Integration of Grief
To help someone overcome the grief of bereavement or loss, or for oneself.
This exercise, or parts of it, may be repeated as many times as needed.
STAGE 1: EXPERIENCING THE PRESENCE
- EXPERIENCING THE ABSCENCE, THE EMPTINESS
- Help the person to think of the lost person or situation and help him to create a very specific image of it or her. It shall be an image of something he would like to keep and not a scene of pain, break or absence.
Identify well the submodalities while the image is created.
- Clarify what the person has lost with that person or situation:
What were his/its qualities?
What values or important things did that relationship bring to you?
What material, psychological, physical “gifts” did you receive from that person?
What gifts did you give her?
What special things did your life have thanks to that relationship? Etc.
- EXPERIENCING THE PRESENCE
Ask the person to think of someone, or a situation, that is not there anymore, but that she remembers with happiness (a grandmother, a pet, etc.), as a treasure, a resource, someone physically absent whose memory or mental presence is nice and experienced as helpful.
Identify the submodalities of the memory of this absent person.
- 3. ECOLOGICAL VERIFICATION
It is important to ask: Can there be a downside to changing the experience of pain for one of positive presence? Indeed, if the person is grieving someone’s death, he may feel guilty for betraying the dead person or for not being loyal to her; if it is a separation, he may be afraid of suffering more if he remembers the lost person in a positive light.
If we encounter this obstacle, we can say to the person: if you died, would you prefer that your close ones remained sad for the rest of their lives, or that they remembered you with happiness and love, thinking of all what you brought to them?
If we are dealing with a separation: Do you prefer to keep your pain and your frustration or do you want to be able to think of this person in a dispassionate and positive manner, keeping all the treasures that your common experience has brought to you?
- 4. COMPARING THE REPRESENTATIONS
Compare the submodalities of the image of the absence (point 1) and the image of the experience of wholeness (point 2). Identify the differences.
- 5. CHANGING THE SUBMODALITIES
Install the submodalities of wholeness in the image of absence: put the same colours, sounds and sensations. The content of the image usually remains the same.
Invite the person to think again of the person she has lost and ask him how he feels. If the pain has not disappeared, this is because the submodalities have not been modified; in this case, go back over points 4 and 5.
STAGE 2: PREPARING THE FUTURE
- IDENTIFYING THE WORTH
Identify the qualities of that person that isn’t there anymore or from whom he is separating, the qualities that gave that relationship all its worth, the qualities that made that relationship something precious and unique.
Write down the person’s values and important criteria.
- PROJECTING INTO THE FUTURE
Help the person to imagine situations in the future in which those same values and criteria are met.
- ECOLOGICAL VERIFICATION
Ask him whether he has any objections to creating these experiences in his future. It may be useful sometimes, as in the previous stage, to give oneself permission or to change beliefs that may hinder the capacity for projection into the future.
- BUILDING ENABLING REPRESENTATIONS.
Imagine a line for the future that emerges from the present, from the person, in front of him.
When he visualises his future in this line, the person shall locate the alternative situations (imagined in point 2) in different moments of her life starting from today. He can use the metaphor of a great card game, with hundreds of pictures representing positive experiences: while she keeps some cards for the present, the person can lay the other cards all along the line of the future. Invite him to specify the location of the most important cards.
(1) Summary of the work presented by Josiane DE SAINT PAUL and Sylvie TENENBAUM in L´Esprit de la Magie..
We understand by submodalities what is seen or imagined: colours, all the characteristics of an image (light, dark, moving, fixed, big, small, close, distant…), what is said or what the person can hear in her head (words, sounds, types of sounds), what he feels in his body.