It hit Sam the hardest. His dad was his hero, and he couldn’t accept that he was now gone. The morning he got the call was the worst morning of his life—but every day since has been hard. Sam can’t bring himself to get out of bed and attend his classes. He’s even stopped replying to his professors. His mind only functions to think about and remember his dad.
Sam’s mom grows increasingly concerned about Sam. While she’s also grieving the loss of Sam’s dad (her husband), she knows that the loss hit Sam in a different way. Fortunately, she convinces Sam to see a counselor. While Sam has his doubts in the beginning, he quickly feels at ease and begins to open up. Over the course of several months, his grief counselor helps him confront all of his feelings related to his dad’s death and accept that his dad is no longer physically there. Sam acknowledges that his dad’s memory will never leave him and that he would want Sam to live a happy, fulfilling life.
What Is Grief?
When someone important in your life passes away, it can feel like your whole world is crashing down. Oftentimes, this loss can cause an influx of difficult feelings—from deep sadness to anger, guilt, confusion, and regret—that we don’t know what to do with or how to manage. That’s where grief counseling comes in.
Grief counseling is designed to help people accept, understand, and move forward after a devastating loss. Those who specialize in grief counseling have specific experience, training, and skills related to this difficult journey, which enable them to assist these individuals.
Who Should Seek Grief Counseling?
Are you grieving the loss of a beloved friend, family member, or pet? Grief counseling can help. We all grieve differently, and the process heavily depends on the nature of our loss, our emotional state prior to the loss, as well as what support system we have in place. That said, there are five recognized stages of grief, of which we often enter and exit. If you’re grieving a tough loss, you might experience the following:
- Denial and seclusion: The last thing anyone wants to hear is that a loved one has passed. Instead of accepting this news, we reject it and insist it can’t be true. This is our way of avoiding the devastating feelings that come with a difficult loss.
- Anger: Many also respond to loss with anger or other “negative” emotions because it’s easier to lash out than to feel the pain.
- Bargaining: Another emotion that often takes over after a devastating loss is guilt. We start to wonder if and how we could have prevented it from happening or what we should have said before “it was too late.”
- Depression: When those painful feelings flood in, they often overshadow everything else. When we enter this stage of grief, it’s important to lean on our support system.
- Acceptance: In this stage of grief (which often marks the end of the grieving cycle), we accept that we’ve lost this person and find the peace that we need to move forward.
Do any of these stages of grief sound familiar? Are you in one of these stages right now? A grief counselor can help—whether you’re having a hard time accepting this loss, you’re lashing out in anger, feeling extreme guilt, or becoming severely depressed. In any case, a grief counselor can help you come to terms with the loss and move forward in life.
How Does It Work?
Grief counseling helps people work through all of their feelings related to the loss and the grief they are experiencing. The methods used in grief counseling ensure an individual is grieving properly. In summary, the main goals of grief counseling are:
- Acknowledgement: First, a grief counselor can help you to acknowledge the reality of your loss. Then, they’ll offer support as you reflect on the loss. This is an important step toward healing and moving forward from the pain. It often involves addressing the following:
- Acceptance: Your grief counselor will also assist you in accepting all that comes with grief and loss. As mentioned previously, once you’re able to accept the nature of your loss, you have a bright future ahead. However, it can (and likely will) take some time and work to get there. And that’s okay.
That said, grief counseling often varies from client to client, considering grief isn’t one-size-fits-all. Your counselor wants to make sure you get the dedicated care that you need and deserve; so, they’ll assess you and then design treatment around your state of being as well as your goals for therapy.
Quick Facts About Grief and Grief Counseling
- Grief can cause forgetfulness, disorganization, an inability to concentrate, and lack of interest or motivation.
- 10-15% of people have severe reactions to the loss of a loved one, which mainly occur in those with depression prior to the loss.
- The duration and intensity of grief depend on multiple variables such as the individual’s support system and emotional state prior to the loss.
- Grief typically lasts a year and most people return to normal functioning by 18 months of grieving.
- Trauma treatment is an effective model for treating complicated grief.
- Crying isn’t the only response to sadness or grief; it’s normal to cry after a tough loss and it’s normal not to cry.
- Contrary to popular belief, men suffer (at least) just as much from bereavement as women.
- Moving on means accepting the loss; it does not mean forgetting the individual lost.
Schedule a Grief Counseling Session at Thriveworks Today
If you are struggling with grief after a tough loss, consider working with a grief counselor at Thriveworks. It’s important that you lean on others for support during this difficult time, and a skilled, caring professional is the perfect person for the job. They will assist you in addressing the sadness, anger, and/or guilt you are feeling. And they will help you to move forward toward a happy, healthy life again. Click here to see a counselor or coach near you. Or, click here if you are interested in online counseling opportunities.
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