Grief counseling focuses on offering support for individuals who are undergoing loss and bereavement. For many of us, the word grief is something that brings up a vast array of emotions from pain and confusion, to discomfort and avoidance. While intuitively we all know that pain and loss is something that we may all encounter at some point in our lives, we are still often left with a loss for words when the tragedy of loss or death does occur. Like many things in life, grief is complex. It comes, it goes, and can surprise us 5 months, 5 years, and even 50 years later. It is a journey that no two individuals can experience in the same way, even in the face of the same loss.
Individuals often seek grief counseling related to the following:
- Death of a parent, spouse, partner, child or friend
- Ending of a significant relationship with a spouse or partner
- Significant changes in one’s health or a loved one’s health
- Miscarriage and/or difficulty with fertility
- Recent loss of one’s job
- Loss or death of a family pet
Our counselors are trained to help you through your journey with grief by ensuring you are fully supported, heard and understood. As there is not a “fix” for grief, BPC therapists will not seek to “cure” you but rather accompany as you process through the various parts of grief.
Grief Counseling FAQ
In our society, we have grossly unrealistic ideals of what grief should look like. We often expect the experience of grief to be brief, simplistic and follow a step by step pattern or emotion. Additionally, our society feels very uncomfortable with grief and often withdraws from individuals going through this experience. Grief counseling helped individuals identify what healthy grief looks like and gives them tools to process through this complicated experience.
Grief counseling seeks to help individuals who have experienced loss find a healthy way to process feelings of sadness, despair, anger, hopelessness, and other complicated emotions that surround grief. It also seeks to normalize the experience as many who are experiencing healthy grief feel as though they are “doing it wrong.”
Every person can have a different experience of grief and there is no one “right way” to grieve. Circumstances surrounding grief can make the experience look different for each person. Below are a few examples:
- Progressive diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease can lead to anticipatory grief can begin as that person slowly loses abilities and core parts of the personality are changed.
- Death at a young age can bring a grief that is due to an “off time loss” While losing a loved one at an older age is also difficult, death at an age that is deemed “too young” can bring complex emotions.
- Infertility grief can come from a grief of what did not occur and may include feelings of shame, regret and self-blame.
Many confuse grief and depression symptoms. And while both conditions usually include feelings of sadness, these two conditions are very different.
Elisabeth Kubler Ross famously stated that people experiencing grief go through five stages: Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Dysphoria, and Acceptance.
In my experience, people do not necessarily feel these feelings in isolated stages, but instead experience all of these complex emotions at once. This is what makes grief so disorienting, confusing, and complicated. Often coming in waves, people can feel absolute hopelessness, relief that the suffering is over, anger for what has taken place, and anxiety about how to live with the future. Then in an hour or a week, the wave of emotion may pass, coming and going, coming and going.
Intense sadness, changes in motivation, sleep, and appetite are just a few of the overlapping symptoms between grief and depression. For individuals experiencing these symptoms for the first time, it can be pretty disconcerting to observe these changes in mood after the loss of a loved one. Clients will ask us if they are depressed when, in fact, they are experiencing very normal symptoms of grief.
In this video, we talk about what normal grief looks like, what to expect, and how to process through this experience in a healthy way.
Treatment for grief can be a bit different than treatment for other distress. It is important to remember that grief is a healthy reaction to the loss of someone that we love. While the sadness, tears, frustration, anger, and confusion may feel very uncomfortable and may not be emotions that one is used to, it still is very normal. In therapy, a therapist will help each individual process through the loss in a way that feels supportive, healthy, and grounded.
Grief Therapy may focus on what has been lost and how the needs that a person has met can be found in another way. It may focus on processing through complicated parts of the relationship that will never have the opportunity to heal or change now that the loved one is gone. Or, it may focus on how to honor that life of the loved one and how to find new meaning in life that allows that person to live on in us or the world around us. Approaches to grief therapy will be as individualized as there is no “right” way to grieve. Grief will not last forever, and it’s important to know that you do not have to grieve alone.
There is no right or wrong time to start grief counseling, and a grief counselor can help people wherever they are in the process.
Our society tends to think that grief is a short-term experience, usually resolved within a few months. In reality, grief is often a process that can take years to work through. Most people experience ranging intensity of emotions for about 2 years after the loss of a loved one.
The circumstances surrounding the loss can make the experience more brief or more complex. While grief is a normal reaction to loss, grief counseling can be very helpful throughout the process. Many people choose a grief counselor shortly after the diagnosis, news or loss, while others seek support in the months after when the support and care from others may begin to decrease.
Our grief counselors do not shy away from grief or feel uncomfortable talking about this complex experience. While our society often feels a great sense of awkwardness for individual’s grieving, our grief counselors feel honored to help people walk through their grief experience.
In counseling our therapists will help people normalize their experience and find adaptive tools to help them process through the complex, painful experiences of grief.
Meet our Team
Doctorate and Master of Arts in Clinical Psychology, Arizona School of Professional Psychology
Practice Areas: Emotionally Focused Therapy (EFT), relationship / marriage counseling, Depression, Anxiety, PTSD / Trauma, Grief, Spiritual Integration, Medical Counseling, Immigration Evaluation Services
Master of Science in Marriage and Family Therapy, Arizona State University
Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist
Practice Areas: Emotionally Focused Therapy (EFT), relationship / marriage counseling, individual therapy, PTSD / trauma, faith-based counseling, grief and loss, parenting/coparenting issues, depression, anxiety, adjustment disorders, work/life stressors
M.S. Marriage and Family Therapy, Arizona State University
B.S. Family and Human Development, Arizona State University
Practice Areas: Relationship / marriage counseling, pre-marital counseling, grief and loss, general counseling, anxiety and depression, individual therapy, life changes, work/life stressors
M.S. Counseling and Human Services, University of Toledo
B.S. Psychology, Bowling Green State University
Practice Areas: relationship / marriage counseling, pre-marital counseling, parenting, general counseling, anxiety and depression, individual therapy, career decisions, caring for aging relatives, life changes, work/life stressors
Our Location in Phoenix, AZ
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Our grief therapists apply professional expertise and understanding to provide the best holistic counseling services in Phoenix, AZ.
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