Grief & Loss Counseling

Grief & Loss Counseling

Grief and Loss

Losing a loved one can be difficult, and some people never get over it. Bereavement counseling is designed specifically to help people who are struggling with their grief after losing a loved one. It helps by teaching coping mechanisms and giving them a safe space with a knowledgeable professional to talk to. Grief is often associated with extreme sadness, feelings of regret, guilt, and even anger. Emotions can be extremely strong and confusing which is why people who are sometimes grieving have such a hard time talking about it. Behaviors during the grieving process can range from mild crying and anger to smiling and reminiscing.

The Grief Process

Everyone grieves differently; culture, family, personal beliefs all affect how one will grieve. The average person takes between 6-12 months to grieve, and while they may continue to have moments of sadness after this, they will find relief over time. There is no specific “right” way to grieve making it a difficult and complicated process. The challenge for most is that this is a new reality that has never been experienced before, one where their loved one is no longer present. This requires them to forge a new sense of identity and imagine a different future.

In 1969 grief was divided into five stages under the research of Elisabeth Kubler-Ross:

It was expounded upon by Dr. J. W. Worden into the 4 Tasks of Mourning:

For those who are looking into grief counseling, it’s very likely that they have become stuck in one of these four tasks, likely between working through their grief and adjusting to the new reality. Continuing loss related activities can keep them mired in those rather than attempting restoration activities. Many restoration activities may also trigger more grief such as lifestyle or routine changes. Normally a person will oscillate between restoration and loss, with the balance gradually swinging towards restoration.

Grief Disorders

Grief is not defined as a mental disorder in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual but is included in the “conditions for further study”; it can be connected to other mental disorders like PTSD, stress, and depression. It can also trigger relapses if you’ve already been diagnosed with these disorders. When beginning grief counseling, a therapist will likely ask about things outside of the recent death to try and get a better picture of what may be causing you to become stuck in your grieving process. The first meeting will center around the loss and will involve the therapist asking questions. Try not to censor yourself as it’s important to be honest about your grief if you want help. Crying and even anger or yelling is natural during such a time, and you should not be embarrassed or worried that you will offend the counselor.

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