The loss of a child is the worst loss and a parent’s worst fear. It is unnatural for a parent to bury a child hence it also carries a deeper pain than merely losing an older family member. The loss of a child is a life long wound that haunts the parents for the rest of their lives. It is of no wonder then that many complicated forms of grief develop within parents who lose a child.
The article, “How to Deal with the Grief of Losing a Child” by Melissa Porrey takes a closer look at the pain of losing a child. She states,
“The loss of a child is unimaginable. Whether anticipated or unexpected, the pain that follows the death of a child is likely to feel overwhelming and endless. With time, healthy coping tools, and help from loved ones and professionals, the worst parts of grief will eventually pass. This article will provide an overview of common grief reactions, options for seeking help, and ways to cope.”
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.
Miscarriages are a common grief for couples. Many times this type of loss is not spoken about or dismissed. Yet the loss still bears a painful sting of losing a child, albeit, not yet born. The prospect of parenthood, the connection and excitement being stripped away can cause immense grief for an expecting couple.
The article, “Miscarriage Grief: How to Cope with the Emotional Pain” by Hilary Lebow takes a closer look at this type of loss. She states,
“Grieving for your pregnancy, your baby, and all that came with the experience is an intimate and unique process. You may experience intense emotions, or you could feel numb and detached. You may not even be sure how you feel or should react. These are all natural ways to cope with a significant loss. How a miscarriage affects you depends on many factors, including your circumstances, support, and emotional resources.”
Please also review AIHCP’s Grief Counseling Certification and see if it meets your academic and professional needs and goals. The program is online and independent study and open to qualified professionals seeking a four year certification in Grief Counseling.
Professional care givers whether as doctors, nurses or mental health counselors are human beings like anyone else. They have needs and limits. Many times, these limits are stretched. Care professionals will put others before their own health and over work or become emotionally drained carrying the pain of others. This not healthy for them long term nor is it good for the care of the patient. It is essential and important for caregivers to understand their limits and the benefits of rest. Alan Wolfelt lists numerous ways caregiver fatigue can be detrimental to health as well as ways to alleviate the heavy burden. We will review a few of his suggestions in the blog below
First and foremost, self care is important because professionals owe it to themselves and their families to have happy lives. There must be a a life outside the office or the hospital. One must live a life that includes family vacations, dining, massages, hobbies, or parties or whatever is most fulfilling in life. While the profession is important, it is only one aspect of one’s life.
This naturally leads to the need to find rest and respite from the draining work. For those who see death at the hospital, or for those who help the mentally drained, the weight can sometimes become over bearing for a true kind heart. One who shows empathy with the grieving, takes upon some of that stress and feels its impact. It is important to allow oneself to refresh and recharge from these things. On numerous occasions , caregivers can transfer the pain of others to one’s own family, where heartburn seems to be a heart attack, or a migraine may be seem to be a tumor. It is natural to feel the grief of others and attribute to possibly one’s own life. It is key to stay spiritual and thankful.
Finally, if one is to truly help others, then one must be mentally healthy. It is important sometimes to find a clear mind to avoid the pitfalls of just showing up. Sometimes, over worked professionals are not only as sharp as they should but it can also make them more callous to the needs of others. It can push caregivers away from the pain by acting like experts and only professional, preventing one from helping those who truly need aid and help.
Hence it is important to find joy in the little things. It is important to live one’s other side of life at home and with family. It is important to see the joy in life in whatever comes one’s way or what one loves to do. If it is going to a winery one day, or a retreat, or simply watching a favorite show, these things can help recharge and give excitement to life.
While performing tasks at work, it is important to also remember to work smart but not hard. Specific goals should be set for personal and professional development. Another way to work smarter, is to not multitask but deal with one thing at a time. Another helpful hint is to plan tomorrow’s projects at the end of the previous day. More hints include, protecting oneself from interruptions, take a break when it is needed and delegate tasks when possible. Support systems can play a key role in staying ahead and energized as well.
Wolfert lists a helpful Manifesto for bereavement caregivers. Here are a few key points.
One deserves to lead a whole and joyful life. One’s work does not define oneself. Oneself is not the only one who can help others. One must develop healthy eating, sleeping and exercising habits. Overinvolvement can lead to neglect of oneself. One must maintain certain boundaries when helping others. Oneself is not perfect and should not expect oneself to be. One must practice good time management. One must set limits to lessen stress. One must listen to one’s inner voice when fatigue is sensed. One must express one’s true self in work and play. Oneself is a spiritual being and has spiritual needs.
