GRIEF AND LOSS:
The loss of a loved one or a significant person is an inevitable part of life. With loss, grief is a set of behaviors, thoughts, emotions, and beliefs that form the natural process to understand the loss (i.e., bereavement) and also how to integrate the loss into daily living. Dealing with the loss of a significant person in your life can be one of the most difficult and painful experiences that can include many confusing emotions and troubling thoughts. At times when the loss is accepted, people can experience deep sadness (and sometimes anger) that feel as if they come out of nowhere.
Different types of loss include:
More subtle life changes and loss can also initiate a grief response, even if the people around you do not understand.
Examples of other loss:
Grief can be expressed in many ways that can affect your life such as, emotions, thoughts, behavior, physical health, relationships with others and self-identity. This often causes one to feel irritable, angry, isolated, numb and overwhelmed. Many people experiencing loss and grief go through different stages at their own time. For some people the grief is uncomplicated, and people can accept, experience the sadness and loss, and return to their regular lives experiencing uncomplicated grief and bereavement. While others may avoid reminders of the loss or even the funeral or bereavement all-together, that may lead to complicated grief that can last a lifetime
There is no correct way to grieve. Grief is often more than just sadness, it includes guilt, anger and regret. People experiencing grief can go back and forth between different thoughts as they come to terms with the loss. These thoughts can range from, “They had a good life…” to “It wasn’t their time…” and “It was my fault…”. Dealing with loss is a personal journey but not one that needs to be taken alone.
There are several types of therapy that constitute grief counseling. For those with uncomplicated grief where perhaps they need some additional support to process the loss, this can include cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). Typically, the CBT therapist will focus on the current distressing situation (death of a loved one) and help a client identify healthy bereavement strategies, rather than focusing on a potentially unrelated past (childhood bullying). The CBT therapist’s goal is to help the person examine their thoughts/meaning derived from the loss, emotions (sadness/anger/disbelief), physical experiences (loss of hunger, fatigue), and behaviors (isolation, avoidance) in order to determine how best to move forward while honoring the loss.
When the grief is complicated (lasting years), the use of the 16 session Complicated Grief Treatment (CGT) has been shown to be one of the best documented (researched) therapies in the world. CGT uses different types of exposures of the loss (e.g., experiencing the grief/loss, imagining the person, thoughts about the person and their death) that have been previously avoided and supporting the client in accepting the loss.
These forms of therapy are evidence-based and the SOGIA grief counselor will support a client in identifying if they have complicated or uncomplicated grief before engaging in treatment.
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