Research shows that the most stressful life event is the experience of death. Losing a loved one is like losing a huge chunk of oneself. The mental and often physical pain can be difficult and debilitating, making it hard to imagine that things will ever get back to normal. No two people experience the death of a loved one in the same way. Loss is personal.
It is essential to adequately express and deal with grief because its emotional state impacts overall wellbeing. This means that a holistic approach is needed in helping people through their loss. Grief experiences that are not carefully managed, with denial of reality and repression of feelings, may contribute to disease conditions.
Grief counselling helps facilitate the mourning process and assist people who are grieving in the following ways.
Losing a loved one is significant trauma, and recovery is a long process. In the immediate weeks and months after the loss, a person may not have processed the loss. Seeing a counsellor when they are possibly shut down or too raw could make things worse. A mourner should seek support from a bereavement counsellor or psychologist when they feel the time is right.
A counsellor or therapist can provide a private and safe space for aspects of grief to flow out, including sadness, irritability, anger, anxiety, hopelessness, disbelief, confusion, despair, helplessness, anguish, guilt, and depression. This allows for understanding, stability and catharsis.
Pay tribute to the relationship by remembering and reviewing the lost person and the times spent together.
Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) focuses on a person’s thoughts and behaviour, not only about the death itself but about a new life without the lost loved one. To increase a sense of mastery and control, some CBT strategies are outlined below to help overcome grief from the loss of a loved one.
Reading about grief can help you better understand the loss experience and increase a sense of hope. Some suggested books include Getting to the Other Side of Grief: Overcoming the Loss of a Spouse, Good Grief, When Bad Things Happen to Good People, and How Can it be All Right when Everything is All Wrong?
Set aside a specific time period each day to focus on mourning your loss. When the day’s time is up, resume your regular activities and postpone grieving thoughts until the next scheduled time.
Be able to identify how the use of substances or other self-destructive behaviours has helped avoid feelings associated with the loss and served as an escape from the pain or guilt. In some instances, chemical dependence needs to be addressed by going to rehab or having treatment for substance abuse before the loss can be dealt with.
Through it, all be kind to yourself. And accept kindness from others. Be open and honest about wanting to talk about your loss, or not, and about wanting visitors, or not. Don’t put yourself under pressure. Mourning and overcoming grief takes time. It’s a personal journey. Take one day at a time.
To find out more about Romy, check out Episode 3 of Before You Go, hosted by Dale Maroney.
This content originally appeared on yourloss.com.au and is published with permission.
YourLoss is an independent news and resource website covering many aspects associated with death, dying and the bereavement process. It’s a hub of information that is timely, relevant, and factual. It is supported by like-minded family-owned and operated funeral providers. Each has a passion for the open availability of information relating to this often-non-spoken aspect of society.
Romy Kunitz is a clinical and developmental psychologist based in Sydney NSW and has been in private practice for more than 20 years. Romy has extensive experience in working with individuals, couples and families and also provides services to Australian military veterans and their families for Open Arms.
The information on this website is for general information only and are not (and nor are they intended to be) a substitute for professional medical or mental health advice, nor is it used for diagnosis and treatment. You, or anyone you are concerned about, are encouraged to seek professional medical or mental health advice and treatment from suitably qualified medical and clinical practitioners and providers.
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