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Domestic Abuse and Grief

Updated: Mar 13

"We define domestic abuse as an incident or pattern of incidents of controlling, coercive, threatening, degrading and violent behaviour, including sexual violence, in the majority of cases by a partner or ex-partner, but also by a family member or carer. It is very common. In the vast majority of cases it is experienced by women and is perpetrated by men."

Women's Aid

When I came to the Grief Recovery Method, I thought of myself as someone who had not experienced much grief in my life. I was training as a Grief Recovery Method Specialist to support my work as a Funeral Celebrant and End of Life Planning Facilitator. When I read the Grief Recovery Handbook, it spoke to my heart. I instantly saw the power of the method that John James had devised in the years since the death of his baby son had set him on a path to understand and heal from the pain of grief. Having worked as a paediatric nurse in a children's cancer unit, I was no stranger to grief, and I recognised in the studies that investigated the impact that the Grief Recovery Method had on individual's lives, the importance of offering an evidence-based programme to my own clients. It wasn't however, until I began to go through the Grief Recovery Method myself (a pre-requisite for training as a specialist), that I began to appreciate the true extent of my own experience of grief.

Grief is defined in the Grief Recovery Handbook as, 'the normal and natural reaction to loss of any kind.' This came as a revelation to me. The losses I had experienced as a result of abuse within intimate relationships had gone largely unmarked, repressed, hidden. I had not fully acknowledged to myself what I had lost, let alone the intense feelings of pain and grief that accompanied these losses. It had been a matter of survival. For the most part, I wasn't in mortal danger, but the emotional and mental devastation that accompanies domestic abuse had wrecked my sense of self and my orientation in the world. It had left me a single parent, financially bereft and frightened about what the future held.

The Grief Recovery Method emphasises that there can be no comparison in the experience of grief – we experience grief at 100%. I've often heard it said that the death of a child is the worst kind of loss and, because I had met many parents who had experienced the death of their child, I took this seriously. By comparison my experience of unsatisfactory relationships seemed a rather paltry excuse for the misery I felt. It was liberating to discover that I could look compassionatly at my own experience of loss – the daily humiliations, little public put downs, night-time banging on of lights and shouting, the need for police intervention – all the things that had made my experience of family life difficult and distressing, without comparing them to any artificial measure of loss. I experienced the loss of my safety, financial security, and self-respect fully for what it meant in my life. I had let go of the hopes and dreams I had had for the family, for my children, for the work that I had imagined myself doing, for the love I had imagined growing over the years, and with the help of the Grief Recovery Method, I was able to see what this meant to me.

There have been times on this journey through domestic abuse when I have felt vulnerable, angry and victimised. All these feelings are legitimate, but when we let them take up long-term residence in our hearts, we will have trouble healing from an experience of loss. The Grief Recovery Method emphasises the importance of taking responsibility. I found this approach enormously empowering. Wallowing in the victim mentality has us stuck in a state oppressive grief – even when we are not in touch with the language of grief to describe our experiences.

For myself, I found a way to name what I had experienced and understand the feelings I had repressed in response to the experience of domestic abuse. The Grief Recovery Method came into my life as a gift of healing, a beautiful toolkit that furnished me with all the resources I needed to heal and thrive after the pain of domestic abuse.

If you have experienced domestic abuse and you are ready to heal your life and thrive,

please book a free Grief Recovery Session with me by clicking on the image below.

You deserve the gift of recovery

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