These ideals can help any healthcare professional, mental health or bereavement counselor better care for others. Those in charge of support groups, or those licensed in counseling, all need to realize that while their leadership and guidance is important, it is also important that their own health is monitored. One must remember, like in a plane, one is instructed in an emergency to put the air mask on oneself first, before putting it on another. The reason is simple. One cannot help others, if one is able and ready.
If you would like to learn more about AIHCP’s Grief Counseling Certification, then please review AIHCP’s site and programs. The programs are online and independent study and open to qualified professionals seeking a four year certification in Grief Counseling.
Source: “The Understanding Your Grief Support Group Guide: Starting and Leading a Bereavement Support Group” by Alan Wolfert, PhD
Support groups of any type can help an individual overcome many past traumas. The collective sharing of trauma can help mutual members heal and learn from each other. Individuals with any type of mental or emotional trauma sometimes find the social outlet of support groups to be beneficial. These groups can be from basic human loss to more complicated issues as PTSD and other trauma. Individuals seeking support group help should already be somewhat past the initial shock of loss. In other cases, they should not be a danger to themselves or others. Support groups should be narrowed to their most basic needs to have the most maximum benefit.
Support groups provide an excellent opportunity for the bereaved to be introduced to like wounded individuals. It counters the isolation and shaming within society and opens a new door of acceptance and sharing. Groups provide emotional, spiritual and physical support in a safe and trusting environment. Furthermore, groups allow individuals to explore their feelings but also to help others. If one is emotionally ready and able, support groups can be the final touch of healing to help a person adjust to the loss and continue in a healthy fashion on their grief journey.
The first step in facilitating a support group is to discover the group that one wants to reach. Many independent programs are sometimes founded by an individual who shares a similar loss and wishes to not only help one’s own self but others. Some families of school shootings, will start groups in memory of a lost loved one as a way of continuing one’s name. Other established societies or institutions will create groups and assign trained professionals to guide the groups.
Groups can be led by one person but it is really important to have a reliable co leader who shares similar values and understands the importance of the maintaining group structure. In addition to leadership, most groups are held within the organization premises, but independent groups may meet in public places such as churches, schools or libraries. It is important to find a spot that is quiet enough to allow privacy and a sense of the sacred. Lighting and sometimes music can be employed. An area that has the necessary academic tools is also important. White boards and other educational tools should be part of any group’s resources to explore issues of grief.
The group should be no more than 12 as to avoid overwhelming the leader and not permitting enough time to help each individual. It is also important to pre-screen potential group members to discover if they are ready for group support. Some members may be reluctant to join and are being forced, while others may not be ready to join a social group to discuss loss. Still others may require personal counseling due to deeper trauma that a group cannot help heal properly.
Within the group it is also critical to establish rules to each member. Meetings should be close ended with a start and end time and regular weekly or monthly cycle of meetings. In addition if utilizing online meetings to supplement or replace physical meetings, it is important to keep the same structure of start and close and maintain routine. Issues of privacy may arise and it is important upon utilizing various online resources that individuals partake knowing the critical element of privacy and be in a closed off room from the noise of their respective homes.
Other ground rules should include the importance of confidentiality. What is said within the group cannot be shared with others outside the group. It is critical to build this sense of community and trust. It is important to share one’s grief account, but it is also important that other people may resist. It is critical not to force others to share until they are ready. Likewise, for those who choose to share, it is important to set up time designations for each to talk to prevent the more out going from monopolizing the time. While it is good to help others, it is also important for group members to understand that advice is only to be given unless requested by another member. In addition, interruptions must be avoided and forewarned as unacceptable behavior.
It is to be understood within the group that grief is unique to each. It is important to understand that grief is part of life and not a disease. Finally it is important to emphasize that there is no true recovery in grief but it is an ongoing process. Communication and sharing grief is a life time commitment.
Most grief support groups are close ended, education based and open discussion. These three elements are key to their functioning. The educational element is key in teaching the individuals about the science of grief and how grief works in the body but the open discussion allows for the more subjective element to emerge. Most grief groups have texts, materials, and home work assignments, especially journals. Individuals are encouraged to write and share, as well as bring pictures, and other key objects of the loved one on certain days to share. Evaluations are also utilized on the final day.
