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Loss, and healing from a major loss, is as individual as a personís fingerprints. There are generally some predictable responses, or steps, to loss and grief, but it is only a guideline. Every person handles loss and healing in their own individual way. Loss is powerful, and can be painful. Grief is a form of healing from a loss, whether that loss is the death of a family member, beloved friend or pet, divorce, or even the loss of a job or loss of home through a fire or natural disaster. Grief is a normal, natural, multi-faceted personal response to loss, and essential to the personís eventual healing. Understanding the grieving process and knowing what to expect may help a person cope - although, again, grieving is different for everyone. The process may be uneven, unpredictable, with no specific time frame. But, even knowing this, may be a comfort. The more you learn about grief, the better able you can cope with it. Itís best not to compare your grief to anyone else, but acknowledge that your loss is worthy of grief and accept you must endure these very real feelings of sorrow. Remember there is no right or wrong way to do the work of grieving, and unfortunately, there is no short cut, but with time, it does work itsí way out - in your own personal way.

There are usually five stages to grief, as one moves through the loss and healing process. The five stages are: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and finally acceptance. Itís not uncommon for a person to withdraw from family and friends, or to become stuck in one of the phases, especially anger or depression. In this case, grief counseling or support groups can be very helpful. Grief counseling may be useful during any major life change that triggers feelings of loss. This type of therapy focuses specifically on helping a person cope with their feelings of loss, anger and depression to facilitate healing. There is a distinction between grief counseling and grief therapy. Counseling involves helping people move through normal grief to healing and resolution. Grief therapy is a kind of psychotherapy used to treat severe or complicated traumatic grief, usually brought on by the loss of a close person or a community disaster. Support groups, on the other hand, provide information and support for those experiencing loss and healing. Members provide each other with various types of support, for a particular shared experience, such as the death of a loved one or divorce.

Immediately following a loss, a personís time is sometimes filled with the details of funeral planning or dealing with life insurance, etc. Itís important for friends and family members to remember that the true test of healing sometimes comes later, after the funeral and initial shock has worn off. These are often the darkest days for dealing with grief. If someone you know is suffering from a loss, watch for depression symptoms and if need be, suggest grief counseling or a support group. Sometimes all it takes is for someone to listen or spend time with the person to lessen the feelings of helplessness and isolation that often come with loss.


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