Grief counseling

Has The Death Of A Loved One Catapulted You Into A World Of Grief? 

Are you mourning a family member, partner, friend, or pet? Do you experience an intense aching for what was lost? Have you struggled to connect with others as you navigate your grief?

Perhaps you’ve fallen into depression or an intense sadness that has compromised your capacity for joy. You may find yourself stuck in the past—when you still had what was lost—and unable to move forward on your life’s journey. 

It could be that you struggle with even more difficult emotions on top of your sadness. Maybe there’s a sense of guilt or self-blame tied up in the death of a loved one, or perhaps you feel extreme anger toward the circumstances of your loss. It could be that you’re in denial and struggling to know what to do with your feelings. 

Of course, grief does not only impact us on an individual level but on a social one as well. You may feel yourself withdrawing or isolating yourself from those around you. Despite their good intentions, it may seem as though no one could understand the depth of your loss, or perhaps you’re worried about becoming an emotional burden to others. 

If the loss was recent, you likely feel desperate to turn back the hands of time and bring back the person you’re mourning. And even if a death happened years ago, your sadness may still linger, and it’s possible that you continue feeling unresolved in your emotions, complicating the loss over time. Whatever the circumstances of your grief, however, counseling can offer you peace and perspective.  

Most Of Us Aren’t Equipped To Understand Or Prepare For The Impact Of Loss 

At some point, all of us will experience some form of grief. Whether it’s the death of someone whom we loved dearly or the loss of a relationship or job, we all must reconcile and find peace with the passing of something important to us. 

Unfortunately, there aren’t great resources or systems in place that facilitate healing after loss. Because we don’t openly discuss and embrace death in our culture, we don’t get many chances to process and prepare for the death of a loved one. And if we are not exposed to the possibility of death from an early age, it could be years until we can truly conceptualize the true heaviness of grief. 

Once we experience a loss, it’s hard to understand where to seek support. This is only further solidified by the fact that many people who are inexperienced in grief don’t know what to say or say something that we perceive as wrong or unhelpful. Not to mention, few systems exist in American culture that support family members and friends in mourning. This is evidenced by the fact that most workplace bereavement policies account for just a couple of days off in the aftermath of a death. 

With all of these mechanisms in place that seek to brush issues of death under the proverbial rug, it’s no wonder that many of us feel like putting our loss behind us is the best option when it comes to coping with the death of a loved one. Rather than actually processing what happened, it may seem more appealing to stifle the emotions, distract ourselves, and “move on” without fully grieving.  

Yet in counseling, you can begin to recognize that suppressing grief is ultimately counterproductive and harmful as you work alongside a therapist who will support you in navigating life after loss. 

Counseling Can Help You To Identify, Understand, And Process The Many Emotions Associated With Grief 

The first and perhaps most essential thing to understand about grief is that it comes in waves. One moment you may be feeling overwhelming sadness, the next anger and resentment, soon unwarranted guilt and shame, and maybe even some unexpected joy mixed in from time to time. Therapy gives you the space to experience and explore these emotions without judgment so that you can process your circumstances and face difficult truths with confidence. 

Unlike some of my other specialties, grief counseling aims to honor present emotions as opposed to past experiences or future objectives. While those things are certainly essential in understanding your goals for grief counseling, I want to be very clear that your emotions may be fluctuating minute-by-minute in the aftermath of death and my job as a therapist is to hold space for all of them. 

In therapy, you will be invited to explore what and how you’re feeling in both mind and body, and why that emotion is important to you. In examining your emotions, we will work together to develop a sense of how certain feelings impact you today, how they may have impacted you throughout your life and relationships, and how we might be able to reframe those emotions to instill you with a sense of progress on your grief journey. 

In addition, grief counseling is an opportunity to discuss your loved one as you develop skills for coping with their loss. I would like to hear about who you’re mourning and what impact they’ve had on you so that we can begin to create newfound meaning around your grief. My approach borrows from strength-based, behavioral, and body-centered techniques that will allow you to become mindful of sensations occurring in your mind and body while helping you to reframe distorted thinking. 

If you’re seeking therapy for grief and loss, I can empathize with you because I have been in your shoes—and it is not an easy place to be. However, I can also assure you that, with the right help and support through grief counseling, accepting loss and redefining the future is possible. 

Maybe you’ve thought about seeing a grief counselor, but you still have some questions…

My loss occurred years ago—why should I go to grief counseling now?

If you never fully processed a loss that took place years ago, it’s possible that you’ve developed maladaptive (counterproductive) coping mechanisms over time in an attempt to shield yourself from the intense pain of grief. For instance, you may have difficulty processing intense emotions or perhaps you avoid them altogether. In any case, you have likely handled (or will handle) other losses similarly, which will inevitably complicate your grief over time. 

Counseling gives you a chance to unpack and explore your emotions so that you can develop a healthier relationship with what has been lost and effectively prepare yourself for future instances of grief. 

I just feel too overwhelmed to commit to bereavement counseling right now. 

I understand that on top of being emotionally overwhelmed, you probably have a lot of other responsibilities on your plate in the aftermath of a death. But I encourage you to think of going to therapy as an act of self-care, providing yourself with a safe place—that’s entirely yours—to talk through what you’re experiencing day by day, week by week. 

Moreover, if you’re struggling to balance the logistics of planning a memorial or settling an estate, grief counseling can be a place where you develop a meaningful plan to tackle the many responsibilities on your to-do list. 

How can I support someone coping with a recent death or loss?

It can be very hard to know what to say when someone we care about struggles with loss. However, I encourage you to not let your discomfort keep you from being present and vulnerable with your friend or loved one. 

Don’t overthink, and don’t say what you think they want to hear—just be real with them, hold space for what they have to say, and really listen. If they’ve just experienced the death of someone close to them, ask them about that person and get a sense of what was lost so that you can help them begin the process of healing. 

Redirect Your Pain Into A Sense Of Possibility

If you’re coping with a death, grief counseling can serve to honor your loss and facilitate the process of healing. For more information about how I can help or to schedule a free, 15-minute consultation, please email me or call (858) 342-2646.

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