Grief counseling is a type of professional therapy intended to help you work through the emotions you experience after a loss.
While grief is typically discussed in relation to the death of loved ones, you can experience grief as a result of any major change.
Grief might be a natural reaction to both loss and change, but what can you do if you are still struggling after a prolonged period, possibly even finding that grief is impacting your everyday life?
Grief Counseling: How It Can Help
Grief is a remarkably powerful emotion. When you lose someone you love, the sadness you experience can feel completely overwhelming. As inherently social beings, it’s normal for all of us to find the loss of a loved one ranks as one of life’s most challenging hardships.
If your loss causes you to have problems functioning at home, work, or school, this can exert a damaging toll on your mental health.
Fortunately, grief counseling can be an effective option if you’re finding things too tough to handle. With the help of a professional therapist, you should find you can better process your grief and move forward, rediscovering a life where laughter and joy are possible.
Licensed professionals delivering this form of therapy include:
- Grief counselors
Through formal sessions, you’ll learn how to manage awkward emotions associated with the loss of your loved one. It is common to experience any or all of the following emotions while grieving:
Your therapist can help you to become more resilient with solid coping strategies in place to help you navigate the intense feelings of sadness liable to strike at any stage of the grieving process – more on that below.
They can help you build resilience and coping strategies to deal with the intense sadness you may feel throughout your grieving process and help you find ways to move on in a meaningful way.
Grief counseling helps you to do more than simply deal with your loss more effectively.
- Express your emotions more clearly
- Work on any feelings of guilt you harbor
- Treat your underlying trauma
- Accept your new reality without your loved one
- Create a robust support system to help you move forward
Ultimately, the pain of unresolved loss is not only unhealthy but can also trigger complicated grief. This is a more severe form of grief that is longer lasting and harder to remedy.
How can grief counseling help you to move forward when all you want to do is cling to the past?
What is Grief Counseling?
Grief counseling is also known as:
- Bereavement counseling
- Grief and loss counseling
This type of counseling is specifically designed to help people cope with loss, usually the loss of a loved one.
Grief counseling affords bereaved individuals a safe forum in which to discuss the emotions and feelings causing pain and suffering after the loss of a loved one. Working with a grief counselor, you’ll develop strategies and methods for coping with your loss.
You will work with a grief counselor to work through the different stages of grief. According to psychiatrist Elisabeth Kubler-Ross, there are five stages to consider when dealing with grief. Each of these different stages lasts for anywhere from a few days to a year or more. Stages of grief do not necessarily occur in linear order. Not everyone will go through all stages of grieving, but most will experience at least two of these stages:
- Denial stage: You are either unwilling or unable to admit your loss.
- Anger stage: The second stage of grief is when reality sets in and you realize your loss, becoming angry about this loss.
- Bargaining stage: During the bargaining stage of grief, you may find yourself pleading to a higher power to restore your loved one.
- Depression stage: If you experience depression after bereavement, this phase can be especially tough to work through. Your grief counselor can be of invaluable assistance if you find yourself encountering bereavement-related depression.
- Acceptance stage: For most people, coming to terms with the loss signifies the final stage in the grieving process.
To reiterate, grieving does not follow a standard pattern, so your experience of grief will be unique. That said, there are some common signs and reactions to losing a loved one, including:
- Disrupted sleep
- Appetite loss
Through grief counseling, you can address some of the above reactions and symptoms of bereavement, while learning to process your altered reality more efficiently without your loved one in your life.
Just as there is no boilerplate, there is no fixed grief timeline either. For some people, recovery from grief is complete within six months or so, while others take more than a year to work through these abrasive emotions.
Grief counseling is normally advisable when grief:
- Interferes with your daily activities
- Makes everyday life harder
- Causes feelings of depression or guilt
- Creates problems in interpersonal relationships
Now you know what grief counseling is, how do grief counselors go about helping you get back on track when bereavement seems to be pulling you under?
Grief Counseling Techniques
There are several overarching goals to grief counseling. These include helping you to:
- Accept the reality of your loss
- Work through grief-related pain
- Adjust to life without your deceased loved one
- Maintain a connection to the loved one you have lost
- Find ways to move forward
Therapists often employ behavioral interventions like CBT (cognitive behavioral therapy) and other forms of psychotherapy. By exploring your thoughts, emotions, and behaviors and understanding the way they are interlinked, you’ll become more confident at coping with the grieving process.
Other techniques used in grief counseling are as follows:
- Guided conversation about the deceased person: Your grief counselor will encourage you to open up about your loved one, describing the specific qualities that made them special, as well as any difficulties you had with them.
- Building better coping strategies: You’ll learn how to better prepare for especially tough days like birthdays, anniversaries, and holidays.
- Describing your feelings and emotions: Through grief counseling, you’ll have the opportunity to explain exactly how you’re feeling. Many people find the ability to offload these powerful emotions immensely therapeutic.
- Identifying harmful or unhealthy behaviors: If you have been coping with your loss by using drink or drugs, or if you have been engaging in other harmful behaviors, your therapist can help you identify these issues and guide you toward taking action and getting the treatment you need.
- Checking for signs of depression: A good grief counselor will regularly check that you are not slipping into a depressive episode. If grief is triggering depression, your therapist can help connect you with the appropriate treatment.
- Boosting self-esteem and focusing on self-care: Your counselor can help you to strengthen your self-esteem and self-confidence, teaching you to get the validation you need from within. You’ll also get help identifying any social, mental, emotional, or physical signs and stressors.
Grief Counseling Groups
If you find that your health insurance provider will not cover the cost of grief counseling sessions, there are more affordable options than face-to-face sessions with a therapist.
Support groups and meetings with others undergoing similar forms of grief may lack the personal input of individual counseling but work out to be much more affordable.
Additionally, attending grief counseling group sessions exposes you to a wide range of viewpoints and the support of peers working through broadly similar emotions.
How about if you feel investing in personal grief counseling is a worthwhile investment in yourself?
Finding Grief Counseling Near Me
Ask your healthcare provider for recommendations if you feel grief counseling would help you unpack the emotions currently holding you back.
You may also find friends, family, or online connections who can recommend grief therapists, so probe your social network fully.
Searching online for “grief counseling near me” or “grief counseling Los Angeles” should yield you plenty of suitable options throughout Southern California.
For those unable or unwilling to access face-to-face therapy, online grief counseling can be effective.
Most online grief support groups offer interaction in the following ways:
- Message boards
- In-person events and gatherings
Through online grief counseling, there is no barrier between you and the safe and supportive space you need to sharpen your coping skills and find a community of people going through similar experiences.
The District’s Grief Counseling Near LA
Here at The District, we can connect you with licensed professionals equipped to help you deal with the emotions associated with grieving a lost loved one.
If you have found bereavement led you to abuse drink or drugs, we have outpatient programs for both alcohol use disorder and substance use disorder. Here at TDRC, we also offer dual diagnosis treatment programs and treatment for depression and anxiety.
To more comfortably deal with the grieving process while finding ways to move on with life in a meaningful way, reach out to The District at 844-287-8506.