Should I consider grief counselling?

The loss of a loved one is always a challenging situation to cope with, even when the loss is expected. There is no way to prepare to grieve and no “normal way” to grieve.  As time passes, most people do come to terms with their loss and learn to cope in their own ways. Others struggle with grief without improvement over long periods, and as a result, their ability to carry on with daily activities is disrupted. When you find it too hard or even impossible to return to the regular demands and pleasures of your life,grief counselling could be a critical part of your healing process.

When a familyfind themselves immersed in feelings of grief, a trained professional could assist them in processing their emotions in a healthy way. A grief counsellorcan be instrumental in helping a family understand and process the pain and complexity of their grief, which is a very personal process for each member. Grief councillors are trained and experienced in handling grief and assisting people who struggle to cope after the death of a loved one. In many cases, people find it easier to discuss their deepest feelings with an “outsider” rather than with their friends or family.

Regardless of how someone experiences grief, your counsellor would be able to adapt and structure therapy sessions to best suit how each person is feeling.Swiss-American psychiatrist Elisabeth Kübler-Ross’s five stages of grief may be the most widely known model to use as a starting point. An alternative modelwould be the four phases proposed by British psychiatrist Colin Murray Parkes, namely shock/numbness, yearning/searching, despair/disorganization, and reorganization/recovery.

A grief counsellor can help you cope in a number of ways, for instance by:

  • providinga safe space to express your emotions and feelings. They can listen to you, validate your emotions, and provide you with emotional support.
  • giving you a better understandingof the emotions that you are experiencing, realising that these feelings are normal and natural. They can help you understand the grieving process and how it works.
  • providingstrategies that will help you deal with the pain of loss. They may suggest ways to manage your emotions.
  • giving youeducation about the grieving process, such as how it impacts the body, and how to manage the physical and emotional symptoms of grief.
  • providing guidance into ways to heal from your loss. This may include connecting you with support groups, helping you find meaning and purpose in life after loss, or guiding you through the process of creating a memorial or other meaningful tribute to your loved one.

Grief counselling can help you overcome feelings of isolation by providing a non-judgmental space for you to share your feelings and experiences if you don’t feel comfortable talking to friends or family members about your grief. Therapy sessions in groups will provide you with the opportunity to connect with others who are also experiencing similar feelings of loss and isolation. This can help you feel less alone in your grief and provide a supportive network to help you through the grieving process. You will find it easier to normalize your sadness and help reduce feelings of shame or embarrassment around your grief, while feeling more understood and supported.

Grief can often have a significant impact on an individual’s mental health, leading to symptoms of depression, anxiety, or other mental health issues. Grief counselling can provide tools and strategies to help youto specifically address and overcome these symptoms. Early intervention will help someone cope before their grief develops into more significant mental health issues such as depression or anxiety.You will be provided with coping strategies for managing your grief, including self-care practices, mindfulness techniques, or practical tips for navigating the grieving process.Some families have found that coping strategies for managing their grief over the long term are very helpful. These strategies can include journaling, physical exercise, and other activities that promote self-care and emotional healing.

Grief counselling can equip you to take better care of yourself physically, emotionally, and spiritually in the time that you feel as if your whole world was changed upside down. You will be encouraged to engage in activities that bring you joy, getting enough rest and exercise, and finding ways to connect with others, without feeling criticised (as is sometimes the case when these suggestions come from friends or family).During grief counselling, youwill have the opportunity to work on reframing your thoughts about your loss, which can help you develop a more positive outlook on life. In this way you may learn to focus on the positive memories you have of your loved one rather than dwelling on the pain of their absence.

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