Therapy for Grief

We all grieve in our own way. But you don’t have to do it alone. 

It will never be the same, but you can find meaning in life again.

It can be really hard to describe grieving. It is one of the most complex, most painful human experiences and it embodies all parts of ourselves: the physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual. Sometimes only one person is missing and the whole world seems empty. Grief cuts so deeply, stealing pieces of ourselves and transforming our existence. Feeling abandoned. Confused. Never prepared. It’s a type of catastrophic sorrow that is truly immeasurable. Beyond loss of people or pets, grief of any kind can sweep us into darkness. Loss of experiences. Loss of abilities. Loss of relationships. Loss of normalcy. Surviving grief takes enormous strength. Don’t face it alone. Let us gently walk along this journey with you, compassionately honoring your loss while simultaneously guiding you to restore wellness.

Healing from grief is not linear. We are here for all the twists and turns. 

What is Grief?

Grief is a normal and natural response to a personal loss that has caused insurmountable pain. It is a multifaceted and complicated emotion that warrants an appropriate level of respect and understanding. This emotion is often seen as an amalgamation of feelings, memories and sensations that manifest themselves in various ways depending on the individual. The experience of grief will differ for each person and can manifest itself in physical, emotional, and psychological forms. For example, a person may experience physical changes in the body resulting from grief such as insomnia, fatigue, and changes in appetite. People typically feel intense emotions such as sadness, guilt, anger, and despair after the death of a loved one. Additionally, grief can lead to emotional and psychological changes in a person such as feeling overwhelmed, lost, helpless, and out of control.

In most cases, grief refers to the loss of a loved one due to death, but in the mental health field we also recognize that grief symptoms can appear any time a significant loss occurs. This might include the loss of a pet or losses associated with changes in your health, moving away, starting a new chapter of your life, losing a job, ending a relationship, missing your past, losing an ability, or even losing your sense of normalcy with regard to your everyday routines.

Anticipatory grief refers to the sense of loss that arises when a person knows that something significant is about to change, but the exact details of the change are not known. This type of grief is frequently experienced by those who are about to go through a major life change. For example, it can be felt in the months, weeks, or even days before a loved one goes off to college, starts a new job, moves away, or gets married. This kind of grief serves to remind us to appreciate the time we have with a person, as life often moves faster than we expect it to.

Grieving is not only an emotional experience, but it is also a social experience. People often need the support of friends and family during a time of loss. Spending time with people who can provide comfort and understanding can be helpful in navigating the journey of grief. Additionally, seeking out therapy or support groups can provide a space for individuals to express their emotions in a contained and therapeutic environment.

It is important to acknowledge that grief looks different for everyone and can be expressed in various ways. Some individuals may find an intense emotional release to be helpful while others prefer to focus on practical tasks to keep themselves occupied. It is important to allow individuals to cope in whatever way they see fit and to not judge or minimize their experience of grief.

Grief is a natural and essential part of the process of acknowledging and accepting the loss. It is important to provide yourself and those around you with space and support to navigate this process in whatever way works for them. Be gentle with yourself and remember that grief is a confusing and difficult emotion and it is important to find ways to care for yourself and express your feelings.

All types of Grief are important.

How can therapy help with Grief?

Therapists can offer support and guidance during the healing process of grief by providing safe and reliable outlets for expression and by helping people articulate their pain and learn coping skills. For many individuals, connecting with an understanding and empathetic therapist can provide a measure of comfort during this difficult period of life. Therapists are trained to build a safe, trusting relationship with people so that open communication can be fostered. Through therapy, it’s often helpful to normalize the grieving experience and work constructively to resolve the grief in healthy and meaningful ways.

Specifically, the grieving person will learn strategies for working through the range of difficult emotions associated with their loss, such as anger, sadness, guilt, and confusion. Certain techniques, like progressive muscle relaxation and guided imagery, can reduce stress and anxiety, while other techniques, like embracing self-compassion and self-care, can help a person adopt a soft, healing approach to grief which can be highly therapeutic in and of itself.

Therapy can also help people learn to implement activities that provide both comfort and a gentle distraction from the intensity of grief, such as physical exercise, healthy eating, and finding meaningful ways to honor the person’s memories before the loss. In addition, therapy can help an individual recognize negative thoughts and cycles that may be caused or affected by the grieving experience, and can offer practical strategies for managing these negative thought patterns.

Finally, therapy can help with gaining insight into the current and future implications of a person’s grief, as well as how they can use this experience as a means of growth and self-reflection. Overall, there are many different ways that therapy can help a person find a sense of meaningful connection with themselves and with others during the grieving process. Most importantly, remember that your individual healing journey is unique to you. If your grief is impacting your day-to-day life, it’s important to speak up and get connected to mental health treatment. Your internal experiences matter. You don’t have to struggle alone. At River Oaks Psychology, we really care about you and we want you to know that we are here for YOU.