When a loved one dies, this can leave you feeling lost and alone. It may even shatter your familiar world, challenge your values and beliefs, or shake up your sense of safety and security. Grief after loss can be more than just the experience of painful emotions. It can also be a shock to body that can feel similar to an injury. Whether the loss is expected or unexpected, death can leave an imprint of absence that your mind struggles to understand and adapt to. The intensity of grief you feel often parallels other experiences related to the loved one such as unfinished business, or the intensity of love you felt while they were alive.
Hopefully, you agree surrounded by supportive people who aren’t afraid to make contact with you in this pain. However, many individuals do not experience effective grief support. Others may be very uncomfortable with your pain and loss. This is evident is they avoid talking about the deceased individual, or if they seem to gradually disappear from your life. Perhaps you have been on the receiving end of unhelpful comments? Many grievers feel pressured to “get over the loss” and move forward quickly. It is not uncommon to feel like no one understands your pain or has had a loss quite like yours. Unfortunately, we live in a grief-illiterate culture and these experiences contribute to a sense of isolation.
Grief is not a pathology to be diagnosed. It is a normal experience that calls for empathy, skilled listening, and reflective support. There is no real timeline in grief, and you are not abnormal for grieving beyond a year. Grief does not grow smaller over time, but you can expand and grow around your grief. Your love for the deceased does not disappear just because they are gone. In fact, the love can continue on as a resource that brings comfort and ongoing connection. Everyone has a different grieving style and a different relationship to the deceased, and there are many factors that impact how grief is experienced.
Your therapist understands these subtle nuances and can help you navigate through the loss. It is important to know that grief can also be complicated by other pre-existing mental health issues, such as anxiety, depression, or trauma. If this is the case, your therapist will assist you with coping skills, and offer therapies aimed towards deeper healing of more complicated issues. The most important thing to keep in mind is that no one should ever have to go through grief alone. If you are in need of grief counseling in San Luis Obispo, your therapist is a certified grief educator who will walk with you in your grief journey.
Grief counseling is also very helpful for anticipatory grief which involves grieving in advance of the actual loss. This may occur if your loved one is currently suffering a severely declining condition. Anticipatory grief can happen as you begin to realize the impact the loss will have on your life. There are also many secondary, micro-losses along the way. The aim of therapy is to help you process the pain of the loss, and to pave the way for you to build healthy remembrance of your loved one going forward. Grief Counseling services are available in-person in San Luis Obispo, or by telehealth anywhere in CA.