Loss alters life. It also changes the individuals who experience the loss. The loss of identity and who one is can be a very difficult phase for the bereaved. Some may struggle with finding new meaning while others will cling to the past. Others will feel who they were is completely gone. Balance and understanding of how loss changes is important for the bereaved. One is different, things change, but identity is critical to keep.
For instance, a person who was a mother and lost a baby, may feel her motherhood has been stripped. Her identity was a mother, now that identity appears gone. These are important discussions for the bereaved to have in understanding their relationship with the loss and how change affects them but also does not steal who they are in the heart. Grief Counselors can help the bereaved better understand the identity loss and properly correlate it with reality.
The article, “Change, Identity Loss, and Grief” by Eleanor Haley from What’s Your Grief presents an excellent insight into loss of identity due to loss. She states,
“But sometimes, life changes are significant enough to cause drastic shifts, like becoming a parent, losing a loved one, getting sober, getting a diagnosis, and the list goes on. These changes can shatter your sense of self and create a web of loss that quickly splinters in and around you.”
Sense of self can become loss in the chaos and grief. It is important to maintain it but also understand the changes surrounding you.
Please also review AIHCP’s Grief Counseling Certification and see if it meets your academic and professional goals. The program is online and independent study and open to qualified professionals seeking a four year certification in Grief Counseling.
Fatigue can play a major role in grief. Many individuals are more tired because the body needs time to heal emotionally and mentally. Grief can also keep you up, intrude upon your dreams, and emotionally wear you down overall. Sleep is natural, but when it becomes too excessive, or a way to avoid the issues, or in the other extreme, unattainable, then issues need addressed
What’s Your Grief’s article, “Does Grief Make You Tired?” by Eleanor Haley takes a closer look at how grief and fatigue inter relate and what to look out for. She states,
“A common question about grief that we often hear asked is: Does grief make you tired? The simple answer is, yes, it’s perfectly normal to feel exhausted after experiencing significant loss. Grief and loss can cause mind-body mayhem, which comes as a surprise to those who thought grief would be a purely emotional experience”
The article goes on to list numerous ways sleep or lack of sleep can be detrimental as well when grieving.
Please also review AIHCP’s Grief Counseling Certification and see if it matches your academic and professional goals. The program is online and independent study and open to qualified professionals seeking a four year certification in grief counseling.
The ultimate reality of grief is it forever tied to love. Love creates attachment and loss breaks that attachment. The greater the love, the greater the grief. It is within this fallen construct of reality that we see the cruel paradox of life. Do we not love because of this? Of course not, we accept the realities of life and properly understand that death plays as much as a role in life as birth. Many hope to ignore death and loss but this is unhealthy. It is important to discuss life but also death. In doing so, one can better understand the losses that eventually find everyone. Part of being alive is experiencing loss. We need to understand loss, help others through it and adjust.
There is a reason there is no true recovery in grief. Since love is forever, so is grief. The only difference is that when grief is properly handled, the acute grief becomes integrated into our life. Unfortunately, some experience complications in grief and are unable to integrate. Hence the grief response which is both healthy and natural becomes distorted.
The video below covers many basic grief ideas and can serve as a great educational tool.
Grief Counseling looks to help a person through grief. Grief can sidetrack life due to the adjustment period it takes to react to loss. It is not something to be seen as pathological or unnatural but part of life. How well one can adjust and cope is critical. Most times, individuals adjust from grief, but recovery itself is something that never comes. One does not recover from grief but learns to live with it. While some enter into pathological states due to loss with Prolonged Grief, or worst, Major Depressive Disorder, most are able to navigate the troubled waters of loss and adjust. This adjustment though comes with its own pain and emotional cycles.
Grief Counselors who are also licensed counselors can help not only those experiencing grief and loss in normal grief reactions but also pathological, while those who are not licensed are permitted to help those deal with basic human loss. In all cases, grief counselors are there to listen and help. Grief Counselors need to be good sojourners and companions in grief. This is a very pastoral view towards grief counseling and is beneficial in helping someone deal with a loss. It does not look to follow a mere clinical plan but instead to walk with the bereaved.