Individuals who are looking to promote a grief support group who do not have an institution’s support, can find multiple ways to advertise their group. Word of mouth, online chat, facebook pages, posters and flyers, email lists of professional leaders, local free media and direct communication with professionals within the field can help individuals discover your group.
So far, we have discussed the basics of the group itself, but leadership will determine the success of the group. The leaders ability to be a companion in grief but also an educator in the field. Education, experience, and commitment to helping the bereaved is key for ultimate success. Excellent programs do not bloom over night but are the product of meticulous planning. Every meeting should be flexible but have a plan and topic.
First, the leader must possess some basic qualities. Without these qualities, even the best presented material will come across as uncaring and superficial.
A leader must possess empathy. The ability to perceive another’s experience and communicate it back. It allows the person to feel the other in an emotional sense and allow one to truly understand the feelings of another. A leader must also possess respect. Everyone in the group must be respected as special and unique and have inherent value. Finally, a leader needs to present himself or herself as genuine. They must be sincere in their teaching, listening and companioning.
Communication skills are key in this respect. Certain counselors and teachers learn various nuances of the trade through time and practice, but the skills of being a good listener can be learned over time. The ability to enter into communication and value the person is the first key. Listening can take the form in many ways. Attention and attending to each person one at time is the first key. In this paraphrasing can be a key skill to help others. This not only ensures one correctly hears, but also ensures the other person hears what they are saying. Clarification of issues is also key to clear up any confusing issues. Furthermore perception checking can be a key tool in addressing the individual and allows them to reflect and respond. Sometimes, leaders will needmake observations regarding an individual, and other times, a leader may need to provide some type of acknowledgement. From a group setting, a leader must also help others focus on topics, provide necessary information and help others stay on course. When problems occur, it is always best to deal with at the end of the meeting. Any leader will face various issues in a meeting ranging from the nature of sadness itself or problem members. Learning how to cope through these issues is a key development in any leader. There are a variety of skills that make a support group leader a good leader and learning more about communication and ways to help others be heard and open, are key to support groups.
Any group goes through phases of growth. A good leader will be able to identify the growth. The first phase is the warm up phase. In this phase, the group is feeling each other out. Individuals are trying to see if others think like themselves. Other personalities are emerging and whether to trust remains a question. It is important in these early meetings to give time for individuals to get to know each other and share small stories. These boundaries are further explored in the second phase and following meetings. Individuals tentatively begin to test the water and explore boundaries within the group. They should also begin to start seeing themselves as part of a group.
As the group develops and becomes closer, there is a deeper exploration phase. The work of grief begins to take shape. Instead of why, individuals are helping each other work through the grief. Following this phase, is the most important phase of a commitment to continued growth and healing. Others will take active interest if another member is absent in this phase. The final phase is preparation for ending the group. For some, this can be a loss in itself but it must become something of accomplishment. Others within this phase can share information, numbers and continue to form friendships beyond the group itself.
In any social event, there is a social psychology that is played out. Within a group of any type, these things will be played out. It is important for the leader to respect uniqueness of individuals but also guide the overall theme of the group to work through grief. A successful leader understands the nature of grief but also possesses the qualities to help others through grief. The group can become a great healing device is properly led. Preparation and commitment are the keys.
If you would like to learn more about AIHCP’s Grief Counseling Certification, then please review AIHCP’s Grief Counseling Program 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.
Source: The Understanding Your Grief Support Group Guide: Starting and Leading Bereavement Support Group by Alan D Wolfelt, PhD
Life after a divorce can be very difficult. Not only is the heart grieving the loss of a loved one but also the loss of a marriage. With the loss of a marriage comes a myriad of secondary losses and secondary headaches that can lead to immense grief and intense anger. Understanding divorce and how to better cope can be an important part in rebuilding one’s life.
The article, “Life After Divorce: How You Can Start Again” from Cleveland Clinic’s Healthessentials looks closer on how one can slowly start to rebuild after divorce. The article states,
“Whether it’s rife with conflict or not, divorce is rarely easy. When you’re ending a marriage, you may struggle to move on with your life. But you can successfully work through the emotions and start a new life after divorce, says clinical social worker specialist Karen Tucker, LISW-S, ACSW. “You may feel rejected, angry, profoundly hurt or out of control. It’s also possible that you’ll feel relieved and hopeful,” Tucker says. “It’s important to pay attention to your emotions and to get help when you need it.”
