Grief over the death of a loved one is not pathological. It is normal. Most people who are mourning don’t necessarily need a course of psychotherapy, but most of us can be greatly helped by having someone who has been through it walk with us as we grieve.
Grief brings with it intense waves of sorrow, loneliness, anger, fear, confusion, and sadness. The waves come randomly. They cannot be predicted. They hit you when you’re not looking and knock you down. They come in no particular order. They are not stages through which we can orderly progress. You may think you’re doing fine, then suddenly burst into tears.
Grief takes a long time. There is no predicting how long, but if you lost someone you love, you can count on months if not years of intense feelings. That is perfectly normal in spite of what society will try to tell you.
Grief is hard work. There are tasks that must be completed. If they are not successfully completed, you’ll be left with permanent problems. They include (again, in no particular order):
· Coming to a deeper understanding of the reality of the loss.
· Dealing with the spiritual, emotional, and physical pain of grief. Grief hurts. It challenges our beliefs, makes us question God, causes us deep sorrow, and creates physical pain.
· Overcoming the many possible impediments to readjustment.
· Finding a way to maintain a bond with the deceased while reinventing a life without them. Our loved one will always be a part of our lives, but we have to navigate life without them now.
This is where a grief counselor comes in – someone who has experienced loss personally, and worked through the tasks of grieving themselves. Together, slowly, we take the journey. We are in a club neither of us wanted to join. I’ve read dozens and dozens of books and listened to a plethora of speakers on grieving. I can tell within the first few pages or the first few minutes if they are people who have been there or if they’re coming at me from their books. When my son died by suicide, I needed someone who had been through that kind of loss. Similarly, when my dad died of a heart attack, when a good friend died of cancer, and another was killed in a car accident.
All of this is normal. The intense pain doesn’t mean you’re going insane. You’re going to make it. You will get through this. We all need each other. We all need help from time to time. If you’ve lost a loved one, I am here to help.