The emotional suffering that comes from grief can be overwhelming. When someone we love is taken away from us, we feel a multitude of emotions from guilt to disbelief, anger, fear, confusion, and profound sadness. Grief is not limited to the death of a loved one or a pet; grief is a normal process that can occur after a divorce, miscarriage, the loss of a home or job, or the end of a friendship.
Whatever your loss may be, only you understand the significance of that loss and how it feels now that they are gone. So when it comes to grief counseling, it is helpful to have someone who understands that
grief is a process that can look more like a ball of yarn than a straight path. But it’s your ball of yarn; it’s your process.
A grief counselor can support you through untangling the pain no matter what that looks like for you.
You may be already familiar with something called the five stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. For years these emotional stages have helped people cope with loss because it gave them a way to understand their feelings, but they were never intended to be a rigid stage by stage guide. The grief process is about feeling what you feel, not feeling what you think you should, which is why grief counseling is a wonderful place to learn techniques for coping with your loss and not someone else’s.
Despite your grieving process not needing to follow a particular order, grief counseling may include a number of phases:
Accepting the reality of your loss - the intention behind grief counseling is to help you acknowledge the loss and how you and your life may change as a result of it.
Making sense of it - one helpful element of the grieving process is having the space to speak freely about the one you lost and to make sense of losing them. It helps to have someone who can listen to all your thoughts and feelings without judgment or expectations. Talking about your loved one can help provide some relief and alleviate your pain and suffering. But most importantly, it can help you begin to find meaning in the loss you have suffered.
Overcoming guilt - it is common for someone who has lost a loved one to experience guilt over things that were said or done before they passed. Not being able to say goodbye, for example. But more often than not, guilt is not a healthy or helpful emotion, particularly when it comes to grief. Grief counseling will help you identify these feelings, which can often lead to unhealthy coping and grieving patterns.
Dealing with the changes - when you are used to seeing and spending time with someone, possibly every day, losing them can make you feel like your whole world has been turned upside down. Many things about your daily life will change instantaneously, but you do not need to rush to establish new routines. Grief counseling can help you cope with these complex changes and emotions and move forward.
As long as you are willing, grief counseling will guide you through the steps - your steps - to help you endure and work through this difficult transition. Though you have lost someone special that you can never get back, a life filled with joy and contentment is not beyond reclaim. Moving from a place of pain to a more peaceful existence is not only possible but what we deserve. And That does not mean that we are leaving our loved one behind, forgetting them, or not honoring their impact on our lives. It means that we are honoring them by living our lives fully and with an appreciation for every day, precisely because we recognize just how fragile life is. In time, our broken hearts will heal.
Priscila Norris, LCSW, RYT.
Thrivemind Counseling and Wellness
Owner, Psychotherapist, Yoga Teacher