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What is Grief Counselling

What is Grief Counselling and Is it Helpful?

Are you thinking of attending grief counselling? There are many different reasons why a person would need this type of counselling. Whatever your reason may be, it would be beneficial for you to know a brief background on what it is. It is so that you will know what you can expect from it. Let’s start.

Related article: Grief and Loss Therapy

What is Grief Counselling?

Grief is a strong emotion that can melt the strongest boulders. Losing a loved one can cause an unbelievable intense feeling which can result in possible illnesses. The initial surge of emotion can be hard to take in, resulting in grief.

The thing with grief is that it’s more than just feeling sad. It’s sadness mixed with madness, anger, guilt, regret, and other negative feelings. Pain can be powerful and self-wrecking if left unnoticed.

The number of negative emotions and self-doubt when in grief can be overwhelming. When a relative is stuck in such a situation, undergoing grief counselling is an option. Grief counselling is a therapy for the bereaved family that will help them cope with their loss.

Types of Grief

There are different types of grief, and the counsellor needs to know the kind of pain that the patient is experiencing. We describe grief as an immense feeling of sadness. And while that is the number one feeling upon mourning, it is not the only feeling felt.

Elisabeth Kubler-Ross identified five stages of the grieving process. While other people can finish the process in 6 months to a year, some individuals encounter a hard time in doing so. The process involves namely:

  1. Denial to the death of the loved one and defiance to accept that they are no longer with them.
  2. Anger to a higher being for taking that loved one away or anger to one’s self for not managing to save them
  3. The bargaining of one’s life to let the one who passed away live a longer life.
  4. Depression upon the facing every day without the significant other
  5. Acceptance of the fact that they are no longer with us

Some people get stuck in the Depression stage. Consequently, their actions become different, and they suddenly feel a void inside them. Such a feeling of emptiness can be qualified as a Complicated Grief. Although not clinically acknowledged as a clinical condition, complicated grief is a diagnostic criterion for persistent complex bereavement disorder.

An individual who is also experiencing disenfranchised grief qualifies for a need to undergo Grief counselling. Disenfranchised grief is a case where society does not acknowledge the grieving of the individual. Instances, where the grieving relatives are feeling pain over someone who is still alive, can be qualified in this case.

Social support is an essential part of healing in the midst of grief. A person may have trouble accepting the event of someone’s death when there is no environmental confirmation to their emotions. As a result, denial of feelings may abound, resulting in a severe grief case.

Possible Illness Caused by Intense Grief

Emotional bereavement can reckon to physical illness if the significant someone took a toll upon the loss of another. There will always be instances where the pain becomes too real; you feel it across your chest.

Others call this phenomenon as the “physical symptoms of grief.” Under severe cases, this set of symptoms can result in several illnesses.


Depression is the top-most common illness caused by grief. Depression is commonly known as a mood disorder triggered by intense emotional trauma. Strong emotions of pain can lead to depression.

Bereaved widows are frequent recipients of depression due to the sudden death of a loved one. The guilt and regret of the immediate absence can cause extreme sadness, self-hate, over-fatigue, and other symptoms that may already call for the symptoms of depression.

Heart Problems

Heart Attacks frequently occur during the news of a passing relative, especially when they have high cardiovascular risk or have high blood pressure. However, depending on the severity of grief, the bereaved loved ones can develop a heart problem.

Known in the layman’s term as Broken Heart Syndrome, it is a rare case of a short-term heart condition. During the advent of this condition, the heart may pump abnormally. This syndrome can also lead to some heart muscle failure but is treatable.

Weakened Immune System

A weakened immune system is very prevalent in the first few months or years of the death of a loved one. Loss of appetite and reduced sleep cycle can be reasons for weakening the immune system. On the other hand, the release of an overwhelming amount of stress hormones can weaken the immune system.

In other cases, opting for alcohol and substance abuse is another factor. An illegal substance can be deadly to the immune system. Alcohol also kills the liver and kidneys. Upon loss of appetite, anorexic tendencies can also be a result of severe cases. Insomnia and other illnesses can then follow due to the bad habits of a grieving individual.

Related article: Addiction Counselling: Does It Work?

Grief Counselling Process

Grief Counselling Process

Grief counselling is a type of long-term therapy for the grieving ones. It is about helping the inflicting individual accept and move on. Technically, Grief counselling is talking to someone who can help you get through the process of mourning. Types of losses may vary, but they are all losses that may have changed your mode of encountering every day.

The process of Grief counselling involves having the grieving individual to accept the reality of having to move on with the absence of another. There would be a series of reminiscing the good old times and remembering them inside our hearts.

One of the aims of grief counselling is to make the individual realize that death may end someone’s life, but it can’t stop a relationship. Having the recipient understand this, they can hopefully move forward and cherish in their hearts the beauty that their loved one lived a good life.

Is Grief Counselling Helpful?

Grief Counseling is a long-term therapy that doesn’t want you to get over the loved one who just passed away. Grief Counseling aims to help you overcome the pain that connotes one’s death.

