By Julia Stallard
Sadly, we all have to come to terms with loss at various points in our lives. I know I have, from that first goldfish who didn’t even make it home from the fair, through the pets and older relatives that I wept for but acknowledged that old age and infirmity made the loss inevitable. Then at some point the losses become closer, less expected and so, so much harder to deal with.
There’s no magic answer. In some cases, the passing brings guilt as we struggle with the feeling of loss and the rush of gratitude that our loved one’s struggle is over. In other cases, we move into “organising mode” and busy overselves with anything that will distract from us dealing with the loss. Others fall into bereavement before it has happened and struggle to support that loved one, such is their own battle.
That’s where we are right now. Someone very close to me is heading towards the loss of a sibling – an unimaginable loss to me thankfully – and needs my support. I’m not a counsellor or therapist, so I’ve been mulling over whether coaching could help me to do this, applying the same principles with the goals being to manage the every day and to support and love til the end. It comes down to deep listening every time and being able to ask the right questions, helping to develop a self awareness in my “coachee”, helping them to identify strategies to help them cope and to recognise when they cannot, to be the best support for their loved one – and again, to acknowledge it when there are days they are unable to fulfil this. Above all, it is helping us both to focus on the here and now rather than the dreaded future.
Bereavement often brings with it a startling clarity about what matters in life. One of our coaches-in-training described how a coachee came to her for support about a working relationship which had a history of conflict. Between sessions 3 and 4 the coachee experienced a sudden and unexpected bereavement. Understandably this turned the coachee’s world upside down, but amongst the emotional upheaval came the realisation that there were far more important things to attend to than some perceived slight way back in the past. She cancelled her remaining sessions and faced the future with a renewed sense of vigour, focusing on what was really important.
Loss is painful. It’s permanence can be particularly tough. It connects us to our own immortality.
What helps is to spend time with a compassionate listener. Someone who can pay attention to your suffering and support you to reach decisions at a time when it can be difficult to see the point of anything.
That person might be you.
If you would like details of our courses on Coaching with Compassion for loss and other life changing events, please get in touch.