What is grief work?
Grief work 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.
How does grief work therapy work?
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.
An important aspect of grief work therapy is to allow and acknowledge your loss. Your therapist will apply various techniques of grief therapy that may include:
- Learning about grief and its effect on you
- Talking about your feelings about the loss
- Work through other complicated feelings that may be associated with your loss such as guilt, trauma, etc.
- Determine if you’re experiencing trauma in addition to grief – then treat the trauma accordingly
- Telling stories about what you lost (for example, the loved one who has passed on or the marriage that ended in divorce)
- Creating rituals to both honour the loss and to help you move forward even while you are grieving
When is grief work used?
Grief is quite simply about loss. Generally, we think of death when we talk about grief but loss can come in other forms as well. Grief work therapy can be helpful in treating all kinds of loss including:
- Death of a loved one
- Death of a pet
- First responders or uniformed personnel trauma or PTSD
- Handling chronic illness and pain
- Changes in physical health
- Changes in mental health
- Losing someone to suicide
- Loss of a preterm child
- Divorce or separation
- Loss of a career
- Empty nest
This type of therapy may be used to treat other conditions and concerns in addition to those listed above. It may also be used in conjunction with other treatment methods. Your therapist will work with you to determine the best treatment method for your individual circumstances.
You should be aware that there is no treatment method that is successful for every person. What works for you, may not work for someone else.
What to expect from therapy
Put simply, you will get out of therapy what you put into it. It’s not a magic solution that will solve all your problems. It may involve you doing some real work and being completely honest with yourself and your therapist. Sometimes facing our truth is the hardest thing of all – but from that discomfort can come healing and growth.
Insight’s therapists are available for in-person, online, or telephone counselling at several locations in Alberta. Contact us to learn more.