The loss of a friend, relative or loved one is not something many people get over quickly. Few words can truly express how hard death can be on survivors. Although time does make it easier to live with their loss, sometimes, intervention is necessary. Everyone’s response to grief is different. Some individuals find it harder to move on after the death of a loved one than others.
Grief is also common after losing a pet, job, money, friend, lover, or any major disappointment. Sadly, grief can also occur from news of a loved one dealing with a terminal illness or suffering severe and potentially life-threatening injuries from a car accident.
But how long should it take one to get over losing someone? While that answer varies per individual, feelings of grief that persist may be a sign that it’s time to seek out professional grief counseling in Los Angeles.
Five Stages of Grief
Let’s take a look at the five pillars of grief to gain a better understanding of what feelings and emotions are common and their duration.
Denial is the first stage of the grief process that causes survivors to deny, pretend, or confuse the reality of the situation.
Anger is when the negative emotions turn into simmering anger or explosive bouts of rage over the loss. It is common for those in the second stage of the grief process to lash out at others and act aggressively.
Irrationality is expressed as persistent thoughts or ruminations, second-guessing past actions, decisions, and interactions, and wishing for a different outcome. Though grief makes everyone vulnerable, some individuals are more susceptible to developing anxiety, depression, or suicidal thoughts or tendencies from grief than others.
Depression is much different than occasional feelings of sadness. Depression that develops while someone is mourning is not so easy to overcome. In addition to experiencing persistent waves of sadness and hopelessness, sufferers who slip into depression often struggle much harder and longer when grieving.
Acceptance is the final stage of the grief process. Survivors no longer struggle to live with or accept their loss. Survivors at this stage are ready to move on with their lives.
Grief is an immeasurable feeling that elicits emotions based on the circumstances surrounding the loss. Also, the response is different between adults (instead of men and women) and children. Regardless of the level of connection or impact, all kinds of grief are important.
Grief can manifest itself in various ways, impacting thoughts and behaviors. It’s not uncommon for survivors to exhibit dramatic changes in their thoughts and behaviors.
Sometimes the grieving need professional help to accept their loss and move on. Living with prolonged or intense and persistent feelings of grief is unhealthy and can lead to complications, making it even more difficult to move on.
Here’s how grief counseling in Los Angeles can help:
It treats the trauma and teaches acceptance. Trauma affects everyone differently. Not everyone knows how to process or accept the emotions and feelings they have about their loss. Some people become so overwhelmed by their feelings that their grief impacts their normal coping processes.
Not everyone makes it past the initial stages of grief. Some internalize their feelings until they manifest as health and behavioral issues. Grief counseling offers patients the tools they need to identify their feelings of sadness, anger, anxiety, depression, numbness, etc. so they can continue functioning and behaving normally.
Grief counseling encourages patients to think of the unique challenges they’re experiencing due to their loss, like poor cognitive function, disorganization, sleep issues or appetite changes, etc. Counseling also teaches healthy, normal coping mechanisms to help them become more functional with ongoing or concurrent issues in their lives.
Because there are different types of grief and responses to it, some people who develop persistent or overwhelming feelings and reactions to grief may benefit from more comprehensive grief counseling in the form of therapy.
Grief Counseling vs. Grief Therapy
Grief therapy benefits those who require additional coping mechanisms or clinical assistance with processing complex grief and traumatic emotions. Counseling offers professional assistance and support in overcoming the natural or clinically normal reactions to grief that are beyond their personal ability to master on their own.
For example, a person grieving the loss of a pet may naturally suffer from periods of sadness, anxiety, and depression but eventually, move past the stages of grief before accepting their loss. Grief counseling in Los Angeles is an appropriate normal and healthy avenue for those seeking to pursue support and guidance.
On the other hand, someone else may develop an unusual, abnormal or unhealthy reaction to the loss of a pet or companion. Instead of gradually and naturally making their way through the stages of grief, they become stuck in an endless loop of behavioral or physical changes that can include health disturbances, persistent or chronic feelings of guilt or hopelessness, self-harm, isolation and conflict. Their grief is complicated and may cause them to fixate on the circumstances regarding the loss or develop intense, unhealthy reactions.
According to the American Psychiatric Association, symptoms of prolonged or complicated grief include:
- Feeling numb or lost sense of self
- Avoidance behaviors regarding the loss
- Trouble socializing and communicating
- Disbelief about the loss
- Extreme emotional responses when angry, bitter, sad or experiencing pain from the loss
In order to be diagnosed with prolonged or complicated grief, three or more symptoms must occur daily or almost daily. In adults, the loss must not be recent (within the last 12 months). Because children mourn differently than adults, prolonged grief symptoms tend to develop much sooner, usually six months after the loss of a loved one.
Grief counseling in Los Angeles can help the mourning to recognize their unhealthy thoughts and behaviors regarding their loss. However, grief therapy in Los Angeles is beneficial because it enables them to identify the unhealthy psychological, behavioral and emotional changes and learn to respond to them appropriately so they can make it through the entire grieving cycle.
Is Grief Counseling Right for You?
It’s normal and okay for you to mourn the loss of life or experience grief from a traumatic or stressful event. Although grief is unique to the individual experiencing it, some take months or years longer than others to get over their loss.
It’s not normal or healthy to carry unresolved feelings and emotions long-term. Prolonged mourning can cause you to develop complicated grief that is difficult to overcome without professional grief counseling or grief therapy in Los Angeles.
If you or someone you know is struggling with the loss of a loved one, contact The C.U.B.E. to learn how grief counseling can provide the support necessary to instill healthy coping mechanisms and make living with the loss of a loved one easier and less burdensome.