Grief is a natural and necessary human response to loss. It’s also an incredibly painful experience that can feel like it will never end. Grief is a complex process that can be overwhelming. The death of a loved one can be devastating, especially when the loss comes suddenly or without warning.
When you’re grieving, you may not even know how to begin coping with your feelings about the loss of someone close to you. Our counselors and therapists in Fort Myers are dedicated professionals who understand grief and both the healing power of individual counseling and the unique challenges associated with dealing with grief at every stage of life.
Dealing with the grief and loss that comes with losing a loved one can be one of the most difficult situations a person can face and often alone. It is an unfortunate reality that most people will have to deal with at least once in their lifetime. Losses of all kinds may leave a person overcome with sorrow and unsure of how to move on. This can often be difficult for people to overcome, but given proper grief and loss counseling, it is possible to recover and move on.
WHAT ARE THE TYPES OF GRIEF?
People can experience grief following any type of loss. It is a natural reaction to losing something that is near and dear to the heart, and can severely affect many people. Individuals can require help for their grief and loss following any type of separating event, including the following:
- Loss of a Loved One – Whether from separation or death, losing a loved one in a permanent way can be a crippling, grief-inducing event that can result in years of potential problems.
- Divorce – Losing someone we love because of their personal choice can be even more devastating than losing a loved one to death, and many individuals struggle with this type of event for years.
- Loss of a Pet – Whether a pet dies or is physically lost, grief from losing such a close companion can be severe for animal lovers.
- Job Loss – A job loss can bring up many types of grief, including feelings of inadequacy and lost friendships.
- Loss of a Friendship – When a friend passes away or long-time friends part ways, it can trigger hopelessness in the same way that occurs following the death of a family member.
WHAT ARE THE STAGES OF GRIEF?
Grief and loss causes individuals to cycle through many different feelings and emotions, a process which has long been known as the stages of grief. This process allows individuals to properly deal with and heal from a tragic loss when completed fully. The stages of grief include the following:
- Denial – This stage also includes numbness and shock. It is when the mind puts up a protective barrier to help a person cope with the intensity of the loss. This stage can be helpful in the first days following a loss when difficult decisions must be made regarding funerals and the future. As a personal slowly accepts their new reality, the denial will diminish.
- Bargaining – When individuals are in this stage of the grieving process, they may have persistent thoughts regarding how their grief and loss could have been prevented. They may also develop a preoccupation with how their lives could have been better had their loss never actually occurred. If an individual stays in this stage too long, it can significantly inhibit the healing process.
- Depression – Once individuals come to terms with the reality of their loss, they can experience depression. Sometimes individuals can overcome this stage in a matter of days or weeks while for others, it lasts for months or longer. Signs of depression include appetite and sleep disturbances, poor concentration, low energy, and poor control over emotions. IN this stage, people often feel loneliness, isolation, emptiness and self-pity.
- Anger – In a reaction to the powerlessness many people feel in the depression stage of grief, individuals often become angry. Additional sources of anger include abandonment, anger at a higher power, or toward life in general.
- Acceptance – The final stage of grief occurs when an individual is finally able to come to terms with their loss. Once acceptance occurs, individuals can truly begin to heal and rebuild their lives and put their loss in the past.
IS GRIEF ALWAYS EXPERIENCED THE SAME FOR EVERYONE?
Despite these common stages, grief and loss can be different for everyone. Each individual is unique in how they handle these emotions and situations.
No matter how short or long the grieving process lasts, with the help of grief and loss counseling, those who have endured a loss can find a new normal and learn to look again to the future with hope.
Very Good counseling offers professional grief counseling services for individuals who are dealing with loss, whether it’s the death of a loved one, divorce or some other form of family breakdown.
We have helped our clients in Fort Myers, FL find new ways to move forward after experiencing loss so they can begin living again fully and joyfully. Very Good Counseling in Fort Myers FL is here for you during this difficult time in your life, offering compassionate support as you work through your grief and adjust to life after losing someone special.
We offer confidential counseling services for children, adolescents and adults in the Fort Myers area, helping clients find peace amid their pain and sadness so they can move forward toward recovery from their losses. Let us help you.
Dealing With A Loss
The death of a loved one is always difficult for those that remain behind. Your reactions are influenced by the circumstances of a death, particularly when it is sudden or accidental.
