Grief is a response to the loss of something or someone with whom an attachment has been formed. Experiencing loss is part of the human experience. Each person processes grief differently. Choosing to come to grief counseling is a important step in processing loss.
Losses may perhaps include:
- Death of a spouse, child, friend, pastor, or pet
- Anticipating losses due to terminal medical difficulties
- Embracing an empty nest after children go to college or move away
- Loss of employment
- Ending relationships
- Hysterectomy or miscarriage
- Financial loss, lifestyle changes
- Even the loss of a previously reliable vehicle
Grief can be assessed as acute or complicated. Acute grief is viewed as a natural response to the mental battle a person faces before accepting the loss. Common indications of grief due to death are devastation, disorganization, explosive reactions, self-blame, loneliness, liberation, and closure. If a loss is expected, the stages involved in the grieving process typically consist of anger, isolation, denial, depression, bargaining, and acceptance. Generally, in response to acute grief, people will eventually accept the heartbreaking event and move forward with life.
STAGES OF GRIEF
Shock -initial fear and numbness at hearing the news
Denial -a natural reaction to grief. Denial is one of the ways a person protects themselves from grief. It helps people escape from reality.
Anger intense emotion, sometimes anger is taken out on family, friends and the loss.
Bargaining thoughts like “What if…” “If I could have…””I should have…” happen. Trying to figure out what could have been done.
Depression -is a natural reaction to a loss. Increased sadness, decreased or increased appetite, decreased or increased sleep, isolating and decreased motivation.
Acceptance -recognizing that the loss is real and has occurred. Acceptance does not mean agreement with the loss. Learning how to deal with loss.
There is no perfect way to go through the stages of grief. Phases of grief are not necessarily experienced in any particular order. However, it is possible for an individual to repeat some or all the signs of grief. Each person process grief and loss differently.
Complicated grief is considered a more serious life threatening occurrence. In complicated grief symptoms are felt with greater intensity for extended periods of time. Individuals experience extreme psychological suffering. They experience disturbing thoughts and mental pictures of the deceased person. People enduring a complicated type of grief lose all hope while often contemplating suicide. These agonizing symptoms linger for 6 months or more after the loss. Excruciating mental, physical, social, and employment-related problems usually develop because of the increased pain associated with complicated grief. Those suffering acute grief are able to regain balance in life and move forward. In contrast, professional treatment is often necessary to overcome the intense and persistent symptoms associated with complicated grief.
For most people healing grief takes time, comfort, counseling when needed, as well as spiritual faith. According to Hall, Dixon, and Mauzy (2004) spirituality is thought of as an intimate involvement with God; not simply religious rituals. Connecting with your faith in God is a personal experience which offers a way to be restored, recover joy, and move forward into a meaningful life. Gill, Minton, & Myers (2010) stated that other choices towards a restorative path include harnessing inner strengths plus striving to reach one’s ultimate potential. Furthermore, Gill, et.al (2010) suggested redefining one’s reasons for living and pursuing a greater heart of gratitude is advancement in the direction of a wellness-filled life.
A standard treatment for complicated grief does not exist since each person is unique. Typically, counseling professionals will devise a plan best fitting for the person. Occasionally, both counseling and antidepressants are used to treat grief related depression. (We do not prescribe medication). Then, there are times when the counselor and client explore the causes and symptoms surrounding the prolonged grief. The goal of the counselor is to support the client throughout the bereavement process. This process involves accepting the death of the loved one, ending the distress; reconnect with positive feelings, a willingness to explore life without the deceased person, and finally a readiness to set new goals for life.
- Get support (family, friends, church and support groups)
- Be patient with yourself and others
- Express yourself, find ways to be creative
- Take a time out, find a healthy distraction
- Seek counseling
- Practice forgiveness
- Find a way to honor the person
At Flourishing Hope Counseling we treat grief through talk therapy. We work with you to process your grief and help you discover ways to cope with your loss. We are here to help.
Flourishing Hope Counseling PLLC a Kingsville, TX private counseling practice.