Grief is a natural response towards the experience of loss, and for many, the process towards healing can be difficult. Grief can often manifest very differently depending on the person and their relation to the deceased, and grief counseling can be an effective and beneficial outlet to learn to process the emotions associated with loss and move past them. Whether it’s over a family member, pet or friend, grief can take many forms, and working with a professional can provide significant relief. Here are some reasons you might consider grief counseling.
Understanding the Grief Process
Grief is complex and difficult to grapple with, and the pain of loss can have wide-ranging physical, emotional and even cognitive effects. Many people experience different levels of grief and have profoundly different ways of processing it, which is why counseling tailored to the individual is such an important investment. Grief is often a long process that ebbs and flows in its intensity, and while some may overcome it more quickly, others might find it might take a lot of time before they can move on. Part of dealing with the grief process is learning how it manifests, the stages of grief and the way our minds and bodies deal with it. The stages are often defined as denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance, though many may skip stages or experience them in varying order.
While often conceptualized as sadness at death or parting, grief has many physical symptoms that can vary in intensity. Grief can exert a tremendous toll on the mental and physical health of those experiencing loss, causing issues like anxiety, depression, sleep disturbances and even an inability to function normally. Understanding the grief process can help you better address your needs, and also allow for a more compassionate perception of others experiencing it.
Creating a Safe Environment
One of the main benefits of grief counseling is providing a safe and supportive environment for those grieving to express their feelings and work through their grief in a healthy way. While grief is a natural reaction to the sensation of loss, cultural and familial differences often mean that people are worried about how their grief manifests in relation to their friends, family or community. By providing a space to openly engage and express grief without fear of judgement, counseling can be an effective way to navigate discussions of loss and attain closure.
It can be difficult for caregivers or providers to process their own grief when they have to bear or try to alleviate the grief of others, which is why a safe environment is so important. Grief is multi-faceted and can sometimes manifest as anger or fear, which an individual may worry about displaying around others grieving in their own ways. Ignoring grief can cause a lot of harm in the long run, and utilizing grief counseling can be a great way to safely and openly work through loss. Counseling can be especially important for those who do not have a strong support system, allowing a trained professional to walk alongside you through a challenging season that often feels very isolating.
Learning Coping Strategies
Just as grief manifests differently depending on the person, the behaviors people utilize to deal with the pain of loss can also vary, and often lead them to make poor decisions or engage in risk-taking behavior. Working with a grief counselor can be an effective way to combat destructive behavior and learn healthy coping mechanisms. For some, grief can cause missed work or a lessened desire to engage in social activities, but for others it can trigger more risky behavior like substance abuse. As grief counseling is tailored to the individual, it can help to recognize triggers and prevent those grieving from falling back into destructive habits. Coping strategies like relaxation techniques or mindfulness exercises can be beneficial to help individuals stay focused and grounded, and working through these complex emotions with a trained professional can be the best chance for true healing.
Grief often extends long past the immediate loss or separation of a loved one, and healing is a process that takes time and patience. As feelings of grief can come and go, counseling can be helpful in recognizing what these feelings are and what to do when experiencing them. Grief counselors are experienced in recognizing and identifying the various stages of grief, creating a healthy environment to work through it and planning a course of treatment that fits the needs of the individual. It is important to remember that grief is a natural reaction to loss, but also one that can negatively affect many aspects of your life if not properly dealt with. Grief counseling can help show individuals that healing is possible and equip them with the means to come to terms with their loss and find a way forward.
Wings of Hope specializes in hospice and palliative care, and we strive to provide hope and light to families in what is inevitably a dark time. We are available 24/7 to provide the support and information you need when navigating end-of-life decisions. The decision to pursue hospice or palliative care is never an easy one, and we are here so you don’t have to walk through it alone.