Please also review AIHCP’s Grief Counseling Certification, as well as AIHCP’s Anger Management Program and see if they meet your academic and professional goals. The programs are online and independent study and open to qualified professionals seeking these types of certifications.
Individuals with Major Depressive Disorder have more to deal with other issues than just the symptoms. There are numerous steps and follow ups and other administrative issues to deal with even before they can receive treatment itself. It can take a little time before everything is set up and a plan of action is ready to be utilized. Numerous obstacles can make it difficult for some to even get a proper diagnosis and treatment. This is unfortunate situation for many suffering with depression.
The article, “Top 8 Issues in Major Depressive Disorder” by Sidney Zisook takes a closer look at issues regarding diagnosis and the process of dealing with depression from a professional standpoint. She states,
“In summary, while there has been an explosion of knowledge in the neuroscientific basis of mental disorders, genomics, neuroimaging and neuropsychology, there remains considerable room for growth in the way we provide equitable access to evidence-based treatments; define and diagnose MDD; create evidence-informed first- and next-step, personalized treatment decisions; conceptualize TRD and consider replacing or supplementing it with DTD; develop novel interventions that provide options for better tolerated, more effective, more sustainable treatments; and more effectively train future clinicians to competently employ a broader spectrum of evidence-based treatments than the current norm; and shift the culture of medicine to one that prioritizes optimizing our own wellness and mental health.”
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
School shootings are a fear of any parent or family member. It is a scary feeling knowing that a place of safety and knowledge can be dangerous. School shootings not only keep parents up late at night, but also students, teachers, administrators and the community. The fear of such a traumatic loss can haunt society every time it occurs and cause ripple effects across the nation. It is important to help stop these needless tragedies and help those who have suffered through them.
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.
Prolonged Grief Disorder is a complication in the grieving process that prevents the person from adjusting to the loss. It closely resembles depression but is slightly different and can cause as much mental and social turmoil in one’s life. Unlike depression, prolonged grief has a definite source.
The article, “The pain of prolonged grief disorder” by Allison McCook looks at what Prolonged Grief Disorder entails and the conditions that must be met to be diagnosed with it. She states,
“Every human being will experience grief at some point in their lives — it’s a fundamental human experience. “I think it’s important to underscore that people are equipped to grieve, and for the most part people do it OK,” says Anthony Mancini, a psychological researcher at Pace University in Pleasantville, New York. But some mourners are not OK. When my mother died, I developed what’s known as prolonged grief disorder (PGD), a different sort of grief that psychologists are just beginning to acknowledge and understand. People with PGD — sometimes called “complicated grief” — aren’t just struggling to “get over it.” They have a defined disorder”
Complications in grief can occur and when they do, individuals sometimes need care and guidance from a licensed professional counselor.
Professional counselors can also become certified in Grief Counseling. AIHCP offers a four year certification in Grief Counseling for qualified professionals. The program is online and independent study.
Grief is part of life. As long as love and loss exist, grief will exist. The process of grief is an important part of growing and adjusting. It is not something that is to be rushed, ignored, or not valued. While it is an unpleasant part of life, the grieving process helps one heal and learn to live and adjust to the loss. Grief does not go away but one learns to live with it and the body and the mind must go through the process of grieving to properly adjust.
The article, “Feeling Pressure to Grow from Grief” from “What’s Your Grief” takes a closer look at the importance of the grieving process. The article states,
“What can be missed is recognizing grief as a handbrake for the motion of life. It is an important and natural evolutionary force telling you to let yourself be, to sit, to grieve, to mourn. This leap to meaning can be an attempt to bypass the reality of loss.”
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.
War is the ultimate failure in dialogue. Violence is never justified against another yet throughout history war has been used as a vehicle of violence against countless billions. War in many cultures is seen as a punishment from above and a sign of sin. The Horseman of War is one of the four riders of the Apocalypse spreading hate, violence and death in many of these cultures. In others, war is attributed to the god of war.
