Losing someone you love through death or divorce can be painful and is often overwhelming. Emotions may surge through you, surprising you with their timing and intensity. Depression, anger, anxiety, shock, and guilt are normal and even necessary responses to the loss of a spouse, child, other family member, mentor, or dear friend. Social tragedies like the September 11 terrorist attacks or a school shooting can cause grief and pain as well.
Tragedy and the loss of loved ones is often a pivotal point in your life, and how the grieving process is handled can determine how well you recover. Singer and songwriter Alan Pedersen, who lost his 18-year-old daughter in a traffic accident one month before 9/11, said, “Grief isn’t something you get over. It’s something you go through.” Everyone grieves differently, but no one should deal with loss alone. Receiving sufficient support is the most important factor in coping successfully with loss and pain.
Unresolved grief can lead to prolonged emotional instability and mental and physical health issues. The more you understand your grief and intentionally work through emotions, the more effective your healing. There is no set time frame, and there is no list of feelings you “should” have. Successfully navigating the grieving process means not avoiding your feelings, but allowing yourself to grieve and admitting your need for support.
Professional grief counseling provides skilled therapy and additional support for dealing with grief in a safe and confidential environment. Responses to grief are highly personal, and a grief therapist will understand how to work with individual personalities, life experiences, coping styles, and faiths and values, as well as the nature of the loss. If you are dealing with grief, find a support system from friends and family, get lots of rest, exercise, and nourishment, be patient with yourself, and consider finding a professional grief counselor to help you on your road to recovery and healing.