as our life returns to normal and the pain fades....

....however the right hand column is nearer the truth. Again the first two illustrations show a life pre-loss and then grief-consumed. The third acknowledges that the grief does not lessen but that our lives continue and grow around the grief. It is something we will carry with us; the pain never gets less painful but we surround the pain will growth and love.

On this particular day I didn't reach for the card, but instead we picked some leaves and used them to illustrate the concept...

As we continued the walk my client held on to the leaves and took them home - a reminder, they said, of how we grow with grief. It's hard to find many silver-linings in this year - for me one would be hearing birdsong in March without the background hum of traffic - but sometimes it's not about silver-linings; as we leave 2020 (yay!) and start 2021 it feels important for me not to ignore the last year, but to acknowledge what I lost (time with family) and to hold on to that sense of loss and ensure that when I do have the opportunity to meet loved ones again that I make the most of every second.

#balance #counselling_outside #ecotherapy #loss #grief

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