5 THINGS I LEARNED AS A GRIEF AND TRAUMA THERAPIST
Are you feeling overwhelmed by your feelings of grief?
Feelings of grief can occur for all kinds of loss, whether the loss was a death or not. Maybe you are having a hard time accepting the fact that your loved one has died or perhaps you are feeling like crying all the time. Do you find that you are avoiding thinking about or talking with others about your loss? Maybe the death of your loved one is constantly running through your mind like a nightmare that you can't wake up from. Thinking about your future is impossible. Maybe you feel like you don't deserve to be happy.
Whatever the type of loss you are experiencing, you might be beginning to notice the impact of your grief in every facet of your life:
You don't feel connected to others
You are struggling to stay focused and be productive at work or school
You don't feel like taking care of yourself
You feel angry and resentful when you see others happy
You can't imagine a future where you belong or feel happy
Grief Counseling can help.
It may feel impossible now, but you can experience happiness again. you can live a life that is rich in meaning and purpose. And we can help you get there.
Grief Counseling can help you:
Come to terms and accept your loss
Learn skills and strategies that can help you to manage difficult feelings
Find hope for your future so that you experience happiness in life with meaning and purpose
Most importantly, we'll do this with compassion and without judgment.
We'll help through this process, tailoring each step to your unique needs and circumstances. Our approach to grief counseling comes from a place of compassion and nonjudgment: believing that grief is not something that you get over but something that can be managed over time and even foster new life perspectives, meaning, and personal growth.
When you are ready, we'll be here.
We'll join you on your journey to help you along your way.
You don't need to go it alone.
Listen to Kelly's interview on Live Boldly podcast-
Navigating Grief and Deep Emotions
Kelly sat down with Sara Schulting Kranz of the Live Boldly podcast to talk about navigating grief. Kelly discussed the myth of the stages of grief, the bucket of unfinished business, and unanswered questions. She also talked about the most difficult parts of the grieving journey, things that we do and don’t say to grievers, and learning from loss, and Kelly also shared tools for dealing with grief.
Things to Know about Grief & Loss
Grief is unique.
Despite popular belief, there are no orderly and predictable "stages" of grief. Each griever will process grief individually and at their own pace, rebuilding your life so that the loss becomes more manageable over time.
Grief is necessary for healing.
Grief cannot be avoided, ignored, or put away. If grief is not acknowledged and addressed, it will find its way out in ways that can negatively impact one's life. Grievers need to give themselves permission to follow their instincts and allow their hearts, mind, and body to grieve.
Grief work needs patience and acceptance.
Grieving the death of a loved one is a slow process. It can be difficult to know that the grief journey will take longer than you’ll want. It’s best to be gentle and patient with yourself and your family. Your heart, mind, and body will grieve as long as you need to. It can be reassuring to know that over time your grief will change and be less intense. Grief gradually shifts and becomes less all-consuming as time goes by. You will find ways to manage your thoughts and feelings in ways that allow you to experience healing, hope for the future, and happiness in living, and in time you will smile and find joy again.
There is no "moving on".
There is hope among non-grievers that their loved ones who are grieving will "move on" and will no longer grieve their loved ones because for many it's scary and even terrifying to think that grief will not end. There is a fear that if grievers don't "move on" then they will be stuck in the pain of grief forever. However, the exact opposite is true. The fallacy is that one must "move on" in order to not be stuck in grief. The truth is that one gets stuck in grief when the griever is unable to fully experience the range of emotions that the loss brings. It's only when the griever experiences the depth of grief that a griever can move forward with living a life filled with meaning and purpose.
FAQs about Grief Counseling
Q. Does grief counseling work?
A. Grief counseling like any other treatment approach will require time, commitment, and a trusting relationship between therapist and client. There is no one size fits all or "magic bullet" that can take away the difficult feelings that come with loss. Having someone that you trust, who is compassionate and "gets it" is necessary for helping you work through the pain so that can you find peace and happiness on the other side.
Q. Why is grief counseling important?
A. While grief is a "normal" reaction to loss, we can become stuck in unhealthy patterns of thinking, feeling, and behaving that can take us away from living a life that is aligned with our values. When this happens we are unable to see and feel beauty, connection, and love.
Q. When should I seek grief counseling?
A. It might be time to seek grief counseling if you are asking yourself, "Should I talk to someone?" If others that you care about are encouraging you to talk to someone, that might mean they are worried about you and are not sure how to help. If you are finding it difficult to connect with others, take care of yourself or loved ones such as your children, or focus on tasks that are important to you, then it might be helpful to talk with a grief counselor. If you are feeling "stuck" then it might be a good time to talk with a grief counselor.
Q. Is grief counseling covered by insurance?
A. Most insurance plans cover treatment for mental health issues. You can contact your insurance company and ask about your mental health coverage.
Q. What is grief counseling like?
A. Grief counseling is considered "talk therapy". We will explore your thoughts and feelings to help you gain understanding and clarity around them so that you can become unstuck in unhelpful thinking, feeling, and behavior loops that keep you feeling "stuck". We will help you gain clarity around your values and help you find ways to engage in committed actions that are aligned and in service of those values.
Q. How long will grief counseling take?
A: Grief counseling will vary depending on the type of loss and complicating factors associated with the loss. Sessions are typically weekly, 53-minute sessions. A few ways that we are able to help you are:
Using proven, evidence-based grief counseling and therapy approaches to address client-identified concerns
Administering questionnaires to measure progress over time
Checking in with clients on a regular basis to ensure that they feel their needs are being met and that they are experiencing improvement
We feel it is important to address the unique grief-related needs of the LGBTQ+ community. While fundamentally, the grief experience is universal to all, individuals who identify as LGBTQ+ often experience a more complicated grief experience. This is often due to society's lack of compassion, empathy, and understanding of their grief experience of which results in the feeling that their grief is not recognized or validated.
Unfortunately, it is not uncommon for LGBTQ+ individuals to be invalidated by the cisgender, hetero-dominant culture. For example, often LGBTQ+ relationships may not be recognized by healthcare institutions, employers, or family. When this happens, partners/spouses may not have control to make important decisions regarding healthcare, finances, or funeral arrangements, regardless of legal marital status.
Another example is for many LGBTQ+ couples and families who are experiencing grief over a pregnancy loss may experience their grief not validated as they are not of the cisgender hetero-dominant culture. It's oftentimes perceived that since they didn't conceive or were pregnant themselves the grief they feel over the loss of the pregnancy is discounted or ignored.
Our practice recognizes and affirms the unique grief experiences of the LGBTQ+ community and imbeds affirming all grief experiences into our practice with the goal of being inclusive and supportive of LGBTQ+ grievers.
"A ship is safe in the harbor, but that's not what ships are built for."
John A. Shedd
Have you heard the saying, "A ship is safe at harbor, but that's not what ships are built for."? We are those ships sailing in the ocean called life. There are going to be raging storms and waves that will come crashing over the sides. We might even think we aren't going to make it, "If one more wave comes crashing over!" But I'm asking you to have trust that you were built for this. You can weather this. You will see clear skies again.
Yes, you will be battered and bruised. There will be damage to the ship that will need to be patched and it won't be as it was before. There will be scars and places in your heart and soul that may always need tending.
But you be able to go back out to the ocean where you belong because, "A ship is safe in the harbor, but that's not what ships are built for."