Christian Counselor Redmond
Those who are grieving are often isolated and end up dealing with their thoughts and emotions on their own.
Most importantly, grief can also be confusing and complex. This article will address what grief looks like and how grief counseling can help a person process their grief.
What is Grief?
Grief doesn’t always follow a linear path, but typically involves the following behaviors.
- Numbness – this usually occurs early in the grieving process. It most likely takes place because there are so many feelings to deal with. To let all of them into consciousness at one time would be overwhelming. Numbness can serve as a form of protection.
- Sleep disturbance
- Appetite disturbance – this can take the form of over-eating or under-eating, although under-eating is more common.
- Poor memory and absent-minded behavior
- Social withdrawal – this includes withdrawal from people and a loss of interest in the outside world.
- Dreams of the deceased
- Avoiding reminders of the deceased
- Physical sensations – these can range from hollowness in the stomach, tightness in the chest, weakness in the muscles, dry mouth, lack of energy, and a sense of depersonalization.
Why Choose Grief Counseling?
You might be asking yourself if grief is so common why even seek out counseling? Wouldn’t it be easier to allow grief to run its natural course? For some, navigating the grieving process isn’t easy. Our upbringing shapes how we react and deal with grief when it hits us.
Some people are more emotionally stable and grief doesn’t show up in external behaviors. It can be harder to spot. For others, family and friends are unsure of how to respond to the person mourning. The lack of support can be detrimental during the grieving process.
Some well-intentioned friends might tell you that you’ve mourned for too long and it’s time to move on. This is when a counselor can help by offering a safe place to grieve. A grief counselor can also help to determine whether the grief has transitioned into major depression.
How Will a Counselor Help With Grief?
If you are grieving a loss, there are certain steps to take that will aid in your recovery journey. A counselor can guide you through the steps and monitor your progress.
When a loved one passes away, it can be challenging to accept the truth. Denial prevents people from feeling deep anguish. Accepting that the loved one is gone is critical during the grieving process. Both the heart and mind need to accept that the deceased isn’t returning to this life.
A grief counselor will help you to actualize the loss. Talking about the details of the loss is painful, yet necessary in order to come to terms with the reality.
Feeling pain is a part of the process. People have a natural tendency to deflect or suppress pain which isn’t a healthy way to move through grief. A counselor provides a safe place to release the pain.
It doesn’t have to be pushed away or shrugged off. A counselor can help navigate through other feelings you might be experiencing along with your anguish like resentment, anger, confusion, and guilt. Expressing and experiencing your range of emotions will help alleviate burdens you might be carrying.
A third item to be addressed is how life looks without your loved one. This topic can be challenging to discuss, particularly if the deceased person had specific everyday responsibilities the survivor is not familiar with. This creates an added stress of figuring out how to handle new responsibilities.
Let’s say that it was a wife that passed away and the wife was responsible for shuttling the kids to their activities, cooking the meals and doing the shopping. The husband might feel at a loss for how to perform these activities while still maintaining his responsibilities during the grieving process. A counselor can assist in this situation by providing needed support and helping to problem-solve under new circumstances.
It’s common to experience an identity crisis after the death of a loved one. If someone’s focus has been on being a mother to their only daughter, that person’s identity will be rocked if she loses her daughter.
Even some parents whose children go away to college experience a season of grappling with their identity with no children under their constant care. A grief counselor guides those that might be struggling to understand their identity after a loss.
A survivor should eventually emotionally withdraw from the deceased to continue to move forward in life. Life does seem to stop after the death of a loved one, but it’s critical to invest in new relationships and the life you still have to live while on earth.
Many people say they died with their loved one. Failing to emotional withdraw doesn’t have a consistent look, but it could be as simple as refusing to change the deceased’s bedroom or talking to a photograph of the deceased every day. It’s important to move through grief and not get stuck along the way.
Benefits of Grief Counseling
Grief can reveal feelings and behaviors you might not consider normal. A grief counselor can determine what is appropriate during the grieving process which can be reassuring to someone who may feel like he will permanently feel out of sorts after a significant loss.
A survivor might try different experiences to learn to cope with the loss. Some attempt to self-medicate the pain, yet others might turn to food for comfort. A counselor can look for unhealthy coping mechanisms and provide a plan to replace them with healthy behaviors.
Grief is one of the more excruciating life experiences to go through, but you don’t have to go through it alone. A grief counselor supplies support and guidance during such a time in life when it’s hard to even function. Counseling is a safe place to grieve in your own unique way without fear of judgment. If you are experiencing grief from the loss of a loved one, reach out to us today. We are here for you.
“Rio Surat”, Courstey of Spencer Dahl, Unsplash.com, CC0 License; “Up Alone”, Courtesy of Moritz Schumacher, Unsplash.com; CC0 License; “A Private Grief”, Courtesy of Nicholas Bui, Unsplash.com; CC0 License; “Tears,” courtesy of rubberduck1951, pixabay.com, CC0 License