Counseling for Grief: Moving Beyond Grief and Loss
January 23rd, 2013; Posted in Grief & Loss
There are all types of losses that you may experience throughout your life – loss of loved ones through death and divorce, loss of a pet, loss of a job, or even loss of a dream. Coping with grief and loss is difficult for everyone. Counseling for grief can help!
Stages of Recovery from Grief and Loss
There are some predictable stages that most people pass through after losing something or someone important. In her work on death and dying, Elisabeth Kübler-Ross outlines five stages of grief and loss.
Shock and Denial: The first reaction to loss is often the inability to feel anything. This may include
feeling numb, weak, overwhelmed, anxious, not yourself, or withdrawn.
Anger: Blaming yourself or others for the loss.
Bargaining: “If you’ll just let him live, I’ll promise to go to church every Sunday for the rest of my life.”
Depression: feeling deep sadness, disturbed sleep and eating patterns, thoughts of suicide, excessive
Acceptance: Beginning to look for the lessons of the experience.
Kübler-Ross said that the grief and loss process involves experiencing all five stages, although not always in this order. She also said that people often cycle back and forth through a number of the stages before
coming to the stage of acceptance. If it feels like you are “stuck” in one of these stages, counseling for grief can help.
Kinds of Losses
Some examples of significant losses are:
-Loss of a person through death
-Loss of a body part though accident or surgery
-Loss of an ability, such as blindness
-Loss of a friend who has moved
-Loss of everything familiar when you move away
- Loss of a dream or imagined future when life circumstances change
Each kind of loss affects each person in a different way, but the recovery process usually follows
Kübler-Ross’s five stages of grief and loss. Counseling for grief can help you process your loss and move through the stages of grief to a place of acceptance and readiness for the next step.
Recovering from Loss: Some Key Points
1. You are responsible for your own grief and loss process. No one can tell you how to grieve, and no one will do your grieving for you. It is hard work and you must manage the process by yourself.
2. The grief and loss process has a purpose. It is to help you learn to accept the reality of the loss and to learn from the experience.
3. Remind yourself that your grief will end. You will not feel like this forever. You will heal.
4. Take care of your health. Grief is extremely stressful, and it requires energy to manage the
5. Talk about the person who is no longer in your life. People sometimes avoid talking about the
loss as a denial mechanism. However, this prolongs denial and the grieving process.
6. Take time to be alone. In the days and weeks following the loss of a loved one, there is often a
flurry of activity with many visitors and phone calls. Added to the stress of your loss, this can be
completely exhausting. People will understand if you don’t answer the phone for an afternoon
or go to your room and close the door for a while.
7. Maintain a normal routine if you can. You have enough changes in your life right now. Try to
get up in the morning, go to bed at night, and take your meals at the same times you usually do.
8. Ask for help. You will need it. If you don’t want to be alone, or if you want someone to take you
somewhere, it is okay to ask. People do not expect you to be self-sufficient right now.
9. Let people help you. People want to help because it gives them a away to express their feelings.
Staying connected with people is especially important now, and accepting help is a way of
10. Keep a journal of your feelings and experiences during the grief process. Writing about your
feelings helps you express them, rather than keeping them inside. It also gives you something to
remember and review in the future, which you will appreciate.
11. Avoid making extreme life changes after a major loss. Don’t make any important decisions until
your life feels more balanced. It can be tempting to make some important changes right after
a major loss as an effort to feel more in control. If you can, put off such changes and decisions
12. Don’t hurry your grief process. People sometimes want to put their feelings and memories
behind them because they are painful. But grieving takes time, and there are no shortcuts.
13. Remind yourself that although grief hurts, it will not harm you. Grief is painful, but you will
survive and even grow from the experience.
14. Expect to regress in your recovery process from time to time. This is normal. It may happen
unexpectedly, but it probably won’t last long.
15. Acknowledge the anniversary of your loss by taking the day off or doing something special.
Have supportive people ready to be with you. It could be a difficult day and it’s better not to be
How to Help Someone Who Is Grieving
1. Don’t try to get them to feel or be anything but what they are.
2. Don’t reward them for acting cheerful or “like your old self.” This teaches them to suppress their
feelings around you.
3. Don’t avoid them. They need your support.
4. Let them tell about the loss again and again, if they need to.
5. Recognize that unexpected, perhaps inappropriate behavior is part of the grieving process. It
means the bereaved person is moving forward.