Grief and Recovery
Grief Counselling and Recovery
If you have had to deal with a major loss then the grief that follows is a normal emotion to experience. Any type of loss can trigger sadness and grief including the loss of a job, the death of a family member, the demise of a pet or a move that takes you away from familiar surroundings. Acceptance of the loss and moving forward through the grief process is what allows you to cope and heal emotionally. Grief Counselling is the support you are after.
Grief is a double-edged sword because it makes us more aware of what we still have to be thankful for in the midst of the sadness that results from an important loss. The most important fact to remember is that you have to accept the situation before you can begin the process of emotional healing.
Signs and Symptoms of Grief
While tears, depression and withdrawal from normal activities can all be part of the grieving process it is important to realize that this emotional upheaval is very personal. No two people will grieve in exactly the same manner, or to the same degree of intensity.
Feelings of hopelessness, helplessness and loss are going to be present for a number of grief-stricken individuals. However the emotions displayed and the length of the grieving process will depend on several factors.
Sadness, anger, fear and disbelief and total denial of the situation are a few of the emotions that grieving individuals may experience. Crying is another form of grieving, but not every person will shed tears even if they are devastated by a personal loss. It is important not to judge the grief of another person according to the emotional reactions our own standards may involve.
Grief can also result in physical symptoms such as headaches, GI upsets, vague aches and pains or loss of appetite. These symptoms should resolve with time.
Grief is approached in different ways according to customs, age, the loss that is involved, family support systems and spiritual beliefs. The grieving process is also affected by an individual’s view of life, personal experiences, coping mechanisms and personality.
Grief does not work to a Timetable
There is no specific guideline that will dictate how a person must handle grief. This process is individualized for each person involved and the emotional healing happens in its own time. There are some individuals who seem to recover from grief in a matter of days while others will need weeks, months or even years to completely work through the stages of grief.
Trying to hurry through the grieving process is not the answer, and there are no shortcuts that are available. Ignoring the pain and loss will not make it easier; and refusing to address the loss is only going to prolong the pain and keep you from healing emotionally.
Diagnosing Problems with the Grieving Process
The 5 Grief Stages
Each person will go through a series of stages during their grieving process similar to the emotional stages now identified in ‘death and dying’. These 5 stages of death and dying were originally identified by Dr. E. Kubler-Ross and they include:
- Peaceful Acceptance
It is the resolution of each stage that helps a person move through the transitioning period. This does not mean that all individuals will experience each of these stages. In fact the grieving stages are different for each individual, but this is a good analogy to use when someone needs to understand the grief (and loss) process.
There are instances where certain individuals are unable to cope with their grief, and they become trapped in one of these stages. This prevents them from achieving healthy emotional resolution and acceptance.
Those individuals who are having trouble resolving their grief are generally overwhelmed by feelings of guilt, personal loss and denial. They are unable to accept the reality of the situation and may also be experiencing clinical depression.
If grieving has taken control of your life and left you without the ability to cope with daily demands then finding the necessary help and support is a step in the right direction. A counselor will be able to help you identify the grief issues that are now your stumbling blocks. With a support system and personalized counseling it is possible to move through the grief stages and accept what has happened.
Long Term Outlook
In almost all situations a trained therapist can help a grief stricken individual resolve those issues that are blocking their emotional recovery. It may take a few months to complete the resolution process but grief is a problem that can be overcome, and regaining a normal life is possible. Never be afraid to grieve or show emotion. When the feelings are real-own them.
Dr. Geoff Newbegin is an experienced counsellor and psychologist with a wide range of clinical experience in anxiety, depression, stress management, anger management, men’s issues, self-esteem, life transitions, grief & loss, post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and personality disorders. He has over 30 years of work experience and he came to the psychological profession after many years as an engineer, project manager and policy planner. He says that all his working experience has enabled him to be more focused in understanding processes and people.
If you are looking for help, whether for yourself or for a loved one, our psychologists can assist in exploring underlying issues through therapy. Please visit our practitioners’ page to find out more, or call (03) 9820-5577 for an appointment or to make enquiries.
- When to Visit a Psychologist
- How Can We Build Resilience?
- Problem Solving: A Psychological Perspective
- Top 5 Things to Do to Support a Family Member with Depression
- Coping with Loss and Grief
- You Can’t Make Sense of Happiness if You Don’t Know Sadness