Understanding Grief

This fall, the therapists at Metis Counseling attended a training session presented by Dr. William Hoy entitled “When Grief Gets Complicated: Strategies for Counseling and Supporting the Bereaved”. Grief is the process of adapting to life after a significant loss. The terms grief and mourning tend to be used interchangeably. However, there is an important distinction among them and the process of healing incorporates both grieving and mourning. Simply stated, grief is the internal thoughts and feelings experienced when someone we love dies; whereas mourning involves taking the internal experience of grief and expressing it outside ourselves in the presence of others.

The typical grieving process involves remembering and sharing the life of the loved one, realizing and coming to terms with with reality of the death and the magnitude of grief’s pain, release (saying goodbye to relationship as we knew it and into a future without the loved ones physical presence), reaffirming or finding the spiritual anchors that support the loss and renewal, which is process of reconciling the loss. We don’t get over or recover from grief, but rather enfold it into our lives, adapt, and learn to reconcile it.

The resolution of normal grief can become compromised by issues such as abuse, traumatic death, multiple losses, lack of supportive networks and history of psychiatric diagnoses. People tend to delay the hard work of grief and find themselves “stuck” in old patterns, find that they are not making much progress in adjusting to the loss, or find unhealthy coping strategies that complicate their healing.

It is important to listen for meaning in the grievers experience/loss and not to impose meaning onto them. For children, meanings may and likely will change, and therefore it is important to check in with them in the months and years that follow the loss of a loved one. If handled with warmth and understanding, a child’s early experience with death can be an opportunity to learn about life and living as well as death and dying.

If you are in need of guidance and support as you work through your grief and mourning, please give us a call at 816-399-4204 or visit our scheduling page at metiscounseling.com to request an appointment.