A sojourner is one who walks with someone in grief. Friends, family, religious or ministers and rabbis can partake down this path with anyone. Professional counselors can also take upon this very important role. A key ingredient in any sojourner is empathy. One needs to have the ability to feel the pain of others and to allow one to share one’s pain with oneself. Sojourning or companioning one through grief is not so much about assessing and analyzing one’s grief but more so listening and being present. This type of healing does not look for time tables but instead looks to help individuals by being present in the moment.
A sojourner or companion has a variety of qualities in how they help others. They are empathetic and full of love and patience. In this patience and love they help others express their grief by listening. They do not attempt to share grief stories but they listen to the emotions of the person. They grant permission to be angry or cry in this safe place.
Sojourners do not look to have the answers but look instead to help one find one’s own answers. They do not use terms such as “I understand” or “You need to do this” but instead listen and react to the emotional state of the person. The person leads the discussion, not the counselor in these cases.
Companioning or sojourning involves being present for the pain but maybe not having the ability to take the pain away. It focuses more so on the spirit than intellect and walking beside one not leading one. In many cases companioning looks respects the disorder of grief and does not seek to immediately find order.
Those who look to help others through grief utilize a companion model or a traditional treatment model. Instead of focus on returning a person to pre-loss status, sojourning respects the now and transformative process of grief. There is a new normal due to the loss and no return to the pre loss is possible. Sojourning does not look to eliminate grief symptoms but instead values the expression of grief as an important process of the grieving cycle. In doing so, healthy continued bonds with the deceased is encouraged and not seen as pathological. Quality of care is not determined by how well grief is managed but how well it was expressed and how well the bereaved was able to express and communicate.
When helping one through the grief process as a sojourner and comforter, one should help the person be honest about his or her feelings. It is important not to be shocked at what is said but more so to give a person the permission needed to express even angry feelings. The counselor should not look to fix the situation but merely listen and be present.
Being present is one of the key elements in sojourning for it entails listening and accepting the present situation of loss. Counselors can follow a few tips as well. While emotionally listening, avoid touching. Hugs can sometimes help but as counselors, not pastors or family, it is important to keep distance because those in grief can misunderstand intentions. When asking people to discuss their loss, sometimes it is difficult to start and they may need guided. Sometimes mirroring what they are saying can be beneficial. This allows individuals to hear what they are saying and to reflect on it. Ultimately let them know that their emotions are natural and expected and they have a right to grieve no matter what others may say or do.
Empathy, patience, listening, time and gentle guidance are critical to helping people express and go through grief. It cannot be seen as something mechanical or sterile with steps or procedures. Instead one needs to see the messiness of grief and the power of listening through sojourning.
If you would like to learn more about AIHCP’s Grief Counseling Program than please review and see if it meets your academic and professional goals. The program is online and independent study and open to qualified professionals seeking a four year certification as Grief Counselor.
The Unwanted Gift of Grief by Tim P. VanDuivendyk
Companioning the Grieving Child by Alan D. Wolfelt
When loss occurs, acute grief is the result. The process of mourning the loss takes time but eventually leads to a state of integrated grief, where the loss still stings but one is adjusted to the loss in a healthy way. When this adaptation does not happen, complicated grief can occur and higher levels of professional help may be needed. Grief Counselors who are not licensed counselors can help with the acute grief phase, but if one finds themselves falling into complicated grief, then they should seek licensed counseling. Some licensed counselors may also be Grief Certified, which is even better.
Prolonged grief disorder persists and sometimes can be confused with major depressive disorder. It takes a very astute clinician to watch the details and understand the how one can easily fall into the other.
