Grief and Loss
Grief is a natural response to loss. It’s the emotional suffering you feel when something or someone you love is taken away. Often, the pain of loss can feel overwhelming. You may experience all kinds of difficult and unexpected emotions, from shock or anger to disbelief, guilt, and profound sadness. The pain of grief can also disrupt your physical health, making it difficult to sleep, eat, or even think straight. These are normal reactions to loss—and the more significant the loss, the more intense your grief may be.
Grief can be felt from the following losses:
- Death of a loved one, someone close to you, or even someone that you only knew casually or not at all, as in the death of a celebrity
- Death of a pet
- Divorce or separation
- End of a relationship (family member, friends, etc.)
- Empty nest (children moving out)
- Losing your job or career
- Changes in your health
- Health challenges
- Mental health challenges
- Physical or mental health changes in loved ones
- Developmental diagnoses in you or loved ones
- Financial or business loss/challenges
- Any major change in your life such as graduating, becoming a parent, moving from your residence, etc.
Symptoms & signs of extreme grief
- Inconsolable sadness
- Inability to carry out daily tasks
- Obsession with the deceased, death, or the loss in general
- Feelings of unrelenting anger or guilt
- Withdrawing from others
- Slowed thinking and actions
- Desire to withdraw and “give up”
- Thoughts of suicide
- Shock, confusion
- Lowered self-esteem
- Participating in self-destructive behaviours (alcohol or substance use, for example)
- Lack of appetite or overeating
- Digestive problems
- Insomnia or sleeping too much
- Feeling achy
- Excessive crying
- Lower immunity
When is it time to get help?
If you are grieving the loss of someone or something important to you, t’s likely that you’re feeling all or some of the above symptoms – this is to be expected. However, when you experience these symptoms all the time, they are severe, or you’re unable to shake them off so you can function normally, then it is time to seek help.
Treatment methods for extreme grief
There are many different treatment methods that your therapist may discuss with you. Treatment may depend on what issues you are facing. For example, if you’re feeling depressed, then treatment for depression will be the best course of action. If you’re experiencing trauma, then those treatments make the most sense. Each individual has unique circumstances – together with your therapist, you’ll find the best treatment method for your needs. In general, some treatments that have been shown to be effective for grief include:
- Grief Work Therapy refers to the methods used in counselling that help people to grieve loss and understand their emotions associated with the loss in a healthy way, with the ultimate goal of moving forward.
- Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) is an evidence-based approach to treatment that focuses on how people’s thoughts, emotions, and beliefs influence their behaviour and how they perceive themselves.
- Person Centered Therapy differs from more traditional therapeutic approaches in the belief that, while the therapist has expertise in many areas, the client is the expert on themselves and their lived experiences. People are essentially trustworthy and have a vast potential for understanding themselves while also being able to ultimately resolve their own problems when guided properly.
- Faith Based Therapy is using science-based therapeutic techniques that are administered by a therapist with similar spiritual beliefs or an understanding of those beliefs. This is not based on any one religion or spiritual belief.
- Narrative Therapy is a form of psychotherapy that uses narratives and/or client’s personal stories to help people separate themselves from their problems, believing that the person isn’t the problem; the problem is the problem.
- Dialectical Behaviour Therapy (DBT) is a treatment method that’s similar to cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) but emphasizes building skills to manage stress, emotional response and regulation, mental health issues, and the psycho-social aspects of relationship building.
Other forms of treatment include:
- The Grief Recovery Method Ⓡ
- Animal Therapy
- Equine Therapy
- Somatic Experiencing Method Ⓡ
What will I get out of treatment with Insight Psychological?
Depending on the type of loss you’re grieving, you may never “get over” that loss – especially if you’ve lost a loved one. It’s not possible to stop missing someone who meant so much to you – nor should that be the goal. What counselling can do though, is help you to find healthy ways to cope with the loss, live as full a life as possible while still honouring your loved one and cherishing your memories of them (or working through difficult memories, should that be the case.)
Insight has therapists who specialize in grief and loss and can provide you with in-person, online, or telephone counselling. Contact us to learn more or to book an appointment.