Grief Counseling in San Antonio
Grief isn’t just an experience of feelings but it’s also a process or journey we go through to fully heal. Grief counseling offers guidance and provides helpful tools to process painful experiences in a healthy way. Feeling grief can come from the loss of anything that is near and dear or important to us. In this context grief is very personal, however know that it is also commonly shared among all people, and this is not a journey you or anyone needs to go through alone. A grief counselor assists you during your journey right beside you. You can grieve in your own ways, freely and receive advice from a counselor on how to better work through obstacles and issues as they arise, one by one.
Most can agree with the simple definition of grief being a mental suffering or distress over loss, profound sorrow, and/or deep regret. To some measure we’ve all experienced grief or seen it visibly with others. The term may be simple, but the emotion attached to grief is very complex. While it commonly reflects loss related to ‘death’ it can also describe any sort of loss associated with divorce or a troubling diagnosis, or any other of the many hardships the befalls a person.
Circumstances causing grief
Grief is a natural reaction reflecting the emotional suffering felt when someone you love or perhaps something is taken away. Any form of loss can cause grief, including:
1. Friendship, relationship breakup or divorce
2. Loss of your personal health
3. Loss of a job
4. Loss of being financiallystable
5. Having a miscarriage
6. Forced Retirement
7. A pet’s death
8. Loss of a cherished ambition
9. Illness of a loved one
11. Loss of feeling safe after a traumatic event
12. Selling and or having to leave the family home
Even small losses in a person’s life can trigger a feeling of grief. People commonly grieve after relocating, changing jobs, or graduating from college. Whatever your loss happens to be, it’s personal and significant to you, and that’s all that’s required to experience normal grief.
Symptoms of grief
While loss affects us all differently, the following symptoms are commonly experienced by those coping with grief.
Emotional symptoms of grief
Shock & disbelief – Upon a loss, it can be difficult to accept what happened. Many feel numb, disbelieve the loss really happened, or simply deny the truth.
Sadness – Deep sadness is perhaps the most widely experienced symptom of grief. This is often reflected with a sense of emptiness, loneliness, and or despair.
Guilt – Feeling regret or guilt about things said and left unsaid is common. Some people even feel a sense of guilt for not doing more to prevent a loss from happening, despite there being nothing more a person could have done.
Anger – Even if the loss is the fault of no one, you may feel resentful and angry. Sometimes this anger may even be self-directed. It’s common to need to place blame with someone for the injustice and loss you’re experiencing.
Physical symptoms of grief
Experiencing grief commonly includes problems, including:
Weight loss or weight gain
Aches and pains
Stages of Grief
Elisabeth Kubler-Ross published a model to explain the 5 stages of grief associated with trauma and change. In the circumstance of grief attached with death, these 5 stages can be applied to anticipatory grief experienced by a person who is facing their own death or to the loved ones who are preparing for the death of their loved one. The 5 stages are:
- Denial: “This can’t be happening to me.”
- Anger: “Why is this happening? Who is to blame?”
- Bargaining: “Make this not happen, and in return I will ____.”
- Depression: “I’m too sad to do anything.”
- Acceptance: “I’m at peace with what happened.”
It should be noted everyone experiencing grief may not go through all 5 stages, nor follow the steps in sequence, and that one may experience a stage more than once. However most individuals will experience at least 2 of the stages. The stages are meant to be experienced in order nor are they equal in the time a person spends on one stage. Also, a person doesn’t have to complete a stage prior to pivoting into another stage.
A countering view is that as opposed to a series of stages, imagine the grieving process as a kind of roller coaster with several ups and downs, highs followed by lows. Like roller coasters, the ride is generally slow to start and the lows go deeper and endure longer. But those difficult moments soon come to a pass, you find your pathway to a swift and smooth journey working through your loss.
Goals of Grief Counseling
The term grief counseling is generally reserved for helping a person work through their grief via one-on-one counseling or through a group environment. The goals of grief counseling are to help a person through uncomplicated, normal grief to a healthy place and resolution of the challenge of grieving within a reasonable length of time.
Goals of grief counseling involve helping the person gradually move to acceptance by guiding the person in conversation about the loss and the circumstances surrounding the loss. Additionally it is vital to help the person describe their emotions and feelings woven into the loss. Another essential goal of grief counseling is to help the person learn coping strategies for difficult moments, such as birthdays, anniversaries, holidays, and other milestones.
