Why Grief Counseling May Be Exactly What You Need
It is a common misconception that grief counseling is only for the person who cannot get out of bed because they are in such agony. The truth is that grief affects everyone differently and looks different for every ailing heart. It often feels overwhelming and catches you off guard, even when a loved one has been battling a terminal illness or on hospice for years.
It may mean:
- the physical loss of a loved one or best friend.
- saying goodbye to your biggest dream, the loss of a thirty-year marriage, experiencing a miscarriage, or the loss of safety after a traumatic experience.
- losing financial stability or losing a job.
- your emotional world is shattered, heart in a tizzy, earnestly searching for what to feel and how to move forward.
- you feel numb or that your emotions are in overdrive, searching for which direction to go.
Some try to process grief by feeling numb or frozen in time. They have a challenging time thinking of anything but the loss they experienced. Their brain feels foggy, the body feels numb, and emotions feel overwhelming and heightened.
Others try to process grief by moving constantly. They are always on the go, mind constantly working, and they try to keep pushing those thoughts of grief and overwhelming feelings to the side. Sometimes people keep moving with the hopes that it will help them figure out their grief and process their feelings.
You may have experienced a recent loss and might be having a tough time getting out of bed. Or, you might currently be in a mode of hyper-activity, trying to keep moving and keep pushing forward.
“Listen to God with a broken heart. He is not only the doctor who mends it, but also the father who wipes away the tears.” – Criss Jami
Grief Counseling Tips
1. Accept the reality of the loss.
The first step in the grieving process is never an easy one, however, it is a particularly important one. Instead of being hesitant to feel or process what you are feeling, you must allow yourself to grieve. You must not put a time stamp on your grieving process but know that sometimes grief comes in waves.One day you might be excited to get dressed up and go to work, and the next day, the world might feel like a ton of bricks on your shoulders.
- If you lost a best friend, you might feel that loss more when you receive exhilarating news and think of how you always went to call that person to share in your excitement.
- If your spouse filed for divorce and refused to work on your marriage, that grief might hit harder when you attend your children’s events, go to the restaurant where you first met, or lay alone in bed at night.
- If you are grieving your earlier financial stability due to unforeseen circumstances, it might overwhelm your heart every time a bill needs to be paid and you are wondering how it is going to be done.
- If you are grieving a clean bill of health and are dealing with treatments, medical bills, and a time-stamped future, you might be grieving the future you thought was ahead for you and your family.
Rest in the knowledge that God is right there with you. He is the author of miracles and healing.
2. Talk freely about your loved one or grievance.
Ecclesiastes 3:4 reminds us there is a time for everything. “…a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance.”
We are not promised a life free of tears, heartache, and pain. We are promised that whatever grief might be weighing heavy on your heart, will not last forever. We are not promised to walk an easy life, but God has promised never to leave us in whatever hardship we are facing.
It was once said that “The storm that was sent to break you, is going to be the storm that God uses to make you.” That pain you are feeling right now might change your perspective completely and allow you the opportunity to help someone else in their journey.
Do not be afraid to be open and honest about your struggles. Do not be afraid to ask for help. Do not be afraid to talk about the good memories of the person you lost. Do not be afraid to allow your heart to find healing and joy again. Do not be afraid to use your stories of struggle to encourage someone else in their journey.
Those around you often want to help during your time of hardship, but sometimes they are afraid to ask questions or say something at the risk of increasing your inner turmoil. Do not be afraid to reach out and ask for help, whether through professional grief counseling or from a trusted friend or mentor. Do not be afraid to allow someone the opportunity to be there for you during your darkest hour.
“Refusing to ask for help when you need it is refusing someone the chance to be helpful.” – Ric Ocasek
There is healing to be found in seeking help, talking openly about your struggles, and being authentic in what you are facing and how you are feeling. This might be your time to grieve, but your time to dance is coming. Do not miss the opportunity to find that joy again.
3. Do not wallow in guilt.
It is in our human nature to constantly blame ourselves when facing hardship or when dealing with a loss. Whether it is the loss of a loved one, the loss of a relationship, the loss of financial stability, or the loss of good health – we tend to replay everything we could have and should have done differently.
While we can learn from past mistakes and missed opportunities, we must find the strength to look ahead. We must accept the things we cannot change and work on the things we can, for a better future.
Wallowing in guilt and what-ifs only adds to whatever grievance you are facing. It was once said that “Life is a balance of holding on and letting go.” We must hold on to the good memories of the person we lost. We must hold on to the lessons we learned in the marriage that ended in divorce. We must realize the strength it takes to battle a terminal illness and continue turning to God for strength as we battle it. We must realize that life is full of twists and turns, but there is beautiful scenery in every step of the journey that we need to absorb, take in, and learn from.
The test that is weighing you down right now might be a huge part of your testimony in the future. Do not lose hope!
4. Do not be afraid to seek professional help as you cope with life changes.
Crying constantly and being unable to get out of bed are not the criteria of when to seek the help of a counselor. A counselor is someone who wants to aid you in your healing journey and cope with the life changes that are ahead for you. We want to equip you with the emotional tools you need throughout your journey.You might be triggered by whatever grief you experienced in the moments that you least expect it. Your new normal might not be an overnight adjustment. Do not compare your journey to that of someone else.
Feel what your heart is urging you to feel. Appreciate the good memories. Ask for help. Do not try to do this alone. Pray when things are going well, and when things are difficult. Journal your thoughts, feelings, and hardships throughout your grief journey.
Scriptures on Finding Hope in Hardship
The Lord is good, a stronghold in the day of trouble, and He knows those who take refuge in Him. – Nahum 1:7
Trust in Him at all times, O people; Pour out your heart before Him; God is a refuge for us. – Psalm 62:8
But if we hope for what we do not see, with perseverance we wait eagerly for it. – Romans 8:25
God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. – Psalm 46:1
Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. – Romans 12:12
For in this hope, we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience. – Romans 8:24-25
But they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint. – Isaiah 40:31
Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. – John 14:27
Christian Grief Counseling
If you’re looking for grief counseling from a Christian perspective in the Tacoma, Washington area, it would be an honor to meet with you. Feel free to contact me or one of the other counselors in the counselor directory to schedule a grief counseling appointment.
“Woman Sitting on Rock”, Courtesy of Long Truong, Unsplash.com, CC0 License; “Trees in the Mist”, Courtesy of Sebastian Huber, Unsplash.com, CC0 License; “Frosted Rose”, Courtesy of Maximilian Zahn, Unsplash.com, CC0 License; “Sunset Over the Water”, Corutesy of Marek Piwnicki, Unsplash.com, CC0 License