Have You Experienced a Loss or the Death of a Loved One?
- Are you wondering how you will recover after the loss of your spouse, child, friend, relative or pet?
- Do feel confused and perhaps even a bit scared about how lost you feel?
- Are you experiencing sleeplessness, body aches, eating issues and significant fatigue?
- Does it feel like your friends and family don’t know how to help you or what to say?
- Does your loss feel insurmountable and you don’t know how you will get through it?
- Do you feel like you need to isolate yourself while your grieving?
- Are you experiencing feelings of guilt, shame or embarrassment in relation to your loss?
- Is your loss related to losing a job, friendship, getting divorced, life change or medical diagnosis?
The Emotional Experiences of Loss
When you experience the death of a loved one, your entire world changes. It can feel like you have just stepped out of a spaceship and are trying to survive on a new planet. The world is a different place without the one you loved. Your grief can feel overwhelming and sometimes you wonder how you will get through it.
During significant loss, you can feel a range of feelings initially-from shock and numbness to unexpected anger and emptiness. Emotions can also show up unexpectedly-you don’t know when or what will set them off. You could be in a grocery store when a song comes on, driving past an old date spot, or at work when a wave of grief comes out of nowhere.
Loss is a Full Mind and Body Experience
Your body and mind is experiencing this loss as well. You may be feeling fatigued, sore muscles, upset stomach, headaches, sleeplessness, restlessness and much more. You may also be having a challenging time making decisions from clouded thinking, or remembering where you put things. This can be disconcerting to say the least but these mind and body reactions are not unusual for one who is experiencing loss. Many times, folks can be even frightened by this change in body and mind. It’s always a good idea to get checked out by your doctor but many of these symptoms are a result of body-based grieving.
Family and Community
Many times, families and communities bond together at a time of loss. This can be major source of comfort and much needed solace. Family and community dynamics can also change after a loved one dies. Your loved one filled specific emotional and practical roles in your family unit and community. There can be disorientation, confusion, miscommunications, and even anger as members tries to readjust to ‘hole’ they left. You may have new roles, responsibilities and tasks you must learn to do while processing your loss. This can contribute to added mental stress when you are already exhausted.
It’s natural to need extra support when experiencing loss in your lifetime. Sometimes grief can be overwhelming and have large impacts on functioning. You may need to learn new self-care skills and perspective to help through this ‘new’ experience. It’s also helpful to have a profession counselor help you with feelings and thoughts you are concerned about. In some cases, its necessary to receive profession guidance if you are experience high anxiety/panic, depression, suicidal thoughts or are self-medicating your grief with substances. There is also an added benefit of having a person that is not in the family or community to share your process with.
Grief and Loss is a Journey that You Need Not Do Alone
It can be really confusing to readjust to a new type of self-care during a loss. Your old self-care strategies can sometimes lose effectiveness or just fall apart completely. This usually because you have never experienced this specific type of loss before. We will build upon your current self-care strategies and develop new ones that will deeply feed what you need now. I also offer easy self-care maps that can help you monitor essential areas in your life that need care. My intention is to create a safe, non-judgmental place for us to explore on what will support you, your family and community through this challenging time.
Asking for support from others during a loss can be essential. It can also have its own set of trials. We will also look at your current support systems-what is working and what is not. Sometimes family and friend dynamics can use the extra support of a therapist. Because we all grieve differently, this can sometimes lead to misunderstandings and conflicts. Our grief counselor will support you with making healthy boundaries, healthy communication skills, and how to make space for multiple perspective and needs of others. We can also discuss how grief manifests in your kids, tweens and teens. Children and teens can express grief and loss in ways that may not make sense to adults at first. She can offer insight and the skills needed to support the children and teens in your life.
What if I am grieving over something that is not death related?
If your loss is from a non-death related incident, you can experience many of the same symptoms stated above. Many folks going through this type of loss do not recognize that they are grieving. There may be a tendency to minimize or unrecognize the immensity of these losses. The feeling of “well, at least someone didn’t die” can show up. All though this is true, it doesn’t mean your loss isn’t life changing or significant. Many times, you are experiencing a type of ‘death’ when you lose a job a friend or a marriage. It’s very normal to have similar reactions as you would if someone you loved had died.
I think talking about my loss will just make me feel worse and harder to get over.
