Grief Counseling Certification Article on Death and Dying

They say the only certain things in this life are death and taxes.  Death is a guarantee at the moment of birth and becomes ironically part of living itself.  It plays a key role in our life span in this temporal world.  Yet, it is the most feared and avoided topic despite its central importance to our life itself.  Thanatology attempts to understand the nature of death and dying itself and attempts to explain the science and philosophy of death.  Grief Counseling tries to help us adjust to the process of dying or the death of another.  Together, they can help an individual better discuss, deal and cope with this very natural life event.

Traditionally, death has many characteristics.   Lack of respiration, lack of pulse and heartbeat, zero response to stimuli, lowered body temperature, stiffness of the body and bodily bloating are all signs of death.  The Harvard Criteria lists death as something that leaves the individual unresponsive to stimuli, no movement or breathing and no reflexes.  Furthermore it notes that there is no longer any circulation of blood to the brain and a flat EEG exists.

What constitutes a state of death? Please also review AIHCP’s Grief Counseling Certification


Death hence has it characteristics and permanence once a certain time period of such lack of activity exists.  While the fear of not being dead and buried may have existed long ago, today’s science clearly delineates the boundaries of alive and dead.   Death though is more than a physical event, but is also for many a spiritual event.  It is an event that leads to a new birth in spiritual beliefs and is more than just merely the end of physical activity.  While spirituality and death may not have empirical evidence to support it, the belief itself is wide held throughout humanity.  It can also be said, while it cannot be empirically proven, life after death, it is also said it cannot be disproven.

The dying process leads to death and is more than a physical journey but also a spiritual and emotional one for the dying as well as their loved ones.  The biggest question to ask is when does dying begin?  Philosophically one can say, dying begins the day we are born, but health studies require a more definitive definition that denotes a direct and acute movement towards death itself.  While one may be dying, sometimes, one may not even know the event is occurring.  This is why recognition of the facts is essential to officially declare one is dying.  The facts need to be communicated and realized for the psychological, emotional and spiritual elements to enter into the equation.  When nothing else can be done to prevent the acute event, one officially realizes they are dying and will die due to a particular thing.

The expression and communication of dying to another is something that healthcare professionals have recently been hoping to improve in regards to delivery of the news.  In the past, the dreaded news has been expressed coldly and sometimes abruptly.   As an event of failure to the medical world, the person was left to process the information without guidance or compassion.  Today, those in Pastoral Thanatology, look to help the dying die with dignity but also understanding and compassion.  Hospice prepares the dying for the ultimate end, looking to reduce pain and prepare one emotionally and spiritually for death.

Physicians and healthcare providers though can better communicate death to their patients.  Sharing smaller facts and gauging responses are key, as well, and not overwhelming the dying and their family at first.  Explanations and time to educate are key, despite the discomfort of such bad news.  Allowing pauses and questions and time to process is key, but also respecting denial.  Being there and giving the time is key. Another important element is not to stretch the truth, but to be completely honest, but in that honesty, again, find the time to listen and not mechanically leave the scene after such heartbreaking news.  Many healthcare professionals are not trained in explaining death and are only trained in the mechanics of what is occurring physically, while dismissing the emotional and mental aspects of death.

Once one is faced with dying and accepts the outcome, certain questions become obvious to the dying.  Certain trajectories manifest to the dying that map out their final days.  The biggest are certainty and time.  How long does one have and what to expect in the final months, days or hours.  Some trajectories are quick, others linger, and others occur unexpectedly.  These aspects can greatly change how one prepares for death.

Death comes for all. How we prepare depends on multiple factors. Please also review AIHCP’s Pastoral Thanatology Program


Obviously each trajectory has their benefits and disadvantages.  Preparation in death can allow one to put all business aside, but leaves one to the mental long anguish of knowing the end is coming.  Quick deaths can reduce this anxiety but leave one with very little time to prepare financially, spiritually and emotionally.

