As someone who offers grief counselling, I often hear the following questions:
– How do I know if I need to attend grief counselling?
– What can I expect from my first session?
– What’s the goal of grief counselling?
– When’s the right time to attend grief counselling?
This blog post will address these questions, and is offered to anyone who has experienced any form of loss, whether that be the death of a person, the death of a pet, the loss of a pregnancy or infant, an ending to a relationship, a loss of identity, or any experience at all which feels like a loss.
The first thing you should know about grief counselling is that anyone can attend. You may choose to attend grief counselling for a variety of reasons, not limited to but including:
– You feel your experience of grief is interfering with daily activities
– You don’t feel you can talk to others in your life openly about your grief and loss
– You feel confused, hopeless, overwhelmed, or numb in your grief and need a safe space to attend to this
– You feel that you are navigating your grief as best as you can, but feel that extra support would be comforting
– You are seeking more information about grief and how to navigate it’s path
– You are feeling others invalidate your grief or judge you for expressing that you are grieving
– You have someone else in your life who is grieving and you are looking for tools to support them
In your first session, you can expect to enter a safe and non-judgmental environment where your counsellor will gently invite you to share about your loss, any current coping strategies or supports you already have in place, and allow you to openly explore the impact the loss has had on your life. Your counsellor will meet you where you are at, and empathetically walk alongside your own path of grief. While everyone’s experience in counselling is unique, you can expect to feel heard, and to have your grief witnessed and validated.
Personal growth might look different when we are grieving. Our goals may not be to find happiness, gratitude, or accomplishment. Instead, we may focus on finding something more attainable – peace, comfort, a better understanding of one’s own grief, exploring what a new normal looks like – just to provide a few examples. Feeling a lack of hope or direction in life can be common after loss, and a counsellor can support you with navigating this heavy experience. They won’t rush you to find a specific therapy goal if you don’t have one, as they know you may feel lost on your path. Having help to find ground under your feet may feel supportive while you give yourself time to understand your new path ahead.
There is no right time to attend grief counselling. Know that it’s okay to reach out for support directly following a loss, a few weeks or months after, or even many years after. Depending on your needs and what your support is at home, you may attend a few appointments, or you may find that you choose to stay connected with your counsellor long-term. You may even stop seeing your counsellor and then start up again later when things are feeling off again. Your grief deserves supportive whenever you need it.
Lastly, know that grief itself is not a mental illness. Grief is a normal human process that occurs following loss, and one that can be difficult to navigate alone. Attending grief counselling does not mean there is something “wrong” with you. You are simply human, in need of a kind and understanding witness to your grief.
Please contact me at Serenity Now Wellness (403-454-7600) if you are wanting to talk about your grief.