Grief and loss is something that all of us as human beings will experience at some point in our life times. We most often associate grief and loss with the death of a loved one, divorce, or loss of a job; however, grief and loss also occur whenever we experience significant changes or transitions in our lives.
As humans, we all experience grief and loss at various points in our lives. Sometimes we may grieve a loss that is clear and finite, such as the loss brought about by the loss of a loved one, divorce, or loss of a job.
However, grief and loss also occur whenever we experience significant changes or transitions in our lives, even when we enter those transitions voluntarily. You might experience grief at changing jobs, ending a relationship, or moving to a new state.
Grief counseling can help provide a space to process grief and loss, whether as a result of loss of a loved one or a more ambiguous loss. We have specialists who are experts in grief therapy and can work with you to process and make space for the complex emotions you are experiencing. Reach out to us today to get started.
Causes of Grief
There are many different life events that can create feelings of grief. Some common causes of grief can include:
Death or loss of a loved one
Loss of a job
Loss of a friendship
Death of a pet
Coping with infertility
End of a relationship
Having a stillbirth or miscarriage
Illness of a parent or other loved one
Even when we choose a change or a transition we must “give up” the familiar and the known to go towards something that is new, different, and unfamiliar. Some of these voluntary causes of grief and loss can include:
Moving to a new city or state
Moving to a new home
Choosing to terminate a pregnancy
Leaving home to attend college
Choosing to end a romantic relationship or friendship
These times in our lives can be very challenging and difficult to cope with and manage. Grief counseling or grief therapy can provide a space of support to help you process your emotions and develop coping skills as you navigate transition.
Stages of Grief
There are five stages of grief and loss that researchers and grief experts have identified. People typically move through these stages as they experience a loss or a change.
These stages of grief are more common when someone experiences a sudden loss, such as the sudden loss of a loved one or death of a pet. Those stages of grief are:
Denial - You might feel numb, or a sense of shock and denial at the loss. You might think things like “I can’t believe this has happened.”
Anger - During this stage, you might feel rage or frustration at the loss, feeling that it’s not fair that this has happened to you or your family. You might even feel anger at the loved one who has died, despite knowing that their death was not their fault.
Bargaining - You might second guess your actions that lead up to the loss, wondering “What if I had done something differently?” or “If only I had…” You might also wonder if you will wake up some day and realize this has all been a dream.
Despair - During this stage, you may have strong feelings of sadness, depression, and hopelessness.
Acceptance - Acceptance is sometimes confused with the idea of “getting over” a loss, but in reality you do not need to get over a loss in order to accept it. When you reach acceptance, you will likely still feel sad at the loss, but feel stronger and more capable of returning to your normal life.
Grief therapy can be one way to find support in moving through these stages of grief and reaching a state of acceptance at your loss.
What is Ambiguous Loss?
Ambiguous loss occurs in situations where closure and understanding are more difficult to come by. This might occur when someone is physically lost or psychologically lost to you. Some examples of ambiguous loss include:
Disappearance of a loved one
Death of an ex-spouse or former partner
Loss of contact with a loved one
Having a loved one in cognitive decline, such as a parent with dementia
Struggling with infertility
Ambiguous loss can be especially challenging because it is much less visible and concrete than other forms of loss and grief. It can be challenging to cope and move to a space of acceptance when experiencing ambiguous loss.
If you are experiencing ambiguous loss, grief therapy can help you cope with this difficult transition. Contact us to learn more about how we can help you.
Grief Therapy and Grief Counseling
During times of grief, loss, and transition, a therapist or counselor can help us gain new perspectives and build new coping skills. Grief therapy and grief counseling can help us learn how to pause and recognize the impact of the change, so that we can put it in its proper place and manage through the transition with healthy coping skills.
Learning to grieve in a healthy manner, and cope with losses, and manage transition are skills that can and should be developed. Grief therapy and grief counseling can help you build those skills.
You might be thinking to yourself, “I should just be able to deal with it.” or “I shouldn’t need grief therapy to get over this.”
All of us have unique internal and external resources to cope with issues related to grief, loss, and change. No one handles these situations the same and there is no “right or wrong way” to grieve or change. By partnering with a specialist in grief therapy or grief counseling, you can begin your journey to healing in a safe and supportive environment.
How We Can Help
At Westmoreland Psychotherapy Associates, we provide specialized and focused therapy to help individuals or families understand what is happening through their own experience, as well as develop an understanding of their resources for coping through the transition. Our specialists are experts in supporting people through all kinds of grief, loss, and transitions.
You don’t need to cope with grief and loss on your own. By partnering with a therapist, you can begin your journey to healing and acceptance. Contact us today to get started.
Our Grief Counseling Specialists
Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW)
I am a Licensed Clinical Social Worker who has experience working with individuals, couples, and families, especially those who have a history of traumatic experiences. I ground my work in a strengths-based framework as I believe that my role is to assist my clients in identifying, refining, and highlighting the strengths they already have within themselves.
Anxiety, Grief Counseling, Family Therapy, Depression, Stress Management, Life Transitions, Trauma
Psychiatric Clinical Nurse Specialist, MSN, RN, PMHCNS, BC
Humans are physical, mental and spiritual beings with each facet being interdependent on the other. Together, we will explore the many influences of your life on each aspect of your being and determine the best plan for you…
Chronic Illness, Grief, Life Coaching, Anxiety, Depression, Trauma, Stress Management, Life Transitions
PhD, RN, LCSW, LISW
As a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and a Registered Nurse for more than 35 years. I have experience working with teens and adults experiencing stress, trauma, and other forms of adversity.
Anxiety, Chronic Illness and Mood, Grief and Loss, Stress Management, and Life Transitions, Depression, Trauma
Licensed Professional Counselor, MA, LPC
Struggle is something that I believe every single living thing experiences. It is a concept that can bring us into some of our hardest moments in life, but it also presents the opportunity to connect, grow, and learn. I believe that confronting our struggles and working through them is one of the most valuable journeys that life brings.
Anxiety, Depression, Addiction, Grief Counseling, Trauma, Chronic Illness & Mood, Stress Management, Life Transitions, Teens