Grief/Bereavement Therapy – Counselors and Therapists in Kalamazoo, MI
Grief is strange and comes in waves. You might have felt strangely normal after a loss, only to find yourself blindsided by a memory weeks later while shopping at the grocery store. There is no “normal” response to loss; what’s important is to express whatever feelings you might experience instead of repressing your sense of loss, however it may manifest.
While the most obvious and intense feelings of grief are in response to the death of a loved one, grief can also be the result the loss of other things that were important to the individual, such losing a close friend, a home, a job, stability after a natural disaster, financial stability, etc. Life-altering events such as a move, a job change, or retirement can lead to feelings of grief and mourning for how life was before the loss.
There is no typical response to coping with loss, but being able to talk through your story with a therapist can help you find closure and discover how to move on with life after a difficult time.
How Grief Can Affect Your Life
Losing someone or something you love can be overwhelming. There are many different emotional responses to grief including the obvious extreme sadness, but other reactions can include shock, anger, and guilt. Everyone grieves differently, but it is important to allow yourself to feel grief and cope with it, as accepting the cause of the grief is a healthy and vital part of the healing process.
Grief can have emotional, physical, social, and behavioral impacts on one’s life. A person’s unique personality, family values, culture, and religious beliefs will all play a part in determining how they cope with and are able to handle grief and the implications of a loss. Immediately after a loss or traumatic event, many people report feeling numb, have trouble believing what happened, or even deny that the event happened at all. Many say they keep expecting the person they lost to show up or even feel their presence.
Due to the intense levels of stress that are usually placed on the body when dealing with intense loss, the body often responds in a variety of negative ways such as weight fluctuation, fatigue, nausea, aches and pains, or insomnia.
Feelings of emptiness, loneliness, or despair are natural, even though they are understandably hard to deal with. Because of these feelings, a person may difficulty composing themselves enough to perform daily tasks, but over time this pain will begin to subside.
However, if you feel that the grief will never subside, or if your grief is getting worse, it may be a sign that grief has triggered a potential mental disorder, such as major depression. There is not a typical response to a loss, nor a normal timeline for grieving. If you do not feel any forward momentum day after day, you may be dealing with depression and may need to seek help from a professional grief counselor or therapist.
Bereavement versus Grief
Bereavement refers specifically to the process of recovering from the death of a loved one, but both words encompass a range of feelings from deep sadness to anger. The process of adapting to a significant loss can vary dramatically from one person to another, depending on his or her background, beliefs, relationship to what was lost, and other connections to their life. The significant feelings of loss when handling the death of a loved and important member of your life can trigger feelings of anxiety, helplessness, and insecurity, and they may even cause panic attacks or periods of depression. It’s not uncommon to struggle with persistent thoughts of death, nor is it uncommon to struggle with thinking constantly of the person you’ve lost.
Being gentle and understanding with yourself is often one of the best ways to deal with the loss of a loved one. Allow yourself to experience your emotions and accept them as natural and important.
Therapy and Grief Counseling
A professional counselor can help guide you through the grief process and assist you in understanding and coping with the intense emotions you are feeling. It can be difficult to navigate grief alone and a trained professional can help you make sense of your feelings after a significant loss. Specifically, in talk therapy people are encouraged to come to terms with their emotional states during their grieving process. As with many other types of therapy, the goal isn’t to stop feeling the painful things, but to learn to cope with them in a healthy way.
Self-care is also important to the healing process. Steps such as seeking support from friends and family, keeping a journal, spending time in nature, and finding a positive outlet to focus on are all useful tools for managing grief. If you or a loved one is experiencing a significant loss, Thriveworks Portage Counseling, near Kalamazoo, can help you find your way toward a sense of peace and eventual closure.