Grief Counseling: Consider the common saying: in life, the only thing we can be sure of is death (and taxes). Practically everyone will experience the death of someone they care about at some point in their life.
There is no one way for people to experience grief. Although some emotions or paths are more common, there is no wrong way to grieve, and death can affect everyone differently.
Particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic, deaths have risen sharply around the world. Many loved ones passed away due to coronavirus complications. In addition to personal grief, many countries are experiencing a sense of collective grief, due to the people that we have lost to this disease as well as grief for a normal way of life.
Grief can contribute to various mental health disorders. There are websites, like Mind Diagnostics, which you can access to utilize articles and questionnaires that may help determine if your symptoms could progress to a mental health condition. The test is not a diagnosis but could help indicate if you should seek further professional help. Many people could benefit from therapy, not only those with a diagnosed mental health disorder, and especially people experiencing grief.
Grief is a feeling people develop after experiencing loss or a type of death. It is a reaction to loss that can manifest in any form, from deep sadness to anger. It also involves adapting to the new scenario of not having the loved one there anymore.
Grief is not only experienced through losing someone close but also includes a wide range of situations, from the death of someone dear to a beloved pet to the end of a marriage or separation from someone who meant a lot to you. It is the sentiment of significant loss.
Stages of Grief
Swiss psychiatrist Elisabeth Kübler-Ross found out that grief is not only a sentiment, but a whole situation to which we often respond in five stages:
- Denial: Itcan’t be true
- Anger: Butwhy?
- Bargaining: Maybe death can be postponed with good behavior
- Depression: deepsadness
- Acceptance: They can finally rest in peace/this is my new reality
These steps are flexible. They are not a recipe to conquer grief, as some people might experience one or two steps, won’t experience them at all, or return to them later in life.
Regardless of passing through these stages, the most common symptoms one might experience is feeling:
- Numb, shocked, and in disbelief
- Empty, deepsadness, and loneliness
- Angry and resentful
- Anxious, helpless, and fearful
People could even have physical symptoms such as fatigue, nausea, sickness, insomnia, and others. Feeling grief is not a fault or weakness, it is to be human. It is normal. Nevertheless, some of us might feel it more intensely, and for a longer period of time. In this case, maybe you should look for grief counseling.
What is Grief Counseling?
It can be important not to romanticize grieving alone; if you need it, seek help and professional support.
Grief counseling can be explained in a straightforward manner: it is the discussion between you and a professional counselor on mental health that will help you address the emotional, mental, and behavioral processes you are feeling due to your grief. In the time of COVID-19, many platforms have been helping and supporting people coping with grief and loss by connecting them to grief counselors.
How it works
Every person’s therapy experience may be different, but grief counselors will typically work in the following ways:
- Foster a relationship based on trust so the client feels safe and comfortable sharing their feelings.
- Know how to ask the right questions, especially about the relationship between the patient and the deceased. The type of loss one has experienced will likely inform the direction the counselor will take.
After establishing the grounds, the grief counselor may take different steps when it concerns the techniques it can be used. If you want to be prepared for how grief counseling might go, here are some possible routes they will take:
- Talk about it: To encourage the patient to talk about the deceased person. The counselor will be attentive and offer a safe, comfortable environment in which to share thoughts and feelings without judgment.
- Separate trauma from grief: The counselor will assess if the client is feeling any trauma surrounding the death or if they are indeed experiencing grief.
- Talk about feeling guilt: In many aspects, people can experience grief by feeling guilt over someone’s death. It is the constant question of “what if?” that surrounds the client’s thoughts. The counselor will encourage the patient to overcome this feeling or push the client to understand better why they are feeling this way.
Benefits of Grief Counseling
The benefits are many, but the main one to consider is that grief counseling can help you address the intense emotions you have been feeling and facilitate your healing.
It is not necessarily about letting the grief (or the person) go; it is about experiencing it in as healthy a way as possible and talking through it. It is important to share thoughts and feelings, and doing so with professional help can contribute to an experience that is as effective and safe as possible.