We will all experience grief and loss. Yet, we may all grieve differently. It is important to process this universal experience with a safe and trusted person. That is where we are honoured to come in to offer grief counselling in Kelowna, BC and online grief counselling.
Whether it is the loss of a loved one, the loss of a dream or part of you, we are here to support you in your stages of grief.
“How lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard.”Winnie the Pooh
What is grief counselling?
Grief counselling is a form of psychotherapy that aims to help individuals cope with the emotional, psychological, and sometimes physical responses to loss or bereavement. Grief can be triggered by various events, such as the death of a loved one, the end of a significant relationship, or other significant life changes. Grief counselling provides a supportive and understanding environment where individuals can express their feelings, navigate the grieving process, and work towards healing.
What is grief counseling:
- Understanding the Grieving Process: Grief is a highly individual experience, and people may go through various stages, including shock, denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. Grief counselors help individuals understand these stages and the unique ways they may manifest.
- Providing a Safe Space: Grief counseling offers a safe and non-judgmental space for individuals to express their emotions and thoughts. This can be crucial for processing and making sense of the complex feelings associated with loss.
- Validation of Feelings: Grief counselors validate and acknowledge the diverse range of emotions that accompany grief. Whether it’s sadness, guilt, anger, or confusion, individuals are encouraged to express their feelings without judgment.
- Developing Coping Strategies: Grief counseling helps individuals develop healthy coping mechanisms to deal with their grief. This may involve developing new routines, engaging in self-care, and finding ways to remember and honor the person or thing that has been lost.
- Education: Grief counselors provide information about the grieving process, helping individuals understand that grief is a natural response to loss. Education about the different ways people grieve can also be beneficial.
- Support Groups: Some grief counseling involves participation in support groups, where individuals who are experiencing similar losses can share their experiences, provide mutual support, and gain a sense of connection.
- Setting Realistic Expectations: Grief counseling helps individuals set realistic expectations for themselves in terms of the grieving process. It emphasizes that everyone grieves differently, and there is no “right” way to grieve.
- Addressing Complicated Grief: In some cases, individuals may experience complicated grief, where the grieving process is prolonged and significantly impairs daily functioning. Grief counselors are trained to identify and address such situations.
It’s important to note that grief counseling is not a one-size-fits-all approach, and the specific techniques used may vary depending on the counselor’s approach and the needs of the individual seeking help. Additionally, seeking support from friends, family, and community resources can complement professional grief counseling. We are honoured to partner with you to support you through your grief.
Grief is the acute pain that accompanies loss. Because it is a reflection of what we love, it can feel all-encompassing. Grief is not limited to the loss of people, but when it follows the loss of a loved one, it may be compounded by feelings of guilt and confusion, especially if the relationship was a difficult one.
The Process of Grief
Because grief obeys its own trajectory, there is no timetable for feelings of pain after loss; nor is it possible to avoid suffering altogether. In fact, attempts to suppress or deny grief are just as likely to prolong the process, while also demanding additional emotional effort.
Similarly, the misperception that “more” grief is better or that there is a proper way to grieve can make the process more difficult.
For some people, grief is a short-term phenomenon, also known as acute grief, although the pain may return unexpectedly at a later time. But other individuals may experience prolonged grief, also known as complicated grief, lasting months or years. Without help and support, such grief can lead to isolation and chronic loneliness.
Does everyone follow five stages of grief?
Many people expect to experience denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance, in that order, due to the continuing influence of On Death and Dying, the 1969 book by psychiatrist Elisabeth Kubler-Ross. However, it has been demonstrated that many, if not most, people will not progress through these stages. While some people do experience the stages, and eventually reach acceptance after a loss, grief is now understood to be highly individualized and unpredictable.
What’s the difference between grief and depression?
