Benefits Of Grief Counseling
By: Julia Thomas
Updated May 19, 2020
Medically Reviewed By: Deborah Horton
If you're coping with the loss of a loved one, friend, or even a relationship, you are likely engaged in one or more of the seven stages of grief. According to wordsinasentence.com, grief is deep sorrow or distress. An overwhelming emotional response to a considerable loss, grief is a complex feeling that involves mental suffering and misery on a level like no other. In the past, those suffering would have to deal with their sorrow on their own. But nowadays, specialized grief counseling with a professional therapist can help you heal a lot faster.
It could be day one or a few years down the road, but you could reap the benefits of grief counseling to help you get through one or all of the stages of grief.
The seven stages of grief are as follows:
- Shock/Denial: This first stage is your body's way of dealing with heartbreak. You can't believe your loved one is gone. In this phase, you might even deny that the death even happened. You call their phone, refuse to put their things away, and hope that soon you'll wake up from this horrible dream. You could be in this stage for several weeks, and it can even vary in severity.
- Pain/Guilt: You could think of everything you wish you would have or wouldn't have done with your loved one. You feel guilt and unbelievable pain. What if you would have been there? Maybe you could have gotten her to the doctor sooner, and then things would have been different. What if you would have driven him to work and then he wouldn't have been in that horrible accident? Even though you know deep down your loved one's death isn't your fault, it probably won't feel like it during this stage. Processing the pain and guilt can happen, especially with the help of someone who knows how to regulate emotions properly.
- Anger/Bargaining: During this stage, you could focus on "Why me?" or "Why them?" questions. You could get mad. Real mad. This stage can last for a long time if not dealt with appropriately. This was the case for Myra who lost her best friend Nisha to cancer at the age of 36. For over a year, a rage burned inside Myra's heart. Nisha didn't deserve to die the way that she did. She hated cancer, and she hated God for allowing it.
People in this stage also try to bargain, especially with a higher power. They might say something like, "I will never do that again if I can have them back." "If you let them come back, I promise to do XYZ."
- Depression: During this phase, sadness can creep in. Although it presents itself in different ways, many people turn inward and chose to isolate themselves from external and even internal behaviors and activities. Things you used to enjoy are no longer of any interest. You might prefer sleeping to go out with friends; binge eats to help yourself feel better or take part in other self-destructive behaviors.
During the depression phase, you want to get on with your life, but you feel lost because you're loved one isn't around to share the important milestones with you.
- Upward Turn: These first four stages begin to dissipate. The sadness starts to pass, and the sun peeks out from behind the clouds. Everything isn't alright, but it is better than it was. The tide has already started to turn.
- Reconstruction: During this phase, you will begin to face reality and life without your loved one. You will make more practical decisions, such as financial ones. You might dip in and out of the earlier stages, but you will begin to move forward because you know that it must be done. Your life is now under reconstruction and grief is no longer your entire focus.
- Acceptance and Hope: You may not be "happy" with the loss, but you come to terms with us and look forward to your own future. There are still some good times ahead of you, after all. Acceptance and hope are the presents that come after a loss. Conciliation prizes when compared to the life of your loved one, but gifts none the less.
So, how can you reach your own personal Acceptance and Hope stage? By coming to the realization that doing it alone is a steep and long road. Grief counseling can help the process move along much more smoothly and quickly. Plus, there are so many benefits to seeking assistance with your personal healing from sorrow. Here are some of the most valuable benefits of grief counseling:
You will be able to focus on you again.
You don't want to forget your loved one, and you don't have to. But you should want to reach the stage where your focus shifts from pain to the good memories and legacies our loved ones left behind. You will be able to replace your negative emotions during the grieving process with more sustainable and happy ones. You can work through worksheets and other items to assess your grief levels. Having someone to talk to makes things a lot easier to process.
You can go at your own pace.
There isn't a set schedule for grief counseling. You can grieve in your own ways and in your own time. A grief therapist will work through you during each stage, holding your hand along the way if necessary. You can grieve freely and receive advice on how to better work through issues as they arise, one by one. For example, if you are angry, a grief counselor can help you focus on the sources of your anger and assist you in finding healthy ways to channel these feelings in a positive way. For example, when you feel the onset of anger, you can choose to take deep breaths, journal, or meditate instead of breaking things or lashing out.
You can make your own choices.
One final benefit of grief counseling is that you are in total control of the process. When you're going through the grieving process, the loss of your loved one is prioritized in your brain. While, over time, you do not forget him or her, you will be able to start making your own choices. You can realize that your personal and professional lives will go on. Therapy can lead the way. All you have to do is find a therapist who is trained in healing grief, sign up for help, and commit yourself to the process of recovery.
^ 7 STAGES OF GRIEF Through the Process and Back to Life. Recover-From-Grief.com. http://www.recover-from-grief.com/7-stages-of-grief.html. Accessed May 4, 2017.
^ Grief Counseling: What are the Benefits? Science Care.http://www.sciencecare.com/blog-grief-counseling-what-are-the-benefits/. Written December 22, 2015. Accessed May 4, 2017.
^ Grief Worksheets. The Grieving Process. BetterHelp. https://www.betterhelp.com/advice/grief/grief-worksheets/. Accessed May 4, 2017.
^ BetterHelp.https://www.betterhelp.com/start/. Accessed May 5, 2017.