Benefits of Seeing a Grief Counselor After a Loved One’s Death
If you are grieving over the death of a loved one, a professional can help make the process easier. Here are benefits of seeing a grief counselor.
Did you know that most people can recover from a loss on their own if they have the right habits and support systems to be successful? Although losing a loved one can be one of the lowest points in your life, there are many different ways that you can process grief.
One of the best ways that you can cope with the death of a loved one is by seeing a grief counselor. Here is a brief guide on how grief works, the stages of fried, and some of the benefits of grief counseling therapy.
The Stages of Grief
The five stages of grief have become a mainstream method for pinpointing how people react to the loss of a beloved person or pet in their life. These five stages are commonly known as:
The five stages of grief were popularized by Elizabeth Kubler Ross and generally do a good job of explaining some of the complex emotions humans go through when grieving.
These stages do not have to be linear. In fact, you can experience all of them at the same time, or several more than once. However, the order they are listed is one of the most common progressions of the stages of grief that most mourners experience.
What is a Grief Counselor?
A grief counselor is a therapist who has special training to treat patients going through bereavement. Many people start seeing them shortly after the death to deal with complex emotions as they arrange funerals and burials for their loved ones.
Although a regular therapist or counselor can certainly help you navigate grief, a grief therapist sees all types of patients and situations. Therefore, they are more equipped to assist you with your specific issues when it comes to grieving.
Treatment of Different Types of Grief
Not all types of grief look the same. How you grieve can depend on your personality or the type of relationship that you had with the person or pet that you have lost.
You may experience one type of grief or multiple types at the same time. It depends on how you handle the loss and if you have any existing mental illnesses prior to the death of a loved one.
Depression and anxiety are two of the most common types of grief. Depression is when you do not have a desire to do things that you love or you feel distanced or detached from the grief.
You may experience symptoms such as intense fatigue and trouble sleeping. You may sleep excessively or have problems such as insomnia.
Depression is one of the stages of grief, so if you experience it as part of the grieving process, know that it is normal. However, if you find yourself with prolonged depression and you are unable to move out of that stage of grief, then you may need extra help.
Maladaptive grief occurs when you deal with your grief by doing things that will harm yourself or others. This can emerge in the form of drinking, drugs, or reckless behavior.
Maladaptive grief can be extremely dangerous. If you find yourself wanting to do things that can cause bodily harm, you should talk to your loved ones or visit a grief counselor to find healthy coping mechanisms.
Broken Heart Syndrome
Did you know that some forms of intense grief can cause an actual broken heart? This is known as broken heart syndrome, and it is a physical manifestation of grief.
People with broken heart syndrome have chest pain that can mimic the symptoms of a heart attack. They may also have an irregular heartbeat. Broken heart syndrome may be acute or can last long past the funeral or cremation.
Complicated grief is an umbrella term for many different forms of grief that do not fit into the other categories. Usually, this is prolonged grief that can prevent the mourner from resuming normal life.
Complicated grief can be persistent, or it can emerge regularly in thoughts of the person or pet that you have lost.
Benefits of Grief Counselor
Even if you do not feel like you need to visit a grief counselor, it may be in your best interest to do so. A grief counselor can help you to identify what you are going through and work with you to figure out the best plan of treatment.
If you are a parent or you need to support others during the time that you grieve, then a grief counselor can help you learn valuable skills to navigate everyday life while still honoring your loved one.
Work Through Trauma
If you experienced a traumatic death, you may have to work through some of that trauma in order to grieve in a healthy way. For instance, if your loved one was murdered or died suddenly, it may cause additional trauma, rather than if you knew ahead of time.
You may have symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder if you go through a traumatic death. If you have problems sleeping or you have intense flashbacks or anxiety, then you may need to visit a different doctor.
The grief counselor may also be able to help you write an obituary for your loved one to explain the traumatic death in an appropriate way.
Find Coping Mechanisms
Maladaptive grief can cause destructive coping mechanisms, but a grief counselor will help you find healthy ones. They may ask you about your hobbies and things that you enjoy in order to form a plan of action.
When you feel the urge to engage in self-destructive behaviors, your therapist will tell you that you need to redirect those emotions into a healthy coping mechanism.
For example, if you want to drink when you start to think about your loved one, you can redirect the feeling of despair into something like exercising, artwork, or taking a walk outside for a few minutes.
You may have one coping mechanism that works for you or several on rotation. It is important to have everything you need to be prepared in case the need strikes to deal with complex grief and emotions.
Grief can also come with feelings of guilt and shame around the death of your loved one. You may not have visited them as much as you would have liked, or you had a complicated relationship with them prior to their death.
If you have feelings of guilt, your therapist can talk you through why you are experiencing those feelings and how to sit with them. They may give you affirmations and mantras to repeat to yourself when the guilty thoughts begin to emerge.
Often, the cause of the guilt that you feel is out of your control. You can focus on memories you have with your loved one or things that you did to improve their quality of life.
Helps Children Process Death
Telling children about death can be one of the hardest things that you have to do as a parent, grandparent, or guardian. If you do not know how to approach death, then a grief therapist can help you.
They may give you advice on how to talk to your children about the passing of the loved one. You can also find a grief counselor that specializes in children, so they can provide backup when you tell them what happened.
They can provide a safe space to talk about the grief and answer any questions that your children may have.
Tools for the Future
Even if you feel like you have conquered grief, sometimes it can emerge in unexpected ways. You may smell a perfume that your loved one wore or hear a song on the radio that they enjoyed.
In those moments, you need to use tools that you learn in grief counseling to continue to navigate your life. Your grief counselor may suggest taking time for yourself if you experience intense feelings of grief out of nowhere.
If you find the feelings of grief re-emerging years down the road, then you may need to go back to grief counseling therapy to work through them with a professional.
Talk About Your Loved One
Sometimes grief can make you feel incredibly alone, especially if you lost someone that you were very close to. Talking to your friends and family about them may not be beneficial because they did not have the same connection to the person or pet that you did.
A grief counselor is more likely to understand how you feel and give you a space to talk about your loved one. They will not judge you and can give encouragement and feedback to validate your feelings.
So Many Benefits of Seeing a Grief Counselor
If you have recently lost a loved one, you may benefit from seeing a grief counselor. With this guide to the process and benefits, you can decide which type of counselor is right for you and determine what kind of treatment you need to work through your grief.
Would you like more information about how to deal with grief and loss in your life? Check out our site for more resources so you can cope with death in a healthy way.