GRIEF & LOSS
Loss is an inevitable part of being human. Whether it is the loss of a loved one, a friend or co-worker, loss of a job or financial resources, a pet, loss of our physical capacities or a major illness, or the loss of significant relationships, we all are affected by loss, to some degree, and at some point, in our lives.
Most of the time, when challenged by a loss, we, in time, recover.
While there are predictable and known stages of grief that we must move through, we can become stuck, however, and not move through the grief process on our own so easily. In such cases, recovery from loss can be assisted by professional help.
Persons experiencing a loss, of any kind, can benefit from a compassionate listener. While some persons have strong support systems that enable them to talk about their feelings, others may not, or they may be uncomfortable disclosing private thoughts and feelings to others.
While everyone handles loss differently, for some, avoiding talking about a loss can cause the experience to become bottled up, particularly when it involves the death of someone close. I have met people many years after they suffered a significant loss who remain deeply affected by it, to the point in which their ability to function and enjoy their lives is compromised.
For the loss of a loved one, groups offered at a local Hospice organization are especially helpful for individuals to be able to express their grief and share with others experiencing similar losses. Groups can be helpful for many loss situations such as divorce or physical illness, as well.
Sometimes, a group may be enough. However, in some situations, the unique dynamics of one's personal experience, are best addressed in individual counseling.
The way to the other side of a significant loss, is inevitably through it. This means, one must feel the feelings and process the realities of what their loss means. But, it also means, one must take steps to rebuild, to restore a sense of grounding in their world and find a sense of peace with changed circumstances.
Talking about loss in a safe environment is important, but so is having ways to process one's grief in order to experience greater acceptance and peace.
Body-centered mindfulness tools such as EMDR or Brainspotting, or Mindfulness Meditation can help one not only contact their emotions in a more manageable way, but these tools can help transform despair into feelings of greater hopefulness.
Creative outlets for one's emotions can also help move one thru their grief. Expressive arts such as writing, or drawing, or photo/journalling albums can all be highly therapeutic activities to help with emotional healing.
Cognitive-behavioral therapy is helpful in growing new narratives of one's self and life and growing new behaviors, or in simply re-engaging in fulfilling activities or re-kindling relationships that have fallen away.
Ultimately, psychotherapy can help, not only to move thru the phases of grief, but also to grow new experiences that help embody feelings of renewal and possibility.
AMY WINTERS, LCSW
PSYCHOTHERAPY FOR ADULTS