Dealing with Grief
By: Danielle Herold, LCSW-R
The loss of a loved one due to death or separation is something everyone experiences at some point in their life. Typically these losses cause grief. Grief is associated with feelings of sadness, longing, guilt, or regret. But some people may experience numbness or relief. These emotions can be surprising in their intensity or mildness, and they can also be confusing.
Thoughts during grief can be distressing or comforting, and people can bounce back and forth between feeling states that seem to be opposites. Grieving behaviors run from crying to laughter, and from seeking connection and comfort to isolating oneself from others.
The Process of Recovering from Grief
There is no absolute timeline or method for healing. Some people get over most feelings of grief and get back to regular activities within six months. Others may feel better after about a year, and sometimes people continue to grieve for years without seeming to improve or find relief even temporarily. Grief can be complicated by other conditions, most notably clinical depression or a trauma history, or by the nature of the person’s relationship with the departed.
No way of grieving is best. Some people can identify and communicate feelings easily and like to discuss them, while other people are more reserved or private and may seek distraction by focusing on other life issues. Many painful and confusing emotions are associated with the grieving process, but positive memories, humor, and joy can also be part of grief. Compassion for oneself, physical exercise, and strong social support can help.
One of the biggest challenges of losing someone important is adjusting to living without that person. This task often requires developing new routines, altering future plans, and even accepting a new life role. (For example: no longer someone’s wife, mother, sister, or parent.)
No one who experiences the loss of a significant person ever gets over it completely, but typically time helps. The term complicated grief refers to grief that feels endless and interferes with a person’s ability to function and feel engaged in their present-day life.
Prolonged symptoms may include:
- Intense sadness
- Preoccupation with the deceased or with the circumstances surrounding the death
- Longing or yearning
- Feelings of emptiness or meaninglessness
- Difficulty engaging in happy memories
- Avoidance of reminders of the deceased
- Lack of desire in pursuing personal interests or plans
- Bitterness or anger
When a person’s grief-related thoughts, behaviors, or emotions are very distressing, don’t improve with time, or make it difficult to manage daily work and living, a psychotherapist may be able to provide assistance and will tailor treatment to their specific needs. In addition to individual therapy, group therapy can be helpful for those who find comfort in speaking with others who have gone through similar experiences. Family therapy can be useful when the loss of a family member such as a sibling or a parent is causing difficulty for the entire family.
Grief, Loss, and Bereavement . (2016, May 31). Retrieved from http://www.goodtherapy.org/learn-about-therapy/issues/grief
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