There is no right or wrong way to cope with grief. People cope with the death of a loved one in many ways. The way a person grieves depends on the personality of that person and their relationship with the deceased. How a person copes with grief is affected by his/her previous experiences of loss, the circumstances of the death, the person’s cultural and religious background, his/her coping skills, mental health, and the availability of support systems.
Grief is the normal process of reacting to loss. Grief reactions may be felt in response to physical losses or in response to symbolic or social losses such as divorce or the loss of a job. Grief may be experienced as a mental, physical, social or emotional response. Mental reactions can include troubling thoughts, changes in a person’s values and beliefs, and changes in lifestyle choices. Physical reactions can include sleeping problems, Changes in appetite, physical problems or illness. Social reactions can include isolation from family and friends or an inability to be alone, disruption in work routines and a need to control the lives of surviving loved ones. Emotional reactions can include anger, guilt, anxiety, sadness and despair. Grief processes depend on the nature of the relationship with the deceased, the situation surrounding the death and the person’s attachment to the deceased.
Grief work includes the processes that a mourner must complete before resuming daily life. These processes include separating from the person who died, readjusting to a world without the deceased and forming new relationships. To separate from the person who died, a person must find another way to direct to direct the emotional energy that was given to the person who died. The mourner must turn to others for emotional support and satisfaction. The mourner’s roles, identity and skills may need to change to readjust to living in a world without the loved one. The mourner must give other people or activities the emotional energy that once was given to the person who died.
People who are grieving often feel exhausted because the grief process usually requires a great deal of physical and emotional energy. The grief they are feeling involves not only the loss of the loved one but also the loss of the unfulfilled dreams and plans that included the deceased. Death often rekindles feelings of grief related to previous losses or separations.
Grief counseling helps mourners with the various grief reactions work through the tasks of grieving. The goals of grief counseling include:
- Helping the bereaved accept the loss by talking about the deceased.
- Helping the bereaved to identify and express feelings related to the loss.
- Helping the bereaved to address making decisions without the deceased.
- Helping the bereaved to separate emotionally from the deceased and form new relationships.
- Providing Support and time to focus on grieving at important times such as holidays, anniversaries and birthdays.
- Providing continuous support and validation of the individual’s grief process.
- Helping the bereaved understand his/her methods of coping.
- Identifying coping problems and making recommendations about more adaptive coping behaviors.
Manassas Group Members having special expertise in Grief:
Several Manassas Group therapists have the skills and experience to guide bereaved individuals and families successfully through the stages of grief. We offer a confidential and compassionate environment for mourner’s to process grief and heal from the devastation of loss.