Image by Zhen Hu

GRIEF / LOSS COUNSELLING

1. What is Grief?

For many people, the grieving process is one of the most painful experiences in their lives. Grief can be overwhelming, whether it is caused by the death of a loved one, the end of a relationship, the loss of a job or a house, the death of a pet, or simply the sensations of loss that may come with everyday life.

 

Grief is a normal human emotion, yet it affects different individuals in various ways, including the time it takes to come to terms with the loss. 

 

Emotional Signs and Symptoms of Grief

  • Intense Sadness 

  • Anger 

  • Loneliness 

  • Numbness

  • Disassociation

  • Overwhelmed 

 

Physical Signs and Symptoms of Grief 

  • Loss of appetite 

  • Memory loss 

  • Isolating oneself  

  • Headaches 

  • Digestive problems 

  • Lowered immunity 

 

2. Stages of Grief / Loss

Denial, anger, bargaining, despair, and acceptance are all phases of learning to live with our loss.

Denial: Denial helps us decrease the overwhelming grief during the initial stage of the mourning process. We are also attempting to withstand emotional agony as we digest the truth of it.

Anger: We are attempting to adjust to a new reality and are most likely experiencing great emotional anguish. Anger is also the first emotion we experience while attempting to express emotions associated with loss.

Bargaining: It is not uncommon to feel so desperate while coping with loss that you are prepared to do everything to lessen or reduce the agony. During this stage of grief, you may try to bargain to change the situation, promising to do anything in exchange for relief from your anguish, usually with a higher power. 

Despair: We begin to experience the loss of our loved one more intensely at this stage of grief. Our panic begins to fade, the emotional fog lifts, and loss becomes more tangible and apparent. This frequently leads to profound loneliness and isolation.

Acceptance: When we reach a point of acceptance, we no longer experience the ache of loss, but sadness and regret are still present. However, the emotional survival instincts of denial, bargaining, and anger are less likely to be present during this stage of the mourning process. 

 

3. When should I seek counselling for my grief? 

Seeking counselling does not have to be viewed as a last choice, but rather as an essential part of the process. Many people come to counselling feeling as if they have failed because they were unable to "get through it" on their own. In reality, seeking help can be considered an important tool in dealing with loss in a healthy manner.  

 

Situations in which professional help is required: 

  • Feeling at risk of hurting yourself or others

  • Being unable to attend to your basic needs, or the basic needs of others dependant on you (ie; your children) 

  • If you feel like your ways of coping are hurting you, in the form of drug use and self-harm 

  • If you feel like your grief process has not changed after what you consider a reasonable amount of time. 

 

4. Benefits of Grief / Loss Counselling

Grief counselling may help individuals understand themselves and their overwhelming emotions, in addition to assimilating feelings of loss into their lives and supporting them as they adjust to life without a loved one.