Grief: As you know, losing a loved one is one of lifes most difficult experiences. Grief is a natural and universal process that follows from the experience of loss. Your grief may include changes in the way you think, feel, and act. It will likely affect your social life, your spiritual life, and the physical functioning of your body. In fact, grief can cause ill effects on both our physical and psychological well-being. It is also important to bear in mind that grief is a "process" and not a state, and thus, that the grief that you experience will unfold and evolve over time.
Although there are certain common elements to grief (for example, feelings of shock and "numbness," feelings of sadness or despair, frequent crying or other outward expressions of sadness, a preoccupation with thoughts of your loved one), your grief experience will be as unique to you as was your relationship with your loved one.
It must always be kept in mind that the grief process is complex, and that your grief and mourning will be affected by many factors, including the nature of the relationship you had with your loved one and the circumstances surrounding the death.
Your grief and mourning process may be "complicated" by the following factors:
- A sudden, unexpected death
- Death due to suicide or homicide
- Death of a child
- A death that is viewed as preventable
- Death from an overly lengthy illness
- Lack of social support
- Other concurrent crises
In addition to these factors, your personality style and the ways that you typically cope with stress will also influence the way you deal with loss.
Mourning: As a result of your loss and the grief that you experience, the need for you to mourn will evolve. To mourn is to "work through" emotional and other issues related to your loss. Mourning is a longer-term process that requires effort. Engaging in this effort is important so that you can learn how to adapt to the loss and thus, eventually, lead a healthy and satisfying life once again. Mourning is a very important topic that warrants further discussion and much more will be written about the work of mourning in future columns.
While the support of others can be helpful to us during this time, the work of mourning may be difficult, and you may find benefit from professional assistance. Taking part in grief counseling is one way to help with your mourning process.
Grief Counseling: The terms "grief counseling" and "grief therapy" are used to refer to a wide range of interventions that are designed to assist persons who have lost a loved one. Despite the range of services and interventions that are available, all are designed to help bereaved persons in their quest to cope with the effects of the loss and to begin (or continue) to heal from the experience. Grief counseling is basically a process in which feelings and issues that arise after a loss are discussed and thoroughly explored. You will be encouraged to talk about your loved one and your experiences after the loss. In a supportive, confidential relationship with a therapist, this exploration is designed to assist you in coping with your loss as adaptively as possible.
Grief-related services are provided by many trained individuals from a variety of professional groups, including psychologists, social workers, nurses, clergy members, and physicians. The professional that you seek services from should work with you to develop a plan to address your specific concerns. It is very important that you feel comfortable with this person, as you will be exploring difficult issues and sharing intimate information with them during your counseling sessions. If you do not feel comfortable talking with the first person you contact, you should try to locate a professional that you feel comfortable with. Much more will be written about grief counseling in future columns.
|Grief Counselor, Dr. Steven Bailley
The purpose of these articles is to provide interested readers with information and thoughts about loss, grief, mourning, and grief counseling. A variety of grief-related topics have been covered. It is my sincerest hope that you will find the information presented here to be of interest and assistance to you. If there are specific topics of interest that you would like to see added in the future, I welcome you to email me with your suggestions. If you have a need to talk with me, please call me at my office at (713) 914-9944.
|Research and clinical experience support the idea that many bereaved individuals gain benefit from grief counseling. Ideally, counseling can help people to cope as adaptively as possible during difficult times that follow a loss, and can also assist in bringing grief to a more adequate resolution. Should you decide to explore the possibility of seeking professional assistance, at any time following your loss, I welcome you to contact me to explore this option (appointments and fee schedule are available upon request). Every person is unique, and I will work with you to assist you in coping with your specific needs. At this most difficult time in your life, I wish to extend to you my sincerest condolences for your loss.