No one is ever ready to face the loss of a loved one. Grief is an inevitable part of our lives that stirs up complex emotions and forces us to cope with challenging situations. Despite what others may tell you about it, there’s nothing they can say to prepare you for the real thing.
Life-changing events such as death, divorce, ill-health, financial loss, job loss, or estrangement can cause grief. When grieving, emotions like sadness, anger, guilt, and shock are common. People learn to cope with things a little bit at a time. However, others might struggle with grief for an extended period, which ends up disrupting their physical and mental health.
Grief counseling provides the bereaved with the necessary support in these challenging times and helps them navigate their feelings at their own pace.
What is Grief Counseling?
Grief counseling is a form of psychotherapy designed to help people resolve different emotions surrounding the loss of a loved one. Every individual processes grief differently. While some produce an array of intense and powerful emotions, others choose to suppress them entirely and avoid talking about the loss. Counseling is an opportunity for everyone to express their feelings and emotions in a way that works for them and whenever they are ready.
Using various grief counseling techniques, a counselor works with an individual or group whose grief interferes with routine activities or induces guilt or depression. As theorized by Elizabeth Kübler-Ross, there are five stages of grief. Since everyone experiences emotions differently, some people may go through only a few of these stages in no particular order:
In the early days of grief, it’s common to feel numb and act as if nothing happened. It can be hard to believe that someone has truly gone forever and that they’re never coming back. Denial commonly helps survive the loss.
When we lose a loved one, death can seem cruel and unfair, especially when they die at a young age or unexpectedly. One may even get angry at the person who had died or at self for being unable to do anything to stop it.
It’s tough to accept that we can do nothing to change circumstances and bring someone back. Bargaining is when you start making wishes or promises with yourself, or perhaps God, believing that acting a particular way might change things.
Sadness, longing, numbness, lethargy, and several other emotions can become intense and come in waves over several months or even years. Life starts to feel meaningless, and it becomes difficult, if not impossible, to perform everyday tasks.
Gradually people learn to cope with their emotions and find that the pain eases with time. The possibility of accepting what has happened starts to seem apprehensible, and although you can’t just “get over” the loss, you can learn to live again.
How does Grief Counseling help?
The primary benefit of grief counseling is to help individuals and families navigate through and recover from a loss healthily instead of bypassing it. Although it provides several benefits to grievers, these are the top five ways it can assist you during a difficult time.
- Treats your trauma
Trauma is your brain’s response to a profoundly distressing event that induces overwhelming emotions and affects your ability to cope with it. Its symptoms vary among individuals, but sadness, fear, shame, nightmares, insomnia, anxiety, and depression are common. Grief counseling sessions employ a combination of intervention and modalities that help confront your trauma. Acknowledging its existence opens the door for improved communication and better sharing, allowing a counselor to treat it.
- Helps express your emotions
Grieving people tend to feel numb and suppress their emotions. It may seem logical to try and avoid feeling anything, but it isn’t healthy. Grief counseling is not meant to speed up the healing process but to give you a space where you can process your feelings. Developing relationships with others is easier when people work in groups and share and empathize with each other. During counseling sessions, the connections they make allow them to form healthy emotional networks.
- Addresses feelings of guilt you may harbor
Although misplaced, grieving people often feel guilty over losing a loved one. This guilt may either stem from not saving them or preventing their death. However, it’s essential to understand that even though your feelings of guilt are valid, they are out-of-place. Grief counselors help you accept that you did your best and that you have to forgive yourself for what you couldn’t do.
- Builds a strong support system
Being surrounded by people who are going through similar emotions can be helpful in more ways than one. Isolation and loneliness are two of the most widely experienced feelings by those in grief. And although your family or friends might be going through the same situation, it is difficult to share your pain with them. Group discussions during grief counseling offer support and long-lasting relationships that help you through your most challenging times.
- It lets you come to terms with your new reality
Lastly, grief counseling prepares you for your new reality of life and promotes you to think about your future e.g. How to Stay Consistent in Business? These will help you see beyond your pain and allow you to feel emotions without being overwhelmed by them. The process enables you to cope, make choices, and move on.
Coming to terms with the loss of a loved one is one of the most stressful and challenging life events. It requires time and working through your feelings to promote healing. Grief counseling can help you process your grief to prevent it from suffocating you and allowing you to deal with your emotions.
Founder Dinis Guarda
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