Has someone you loved recently died? Are you struggling to cope with the changes life seems to be throwing you? Do you feel you may need grief therapy?
Have you been thrust into the role of single parent? Do you pick up the phone to call someone and realize they’re no longer there? Is the pain so intense you feel as if you cannot catch your breath?
Do you break down crying at the drop of a hat? Are you having trouble sleeping? Is it hard to concentrate? Do you just feel numb? Is the prospect of living without your loved one too difficult to think about?
Grief therapy can help!
Is this what grief feels like?
Yes! You’re grieving. Grief is defined as the natural reaction to loss. When you lose a loved one, grief hits like a bulldozer. It feels raw and powerful. This level of emotion may be a new experience for you. Subsequently, your old ways of coping with life might not be working anymore. Just a few of the common symptoms of grief are:
Grief counseling helps. Why? Because – a good therapist will sit with you in your pain. Also – a grief counselor will walk beside you on your journey. You are not alone when you reach out for help. Developing a meaningful relationship with your therapist allows you to just be yourself. There’s no putting on a brave face to go to therapy. You do not have to take care of others when you’re in your therapist’s office. You’re there to take care of you. Investing in yourself is not a sign of selfishness or weakness, it is a sign of courage.
Why’s it so hard to cope with grief?
Grief affects your brain in intense ways. There is no one size fits all method to grieve. You may grieve differently because of your unique background, culture, and beliefs. After a death your brain floods with stress hormones. Consequently, you feel run down and overwhelmed. Even if you were expecting the death, you may still feel a shock to your system.
It’s common to feel wave after wave of emotions like sadness, anger, relief, despair, guilt, and regret. It may feel as if your thoughts are bouncing all over the place. As a result, you feel like you can’t turn your mind off. One moment you’re thinking “it’s good their suffering is over,” and the next you’re thinking, “it wasn’t their time to go.” You may find yourself quick to irritate. Likewise, you might notice your heart racing more often. Then, the brain fogginess starts. These are all normal thoughts and feelings.
Often a death or other type of loss will cause a ripple effect in your life. This ripple effect leads to what we call secondary losses. Secondary losses might involve having to adjust to new family roles, new routines, and new ways of life. You might grieve the time you used to have coffee every morning with your spouse. You’ll mourn the empty seat at the wedding. Years later you will feel pangs of sorrow and grief as you hold your brand new baby and know that your mom will never know the joy of holding her grandchild. Ripple effects of death and loss last a lifetime. If you are struggling with the ripple effects of loss in your life, we are here to help.
Other Losses we grieve
For many the death of a loved one is the most intense type of grief, but there are other types of losses that are also extremely challenging to cope with.
Breakups and Divorce
Think of all the breakup songs out in the world. Generally speaking, heartbreak is a universally painful experience. The end of a relationship often produces intense feelings of grief. You may feel like your vision of the future has died. On the other hand, you might feel relieved and this may lead to feelings of guilt and shame. Either way, breakups and divorce involve a loss that grief counseling can help you process.
The Seasons of Life = change
The seasons of life epitomize change. These changes involve transitions like leaving home, first jobs, marriages, children, careers, becoming grandparents, retirement, and death. You may be experiencing a special and unique life transition that is life altering for you.
Transitioning through each of these stages can be extraordinarily difficult, any change, even if it is a positive one, can lead to feelings of grief and loss. It’s not uncommon to feel stuck and have a hard time transitioning to the next phase of life. Your sense of loss for the previous stage might have overtaken your thoughts and emotions. Psychotherapy can help you move forward so that you may view your current life situation more positively and feel a sense of contentment.
If you’re a young adult it’s pretty normal to feel some grief related to your becoming more independent. Leaving home to join the military, start college, or begin to work in the world is tough. It is not unusual to yearn for home. You might mourn the loss of spending time with old friends and family the way it used to be. New life challenges may contribute to feelings of anxiety and worry that life will never feel as safe as it did before. Therapy offers a safe place to explore your confusing feelings about missing your old life while looking forward to your future life.
