“Grief is the price we pay for love”
― Queen Elizabeth II

The word “grief” is most often associated with great loss, usually the death of a loved one. There are many other causes of grief, however; the loss of a marriage, a job, or a friendship can set the mourning process in motion and those affected display a variety of emotions and behaviors signaling their pain. These can range from the obvious, such as crying, depressed mood, or inability to concentrate, to the more subtle: feelings of guilt, numbness, and irritability.  Grief counseling with a professional can help.

Elisabeth Kübler-Ross codified the “stages” of grief (denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance) in her 1969 book On Death and Dying, but it’s important for anyone experiencing grief to know that it does not always fit into a neat system. The journey through grief is intensely personal and guided by an individual’s beliefs, background, and relationship to whom or what has been lost. There is no right or wrong way to process a significant loss. Some might need to express the painful feelings as they arise, others are capable of pushing these overwhelming feelings down and compartmentalizing them, only to have them reappear later with even greater intensity.

The same goes for how long the grieving process will last; there is no right or wrong duration. There is no way to rush through it or sidestep it or fight it. Like a tornado ripping through life, grief will always have its way with us, on its timetable, with its chosen intensity.

The challenge of grief lies in how the affected cope with it. Life goes on and everyone needs to be able to function. After a devastating loss, this can seem impossible, especially if depression has set in. Grief counseling is an effective tool in this case. It offers coping strategies as well as a safe place in which the stressors and symptoms of grief can be managed. Most importantly, a compassionate counselor will not only validate feelings, but will offer witness to the fact that we do, in fact, heal.

For more information about grief counseling in San Clemente and therapeutic options, visit Dr. Walsh’s page, www.southoccounseling.com and under “Counseling,” select “Grief Counseling.”

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