Counselling for grief and loss - what is it?
I think it is a safe place to share your experience of loss and how it is making you feel. This not only benefits you but also your family, friends and those around you. Grief can affect us in many different ways, being fearful of the future, feeling constantly sad or without hope, feeling stuck in a rut and unable to move forward when those around you appear to be enjoying productive lives. Especially difficult for the recently bereaved is when well-meaning people close to them think they "should" have picked up by now and carried on with their lives. Grief makes others uncomfortable, they want to help out, but have no idea what to say and fearful to make things worse, say nothing. It can also be difficult to admit that things still aren't quite right. Sometimes we all need a little support and help to find our own personal way through.
Many experts have defined clear patterns of grieving and there are recognised "stages", however no two loses are the same and peoples' grieving patterns are all very different. This can depend on many factors, including past experiences, family and cultural influences, how you cope with trauma and how you learnt to cope with losses previously in life. The nature of the loss can also affect and heighten the grieving process. Multiple losses can obviously deepen the feelings of emptiness as can a loss that feels out of sync with the natural order - e.g. the loss of a young person.
There is no "right" or "wrong" way to grieve, it is an individual path through what can be a very distressing time. Sometimes grief can show itself in different ways, for example an inability to concentrate, getting very angry, feeling ill or experiencing physical symptoms. All of this is NORMAL. Above all, grief can be really confusing. Trying to make sense of the loss, whether it is recent or deep in the past can sometimes make life feel impossible. Talking about those feelings to friends or loved ones can often be difficult, as the desire to not upset others or refocus them on the loss when they seem to be moving forward can hold people back from the necessary expression of mourning.
Different types of loss other than the loss of a person may also deeply affect everyday life, be it a loss of a relationship, health, a job or a pet. Ordinary life can feel a long way off as life will never be the same as it was before the loss. Many people struggle with the loss of a future they had planned out, as life has completely changed for them. Trying to make sense of the loss by acknowledging the deep sadness, feeling heard and supported whilst holding onto the hope that life will change and improve, can be invaluable.
Seeking counselling help is asking for support and acknowledging to yourself that you have experienced deep sadness and loss. You want to feel stronger whilst seeking a safe space to share your feelings, whatever they may be. Counselling should provide a non-judgemental and understanding time to explore how you feel, in time helping you out through the darkness.