Life After Loss: Dealing with Grief
Oftentimes, people associate grief with the death or loss of a loved one. This is inaccurate, though, as people can feel grief when losing things, such as a job, a relationship, a home or even losing a body part like a leg or arm. Dropping out of school or even being diagnosed with a terminal illness likewise create certain forms of grief. Grief is more about the feeling of loss, and not about what or who was lost.
In this article, we discuss grief and its stages, and when it’s necessary to seek professional help. There are experts available to provide you with CBT in Westport, Connecticut.
What is Grief?
Grief is an intense emotional and physical response that an individual experiences after loss. While grief can be from losing intangible things like a relationship, status, a person’s future (as when diagnosed with a terminal illness), the most common and often paralyzing sort of grief is the type that arises from the loss of a loved one.
This kind of grief is marked by extreme sadness, but is accompanied by a strong desire to be reunited with the deceased. In extreme cases, intense and complicated feelings of grief can give rise to suicidal tendencies of the bereaved. Another route that grief can go is for it to manifest as physical symptoms.
Those experiencing extreme grief may exhibit symptoms like:
- Dry mouth
- Chest pains
- Shortness of Breath or asphyxiation
- Stomach pain
- Loss of Appetite
The Three Elements of Grief
There are three major psychological components of grief, and these are:
While those who grieve focus on the loss of the person, there are other intangibles that were lost with their death. The deceased could have been the source of affection for the bereaved, emotional security, or represented hope for a good future for the person mourning. Helping the bereaved realize what was lost along with the deceased is a vital step, since each loss must be dealt with to cope with grief.
This is an unavoidable consequence of losing a loved one, and the complexity of the change that the bereaved has to deal with is dependent on what sort of role the deceased played in the life of those in mourning. Adapting to the abrupt change of having to explore new things, or carrying on with certain things without the deceased can be a huge challenge for the bereaved. Those grieving need time to deal with the change that comes with the loss of a loved one.
Since the death of their loved one was beyond their control, this can feel overwhelming for the bereaved. This feeling of having no control over the loss can lock the bereaved in feelings of vulnerability and isolation.
The Grief Pattern
Those who grieve describe their feelings of loss as moving in a wave-like pattern; most report the intensity and frequency of these wave-like feelings of grief lessen with the passing of time, although intense and overwhelming feelings of grief can impact them at any time, even years after the loss. The grief can be triggered by anything, an object or event that is connected with any memory that involves the deceased. These triggers of grief can come unexpectedly, but some may also be anticipated if they are connected to an important date. Note that these triggered waves of grief are normal, and don’t have to be taken as a sign of mounting grief or depression. The intensity of these waves usually lessens, with time.
CBT for the Grieving
The role of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is to assist the bereaved in accepting the loss of their loved one, allowing them to grieve, and at the same time guiding and supporting them as they strive to create a new life. Most bereaved persons must be allowed to tell their story, express their thoughts and feelings, try to make sense of the loss, and then given the support they need to move their lives forward without their loved one.
At the Center for Cognitive and Behavioral Health, our therapists and physicians can help ease your physical and psychological symptoms of extreme grief. We can also provide personalized care to help you deal with the loss of a loved one. Contact us if you, a friend or your family needs our counseling.