The article, “Bereavement and Depression” by Abigale Clark looks closer at grief, loss and depression. She states,
“Clinicians must carefully distinguish between grief, PGD, and MDD. A disorder that can occur when the natural grieving process is derailed, PGD is a painful and debilitating condition that can last for years in the absence of PGD-focused treatment. For PGD, the treatment of choice is either providing evidence-based PGD therapy or making a referral to a grief specialist. The aim is to provide support for healthy lifestyle and activities while also treating potential co-occuring conditions. If a bereavement specialist is not available, grief-informed clinical management can be enormously helpful.”
Please also review AIHCP’s Grief Counseling Certification and see if it meets your academic and professional goals. The program is online and independent study and open to qualified professionals seeking a four year certification as a grief counselor.
Grief is unique and reactions to grief and loss differ from person to person. Knowing family and friends is important in understanding how they grieve and react to loss. If we understand grieving patterns of family then we can better accompany them through grief and know when the time is to say or not say something. Due to the subjective reactions to loss, many multiple reactions can occur and no one can ever be completely sure of how someone will react. Still, there are certain ways the human species reacts to loss to give some blue print or guidance.
We are all familiar with the stages of grief, the reactions and phases one go through. We also know to limit grief to mere stages that go in order is wrong, but instead, grief while having various emotional reactions can have a unpredictable set of reactions in any order. Individuals experience grief in waves, oscillations, and in steps forward and steps back. The common emotions of numbness, sadness, anger, guilt and denial are the primary ones we see in the grieving but how these emotions are expressed differ from person to person.
Some individuals are extroverts, while others are introverts. An introvert will seek solace and quiet to dwell on the grief, to find the inner healing needed. Unfortunately, sometimes extreme introverts can seek to escape other human companionship and fall into isolation. Extroverts on the other hand cope and deal with grief through finding healing and energy from without themselves and seek counsel and discussion with others. This can be healthy but if without any inner balance can be fruitless in finally healing oneself. Balance is key. Avoidance of extremities in either introvert or extrovert behavior is important for ultimate healing.
Grieving styles still can differ in the way the individual thinks, acts, or feels. Some individuals are more cognitive, others more emotional and others more pragmatic. Sometimes how one reacts to grief is totally stereotypical and gender assigned. For example, saying only women will reactive emotionally is a blanket statement that is not true. Many men may be emotional as well, while other women may be very pragmatic in their grief reaction. It is important in grief counseling not to type cast a griever but to sojourn with the bereaved and see how their unique reaction grief surfaces and how they cope.
Cognitive grievers think through grief. This can be good and bad. Again balance is key. Cognitive individuals can cope better via reframing negative situations into positive ones, as well as look for cognitive answers through media and books to find solutions. They may also be more clear in their thinking during a loss. These benefits can be counter balanced though with individuals who express pain through pessimism or obsessive compulsive behaviors. Some may also become argumentative in their expression of grief or even suppress emotion.
Emotional grievers utilize emotion as the primary coping mechanism. In healthy fashion, they release sadness or anger and feel better. Releasing emotion is key in coping but also releasing negative stress from harming the body. However, on the flip side of the coin, emotional grievers can also become too depressed or sad and cease to be able to function. They may also unable to cognitively understand the process of grief itself.
Pragmatic grievers or those who feel the need and call to act also have benefits and disadvantages. Those who are more pragmatic look to actions that can resolve situations. They can also utilize hobbies and work to help them go through the grief itself. They can also more easily utilize exercise to release negative emotions. However, hobbies and busy work help one but also emotionally harm by ignoring the loss and trying to hide from it. Many of them avoid talking about their grief and can become angry at those who wish to discuss the loss.
What one can see from these types of grief styles is that one there is good and bad that can come from each style but a better solution is a more balanced reaction to loss that allows one to think, feel and act as necessary. Again, we cannot impose certain standards on others, but if coping over a loss is becoming pathological, then one may seek to question one’s particular grief style.
