We all go through loss in our lifetimes. It’s a strange experience in that its universal and yet as we go through it, we often feel terribly alone.
Grief counseling can help you feel less alone.
It can also help you process your grief so that you can move forward. You can better understand the impact of the loss on your life and find ways to honor and celebrate the person you’ve lost while still setting new plans and goals for your own life. If you’re wondering whether you need grief counseling, chances are that it could help.
Here are five signs that you might need grief counseling:
1. You Have Experienced a Loss
Anyone who has undergone a loss can benefit from counseling. Of course, plenty of people grieve without attending counseling. Nevertheless, it’s a hard thing to go through, and counseling can almost always help you through the struggle.
You do not have to wait until grief has overtaken your life before you seek grief counseling.
There is no right or wrong time to get counseling for grief. Also, it’s important to recognize that people go through many different types of loss. Your grief may not because of a human’s death. People also seek counseling for grief associated with:
- The death of a pet
- Divorce and separation, particularly if you won’t be in each other’s lives again
- Family trauma and abuse requiring you to let go of specific relationships
- Getting fired from a job that you absolutely loved
- Loss of a home due to natural disaster or manmade causes
- Loss of a body part or ability due to illness, accident, or age
These are different types of grief counseling, but they are no less important. At any stage after a loss, you may benefit from grief counseling.
2. You Feel Like You Can’t Move On
We all go through grief. Unfortunately, it’s a universal condition. There’s no proper mourning period.
Some people start to feel like life is “back to normal” (or at least a “new normal”) relatively quickly. Other people take a long time to grieve. It’s okay to grieve in your own time.
However, if you begin to feel like you will never be able to move on, then you might want to seek grief counseling.
Your life changed when you lost someone. However, your life did not end.
If you feel like your life has ended and there is nothing to look forward to then grief counseling can help you get unstuck.
Generally speaking, if you’ve been grieving for one year or more and still feel like you can’t move on then it’s wise to seek counseling.
3. You’ve “Moved On” A Little Too Well
In other words, if you’ve avoided processing your grief at all then you’re asking for trouble down the line. If you quickly put the loss behind you without truly dealing with it then the pain will resurface when you least expect it.
One key sign that you’re doing this is constantly saying, “I’m fine.” You might say it to others or just within your own mind. Likewise, anytime that you minimize your loss, you’re probably avoiding. For example, you may say things like, “well, we all die sometime.”
Another warning sign is if you find yourself avoiding all reminders of the person that you’ve lost. If you don’t go to the places that you used to enjoy together, remove their photos from your home, and turn off the radio when a song comes on that they loved then you’re probably avoiding your grief.
4. Grief Interferes with Your Work
Of course, you’re probably going to be in a fog after the death of someone you love. It may take some time to get back in the normal rhythm of things. However, if a few months have passed, and you can’t get back to a fairly regular level of functioning, then you might want to seek help.
In particular, if your work or school performance suffers dramatically, then grief counseling can help.
For example, if you’ve failed a class or gotten a demotion due to your inability to perform because of grief, then you might need help. Through counseling, you can not only work through the grief that’s holding you back but also learn new skills and techniques to help you improve work performance as you process your grief.
5. You Have Symptoms of Depression
Grief is not depression. However, grief can turn into depression. If you start to have symptoms of clinical depression, then you should seek help. Some of the major differences between grief and depression are:
- In grief, your focus is on the loss. In depression, you focus on yourself.
- In depression, people feel guilty, worthless, and low self-esteem. In grief, you may have fleeting feelings of guilt but otherwise your self-esteem is intact.
- You have some fluctuating ability to feel pleasure, hope, and interest during grief. You do not in depression.
- During grief, people generally feel better when spending time with others they love. That’s not the case in depression.
- People in depression generally feel numb or limited range of emotions whereas people grieving experience an array of different emotions.
- If you have thoughts of death when grieving, they are because you miss the person you lost and want to be with them. In depression, you just want to be out of pain or don’t feel like you are worthy of living.
If at any time you start to have feelings of depression, don’t write them off as “normal grief.” They may be part of your grieving process, but you still don’t have to suffer through them. Grief counseling can help.