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What is Grief, and How Can We Navigate Healing Options Through Therapy?

Updated: Jun 8

Grief can be a multifaceted journey deeply woven into the fabric of human existence. It comprises an intricate web of emotions, thoughts, and behaviours that emerge in response to loss. In this blog, we will look at the essence of grief, exploring its diverse manifestations, stages, emotional impacts, and the therapeutic avenues available for healing and growth.

Understanding Grief

Grief is not a singular experience but often a spectrum of responses triggered by various forms of loss. While the death of a loved one is perhaps the most recognized form of loss, grief can also stem from losing a job, ending a relationship, loss of identity, or significant life transitions. Parents can often feel loss and grief when their children leave home, even if it is to go to university. Each type of grief carries its own nuances, yet all share the common thread of profound emotional upheaval and adjustment to a changed reality.


Types of Grief

There are three main different types of grief:

  1. Anticipatory Grief: This occurs when individuals anticipate an impending loss, such as the terminal illness of a loved one, leading to a gradual process of mourning before the actual event. We often see this type of grief as our beloved pets get older and more infirmed and can't be as active as they once were.

  2. Complicated Grief: This can be characterized by prolonged and intense mourning and may involve persistent feelings of disbelief, anger, guilt, or an inability to accept the loss, hindering the natural progression of grief. Individuals can often get "stuck" and unable to move forward.

  3. Disenfranchised Grief: This refers to feelings of loss that are not openly acknowledged or socially validated, such as the grief experienced after the death of a pet, losing a baby, or the end of a non-traditional relationship.

The Stages of Grief

Although the notion of grief stages was popularized by Elisabeth Kübler-Ross, it is essential to recognize that grief is not a linear process, and clients may navigate these stages in a different order. Everyone is unique, and we all react to grief in our own way.

The stages of grief include:

  • Denial: To begin with, there may be shock or disbelief as the client struggles to comprehend the reality of the loss.

  • Anger: Feelings of frustration, resentment, or injustice may surface, directed towards oneself, others, or even the deceased.

  • Bargaining: In an attempt to regain control or reverse the loss, individuals may engage in bargaining with a higher power or ruminate on "what-if" scenarios.

  • Depression: Intense feelings of sadness, loneliness, and emptiness may pervade, coupled with physical symptoms such as fatigue, loss of appetite, or an inability to sleep.

  • Acceptance: Ultimately, acceptance involves coming to terms with the permanence of the loss and integrating it into one's sense of self and life narrative.

Emotional and Mental Effects of Grief

Grief permeates every facet of our human experience, impacting emotional, cognitive, and behavioural functioning. Common emotional responses include sadness, anger, guilt, anxiety, and profound longing for the deceased or lost relationship. These emotions may fluctuate in intensity and duration, complicating the grieving process and challenging one's resilience and coping mechanisms. Mentally, grief can affect how we see the world, causing intrusive thoughts, difficulties concentrating, and an overwhelming sense of numbness or detachment from reality.


How Can Person-Centred Therapy Help Combat Grief?

As human beings, we often do not handle endings well, as they are something that we do not prepare for. Endings are inevitable and, when handled well, can be a more positive experience. Sadly, endings can often be messy or not handled well. Therapy offers a sanctuary for individuals to navigate the complex terrain of grief and move forward. Our programs provide compassionate support, guidance, and therapeutic interventions tailored to clients' unique needs.

At Stone in my Boot, we practice Person-Centred Therapy pioneered by Carl Rogers, which is based upon providing the core conditions of empathy, unconditional positive regard, and genuineness. Throughout every waking program, right from the start, we create a safe and nurturing environment for clients to explore their grief experiences without fear of judgment or criticism. Through empathic listening, reflective dialogue, and collaborative goal-setting, we seek to empower clients to express their emotions, process their grief, and cultivate adaptive coping strategies to rebuild a sense of meaning and purpose in their lives. Through our programs, individuals can embark on a transformative journey of healing, resilience, and personal growth in the wake of loss. We will be with you at every stage of this journey.

For more information, visit our homepage or explore our online therapy options.

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