Joanne Gilhooly - Psychotherapist & Counsellor - Dublin City
Psychotherapy and Counselling for Grief and Loss...
Grief is universal; everyone will experience loss at some time in their life, in some way or another. Whether it is the loss of a family member, partner, or friend through bereavement, or a loss of another kind, such as the loss of a relationship, a job, good health, or a core aspect of our identity, loss will visit at some time. The process of grieving then, including a period of low mood and the need for extra support, is natural and normal. It is a part of the experience of being human.
It is often expected when we experience a loss that we will need a lot of support and understanding. When there is bereavement, we may attend a funeral, and a burial or cremation, with others who knew the deceased and there can be healing in the shared rituals. There may be a sense that we are understood by those around us, that grief takes time to process and there will be a period of adjustment to the loss. For some people, the support they receive from family and friends will be enough to help them through a difficult time. For others though, it may be more complex, or feel more isolating, and for those people counselling and psychotherapy may be very beneficial.
A person experiencing difficulties around grief may well be aware that the loss is what is causing them difficulty. They may notice that the grief is not shifting much over a long period of time, that it is not easing, but instead appears ‘stuck in time’. Or they may have a very strong reaction to somebody else’s loss, while feeling little about their own, a kind of displacement of a person’s own grief feelings onto another. They may have a stronger reaction than expected to a current loss, and become aware that a previous loss has also not yet been resolved. On the other hand, they may be aware of not feeling very much at all following a loss, the initial numbness having not lifted as expected, or of experiencing feelings around a loss much later than expected, maybe even years after the loss occurred.
For others, the wish to talk with a counsellor or psychotherapist may have more to do with feeling isolated in their loss. This may be particularly prevalent when a person experiences ambivalent emotions in response to the loss, or when feelings of anger, guilt, relief or emancipation, are predominant rather than the more ‘acceptable’ feelings of sadness. Of course, all emotions are acceptable following a loss, but some may feel more difficult to talk about with family and friends than others.
Counselling and psychotherapy can be helpful for working through some of these more difficult feelings, providing a non-judgemental space in which you can be as you are. Grief therapy can be highly beneficial in more complex grieving processes; where a person has experienced multiple losses throughout their life, or where help is needed in getting a stuck grief process flowing again toward resolution. Psychotherapy can help you to adjust to a loss over time, at a pace that suits you, and free up the energy going into your grief so that you can use it to live a fuller life again, when you are ready.