Though we don’t like to think about it, grief is a natural part of life. However, it does mean that a loss has occurred, and the pain that comes with the grief process can sometimes be difficult to facilitate without help.
In fact, aside from typical grief, some people experience complicated grief. This occurs when the loss or death of a loved one is tragic, unexpected or sudden. When a person must deal with the loss of someone very young, loses someone with whom they have unresolved issues, or must cope with the loss of a relationship that is socially unacceptable, complicated grief can impede healing.
Traumatic grief occurs for many loss sufferers, and requires special attention to relief and effective emotional processing. This type of grief often entails the symptoms of trauma exposure such as; event re-experiencing, avoidance of loss reminders, a deep sense of pointlessness regarding the future, emotional numbness and detachment, lack of acceptance, bitterness, anger related to a death, and much more.
Coping with such difficult types of loss may require therapy and professional support. This is nothing to delay or be ashamed of. Fortunately, EMDR therapy can provide relief quickly and uniquely.
EMDR therapy helps when grief is “locked” in
The goal of EMDR therapy is not to make you forget or skip grieving altogether. The process really attempts to “unlock” your brain to help you grieve more peacefully.
Your memories always remain intact, they are just made less painful. EMDR simply helps you access the place in your mind where grief arrested. This helps so that you can acknowledge it and process it without engaging in a lot of verbal sharing which might exacerbate your pain. From there, natural grieving can ensue. Previously unproductive, intrusive thoughts become more useful and adaptive.
When you choose EMDR to cope with loss, you’ll also find that it doesn’t matter when the loss occurred. This therapy is custom made for you, picking up where you are stuck and addressing your needs specifically. EMDR works by stimulating both hemispheres of your brain. Through side to side eye movements or tapping sounds in the ear or tactile forms of bilateral stimulation, you experience efficient processing of painful and traumatic memories.
Research indicates that EMDR employs a process similar to REM or rapid eye movement sleep. As the brain sorts out experiences during rest, EMDR aids the brain in processing overwhelming experiences.
Your memories, unresolved issues, and current triggers are tackled so that treatment results in clarity and awareness. Then, with the loss properly processed and its meaning assessed, you can begin working with your therapist to shape a new vision for yourself.
What does EMDR grief therapy look like?
What happens in EMDR sessions?
Before dealing with your grief, your therapist will establish a safe and comfortable therapeutic relationship with you. You will also likely learn some helpful coping tools, such as relaxation or meditation practices to use when you feel the need.
When you feel comfortable, you will address a memory with the eye movements or other forms of left-right alternating stimulation, like tapping or tones listened to in headphones.
As your therapist moves his or her fingers from side to side, your eyes will track the movement. As you follow the movements you’ll follow your thoughts, allowing whatever emotions to arise, uncensored. There is no need for deep discussion about the memory.
Following these sets of eye movements, you’ll talk about what you noticed. However, you are completely free to stop and start at any time. You are in control of your own treatment and healing.
By the conclusion of your EMDR therapy, you will likely find that excruciating grief and traumatic memories serve up much less distress, and you are far less troubled by them on a daily basis.
Take the first step…
If you are ready to consider EMDR for grief therapy, I would like to help. I have been a Certified EMDR Therapist since 2004. I have helped hundreds of clients benefit from this incredibly useful methodology. Please get in touch with me via voicemail or email so we can discuss how we might work together to achieve your therapeutic goals as quickly and effectively as possible.
I look forward to hearing from you.
Linda K. Laffey, MFT