Grief Counseling: What are the Benefits?
Grief following the death of someone close is one of the most painful and stressful life events. It is experienced in many ways–emotionally, physically, spiritually–and everyone grieves differently. Shock, anger, sadness, guilt, and anxiety are common feelings during the grieving process, and they can be overwhelming. Occasionally there are no emotions, there is only numbness. Some people find it difficult to cope with their loss and believe they’ll never be happy again. Grief counseling offers support at this challenging time. It is a form of therapy that helps the bereaved to explore and process distressing and confusing feelings.
Loneliness and isolation are also common feelings after loss, and the support of family and friends can be invaluable. However, it isn’t always possible to grieve freely and openly among them; after all, they are grieving too. Some families and cultures insist grief is endured stoically and resolved quickly, while others come together for support until the funeral, after which everyone is left to find their own way. For people who are facing grief alone, counseling sessions validate their feelings and provide a safe, non-judgmental space to fully express emotions. Several family members or couples can attend counseling sessions together if they wish to learn how to support each other more effectively.
The Kübler-Ross theory states that there are five stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. However, there often is no simple progression from the pain of loss to resolution. There are people who get stuck at one of the stages, while others progress only to fall back to earlier stages time and again. In some cases, grief is postponed, only to surface unexpectedly weeks or months later. Grief counseling doesn’t aim to hurry the process along; it supports people as they grieve in their own way and in their own time.
A grief counselor explains the grieving process and helps the person forge a new relationship with their lost loved one, replete with healthy memories. Counseling facilitates the journey to a state wherein the bereaved can cope, make choices and move on.
For more information on grief counseling and other services, please visit our end of life resources page.