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Grief or Loss Counseling

Grief is the term that describes our reaction to loss—and for any two people, that reaction will differ. We all grieve differently. Some turn grief inward or feel uncomfortable sharing their emotions openly, choosing to isolate and handle it all alone.

Others feel conflicting emotions about loss, such as relief as a loved one is released from prolonged suffering. This relief is often accompanied by guilt, further complicating a difficult situation.

Others experience intractable grief that outlives the customary or “normal” mourning period.

The concept of negative space in art is analogous to persistent grief. Negative space denotes the background or empty space that bounds the focal point, or subject, of a painting or a photograph. For people with intractable—or “complicated” grief—all rooms that they inhabit become blurred by negative space, such that the absence of a particular person or circumstance becomes the focus… and they struggle to shake their feelings of profound and pervasive emptiness.

Is Death The Only Event That Qualifies As A “Grieve-Able” Loss?

No. And, the answer may be broader than you’d initially imagine. Grieve-able losses may include:

1. The Death of a Loved One

The loss of a parent, spouse, child, relative, or friend; even the death of someone whom you knew only peripherally can unsettle you to your core–especially when the person passes suddenly, before their time, or you admired many of their best qualities

2. The Death of a Pet

Animals become our loved ones, and we cherish their moody quirks and unconditional love… even when our pets are absolutely rotten and shred and scatter the trash all over the kitchen floor, we’d take them back at their worst to guarantee their presence in our lives again

3. Loss of a Relationship

We grieve the loss of our friendships, our breakups and divorces—there’s definitely a reason that it’s called heartache!—or even a lover’s act of infidelity, which because laced with an added layer of emotional betrayal, makes coping uniquely difficult

4. Miscarriage & Birth

The connection that forms between a pregnant mother, expecting partner, and unborn child is incredibly intimate and when circumstance severs that bond prematurely, it can be devastating—for both parents.

5. Loss of a Job

Losing a job can make you feel inadequate, or even remorseful if you feel as though you did something… not quite right… to warrant your employer’s decision. With the passage of time, these emotions of worthlessness and self-blame can transmute into “complicated” grief

6. Loss of a Dream

From “Death of a Salesman” to “A Raisin in the Sun”, there’s a reason why so many great works of literature detail the death of a dream; when you lose that thing that you’ve worked so hard for or have always dreamed about achieving, it can be difficult to understand your place in life, or where to head next

7. Loss of Health or Safety

People with chronic illnesses, sudden paralysis, or traumatic brain injury grieve the loss of all that they could do prior to their injury or illness. Similarly, people who have lived through a profound trauma mourn the loss of what their life was like before the event when anxiety about personal safety was less pressing and intrusive

8. Moving

Moving is a unique category of loss that combines many of the aforementioned topics, from loss of relationships (through physical distance) to loss of a job (having to start your career over somewhere new), to loss of contact with the everyday places that you came to love… even if you didn’t notice it at the time!  It’s as they say: Absence [can, and many times, it does] make the heart grow fonder.

What Are The Signs & Symptoms Of Grief or Loss?

The physical and psychological indicators of grief will vary from person to person, but may include:

  • Shock, disbelief, or numbness: feeling emotionally detached as you adapt to the knowledge that a loved one has passed or that your circumstances have been altered.
  • Sadness: the predominant emotion associated with grief, and when not properly addressed, can evolve into a lengthier bout of depression.
  • Anger, Guilt, or Blame: feeling angry or holding yourself, the deceased, or the people who were involved in your changing circumstance responsible for the loss; or finding yourself perpetually irritable and snapping at random people (grocery store clerks, librarians, etc.) with little provocation.
  • Yearning: reminiscing and ruminating about the time before your loved one passed or the event of loss happened.
  • Futility: struggling to understand the purpose of the tragedy or of life in general.
  • Relief: feeling relieved after the inevitable occurs and you’re no longer hanging in the balance… waiting for the other shoe to drop.
  • Physical symptoms: including gastrointestinal upset, weight loss or weight gain, sleep disturbances (including excessive fatigue or difficulty falling and staying asleep).
  • Behavioral symptoms: including absentminded behavior, avoiding reminders of the loss, social withdrawal, or engaging in risky behaviors (such as substance use or sexual promiscuity.

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