Are You Considering Grief Therapy? Here’s What You Can Expect
Loss is inevitable. Death, of course, is an integral part of life that we all experience. Yet even though we know it happens, it still impacts us profoundly.
Despite grief becoming so universal, each experience is unique. We feel different emotions at varying intensities, and they affect us in ways we don’t always predict.
At times, grief can feel so consuming and traumatic that it’s hard to focus on anything else. You may feel like you’re spiraling down a dark path of depression and anxiety. You might feel like life is meaningless or hopeless.
Grief therapy can help you process these feelings. It can also help you develop new insights and coping strategies. Let’s get into what you need to know.
What Happens When We Experience Loss?
Although loss is an unavoidable experience, we still struggle with it greatly. After losing someone or something we love, we may cope in some or all of the following ways:
- Denying the loss altogether
- Blaming ourselves for what happened
- Becoming extremely angry or combative
- Distracting ourselves with work or other tasks
- Engaging in more escape behaviors like substance use
- Self-harm or suicidal behavior
It’s normal to feel disorientated, angry, or depressed in the immediate aftermath of any loss. Generally, these feelings dissipate as time goes on. However, if the feelings persist- or if they keep getting progressively worse- it may be time to consider professional help.
Grief therapy entails moving through four stages. Let’s review these stages and what to expect during them.
Embracing All The Pain And All The Emotions
Loss can feel so painful. We don’t want to lose the people, things, or places we love. It hurts, and it seems so unfair.
Yet, when it comes to grief, many people want to suppress it. They want to act like everything is okay. They justify or rationalize their feelings- they try to move about their days as if their own heaviness isn’t weighing them down.
Although we live in a society that often practices avoidance, grief therapy entails embracing emotion. That means crying when you need to cry and laughing when you remember a funny memory. It also means avoiding excess judgment for your emotions, even when they might scare you.
Remember that all feelings of hurt are normal, but you must allow yourself to feel them fully. Emotional expression is an essential part of optimal self-care.
Acclimating To The New Environment
Loss changes your life, and the acclimation phase can be challenging. You may have to learn new tasks that the other person once did. You might need to physically move to a new location.
This acclimation phase can be scary and frustrating. You might feel alone and overwhelmed with how to move forward. While these are valid feelings, they can be debilitating.
Grief therapy provides support, reducing the chances of you getting stuck in a state of helplessness. There’s no doubt that acclimation is hard. However, taking those steps forward allows you to progress in your recovery.
Finding A Connection With The Deceased While Moving Forward
Grief therapy isn’t about finding a whole new life. Instead, it’s about adapting to change while honoring the loss.
Honoring the loss will mean something different for everyone. For example, it may mean that you continue to write letters or talk to your loved one when you need strength. It might include listening to their favorite music or cooking their beloved recipes. It may also mean starting a charity in their honor.
This task can feel challenging. Many people feel selfish or guilty for trying to “move on.” That said, grief therapy isn’t about moving on. It’s about making room for growth while acknowledging and honoring what is no longer here.
Learning To Accept A New Reality
Yet, part of all grief work entails settling into a place of acceptance. When faced with loss, many of us step into denial. We don’t want to acknowledge what happened. We want to believe life will go back to normal.
This denial is reasonable. Unfortunately, it doesn’t allow us to move into a space of healing and recovery over the long-term. Only acceptance can accomplish that. Acceptance doesn’t mean liking the change. It just means acknowledging that this is a new truth.
Coming to acceptance isn’t necessarily a time-sensitive task. You can’t force it upon yourself. Everyone’s grief journey is entirely individual and unique- there are no specific guidelines for healing. That said, grief therapy can help you find greater acceptance.
Getting Started With Grief Therapy
Grief therapy provides a compassionate space for you to move forward with your pain. It isn’t about forgetting or letting go of the loss. It’s about making room for new growth, opportunity, and love. There is hope for you in the future- even if it feels impossible right now.
At Willow Counseling, we can help you cope with this difficult change. We’re here for you throughout this time. Contact us today to get in touch.
Willow Counseling, PLLC – Nashville, TN
Willow Counseling, PLLC exists to provide quality trauma-informed mental health counseling to the Nashville community, recognizing the interconnectedness of our emotional, spiritual and physical selves. We work together to alleviate symptoms, learn better coping skills, relieve burdens, remove the pain of trauma, and so much more. However, our greatest desire is for you to know what it means to feel purpose and joy again and to recognize the strength and worth you have to offer the world.