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“The darker the night, the brighter the stars,
The deeper the grief, the closer is God!”

Fyodor Dostoevsky

What is Grief?

Grief is a normal process that people go through when they go through a great loss. While grief is typically associated with the death of a loved one, people may also experience grief reactions due to an incurable illness, the end of a meaningful relationship, or a significant change in life such as job loss. Some symptoms of the grieving process include changes in sleep and appetite, lack of productivity at work or school, withdrawal from social contacts / family members, and crying spells.

The early stage of the grieving process can last up to two months. Milder symptoms can last up to a year or more. If these symptoms persist without improvement, or if someone is unable to return to normal function within a reasonable time, psychological counseling may be helpful.

The five stages of grief

  • Denial: Denial is our mind’s way of protecting us from fully experiencing a loss. In the beginning, it can be a dull feeling or a shock condition. As time goes on, denial becomes more of a distortion of the truth, a way of looking at things that tell us what we want to believe. The message of Denial is, “This is not happening.”
  • Anger: When we get into anger, we start to face the reality of the situation. Anger protects us from the feeling of pain by directing our pain outward. The message of anger is, “Who is to blame for this?”
  • Negotiation: Ultimately, we realize that it really doesn’t matter. Anger has not helped us get rid of the problem, and in fact it may have created problems in itself. So now we start looking for a solution. Sometimes we negotiate to prevent a certain outcome (“If only you would take this away from me, I would …”), and at times we negotiate to avoid the pain (“If only I had this car / suit / pair of shoes buy, then i will feel better. ”). The negotiating message is, “This will make it all better.”
  • Depression: But many times, it doesn’t. There are things that cannot simply be undone, and some problems cannot be fixed. Sooner or later, we have to face what we’ve been running all along: reality. But the reality is tough. The reality is painful. Reality is … depressing. It is really difficult to remain a reality for a long time, and we often relapse into Negotiating. But when we are able to stay with our pain long enough and work through it, we work toward Acceptance.
  • Acceptance: Acceptance is just that. Where Denial tells us that “this is not happening,” Acceptance tells us “This is happening, and we will go through it.” Acceptance is when we stop running away from the truth, while accepting that truth is part of our worlds, then looking forward to make the most of it.

Guidance and support for grief processes

Here at the Institute for Bodymind Integration, we offer individual, family and group counseling to clients of all ages dealing with loss. Regardless of the nature of the loss, the grief process goes through five separate stages (see above). This journey is not linear, we are not simply going through it. Most people, on the other hand, go back and forth (forward and backward) several times between stages before reaching Acceptance. For many it is often helpful to have a professional facilitator to guide and support them through the grieving process.

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Individual therapy sessions

Dirk Marivoet psychotherapist in Belgium

Dirk Marivoet, MSc. is a European certified psychotherapist (ECP). He studied physiotherapy as well as psychomotor therapy at the University of Leuven. Next he worked in the clinics and taught for 11 years at this university. For over 30 years now he has worked in a holistic way and is especially interested in the integration of body, mind and spirit in service of individual, collective and global development.

Dirk Marivoet and his colleagues at the IBI (International Institute of Bodymind Integration) offer individual therapy sessions for those interested in this mind-body approach.

In Ghent (Belgium), Europe, the rest of the world and online.

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