Grief Counseling - Therapy to deal with loss
Grief is an inevitable feeling. All of us experience grief as we go along. We are all going to lose someone as we do life. Someone very dear to us as well as losses that may not affect us as much. Grief is normally the empty, hurtful feeling accompanied by loss. The way each one of us reacts to grief may be different. However, it is necessary to react and let we hurt out to grow past the loss. Sometimes some of us may need a bit of help with that. Especially when it comes to a healthy way of dealing with grief, grief counselling lends a very helpful hand on occasions such as these.
What is grieving?
The overwhelming negative emotions that have us crying and mourning for a loss is grieving. This period involves many emotions, and most are negative.
There are four stages of grief.
1st stage – Denial
If the death is unexpected, it is likely that the family will find it hard to believe. That is where denial happens. They may refuse to admit to the death, or admit to the situation. This acts as a temporary shield against the upcoming wave of emotions that will hit when the denial has passed. Some hold on to this for as long as they can. It delays the process of moving on.
2nd stage – Anger
You may be angrier than usual. Maybe at the dead person. Or at the spouse who gave up on the marriage. Maybe at yourself for not doing things right. It depends on the situation. However, the chances are, you may direct this anger towards other people. You might also hurt yourself or find toxic ways of letting this anger out.
3rd stage – Bargaining
This is when you may create a lot of ‘what if’ scenarios. You may wonder how things could have gone differently. What you should not have done and how different things will be if that one thing happened. Or if that thing didn’t happen.
4th stage – Depression
This is when the individual goes quiet and keeps to themselves. They may be drowning in extreme emotions of grief, guilt, and regret and are likely to distance themselves to mourn alone. This stage can do significant damage to one’s psychological health, but it is also necessary to go through this in order to eventually move on.
5th stage – Acceptance
After digesting all the emotions you start accepting the loss. In other words, you understand its impact on your life and you are ready to deal with it. Of course, you do not get over a loss overnight and even when you think you are ready you may have frequent relapses. The point is to deal with these emotions one at a time and learning to live with them.
Grief varies based on people. That involves how they react to it. It is important that we mourn a loss because of these reasons.
- to face the reality of the loss
- in order to work on moving on
- to adjust to life without a loved one
- to remember the person you lost while moving on with your life
Grief is not something anyone will completely get over. However, counselling helps deal with the intensity of these emotions. When the grief is prolonged, the symptoms may be severe. This is the time grief counselling is recommended.
Simply defining grief counselling
Loss is accompanied by a range of feelings. This is not just grief. It can be anger, stress, guilt, yearning, regret, etc. Emotions are likely to be overwhelming and will not be as mild. Emotions can also be confusing such as the relief one feels when a loved one dies after suffering for a long time. As much as they miss their companion, relief can be felt because they are finally in peace. However, grief is a broad topic. It can be felt during a range of situations, such as a death, divorce, falling apart from a family, etc.
Grief counselling is necessary to help an individual grieve in a healthy manner. The sessions aim to help a client find ways to cope with the emotions, understand what they feel and find ways of moving on when they are ready. Grief can affect people in different ways and sometimes the way some people choose to deal with grief may be destructive to themselves and their loved ones. Grief counselling is designed to help your process and react to grief in the best way.
You will be guided through a range of emotions and you will learn to experience and deal with them in a safe and comfortable space. A licensed professional will provide you with therapy and will help you along the way. However, any information you exchange with the therapist will be confidential.
Observe if what is below sounds similar to your condition.
- denial that a loss has occurred
- shock and disbelief of the loss that seems to last
- prolonged despair and emptiness since the loss
- overwhelming sadness involving a lot of crying
- depressive symptoms such as reluctance to do anything
- being tired or exhausted
- feeling guilty and responsible for the loss
- regret or shame regarding the loss
- yearning for the lost loved one
- being scared
- insecurity and feeling helpless
- being physically ill such as nauseous, fatigue, insomnia, weight loss or gain, etc.
In the case, you are experiencing the above symptoms after losing a loved one or while grieving for a loss, it is better to seek professional help. If you let these symptoms persist, you may end up permanently depressed and will find it hard to get over the grieving process.
Techniques used in grief counselling
Grief counselling can be an effective way of getting over the depression that sets after losing someone. It helps you move on while carrying the memory of the deceased. However, this is not a magic trick that takes away your pain entirely. However, it helps you live with the grief and makes your life easier.
