The death of your loved ones is an inevitable part of life. Sometimes, it's expected, such as a parent who has been sick for a long time. Other times, it's sudden, such as a friend dying in a car crash. Whatever the circumstances, the grief of losing a loved one can be strong.
Grieving is normal, and adjusting to life without this loved one can be difficult. However, when does normal grieving become debilitating? This post will explain more about the grieving process, what a grief counselor does, and when you should seek counseling after losing someone.
What Is The Grieving Process?
Many of us know about DABDA, the grieving process many go through once they lose their loved ones. DABDA stands for depression, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. Most people will go through all five stages.
Denial is not being able to accept when someone is dead. If you hear someone is dead, especially when the death was unexpected, you may believe that people are playing a joke on you. The idea of your loved one being gone is too unbelievable.
Then, you may believe that they're dead, but be angry. You may be angry at yourself for not talking to this person more, be angry at the hospital, or anyone else you can blame their death on. If you are religious, you may be angry at God for taking them away.
Then, there's bargaining. The religious may bargain with God, saying that if He gives their loved one back, they'll do anything. Of course, it doesn't work that way. If a person is near death, a person may bargain with the doctor, thinking they hold the key to an untested cure and that they want their loved one to be treated.
Depression is next. You're upset that the person is gone, and you may express your grief in many ways. You may become numb, cry a lot, lose interest in life, or experience other forms of depression. In extreme cases, you may be suicidal.
Finally, there is acceptance. You've accepted the person is no longer with you. You may not have "Gotten over it," but you can learn how to move on with your life for the better.
These stages can apply to more than the loss of a loved one. It can apply to a breakup or a loss of a job. It's a normal way of coping, and many won't need a grief counselor to go through the motions. With that said, when should you seek a grief counselor?
When To Seek Grief Counseling
While grieving is a normal part of coping, some may have grief that is severe and lasts longer than it should. Here are some reasons you may want to seek a grief counselor.
You spend most of your time alone. Staying away from family and friends after losing your loved one isn't necessarily a bad thing. You may need some time alone to figure out your grief. However, if this feeling is continuing nonstop, see a counselor.
Suppose you have been emotionally numb for a long time. The shock of losing a loved one can numb your emotions. You may feel nothing for a bit until the weight of the situation hits you and the emotions come pouring out. However, if the emotional numbness has lasted a long time, see a counselor.
You can no longer enjoy anything. For a bit, it's normal not to be able to enjoy your hobbies because of the grief, but if it's been a while and you still can't enjoy anything, you may want to seek a counselor.
On the other hand, if you distract yourself for too long to deal with your grief, this can be a sign you need help as well. Avoiding your grief for a long time can have serious consequences.
You have self-harming thoughts or thoughts of suicide. If you have these thoughts, seek them intermediately.
Severe depression. Not just being sad, but an inability to function in life. Eating, sleeping, learning, and listening difficulties are just a few examples.
If you find your behavior has changed, and it's stayed that way, this can be a sign that you need to seek help. Changed behavior includes being angry all the time or being depressed.
If there are voices in your head that are harshly criticizing you, this can be a sign that you need to seek help. These voices aren't necessarily hallucinations, but they can be harsh thoughts.
You can't move on and enjoy your life. Being upset for a few weeks is normal, but if it's been months and you can't move on, you may want to seek the help of a grief therapist.
What A Grief Therapist Does
With all that said, what exactly does a grief therapist do? A grief therapist is not someone who will make you get over the death of a loved one. Instead, they want to get you to stage five of the grieving process, where you can accept the person's death and then move on with your life.
Here are some services that a grief therapist has to offer.
Identifies Grief Vs. Trauma
Sometimes, the reason for your extreme grief may not be grief at all. It may be due to trauma. Seeing your loved one die, especially if it was a brutal death, can cause trauma, which can be more difficult to move on from. However, once possible trauma is identified, it becomes easier to move on from it.
Allows You To Talk Freely About Your Loved One
If you can only talk to your family and friends about your grief, you may have filtered yourself. For example, say a parent died, and you have mixed emotions about them as a whole. You love them because they're your parent and they have done some good things for you, but they've also had some negative impacts on you, such as being overbearing. Sometimes, an honest venting of your thoughts about your loved one can treat your problem, and a therapist is a perfect person to help you vent, as they can listen to what you have to say without judging.
Talking About Other Losses
Sometimes, the key to moving on is to figure out how you handled your losses in the past. If you're an adult, you've more than likely lost other people too, and learning how you coped with them, can help you cope with this one. Every loss is different, but you may be able to find similarities to help you move on.
Getting Rid Of Guilt and Regret
One of the reasons for strong grief is guilt or regret. If the last words you ever said to the loved one came in the form of an argument, it could haunt you know that the last thing the person remembered about you was that. If it was the death of your friend, you might regret not spending enough time with them, or you may feel like you were to blame for their death.
In this world, you can't talk to the person and clear the air. However, you can resolve your guilt and regret through different coping mechanisms, and a therapist is there to help you.
Helps To Build Support
If the person you lost helped support you, such as a parent or spouse, it could not be easy to continue with life without a support network. A counselor can help you find the support you need in this troubling time. A counselor can teach you how to perform tasks your spouse did or teach you how to live with less income.
If your grief has given you severe depression, then you need to treat the depression. Many therapies can help you do just that. Some forms of therapy, such as cognitive-behavioral therapy, are designed to eliminate any negative or self-defeating thoughts you may have. Other forms of therapy can help you cope when you have a depressive episode. Your counselor may help you to get back into the routine.
Grief Counseling Can Help You Cope And Guide You To Recovery
In the end, the goal isn't to forget about the person or get over their death but learn how to have a fulfilling life without them. It's hard sometimes, but there is a life after that person, and you can make it productive and fulfilling.
Help Is Out There For Even The Most Complicated Grief
Grief is a normal part of life, but there comes a time when you need to learn how to move on. If your grief is causing you to lose all motivation, there is no shame in speaking to a
grieving counselor. They can help you healthily express your emotions, treat your depression, and prepare you for the next chapter in your life. Talk to one today.