It’s normal to feel shock, denial, anger, and sadness when a loved one dies or when something else causes a significant change in your life. A counselor can help you understand these feelings and cope with them.
Talking about the loss and your feelings with others can help. Support groups can also be helpful.
Acceptance of the Loss
In this final stage, you accept the loss and move forward. While it may still be difficult, you’ll have more good days than bad. You’ll start to talk about the person who died and share memories. This stage is often followed by a period of depression.
Many mental health experts have studied grief and loss. Their model of the five stages of grief outlines a typical progression that most people experience following a significant loss.
While the grieving process differs for everyone, bereavement counseling, like Transitioning Through Change, can help you through the initial stages. For example, cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is a common approach that can help you change negative thought patterns contributing to your distress. A therapist can also teach you skills to manage your emotions better. For some, this can make a big difference in moving on from grief and finding hope for the future. This can be especially helpful for people who have experienced traumatic loss.
Getting Through the Initial Stages
It is natural to experience sadness and a sense of loss after a loved one dies. However, you may also feel other emotions in the initial stages of grief, such as denial, anger, and depression. These feelings can come and go, depending on what triggers them.
For example, you might be reminded of your loss when you hear a particular song or see an old photo. These are called grief triggers. They can remind you of the person you have lost and can prompt strong feelings of sadness.
People with good coping skills may move through the five stages of grief quicker than others. This is because they have learned how to cope with stressful events before the loss occurred. However, it is essential to remember that the grieving process is different for everyone and that there is no set time frame. Grieving can last for months or even years.
Although everyone will experience a loss at some point, grief is unique to each individual. It can cause various emotions, from denial, anger, bargaining, guilt, depression, and other feelings. Grief counseling helps people work through these emotions to find a way to move on.
For some people, however, the grieving process is prolonged. It may become so severe that it begins to interfere with daily functioning. This is complicated grief and can be a severe mental health disorder.
For these individuals, bereavement counseling techniques may include situational revisiting (identifying how the loss is affecting their behavior), imaginal conversation (a therapeutic approach that involves having an imaginary conversation with the deceased), and cognitive restructuring (working to identify thoughts or beliefs that cause distress and replacing them with more adaptive ones). Grief therapy also incorporates other psychotherapy approaches like interpersonal therapy and acceptance and commitment therapy. This ensures that the treatment is tailored to each person’s unique needs.
For some, grief can last for months or even years. Grief counseling can help people struggling with long-lasting grief develop strategies for coping and moving on.
Counseling for grief can involve working on empathy and building healthy coping skills. Therapists may also use cognitive behavioral therapy or other psychotherapy techniques to help their clients deal with grief.
While the model of stages of grieving is well-known, it has been found that healing from a loss can vary significantly from one person to another. Having a supportive community and having access to a qualified therapist can help during this difficult time.
It is normal to feel grief after losing a loved one, but when these feelings become overwhelming or start interfering with your daily life, consider seeking professional help. A licensed therapist or counselor can provide grief therapy and help you find ways to cope with your loss in a safe environment.