(847) 310-8578 info@kennellyassoc.com

Grief and Loss

Common questions about grief, loss, and how therapy can help

General Questions

What Is Grief?

Grief refers to a significant and, at times, overwhelming feeling of sadness. Most often, grief is felt after the death of a loved one, but this is not always the case. Grief can also occur at the loss of anything that you assign great importance to, be that a job, an opportunity, or an experience.

Is Grief the Same Thing as Bereavement?

Bereavement is a form of grief, but it specifically refers to the period of sadness and mourning following the death of a loved one.

How Do I Know if I’m Grieving?

Grief can sometimes feel overwhelming, and at other times subtle. Occasionally, an individual may have trouble recognizing that they are grieving, as symptoms vary greatly from person to person.

Some individuals may have trouble sleeping, while others may sleep in excess. The same can be true of other lifestyle habits such as eating, exercising, and more.

Grief can also affect our personalities, resulting in perhaps a heightened sense of empathy (or a reduction in empathy) or a reduction in our patience with others.

If you’ve noticed a change in your mood, behavior or habits — particularly if it began around a period of loss — then you are likely experiencing grief.

What Is Normal Vs Exaggerated Grieving?

There is no “normal” or “exaggerated” grieving. Everyone is different! Some individuals simply feel things deeper or move on more quickly than others.

The more important thing to be aware of is the effects that grief may have within your life and your relationships. If you find yourself becoming quick to anger, for example, or leaning heavily on substances like alcohol to help manage your feelings, then that is something to be aware of.

If you feel like you need assistance in navigating a difficult time in your life, therapy can help.

What Does Grief Do to Your Body?

Grief, like similar mental states of anxiety and depression, can lead to a variety of physical manifestations due to the stress hormones which are released in the process. This can lead to neck and joint pain, headaches, insomnia or excessive tiredness, gastrointestinal distress, and more.

Why Is Grief So Hard?

Grief can be exceptionally difficult for a number of reasons.

First, it often requires a great deal more work or emotional labor than many people expect. While some may think that all that is needed is to wait for the process to continue on its own, this could not be further from the truth. For this reason, it can appear exceptionally difficult due to the fact that it is unexpected.

Grief is also in response to a traumatic experience. The individual must wrestle with the fact that things are out of their control and come to terms with the event as it occurred, which is not easy.

The good news is that grief can be navigated, and in fact can result in positive change within your life, if managed properly. Therapy can help you in this area.

Managing and Overcoming

How Long Does Grief Last?

Grief is a process without a timeline. Different individuals will need different lengths of time to process the event and determine a healthy place in the aftermath of loss or bereavement. Be patient with yourself and others during this process.

What Are the Seven Stages of Grief?

The seven stages of grief are as follows:

  • Shock
  • Denial
  • Anger
  • Bargaining
  • Depression
  • Testing
  • Acceptance

It is important to note that everyone processes grief differently. Some may progress through the seven stages at an even pace, while others may travel back and forth between them throughout the process, lending more time to certain stages than others. Be patient with yourself and others.

How Do You Get Over Grief?

Overcoming grief is a process of both time and labor. Grief is something that each individual must work through in their own way, often with the help of a mental health professional, in order to navigate and ultimately overcome the natural process of acceptance and healing.

Everyone is different, and patience is an important component to the healing process.

What Should You Say/Do for Someone Who Is Grieving?

The most important thing that you can do or say for someone who is grieving is to let them know that you are there for them in whatever capacity that they need for you. This involves two things:

On the one hand, you should make sure that you follow through in this promise. Be there for them when they need someone to talk to, and be willing to help them in whatever appropriate ways they need, whether these requests are spoken or unspoken.

On the other hand, be careful to not pressure them into something that they are not comfortable with. Take care to not come across as overbearing. If they say they need space, accept that, and withdraw until they make it known that they could use your help.

How Do You Accept the Loss of a Loved One?

Accepting the loss of a loved one is one of the most difficult things that we as humans will face in our lifetimes.

The first step is to allow yourself the time and space to mourn your loss. You may take this time to share memories of this person alone or with others. Oftentimes, a funeral can help with this role, but in all likelihood it will continue beyond that.

Ultimately, you will come to no a new stage of your life in which they are not physically present, and this can be difficult. While things are different, you can rest assured that your memories of them will always remain, as does their impact on yourself and others. Feel free to continue celebrating them in whatever way and at whatever interval that you find helpful in your life moving forward.

Finally, don’t feel that you need to go it alone. Therapy can be a very useful tool in getting through this incredibly difficult process. Don’t be afraid to ask for help.

Grief Therapy

What Type of Therapy Is Good for Grief?

Grief counseling is an essential part of therapy that helps individuals of all ages manage and overcome feelings of loss or bereavement. Elements of this therapy type may include:

  • Navigating the seven stages of grief
  • Examining the effects of grief on yourself and others
  • Working to develop or continue healthy coping strategies
  • Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT)
  • Acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT)
  • And play therapy for pediatric patients

Every person is different, as is how they navigate grief. For that reason, your therapy sessions will be unique to you. Therapy can help everyone navigate loss and grief.

How Does Grief Counseling Work?

The key aspects of grief counselling are acknowledging and validating your feelings toward loss, helping you develop healthy and sustainable coping strategies, preparing you for the process that lies ahead, working with you to encourage acceptance and positive thinking, and so much more.

Grief counseling can help you navigate loss, but it can also help you choose a positive outlook and improve your relationship with others in this time of trouble. It’s an incredibly important component to overcoming loss with a renewed sense of purpose and connection with your family and community at large.

How Do I Know if I Need Bereavement Counseling?

Everyone can benefit from grief and bereavement counseling. Some signs that may indicate that therapy should be pursued sooner rather than later include feelings of helplessness/hopelessness, changes in habits or behavior, or difficulty processing and overcoming past loss or trauma.