Grief counseling can be beneficial for those struggling with deep sadness after the passing of a loved one. If you feel your mental health is being affected by your grief and you can’t seem to get ahold of the grieving process, talking to a professional therapist can help you work through the pain and grieving process. Grief counseling can provide emotional support, guidance on how to cope with difficult emotions, and assistance in developing constructive coping mechanisms. With the right help and support, you will be able to move forward with hope and gain insight into the healing process.
What is Grief?
In simplest terms, grief occurs after the loss of a loved one. It is characterized by extremely deep sadness, depression, anger, and guilt. Grief can manifest in physical symptoms like fatigue, insomnia, or panic attacks. It is a natural process and it takes time to heal from the pain of loss.
Many people believe there are seven stages to grief, which include:
- Shock: At first, you may feel numb and disconnected from your normal emotions. Shock is not a linear process, and it’s normal to feel shock in waves.
- Denial: It is common to deny the reality of the death of your loved one.
- Anger: You may feel angry with yourself, the world, or even the deceased person. If your loved one suffered during their terminal illness, you might feel this anger even more.
- Bargaining: You may find yourself wishing for things to be different, or you may even feel guilt or regret.
- Guilt: There are many types of guilt like survivor’s guilt, fear of forgetting, or guilt about not being able to save the person.
- Depression: This is when you feel overwhelmed by sadness and despair. You might also think about your own mortality.
- Acceptance: Eventually, you will reach a point of acceptance and peace with the loss.
Grief counseling or bereavement counseling can help you work through each of these stages and move toward healing and returning to a balanced state of mental health. Grief counseling sessions can provide a safe space to express your feelings, find meaning in loss, prepare for life transitions, and develop coping strategies for managing the pain. With the proper care and support, you will be able to heal from your grief and find a way to move forward through the stages of grief.
What is Grief Counseling?
It’s important to note that grief counseling is different from traditional therapy services. Grief counseling is designed to help those who are experiencing intense sadness, depression, and other difficult emotions after the loss of a loved one. It provides guidance on how to cope with pain and sorrow, as well as assistance in developing constructive coping mechanisms. The therapist acts as a guide and offers support and a non-judgmental space during this difficult time. If you’re looking for ways to heal and move on with your own life after losing a loved one, you might benefit more from bereavement counseling.
What to Expect from Grief Counseling
There are various different types of grief counseling and each possesses its own approach and benefits. Generally, the counseling sessions will begin with an initial assessment to determine how you are feeling and what your needs are.
One On One Therapy Session
Grief counseling consists of a series of sessions with a therapist. During the first session, you will discuss your experience, feelings, and any difficult emotions that have come up since the loss. The therapist may ask questions to help guide the conversation and understand how you are feeling.
In subsequent sessions, you will talk about managing the pain, developing healthy coping mechanisms, and learning to live with the loss. You may also talk about any guilt or regret you are feeling, as well as finding meaning in the loss.
Group Therapy Sessions
Group therapy sessions are also available for those who may not feel comfortable talking about their grief one-on-one. Bereavement groups are also proven to be effective in helping those who have experienced a loss. In the group, you will be able to connect with others who are going through a similar experience and experiencing similar feelings to find strength in shared understanding.
Supportive Care & Resources
Your therapist may also provide additional resources and tools to help you manage your grief. This could include reading materials, mindfulness exercises, and other activities to help you cope. They may also provide connections to support groups, or suggest additional therapy or counseling options.
Virtual Therapy Sessions
Virtual therapy has become increasingly popular for those who are unable to meet with their therapist in person or prefer the convenience and comfort of online counseling. With virtual grief treatment, you can connect with a therapist from the safety and privacy of your own home, and still receive the same quality care as an in-person session.
Which Type of Grief Therapy is Right For Me?
Grief counseling is not one size fits all. It’s important to find a therapist that you feel comfortable talking with and who understands your needs. Below are some ways you can determine which type of grief therapy is best for you.
Level of Comfort
It’s important to find the right therapist for you. Consider if you would feel more comfortable talking one-on-one or in a group setting. Are there any types of therapy that make you uncomfortable? What about your comfort level with the therapist?
Goals & Needs
Think about what you want to accomplish in therapy. Are you looking for someone to help you process difficult emotions, or are you looking for practical advice and support? Knowing your goals will help you find a therapist who can meet those needs.
Availability & Cost
Consider availability and cost. Do you have time in your schedule to attend sessions? What is the financial cost of therapy sessions? Many therapists offer sliding scale fees or free counseling services if necessary. Once you know what type of grief counseling best fits your needs, it’s important to seek out a qualified therapist who can provide the type of care that meets your individualized requirements.
Take time to research potential therapists and look into their credentials. Make sure they are licensed and have experience working with clients who have experienced grief or loss. For instance, some therapists specialize in helping those who have lost a loved one to suicide. This can be helpful if you are seeking someone with specific expertise or experience in this area.
BIPOC, LGBTQ+, & Other Communities
Finding a therapist who understands your identity and any unique circumstances you may be facing is critical for some. For example, if you are a member of the LGBTQ+ community, it can be helpful to work with a counselor who is knowledgeable in this area. If you are BIPOC, consider looking for therapists of color who offer services that understand the specific needs associated with race and ethnicity. Many experts agree that finding a therapist who is a part of the same cultural community and understands cultural issues can be particularly helpful in providing effective treatment.
When To Start Grief Counseling
Grief can take an emotional, physical, and mental toll on an individual and can be difficult to process. It’s important to address your grief when it’s needed in order to allow yourself time and space for healing. If you are having difficulty dealing with the loss of someone close to you, or feel overwhelmed by intense emotions, it may be beneficial to seek out professional help sooner rather than later.
Grief can take a year or longer to process, and therapy can help you cope with the pain of loss. However, it’s important to remember that the timeline of grief is different for everyone and can be affected by a variety of factors. If you are feeling overwhelmed or struggling to cope, it may be time to start grieving counseling.
Some signs that you might need grief counseling include:
- Difficulty performing daily activities or tasks
- Sleeping difficulty and fatigue
- Intense feelings of guilt or regret
- Feeling lonely, isolated, and helpless
Grief counseling can help you work through these emotions and provide coping strategies that will allow you to move forward in a healthy way. In addition, some people struggle with what is known as complicated grief. Complicated grief is a persistent and intense form of grief that lingers for more than a year after a loss. If you are suffering from complicated grief, it’s important to seek out professional help as soon as possible.
Solutions For Complicated Grief
If your complicated grief has led to symptoms of depression, anxiety, or other psychological issues, it’s important to seek help. A qualified therapist can provide resources and guidance that can help you work through your grief in a healthy way. Your therapist may also offer referrals to specialized grief counselors who are trained in helping individuals cope with complicated grief. Additionally, other forms of helpful treatment might include:
- CBT combined with exposure therapy
- Medication for depression or anxiety
- Group counseling sessions
- Support groups and workshops
Grief counseling can be an effective way to cope with the pain of loss and help you move forward in life. It’s important to remember that no two people grieve the same way, so it’s important to find a therapist who understands your unique circumstances and needs. Additionally, seeking help sooner rather than later is important in order to ensure that you can heal from the pain of loss in a healthy and productive way.
Find the Care You Need For Grief Counseling Today
At Clear Behavioral Health’s Virtual IOP Program, we understand the unique challenges of grief and provide comprehensive counseling services. Our team of experienced professionals is here to help you work through your emotions and find effective solutions for healing. Contact us today to learn more about our virtual therapy program and how we can help you cope with complicated grief. We are here for you every step of the way.