Grief and Loss Therapy
Grief is not uncommon following:
- The death of a loved one
- Breakdown of a relationship
- Serious injury, illness and disability
- The death of a loved one
- Loss of a pet, job or prized possession
- Significant changes to your way of life, like retirement or moving overseas
- Changes to the expectations you have of your life, such as learning that you are unable to have children
The grief you feel when significant personal change or loss occurs is a natural, human response that we all face at some stage, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy to cope with.
There is no right way or wrong way to grieve. For some it can take a long time to adjust and to learn to live without the person, thing or way of life that has been lost
Grief can be overwhelming and you may find yourself struggling to find meaning and hope. If you feel stuck, grief and loss counselling may help you get you back to where you would like to be.
How Grief and Loss Counselling can help
Many people find it valuable to talk to an independent, trained professional in an understanding, safe, supportive, and accepting environment. This can be especially helpful if you are concerned about ‘wearing out’ family and friends, and/or you find that others have unrealistic expectations of your recovery or experiences.
An experienced Counsellor providing grief & loss counselling can help you to:
- Understand the natural grief process, common grief responses and obstacles to recovery
- Accelerate the healing process by providing you with tools and strategies that let you learn to sit with the feelings and actively deal with them, rather than trying to push them away or ignore them.
- Find better ways to communicate your needs and wishes with family, friends, and colleagues rather than leaving them guessing about what would be useful and comforting
- Deal with grief in ways that are not self-destructive. You may be using drugs and alcohol to cover up the pain; or overworking to distract yourself from it.
- Ensure that you don’t express grief in ways that harm others. Anger is sometimes the emotion you show when there are a range of other powerful emotions swirling underneath.
- Address other co-occurring issues such as anxiety and depression
How does Grief affect us?
Grief can impact on what we think, how we feel emotionally and physically, what we do, and even our beliefs. The intensity, duration, and reactions to grief vary from person to person.
Some common reactions to grief and loss are:
- Crying frequently
- Shock, denial, numbness
- Stress, anxiety, exhaustion
- Anger, guilt, shame, blame (and sometimes relief)
- Loneliness, isolation and withdrawal
- Frustration, helplessness and despair
- Physical problems like headaches, changes in eating patterns, sleep disturbance, fatigue and panic attacks
- Difficulty concentrating, confusion, repetitious thoughts
- Not enjoying usual activities and hobbies
- Tension in personal relationships
- Feeling hopeless or like you can’t go on
- Trying to make meaning out of the loss by questioning long held beliefs and drawing on spiritual connections.
Grief is not a linear process. You may experience lots of these at once (or only a few) and they may come and go with waves of intensity.
Tips for Coping with Grief
- Give yourself permission to grieve and let people help. Don’t bottle up your emotions – talk to a family and friends, or health professional, about your loss and use those willing to assist with emotional support
- Look after yourself. Eat well, exercise and get a decent amount of sleep. Get back into a routine and do the things you enjoy, even if you don’t feel like doing them.
- Try not to put pressure on yourself to ‘move on’. Avoid making any big decisions until you can think more clearly.
- Don’t feel guilty about moving through your grief and trying to get back to your life.
- Acknowledge that it won’t be this bad forever. You can survive a big loss even if you feel like you can’t. Know your limits and expect some set-backs. When you are ready, you will move on.
When to Get Grief and Loss Counselling
Long-term or overwhelming grief can put your physical, mental and emotional health at risk.
There is no standard ‘time limit’ or pathway to normal, healthy grief. However as a general guide it may be time to seek grief & loss counselling if after 1-2 months you are showing these warning signs:
- An inability shake emotions like anger, depression or disbelief
- Frequent, intrusive thoughts of your loss
- The ability to go about your daily routine is hampered
- Abusing alcohol and/or other drugs (including prescription drugs)
- Pushing away painful feelings or using distracting tasks to avoid experiencing grief
- Excessive avoidance or talking about or reminders of the loss
- Increased physical complaints or illness
- Intense mood swings or social isolation
- Ongoing neglect of self-care and responsibilitiesIn order to have a healthy relationship one needs to care for and nurture it.