The term “empty nest syndrome” has been coined to describe the feelings of sadness and loss when a parent’s last child spreads their wings and leaves the nest. If you’re a parent, your sense of loss can feel profound and you may struggle with developing depression. Friends and family may not understand the sadness you feel as they wish you congratulations on “getting your life back” after your child leaves home. Their witty comments may cut to the heart as you have mixed feelings about what “getting your life back” even looks like.
Questions might be running through your head like, “who am I now?” When your last child leaves the nest, it’s not unusual for marital issues to rear their ugly head. It is important to do some self-reflection and work towards finding new things in life that are fulfilling to you. Redefining the family dynamic can be challenging yet also rewarding. If you’re feeling stuck and don’t know what direction to go, reach out for help from one of our skilled grief counselors. You deserve to move on and enjoy yourself.
Have you recently lost your job? Is retirement knocking on your door? The global pandemic has caused some vocations to be put on pause or eliminated entirely. Workers in the travel and hospitality industries have lost their jobs in 2020 in astounding numbers. If you are struggling with job loss, you are not alone. Downsizing, layoffs, and retirement are all hard to cope with. Losing a job results in more than losing financial security, many people struggle with losing their sense of identity as well. It is common to question your purpose in life. Anxiety over what to do next can take control of your mind and harm your overall well being. Working with a trained grief counselor can help alleviate your anxiety and get you back on the road to finding your purpose.
Do you love someone suffering from addiction? When a child, mother, father, or sibling suffers from substance abuse it often feels like the person you used to know is no longer there. It’s normal to grieve that person even though they’re still alive. You might feel sadness and anger all rolled up together and it’s difficult to figure out where to channel all your pent-up emotions.
Mostly, it’s difficult to understand why your family member in recovery is grieving their prior life of using. Why would they miss their old horrible ways? Many people in recovery experience feelings of loss and grief when they give up the people, places, and things associated with their drinking or drug use. Incorporating grief counseling as a tool to help you process the confusing and complicated feelings rolling around inside you due to loving someone with addiction is a helpful way to get back to your own life and say good-bye to codependency.
Illness & Injury
Chronic illness or sudden debilitating injury can bring up intense feelings of grief and loss. Adjusting to a new normal while anticipating gradual and future losses can feel excruciating. People report feeling as if their life is surreal when they or a family member are diagnosed with an illness or they’ve had a life altering injury. Hopelessness and helplessness are words often used by people grappling with cancer, amputation, sudden blindness, diabetes, autoimmune disease, heart disease, and the list goes on. Therapy is useful if you’re trying to cope with feelings of anger, denial, sadness, and anxiety related to your sense of loss over a change in health.
Sometimes people in your life do not recognize your grief and the suffering you are going through. This is called disenfranchised grief. It can feel so hurtful and isolating when friends and family dismiss your feelings of sadness and grief. Have you ever heard someone say “you can try again…” to a mother who just suffered a miscarriage? Those words may be well-intentioned, but they can feel dismissive of the mother’s current pain.
When a dog dies no one wants to hear “it was just a dog.” We all know that a pet is more than just a pet! Another example of disenfranchised grief is when an ex-husband or ex-wife dies. Many people reach out to the immediate family, but the ex-spouse is left feeling alone and unsupported. Conversely, a friend may die and your family just doesn’t get why you’re so sad. Grief counseling is a safe place to talk about your feelings, there’s no judgement in your counselor’s office.
How do I cope with my grief?
How do you get through your season of grief? You may wonder if you’ll feel like this forever? Your faith in religion may be shaken. Cultural rituals and ceremonies surrounding your loss are just the beginning of your journey to healing. Grief counseling can help too. Therapy is an opportunity to explore your feelings and memories with someone who understands the importance of your loss. No loss is too big or too small to warrant support. You do not have to suffer alone.
What to expect
The first therapy appointment is a lot of getting to know you. You are unique and special. The life circumstances that brought you to the point of seeking help deserve attention and care. Your therapist will ask you some questions about your loss and help you list some goals that you want to work on in therapy. We’ll go from there. Therapy really is a partnership, your therapist will work with you to figure out what best suits you. We know it can be hard to ask for help, but you’re worth it.
Take the next step.
Getting help to cope with your grief and loss is important for your overall wellbeing. Give us a call today for your free 15 minute phone consultation (954-342-0982). We offer both online therapy and in person to suit your needs.