How Counseling Can Help When Grieving a Loss
The loss of a close loved one is among the most difficult things we can face in life. Although grief is a universal human experience – something that touches all of us at different points in our lives – it can often leave us feeling so very alone and helpless. In the blink of an eye, this person who was once so full of life and that we held so dear, is gone. We long to connect again – if even for a moment. We carry with us cherished memories – but even those seem to bring us sorrow, for they are another reminder that no new memories will ever be created…And all the while, the world keeps on turning and those around us carry on with their lives as though nothing has happened.
Even when surrounded with love and support, days continue to pass and we are left to face a new kind of normal that we hoped would never have to be. Kind words, “thoughts and prayers”, and pictures from the past only carry us so far. We feel broken and know at a deep level that things will never be the same. Making sense of it all and finding a new sense of purpose can feel pointless at times. After all, the “point” of it all can sometimes feel meaningless when we are without what once brought us so much joy and purpose. Moving forward can be the most daunting of tasks when we are frozen in a moment of time and paralyzed by the sense of loss that often has us refusing to accept the harsh realities of the world we live in.
Although nothing will ever change the circumstances, there are things that can be done to cope with the loss in the healthiest way possible. These things include surrounding yourself with other people you love, finding ways to honor or memorialize the person you lost, attending a support group with other people dealing with similar loss, and working with a Grief Counselor competent in dealing with issues surrounding grief and loss.
If you’re wondering how grief counseling might help during this difficult time, read on as I explain how seeking support in a therapeutic setting when dealing with a loss can help.
- Grief counseling provides you with a place to express yourself and to feel. It’s not uncommon to feel numb after a devastating loss. Our brain’s defense mechanisms kick in to protect us from pain and sometimes this translates to a lacking ability to truly feel and experience the loss. We might also be so caught up in the things we need to get through each day, that expressing feelings can go on the back burner. Some people also feel the need to “hold it together” in their lives, which can mean suppressing emotions and holding back tears. Expressing yourself fully during this time is such an important part of the healing process and a Counselor’s office can be a safe and supportive place to do this. You have a story to tell. Your Grief Counselor is there to hear your story and to sit with you through the pain.
- Grief counseling can allow you to process the moment of loss. The moment we witness a loss or hear the news can be traumatic with lasting implications. A grief counselor can provide a supportive ear, allow you to process the difficult details, and provide feedback and perspective about this impactful moment.
- Grief counseling can provide direction for where to go from here. Loss, especially when unexpected, can at times completely derail our lives. Plans change and a future we once imagined might have completely slipped away. Working with a Grief Counselor can help you find clarity on how to move forward without “moving on”.
- Grief counseling can help resolve guilt and regrets. When we have lost someone we love, we often carry a tremendous amount of guilt. We wish we had done or said things differently. We might question decisions we made and think about everything we could have done to prevent the loss. We find ourselves filling in the blanks to statements that start with “If only I had”, “I wish I would have”, or “things would be different if I had”. We may regret times in the past that we mistreated the person we lost. Grief Counseling helps us realize that this kind of thinking is normal and expected. It can help us explore these areas and find more balanced, realistic, helpful ways of thinking. The loss alone is hard enough and sadness is only compounded by the often unwarranted guilt we carry with us.
- Grief counseling can help you better understand the process of grieving. Although we all respond to loss differently, there are many things we can commonly expect throughout the process of grieving and healing. A Grief Counselor can help you understand what’s normal and what to expect. They can assist in working through the various stages by meeting you wherever you are at in the process – whether you’re angry, depressed, or having a difficult time accepting what has happened.
- Most importantly, grief counseling can help you heal. Although it’s true that things will never be the same and that losses are things we carry with us for a lifetime, a certain level of healing is possible…Although maybe not today or tomorrow, grief counseling can help us work towards the possibility of a full and rich life that our lost loved ones would most certainly hope we are someday able to achieve.
If you’re considering counseling related to the loss of a loved one, we hope you’ll reach out. You can call or text 727-258-5231 or send us a message directly and we’ll be back in touch soon.
Float on Counseling offers Grief Counseling in the Carrollwood area of Tampa on North Dale Mabry Hwy.
Joel Schmidt, MA, LMHC