Ultimately war comes from human beings because of greed, envy and hate. It is an absence of reason and a cruel extension of diplomacy by force. With it comes death, loss and suffering at a grand scale. This is especially true for wars that disregard civilian life and human decency. Ironically, war can be justified if for defense and it can also be carried out within a a code of conduct, but rarely does that matter, when even the “just” can fall to blood lust in battle. War has no victors but only those who mourn the loss of life, property and future.
In Ukraine, war has again come to Europe. Loss is everywhere at a traumatic level. The loss is incomprehensible for the victims of the war. The people and soldiers who experience the death and destruction are victims of war’s evil spell. Many experience losses of children, spouses, parents, or pets. Beyond the loss of family, many have lost their entire life savings, as well as future. There is no house to return to due to the bombs, but only ash. Within Ukraine there is also a loss of identity, where the nation itself fights for its very existence.
This type of death mark and traumatic loss will haunt the people of Ukraine for the rest of their lives, well beyond the calendar end of the war. The scars, the trauma, the loss, and the horrendous destruction cannot be forgiven much less forgotten. These poor souls who survive the physical pain will forever be haunted by the emotional and mental pain of this war.
The severe trauma of death imprint is one symptom which will cause a high level of PTSD within the general population. The sound of the bombs and missiles, the rolling of tanks, and the sound of gunfire will haunt civilians and soldiers alike. With no safe haven, these victims will suffer to come to grips with the unprocessed trauma that was witnessed in their own cities. The death imprints of dead in the streets, bodies unburied, and the smell of the dead, will haunt adults and children alike. The pure genocide of a town will imprint itself on the minds of so many. Not only will the loss of loved ones and home be relived, but also the moment itself.
Furthermore, in any mass destruction, there will be a multitude of individuals who suffer from survivor guilt. They will feel guilty they lived and a loved one did not, or they will regret what they did or did not. This will haunt them as they relive the moments of the war. For these civilians, the trauma may be far worst than for a soldier because war should never come to one’s home.
The mere thought of this also terrifies those from afar. Mentally, most of Western Europe is witnessing the grief of refugees, while others witness the carnage on television. This is creating a fear within the general population of earth of a potential great war, where what is occurring will happen throughout the world. The anxiety and fear of a greater war ending in a nuclear holocaust between the West and Russia is awakening anxiety, anger, fear and grief.
This war is only to real not only for those who are suffering from it and fighting in it, but also those witnessing it from afar. Seeing small children die, or civilian homes destroyed from missiles afar all awake a fear to everyone else. Anyone with empathy can feel the pain but also the fear of sharing that experience. Many are experiencing an anticipatory grief with fears of losing loved ones in a major conflict. A once never conceived idea of massive loss and pain is now potentially materializing for many people throughout the world.
This war will no doubt scar a generation. Many will need counseling to deal with trauma, PTSD, and depression. The type of loss and inhumane bombing taking place in Ukraine is not something one simply forgets. It is not a type of loss that can be rationalized. It is unnecessary and shocking. It is an evil with no purpose perpetrating by an evil man. This is the hardest type of loss for individuals to process. The question of why and how? Individuals will never fully understand why their lives have been torn away never to be the same. Their lives are the things of nightmares.
These are the types of losses that war produces. War creates such horrible and unimaginable loss of loved ones and homes and crimes against humanity that the human brain cannot fathom it. The trauma is fragmented and never able to be processed in a healthy way. Instead, the loss haunts and creates this horrible imprint upon those who experience it.
Grief Counselors and licensed counselors and other therapists will need to help individuals process the pain of loss well after the conclusion of this war. This will be no easy task as many will remain depressed and numb to the cruel atrocities this war has created. In addition to treating PTSD and depression, individuals will need treated for a variety of anxiety disorders and substance abuse issues that will result from attempting to escape the pain. Crisis Counselors will have to help individuals find some hope, despite the horrible despair and suicidal ideas that may enter their minds. How does one rebuild from this war? The hopelessness will be very real in these souls and it will take well trained mental health care professionals to help these individuals find hope.
It will also take the rest of the world to give hope through time, prayers and financial donations to help rebuild lives. Buildings can be rebuilt, but for others, loss of limbs, or loss of family cannot. Some will never find the peace despite this aid but will have to learn to cope with the loss of a loved one, son, daughter, sibling, parent or dear friend, even a devout pet.
Please pray for Ukraine and peace in this world.
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.