Grief is inevitable but this doesn’t mean we can ever be prepared. In addition, our culture usually does its best to avoid the topic. As a result, many of us are left feeling confused and lost when in a state of bereavement. Grief counseling is designed to help with this precise scenario. It’s different for everyone, of course, but such counseling typically aims to inspire acceptance and understanding.
Any type of loss can leave in a state of suspended animation. Processing daily life suddenly feels tricky and it’s easy to lose motivation. Simply put, grief is an unpredictable ride best navigated with a skilled co-pilot.
What is Grief?
It’s natural to experience grief after suffering a loss. What the loss is can vary but, for the purposes of this post, we’ll primarily focus on the death of a loved one.
Lots of things can make us sad. When mourning, however, the emotions are far more varied. Depending on the circumstances, you may feel anything from anger to guilt and beyond. Grief does not operate on a timetable and it’s best to expect the unexpected. Once again, this process can be facilitated with the guidance of someone who has been trained to help.
Signs That You May Need to Try Grief Counseling
- Being unable to accept that the loss has happened
- You don’t have a trusted support system to lean on
- Everyday tasks are being neglected
- You’re not practicing any kind of self-care
- You’re relying on self-medication (drugs, alcohol, or anything that is addictive)
- Suffering from unexplained illnesses or other physical symptoms
- Being withdrawn and isolated from social interactions
- The “normal” grief symptoms (crying, sleep disturbances, etc.) feel extreme
Besides the above, you must be diligent to not downplay intense signs and emotions like:
- Fixation on the person who died
- Intrusive thoughts, nightmares, etc.
- Chronic guilt or self-blame
- Thoughts of death, dying, or suicide
How Does Grief Counseling Work?
It may take place in a one-on-one or group setting. In either case, it will resemble traditional therapy in ways. You’ll have a safe space to share and explore your thoughts and behaviors. More specifically, your grief counselor may:
Help You Express and Articulate Your Feelings
Your emotions are valid and deserve to be given a voice. Talking about grief can serve to be an incredible source of peace and solace. For example, your therapist may encourage you to write a letter to the deceased — especially if you feel there are words left unsaid.
Support You as You Reimagine Your Identity
Losing a close loved one can shatter your self-perception. You may struggle to continue seeing yourself as a spouse, son or daughter, parent, etc. This struggle cannot be taken lightly. How you deal with it can very much shape your life as you move forward. Grief counseling is the ideal place to do this work, find new meaning and purpose, and heal.
Create New Relationships
Life after a loss can be confusing. Is it okay to “move on”? There are two answers to that query. Of course, it’s okay. However, “moving on” is in the eye of the beholder. Therefore, you may need assistance as you forge new connections. It could be romantic, friendships, or otherwise. The point is that you will always hold your lost loved one in your heart. The memories are eternal. But you can and should get comfortable with creating new bonds and new ways of living. You are still alive and thus, free to make choices that are self-loving.
If you or someone you know has suffered a loss, let’s talk about grief counseling. I invite you to contact me to schedule your complementary consultation to see if we would be a good fit.