Imagine for a moment the times in life when you’ve felt a deep sense of “loss.” These moments are universal, etched into our shared experiences as periods of shadow and solitude. Loss doesn’t discriminate; it appears in many forms, whether expected or sudden. It’s not just about losing someone you love; it can also mean losing a part of yourself, your financial security, or something else incredibly important. Coping with loss is like navigating a complex maze that goes far beyond missing a loved one.
One of the most recent triggers for these experiences of grief and loss is undoubtedly the COVID-19 pandemic. People have grappled with losing loved ones, jobs, daily routines, and even their health (long-COVID). It’s a stark reminder that no one is immune to the pangs of loss. Grief and loss are integral parts of life, but this understanding, while recognised intellectually, doesn’t always prepare individuals for the emotional journey that such experiences inevitably entail. Hence, it becomes important to understand how people navigate these losses, grapple with them, and find the necessary support.
It’s important to underline that counselling, while valuable, is not a cure-all. Coping with loss involves a complex mix of physical, emotional, ethical, social, cultural, spiritual, and philosophical factors, in addition to the emotional aspect. Beyond the realm of emotional support, various healthcare professionals and social services, especially in cases of livelihood loss, play essential roles in supporting those in the throes of grief. This article aims to outline the different forms of grief and, more importantly, explain how counselling can serve as a guiding light during the natural process of mourning.
Understanding the Varied Nature of Grief
Before delving into the types of grief, it’s wise to contemplate the origins of grief itself. The type of grief one experiences often depends on the nature of the loss and the relationships involved.
While many individuals learn to manage their grief over time, some experience “complex grief.” This involves prolonged symptoms that can last for almost a year, with varying intensity. Severe stress can often make it difficult to go about daily life and work.
As the name suggests, anticipated grief is a response to a death that is expected, such as when someone passes away after a long illness. The grieving process might start even before the actual passing.
Losing someone or something of great personal significance in a traumatic event, such as an accident or witnessing a severe injury or fatality, can disrupt family life. Feelings of guilt often accompany traumatic incidents, especially when the person affected perceives themselves as responsible for the loss. Grief symptoms may appear within hours, days, weeks, or even months following the traumatic experience, making the coping process challenging.
The role of counselling
By now, it is evident that loss and grief are integral components of existence, and sadness is an intrinsic facet of the human experience. However, handling the loss and the ensuing grief is a formidable challenge, one that can exert a profound impact on various dimensions of life. The question inevitably arises: when is professional support warranted?
Human emotions are vast and unpredictable, and it’s impossible to predict grief. While many individuals ultimately recover from their grief, there are those for whom the path to healing and recovery is beset with difficulties. In such instances, grief counselling emerges as a valuable resource. Analogous to conventional therapeutic practices, it upholds the principles of confidentiality, except in situations where a person poses a threat to themselves or others, and in such cases, the therapist proceeds only with informed consent, a topic deserving a separate discussion.
A typical grief counselling session may encompass:
- Encouragement to share one’s personal narrative and experiences of loss
- Identification of areas in life where an individual may be encountering difficulties in coping
- A discussion concerning the strategies deployed to address intense emotional responses
- The formulation of coping mechanisms specific to challenges, such as navigating anniversaries of global tragedies or personal milestones,
- The provision of guidance and referrals to supplementary services that can facilitate the process of rebuilding one’s life, especially in instances of livelihood loss ensuing from natural calamities or conflicts,
In summary, it is imperative to acknowledge that grief is a natural reaction to loss, and the manner in which it is expressed defies standardization. Counselling serves as a vital instrument in navigating life, particularly when individuals grapple with intense emotions or confront pivotal decisions. Seeking professional assistance need not be deferred until such time that the individual’s occupational, educational, or daily life becomes tangibly affected.
We invite you to reach out to Light Mind Counselling & Psychology. We stand prepared to provide unwavering support on your voyage towards healing and emotional well-being. You are not alone in this endeavour; we are a mere phone call away, dedicated to assisting you in your quest for recovery and growth.Book an appointment