EMDR and The Treatment of Grief
Grief is painful. It is a strong and sometimes overwhelming emotion for people, whether it stems from the loss of a loved one, a divorce, or a terminal diagnosis. Grief can include physiological distress, separation anxiety, confusion, obsessive dwelling on the past, and a fear of the future. Many people experience traumatic Grief throughout their lifetime. And sometimes, Grief persists, leaving one depressed, anxious, and having dread and hopelessness.
A loss can be traumatic, especially sudden, unexpected, and violent losses. The death of a loved one can result in disturbing memories, such as when one receives the news of the loss, moments of suffering at the hospital, and images from the funeral. These overwhelming memories and the permanent absence of someone can be too much for a person to assimilate into their thinking. We experience a period of shock and disbelief, where we cannot comprehend the reality of what has happened. These painful memories can become maladaptively stored, resulting in intense emotional pain, intrusive memories, nightmares, panic attacks, prolonged numbness, and flashbacks when reminded of our loved one. The loss can be so distressing that people find it difficult to access, experience, or feel less positive memories of the loved one. Leaving one feeling like “they cannot connect” or detached from life and other people. Typically, Grief triggers various intense emotions such as denial, shock, sorrow, guilt, anger, fear, and depression.
Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) can be utilized in many difficult life situations and is an excellent to to help resolve Grief. EMDR can help facilitate a healthy grieving process by facilitating the mourner’s realization of the loss, targeting distressing moments, processing the pain, and facilitating integration. The therapist and client work at a pace comfortable to the client, ultimately feeling all the emotions associated with the loss in a safe, supportive, and contained manner. People who have utilized EMDR for their grief report a greater sense of peace and an overall acceptance of the loss and can maintain a positive connection to the memory of their loved one while moving forward to a life without them.