Did a loved one recently pass away and you feel that your grief is overwhelming you? Here are the telltale signs that say you may need a grief counselor.
Suffering the loss of a loved one is never easy. But what if your grief becomes too much to manage?
You’re expected to have a mourning period. Sometimes, there are pressures both outside and inside your life that make this process more difficult.
Around 15% of those who have suffered a loss, grieving intensifies, disrupts their life, and becomes complicated. At this point, you might need professional help.
What are the signs that you need a grief counselor? Let’s look at a few tell-tale clues to keep in mind during this difficult time.
Stages of Grief
Grieving is something everyone will feel at one point or another. Before we get into the signs of complicated grieving, let’s talk about the normal ways we express ourselves after experiencing a loss.
Once a loss happens, people will eventually come to a compromise within themselves. They don’t want to be reminded of their pain but they must express their emotions and get through their grief.
Here are some common steps in the grieving process:
- Denial/Suppression: blocking out reminders of loss and denying their emotions
- Nostalgia: wishing to be with the departed once more; reminiscing on time together
- Disorganization: a moment of intense emotions including anxiety, depression, even physical pain
- Organization: regrouping, moving on, living life while honoring their lost loved one
Feeling intense loss and sorrow isn’t a red flag on its own. There are warning signs that your grief is getting beyond your control.
Some anxiety is expected during normal grieving. When you find yourself in a non-stop state of anxiousness, it’s time to seek help.
Extreme anxiety can come from a variety of places. Cognitive dissonance is one common reason.
The world moves on without your loved one — and seemingly without you. But inside, you’re in pain.
When your inner and outer worlds are in conflict, you can experience isolation, depression, and panic attacks. Reoccurring or debilitating anxiety can keep you from healing.
Do you feel that you don’t have control over the voice in your head? Do you keep hearing negative self-talk, like your brain is locked on the world’s meanest radio station?
These are called intrusive thoughts or sometimes rumination. Grief counseling and grief therapy can help you tune them out and turn them off.
Fear of Relationships
A loss is jarring in so many ways. The person that you love is no longer there for you, and that can be frightening.
Do you find yourself withdrawing from relationships or failing to form new ones? Fear of losing someone else is a tell-tale sign your grief is impacting your life in a negative way.
Unhealthy Coping Behaviors
Turning to drugs and alcohol is an extreme way of coping with pain. Seek out help immediately if you find yourself falling into any of these harmful behaviors.
Bingeing isn’t just for drugs and alcohol. There are other ways you might be trying to soothe your pain that are damaging in different ways.
Take note if you’re escaping too deeply into fantasy worlds, spending all of your time online or in front of the TV, jumping from fling to fling, and other unusual behaviors.
Throwing Yourself into Work
Are you staying later and later at the office? Do you keep yourself busy on weekends with endless chores and busywork?
Throwing yourself into your work isn’t always a bad thing. When it starts to consume your life, it can be a sign that you’re not handling the grieving process that well.
Unable to Move On
There’s no defined timetable for sadness. Remembering your loved one might always cause a pang in your heart.
These feelings become a problem when it stops you from moving on with your life. Inability to find closure or get back to a regular routine (including eating, sleeping, working, etc.)
If your grief is never-ending and you find yourself paralyzed, a counselor can walk you through your pain.
Some try to push themselves through the pain and get back to their regular routine too soon. This leads to disconnection from their feelings and from their genuine life.
Do you feel yourself going through the motions every day? Does it seem like you show up to where you need to go but you’re not really there?
These are all signs that you might be denying your emotions. You need help to process things safely and in a healthy way.
Hearing Voices and Seeing Things
Hallucinations, both visual and auditory, are troubling. Some of those suffering from complicated grief experience both of these sensations.
It can seem scary, especially if you’re hearing angry or negative voices. Remain calm and don’t try to work through it on your own.
The important thing is to acknowledge that it’s happening. Seek help as soon as you can to deal with both of these symptoms.
Thoughts of Harming Yourself
When you lose your loved one, things can seem hopeless. You might feel like you can’t go on without them.
There is no doubt the pain you feel from this loss can be intense and profound. This amplified grief can lead to the desire to hurt yourself or even take your own life.
Know that no matter how hopeless you might feel, self-harm or suicide is never the answer. There is always someone who will miss you whether you think so or not.
As painful and lost as you might feel, recognize that at this moment, you need help. Reach out to a suicide hotline, a trusted friend or family member, or a counselor as soon as possible.
Finding the Right Grief Counselor
There’s no doubt that loss affects us differently and that the pain we feel is real. Grieving is a natural, if difficult, process.
If you start to see the signs that your grief is disrupting your life and never lets you progress, it’s time to find a grief counselor. There’s no shame reaching out and getting professional help.
If you’re searching for a way to honor your loved one and say goodbye the way you want to, please reach out to us today. We will work hard to make sure to meet all of your needs during this difficult time.