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Grief Counselling Ottawa

Grief Counselling Ottawa

Grief is the natural emotional suffering we feel in response to losing something or someone we care deeply for. There are many types of losses that can cause feelings of grief not just the death of a loved one. It is important to remember that there is no “right” way to grieve and each person moves through the grief process in a different way. It is not a linear process and there are no set of stages that need to be accomplished for healing to occur. It’s natural for feelings to change and cycle as the process unfolds. If you are feeling stuck or you desire more support through this difficult time grief counselling can help.

Symptoms of grief

There are no set of feelings that we “should” experience when grieving, everyone’s reaction is different. The following are normal possible responses to loss:

Emotional disturbances

  • sadness, sorrow, heartache and despair: This type of pain can feel all-consuming and never-ending

  • Disbelief and shock. While some people and consumed by sadness and can't stop crying others feel numb and empty, like they've been hollowed out. These people are often unable to cry.

  • Anger: Directed at one specific person, themselves or everyone. As human beings we want to make sense of what has happened and it is common to look for someone to blame for the loss. General irritability and shortened temper are also common.

  • Guilt: One of the most difficult aspects of a loss is feeling that you “could have” or “should have” done something differently. You may also judge yourself for what you think you “should” or “should not” be feeling, particularly when part of you is relieved after the loss.>

Cognitive disturbances

  • Difficulty with concentration, forgetfulness, confusion.

  • Frequent intrusive thoughts about the loss.

Physical disturbances

  • Loss of appetite, nausea.

  • Difficulty sleeping

  • Low energy, fatigue or feeling weighed down.

  • Body pain, headache.

  • Difficulty breathing, tightness in the throat.

  • Dry mouth, often a result of crying, try drinking more water.

Spiritual or Philosophical Disturbances

  • feeling that life has lost all meaning.

  • anger at God or the universe.

  • asking “what did I do to deserve this?”

The Grieving Process

When you have experienced a significant loss, you need to grieve in order to make a healthy transition. Depending on the nature of the loss, it may take months or even years for the intense feelings to lessen and for the bereaved person to find their new normal. For some people, the extra support of grief counselling can aid in this transition.

Researcher and psychologist Therese Rando offers six “R’s” that can be helpful for conceptualizing the grieving process:

  • Recognize the loss: There can be a period of shock or denial that the loss has occurred. This stage involves coming out of the shock and possible denial and recognizing the fullness of the injury.

  • React: Acknowledging and expressing emotions are part of the grieving process. Attempting to ignore or bury the pain will not make it go away and can stall the process unnecessarily. Crying is a common way of expressing hurt, but again everyone is different, those who do not cry may feel the loss just a deeply as those who do.

  • Recollect and Re-Experience: Revisiting memories is an important aspect of healing from loss. It’s important to note that not all of these memories will be positive.

  • Relinquish: This is the slow process of putting the loss behind by accepting that the world has forever changed.

  • Readjust: As the loss is processed the pain is no longer so sharp and there is a slow return to a new type of regular life.
  • Reinvest: Although it is true that the world will never be the same, a healthy person reinvests in new relationships and commitments.

Grief Counselling

Feelings of grief are a normal reaction to a significant loss.While the sadness may never totally disappear, over time as the loss is processed, the feelings should lessen allowing the bereaved person to slowly resume their new normal life. There are, however, a number of possible factors that can suspend the process and cause grief to linger making it difficult to heal and continue with life, for example:

  • The nature of the loss. For example witnessing a loved one suffer through a prolonged illness, die in a violent accident or commit suicide.

  • Blocking beliefs: Sometimes individuals can block out certain emotions that need to be processed because they believe that it is in some way unacceptable to feel this way. Or they may fear that if they let go of their sadness they will lose their last connection to the deceased.

When the experience of loss is, for whatever reason, not processed, normal grief symptoms will often not fade or can actually become worse over time. This is generally termed complicated grief and is often expressed in the following symptoms:

  • The loss is not any easier despite the passage of time.
  • Deep sadness continues. The person may feel as thought they are drowning in the intensity of the feelings.
  • Feeling haunted by intrusive thoughts of the loss, avoiding reminders of the loss.
  • Intense longing for what has been lost.
  • Feeling that life is meaningless, unable to enjoy any aspect of life.
  • Extreme anger or bitterness over the loss.
  • Inability to function in day-to-day life due to painful feelings and preoccupation with the loss.

If you’re feeling stuck, or you desire more support, grief counselling can help you to move towards your new normal. I’d be happy to speak with you to answer any questions you may have Contact me