“Grief is like the ocean; it comes in waves, ebbing and flowing. Sometimes the water is calm, and sometimes it is overwhelming. All we can do is learn to swim.” - Vicki Harrison. Grief and mourning reflect natural processes of life. Human existence is marked by constant change, impermanence and periodic moments of loss. Death, and loss by means of death, is something we all must face, since we belong to the cycle of nature. However, the fact that they are natural processes does not eliminate the pain they cause. Unbearable pain caused by death is not a necessity and is not beneficial when it persists without igniting some process of healing or resolution. How we cope with the death of loved ones depends to a great degree on what stories we assign to the event and what death means to us. Since there are many perspectives and ways of looking at tragic life events, we may find that alternative perspectives allow the grieving process to unfold in a more healing way. Hypnosis is a great tool for creating new perspectives and working through difficult life events. At Hypnosis Berlin we are here to support you through your grief and mourning process. Learn more about our methods below.
Bild: Hypnosis for Mourning - Saying Goodbye in Peace
How to recognize prolonged grief disorder
After experiencing the death of a loved one, going through grief is an important and normal process. But what about cases in which grief doesn't stop? If grief lasts longer than six months, it could be pathological grief - also called prolonged grief disorder.
In prolonged grief disorder, the affected individual does not succeed in reaching the final stages of grief. They tend to get stuck between the second and third phase. Anger, guilt and depressive moods persist and social withdrawal is very common. Often there is also a risk of suicide (Hypnosis for depressions). The grieving person may also use aggression as a coping mechanism. At this point at the latest, professional help is urgently advised. Hypnotherapy is a successful method of choice for processing difficult life events like grief caused by death.
Pathological grief presents itself through different physical and psychological symptoms:
Physical symptoms include fatigue, low physical drive and sleep disturbances. Sometimes sleep disturbances develop into sleep disorders like insomnia or inner restlessness. There may also be a decreased sex drive, low appetite, weight loss, and physical tension. The increased cortisol levels caused by the emotional distress may lead to further psychosomatic complaints like headaches, digestive issues or skin diseases.
Psychological symptoms include anxiety, angression, bitterness, guilt, shame, emotional shock and depressive moods. Sufferers describe feeling trapped in grief and having feelings of helplessness, hopelessness, and increased thoughts of futility. Burnout, depression and suicidal tendencies are not uncommon. There may also be dependency on alcohol or other substances - many times leading to addiction to cope with and numb the pain.
Hypnosis for prolonged grief and mourning
Grief is a normal reaction to the loss of a loved one. Nonetheless, grief hurts, throws the mourner off track, and sometimes it doesn’t get better over time. Hypnosis can help in processing the pain and moving forward when stuck in the emotional distress caused by dying and death.
Grief and mourning self-test
Am I experiencing prolonged grief disorder?
The following questions may be initial clues as to whether you are suffering from prolonged grief:
Are you grieving the loss of a loved one for at least six months without noticing an improvement in the intensity of the pain?
Do you experience intense pain of separation and longing (physical or psychological) on a daily basis?
Do you experience any of the following symptoms: confusion, denial, difficulty accepting the situation, difficulty confiding in others, anger, bitterness, guilt or drowsiness?
Do you feel that your life has become empty or meaningless?
Have more than six months passed since the loss?
Did the loss hit you unexpectedly or multiple times?
Do you recently withdraw socially or avoid certain situations?
Are you sad, depressed or feeling down and hopeless?
If you can answer yes to most of these questions and feel restricted in your everyday life, you should seek psychotherapeutic guidance. You may be experiencing prolonged grief disorder. Please note that questions are always asked broadly, so it is possible that people who are not affected by pathological grief may receive a positive result. Not everyone who is grieving is suffering from prolonged grief disorder.
Dealing with bereavement and grief
There are hardly any figures on the exact numbers and frequency of prolonged grief disorder in Germany. The following statistics and charts therefore refer to mourning patterns - the ways in which we deal with grief. In 2017, 72% of respondents stated that they do not need a specific place to mourn and commemorate deceased persons. 56% of respondents aged 50 - 60 answered that they tend to avoid expressing condolences to people in bereavement. 19% of the Viennese surveyed said that they perceive grief in their counterpart as a burdensome feeling and are bad at dealing with it when confronted with grief. What this study shows is that there appears to be a lack of social tolerance for mourning and the grieving process, and those affected often feel very isolated and alone with their pain.
There are several underlying causes for pathological grief. Although individual personalities play an important role, another factor is under what circumstances a person experienced the loss and death. The relationship between the deceased person and the mourner has an enormous influence on the way loss and grief is processed. The likelihood of pathological grief is increased when there were many unresolved conflicts in the relationship, insecure attachments or inadequate support in the immediate environment. When there is a lack of support in the family or emotional support from friends in the mourning phase, the feelings of isolation and solitude in the grief and processing of death can become so overwhelming that it turns pathological.
What are the consequences of holding on to grief persistently?
The longer pathological grief persists and remains untreated, the greater the suffering of those affected. Confidence and hope diminish, depression may develop and life may start to seem meaningless.
The consequences of persistent, prolonged grief include:
Refusal to change anything in the room of the deceased person - including cleanup or gathering belongings - guided by the belief that everything must remain as it was before.
Increased feelings of hopelessness and futility.
Psychosocial, physical and financial consequences.
States of emotional shock or bitterness, leading to feelings of joylessness toward things that used to be enjoyable.
Problems at work due to the increasing inability to pay attention or concentrate.