The long mental process of accepting death was best laid out by Elisabeth Kubler Ross.  Kubler Ross worked with the dying and found they responded in a five stages to death.  Namely, denial, anger, sadness, bargaining and acceptance.  Each phase while not always ordered, showed the emotional response of most people to the news of death itself.  The news can be so terrifying that one may react in a variety of ways trying to control what one cannot control.  The ultimate end is acceptance because death is guaranteed for all.

Charles Corr also pointed out the reaction to the news of death.  At the epicenter is the physical reality of dying, followed by the psychological reaction, followed by the social reactions and finally the spiritual reactions.  As the wave of the news spreads, the dying story encompasses all aspects of the person’s existence.

Buddhist stages of death are more spiritual.  They see various stages of loss of sensation, to visions, to nothingness itself.  In Christianity, death is seen as the result of sin.  It is a punishment and the severing of soul and body, but it is temporary, and the body one day is restored to the soul.   It is important to understand the spirituality of the individual who is dying and to help them fulfill any incomplete spiritual exercises before death.  This gives comfort to the dying.

How death eventually takes the person is something very intimate and seen by family and healthcare workers.  While it can be painful, it is sometimes very peaceful, as the body surrenders to death.   While many may never have it, it is everyone’s hope to experience a happy and peaceful death surrounded by love.  This is the most anyone can ask for as this dreaded but important part of our life occurs.  One needs to be prepared and think about this event.  It should not be disregarded as morbid, but seen as an important part of life.  The thought of dying well is something we should all smile towards when that day comes.

If you would like to learn more about Grief Counseling and Pastoral Thanatology, then please review AIHCP’s Grief Counseling Certification and Pastoral Thanatology Certification.  The programs are online and independent study and open to qualified professionals seeking four year certifications in these disciplines.

Please also review

“Death, Dying and Human Society”by David Kastenbaum

“On Death and Dying” by Elisabeth Kubler Ross

Grief Counseling Training Video on Funerals and Grief


Funerals play a critical role in the grief process.  They allow an individual to mourn publicly, find support and acknowledge the loss.  It is an important step in the process but for the griever it is only the beginning. After the funeral and wake, many leave with condolences, but the individual griever is left with a year long process of adjusting to life without the loved one.

Please also review AIHCP’s Grief Counseling Training 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 Grief Counseling Certification.  Also please review AIHCP’s Funeral Associate Program

Please review the video below

Grief Counseling Certification Article on Fatigue and Grief

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

Fatigue and grief go side by side. Please also review AIHCP’s Grief Counseling Certification and see if it meets your goals


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”

To read the entire article, please click here

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.

Grief Counseling Certification Article on Small Losses

Many times individuals do not take the time to grieve or allow themselves to grieve.  They hide it or ignore it as weakness.  Others wish not to burden others with their troubles.  Still others feel maybe their grief is not worth acknowledgement.

It is ok to grieve the smaller things in life. Please also review AIHCP’s Grief Counseling Certification


On the contrary it is important to address loss and even mourn things of smaller value.  While different reactions correlate with greater bonds, smaller things can still be upsetting and it is important to validate those losses.

The article, “The Importance Of Mourning Losses (Even When They Seem Small)” by Kavitha Cardoza and Claire Marie Schneider review the importance of mourning.  They state,

“When someone close to you dies — maybe a parent, a spouse or a sibling — it’s a big loss. Those around you might acknowledge that loss by showing up with food, checking in or maybe sending a card. But what about when a neighbor dies? Or that long-awaited family reunion is cancelled? There’s a chance others might not acknowledge or recognize it as a loss — and you may even feel guilty for even feeling this way.”

To read the entire article, please click here

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.

Grief Counseling Certification Article on Grief and Guilt

During grief, multiple emotions can emerge.  Anger, sadness and even guilt.  Guilt especially can be a harmful emotion during grief because it tortures one over the loss of a loved one.  Thoughts torture an individual regarding potentially the final days.  Did the person do enough, did she say something mean she regrets, or did he not give enough time while the person was alive?  These thoughts can torment the soul.

