You feel like you have this giant gaping hole in your heart.
At first the pain is completely unbearable and almost too painful to breathe.
You're on a rollercoaster of emotions. One minute you feel you can't breathe and might plummet into a panic attack. The next one you're furious at everybody, including you, the people arguing about the paint color at Home Depot, and the whole universe. The next minute you're filled with pain and burst into tears.
Maybe you're going through most of your day feeling numb.
The truth is no one can say exactly what grief feels like, because we are different and we all grieve differently.
Time does not heal all wounds. It simple softens the impact of the pain. Grief is life-changing, and the loss you have endured has shaped who you are now.
Coping with grief | grief counseling in Denver
If you've recently experienced your first loss, or a recent loss is opening up old wounds you thought had healed, counseling can help you process your experience and may help you feel more at peace. Grieving is a slow and challenging process.
In the first few weeks, you may be flooded with offers to help. The more difficult part is usually 6 months to a year after, when everyone has returned to their lives and you're left to figure how to adjust, move forward and function on your own.
Coping comes in many different forms, which are as unique as we are.
Although, there is no acceptable time frame associated with grief, sometimes people get stuck with feelings of loss that are debilitating and don't improve even after time passes. This is known as complicated grief (sometimes called persistent complex bereavement disorder.)
Counseling for grief in Denver
Having a grief counselor who understands the different stages of grief and loss, as well as the rollercoaster of emotions you go through at times will help you grieve and feel more at peace.
Grieving is personal and unique. I take a gentle and respectful approach to grief counseling, using a variety of tools such as mindfulness and EMDR to resource you, help you work through your emotions at your own pace, overcome obstacles to your grieving process, and build on your strengths.
Symptoms of grief
Some common symptoms of grief include (but are not exclusive):
- Shock and disbelief
- Physical symptoms ( fatigue, nausea, lowered immunity, weight loss or gain, aches and pains, and insomnia)
What's the difference between grief and bereavement?
We tend to think about grief as mostly related to the loss of a loved one (bereavement). In reality, grief is a reaction to any form of loss: loss of home, job, pet, miscarriage, financial stability, family or friends, loss of who you used to be, loss of safety after a trauma, retirement...
What's the difference between grief and depression?
Grief and major depression have a lot of similarities. Read my article Is It Still Grief or Am I Depressed? to help you differentiate between both.
Grief encompasses a range of feelings from deep sadness, fear, loneliness to anger, sometimes experienced at the same time.
Grief is often accompanied by forgetfulness, a reduced ability to handle stress, and the impression to live in a thick fog. Which is why it's unrealistic to expect getting back to business as usual soon after.
Grief is unique. The process of adapting to a significant loss may vary dramatically from one person to another, depending on his/her/their background, beliefs, relationship to what was lost, support system, past losses and other factors.
The stages of grief
In 1969, psychiatrist Elisabeth Kübler-Ross introduced what is now known as the "five stages of grief." These stages of grief originally based on her studies of the feelings of patients facing terminal illness, have been generalized to other types of negative life changes and losses, such as the death of a loved one or a break-up.
Denial: “This can’t be happening to me.”
Anger: “Why is this happening? Who is to blame?”
Bargaining: “Make this not happen, and in return I will ____.”
Depression: “I’m too sad to do anything.”
Acceptance: “I’m at peace with what happened.”
If you are experiencing any of these states following a loss, your reaction is natural. However, not everyone who grieves goes through all of these stages, and that’s okay: you do not have to go through each stage in order to feel better.
If you do go through these stages of grief, you probably won’t experience them in a neat, sequential order, so don’t worry about what you "should" be feeling or which stage you’re supposed to be in.