Most of us experience grief and loss at some point in our lives. Sometimes those emotions can feel overwhelming. Usually, it is the loss of a loved one by separation or death that can induce this intense reaction. However, injuries, illness, violent crimes, theft, financial crises, natural disasters, etc., also can trigger grief.
Going into therapy is the right choice when you have been over-burdened by grief for a relatively long time – many months, or even years. Physically, you might feel chronically tired,sick to the stomach, or ill in other ways. Cognitively, you might often feel confused, preoccupied, unable to concentrate. Emotionally, you might feel shocked, helpless, vulnerable, extremely sad, fearful and anxious, angry, empty, alone, ashamed, or even guilty. Or, conversely, you might just feel numb.
Socially, you might withdraw from people, places or activities you used to enjoy. You might do this because you are depressed, or simply to avoid reminders of your loss, or for fear that you won’t feel like your “old self” or appear normal to others.
Coping with the various ramifications of grief and loss is a highly personal experience. There is no “one size fits all” grief response. In addition to emotional reactions and perhaps negative thoughts that go with the emotions, such influences as culture, family relationships, friendships, philosophical or spiritual beliefs, and even the sheer passage of time all play their parts in how you cope.
While it may seem natural to want to bury your feelings of grief and just carry on normally, this is unlikely to sustain you in the long term. In fact, this can lead to depression and anxiety. It is much more useful to experience your grief and let it run its course than to avoid it. One important goal of therapy would be to help you do this in a productive way. For instance, mindfulness practices may be employed to help you stay calm and balanced as difficult feelings run their course. Mindfulness practices also give you a skill that you can use outside of therapy sessions, to navigate through intensity and stress.
Using psychodynamic and cognitive behavioral therapies, I will help you work through those emotions, thoughts, and behaviors that interfere with healing, problem-solving, and adapting. You will develop insights into difficult feelings and issues that block your natural grief process, as you talk through your loss in a safe and confidential environment. I will listen with empathy.
You will discover how experiences and core beliefs, often dating back to childhood, inform your present grieving process. And you will learn how to use your new insights to accept your loss, without negative self-judgment or self-recrimination. You can emerge from therapy feeling in control and ready to adapt to life going forward.