There is no right or wrong way to deal with the loss of someone or something very important to you, but in some cases the emotions are so severe that you have trouble dealing with them, and long-term depression starts to interfere with your everyday life. In these cases, grief counselling might help you express your emotions openly and work through your issues under the guidance of a professional. If you or your loved one is struggling with grief and think you might benefit from talking to a therapist, this guide will help you understand the process of grieving and the help on offer.
What Can Cause Grief?
The most obvious cause of grief is the death of a loved one, but this isn’t the only reason people go through the process. Anything which represents a significant loss to the individual might result in a process of grieving, including the break-up of a significant relationship, the death of a pet, loss of a friendship, a miscarriage, serious illness (in either the individual themselves or a loved one), loss of a job and the loss of a personal dream. Minor grieving happens in more ordinary situations, such as moving home or changing jobs, but more serious stimuli cause more severe reactions which may require psychotherapy.
What are the Symptoms of Grief?
The process of grief is generally broken down into five stages, denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. These stages are generally thought to appear in order, but this isn’t always the case, as they may occur in different orders, some could happen simultaneously and others might not arise at all. In the same sense, although grieving is traditionally thought to last for around a year, there is no clearly defined “schedule” through which someone can mourn a loss, because everybody reacts to things differently. That’s why some individuals will benefit from talking to a counsellor and for others it won’t be necessary.
The five stages of grieving, although not set in stone, can give you a general understanding of the symptoms of grief. The first stage, denial, is characterised by shock at the loss, trouble believing the event occurred (perhaps expecting to see a loved one even though you know they’ve died) and even outright refusal to accept that it’s happened. Anger is usually centred on the idea of blame, and it may be directed at doctors, yourself or a supernatural deity. During the bargaining phase, individuals might make offers, such as “I’ll never smoke again if my tumour goes away,” in a desperate plea to reverse the events. Depression is a long period of hopelessness and sadness, and eventually the individual will accept that the loss has occurred and move on.
What Are the Options for Treatment?
In most cases, the support of family and friends is sufficient to help people deal with loss. However, for some individuals, counselling can be required to help them come to terms with what has happened. This may be particularly likely in the case of accidental or violent deaths, which can be understandably much more difficult to deal with. If grief is affecting your ordinary life long after the loss, if you are blaming yourself or others for the loss or are wishing you’d died instead of the other person, a grief counsellor can guide you in coming to terms with the event. You can attend either group therapy or individual counselling, and in rare cases medication will be offered to help with depression.
If you or your loved one is having difficulty coming to terms with a loss, we are here to help you. We can assess the severity of the problem and suggest the best treatment options to you. Determining whether additional help is necessary can be extremely difficult, because a certain level of sadness is wholly expected during times of loss. Come down to our Luton offices or get in touch with us by telephone and we’ll help you in any way we can. We know you’re going through a difficult time, and we can help you come to terms with what’s happened. For more information about our costs for grief counselling services please see the about us page.