Ultimately it is key for families going through grief to understand each other’s grieving styles and to be there for each other the best way they know how. In doing so, individuals can better heal at their own way and own pace without emotional damage.
If you would like to learn more about AIHCP’s Grief Counseling Program then please review it and see if it matches your academic and professional goals. The program is online and independent study and open to qualified professionals seeking a four year certification as a grief counselor.
Sources and Other Reading
The Unwanted Gift of Grief: A Ministry Approach by Tim P. VanDuivendyk
There are a variety of depressions that set in. Not all are a result of a direct loss. Major Depressive order is an example of an on going cloud of sadness with no direct correlation to any loss. It can be chronic or acute. Another type of depression is Bi-Polar disorder which has highs or manic states and lows or depressive states. Some states are not as severe such as hypomania, which help distinguish between Bi Polar 1 or Bi Polar 2.
Bi-Polar disorder however is sometimes harder to pin point than other types of depression especially in teens due to natural ups and downs. It also leaves teens and those in their early 20s very confused why they are fine sometimes and not fine other times. It is very important to diagnose this disorder to help individuals find balance again in life.
The article, “Bipolar disorder” from Mayo Clinic gives an detail description of Bi Polar Disorder and helps educate individuals who feel they may have it and need help. It definitely a good place to start looking for information. The article states,
“Despite the mood extremes, people with bipolar disorder often don’t recognize how much their emotional instability disrupts their lives and the lives of their loved ones and don’t get the treatment they need. And if you’re like some people with bipolar disorder, you may enjoy the feelings of euphoria and cycles of being more productive. However, this euphoria is always followed by an emotional crash that can leave you depressed, worn out — and perhaps in financial, legal or relationship trouble.”
It is hence important to find treatment for this difficult condition. So many relationships are ruined because of Bi Polar. A partner becomes confused by the flip flop personality and can find themselves one day on another’s good side then later their bad side. Having to deal with manic energy and desire to do things for a week only to be confused with depressive lack of energy the next can leave a partner confused and ready to even leave a relationship. The individual may also be confused and not fully understand.
In turn, they may look to spending binges, or even drugs and alcohol to help cope with depression or ride the mania. The individual may find themselves locked with a variety of financial issues, eating disorders or drug addictions due to the multiple swings in mood.
Like any type of depression with no true cause due to loss, some may wonder how or why someone is Bi Polar. Most is genetic. If a direct relative had it, then there is a good chance it was passed on to the child. Many though when reviewing family histories choose to hide mental disorders. So if grandma or grandpa had it, is sometimes harder to recall. Only those who lived with them will truly know if they were manic or depressed. With such a stigma, family histories sometimes cannot find the source.
If you think you may be Bi Polar, Mayo Clinic lists a few conditions during both Manic and Depressive episodes
Bi Polar 1 is diagnosed with at least one manic and depressive episode. Unlike Bi Polar 2, the mania is more severe and can lead to even psychosis. Within the mania period, one experiences more energy to the point of exaggeration. More wild thoughts and impulses may present themselves and lead for some into dangerous and risky activities via sex or drugs. One can also experience a state of invincibility and euphoria not tied to reality.
Unfortunately, while some may enjoy this phase and feel empowered, it is followed by a crash of depression. Like all depression, it can last 2 weeks or longer but also possesses the same characteristics of boredom, fatigue, disinterest, or insomnia.
If one is experiencing these issues of back and forth manic and depressive episodes it may be time to talk to a trained licensed professional. Grief Counselors who are licensed can help diagnose and find treatment through a doctor, but if only certified, if someone illustrates these characteristics, it is time to refer a client to someone that is licensed. Most grief counselors are certified but can only deal with basic grief to loss, but once grief becomes more insidious and pathological, it is important that those who are not licensed counselors help their clients receive the help they need through a licensed professional. Again, many certified Grief Counselors are also licensed Counselors and can supply the help needed on the spot but bear in mind, most cases of Bi Polar do require some type of pharmaceutical response. Physicians and Psychiatrists can provide the needed prescriptions to help individuals. Herbal remedies can also play a role in helping stabilize but should not never be utilized without first talking to your healthcare provider.
