Suffering a loss is a very difficult thing to process and work through, it can be devastating and stir up a lot of tough emotions. When someone hears the term grief, most people usually think of the death of a family member, however grief is defined as a natural response to any loss. This could be the loss of a job, relationships, or moving to another place. The emotions that are felt can become overwhelming and leave you confused and unsure how to cope.
You may be thinking things like:
- Will I ever feel like myself again?
- What do I do to feel better?
- Is how I feel normal?
- How do I live a normal life?
- Am I ever going to move on from this?
These questions and answers are unique to each individual. The answers may take time to become clearer, and it is important to be kind to yourself at this time as you are healing and navigating through these emotions.
These questions will be discussed within this article, but it is also helpful and often important to reach out to a therapist or counselor who can help you navigate these difficult questions and emotions. Therapy can be a very help tool to help and support you through this time. If you are interested in contacting a counselor in West Springfield you can easily reserve an appointment online or call us at 413-334-8282.
Stages of grief and bereavement
The stages of grief are most commonly referred to in five stages:
- Disbelief or Denial: in shock or not able to accept what has happened
- Anger: can be shown as being irritable or having general anger
- Bargaining: wondering what could have happened differently/“what if” questions
- Depression: feelings of sadness/irritability/numbness
- Acceptance: accepting the loss
When the stages of grief are listed and defined in this way, it can be helpful to relate how you are feeling to each of these stages. There is an additional stage called Yearning which is often not represented, this is when the individual is experiencing an intense longing for something or someone. Yearning can be seen as wishing for something, which can be explained by the bargaining stage.
There are also those who feel numb, or no emotion at all, which is a normal part of the grieving process. Everyone goes through these 5-6 stages differently. Some may not go through certain stages all together. Others may go through all of the stages of grief in a different order or feel emotions that aren’t listed here.
It is important to remember that the grieving process is not linear, and there is no “normal” way to process loss. The stages of grief are just a way to try to define and make sense of the normal feelings and reactions involved. Our therapists and counselors in West Springfield are available to walk alongside you, meeting you where you are at, and helping you navigate this stages in a healthy way.
How to look at the healing process
Some people may take a longer time than others to feel more at peace, there is no proper or normal way to measure how each person will be impacted by loss. Some may think there is a certain amount of time that it should take someone to grieve something. This is not true, and sometimes it can disrupt the natural flow of the healing process to try to force oneself to move past their feelings too quickly or believe they should feel better in a certain amount of time.
It is important to feel the natural feelings such as sadness and anger in order to process the loss. Think of waves in the ocean, the intense emotions come in like waves do and move through the body for a short period of time. It can be helpful to cry for example, to release this emotion instead of bottling it up.
There is even sometimes a sense of guilt for feeling happy after a recent loss. This is a normal feeling to have, and many other people feel this way. It is part of the process of grief and even humor can be utilized to move forward in healthy ways.
What is unprocessed grief and why does it exist?
Unprocessed grief can last for a long time, this is due to emotions being unexpressed or feelings of guilt regarding the loss. Guilt is a manufactured emotion, which means that it is not hard-wired, biologically driven or automatic. Manufactured emotions are created as a result of the persons thinking, or how they view the world. If feelings of guilt still exist for long periods of time after a loss, it can cause depression and anxiety for the person experiencing it.
Think of logs on a fire. The logs represent the natural emotions such as sadness and anger which are felt naturally after something difficult happens. The logs eventually burn out into ash in the fire, and don’t last forever. Now think of gasoline you put on a fire to make it burn brighter. The gasoline is represented by the manufactured emotions, such as shame or guilt. They keep the fire burning longer and don’t let the flame dissipate.
It is a normal experience to have guilt or feelings of regret surrounding a loss. Sometimes, it can be the most helpful to be heard and supported by an unbiased person who is trained in how to provide you coping skills and process the grief alongside you. It’s not always clear when is the best time to seek counseling but if you are considering it, our therapists and counselors are here for you.
When should I seek the help of a therapist?
There is no specific way to figure out how long it could take someone to process grief and feel better. Some people believe that they have changed as a person after a loss, and that they learn to adapt their lives around the loss.
It is important to note that if you are having trouble with acceptance of the loss in your life or feeling difficult emotions which are interfering with your everyday functioning, it may be helpful to seek therapy or counseling for this grief and loss.
How do I find therapy or counseling near West Springfield?
You may contact a therapist if you are experiencing depression or anxiety or wish to process a loss that you are dealing with. Thriveworks West Springfield has many skilled counselors who are available to assist you through these difficult times.
It can be tough to navigate how you feel and process these difficult emotions, a therapist can help provide a safe space to process and give you support while you are healing. Many people go to counseling and find support and gain insight. This can be a helpful place to start.