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Grief counseling focuses specifically on helping people cope with grief following the death of a loved one. It may also prove helpful during other major life changes that trigger feelings of loss, such as divorce. Everyone mourns in their own way, and usually always benefit from the support of friends and family. When such support is lacking, or when a person feels overwhelmed by their grief, counseling may be needed for a healthy recovery. Also, when the process of grief is interrupted by the practical issues of having to plan the funeral or ďbeing strongĒ for other family members, a personís own grief can be suppressed and later resurface. At this time, they may need the help of a grief counselor to resolve those suppressed feelings.

Itís not uncommon for a person to withdraw from their friends and family and feel helpless or angry after the death of a loved one. Grief counseling becomes necessary when a person is so disabled by their grief, that they are unable to cope with their daily routines. In this type of extreme grief, a personís normal coping processes are disabled or shut down. Grief counseling facilitates expression of emotions and thoughts about the loss, such as sadness, anger, loneliness, guilt, relief, isolation, confusion, or numbness. Symptoms of this type of grief may include: trouble concentrating, unable to sleep or vivid dreams, changes in appetite, feeling disorganized, extreme tiredness, anxiety, feeling immobilized. A person is often helped simply by hearing a professional tell them that what they are experiencing is a normal part of the grieving process.

There is a distinction between grief counseling and grief therapy. Counseling involves helping people move through uncomplicated, normal grief to health 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. The goal of grief therapy is to identify and solve the psychological and emotional problems which appeared as a consequence of the loss. A common area where grief therapy has been extensively used, aside from death of a loved one, is with the parents of cancer patients.

Your family physician can refer you to a professional grief counselor, or it may help to talk to a clergyperson. There are also abundant online resources that cover grief counseling.


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