Grief and Loss Counselling
Grief counselling is a form of psychotherapy that aims to help people cope with grief and mourning following the death of loved ones, or with major life changes that trigger feelings of grief (e.g., divorce).
Everyone experiences and expresses grief in their own way, often shaped by how their culture honours the process or not. It is not uncommon for a person to withdraw from their friends and family and feel helpless; some might be angry and want to take action.
One can expect a wide range of emotion and behaviour associated with grief. In all places and cultures, the grieving person benefits from the support of others. Where such support is lacking, counselling may provide an avenue for healthy resolution. Similarly, where the process of grieving is interrupted for example, by simultaneously having to deal with practical issues of survival or by being the strong one and holding a family together, it can remain unresolved and later resurface as an issue for counselling.
Grief counselling becomes necessary when a person is so disabled by their grief, overwhelmed by loss to the extent that their normal coping processes are disabled or shut down. Grief counselling facilitates expression of emotion and thought about the loss, including sadness, anxiety, anger, loneliness, guilt, relief, isolation, confusion, or numbness.
It includes thinking creatively about the challenges that follow loss and coping with concurrent changes in their lives. Often people feel disorganized, tired, have trouble concentrating, sleep poorly and have vivid dreams, and experience change in appetite. These too are addressed in counselling.
Grief counselling facilitates the process of resolution in the natural reactions to loss. It is appropriate for reaction to losses that have overwhelmed a person's coping ability. There are considerable resources online covering grief or loss counselling such as the Grief Counselling Resource Guide from the New York State Office of Mental Health.
Grief counselling may be called upon when a person suffers anticipatory grief, for example an intrusive and frequent worry about a loved one whose death is neither imminent nor likely. Anticipatory mourning also occurs when a loved one has a terminal illness. This can handicap that person's ability to stay present whilst simultaneously holding onto, letting go of, and drawing closer to the dying relative.