Navigating Grief with EMDR Therapy:

A Journey to Healing

I was afraid of attaching to anyone because I didn’t want to make myself vulnerable to the pain of losing them if they died.

It’s hard to focus on hope amidst the waves of sorrow, and the last thing I wanted to hear was that I needed to be strong and I would get through it. Losing a loved one can feel like your world is imploding with a meteor of emotions.

However, if the grief is emotionally and physically overwhelming and preventing you from functioning, Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) just might be the guiding light you need to pass through the dark path of grief.

Grieving with Grace 

Grief is a natural response to loss and a testament to the legacy of the love shared with those who are no longer physically with us, it’s also an incredibly painful complex individual experience. Five back-to-back losses were way more than I bargained for; I couldn’t seem to get a break from mourning, and grief had become a frequent path of mine. I started to feel like I was stuck in a pit of darkness with no way out. At times, every memory, every thought, and every feeling left me feeling crippled, helpless and fatigued. I couldn’t just get over it, I knew I needed to give myself grace, be patient, and allow my grief the space it needed to unfold.

Finding Light in the Darkness

Amidst the darkness of grief, I decided to practice what I preach, I decided to seek safe non-judgmental support.  I did a significant amount of work with myself but felt stuck and needed another professional to support me in processing the unconscious blocks that were still lingering. I opted to do EMDR as I had much success in using it to process grief in the past. EMDR was developed to treat trauma and has shown remarkable results in helping individuals process various forms of emotional distress, including grief.

EMDR consists of bilateral stimulation typically through eye movements, tapping, or sounds, to facilitate the brain’s natural healing process.

My EMDR Experience

Although I was hopeful, I was nervous because I knew that this work would be emotionally taxing. Furthermore, I was starting with a new therapist which means that my nervous system needed to feel safe in his presence even before starting the work. My high tolerance for distress helped me to move through the preliminary prep work into the processing and desensitization phases fairly quickly.

I was guided to recall specific memories associated with my loved ones’ passing while simultaneously engaging in bilateral stimulation. At first, it felt like I was confronting “the boogie man” within me, and it felt like a tornado was erupting all the emotions I had been suppressing inside my gut. Facing my emotions and my unconscious thoughts often left me sobbing. As the sessions progressed, I noticed subtle shifts within me. The feelings of helplessness, guilt, and overwhelming fear of losing loved ones diminished. I was intentional about implementing self-soothing strategies and resting after each EMDR session.

Unpacking Grief

I must say that all the discomfort was worth it because I am worth it, I deserve the peace that allows me to have joy, healthy attachments, and fond memories of my beloveds without distress. EMDR helped me untangle the knots of grief that ensnared my heart. With each session, I found myself gradually releasing distorted beliefs and making peace with the reality of loss.

Memories that once triggered avoidance and overwhelming sadness became bittersweet reminders of the love I held for my dear loved ones. It was as if EMDR gave me a gentle hand to navigate my way out of the pit of darkness I was stuck in.

Embracing Healing and Hope

As I reflect on my journey with EMDR, I feel deep gratitude that I can think of my loved ones without feeling survivor’s guilt, and I can reflect on fond memories without feeling like a tornado is erupting in my gut.  The pain of loss will never fully dissipate, however, EMDR has equipped me with the tools to carry it with grace and resilience. As I said in the beginning, I have experienced multiple losses and I am still exploring and processing various aspects that are painful. Each session feels like a stepping stone along my path of healing and is a testament to my resilience.

Your Path to Healing

If you are carrying the weight of grief, have crying spells, or days when you don’t feel like getting out of bed or even doing life, know that you’re not alone. You too deserve support, doing the work is worth it, you are worth it, and you deserve peace. Consider exploring EMDR as a means to navigate your journey through grief and healing.

Give yourself permission to get support, there is a light that awaits beyond the shadows of sorrow. Until next time, focus on what you can do and be kind to yourself because you deserve it!

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At Emergent Counseling & Consulting LLC, services are person-centered, culturally sensitive, stigma-free, holistic and strengths-based.

Our services are tailored to meet your needs and help you develop the skills needed to get rid of anxiety and depression, and enhance your quality of life.  Our methods are non-invasive, short-term evidenced-based techniques such as  Brainspotting, and Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT Tapping), which simple and focused on reducing the intensity of distress associated with anxiety and depression.