Second guessing oneself in grief and finding guilt can eat at the soul. Please also review AIHCP’s Grief Counseling Certification


In addition, some individuals find guilt in things that were beyond their control.  The guilt eats away and when they discuss it, they discover the guilt was unfounded.  This is especially true with children and magical thinking.  In many cases, children may feel responsible for the death of a loved one because they wished it or thought it.  Hence guilt can be a true poison in the grieving process and the only way to weed it out is to discuss it and share it with others.

Another type of guilt in loss is survivor guilt.  When experiencing a traumatic event, the survivor sometimes may feel guilty they survived or feel guilty they did not do enough to save others.  In reality, there should be no guilt, but the guilt still haunts them.

The article, “Grief and Guilt: ‘I can’t believe I did that’ edition” from “Whats Your Grief” takes a closer look at guilt and grief.  The article states,

“When it comes to grief and guilt, these ‘if-then’ thoughts often come up around the thing we did or didn’t do. We think if something had been different, the outcome would have been better. It is easy to imagine that the alternate reality would be the perfect outcome we wish for, instead of the reality we’re living. We look back and think things like:”

To read the entire article, please click here

The article lists numerous what if scenarios of what if, but then looks at why we do certain things in different situations.  Stress response of fight or flight and our various crisis responses provoke different responses.  So in reality, we respond in a given situation and are programmed to do so.  Yet, in grief, we still look back with guilt, why we did not go to the funeral, or why we did not fight longer with treatments for our loved one, or wish we would have done that one little thing to change an outcome.

We as temporal beings cannot know the final end or whether an alternate ending is any better. In fact, the same ending may have occurred regardless and we can merely torture ourselves over and over in the mind.

We need to accept the past, shed guilt and realize our mind reacts to stress and crisis differently and we cannot return to that moment.  What we can hold tightly to is we do what we feel is best at that moment and that we cherish and love our loved one.  Our loved ones do not wish us to torture ourselves after their death.   They want us to grieve healthy and not find guilt in their death but eventual acceptance.

If of a religious mind, we know they are in a better place and will one day reunite with us.  In the meantime, holding on to guilt and other toxic emotion is unhealthy whether religious or not.  The memory of the person lives on in us and they would never wish for us to hold on to unfounded guilt.

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 the training for qualified professionals leads to a four year certification in Grief Counseling.


Grief Counseling Certification Article on Post Partem Depression

Depression can be caused during pregnancy and after pregnancy due to the changes of life and also the hormones.  It can affect both fathers and mothers.  Sometimes this is ignored because everyone feels you should be happy but post partem depression and depression during pregnancy is a reality for many.

Many women can experience depression during and after pregnancy. Please also review AIHCP’s Grief Counseling Program


The article, “Mom Life: When depression is more than just “baby blues”” by Tamara Markard looks at this type of depression that many parents, especially mothers face.  She states,

‘”Baby blues” typically occur within the first three days after giving birth when the levels of estrogen and progesterone in a woman’s body dramatically plummet. The symptoms usually last for about two weeks before going away on their own. For some women, the depression, anxiety, worry, sleeplessness and other symptoms turn into something more serious called postpartum depression.”

To read the entire article, please click here

Mothers after childbirth should understand that post partem depression can occur and if it does after the initial weeks to seek help from a medical professional.  Fathers should keep an eye on their wives emotional well being and be supportive of their emotional needs as their bodies readjust to post pregnancy

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.  It is open to qualified professionals seeking a four year certification in Grief Counseling


Pet Loss Grief Counseling Program Article on Mourning the Loss of Our Dogs

Mourning loved ones is natural and dogs are no different.  Losing dogs are painful.  Life can be a series of dogs and each dog has a special place and time in our heart.  It does not get easier losing a loved one.  Some individuals may only have one dog their whole life because they are two heart broken.  How we mourn our dogs is important.  It is important to understand that it is natural and fine to miss our dogs and cry over them.