Increased health risks through “self-medicating” with alcohol or other substances.
Affected individuals find themselves in a vicious cycle of negative thought circles and hopelessness.
Avoidance behaviors and social and emotional withdrawal from friendships and relationships.
The suicide risks increase with prolonged pathological grief.
Physical symptoms like sleep disturbances, loss of appetite, weight loss, inner restlessness and gastrointestinal issues may increase.
Depressive moods can lead to depression.
Grief and secondary conditions
Affected people often show signs and symptoms of depressions as a secondary condition. Suicidality also becomes a topic of concern, therefore pathological grief needs to be taken seriously!
The different stages of grief
What are the Stages of Grief?
Grief occurs in different stages. Below is a model for five stages of grief as introduced by the psychiatrist Elisabeth Kübler-Ross in 1969. This theory of grief stages is not universal and is only one position and perspective - meaning, that it may not apply to you. But since it is one of the most well-known models for grief within the field of psychology, we provide an overview here.
Stage 1: Denial
In the first phase of mourning, denial is often experienced. The psychological shock caused by learning about an untimely death may cause some people to believe lies or deception are involved. This may cause them to build very strong barriers to strengthen the denial phase, leading them to become highly anxious and distrustful of others.
Stage 2: Anger
Once the denial phase has been surpassed, it is often followed by anger. There may also be accompanying emotions like fear, helplessness and guilt. Thoughts such as "Why did they leave me now, of all times?" and "Why didn't I make more time for them?" are very common. The anger is often directed toward the self. This phase is often associated with weight loss and difficulty sleeping.
Stage 3: Bargaining
The bargaining phase involves a lot of “If only I had…” thoughts and a type of inner negotiation with the event of the death, which can sometimes take on religious or spiritual directions. The affected individual may attempt to turn to God or other higher powers to bring the life of the loved one back or seek measures to fill up the feeling of emptiness caused by the sudden loss. The bargaining also takes place in a regressive manner; meaning, that the affected person may relive the moment of loss and think about all the things that could have been done to prevent it.
Stage 4: Depression
Depression is the fourth stage of grief. It is marked by sadness, sluggishness, fatigue, feelings of hopelessness, apathy, crying spells, suicidal thoughts and sleep disturbances. An overwhelming feeling of darkness and meaninglessness may take over. The head might feel heavy, weighed down and reaction times are slowed down. Social withdrawal is common. Some individuals neglect personal hygiene or have difficulty running errands.
Stage 5: Acceptance
The last stage of grief involves acceptance. The emotional rollercoaster may finally subside and things begin to feel more stable. There is no longer a denial of the event or a constant reliving of the moment of death. Feelings of sadness or regret might still be there beneath the surface, but they are no longer dominating the emotional world of the affected individual. Most people are also able to find peace and move forward after this stage.
Grief hypnosis treatment
Hypnosis facilitates dealing with grief, loss and death
Hypnosis can effectively guide people through their processes with dying, death and the mourning process. Often we observe that the collective silence about what may be coming leads to making the dying process more difficult for the dying person as well. Being close to loved ones in the face of death and being able to leave with love makes it easier for people to let go - for the dying person and the people left behind. At the same time, the fear of our own death can be overcome. Those who can accept death as a natural process of life are able to lose their fear of dying. The fear of dying does not prevent dying. Paradoxically, it prevents life - since fear always stands in the way of experiencing life fully - with all its colors, joy and pain.
Hypnosis and hypnotherapy will help you cope better and process the pain
Hypnosis Berlin is here to support you through all phases of grief. The aim is not to suppress the grief, but to help you pass through the individual phases with our guidance and support. When difficult questions, thoughts or emotions surface along the way, we are here to support you. You will gain access to your inner strengths and find the peace you need to say goodbye to your loved one. You will have the opportunity to observe feelings like anger and guilt and dissociate from them - by exploring where they are coming from. It is not uncommon for there to be unresolved issues that people were unable to discuss with the deceased before their death. During hypnosis, you can simulate a conversation with your loved ones, forgive yourself or forgive the deceased. In this way, you will find resolution and peace while discovering new strengths that can guide you in all areas of life. Read here how hypnosis helps to let go of severe heartbreak and separation pain: heartbreak and separation pain.
The first hypnosis session usually lasts 120 minutes and includes getting to know each other, a detailed anamnesis and your first hypnosis. After booking an appointment in the online calendar, you will receive detailed information about your hypnosis session by email and will receive the hypnosis e-book free of charge when you book the first session. Follow-up appointments usually last 90 - 120 minutes, depending on the current situation and the resulting needs. You can find detailed information about the prices under Hypnosis Prices.
Smaller topics and issues can sometimes be solved in one session. In particular, hypnosis for smoking cessation takes place in one intensive session. More complex issues that accompany people longer are treated in four sessions on average. Hypnotherapy is to be understood as a short therapy. There are also exceptions where I support clients over several years at their express request.
Usually clients come for a follow-up appointment at an interval of 1 to 4 weeks. I have had very good experiences with a session interval of 1 to 2 weeks. I would like to emphasize here that in my experience this depends on the topic and the client.
Under the following link you can select and book your appointment yourself in the online calendar: Make an Appointment.
You will receive an invoice for each session. This does NOT show any fee codes of the GebüH and does not contain any diagnoses. The session is to be paid privately at the end of the session in cash or with EC card. The practice does NOT bill public and private insurances.
You can find more questions and answers in the
Hypnosis FAQ section - frequently asked questions about hypnosis.