The object of grief and loss counseling is to discover the deeper meaning of the loss you have experienced. First, let us take an example of losing someone whom you loved deeply and who was ultimately the most important person in your life. This person has died, passed away, gone to God; she or he is no longer in your immediate environment with whom to talk, hold, breath on, be breathed on, to nurture and be nurtured; only memories and a burning love in your heart exist for that person. This will never die, and is a testament, not only the this important person with whom you totally loved and felt totally loved by; it is also a testament to your own capacity to love, give, care, communicate, empathize with, and nurture. That this kind of love was in your life, probably for a long time, is a wonderful thing in and of itself; and no doubt you feel lucky to have had this person in your life. So, you are lucky to have had this relationship in your life for many years. Were you lucky, then, to have had him or her taken away, perhaps too soon? It is a paradox. Both feelings occur simultaneously. And in that paradox is the answer you are searching for.
What and who would you be if this loved one had not entered your life (spouse, parent, child, friend, etc.)? Who would you be if this person was also in your life for a long time? Certainly a great love between two people is a great gift, and life-changing. No doubt it has changed you on very deep levels, some that you are aware of and some that you are unaware of. It is the latter that we will explore and discuss in psychotherapy. Also, part of the “paradox” of being lucky to have had this special relationship, and “unlucky” (as you may feel at the time) to have had it taken away, is to examine how you depended on each other, and that no on could ever this loved one.
The removal of the parts of yourself that your loved one filled can be devastating. In a way, the grieving process forces you to grow. How did you depend upon each other? Do you feel defeated with a sense of deficiency in the areas which you depended upon your loved one? In psychotherapy we will explore how to reach inside yourself for the reserves which having had that person, you did not need to develop. This process connects you to a new path. On by one, you will find yourself making changes, in psychotherapy and actually make some sense of this tragedy. In psychotherapy, the process of separating each facet of what has changed in your life as a result of your loss, will be explore. Our work together in psychotherapy will indicate which direction you should take, or want to forge in your life. Eventually it will become evident to you what each new step will be, and in which order each step shall be taken.
A loss, to be devastating and challenging, does not have to be grief over a loved one who has died. One may be overcome with grief from many circumstances. There are many types of loss. The loss might be an illness you or a loved one has that has stolen a function; a close friend who has moved away; divorce; the end of a long-term relationship; loss of a job; loss of your home due to divorce, foreclosure or natural disaster; etc. What if most or all of the above has occurred simultaneously? Then, the sense of hopeless is magnified. These events, though they most often cause anxiety, fear and depression, nudge you, or catapult you, into a new direction. Eventually, working with your psychotherapist, a new sense of purpose of your life will begin to emerge, and you will find ways to act upon it.
Do people react to your loss and grief by changing the subject, becoming distracted, or telling you to just get over it and move on? Perhaps you should not continue to confide in or listen to these people. You may need to go through a process of weeding out friends to make room for the right ones. In psychotherapy, when you feel that the therapist is truly present with you, truly listening to how you really feel, true healing is allowed to occur.
If, after the loss of a loved one, or any great loss, you find yourself flooded with tears, barely able to make it through the day, what do you do? Even if you have friends to turn to in times of grief-upheavals, you can lean new coping mechanisms in psychotherapy.
Do you feel guilt as a result of the loss of a loved one, or divorce, etc., as though there was something you could have done to prevent it? Guilt is a “disguise” feeling; a phony, a fake that masks underlying feelings of self-reprimand, even self-loathing that are difficult to face and to dispel without a psychotherapist who will help you to remove the mask in order to tap into the courage and strength that has been there all along, waiting to spring forth in this time of need.
Another type of loss, which may or may not accompany any of the above types of losses, is being a part of, or witnessing, a tragic, traumatic event or incident which caused in you a feeling of emptiness or horror. Does this feeling of horror relate to a past traumatic event, loss, or feeling of deprivation? Or, does this horrific event which you are grieving seem to be the worst thing that has ever happened to you?
What is it that bothers you the most about this loss or grief-induced event? Once bereavement is dealt with in a thorough way in psychotherapy, you may find that there was a meaning to it, in the healing process which this experience invoked. Discovering the meaning behind the grief and loss event will then evoke a new sense of purpose and growth, emotionally spiritually. Then, healing the heartbreak will be aided greatly.