Humans can deeply mourn the loss of their dog. Please also review AIHCP’s Pet Loss Grief Support Training Program and see if it meets your needs


The article, “Mourning Our Dogs The death of a much-loved dog is sometimes followed by regrets and self-doubt.” by Scott Janssen looks at how we can better mourn our dogs.  He states,

“When we lose a canine companion, self-critical thoughts and feelings may become a part of our grief. We may disproportionally focus on our perceived failures and imperfections rather than view our actions as those of someone doing her or his best to stand by a canine loved one during painful circumstances. This is known as “moral pain,” and fortunately, there are things we can do to relieve it.”

To review the entire article, please click here

Like any loss, we can grieve and feel guilty over a loss.  Losing a dog can be no different.  Please also review AIHCP’s Pet Loss Grief Counseling Program


Pet Loss Grief Counseling Program Article on Pets as Family

Pets are family to many people.  To some, they are the only family.  They are blessings and companions from God.  The innocence and unconditional love of a dog, cat or horse, or even smaller mammal is unargued.  While pets with more intelligence are able to express love more, individuals still form bonds with even animals with less intelligence.  This does not lessen the blow when an animal we love dies.  It is not something to be downgrade or be embarrassed about but a bond that should be acknowledged and respected in grief.

Losing a pet is like losing family for many. Please also review AIHCP’s Pet Loss Grief Counseling Program and see if it meets your academic and professional goals


The article, “Kevin McClintock: ‘We mourn our pets like a part of our family'” Looks at the value of pets in one’s life.  He states,

“Of course, when we lose a beloved pet, our thoughts often turn to the afterlife — at least mine do. I wonder where they’re at and what they do up there in the mists, waiting for their “humans” to come up there to be with them forever. ”

To read the entire article, please click here

Pets are family to many and individuals grieving the loss of family deserve respect in their grief.  Please also review AIHCP’s Pet Loss Grief Counseling Program and see if it meets your academic and professional goals.

Grief Counseling Certification Article on Grief and the Pandemic

One of the most difficult challenge during the pandemic is helping the bereaved find the help they need.  Grief Counseling and other mental health aides became suddenly unavailable for many who needed the counseling and care.  The bereaved, those with mental illness, or substance abuse found themselves without the outside world and coping mechanisms.  Furthermore, those experiencing loss were left without the normal social norms to cope with grief.  Funerals were no longer public and many were left without the social support they needed to grieve a loss.  Others grieved the loss of normalcy in life.

The pandemic has prevented traditional ways of counseling the bereaved to be utilized.


The amount of loss during the pandemic from human life to simply losing a job cannot be underestimated.  Individuals grieved major losses but also minor losses.   Many felt ashamed to grieve the loss of simpler things when others lost jobs or even family  members.   Those who did lose loved ones were left without outlets to express their loss.  Many became disenfranchised with their losses.  Others became anxious in the uncertainty, lack of leadership, and unorganized response by government to the pandemic.  These anxieties also left many concerned and grieving.

In these uncertain times, things became available through other forms of connection.  Teleconferences with counselors became a new norm.  Telegrief services to help others manage their grief became extremely important and still are extremely important.  These services allow individuals to find validation in their grief when other social norms are not available.

With so much widespread grief, it was critical to be able to help isolated individuals and family units ways to express their losses, whether large or small, and telegrief and telecounseling became excellent ways to give isolated individuals the help they needed to express grief and find the help they needed.

This also opened new venues for grief counselors who may before had been tied to only one geographical location or area.  Grief Counselors can help individuals across the nation through skype or other online media services.  They can provide the professional grief counseling care needed to help individuals express their grief.   Those suffering from mental disorders or substance abuse issues are also able to find the much needed help they need from licensed professional counselors.