Many of the symptoms of grief overlap with those of depression. There is sadness, and often the loss of capacity for pleasure; insomnia; and loss of interest in eating or taking care of oneself. But symptoms of grief tend to lessen over time, although they may be temporarily reactivated on anniversaries or when other reminders of a loss arise. While negative thoughts such as “life is unfair” and “I’ll never get over this” are part of the normal grieving process, it is important to prevent them from guiding your actions.
How to support someone who is grieving:
Because grief is experienced in many ways, experts suggest that those who would support a friend or loved one in a time of grieving follow that person’s lead, and resist judging whether they seem to be insufficiently sad or to be dwelling in grief for too long. And it is generally unhelpful to encourage the pursuit of “closure.”
Offering practical help and an acknowledgment of a loss are both positive actions. Many mourners want those around them to listen, ask questions, and share memories, thereby confirming the depth and validity of the griever’s feelings and helping them heal.
What We Mourn
It is expected that someone will grieve after the loss of a parent, sibling, partner, child, or best friend. But those are not the only losses that lead to grief. People may grieve the loss of a treasured pet, a job or other important role in life, or a home or other emotionally significant possessions. And it often occurs after a divorce.
Unfortunately, many find that those around them do not acknowledge these forms of grief, which is why they are labeled disenfranchised: The pain is compounded by the feeling that one has not been given “permission” to experience it. But the framework of mourning can help an individual work through such moments of chaos, especially if those around them respond with compassion, and recognize that an individual is entitled to anger, numbness, and nonlinear healing.
What are the Five Stages of Grief?
The stages of grief, often referred to as the Kübler-Ross model, were initially introduced by psychiatrist Elisabeth Kübler-Ross in her 1969 book “On Death and Dying.” It’s important to note that these stages are not meant to be a strict or linear progression, and individuals may not necessarily experience all of them. People may move back and forth between stages, skip stages, or experience them in a different order. Additionally, not everyone goes through every stage.
The five stages of grief in the Kübler-Ross model are:
- Denial: This is the initial stage, where individuals may have difficulty accepting the reality of the loss. It can serve as a defense mechanism, providing emotional protection from the shock of the loss.
- Anger: As denial fades, the pain of the loss becomes more evident, and individuals may express their emotions through anger. This anger can be directed at oneself, others, or even the situation.
- Bargaining: In this stage, individuals may try to negotiate or make deals to reverse or lessen the impact of the loss. They may make promises or seek ways to regain control in the face of powerlessness.
- Depression: As the full weight of the loss is realized, feelings of sadness, despair, and helplessness may set in. This stage involves coming to terms with the extent of the loss and the changes it brings.
- Acceptance: In this final stage, individuals begin to find a way to live with the reality of the loss. Acceptance doesn’t mean being “okay” with the loss; rather, it involves finding a way to move forward and integrate the loss into one’s life.
It’s important to recognize that grief is a highly individual process, and not everyone experiences these stages or experiences them in the same way. Some people may go through additional stages or variations, and the grieving process can be influenced by various factors, including cultural and personal differences. Moreover, some contemporary models suggest that grief is more of a dynamic and evolving process rather than a series of fixed stages. It’s crucial to approach grief with flexibility and acknowledge the uniqueness of each person’s experience.
How long does it take to grieve? Will it always be this way?
The grieving process is highly individual and varies from person to person. There is no set timeline for grief, and it’s important to recognize that everyone experiences and copes with loss differently. Grief is a complex and personal journey that can be influenced by factors such as the nature of the loss, the relationship with the person or thing lost, and individual coping mechanisms.
Some people may start to feel a sense of acceptance and healing sooner than others, while for some, the grieving process may be prolonged. It’s essential to allow oneself the time and space to grieve and to seek support from friends, family, or mental health professionals if needed.
There is no right or wrong way to grieve, and individuals may go through various stages, such as shock, denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance, in no particular order. The grieving process is often described as non-linear, with people moving back and forth between stages.
If you or someone you know is struggling with grief, it can be helpful to seek support from friends, family, or professionals who can provide understanding and assistance during this challenging time. We would be honoured to walk with you and support you through your grief journey.