In the first few months of grieving, it would be hard to talk about the loved one. In most cases, the remembrance of a person would bring you pain and bring back the trauma of the person’s death. Identifying and dealing with this trauma is a method of Grief Counseling to help you accept the reality of life and to move on.

Is Grief Counseling helpful? Yes, especially if you are someone who is having a hard time dealing with overwhelming sadness, guilt, and regret.

Feelings can be dangerous at times, especially when they get out of control. Denial of powerful emotions can also be a problem similar to hiding a bomb. Grief Counseling helps in controlling this emotion to help you move on in life.

The goal is not to make the recipient forget about the passed away loved one. Grief counselling is about helping the relative move on. It is about accepting that life goes on. It is true even with the absence of another.

How do You Know You Need Grief Counseling?

All people deal with grief in many different ways. It may be losing someone you love or fighting with your friends or family. It may take more than weeks or months that vary with the situation you encounter that may cause you your grief. How do you know if your pain has reached beyond its boundaries and if now affects your life?

These are the signs that indicate you need to seek grief counselling.

Inability to Concentrate

Moving on means being able to compartmentalize your moment of grief. We all feel sad when we lose someone we love or a significant person to us. It is hard to move on. But people need to choose when to think about them. If you can’t control it and cannot concentrate, you need to take grief counselling.

Numbness of Emotion

People have emotions, like being happy, feeling sad or even confused. If people don’t have this emotion and it always feels empty, there is a big problem with your feeling that needs attention and treatment.

Loss of Enjoyment

We all have a moment of grief in our lives, and one is an exception to it. We all have goals and dreams. If your pain is preventing you from enjoying your life and pursuing your activities, you may need someone to help you to move forward.

Sudden Changes in Behavior

While you experience grief, it is pretty normal to change your mood to fight the despair that you encounter. But if you suddenly change how you act or behave, this may be a concern in mental issues. It may lead to irrational anger, excessive drinking, taking drugs, and destructive to relationship and family.

Feeling of worthlessness

People who lose someone and they only look and wait for the death of a person. They might think that being unable to help may lead to thinking of being a worthless person. By degrading the value of yourself, you will lose all your confidence and might affect your future goals.

Loss of Identity

It is prevalent when you used to depend too much on your loved ones or family. Those people who lose their loved ones experience this often. Trying to navigate without guidance can be troublesome. Seeking help to someone or having a grief counselling may help you to start your healthy life once again.

Problem Sleeping

It is the first experience when you are in grief. When you broke up in your relationship, it’s hard to move on as you always keep thinking about why did it go that way. You will have a problem with sleeping as you can’t stop thinking about that person and how did it end that way.

Loss of Appetite

Most people lose their appetite when they are sad, depressed, grieving or anxious. You will lose energy and might affect your health if you continue to deny the food that they give you. You may need someone to help you overcome the grief before serious health issues may occur.

Keep Working to Escape Feelings

It is prevalent in dealing with the grief we encounter. Keep working to escape the feeling of depression or sadness, but it’s not suitable for long-term solutions. You need to face your feeling and fight it, but if your unable to do on your own, you need to seek someone for help.

Thoughts of Hurting Yourself

It is the most dangerous thing that must be addressed as quickly as possible with professional help. Grief can take a person’s life. Unable to handle the emotion can lead to death.

Trouble Completing Daily Task

It may be the case in the work environment. It’s also common that you will not be able to complete the given task when you’re grieving. Your workmate can understand it. But if this continues any longer and unable to finish the task at the given time, it may affect your job, and you need someone helps to get back on your track.

Inability to Stop Crying

It is an essential situation when you’re grieving. You let your tears flow and cannot control your emotions. It is better to cry than keeping it up for yourself. If you can’t stop crying, your friends might help you get out of that situation.

Uncontrollable Rage

The moment when we lose someone in our life, anger is the first emotion that we show. Punching a wall or shouting is just a thing to lessen the grief that we encounter. If we can’t control our rage, we might need professional help as we might hurt someone we love.


When we lose someone very close to us like family, friends, and loved ones. We always think and ask to see them one last time. We might be hallucinating or hearing things because we ask for it. If this continues, you need to be wary as it might become a tragedy to your life.

Intensified Longing For You Loved One

It is not common in a family and relationship. People are always longing for the loss of their loved ones. We cannot justify people if they act that way. Butt if this takes a year and you continue to think for your loved one, it might not be healthy. It can affect your emotions and life towards your children, friends, and family.

Addictive Behaviors

We always look for something to keep busy after we grief. It is to avoid thinking about what happened and escape from reality. We might go drinking or gambling just to past time. If it turns into a habit, we might ask someone like friends or family for help before we become addicted to drinking and gambling.

Lack of Self-care

It is not common to not care for yourself when grieving. It is encountered often by the people who lose their children or partner. The inability to take care of one-self might lead to death if not treated quickly. We cannot take the situation lightly when grieving as we don’t know what we can do because of sadness and depression.

Grief is a part of the way of life. If we suffer grief, we need someone to lean on for us to ease the pain that we suffer, be a friend or family.

What to Expect from Grief Counselling Sessions?

