West End Counselling Centre Life Transitions Counselling

Counselling for Loss and Grief

After losing a loved one, there is often a period of grief, mourning, or bereavement. This is a completely normal response to loss. Together with your counsellor, they will help you will help your navigate through what may seem like the most difficult times in your life.

 

Book a free 15-minute consultation today to learn more about how we can help you.

What is Grief?

Grief can take on many different forms and can manifest differently for each individual. It is a very complicated emotion which is often accompanied by a variety of complex feelings. Grief typically involves feelings of sadness, as well as guilt, anger, yearning, and regret.  

Types of Grief

Instrumental Grieving → focuses primarily on problem-solving tasks. Thinking more than feeling; less of an emotional expression and more of an expression of grief through doing something. 

 

Intuitive Grieving → an expression of grief through affect. A heightened period of emotional feeling and expression. 

Stages of Grief

There is a commonly used 5-Stages Model which outlines the stages of grief. However, because each individuals experience is different, not everyone experiences each of these stages. In most scenarios, grieving is often not a linear process. An individual may move back and forth within each stages.

          Denial → avoidance, confusion, shock, disbelief 

          Anger → frustration, irritability, recognition that things are different now 

          Bargaining → desperation, feelings of helplessness 

          Depression → sadness, isolation, depressed mood, lacking in energy 

          Acceptance → no longer resisting the reality of the loss, moving forward 

Complicated Grief

Grief is a person’s natural response to losing a loved one. It’s accompanied by feelings of hurt, loss, and sadness. Complicated grief, also known as complicated bereavement disorder, is a condition that can occur in some people who have just lost a loved one or are experiencing grief for another reason. While the intensity of grief usually fades with time for most people, these feelings don't improve for people with complicated grief. They might be so intense that they disrupt their day to day lives. Complicated grief occurs in approximately 7% of bereaved individuals. ​

Signs & Symptoms of Complicated Grief

The signs and symptoms of complicated grief are similar to normal grief. However, whereas symptoms fade with time with normal grief, people with complicated grief experience them more intensely and persistently. Some signs to look out for include: 

  • Excessively avoiding reminders of their loss 

  • Obsessively thinking about their loss 

  • Intense longing for a person who has died 

  • Feeling a sense of loss of purpose in life 

  • Excessively seeking proximity to reminders of things that remind them of the person they’ve lost 

  • Suicidal thoughts 

  • Being unable to accept that the loss has occurred 

  • Experiencing persistent and intrusive thoughts about the person you’ve lost 

Through the counselling process, individuals can explore a variety of topics including grief reactions and coping mechanisms for complicated grief symptoms. Counsellors can help individuals process the loss, readjust their routines and redefine their life goals following the loss of a loved one. Counselling can be an instrumental part of the healing process for individuals experiencing grief of any kind.

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