Dealing with loss or grief - It's time to get unstuck

Recently I found myself “stuck” after the loss of someone close to me me. The chapter below, taken from a book I’m reading, had an amazing effect on me and I’m posting it because I know it can help you too.

If you are suffering from grief or loss then I fully recommend you read this. Don’t worry if there’s parts you don’t understand fully, give me a nudge in the contact section if you have any questions.

Grief Resolution Pattern


To invest ourselves into someone or something is to give ourselves to the other and to bring the other into ourselves. When we then later lose that person or thing, we experience grief. And well we should. Grief is the emotion of choice that allows us to register our sadness and sense of loss. it is the emotion that tenderises our heart, humanises our perspective, and teaches us, in a profession way, the wonder and beauty of life itself.

Yet sometimes when we lose someone or something very special to us, we get caught up in excessive grieving or even grief that’s unnecessary. At such times we not only register the loss, and grieve the meaning of what the loss of a loved one, a job, a childhood, etc. signifies to us, but we continue to do so in such a way that we begin living in a state of sadness, depression, or hopelessness. When that happen, we become less and less able to get on with life.

What’s gone wrong? It could be that we simply lack a good strategy for beginning closure on the loss, using it for our growth, and moving on. Or it could be that we somehow get stuck in a loop that we don’t know how to exit. In either case, we need a better and more productive strategy, a strategy for resolving grief and gaining closure.

Regarding grief and grieving, here are some key questions:
How long do we have to grieve a loss to get over it?
What is the natural time frame for grief?
What are we to think and feel in the grief process that is therapeutic?
What toxic thoughts and beliefs interfere with the resolution of grief?
What patterns of processes enhance our experience of grief and loss?

Culturally, there are numerous patterns for handling grief. The very fact that other cultures experience grief or loss in very different ways from the cultural styles we have learned indicates that human subjectivity has a wide range of choices in this matter. There in no one right way to grieve. There are many ways. Some are more useful and effective than others. Some are less productive. In some cultures, loss triggers people to give up, rage, seek revenge, commit suicide, etc. In other cultures grief enables people to celebrate and even rejoice in a loss-giving it the meaning of life “a transition to another life.” In some cultures, grief lasts years, in others, the grief may only be experienced for a matter of days or a few weeks. Our beliefs about such typically involve our cultural constructs.

This illustrates a plasticity of meaning. Loss does not necessitate a prescribed form of grieving. Our subjective experience always arises from how we represent the loss and the meanings we attribute to it. The map in our heads about the territory of loss is the key. And there are multiple maps that we can experience. Each map leads to different emotional and behavioural reactions.

What map do you want to choose as you navigate life?
How would you like to experience loss?
What would you need to believe or think in order to value the experience or person that you have lost and honour them as you learn and move on in life?
What would be the most enhancing frame for handling such grief?

Grief involves not only external loss, but internal losses. It activates a loss of meaning, values, expectations, and significance about things. The depth and extent of grief depends upon the depth and extent of the meaning we have given to something or someone. The more meaning we invest in something, the more it will mean to us, and the more the will affect us. Our experience of grief does not arise only from the loss itself, but from how we perceive and interpret the loss. Our meaning determines the experience. How we represent and frame our loss is what controls the emotional significance. Resolving grief then involves reestablishing connections and values (Andreas and Andreas).

The Pattern

1. Identify the grief representation
As you think about someone or something you have lost (or a potential loss), notice how you represent that person or thing.
What it that like?
How do you represent it?
Do you experience the loved one “there, yet not really there?”
Or do you “see them, yet only vaguely” in some insubstantial way?

Because grief usually involves an unfinished or unreal representation, you will find the representations to have characteristics of not being quite real. Identify the cinematic features (or “sub-modalities”) that you associate with the sense of loss. Common features include seeing the person as flat, transparent, distant, floating, off the ground, unclear, etc.

2. Identify your grief representation that causes you to feel stuck
Do you feel stuck in the grief? How do you know this?
What is there about your representations that gives you the sense of being stuck?
As you notice the representations of the grief in which you feel “stuck”, what are they like?

One man said, “I see her in small, still picture. It looks very dark and depressing. I don’t want to look at it.” Why not? What is that about? “Because that was the last time I saw her-the day we broke up.” The content here controlled his representations. Of course, if we recall bad times with a loved one, rather than good times, we will increase our sense of pain.

3. Identify your “special memory” representation
As you now think back to a time when you had some special memories associated with this person, what did you experience that was of value to you and very important?
What did these memories and associations mean to you?
How were they valuable to you?
Which of these do you wish to keep with you?
What did you especially appreciate and value? (set an anchor for this state)

4. Identify “finished grief” as a resourceful experience
Have you ever lost someone or something that once caused you grief, but that you are now comfortable with

As you now think back to that person who is no longer a part of your life, and yet when you recall him or her, you do so feeling good and enriched, you know that your thoughts provide you with a sense of that person’s presence and value. So just notice how you represent and think of that person.

What are the sensory modalities and their cinematic features that create the sense?

What are the meanings that you give to the representations that create the good feelings?

5. Re-code your representations
Would you have any objections to developing a more resourceful way to think about the person you have lost so that you could feel good about him or her?

Does any part of you object to keeping the good feelings that you received from this other person and letting them enrich your life?

Do you have full permission to release the grief and welcome in the good feelings?

6. Access a valued experience with the person
For a moment, let yourself recall one one of the most special times you had with this person. Save him or her as life-size, moving, and over to your left (use the driving cinematic features of the person).

When you think about this person in the same way you thought about your friend that’s gone, and even though you have lost this person, you can still have those good feelings, can you not? Good. Just welcome the feelings and be with them for a moment.

7. Identifying the values
Now to preserve the benefits of that relationship and use them to move into the future, as you allow yourself to review all of the good experiences you had with this person, notice the things you valued about the person, the things you want to keep with you — warmth, intimacy, spontaneity, variety, stability, fun, adventure, etc.

As you identify the values that you do not want to lose from this person, make a symbolic image of all these values and then bring that symbol into you … to keep near to your heart.

8. Check ecology and future-pace
Now imagine going into the future with these values that you received from that person … let these values enrich you and be an ongoing legacy of that person.
How does that settle? Do you like that?
How would it affect the rest of your life, in relationships, at work, health, etc.?

9. Break state and test
Now think of that person and notice what you think-and-feel about her (him). See if you can feel as bad and desperate as you did earlier.

I really hope this helped with your loss and helps you move forward.
This was taken from the book – “The Source Book Of Magic” – A comprehensive guide to NLP change patterns by L. Michael Hall, PhD