A significant component of grief counseling is assuring the person their feelings and emotions are expected and normal. Important outcomes of grief counseling are helping the person to understand their coping behavior along with identifying coping mechanisms that are unhealthy or problematic for the person. Without these basic outcomes achieved, the person may continue with unhealthy practices and patterns and require more extensive and deeper mental health treatment.
Grief counseling is a type of psychotherapy aimed to help in coping with mourning following a loved one’s death, or with major changes in life that trigger feelings of grief (e.g., divorce). Grief counselors are mindful that though everyone expresses and experiences grief uniquely, often influenced by culture – all grieving people benefit from the support of others. In situations and circumstances wherein that support is lacking, grief counseling can provide a pathway for healthy resolution. Also, mindful grief is a process with the goal being resolution, where the process is disturbed, for example, by also having to be the strong one and holding a family together, grief can remain unresolved only to later resurface.
Grief counseling is advisable when a person is so overwhelmed by loss their normal coping abilities are shut down. Whether it’s sharing or venting, getting out your thoughts and emotions about your loss may surface anger, loneliness, sadness, anxiety, guilt, relief, numbness, confusion, or isolation. Grief counseling delves into how people stricken with grief feel tired, disorganized, have trouble sleeping, concentrating, experience vivid dreams and changing appetite. When a person’s natural responses to loss overwhelm their coping ability, grief counseling is both a useful and helpful support system.
What you can do to help your grieving
When experiencing grief it’s critical to take care of yourself. The stress of a significant loss can swiftly deplete your emotional reserves and take its toll on you in every way. Physical and emotional self-care will help you in profound ways get through this challenging time.
Face your feelings. Suppressing grief is not a long term solution. Healing requires you to first acknowledge pain. Avoiding feelings of loss and sadness prolongs the grieving process. From grief unresolved can emerge depression, substance abuse, anxiety and health problems.
In a tangible or creative way express your feelings. Consider starting a personal journal and writing down all you never got to; craft a scrapbook or photo album celebrating the life of the person who’s died, or volunteer for a cause.
Try to maintain your interests and hobbies. There’s comfort in getting back to the things you enjoy and connecting closer to others who can be supportive of your loss.
Don’t let anyone tell you how to feel. Your grieving experience is your own to process, and no one can tell you when it’s time to “get over it.” Allow yourself to feel whatever……without judgment or embarrassment.
Plan ahead for grief “triggering” situations. Anniversaries, birthdays, and holidays, can reawaken feelings and memories. Prepare yourself for the emotional surge, and know it’s perfectly normal.
Stay aware of your physical health. The body and mind are connected. When you feel fit and healthy, you’re better positioned to cope emotionally. Counter fatigue and stress by getting sufficient sleep, eating a proper diet, and exercising). Stay away from alcohol or drugs to numb the pain or alter your mood.
How Rhapsody Counseling can help
Getting to a feeling of acceptance when coping with grief is hard for many people. Seeing a mental health expert for loss and grief can help you process the feelings you’re experiencing and learn a new skill set and creative ways to cope — all in a safe space. If you have experienced a loss you will find help and support here at Rhapsody Counseling. Therapy can be helpful in bringing resolution to any sort of loss, whether society validates the grief or not. Grief counseling is an opportunity to explore your feelings and memories free of any judgment – and work toward resolution. You do not have to endure your grief alone, feel free to give us a call to explore how we can be helpful toward resolving your feelings of grief.
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Free Discovery Call to Talk with a Counselor
Take the first step in your wellness journey and book a free 10-20 minute discovery call with a Counselor. The Counselor will start off the call with a few questions to get to know you better, so they can make sure they’re qualified to meet your needs. This includes questions about why you’re considering counseling, how you’ve been feeling over the past few weeks, and your goals for counseling.
If possible, take a few minutes before the call to reflect on these topics, so you can have a clearer sense of your goals for counseling. But don’t worry, if you can’t verbalize the answer to any questions, our counselors know how to guide your thinking so you can figure out what to say and the Counselor will welcome you to ask questions about counseling and Rhapsody.