Grief and Loss & Psychotherapy
Having been in funeral service since 1973, and as a practicing counselor and a trained substane abuse counselor, I have seen and worked with many individuals and families in various stages of their grieving. Some have been moderately affected by their loss, while others have been devastated and found themselves unable to cope with their seemingly insurmountable loss. About the only sure thing I can say about grief is that it is NOT a disease. It is not abnormal, nor is it something that affects only a small portion of the population. Rather, grief is a normal response to loss and everyone experiences some if not all, of its effects.
Greif is a Journey
Loss is experienced by all of us from the first moments of life through the end of our existence. Death is the ultimate form of loss. Each of the losses we experience can help prepare us to deal with this ultimate separation. How we learn to deal with the less traumatic losses, will determine how we will cope with the death of a loved one.
There are no hard and fast rules that govern when our grief ends nor can we be guaranteed that once we've "worked through" our grief, that it won't revisit us again in the future. Without a doubt, we experience many circumstances that are losses but that are not recognized as such. Therefore, they rarely, if ever, are grieved. The accumulation of these unresolved losses can lead to complicated mourning when loss is from the death of a loved one. Some examples of losses which may not be mourned include: a change in our family position due to the birth or adoption of a sibling, moving to a new community, or even a new home, can also be considered a loss. A change in jobs can bring on feelings of loss, as can loss of physical abilities due to illness or injury. The aging process brings with it all sorts of loss which need to be mourned. True, these losses may not be as severe as the death of a spouse, but they are losses nonetheless. Many people who experience difficulties in resolving their grief issues may be comforted in knowing that there are many people just like them. It is the courageous who are willing to go beyond the surface of their grief and find the underlying issues that make their mourning so difficult for them.
There is some comfort in the old adage that sadness shared is sadness reduced. By examining the aspects of grief, we can return to a life that has meaning and purpose. Studies of Holocaust survivors found that when they could find some meaning in their suffering, they were able to come through their terrible ordeal better than those who could find no meaning whatsoever. I am not in any way comparing the loss of one person to the tragedy that claimed more than twelve million lives. What I am saying is that when we are overwhelmed and burdened with unanswerable questions, we can find solace and something positive that can come from our own personal tragedies. If anything, we can learn how to cope in a healthy way with loss and pass these lessons on to others.
Mourning is a process; a journey, not a destination. It's not so important where we're going as it is how we are getting there. I'm not even sure what people mean when they say, "I want to get better," or "I want it to be different." Where are they running? From what are they running? What is it that they want to change? I suspect it's their feelings that they want to be different. Feeling our feelings is something which many of us have great difficulty in dealing.
Chesed v'Emet is prepared to help you with any grief, loss or other issues you may have after the loss of your loved one.
If you feel you are unable to resolve your grief issues and would like to schedule an appointment with Rudy, please call 847.577.0856. All calls are confidential and most healthcare insurance policies cover these sessions as Rudy is a Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor.