Throughout human life, grief comes to us at some point. Usually, it is caused by the loss of a loved one, or it can occur due to a disablement, separation, miscarriage, other life changes such as an illness, loss of a job, a natural disaster, and even ageing.
The emotional pain you experience on losing a loved one can feel unbearable.
Grief is complicated, and you sometimes wonder if the pain will ever end. You go through different emotional experiences such as anger, intense sadness, and confusion.
Healing from a loss can be difficult, but it is possible. Be patient as it takes time. Resources like support groups and counselling can help you cope with it.
The 5 Stages of Grief and How Grief Counseling Can Help
A Swiss American psychiatrist “Elisabeth Kübler-Ross” wrote in his book “On Death and Dying” that the grief process consists of five primary stages. These five stages of grief are popularly referred to as DABDA and collectively known as the Grief Cycle.
The below-mentioned grief stages are not linear, and it is quite possible that some people may not experience any of them or others might undergo two stages, rather than all of five stages, one stage, three stages, etc. So, let’s discuss them one by one.
Denial is that the first stage of the grief process that will initially assist you survive the loss. You might think that life has no meaning, makes no sense, and is too overwhelming.
You start to deny the news of the loss, in effect, go numb. In this stage, you might also wonder how life will go in this different state. If your lab reports came out and you were diagnosed with a deadly disease, you might believe that a mistake must have occurred in the lab, or they mixed up your blood sample with someone else.
In the denial stage, you’re living in a preferable reality instead of living in actual reality. This denial can be positive and offer benefits. It aids in pacing your feelings of grief. We deny the grief, don’t accept it, and stagger its full impact on us on just one occasion.
You can consider it as a defence mechanism. Your brains let in only as much you can handle at the time.
Denial is often followed by anger. It is a natural part of the healing process. In this stage, most people think, “why me?” and blame others for their situation.
Sometimes this anger may be directed to an external source such as friends, family members, or even someone who died. It is also possible in this stage to question your belief in God.
Mental health professionals and researchers believe that anger is a necessary stage of grief. The more quickly you will heal if the more honestly you feel the anger. So, never try to suppress the feeling of anger. Think of anger as a strength to shift you to reality.
You can also consult with a professional grief counsellor who can help you find constructive outlets for your anger. So you don’t strain your personal and professional relationships.
Once their anger goes and chronic grief go away, people in intense grief may start making a deal with God in an attempt to turn back time and undo the loss.
If the loss involves someone very close, bargaining is likely to involve a promise to God or perform some tasks to have their loved one returned. You can call this stage a false hope. You might believe that you can avoid grief through some negotiation, but the truth is you can’t.
At this point, it is essential to exercise self-compassion. Bargaining is painful process and not going to bring any long-term solutions to complicated grief.
Grief counselling can help you express your need to bargain without getting stuck in expectations of results.
Depression is a commonly accepted form of emotional expression of grief. It is a “Present” emotion. That’s why people associate depression immediately with grief.
Depression involves the feeling of numbness, fear, hopelessness, uncertainty, loss of appetite, and changes in sleeping patterns. Like Anger, Depression may be a regular and necessary part of the grief process and should not be avoided.
In this stage, you don’t feel like talking, don’t want to be around others, and experience feelings of hopelessness. Consult with a professional counsellor who can help you work through your depression. So, it doesn’t overwhelm your functioning ability.
Acceptance is the last and final stage of the complex process identified by Kübler-Ross. In this stage, we accept the loss, we process grief, incorporate it into our lives, and move forward again.
You accept the new reality that your partner is never coming back.
While anger and depression may still occur from time to time during the acceptance stage, they become less relevant as we move forward. In this stage, you start to engage with friends again and make new friends and relationships as time goes on.
Grief Counseling Techniques
Once circumstances surrounding the loss are successfully established, the subsequent step is to manoeuvre towards specific grief counselling and grief therapy techniques., which includes:
- Let them talk about the deceased – a grief counsellor should encourage the grieving person to talk about the deceased’s life in a safe space. Let them talk about the person, what they looked like, what were their hobbies?
