MAXINE HARLEY: Grief Or Relief?

Maxine Harley
Maxine Harley

Not all losses are a cause for sadness – it all depends upon how ‘attached’ you were to whatever, or whoever, is no longer in your life.

The more you cared, the greater the sense of loss and painful feelings of grief.

We can form deep emotional attachments to pets as well as people, and losing those strong bonds creates an emotional agony, and even ill-health.

Many a widow or widower has soon died of a ‘broken heart’ to become ‘re-united’ with the love of their life.

Attachment theory has been around for decades and focuses upon the emotional attachment created between a parent - or other care-giver - and a child.

This relationship sets up the template for the child’s future. It literally wires their brain and determines their expectations of how others will treat them, and the quality of relationships they will form and how they will experience losses in their life.

We can leave childhood feeling secure or insecure – the latter including a tendency to be anxious, or to actively avoid close relationships.

An early loss of something that is harmful to us is really a blessing.

If you were to draw a spider’s web around an image of yourself, and plot people and pets upon it – closer to you if you feel a closer connection and attachment to them, and further away if that bond is weak, forced, or disliked but tolerated.

Those furthest ones away from you would be relatively easy to live without. Perhaps you’ll choose to discard these from your web now rather than later, and to replace them with closer connections.

Having fewer but stronger bonds is worth much more than many weak or unwanted ones.

Cherish and enjoy those quality connections with people who give back to you with their time, attention and care.

Yes one day you’ll feel worse for losing them - but not as bad as you’ll feel for not having experienced the enjoyment of their company, and of having great memories to recall which can re-energise and amuse you for years to come.

Maxine Harley (MSc Psychotherapy)

Maxine Harley has a masters degree in psychotherapy, has written two books, and created four new approaches to psychological, emotional and physical well-being. She lives happily in Chichester with her daughter and grandson.