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Grief: You Are Not Alone

Updated: Jan 11


Most of us remember the first time someone in our life passed away. Maybe you were a child and it was an older relative, who was ill. Or perhaps it was an unexpected and tragic loss of a sibling or parent.


Whether expected or a sudden shock, all of us have lost someone we love during our life, making grief a regular part of our experience.


Yet while mourning and grief are normal, natural, and even common in our lives, acknowledging and facing grief is something we often resist.


It’s an uncomfortable feeling and being present with painful emotions is difficult, especially if you’re someone prone to trying to “fix” situations. There is no “fixing” the loss of someone we love.


So finding a comfortable or safe place to face it can be remarkably difficult. And as ubiquitous as grief is, it can also be lonely.


The Importance of Grief Therapy

Grief therapy provides us with an opportunity and a safe place to face our loss.


This is where we can recognize how much our loved one mattered to us and eventually find a way to live with the loss we’re struggling to manage. If you had a complicated relationship with your person, or if they had a lot of pain and their passing feels like a relief, you might feel some guilt or confusion about their passing.


Grief therapy provides us with an opportunity and a safe place to face our loss.


In therapy, we can explore all the emotions that are normal in grief - sadness, anger, acceptance, denial, relief, pain, and hope. It’s an opportunity to process our love and loss while developing the skills we need to navigate this new normal.


We learn that while grief will always be there, it coexists with love. It may not get easy but it will get less hard.


Caring for Ourselves Through Grief

Sometimes we try to manage our grief ourselves in unhealthy ways - with food, alcohol, substance abuse, and too much or too little sleep, for example.


Pain is not just emotional, either. There can also be physical pain associated with an intense loss. You may experience pain in the chest, back, neck, shoulders, stomach, or head. If there is a place where you usually hold tension, your grief may settle there.


During this time, it’s helpful to treat yourself a bit like a plant - drink water and spend time in the sun. Dedicate time to prayer, meditation, journaling, or exercising. Prioritize caring for yourself in healthy ways.


At first, grief may feel destabilizing. Life feels different without our loved one and it’s difficult to adjust to that change.


Because everyone experiences and processes grief differently, for some of us that initial grieving period may last a year, and for some could last as long as two years.


During this time, it’s helpful to treat yourself a bit like a plant - drink water and spend time in the sun. Dedicate time to prayer, meditation, journaling, or exercising. Prioritize caring for yourself in healthy ways. If you’re finding this difficult, seeking the support of a counselor can help make it easier.


It’s important to dedicate time to grieving, allowing yourself to nurture the sadness and tension that lie just below the surface. This is the time when you can lean into the pain and sadness, allowing the tears to flow or the anger to be expressed in a safe and supportive way.


Grief Therapy Can Lead to Growth

Grief therapy can help you develop coping skills and set boundaries with your family, friends, and colleagues, as well as a way to hold yourself accountable for your physical and mental health.


Most people have family and friends that will be present to provide support. When family and friends are also grieving the loss, though, having support from professionals is essential.


One of the ways grief therapy can help is by exploring and identifying what you need and how to ask for it.


It’s imperative to practice asking for what you need and being specific when you do. If this is something you’re not used to doing regularly, it can be even more difficult to do when you’re grieving. Even though everyone says, “Let me know if you need anything,” when we are in intense grief it might not be easy to ask for help. One of the ways grief therapy can help is by exploring and identifying what you need and how to ask for it.


For example, if it would help to receive texts on the monthly date that your loved one passed, ask a trusted friend to do this. It might look something like, “Hey, tomorrow is 7 months. I may need some support tomorrow. Can you please text me in the morning - even with just an emoji so I know you are there if I need you?” It’s a simple gesture that can make a day just a little easier to get through.


It’s also helpful to provide yourself or your loved ones with affirmations and encouragement. Everything is a win in the first few months after a close loss, including the first time driving over a bridge, a first doctor's appointment alone, a first birthday party, or first holiday, for example.


A grief counselor understands that loss is part of life and knows there’s a way through grief that can lead to a different kind of life after loss. Being able to rely on this support and knowing you have a safe and protected space to express what you’re feeling allows you to create the foundation you need to get through the grieving process.


Gooding Wellness Group has clinicians who specialize in grief therapy and are available to help.


Grief can be lonely but you are not alone.


Written By Michelle Gegwich,LMSW

Recommended books:

It’s Ok That You’re Not Ok, Megan DeVine

Finding Meaning, David Kessler

Option B, Sheryl Sandberg

The Year of Magical Thinking, Joan Didion

The Smell of Rain on Dust, Martin Prechtel







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