Loss is inevitable in life. Despite how normal and typical the idea of loss it, it’s still not any less difficult to emotionally handle. The burden of grief is one that can crush you – sometimes it can be too much to bear. Prolonged and untreated grief is something that can do your body and psyche great harm without the proper tools and help.
Grief counseling can be one of the most effective ways to work through grief. Counselors in this specific field are extremely experienced with the concept of loss and the depression and comorbid emotions that come with it. If you’re someone who has experienced a recent loss and you’re unsure of how to handle the emotions that it has caused, grief counseling might be the answer for you.
But getting rid of grief isn’t so easy. The grieving process is one that takes time, even with the help of a counselor. It can’t simply be wished away in a few sessions. So if it isn’t something that can be quickly and painlessly mended, what are the actual benefits of grief counseling?
You’ll better understand grief.
It’s essentially common knowledge that grief exists in a five stage process that typically runs from start to finish. Sometimes someone will ping-pong back and forth between two or three stages, and sometimes they aren’t always in order, but there is still a basic understanding of grief that is acknowledged by most people.
Despite this, the emotional responses are viewed in a simplistic way. Denial is seen as someone oblivious to death and adamant their loved one is still alive, while depression is someone hysterically sobbing on the floor. The reality is that the process is much more emotionally complicated than that, and definitely not so stereotypical. The best way to understand the actual cycle of grief is to experience it.
But this is still just a rudimentary understanding. You may be experiencing the symptoms, but a grief counselor can walk you through the process. They’ll be able to explain why you feel this way and talk to you about how to work through it.
Coping is easier.
When a grief counselor is consulted, most people have a certain expectation that they either won’t help at all or that the counselor will be able to magic away their grief in a single session. Neither is true.
Grief counselors aren’t there to take all of your pain away. In a lot of ways, pain is part of the healing process. What they are there for, though, is to help make the pain easier – to help you cope.
Coping can be defined as handling a situation in the best way possible. The situation is still present, but the way it’s being dealt with is productive – or, at the least, not harmful. Grief counselors are there to teach people ways of handling and working through grief that aren’t destructive and that can help move them through the grief cycle.
You’ll develop strategies for re-engaging.
Grief and depression are very much intertwined. They also have a very big similarity – they’re often misunderstood. Depression is sometimes thought of in the public conscious as “extreme sadness,” and while this can definitely be true, real depression is much more complex. It can lead to disengaging – shutting down, if you will.
Grief can cause people to isolate themselves because of their depression, and once you’re disengaging from activities and people, it can be hard to come back from that dark place. A grief counselor’s job is to help you find ways of coming back to life and finding ways to forge those connections again.
Positivity is reinforced.
A common problem when someone dies is that the very thought of them, even years later, can reinitiate the cycle. This is unhealthy and can be avoided with proper therapy and counseling. When you think back on your loved one, you want to remember the positive influences they had on your life, not the negativity spawned from them leaving it.
This is another area a grief counselor can help with. There are exercises that retrain your brain to associate a dead loved one with positive expressions and emotions instead of the festering sadness of grief.
Note that this doesn’t completely remove the sadness from the experience nor does it mean you can never experience a sad moment thinking about loss. Remember – sadness and grief are two different things.
You’ll accept your loss.
The ultimate end goal of the grief cycle is acceptance. Once you’ve entered this stage, you have learned to handle the emotions related to loss and can better work through them in the future, as well as any residual emotional turmoil that is still affecting you.
This goal can be helped by consulting and seeing a grief counselor. Their job isn’t truly done until you’ve entered this final stage of the process. This conclusion of the cycle means that the extreme and uncontrollable emotions have subsided, and you can go back to living life in a more valuable way.