Grief, Loss, Bereavement Counselling

While bereavement is a universal phenomenon, the experience of grief is not. Each of us can mourn differently. A couple who had stillborn birth may see the father spending more time at the gym, while the mother is unable to stop crying. Research speaks to the stages of mourning; however, the grief process is not linear and may take some of us considerable time to before we feel able of moving on with life and no longer think of the deceased with pain. All too often friends and family are done mourning well before you are and pressure you to move on. You will know when you are past the acute phase of mourning because you will be able to regain interest in life, feel more hopeful, experience gratification again, and adapt to new roles. 

 

 Rachael Naomi Remen states, “ Grieving allows us to heal, to remember with love rather than with pain. It is a sorting process. One by one you let go of the things that are gone and you mourn for them. One by One you take hold of the things that have become a part of who you are and build again.”

 

What are normal grief characteristics? 

Most bereaved individuals during the acute phase of grief will experience somatic distress of some kind. Mourners can be preoccupied with the image of the deceased and often have guilt relating to the deceased or the circumstances of the death.  Others may experience hostile reactions and typically for everyone, there is an inability to function as one had before the loss. 

 

Mourning can cause painful feelings, physical sensations, distinct thought patterns, and behaviours. Common feelings after the loss of a loved one can include sadness, anger, guilt, anxiety, loneliness, fatigue, helplessness, shock, yearning, emancipation, relief, and/or numbness.

 

Many mourners have experienced physical symptoms of anxiety (tighness in the chest and throat, shortness of breath) an oversensitivity to noise, a sense of depersonalization (nothing feels real) and a dry mouth. Losing a loved one often is marked by disbelief (there must be a mistake), confusion and difficulty concentrating, preoccupation (obsessive thoughts of the deceased), sense of prescence (the deceased is still in the current area of time and space), and hallucination (visual and or auditory). Some of the behaviours associated with the normal grief reactions include sleep and appetite disturbances, forgetfulness, social withdrawal, dreams of the deceased, avoidance of reminders of the deceased, restlessness, sighing, searching and calling out for the deceased, crying, visiting places or carring objects that remind you of the deceased, and treasuring objects that belonged to the deceased. These physical sensations though patterns and behaviours lessen subsides over time.

 

Why people fail to grieve?

The type of relationship the person had with the deceased can infuence the mourning process. For example, if the mourner had unresolved or unexpressed feelings, they may feel anger and/or guilt. Also, if the deceased is believed to be dead, but no body has been recovered the mourner can experience unresolved grief which can complicate the mourning process of the recent loss. The mourner’s personality (how it affects one’s ability to cope with emotional distress) and the lack of social supports can also interfere with grieving reactions. 

 

Most people can navigate grief without counselling support. However, if you find that your friends and family are no longer able to provide you the support you need or the loss is so unimaginable (suicide, loss of child, homicide) and you are unable to move forward in the grief process, grief counselling is a good step.

Grief and Loss Counsellors

Connie Lupichuk

BSW, MSW, CLC, RSW

Connie Lupichuk

Connie is based in Penticton and provides counselling services in-person or online. To read more about Connie, please click the button below.

Krista Giilck

BSS, MACP, BCACC

Krista is based in Kelowna and provides counselling services in-person or online. To read more about Krista, please click the button below.

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If you feel you could be a good fit to join Incentive Counselling, please reach out to us!