Professionals use a few techniques when it comes to grief counselling. Below are some of those.
Letting the client openly talk about their loss. The deceased person, the deceased pet, failing marriage, or what has them emotional. Allowing the client to express what this loss means to them and the impact it has on them. They are allowed to dive into these emotions in a very safe space.
A therapist or the counselor will also try to understand whether the client is suffering due to trauma. If their emotions are related to persisting image in their head or an event that took place. It can easily be the moment they saw their loved one die. Such experiences can keep them from working through their grief.
Noticing the underlying emotions
Understanding the underlying emotions. It may not only be the grief that the client is dealing with. These emotions may be complexed with regret, shame, guilt, or other components. However, therapists will understand these underlying emotions to decide on which course of action will be the best to help the client.
Using the right words
Right words are also important when it comes to dealing with a patient battling with grief. Using the past tense while talking about the deceased is a simple technique to subtly push the client towards reality. They will be as gentle as they can but very realistic so the client won’t go through complicated grief. They may also use the name of the deceased throughout the session. However, it is unlikely that your counselor will push you past your limits.
Helping to gain self-confidence
If a client is especially hung up on grief or regret, the therapist will attempt to boost their self-image. How they feel about themselves impacts the whole situation. In other words, if the deceased person was the one to make you feel beautiful and if your happiness and confidence largely depended on them, the therapist will help you with how to feel beautiful on your own.
Grief can be abundantly overwhelming if the loss was sudden. In this case, the therapist may advise you to communicate with them one more time. This is done commonly by writing a letter. The therapist will request the client to express how they feel about the loss, how it has affected them, and also about how their life is now and what their plans are. This will help you get a lot of baggage off your chest.
The empty chair technique
This technique is performed by placing an empty chair in front of the client and asking them to speak to it. Normally, the empty chair is supposed to be the deceased.
Checking for depression symptoms
Depression is one of the 5 stages of grief. However, some may not recover without professional help. In other words, they may never proceed to the acceptance stage. Thus, the therapist will try to understand if the client is depressed by asking them different questions. These questions can include your sleep schedule, your appetite, physical pain, or other depressive symptoms.
Except for these, there are countless other measures taken by therapists to help their clients with their situation.
Grief counselling for children
This is not very different from the concept used on adults. They may react to death differently. However, the severity of the impact is no different for children. If not dealt with it can affect them badly in the future. Here are a few counselling methods used on children to help them deal with loss.
Counselling using art
Art helps children express themselves. With art therapy, the counsellor can identify the child’s thoughts. This method is useful when the child refuses to talk. Art helps to convey messages without words. A therapist can ask to draw a picture of what makes the child sad.
Grief counselling through play therapy
During playtime, children use their instincts. Based on that information the therapist can identify the child’s mind. Toys may also be props to encourage the child to communicate.
How can I help myself deal with grief?
With or without professional help, the patient’s genuine effort is necessary to deal with grief. Also, if you let it, it will swallow you whole. It is likely that your counsellor will inform you of these techniques. Here are a few things to do to regain control of your emotions.
Try and share your emotions
You don’t have to grieve alone. Even if you feel like you are in pain more than others are, you can still share your feelings with someone that you trust. It is important to maintain contact with others so they know what you are going through. They can help you with the funeral, arrange rituals that help you find faith and peace, help you with words, and will hold your hand as you take your time to get through this difficult period.
Check on yourself
Getting over the dismission of a loved one can be very hard. However, if the outcome of that is your health deteriorating, it does no one good. It is easy to grieve or blame yourself and forget yourself along the way. Things may not be as easy but start with being fed, engaging in daily activities, finding a creative way of expressing yourself, adopting hobbies that may help you relax. This does not mean pretending like everything is fine. Allow yourself to feel the emotions. Cry when you have to. Understand that it is necessary to let the emotions out. It is okay to reach out for support if you need to.
Seek counselling when you need to
No matter how much you try, these waves of sadness can bring you down too often. Especially if there is baggage involved, such as regret, shame, guilt, etc. It is okay to feel helpless because help is always around. A qualified professional can help you with your struggles and make life easier for you.
What will grief counselling do for you
It is important to understand that grief counselling
- does not erase your memory about the deceased person or loss
- is not a fast track method to get through the grief
- will not change you fundamentally
What grief counselling will help you with is identifying your emotions and dealing with your energy healthily. It will help you move on while holding a part of your dear one.