Have you experienced a devastating loss? Are you angry, depressed, regretful, or in denial following the death of a loved one, or loss of someone or something significant in your life?
If you can say yes to any of the above, you may be experiencing grief. Grief can occur anytime a major loss occurs. Like other emotions, grief is a reaction to an event and can bring on feelings that are new or possibly unbearable as you try to process the loss. Grief is rarely linear, and can make you feel like you are bouncing from one emotion to the next without an end in sight. These emotions can be confusing or complicated as everyone reacts to loss differently.
Major losses include:
- The death of a loved one
- Being let go from your job
- Making a transition to the next phase in life such as graduating from college and starting your career, or retirement
- Ending a serious romantic relationship
- Setting difficult boundaries with family or friends
- Moving/relocating and leaving your friends and the familiarity of your former town
Any of the above can bring about both expected and unexpected emotional reactions. You may be surprised at the mildness or severity of your reactions, which can lead to confusion when trying to process the loss and move forward in a healthy way.
What If I Cannot Move On?
Loss is often permanent, which can make you feel like there is no solution or possibility of healing. You might think, “There is no way to change things now” or “I cannot bring this person back.” Emotions can range from blaming yourself or carrying regrets, to feeling relief that your loved one is not longer in pain. Grief can feel like a long trip with no map, but therapy can allow you space to process your pain, adjust to a new normal, and maintain a healthy connection to what or who was lost.
How Will Grief Therapy Help?
A therapist can offer a safe environment and support to work through the stages of grief at a pace that works best for you. There is no particular right or wrong way to grieve, as there are various responses to major losses depending on the individual. Thankfully, there is much research on grief and loss and how people move forward in a healthy way. Your therapist can help you work through the stages of grief (i.e., denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance) in the order and pace that best suits your needs. Your therapist can also support you in developing grief rituals, developing adequate self care during low moments, and working to heal from any traumatic factors related to or leading up to the loss.
Healing from grief means adjusting to a new normal while continuing to experience the joys of life. A therapist can act as a safe space to process the painful emotions connected to your loss as well as teach you how to cope when the grief seems like too much. With your therapist’s help you can also learn how to move forward from the loss without feeling like you are abandoning the connection to the person or thing that was so important to you.