The loss of a loved one can be devastating and many people don’t know how to navigate the feelings and stages of grief that they are experiencing. When someone passes away, all the people around them may deal with the grief in their own unique ways. Some people may seem like they are handling things well but could actually benefit from grief counseling.
If you recently lost someone in your life it may take a few weeks or even months until you begin to process the emotions. People are often in shock and denial initially as they try to come to terms with the loss. Eventually you might start to feel that your grief hasn’t resolved and you need assistance in coping with the experience.
It can be difficult to tell if you need help or if you are coping with your grief in a normal and healthy way. It is rare for people to talk about grief and what it feels like so you might not know what to expect. However, there are certain signs to look for which may indicate that your grief is becoming complex grief and you need counseling.
Signs of Problematic Grief
Certain grief symptoms can be normal and others may show that there is something more complicated going on under the surface. Feelings of happiness, sadness and anger can be normal but being completely numb to emotion may indicate a problem. Long term numbness beyond the initial shock of trauma may mean that you are are not able to access your feelings of grief and they are being suppressed.
Another issue that can be associated with grief is the tendency to avoid spending time with family and friends or losing interest in your usual activities or goals. A person should be able to continue with their life as usual in spite of their feelings of grief. If you feel that you are no longer able to stay involved in your routine or tend to avoid people in your life then you may need counseling.
People who aren’t dealing with their grief may find ways to avoid their emotions such as escaping through busy work or substance abuse. If you find ways to forget or avoid thinking about your grief then you are not processing it in a healthy way. Strategies of escape will only lead to more complicated emotional problems in the long run.
Some of the most serious signs of grief may be related to symptoms of depression for those who haven’t been able move on after a loss. A person might have changes in mood or behavior such as being more self-destructive or having thoughts of hurting themselves. If you have had thoughts of self-harm or suicide then it is important to get help as soon as possible.
Benefits of Grief Counseling
If you notice any of these signs in yourself or even if you just need someone to talk to about your loss then grief counseling can be helpful experience. Grief can be complicated and most people are not prepared for how they will react when someone close to them passes away. Talking to a professional can help you understand your emotions and how they relate to your loss and the stages of grief.
A grief counselor can help you learn to identify the aspects of the loss or areas in your life where you are struggling the most. They can focus on helping you develop coping strategies so that you can move through each stage of grief without getting stuck or avoiding the natural emotions that are a part of loss. Counseling can be therapeutic because it allows you talk about some of the darker feelings associated with loss that you may not feel comfortable talking about with friends and family.
During grief counseling you can learn to think about positive memories of your loved one instead of focusing on painful ones so that you can find comfort. In a safe environment you can explore all the feelings that come up in relation to the person you lost and work through them until you reach a point of acceptance. It is natural to have a lot of negative feelings but ultimately the final stage of grief is acknowledging the loss and accepting it.
Grief counseling can come in different forms including one on one sessions with a therapist, group therapy, or support group meetings. Each format can be helpful for people that need to learn how to cope with their own grief. Individual therapy can be more focused while group sessions can help lessen the sense of isolation that many people feel after a loss.
Whatever type of counseling you need there are many resources available for people who are dealing with grief. Find therapy or support groups in your area if you feel that you need grief counseling.