Many have experienced this since the COVID-19 pandemic has left many without loved ones. Your reactions are also influenced by your relationship with the person who died. Often the closer you felt the relationship be, the harder the loss is experienced.
A child’s death arouses an overwhelming sense of injustice — for lost potential, unfulfilled dreams and senseless suffering, and leaves many left questioning. Parents may feel responsible for the child’s death, no matter how irrational that may seem. Parents may also feel that they have lost a vital part of their own identity. This can be a very crucial turning point for many couples who experience this loss.
A spouse’s death is very traumatic. In addition to the severe emotional shock, the death may cause a potential financial crisis if the spouse was the family’s main income source. This can put other pressures in the family and remaining spouse. The death may necessitate major social adjustments requiring the surviving spouse to parent alone, adjust to single life and maybe even return to work.
Elderly people may be especially vulnerable when they lose a spouse because it means losing a lifetime of shared experiences. At this time, feelings of loneliness may be compounded by the death of close friends.
A loss due to suicide can be among the most difficult losses to bear. They may leave the survivors with a tremendous burden of guilt, anger and shame.
Survivors may even feel responsible for the death and see patterned or behavior after the person has left that make them feel more guilty. Seeking counseling during the first weeks after the suicide is particularly beneficial and advisable for those who remain.
Living With Grief and Loss
Coping with death is vital to your mental health. It is only natural to experience grief when a loved one dies. The best thing you can do is allow yourself to grieve. There are many ways to cope effectively with your pain.
- Seek out caring people. Find relatives and friends who can understand your feelings of loss. Telling stories of those who know the deceased can shed more positive light on the event. Join support groups with others who are experiencing similar losses.
- Express your feelings. Tell others how you are feeling; it will help you to work through the grieving process. Often strong emotions can come up when doing this, if you experience them, then writing them down before you can share can give you a sense of better understanding.
- Take care of your health. Maintain regular contact with your family physician and be sure to eat well and get plenty of rest. Be aware of the danger of developing a dependence on medication or alcohol to deal with your grief. Basic needs can go left unattended like eating, sleeping , or even putting gas in your car.
- Accept that life is for the living. It takes effort to begin to live again in the present and not dwell on the past. We can create new memories with those friends and family who knew the departed that can start this process.
- Postpone major life changes. Try to hold off on making any major changes, such as moving, remarrying, changing jobs or having another child. You should give yourself time to adjust to your loss. There is no set timeline but talking with your support network about this can be helpful.
- Be patient. It can take months or even years to absorb a major loss and accept your changed life. Focusing on the positive memories you can write down and cherish is a way to continue to process through the loss.
- Seek outside help when necessary. If your grief seems like it is too much to bear, seek professional assistance to help work through your grief. It’s a sign of strength, not weakness, to seek help.
Helping Others Grieve
If someone you care about has lost a loved one, you can help them through the grieving process.
- Share the sorrow. Allow them, even encourage them, to talk about their feelings of loss and share memories of the deceased. This is a crucial step for them.
- Don’t offer false comfort. It doesn’t help the grieving person when you say “it was for the best” or “you’ll get over it in time.” Instead, offer a simple expression of sorrow and take time to listen and be present with them.
- Offer practical help. Baby-sitting, cooking and running errands are all ways to help someone who is in the midst of grieving. Often times people will get this offered right after the event but help is needed weeks and months after as well. Set a reminder to check in and offer these even after the service and memorial.
- Be patient. Remember that it can take a long time to recover from a major loss. Make yourself available to talk and listen.
Encourage professional help when necessary. Don’t hesitate to recommend professional help when you feel someone is experiencing too much pain to cope alone.
Helping Children Grieve
Children who experience a major loss may grieve differently than adults. A parent’s death can be particularly difficult for small children, affecting their sense of security or survival. Often, they are confused about the changes they see taking place around them, particularly if well-meaning adults try to protect them from the truth or from their surviving parent’s display of grief.
Limited understanding and an inability to express feelings puts very young children at a special disadvantage. Young children may revert to earlier behaviors (such as bed-wetting), ask questions about the deceased that seem insensitive, invent games about dying or pretend that the death never happened.
Coping with a child’s grief puts added strain on a bereaved parent. However, angry outbursts or criticism only deepen a child’s anxiety and delays recovery. Instead, talk honestly with children, in terms they can understand. Take extra time to talk with them about death and the person who has died. Help them work through their feelings and remember that they are looking to adults for suitable behavior.