If you would like to learn more about Grief Counseling or would like to become a certified Grief Counselor, then please review AIHCP’s Grief Counseling Certification. The program is online and independent study and open to qualified professionals seeking a four year certification as a Grief Counselor.
Grief Counselors can play an important role in identifying pathological grief, and if licensed can provide even more assistance to those suffering from mental disorders such as Bi Polar Disorder.
Again you feel you are suffering from Bi Polar Disorder, do not wait for disaster in life, or continue to roll with the waves, but find the help you need to stabilize your life and the family around you.
When it comes to coping with grief there is not a one size fits all order. Many individuals cope differently due to the variety of different losses as well as differences within a person’s spiritual, mental, physical, social and emotional makeup. Still, eventually one can find something that works best for them. Different coping strategies exist and eventually something should work best.
The article, “Dealing With Grief: 7 Coping Strategies, According to Experts” by Madeleine Burry lists 7 different ways one cope with a loss or at least help one through the grieving process. She states,
“You may not think about them this way, but you already use coping strategies in your day-to-day life—such as that extra-hard workout to relieve stress after a tough work deadline, or the phone call you make to a friend when your child is acting up and driving you crazy.”
Whatever coping methods work best for you, it is important to realize that grief is not a process that ends but is an ongoing process of living itself. Learning to live with grief is part of life and coping does not make it go away but only makes it easier to insert into one’s life.
Please also review AIHCP’s Grief Counseling Certification Program and see if it meets your academic and professional goals. The program is online and independent study and open to qualified professionals seeking a four year certification in grief counseling.
Depression is a difficult thing to deal and cope with. Many individuals do not know how to help others through depression and usually end saying the wrong thing. It is important to understand what depression is and how to help others through it.
The article, “The One Phrase You Should Avoid Saying To Someone Living With Depression” by Kendall Keith reviews how one should discuss depression with the depressed. The article states
“No matter how well-intentioned, people can offend those experiencing a depressive episode with insensitive or thoughtless advice. “Oftentimes, because of our own anxieties and distress, we go into ‘fix it’ mode when we know someone else is in distress, and we try to remove or eliminate what we see as the ‘problem,’” Abrams explains. “Because this becomes our focus and not our loved one’s needs right in that moment, we can really miss connecting emotionally with them and being present, which is often remarkably soothing.”
Please also review AIHCP’s Grief Counseling Training and see if the program matches your academic and professional goals. The program is online and independent study and open to qualified professionals seeking a four year certification
Loss is something we live with all our lives. We do not escape it. Even when we adjust and think we are OK, feelings and emotions can return. Since grief is tied to love, then this makes total sense that one would never completely recover from loss and grief. Grief remains in our life as a reminder of our love.
The term grief monsters has been used frequently to describe these jabs and stings of grief that come to one. The thoughts to reflect on the loss, or the stringing reminder of a loss due to a scent, scene or place, can all inflict old memories and emotions tied to them. Holidays, empty seats and songs can also remind us. How we deal and cope with these grief monsters is important. We cannot run from them or see them as something naturally evil, but something that will be with us our whole lives
The article, “Five Tips for Living With a Grief Monster” from “What’s Your Grief” by Eleanor Haley takes a closer look at living with grief monsters. She states,
“Grief monsters come from the loss, but don’t mistake them for the loss itself. They didn’t cause the hole left in your life, and they don’t relish in your pain. They’re simply what happens when the chaotic jumble of thoughts, emotions, and memories about the past, present, and future come together. ”
Please also review AIHCP’s Grief Counseling Certification and see if it matches your academic and professional goals. The program is online and independent study and open to qualified professionals seeking a four year certification in Grief Counseling.