When you’ve lost someone important or special to you, it can feel like your life will never be put back together again. And you’re right – there isn’t any going backwards in time. But you can heal from the pain of grief and loss, reconnect with the memories that you cherished about a person, and identify the parts of them that live on in you and the world. You can build a life without the person you’ve lost that both honors their memory and gives you grounding and meaning.
Understanding Grief, Loss, and Bereavement
When you understand what you’re going through, it doesn’t feel so overwhelming. When you are in mourning, a really wide variety of feelings are normal. It’s normal to be angry at the person who died for leaving you. It’s normal to want other people to leave you alone, or to resent them for not having lost their own loved ones. It’s normal to feel like nothing will ever be ok again – feeling this way doesn’t mean that it never will.
The particulars of the loss that you have suffered are important. If it was sudden and without warning, this can affect your ability to feel like things in the world are stable. On the other hand, a long and protracted illness can result in cumulative trauma as well. Some losses, such as the loss of a child, are always considered traumatic but any loss is considered traumatic if it overwhelms a person’s psychological ability to cope with it for a significant period of time.
Disenfranchised grief happens when your loss isn’t validated by the larger culture. Many people who experience miscarriages, although they represent one in three pregnancies, find that society does not give them enough room for their grief. People say misguided things such as, “at least you know you can get pregnant” or “you can always try again”.
People who have relationships that are unsanctioned by the society they are in such as same-sex relationships within some cultural contexts, people who are in relationships with people who are married, or people whose relationship is unvalidated in our culture, although our pets can provide us with vitally important comfort and unconditional love. sometimes seen as “less important” like roommates or friends, can be unsupported as they are suffering. Pet loss is also
The Importance of Support in Grief
Even if your grief is validated by the larger culture, you may have trouble being supported. If you’ve suffered a loss, its likely that some of the people around you have too. Sometimes that can mean that you come together to remember and mourn – but sometimes it can mean that you aren’t in a place to lean on each other.
If your friends and family are grieving too they may not be at their best – they may say the wrong thing, compare how you’ve each been impacted by the loss, or just be too lost in their own mourning to be able to be there for you. Also, these relationships are bidirectional and reciprocal, and you might not be in an ok enough place to be there for other people. A professional who is skilled at working with people who have grief and loss can help you to understand what’s happening and be supportive without needing to worry about being supported back.
Types of Therapy for Grief and Loss
The most important element for all types of therapy is a relationship where you feel supported and understood. Beyond that, some therapy modalities are especially suited for working through grief and loss include Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT), which allows you to focus on your values and Existential Therapy, which offers room to ask the larger questions. The most important thing is that your therapist is able to adapt their technique to fit
Bereavement Therapy at Monarch Wellness
All of our therapists are conversant at helping you through bereavement. Bereavement counseling is currently being offered in individual therapy, but if you are interested in joining a support group please contact us. When we have enough interest (4 or more people with the same availability) we will offer a therapeutic group.