During the pandemic, many grievers are unable to find validation of their loss. They are left alone. Telegrief and the ability to contact individuals via skype or other forms of media have helped those experiencing loss find help


So while the pandemic created new problems for the grieving it also created new solutions and allowed technology to present answers to existing issues.

It is still important as the pandemic continues for those experiencing loss to seek help.  There are still thousands losing family members to COVID19.  They face situations where funeral arrangements become far more difficult to procure in public due to local restrictions.  Others are grieving loss of income and job or a standard of life they once enjoyed.  The simple loss of a dinner in public or the ability to go to the store without a mask is a hardship for many.   It is important not to degrade the small things during this collective loss.  It is important to acknowledge all losses and not to feel guilty over it.

Grief Counselors and licensed counselors can both help grievers through telegrief services find the help and guidance they need to confront these losses and move forward in the future recovery.  It is critical that noone is left behind in grief when the economy and public spheres become completely open again.   The only way for full recovery is to have mentally healthy individuals who can cope with the grief and the loss caused by the pandemic.

When helping those affected by COVID19, it is important for grief counselors to identify the loss and not marginalize it.  If it is not a smaller loss but a major loss, it is important for grief counselors to realize that collectively, the entire family may be dealing with the same loss and dealing with it in different ways.

Grief Counselors in school settings need to identify that many children are grieving the loss of a normal life.  Many are experiencing family losses,  change in qualify life at home due to parent’s job loss, as well as other ways of life.  It is important to try to validate children’s losses and allow them to express.  It is also important for families at home who face the losses to receive the education and information needed to cope.  This also has to be presented in a safe way that reduces the risk of transmission of the virus.  Many remote presentations may be needed in sharing information.

Whether children or adults, it is scary time.  Grief and loss and uncertainty tie the nation together in one anxious know. It is critical to help stabilize uncertain situations with solid plans that identify the issues, look for temporary solutions and promise eventual returns to normalcy.

The pandemic has forced behavioral healthcare providers as well as healthcare in general to look outside the box. Utilizing technology and applying good grief theory to the problems presented by the pandemic, grief counselors can help the grieving find the coping strategies, guidance and hope they need.

Even though the pandemic is still in its winter stages, there is a future. It is essential that grief counselors help the bereaved recover so society as a whole can recover. Please also review AIHCP’s Grief Counseling Certification


If you would like to learn more about grief counseling training or would like to become a certified grief counselor, then please review The American Academy of Grief’s, Grief Counseling Certification and see if it meets your academic and professional goals.


Pet Loss Grief Counseling Training Program Article on the Value of Pets

Children have a hard time understanding death depending on how young they are.   Some children do not see death as permanent.   It takes time for them to fully comprehend that once something or someone dies they do not come back.  Pets because of shorter life spans teach children the circle of life faster than a family death.

Children learn about death from a simple goldfish to the more painful loss of a dog or a cat.  They are able to learn the nature of death and how to grieve.  Pets teach children so many things and death is among one of the most important life lessons a pet can give a child.

Pets teach children about empathy, love and responsibility. Unfortunately with all love comes loss and pets also teach children about death. This may be painful but is a useful life lesson. Please also review our Pet Loss Grief Counseling Training Program


The article, “Kids and Pets: A Winning Combination” by Diane Morrow-Kondos looks at kids and pets and what can be gained by having one.  She states,

“This is a nice way to say children experience death through the loss of pets. Having a pet teaches children about the cycle of life from birth through death. Yes, it is heartbreaking to see your beloved pets die, but we learn that all creatures, including humans, eventually pass.”

To read the entire article, please click here

From responsibility to learning empathy, the importance of animals in the lives of children is critical.  Death is no less an important lesson in life.  It breaks the heart because loss and love are so interwoven.  Loving an animal and grieving an animal is essential to understanding life itself.  Please also review our Pet Loss Grief Counseling Training program and see if it matches your academic and professional goals.