It is good and even recommended to take breaks from talking about your loss. You may need to do more non verbal self care and restoration activities like going to a movie or getting a massage. Part of the support plan a counselor will create with clients encompasses what sort of other types of ‘help’ you may need. Sharing about your loss verbally is also very important part of processing your grief. Humans are social beings that need to have our losses and successes heard by each other. You may also be struggling with feelings and thoughts around your loss that could use a professional trained therapists’ perspective. Talking about your loss is one part of a multifaceted approach to your healing process. We also offer various loss support groups that can create a community environment to share your loss with others.
How can therapy change how I feel about my loss. Nothing will bring them back.
It is true that nothing may bring them back. Therapy is not just about change,it’s is about coming into relationship about what is. There are facts to your situation that will not change. Your loved one has died. Your thoughts, feelings and perspectives may need support and care. You may wish to continue to have a relationship with the one you have lost. We call this continuing bonds and the intention is to cultivate a relationship with your loss as well as what this person’s life has meant to you. Sometimes this means processing through the parts of your relationship that did not work. We will develop a collaborative relationship that will help you explore your journey with this loss and adjust the new reality without them.
I feel guilty, shameful, angry and fearful about my feelings around this loss and am afraid to talk about it.
When you see a therapist, you are protected by HIPAA laws that everything shared is completely confidential with the exception if you are intending to or are causing harm to yourself or others. With that said, many difficult emotions can and will accompany loss. This can be from a death or other types of loss like divorce, losing a job or a relationship. For example, Guilt can say to us “what I did was not great” and “I wish I had done that differently”. This is looking at behavior and how we feel about what has happened or how we have behaved. In my experience working with clients, although it is very important to see what we need to change about our actions, most people are very hard on themselves. Guilt is something we can explore with one eye compassionately on what can change, and the other on self compassion and advocacy.. It can be easy to avoid contacting emotions like shame guilt, anger, and fear around your loss. When you are held in a skillful counseling environment, you can learn to not only encounter these feelings safely but create your own style of coping with them.
I am concerned that my grief is affecting those around me because I cannot stop crying.
Many are surprised at the depth of feeling that shows up around a loss. Your loss may remind you of others you have experienced. This is very common and can be quite painful. If you feel that you cannot stop crying and need extra support then it is time to find it. There is nothing wrong with crying. It’s okay to release your feelings and you may need extra support to help you cope. Skilled support from a therapist can offering emotional, mental and somatic grounding and coping skills. The people in your life may also be sharing this loss with you but experiencing it in a different way. Many times families, workplaces and community member have very different ways of grieving. I can also offer you tools to communicate your needs and experience of the loss to your people, find more support outside of your inner circles and give you tools to help the impact of this deeply life changing experience.
I am unable to go to work or talk to anyone about my loss. Is this normal?
You may be experiencing grief symptoms that are physical, mental and emotional that feel overwhelming and exhausting. It is normal to have your life feel deeply changed by a loss and feel the need to isolate. Our Western culture has not made a lot of room for grief processing in public or even with other family members. This tendency to isolate not always a need; more often it feels like a requirement. You may feel like there is no choice but to grieve your loss alone. Although it is healthy to have some alone time with your grief, getting support is highly recommended especially when it comes to loss. It may not feel safe to go to friends and family, but if it does that is a good place to start. The support of a trained grief counselor can also provide coping tools, normalization of grief symptoms and communication skills specifically for loss. If you feel that you cannot go back to work or are isolating because of feeling frozen, panic or deeply depressed counseling is highly recommended.
Grief and Loss Counseling Can Help
Sometimes you hear the saying that times “time heal all wounds”. Although this partially true, people who actively support themselves during a loss recover more fully. With the support of a compassionate, skillful and experienced professional counselor, your grief can become more manageable, a source of great love and insight. Our grief therapist Lindsay has worked as a therapist and a mentor with individuals, couples, families and communities for the last 11 years. Grieving is a deeply individual experience and requires tailored support. She will work collaboratively with you to find therapeutic interventions and support skills for your individual process. Since grief is a whole body-mind process, she also offers mindfulness based skills, compassion practices and emotional regulation techniques. These mind-body skills can provide a more holistic approach to your healing. Lindsay is a dedicated researcher and lifelong learner, so she can also offer different perspectives on grief and loss from a background of personal experience, current research and therapeutic theory.
Are You Ready to Take the Next Step?
You can also call our office at 425-406-8627. If you have a preferred counselor, please let us know. Otherwise you will speak to our intake worker who will help determine who would be the best fit for your needs.