Seeking Therapy for Grief and LossPat Fontana
When we think of loss, we often associate it with the death of a loved one. Loss can come in many other forms, however, that can be just as difficult in the way they challenge us. We can grieve over the loss of a marriage or serious relationship, the loss of a job, of even over the loss of a feeling of security after a traumatic event. Grief over loss can be devastating if we are not properly equipped to deal with it.
Stages of Grief
The commonly accepted stages of grief after any type of loss are:
- Denial and isolation
These stages of grief were actually developed by psychiatrist and visionary death-and-dying expert Elizabeth Kubler-Ross to describe the process that patients go through as they come to terms with their terminal illnesses, according to Psychology Today. The stages have since been recognized as also applying to those people who grieve after suffering losses, whether that is the death of a loved one or some other type of loss.
All those who suffer loss and grief do not pass through these stages in the same sequence or within the same timeframe, of course. Some people even skip some of the stages as they attempt to work through their grief. Universally, though, the process of grieving is a complicated and sometimes devastating process.
Seeking Therapy for the Grieving Process
Managing the process of grief and loss on your own can be challenging, if not impossible. The symptoms of grief can affect your physical, emotional, spiritual, and mental health. Some losses, such as an illness or death in the family, loss of a job, or a breakup or divorce, may create anxiety or depression and lead you to dull your emotions with drugs or alcohol.
The grieving process can take years and is often very painful. Even though friends and family members may be supportive and offer their condolences or words of encouragement, managing your pain appropriately may require professional help. Instead of struggling to manage your grief alone, it is often best to get therapy from trained psychotherapists who can help you learn to process your loss and deal with its implications constructively.
Therapy can help you by examining the nature of your grief and exploring positive options for managing your loss. We work with you to determine the most appropriate plan, depending on your situation:
- Psychotherapy – We help you to identify patterns of self-destructive behavior that may result after a loss. We then work with you through the critical process of developing healthy coping skills.
- Family counseling – Grief can impact the entire family and one person’s sense of loss should be evaluated and treated in terms of how it affects the family unit. We encourage and guide you through communication skills that can help you and your family through your grief.
- Substance and mental health evaluations – Substance abuse can start or be exacerbated by an intense sense of loss and grief. We work with you to build a treatment plan that addresses the complete picture of substance abuse and mental health.
- Recovery coaching and monitoring – We stay with you! We work with you to help you create new habits and behaviors that support and reinforce a healthy lifestyle.
When the symptoms of grief are not addressed properly, which can happen quite often in the case of the loss of a loved one, you may experience what the American Cancer Society refers to as “complicated grief.” Unresolved grief can lead to devastating impacts on your physical and mental health, including:
- Continued disbelief in the death of the loved one, or emotional numbness over the loss
- Inability to accept the death
- Intense sorrow and emotional pain, sometimes including bitterness or anger
- Blaming oneself for the death
- Wishing to die to be with the loved one
- Feeling alone, detached from others, or distrustful of others since the death
- Trouble pursuing interests or planning for the future after the death of the loved one
- Feeling that life is meaningless or empty without the loved one
- Loss of identity or purpose in life, feeling like part of themselves died with the loved one
The Cancer Society emphasizes that treatment in the form of professional therapy is important for resolving grief and for working through the loss. If you are experiencing complicated grief, you may be at risk of worsening emotional illness.
We Can Help
If you or a loved one feels overwhelmed over a recent loss and struggles to process through the grief, we encourage you to contact R&A Therapeutic Partners today. Raymond Estefania and Ana Moreno have years of experience finding people the help they need to meet their challenges, so they can live fulfilling lives.
At R&A Therapeutic Partners Raymond Estefania and Ana Moreno specialize in substance use and mental health disorder evaluations, treatment, intervention and therapeutic/educational consulting for clients throughout the greater South Florida area, as well as nationally and internationally. For more resources and information please visit Therapeutic-Partners.com or on Facebook.