GRIEF & LOSS THERAPY

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Why should I join a Grief/Loss Therapy?

 

When you lose someone or something that you love, grief is inevitable. Unfortunately for many people, it’s something you will experience more than once in your life, and maybe many times. Grief can come after any loss—big or small—including the death of a loved one, loss of a pet, dissolution of a marriage, estrangement from family or friends, and even from the loss of a job or a big move that takes you away from people and places you care about. Sometimes you will be able to work through the grief on your own, but other times you may need the help.

While it is normal for everyone to experience grief, you don’t have to go through it alone. In addition to your friends, family, and other support networks you have, a therapist can help you in many ways by:

 

  • Providing a safe space for you to examine and process your emotions

  • Listening and understanding some of the intense emotions that accompany loss

  • Helping you accept the reality of the loss and finding ways to move forward

  • Developing healthy ways to maintain a bond with your loved one

  • Offering a connection and support system when you need it

How do I know if I need help with grief/loss?

The grieving process is unique to each person, so the healing process will also be unique. It’s normal to feel sad and maybe even feel like you are struggling for a little while, but if that period of time lasts for several weeks, months, or even years, you probably need the help of a professional therapist to move on.

 

The way that people deal with grief and loss is often informed by personal and cultural beliefs, backgrounds, past experiences, and connections to what was lost, but there is no right or wrong way to react to loss. You can experience a range of emotions, and sometimes that may seem out of place. In general, many people will experience some or all of the following:

 

  • Feeling numb or in denial about the loss

  • Sadness, loneliness, or emptiness

  • Anger or resentment

  • Guilt or regret

  • Physical symptoms like insomnia, nausea, fatigue, weight loss or gain

  • Anxiety and insecurity, or feeling helpless and not in control

 

You may find that you revisit certain stages of grief more than once or skip others during your own process. What is important is that you feel supported while you work toward eventually feeling like yourself again. A professional therapist can help you get to that point.

Is group therapy worth it?

One of the greatest things about participating in a support group is the universality that you feel. The others in the group may not know your exact pain but they each have a story of their own. Hearing others’ fears, struggles and loss allows us to recognize that we are not alone. Everyone experiences grief in their own way but there are so many ways we can connect with others. As we talk about pain we see ourselves in others and can take a step back from our own pain and see it with new eyes.

 

Connecting with others can help improve your overall health. Physical and mental health as well as overall well being are significantly impacted by the relationships you have. Support groups can give you a safe place to talk about and process feelings of grief and loss. 

 

Furthermore, some people find it comforting to share their emotions with other people going through the same things. The other patients in the group therapy session also deal with grief and work towards the common recovery goal.

 

Individuals with a limited support system may lack an outlet for their feelings. A group setting can provide the necessary support. It allows individuals to share their emotions with people who can relate. Group sessions are also used for family counseling. After losing a family member, the surviving family members may prefer to work through their grief as a family.

 

What are the 5 stages of grief?

  1. Denial

  2. Anger

  3. Bargaining

  4. Depression

  5. Acceptance

 

Denial

 

Denial is often the first stage of grief. It helps your mind deal with the sudden loss of a loved one. Denial tends to create a state of shock or a feeling of numbness. You cannot accept the loss, so you deny reality. You may also deny your emotions.

 

Denial is a helpful emotion. It makes it easier to only focus on the emotions that you can handle. It gives you time to process your feelings. However, as the denial starts to fade away, the emotions that you suppressed can come rushing back.

 

Anger

 

Most people experience anger during the grieving process. You may even direct your anger at the departed. For example, you may feel betrayed that they left you. Others may direct their anger at God, doctors, or friends and family who could have intervened somehow.

 

Anger often comes from a lack of connection. For example, you may feel lost after losing a loved one. Anger helps fill this void by giving you somewhere to direct your energy. While anger can lead to poor decision-making and other consequences, it is also a sign of the intensity of your loss.

 

Bargaining

 

Bargaining sometimes comes before a loss. For example, you may bargain with God to spare your loved one. After the loss, you may continue to bargain. For instance, people often try to form a truce with a higher power, claiming that they will devote their lives to a specific cause if they can reverse the loss.

 

People also frequently use “what/if” scenarios during this stage of grief. You may start replaying the events or circumstances that led to the loss. It is common for grievers to question their actions and wonder if they could have done anything differently to prevent the loss.

 

Depression 

 

Depression can occur at any point during the grieving process. However, depression is more common and often more severe after anger and bargaining.

 

The previous stages keep people focused on the past. You may become so focused on your loss that you are not really in the present moment. When you stop and consider your current situation, you experience depression.

 

Acceptance 

 

Acceptance is the final stage of grief. It occurs when an individual accepts their loss. Finally, they accept the reality of the situation, which allows them to decide on their path forward.

Acceptance does not mean that the person is “over” their loss. It simply means that they accept the loss and understand the need to continue living.

 

Individuals who gain acceptance may still experience depression, anger, or bargaining moments. However, they are at a stage where they can start exploring new connections and opportunities.

 

What are the types of therapy or support tools used for grief counseling?

Some of the types of grief counseling and techniques used include:

 

  • Individual grief counseling

  • Group therapy

  • Complicated grief counseling

  • Traumatic grief therapy

  • Art therapy

  • Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT)

  • Acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT)

  • Play therapy

 

Each type of counseling or therapy offers different methods for dealing with grief and its impact on everyday activities.