According to the counseling website BetterHelp, grief is considered a normal reaction to a loss. The loss can be either someone or something you loved and cared about deeply. For example, pet owners often suffer the same amount of grief over losing their pet as they would losing a loved one. Grief can impact a person in a variety of ways. Along with emotional problems, the patient can experience physical, social and behavioral complications.
Grief therapy recognizes that each person experiences a loss differently and therefore, there is no exact guideline for treatment. Therapists use their training and own judgment of the situation to decide what kind of treatment would be the most effective. Proper therapy occurs when the patient and the counselor come together to identify, reinforce and utilize the patient’s strengths to effectively learn to cope with the loss. The goal of grief therapy isn’t to help the person move on from a loss, but instead aims to get patients to the point where they can replace their negative emotions with positive memories.
The psychologist, Mark Tyrrell, states that, while it is widely accepted that there are five stages of grief (i.e., denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance), different people deal with the grief in various ways and may not experience all five of the stages. In other words, there is nothing that says that a person has to feel a certain set of emotions, nor do they have to feel them in a certain order.
Moreover, he claims that there are several crucial techniques that comprise proper grief therapy, with each being equally important.. The first is allowing the patient to talk about the deceased. They may feel as though they can’t properly express themselves, lest they upset or burden those close to them. Therapists should encourage their patients to talk about their lost loved one and ask them to consider how the deceased would have wanted them to be living now.
Tyrrell considers the second step to be the most challenging in proper grief therapy, which is to help the patient distinguish grief from trauma. If the patient continues to experience flashbacks and horrific memories, such as finding their deceased loved one, the counselor should seek to help them by finding a method to detraumatize these memories and intrusive thoughts so that the patient can begin a healthy grieving process.
In addition to the first two techniques, the last deals with the guilt patients in grief therapy struggle with. They might feel like they aren’t grieving enough or may interpret the fact that their grief is abating means that they no longer care about their deceased loved one as much as they once did. The best remedy for this is to encourage the patient to rest, allowing them to take breaks from grieving. This will ultimately help the person function despite their loss, allowing him or her to move forward and focus on the happy memories.
It is important to remember that the grieving process is different for each person and that what works for one patient might not work for another. Should the severity of grief not lessen within a few months or if the person denies the possibility that he or she can lead a happy and fulfilling life without their loved one, grief therapy should definitely be sought out. At Family Restoration Counseling Services, our therapists seek to serve the community by helping individuals and families to regain and maximize their ability to function well in life. We offer individual, couples, family and group therapy in the greater Dallas area for children, adolescents and adults. If you are experiencing grief after the loss of a loved one, contact us at Family Restoration Counseling Services.