The Pain And Loss Of Losing A Loved One
At some point in time, we all experience a great loss in our lives. Whether that loss is someone we love, a pet, or something very important to us, grief is the natural and healthy reaction that follows. Grief is best described as a multi-layered and truly personal experience involving a host of emotions from numbness and disbelief to anger, guilt, loneliness, bitterness, and at times, overwhelming sorrow. Losing someone you love is devastating , you want the whole world to stop and take notice, yet life continues all around you, seemingly oblivious, as your own life comes to a crashing halt. What happens now? How could grief counseling even help? it wont bring back the person we lost. There seems no way out of the incredible pit of despair and unbearable pain.
When Someone We Love Dies
While grief can result from a variety of situations ranging from divorce and separation to traumatic injury or illness, probably the most difficult and heart-wrenching circumstance to deal with is the death of a child or spouse. According to US government statistics, about 228,000 children die every year. These statistics also show that approximately thirty-six percent of the population is grieving now or has grieved in the past, for a son, daughter, brother, or sister. This type of grief is a profound and all too often, devastating experience for family members who are left behind.
If left unchecked, no matter the cause, all grief can quickly turn into deep depression and other serious psychological disorders. At this point, grief counseling becomes a very important part of the healing process.
The magnitude of this issue only becomes apparent however, when you also consider that only ten percent of grieving people, according to the National Institute for Mental Health (NIMH), will ever seek professional help. Although the bereaved must ultimately come to terms and integrates their loss within their own life and purpose, the emotional understanding and support of a counselor or therapist provides an essential step toward making this inevitable process less painful.
Will These Feelings Last Forever?
There is no magical timeline that dictates how long you should grieve or when the pain will go away. Some cultures have varying customs meant to guide a person through the mourning period following the loss, but each person is different and you don’t know how you will react to a traumatic situation until it happens. Simply put, your grief lasts as long as it needs to last. In most cases, grief counseling with an effective and good therapist can lessen the length of time in mourning and dampen the intensity of the suffering.
Typically however, there are five stages we all follow when faced with loss. Again, not everyone will follow these parameters exactly and some people may find they jump back and forth between each stage, lingering longer in one than another or even experience more than one stage at a time, but for the most part, the “Five Stages of Grief” predict the emotional pattern our grieving will take. If you choose to begin grief counseling, your therapist will work together with you through each of these stages during therapy. Remember that no person fits each stage exactly, but in general, this is the path most people take when suffering from the pain of loss.
The fist stage of grief is denial. A numbing feeling overtakes our body and we simply can’t fathom the idea that the situation is actually happening. It can feel as if you’re on the outside looking in and nothing is real. “It must be a mistake”.
Eventually though, reality sets in and then anger, the second stage of grief, tends to surface. At this point, you feel a powerful need to lash out at someone or to hold someone else responsible for the situation. Often times, we will blame God and question our faith. You may even turn your anger inward and blame yourself. Whatever the situation, our natural instinct is to deflect our pain onto someone or something else.
The third stage of grief is bargaining. At this point, we try to negotiate a way to reverse the situation. Many times we will try bargaining with God, vowing to do whatever it takes to change the situation. Subconsciously, we know this can’t happen, but in the moment, it gives us a sense of hope. At this stage, grief counseling helps an individual feel less alone as your therapist becomes a companion with you in the process.
Once we come to terms with the fact that the situation is not going to change, we become depressed, entering the fourth stage of grief. This is when a deep and overwhelming sense of sorrow takes over and we often feel helpless, hopeless, and lonely. Grief counseling at this stage is particularly important because you may find that your daily responsibilities are left behind, and the meaningful relationships you do have in your life start suffering. You may not be able to sleep, eat, or concentrate and you may find yourself crying or caught in the feelings of overwhelming sadness and uncertainty. Guilt over living or not ‘doing enough’ can intensify these emotions. As painful as this is though, in order to heal you must work your way through it.
The final stage of grief is acceptance. This is the point when we begin to understand that loss is a part of life and although we will always miss that person or the way things were, we no longer have to struggle with our emotions. We can move on with our lives in a healthy way. If you are currently suffering acute grief, the idea of acceptance can seem so far away and completely unreachable. Caring, and compassionate grief counseling can help you sort out the chaos of emotions and give you tools to still live your life and find joy and happiness again. The loss is always carried with you and becomes a part of who you are, but you move through it and to a new life where real happiness can be found again. Grief counseling, while not a cure for the hurt, can certainly lessen its severity.
Grief Counseling and Therapy
At Theravive, we recognize and understand the deep pain of loss and the resulting grieving process. Grief counseling is about coming along side the one who is hurting. As no one person is the same, neither is how he/she grieves and how he/she resolves the emptiness. In grief counseling, we work with clients to provide support and understanding as you move through the personal process of envisioning life without the loved one. Grief counseling is never about minimizing the loss you are experiencing, and it is never about minimizing you as a person. Even if you are still grieving over a loss many years ago, your therapist will meet you where you are, and help guide you through the next step, towards a better life, moving through this time of pain and being able to find some joy in your life again.
Often times, people find it helpful to looks for ways to symbolize and create ways to positively remember their loved one and how this influence continues in life going forward. While the stages of grief are not easy, moving through them, rather than remaining stuck at a stage allows your life to continue to reflect your loved one. It is also an opportunity to address any unresolved areas of life that may be making the grieving process more difficult. Ultimately, through grief counseling, we want to see you, the client, find a sense of enjoyment and purpose in life that both honors the memory of what is lost, but also allows you to continue to invest in life and the Relationships in your life.
If you need a therapist to help you, we have a large selection of online therapists who are professional and licensed counselors, able to help you right where you are over the phone, via email, or webcam/messenger. If you prefer face to face counseling, please use our therapist directory and find a city close to you with a therapist who can meet your needs.
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