Grief isn’t something you can “Just Get Over Quickly.” Why grief counseling is important.
We’ve all heard someone say: “They should be over it by now.”, “She should start getting rid of his clothes”, “It was only a pet for goodness sake”, “Honestly, she had been sick and suffering, she’s in a better place.” These are well meaning statements but also very judgmental. Many family members and friends will try to help, but that is not the same as getting actual grief counseling.
“Coping with loss is ultimately a deeply personal and singular experience — nobody can help you go through it more easily or understand all the emotions that you’re going through. But others can be there for you and help comfort you through this process. The best thing you can do is to allow yourself to feel the grief as it comes over you. Resisting it only will prolong the natural process of healing.” Coping can look and feel differently for each individual. You can go through the stages in order, or you can bounce from one stage to another, several times until you find yourself in the Acceptance Stage. This can happen over a matter of days or many years. A therapist can help you explore your emotions, work with you to develop coping strategies, help you manage your grief and help others around you try to understand what you are going through.
Consultants have identified five common stages of grief:
- Denial: When you first learn of a loss, it’s normal to think, “This isn’t happening.” You may feel shocked or numb. This is a temporary way to deal with the rush of overwhelming emotion. It’s a defense mechanism.
- Anger: As reality sets in, you’re faced with the pain of your loss. You may feel frustrated and helpless. These feelings later turn into anger. You might direct it toward other people, a higher power, or life in general. To be angry with a loved one who died and left you alone is natural, too.
- Bargaining: During this stage, you dwell on what you could’ve done to prevent the loss. Common thoughts are “If only…” and “What if…” You may also try to strike a deal with a higher power.
- Depression: Sadness sets in as you begin to understand the loss and its effect on your life. Signs of depression include crying, sleep issues, and a decreased appetite. You may feel overwhelmed, regretful, and lonely.
- Acceptance: In this final stage of grief, you accept the reality of your loss. It can’t be changed. Although you still feel sad, you’re able to start moving forward with your life.
“Coping with this potential myriad of responses may certainly seem overwhelming, but there are some strategies which can be used in order to manage grief reactions and continue to function day to day.”
- Accept your feelings. Feelings are neither right or wrong, they just are. Sadness, loneliness, fear, confusion, anger—these are among the many feelings that may occur, and are completely normal. Emotions are often raw early in grief, but it is important to allow for expression. To attempt to stifle feelings usually leads to their eventually erupting under far less desirable circumstances.
- Be patient with yourself. Grief is an intensely personal process. Accept that it follows no magical formula or time frame. It will take as long as it takes. Think of the care you would extend to a friend in the same situation of loss, and allow yourself that same grace. Be careful to not take on responsibilities beyond what is realistic—it is better to allow for some flexibility in one’s obligations at this time.
- Pay attention to physical needs. It can be very easy to neglect one’s personal physical needs during the throes of grief. This is a time when taking care of oneself is crucial. As difficult as it may seem, making every effort to get adequate sleep, eat nutritionally balanced meals and fit in regular exercise and intentional relaxation can do wonders. Think of it this way: by pursuing a healthful routine, you are actually equipping yourself to take on the new challenges with which you are faced in your time of grief.
- Accept the help of others. Understand that grief is challenging work, it requires a great deal of energy and can be exhausting. Even though we place a high regard on self-sufficiency, it is important not to hesitate to ask for and accept help from those close to you. Others care and genuinely want to be of assistance, but usually do not know what to specifically offer. A Therapist is a trained individual that can provide a supportive presence and assist with coping strategies. We have heard from clients that sometimes, it’s just nice to talk to someone outside of your social circle. Getting professional grief counseling can help you heal when you don’t know what to do.
If you or someone you know is experiencing grief and would like professional grief counseling in Grand Rapids, MI read below:
There are many counselors at Health for Life Counseling Grand Rapids who can provide grief counseling and therapy services. Call 616-200-4433 today to schedule your complimentary consultation. Or schedule online today by clicking here.
Axelrod, J. (2017). The 5 Stages of Grief & Loss. Psych Central. Retrieved from https://psychcentral.com/lib/the-5-stages-of-loss-and-grief/
DeKrey, Connie, Bereavement Specialist, Red River Valley Hospice, Fargo, ND Coping Strategies for Grief
WebMD Medical Reference Reviewed by Carol DerSarkissian on November 06, 2016 Grief and Loss