- Distinguish grief from trauma – if someone feels traumatized from the circumstances surrounding a loved one’s death, a grief counsellor can help them readjust their outlook on those memories.
- Addressing the feeling of guilt – Some people may feel guilty about what they did or didn’t do while their beloved was alive. Grief counsellor should encourage them to let go of the guilt or even to allow themselves to forget their loved ones for a bit of a while and commit to living a life that will honour the deceased.
What are the 4 R’s of grief?
The four R’s of grief, as advocated by Dr. Hoy, provide a framework for navigating the mourning process and finding closure. These four R’s of counseling grief are recognition of reality, remembering, refining, and release.
1. Recognition of reality is the first step in the grieving process. It involves acknowledging and accepting the fact that a loved one has died. This recognition allows individuals to come to terms with the significant loss, and begin their journey of healing.
2. Remembering involves cherishing and honoring the memories of the deceased. It encompasses reminiscing about the times shared, celebrating their life, and keeping their legacy alive. Remembering helps individuals find comfort and connection through the shared experiences and the significant impact the deceased person had on their lives.
3. Refining refers to the process of adjusting and redefining one person’s life after the grief and loss. It involves adapting to the new reality without the presence of the loved one and finding ways to move forward. This stage may involve exploring new routines, roles, or identities and seeking support from others who have experienced similar losses.
4. Release is the final stage of the grieving process. It entails letting go of the pain, the deep sadness, guilt, and other negative emotions associated with the loss. It does not mean forgetting or minimizing the significance of the death of a loved one but rather finding a sense of peace and resolution.
Online Techniques and Opportunities for Grieving
Online techniques and grief counselors and opportunities provide valuable support for grieving individuals.
Here are some ways people grieve online:
Online Support Groups: Join virtual support groups where you can connect with others who have experienced similar losses. Share your feelings, gain insights, and receive empathy and understanding.
Grief Counseling via Video Calls: Engage in one-on-one grief counseling sessions with licensed professionals through video calls. These sessions offer a safe space to explore and manage emotions, receive guidance, and develop coping strategies.
Online Memorialization: Create virtual memorials or tribute pages to honor your loved ones. Share stories, photos, and memories with family members and friends, allowing for collective remembrance and support.
Online Resources and Forums: Access grief-related websites, forums, and blogs for educational materials, self-help resources, and interactive discussions. These platforms offer information, guidance, and a sense of community during the grieving process.
Online Rituals and Ceremonies: Participate in virtual ceremonies or rituals that commemorate significant dates or anniversaries. Light a candle, share reflections, or engage in symbolic acts of remembrance together with others online.
Remember, while online platforms offer convenience and accessibility, it’s essential to find trusted and reputable sources to ensure the support received is reliable and appropriate for your specific needs.
In navigating grief, it’s crucial to recognize that everyone copes uniquely. Practice patience as you process your emotions and share your experience with trusted individuals or healthcare professionals.
Remember to celebrate the life of your loved one and find ways to honor their memory. Allow yourself the space to heal, knowing that healing is a personal journey.
Embrace life with a commitment to living in a way that reflects the values and legacy of your loved one.
Grief Counseling FAQs
Talk Therapy consists of people expressing their emotions in order to talk about losing their lives. A counseling session can be an effective way for grief counselor to give a patient the opportunity and the support of a grieving friend or family member who has died.
Grief counseling focuses on providing support, guidance, and coping strategies to individuals experiencing grief. Grief therapy, on the other hand, involves more in-depth exploration of the emotions and thoughts associated with grief, aiming to promote healing and personal growth.
Grief counseling reminds individuals that there is no right or wrong way to grieve. It emphasizes the importance of understanding and supporting each person’s unique experience of loss. By providing guidance and validation to grieving clients, counseling helps individuals navigate their grief journey with self-compassion and acceptance.