by Counseling and Wellness Center of PittsburghNovember 15, 2021 anticipatory grief, bereavement, coping with loss, death of child, death of husband, death of parent, death of wife, family loss, grief, grief counseling, grief therapy, holidays, loss counseling0 comments
Kristen saw her reflection in the full-length mirror. She looked lovely in the beautiful dress she had purchased for her company’s holiday party. Yet, in the blink of an eye, Kristen found herself sobbing, the carefully applied make-up now smeared by her tears. She didn’t know how she was going to get through the event. All she could focus on was her beloved sister, whom she tragically lost a month earlier.
The holidays are upon us. We look forward to the festivities, gatherings, and gift-giving accompanying the celebrations. For many, however, it’s the first year a loved one will not be joining in the party or sitting in their usual seat at the dinner table. The positive emotions associated with this time of year are hard to find, and painful ones may be ever-present. So, how can we get through it or help someone we know who is struggling? Here are some important points to remember when coping with grief during the holidays:
- Recognize acute/intense grief. This period immediately follows the loss of a loved one and can be characterized by a sense of numbness or disbelief. In addition, there may be physical symptoms: problems with sleep, headache, weight change, nausea, crying; emotional symptoms: sadness, anger, irritability, anxiety, helplessness, guilt, apathy, denial; behavioral symptoms: forgetfulness, difficulty concentrating, dreams of the deceased, preoccupation with death; and social symptoms: sensitive, withdrawn, hyperactive, underactive, lack of interest, low self-esteem. Understanding and conveying the intensity of what the person may be experiencing is normal and can provide support.
- Grieving takes time. After the funeral or service, often friends and extended family move on rather quickly. The one suffering the significant loss can feel as if they are lagging behind or taking an abnormal amount of time to get over the loss. Be willing to talk about memories and feelings for as long as it takes. Remind them that the grief process is unique to each person, and they are in charge of the process.
- Grieving is dynamic. As time moves on, it may seem that the person is doing better but begins to have periods of intense emotional responses. As reality sets in and the shock dissipates, more emotions may surface and be expressed more fully. Grief comes in waves and can be triggered spontaneously by a memory, smell, location, context, or another person. Grief can also be triggered during certain times of year including the holidays, the anniversary of the death, and the deceased loved one’s birthday. Offer a shoulder to lean on when those challenging moments occur.
- Limit activities if needed. No one should feel obligated or pressure another to engage in activities if they don’t feel ready to participate. Going ahead of oneself can make things worse. Instead, gently remind the person the choice is theirs, without a need for an explanation.
- Isolation. Too much isolation can be detrimental. Make an effort to take the initiative to check in or stop by to provide a connection. Sending a note or card may also convey that the person is not alone and in your thoughts.
- Remembering helps. Planning unique ways of remembering the person who is gone may be emotional but can be comforting to the person grieving. Always ask first, but perhaps consider ways to have a meaningful time together reminiscing.
The loss of someone we love is a tremendously difficult part of life; we can lovingly support one another through the process of grief until fond memories become more endearing than painful. If you or someone you know could use extra support, we offer grief counseling.Learn More
by Counseling and Wellness Center of PittsburghApril 14, 2018 bereavement, complicated bereavement, complicated bereavment, coping with loss, death of child, death of husband, death of parent, death of wife, divorce counseling, grief, grief counseling, grief counseling monroeville, grief counseling pittsburgh, grief therapy, grief therapy monroeville, grief therapy pittsburgh, healthy mourning, loss counseling, seperation0 comments
Grief and Loss, Beware The Traps of Grief, Finding Healthy Coping.
Grief is an emotional reaction characterized by sadness, hurt, hopelessness and intense longing for someone or something that is no longer a part of our lives. While there are many forms of grief, and we can even at times go through the grief cycle when are making significant changes in our lives and looking back imagining how much we would do differently if only we were equipped with what we know now. While depression may share symptoms with grief, they are different disorders. In other forms, we may experience a life transition, loss of a job, or lose a chance that we had hoped to gain. For the purposes and scope of this article, we will focus on the kind of grief which is experienced due to the loss of a loved one due to death or break up.
There is no time line on the normal or appropriate amount of time to grieve the loss of someone we love. Although the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual recommends that grief should become more manageable after one year for a first degree relative. Yet we also know that life will likely never be the same after, loosing a loved one, spouse, a child, a parent or friend. The agony of loss will be something that is remembered for many, many, years to come. Grief and loss are a process which can be worked through in an emotionally supportive therapy or grief counseling, but there are also pitfalls which accompany grief;
- Some traps of grief are that we imagine that we could have done something to change the ending of the story, this is true for all losses. Both a breakup or the death of a loved one can cause us to replay the events over and again in our imaginations, and even magnifying portions of the events, embellishing upon what we could have done differently.
- Grief can at times lead to many forms of guilt, when we magnify what we could have done differently, we then invariably feel guilty that we didn’t achieve those things, that we couldn’t save our person from dying or leaving a relationship. At other times, we may feel relieved for the loss and then experience intense guilt for the relief or for not feeling as much sadness as we imagine we should feel.
- Grief at other times can become complicated, our bereavement can take on unhealthy forms and even lead to complications such as depression, or lead us to reach for unhealthy attempts to bury our pain such as addiction, we may socially isolate, men in particular may be vulnerable to not activating their support network after a loss. This leads to greater distress and complications.
- Repressing our feelings or pretending that loss didn’t impact us, we as humans can be very clever in the production of all sorts of diversions which assist us in not managing our emotions, it is important to practice and enhance self-awareness during grievous times.
- Not knowing how to label emotions or losing hope that the sadness and grief can be managed and processed in a way that is constructive. Grief is something that we innately feel at some point in our lives but that we don’t often know how to manage.
Grief is a universal and human experience that may even be related to the depth of ones affection. We must allow ourselves to love, to hurt, and to heal, and it is the price that we pay for having ever loved at all.Learn More