Grief, Loss, and Bereavement Getting Help
Grief is often painful, but for some people, the emotions can become overwhelming. When a person’s grief is severe and unrelenting, a therapist can offer support. In time, a person can recover from their loss and adjust to a new life.
THERAPY FOR GRIEF AND BEREAVEMENT
Each experience of grief is unique, complex, and personal. Grief may concern the death of a loved one, or it could involve a life change such as divorce or job loss. Your culture, personality, and experience can all affect the grieving process. Therapists will tailor treatment to meet your specific needs.
For example, therapy may help you maintain healthy connections with your lost loved one. Many people find catharsis while talking about their loved ones. Reflection on positive memories can strengthen your bond with the lost person. As you reaffirm your bond, you may feel less sting from your loss.
That said, some people may become overly attached to the deceased. In complicated grief, a person may feel hopeless and desire to join the lost loved one in death. A therapist can help you adjust to life without your loved one. They may also help you strengthen bonds with surviving friends and family.
Another common goal in therapy is to process your feelings. Society may stigmatize you for grieving a certain way. But in therapy, you can express your feelings without judgment. A therapist can help you address any guilt or regret you have regarding the deceased.
Joint therapies are also available for people in grief. In group therapy, you may find solace in sharing thoughts and feelings with other mourners. Recovery results are often rapid in this setting. Family therapy may be suitable for a family who is struggling to adapt to the loss of a member.
SELF-CARE FOR GRIEF
Bereavement can involve a lot of vulnerability and pain. Like a physical injury, the emotional wounds of loss often take time to recover. If you are grieving, it is vital that you take care of yourself.
Self-care can take different forms. During the grieving process, there are five aspects of yourself that may need healing.
The Physical Aspect
Stress from grief can cause changes in your body. You may feel unexplained aches, sleep issues, or changes in appetite. Fatigue is especially common. Don’t be surprised if you need more rest than usual.
During this time, routine can provide a sense of stability. A nutritious diet can reduce stress, so try to eat three meals a day, even if you are not hungry. A set sleep schedule can help stabilize energy levels as well. That said, be gentle with yourself. A nap or a snack can go a long way to providing comfort.
The Cognitive Aspect
Your mental state may be compromised during bereavement. You may have trouble focusing or making decisions. Like the rest of your body, your brain may need a bit of a break.
You may wish to restrict or avoid alcohol use during this time. Although alcohol may make you feel temporarily better, it is not a long-term solution to grief.
The Emotional Aspect
You may be overwhelmed with emotion, or you may feel completely numb. There are no “bad” feelings during grief. Remember to be patient and have self-compassion.
During this time, you may need to be proactive about pursuing happiness. If you know you have an activity to look forward to, you may find it easier to get out of bed in the morning. That activity could be eating lunch with friends, watching a favorite show, or relaxing in a warm bath.
Many mourners find comfort in listening to music. Happy music may cheer a person up. Sad music can be cathartic. You may prefer different music at different stages of the grieving process. A song tied to the deceased may be too painful to listen to at first but grow nostalgic as time passes.
The Spiritual Aspect
When a loved one dies, it often sparks questions about death and life. People who have strong spiritual beliefs may find comfort in talking to their religious leaders. Rituals of mourning can provide validation.
Some people have no defined belief system, yet they may still seek to clarify their relationship with death and find meaning in life. Some may join a support group for people with existential questions. Others may find their own answers through meditation. Nurturing one’s spiritual self can be as vital as self-care in any other realm.
The Social Aspect
Grief is a difficult process to go through alone. Social support can make recovery easier. Friends and family can help you with daily responsibilities as you recover. They can also offer emotional support.
When a person dies, the dynamics between their loved ones may change. You may find yourself growing closer to some people and further from others. Different people can fill distinct needs. One friend may offer a shoulder to cry on. Another may be more suited for days when you need cheering up. Being honest about your needs can help prevent misunderstandings.
Your surviving loved ones cannot replace the deceased. However, they can help you recover from the loss.
Therapy can also be an important part of self-care. A therapist can offer assistance with any of the aspects above. There is no shame in seeking help.