What is Grief Therapy?
Grief is a normal reaction to any form of loss, but bereavement is specific to the process of recovering from the death of someone dear. Both grief and bereavement encompass a wide range of feelings from extreme sadness to anger. Adapting to significant loss varies from one individual to the next and depends on their beliefs, backgrounds, their relationship to what was lost, as well as many other factors.
Grief: The Process of Recovering
There are a lot of emotions that are associated with grief, including sadness, guilt, yearning, regret, and even anger. They can be mild or very intense and sometimes the emotions one feels while going through the process of grief can be confusing such as when an individual misses a relationship that was abusive or painful.
The thoughts that a person has while they are grieving can vary as well. They can be either soothing or troubling. Some people blame themselves and they think that whatever happened is their fault while others’ thoughts are more beneficial and they acknowledge that there isn’t anything that they could have done about it.
Sometimes people are caught between positive and negative thoughts where one minute they feel one way and the next they feel differently as they try to make sense of their loss. All of these reactions are perfectly normal when experiencing grief. Behaviors can run from laughing to crying or from sharing feelings to silently contemplating. While some people may find solace in being around others who may also be affected by the loss, others actually prefer to be alone with their feelings of grief.
Duration of the Grief Process
The grief process is different for everyone and the length of time that it takes for some individuals to grieve is highly variable, depending very much on context. While some people may recover from grief in a few months and are able to resume their normal daily activities, others take much longer to find even momentary relief.
There are also other conditions that can complicate grief such as depression or how much the individual was dependent on the deceased. There isn’t a right way and a wrong way of expressing grief, and there isn’t one way of grieving that is better than any other.
Every form of grieving is valid whether you’re emotional and dive into your feelings or if you’re stoic and don’t want to dwell on the things that you cannot change and would rather find distraction from what’s going on. During the grieving process, some people may still experience feelings of joy and contentment which help to alleviate some of the more challenging aspects of grief but others may go for months or even years without any feelings of relief.
Prolonged Grief Symptoms
Although the experience of grief isn’t one that a person can ever get over completely, time does help to temper the intensity of the feelings. Complicated grief is when persistent bereavement dominates an individual’s life and starts to interfere with their functioning at home, work, or in their social life for a lengthy period of time.
While the symptoms of complicated grief are almost the same as those of acute grief, when an individual goes for a year or longer without being able to return to normal activities then it means that complicated grief may be implicated. Some of the symptoms of prolonged grief include:
- Deep sadness
- Obsessive thoughts about the deceased
- Preoccupation with the circumstances surrounding their death
- Yearning for what you lost
- Feelings of meaninglessness or emptiness
- Avoiding reminders of the departed
- Having a hard time engaging in happy memories
- No desire to pursue personal plans or interests
- Anger, bitterness or frustration
Grief Counseling Near Me
There are five phases of grief that researchers and psychologists have outlined: Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression, and Acceptance. Getting grief therapy will help you with the following:
- Accepting the reality of your loss
- Working through the pain of grief
- Adjusting to life without the departed
- Moving on with life while maintaining a connection to the deceased
Because each person’s experience of grief is unique, personal, and involves complex emotions, it’s vitally important to be able to get grief counseling to help you to sort through and unravel all the different emotions so that you can start to heal.
Grief therapy from a skilled practitioner will be able to help you to effectively cope with the stress of the loss and to manage symptoms of complicated grief by using different techniques and approaches to tailor a treatment that will meet your specific needs as an individual.