This month's guest blog is from Louise Creswick, a Grief & Loss Coach. Louise shares her story and explains what her role is...
"As a Grief & Loss Coach, I help people to find their own way through grief and when they’re ready, create a new normal in life beyond loss. Losing a grandparent and 2 great aunts when I was a teenager led me to believe that death is just what happens when you’re old. In my early adult years, I came to learn this isn’t always the case.
When I as 25, I lost my mum very suddenly and unexpectedly. She was my best friend and the one person that gave my life meaning.
Just months later, I lost my dad to Dementia. He was physically here, but he had lost his capacity to make any decisions or care for himself (seemingly overnight). So I did the only thing I could; I stepped in and focused on his needs. This went on for 7 years before I finally lost him completely.
What I didn’t expect was to lose one other thing. Somewhere within the grief and pain, I had lost myself too. I felt disconnected from the world, isolated, alone, empty, purposeless - and powerless to do anything about it. The big gaping holes in my life meant I had no idea what ‘normal life’ was any more and who I was. Clearly, grief had consumed me.
Sadly, this is often the case with loss. Although we navigate the journey in our own way, there is a common occurrence whereby people feel left to simply muddle their way through grief and as a result, feel alone.
I survived the pain by treading water and going through the motions one day at a time. It was a very dark place to be. When I was ready to clamber out of the rabbit hole, I wasn’t really sure who could help.
My grief became complicated and it took multiple sessions of therapy, stacks of self-help, lots of patience, and the power of coaching to help me find my way through. But what emerged was better than I ever imagined.
Grief & Loss Coaching.
My story has become my biggest “why”. It’s led me to my life purpose and into coaching others after loss.
I have been asked many times what coaching can do for grief and loss that counselling or therapy can’t. Is there even a difference, you might ask?
In the early days after my loss, I sought therapy because I was unable to function. It was really helpful for enabling me to survive the trauma of my losses and cope with my grief. I was eventually able to get back on my feet.
When I was ready to move forward I turned to coaching. As a result, I found ways to move through my grief, transition from surviving to thriving, and use my experience for personal growth.
So it’s never really a case of therapy or coaching, it’s simply about finding the best fit for the part of the journey you find yourself on. Whilst grief counselling and therapy focuses on supporting you back into ‘normal’ functioning, a grief coach will be able to help you with taking the next steps towards healing – which is really important for reducing the risk of becoming forever stuck in grief.
Grief and loss coaching begins with the premise that we’re not looking to change anything about the loss, or ‘fix’ what’s happened. It’s about finding ways to adjust, work with your grief and create your new normal – one where you decide what comes next. Therein lies the opportunity for you to reclaim your power. I believe that grief is not (and should not feel like) a life sentence.
Along the coaching journey, you may also uncover some personal challenges associated with your grief and discover how to move past those challenges. Every professional has their own unique way of working too. So it’s always good to listen to your intuition when you’re looking for the ‘right’ coach or counsellor to work with.
Finding Help & Support.
Taking the first step can feel daunting but not as daunting as the prospect of staying stuck in grief. You deserve support and many professionals will have a deep empathy and understanding of loss.
I feel it’s important for me to remind you that there are always options and in this online world, there are more services than ever (myself included) waiting to help. Navigating grief and loss can be tough but it’s much easier when you have support.
In the UK, the BACP website is always my ‘go-to’ for a list of registered, specialist grief counsellors or therapists. You can also ask your GP for a referral to an NHS funded service. This route may have a waiting list, so it depends on your urgency.
If you’re ready to move on from therapy or would prefer to give coaching a go, one of the best ways to find a grief coach is to ask for recommendations or search online. Most coaches are listed on sites such as the Life Coach Directory. Coaches like me, work on social media too – which means we can connect and get to know each other a bit more."
Louise is a Certified Life Coach & NLP Practitioner, with a background in Mental Health and Psychology. She specialises in working with people in grief and loss. Her own personal story, alongside her qualifications and expertise all come together to form her unique coaching services.