Grief and Mourning

Losing someone you love is probably one of the most devastating things that most of us will face during our lifetime. The pain can be unbearable and all-consuming. Complicating that is the fact that along with the profound sadness, all different types of feelings can emerge such as guilt and even anger. Health is often affected. Often there are unresolved issues between us and the ones we have lost. If left unresolved, these issues can cause unnecessary suffering and complicate the grief and mourning period. Here at LoveLife, we can compassionately help you through these dark times and help you guard yourself against these complicating issues.

Children and Grieving

For children, the loss of a parent, friend or sibling can be even worse. Children just have not developed coping mechanisms they need to face these types of challenges. And losing a source of security such as a parent can have lifelong consequences.

At LoveLife, we also recognize that the loss of a family member can radically affect family dynamics causing further problems. Because of this, at LoveLife we rely heavily upon family therapy for children.

And, as always, LoveLife conducts groups and seminars in grief and mourning. Check our schedule to see which ones are available.

Everyone has their own unique way of coping with loss. We will help you find yours.

That’s the LoveLife advantage!

Want to know more? Schedule our free phone consultation to see if we are right for you. Call now at (732) 276-2625 to ask for your free consultation.

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Adapting to Loss 

Experts say you should let yourself grieve in your own way and time. People have unique ways of expressing emotions. For example, some might express their feelings by doing things rather than talking about them. They may feel better going on a walk or swimming, or by doing something creative like writing or painting. For others, it may be more helpful to talk with family and friends about the person who’s gone, or with a counselor.

“Though people don’t often associate them with grief, laughing and smiling are also healthy responses to loss and can be protective,” explains Dr. George Bonanno, who studies how people cope with loss and trauma at Columbia University. He has found that people who express flexibility in their emotions often cope well with loss and are healthier over time.

“It’s not about whether you should express or suppress emotion, but that you can do this when the situation calls for it,” he says. For instance, a person with emotional flexibility can show positive feelings, like joy, when sharing a happy memory of the person they lost and then switch to expressing sadness or anger when recalling more negative memories, like an argument with that person.

Grief is a process of letting go and learning to accept and live with loss. The amount of time it takes to do this varies with each person. “Usually people experience a strong acute grief reaction when someone dies and at the same time they begin the gradual process of adapting to the loss,” explains psychiatrist Dr. M. Katherine Shear at Columbia University. “To adapt to a loss, a person needs to accept its finality and understand what it means to them. They also have to find a way to re-envision their life with possibilities for happiness and for honoring their enduring connection to the person who died.”

Researchers like Lichtenthal have found that finding meaning in life after loss can help you adapt. Connecting to those things that are most important, including the relationship with the person who died, can help you co-exist with the pain of grief.

Types of Grief 

About 10% of bereaved people experience complicated grief, a condition that makes it harder for some people to adapt to the loss of a loved one. People with this prolonged, intense grief tend to get caught up in certain kinds of thinking, says Shear, who studies complicated grief. They may think the death did not have to happen or happen in the way that it did. They also might judge their grief—questioning if it’s too little or too much—and focus on avoiding reminders of the loss.

“It can be very discouraging to experience complicated grief, but it’s important not to be judgmental about your grief and not to let other people judge you,” Shear explains.

Shear and her research team created and tested a specialized therapy for complicated grief in three NIH-funded studies. The therapy aimed to help people identify the thoughts, feelings, and actions that can get in the way of adapting to loss. They also focused on strengthening one’s natural process of adapting to loss. The studies showed that 70% of people taking part in the therapy reported improved symptoms. In comparison, only 30% of people who received the standard treatment for depression had improved symptoms.

You may begin to feel the loss of your loved one even before their death. This is called anticipatory grief. It’s common among people who are long-term caregivers. You might feel sad about the changes you are going through and the losses you are going to have. Some studies have found that when patients, doctors, and family members directly address the prospect of death before the loss happens, it helps survivors cope after the death.

Life Beyond Loss 

NIH-funded scientists continue to study different aspects of the grieving process. They hope their findings will suggest new ways to help people cope with the loss of a loved one.

Although the death of a loved one can feel overwhelming, many people make it through the grieving process with the support of family and friends. Take care of yourself, accept offers of help from those around you, and be sure to get counseling if you need it.

“We believe grief is a form of love and it needs to find a place in your life after you lose someone close,” Shear says. “If you are having trouble moving forward in your own life, you may need professional help. Please don’t lose hope. We have some good ways to help you.”

From Coping with Grief: Life After Loss. October 2007. National Institute of Health.

Want to know more? Schedule our free phone consultation to see if we are right for you. Call now at (732) 276-2625 to ask for your free consultation.