Have you lost a loved one in your life and feel a huge void? Or feel a roller coaster of emotions? Or feel like you’re going crazy? As a therapist, I work with a lot of clients who have lost a family member, spouse, or someone very close to them, and whom are unsure of what to do with the overwhelming emotions. One of the most common concerns that I hear is that they feel like they should just “get over it” or should not cry so much. There are actually several benefits to giving ourselves permission to grieve a loss.
Benefits of Grieving
- Relief confusing emotions – Grieving in therapy gives a person the chance to process what has been in holding. Individuals who grieve feel that having a safe and knowledgeable therapist (or support group) to guide them through the grieving process helps immensely when the life they knew was shattered according the Psychology Today article “Navigating Grief: How to Cope” (Sarkis, 2016).
- Increased clarity and closure – In grief therapy, people are able to explore how to rebuild their lives and once again lead live that make sense to them, even in the shadow of the great loss. Everyone’s answers and conclusions are different. For the same lost loved one, family members can come to very different conclusions about the meaning of the loss.
- Feel better physically – Unresolved grief has shown to have increased anxiety and depression emotionally as well as physically feeling tired or insomnia. So while grieving is a gradual process in therapy, there can be increased inner peace and understanding, eventually leading to improved sleep, motivation to stay active, mental clarity, and overall health.
- Feeling supported and less alone – Doing grief work through therapy allows a person to feel validated, supported, and less isolated as well as accepted and not judged.
- Cope, make choices, and being able feeling like you can move on.
What Happens When We Don’t Grieve?
When people do to not allow themselves the space to grieve, there can be long-term implications that are hard on the body. People can feel stuck, isolated, anxious, depressed, or less stable for a longer period of time by not making a choice to work through the grief. They can display these unresolved emotions through anger, preoccupation with thinking about the lost loved one a lot, increased fear that something bad is going to happen, emotional overreaction to others, a persistent “numb” feeling, and sometimes even increased addictions. Physicians actually share with grieving patients that it can take even up to eighteen months before they start to feel relief from the grieving symptoms and recommend for patients to seek support.
What Can I Do to Take Care of Myself?
- Offer yourself compassion – Grieving is hard work, so offer yourself compassion. Be gentle with yourself as you work through the grieving process and know that this is normal.
- Give yourself breaks – The first year after is loss is difficult and involves increased stress, so give yourself extra breaks. Give yourself breaks from thinking about the loss, and structure your time doing things you enjoy or relaxing activities.
Communicate your needs to those closest to you.
- Set up support for yourself with individual or group support counseling. This provides a safe space to be able to share about what the deceased loved one meant to you.
If you have been struggling with the loss of someone close to you and are feeling isolated, depressed, or not like yourself, grief counseling may help you gradually feel better. Contact Symmetry Counseling in order to get connected to one of our grief counselors to navigate through the process.
Sarkis, S. (February 2016). “Navigating Grief: How to Cope”. Psychology Today. https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/here-there-and-everywhere/201602/navigating-grief-how-cope
Sciencecare (December 2015). “Grief Counseling: What are the Benefits?” https://www.sciencecare.com/blog-grief-counseling-what-are-the-benefits/
Taibbi, R. (2017). Six Signs of Incomplete Grief. Psychology Today. https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/fixing-families/201706/six-signs-incomplete-grief