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Loss, Grief and Bereavement

What is Grief, and how is it different from Bereavement?

Grief is the emotional response an individual experiences when they suffer from a loss, such as the loss of a loved one, a job, a relationship, hopes, dreams or other elements that they value. Grief  is a personal and unique experience and the process of grieving is different for everyone. It can involve a range of feelings including sadness, anger, guilt, regret and despair and can also cause physical symptoms including sleep disturbances and changes to appetite.

Bereavement on the other hand is the state of having experienced a loss, particularly the death of a loved one. Bereavement, which can also be called mourning, refers to the process of coping in the aftermath of a death. Support from a provider can help an individual who has experienced loss and/or bereavement process their feelings and work through their grieving process.

What is grief counseling?

Grief counseling is for people who have experienced a loss—whether it's a loss of a loved one, a relationship, or something else.

Grief can manifest in many different ways. We usually associate grief with death, but in reality, grief is a feeling of loss that can occur in any situation. Grief is not always about someone dying, but rather is the feeling of loss after a relationship with someone or something ends. In fact, grief very often begins before a relationship ends, in the form of what’s called “anticipatory grief”. 

Grief counseling can help people process and navigate the complex emotions and thoughts that come with experiencing a loss. The purpose of grief counseling is to understand and accept the grief you are experiencing. Grief counseling creates a space in which individuals can connect with their feelings of loss, come to terms with the loss and find a sense of meaning and purpose in life again. 

Grieving is one of the most challenging things we will ever experience, so it is vital that you look after your mental health and seek professional assistance when necessary. You are probably reading this because you or someone you know is struggling with a loss and finding it difficult to cope. Seeking grief counseling can provide you with the necessary support and tools to navigate through your grief in a healthy way. 

Why is grief counseling important?

Grief counseling is important because it provides a safe and supportive space for individuals to work through their grief and its knock-on effects. It helps individuals understand their complex emotions and develop coping strategies, as well as find new meaning and purpose in their life after loss. Grief counseling can be a crucial step in the healing process and can greatly improve an individual's overall well-being and quality of life.

Probably the biggest and most important reason to go to grief counseling is to give yourself space to accept your grief and explore all of its knock-on-effects. When we’ve been through a loss, we're often not so aware of how this specific incident may be impacting all aspects of our lives. With grief, there are a lot of secondary emotions that emerge. Grief counseling can help you identify and acknowledge these secondary emotions. An example would be losing a partner: the grief that you feel when you lose your partner can be pretty overwhelming, but there is also the grief you might feel when your children do not have a parent anymore or when you have to move house.

Grief counseling helps you to peel back each of these layers and fully accept the extent of your grieving and emotions, as well as the knock-on effects you are experiencing as a result of your primary loss. It also helps you understand how you are a complex being going through a unique experience. In doing so, grief counselors support people going through grief allowing them to accept themselves for who they really are.

What happens in grief counseling?

During grief counseling, you can expect to have open and honest conversations about your loss and how it has affected you. You will discuss your feelings, memories, and thoughts about the person or relationship you have lost.

With grief, our ideas, beliefs, and values are tested, and there's often a shift in who you were before the loss. Grief counseling can help you to become the person you are meant to be. Embracing the changes that grief causes in your life is the key to becoming this new version of yourself.

Going through loss changes your whole perception of reality. It makes your old values obsolete while bringing new ones into being. It changes your ideas of what is important to you today. These shifts in your identity are challenging to come to terms with, but they are also necessary for your healing and growth. If you resist the changes stirred up by grief, you will feel unhappy: you'll feel anxious and stressed. Grief counseling provides you with the guidance and support you need to navigate these changes and come out the other side better equipped to face the world. 

By accepting your loss, you can create a new version of yourself with new thoughts and ideas for life. When you embrace your new self and a new belief system, you can live more in tune with who you are becoming, which creates a sense of calmness and ease that perhaps wouldn't have existed otherwise.

What is grief counseling like and how does it work? 

Grief counseling provides a safe, supportive and healing environment for you to work through your grief. Each session is based on something that is on your mind that you would like to talk about. In this way, grief counseling is actually very spontaneous, intuitive and adaptive. 

At every session of grief counseling, the client brings something they want to discuss. This can be the smallest of things. These 'small things' can be incredibly fundamental to the counseling process because they always have an underlying narrative and a subconscious trigger. During the session, we explore what narrative you are telling yourself and how it relates to who you are now and who you want to be. Through talking and working through emotions, the grief counselor will help you gain insights into your feelings and beliefs related to your grief. It's only by examining your beliefs that you will be able to see what changes need to be made.

Remember, it is normal to experience grief and seeking help is a sign of strength, not weakness. If you are struggling with grief, don't hesitate to reach out for support and consider seeking grief counseling. 

What does grief counseling do?

Grief counseling helps you to process your loss and understand the range of emotions that comes with it.

The biggest thing that grief counseling does is it allows you to accept what you're feeling without judgment, as there will be a lot of new, intense and strange emotions, desires, and feelings. The emotions related to grief can be incredibly complex. As you grieve, you'll experience a wide range of emotions, including fear, anxiety, and guilt. Occasionally, you'll experience a mixed emotion, such as feeling happy but feeling guilty for it. Grief counseling helps you understand and accept your feelings, no matter how complex and difficult they may seem.

Grief counseling also helps to be able to see yourself clearly and have compassion for yourself. A grief counselor can help you understand yourself more psychologically. Knowing you're stressed is one thing, but talking to a grief counselor can help you understand why you're stressed. Understanding how what happened to you impacted you on a chemical, physical, emotional, and narrative level develops your inner-strength as a person. 

Ultimately, grief counseling helps you gain insight, practice good self-care, and work through the grieving process in a healthy and supportive way. Take the first step towards healing and reach out to a grief counselor today.