Grief & Grief Counseling
Grief is in two parts. The first is loss. The second is the remaking of life.
– Anne Rolphe
Because dealing with loss is the first part of grief, the most important initial step I take when working with a grieving person is to spend time honoring and validating their sorrowful feelings.
When the feelings of loss are most intense, questions often arise. For example you may find yourself asking a lot of “what ifs.” Could the loss have been changed or avoided altogether “if” such and such had occurred, or another thing hadn’t?
“What ifs,” however, only create guilt and regret that complicate feelings of grief.
Here are some other questions you may find arising for you:
- Will this pain ever end?
- Are antidepressants a solution?
- Is forgetting an answer?
- Is there any meaning in loss?
As a grief counselor, my intent is to assist you in remaking your life in a way that honors your loss and allows you to thrive. Different types of death/loss may complicate a griever’s experience. We work together to find practical tools that you can use to deal with phenomena such as sudden grief bursts, deep yearning, and anniversary echoes. We’ll also look at ways of releasing the guilt you may feel about laughing and having fun.
Grief is a universal reaction to loss.
At the same time, the experience of grief is intensely personal. The types of loss we may deal with in our lives cover an extremely broad spectrum from a loss of a favorite belonging to a beloved animal or human companion. Others losses we face include divorce, employment termination, homes destroyed, abandonment, and death. The spectrum of loss types can be hard to understand and often complicates the intensity and experience of grief.
Many people have heard Elizabeth Kubler Ross’s definition of the five stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. The amount of time spent in each stage and the melding of the stages are personal to the individual experiencing the loss. Further, each stage must be handled and appreciated for its particular role in the journey towards wholeness.
For example, the denial stage of grief is important for its purpose as a protective blanket. Denial may sound negative, but it is better to think of denial as an unwillingness or outright inability to fully integrate the loss-related information. Experiencing all the feelings associated with loss at once could be overwhelming. Slowly moving through denial allows us to absorb the reality of the loss over time.
Loss is an emotional injury, real as any physical wound, and grief is the necessary, healthy, healing response to this injury. The distress generated by some kinds of loss, such as the permanent absence of a loved one, can be overpowering.
What’s most useful during times of intense grief is for the griever to have support that helps him or her bear what’s happening.
I invite you to let me join you in the journey to allow healing to emerge from acknowledging and experiencing loss and pain.