Grief Counselling Sessions

Grief is a reaction to any loss. Bereavement is a type of pain we feel when we lose a loved one. Grief Counselling, also known as Bereavement Counselling, is a branch of psychology focused on aiding individuals who have lost a loved one. At some point in life, we will lose someone dearly beloved, and this loss can often hit us harder than we expect.

A psychologist or grief counsellor may help process the grief, fear, guilt, anxiety, or other intense emotions associated with the death of a loved one. Furthermore, they may also be able to introduce more effective coping methods in dealing with the onslaught of emotions. It is helping people build resilience and managing their sadness.

Our understanding of grief and the needs of grieving persons have significantly advanced within the past few years. Many people have shown excellent results when consulting with psychologists or other mental health professionals.

Grief: Counselling or Therapy?

The words “counselling” or “therapy” are terms that people sometimes use interchangeably. Both counselling and therapy have different processes and strategies. The two involve in-depth discussions between the patient and the mental health professional. These are important in assisting the client’s emotional, mental, and behavioural concerns and solve problems.

However, semantically, the terms “counselling” and “therapy” refer to different ways that a mental health professional may use to help his/her patient. “”Counselling” is more often used to refer to the sessions focused on assisting the clients who are dealing with everyday stressors, and looking for ways to deal with the more common and normal issues and problems; while, “”therapy” may refer more towards the sessions in which clients are battling more difficult, pervasive, and/or chronic issues.

Grief counselling and therapy have similar goals: to assist the client in dealing with their sorrow. Grief may refer to the sessions an individual may receive when losing a loved one. Grief “therapy” more likely refers to the meetings when a client suffers through more issues than the normal range of responses towards grief.

Both are viable options for a patient to engage in, and with a comprehensive discussion, it is up to the psychologist or mental health professional to decide which best fits his/her patient.

First Session

It is essential to remind yourself that your grief is unique to you, and you know your feelings best. After making that appointment for a session with a licensed psychologist or mental health professional, know that there are no expectations. You don’t have to cry if you don’t feel like it. You may if you need to release the pain this way. You are not expected to tell your entire life story immediately. It is up to your counsellor to make you feel welcome, open, calm, and safe enough to talk about your pain.

You are, however, expected to be honest and to engage with your counsellor. You need to feel all that grief inside of you, and you need to let it out. Imagine that you are letting out balls of yarn; it is your counsellor’s job to untangle and organize that yarn. Practicing licensed psychologists and mental health professionals know a wide variety of models of grief, interventions and strategies in dealing with immense emotions, and evidence-based treatments to help people improve their lives.

Your first session with a new psychologist or mental health professional is not going to be easy. It will feel awkward as if all your words are not enough to explain the ball of emotions you have inside. And you won’t feel like you’re making any sense. You probably aren’t. But that’s okay!

There is no correct or incorrect way to “do” therapy. Feel free to express yourself. Be open to your emotions so that you will be able to find ways to deal with them. Your therapist will not judge you or your feelings. Just let all the feelings out, and revel in the freedom you feel.

Second and Succeeding Sessions

There is no shortcut for grief. Do not feel compelled to spill all your thoughts and emotions in your first session, then immediately expect a detailed intervention or treatment plan in the second session. It is essential to understand that not everyone grieves in the same way. And you will need to give time for yourself and your therapist to process all your emotions.

In the first couple of sessions, your therapist or psychiatrist may discuss the stages of grief. The most common ones are Elisabeth Kubler-Ross and David Kessler’s “The Five Stages of Grief.” He or she may also mention J. William Worden’s Task-Based Model. As we have established above, there is no better model than the other. What works for you will be the best one. And you will have to work with your counsellor to identify which will fit you best.

The stages and models do not have to be followed in a specific order because your thoughts and emotions will come on their own. A licensed psychologist or mental health professional will be able to give you more effective coping mechanisms and help you make sense of your emotions.

Benefits to a Grief Counsellor

There are three main ways in which a grief counsellor or therapist may help you:

1) Address your emotions. A licensed psychologist or mental health professional may help you identify, process, and express all the myriad of emotions you are feeling. At a time of significant loss, one’s psyche may be confused. It may have quite a few unresolved issues hidden in the subconscious. A counsellor or therapist may help draw them up to the surface. It will help in gauging the source of said emotions so that the client may experience relief.

2) Recommend more effective coping mechanisms. A licensed psychologist or mental health professional is surely well-versed and up to date on scientific journals and can endorse quite a few strategies and techniques. These may be more effective when dealing with the torment. Additionally, they may be able to help you identify support systems in your life that can help you more effectively deal with your grief.

3) Set goals and manage setbacks. A licensed psychologist or mental health professional will be able to help you set realistic goals that fit your needs and specifications. Additionally, this can be in a schedule that will motivate you to move forward in each session. But will also give you enough time allowance to manage your grief. More importantly, your counsellor is there to help you achieve your expectations and assist when you face setbacks in your journey.

Grief counselling or therapy will need time and a lot of patience. The sessions should be a team effort between the counsellor and you. With that, you should never feel pressured or compelled to do or feel something you disagree with.

Remember that each person’s grief is exclusive to them. And there is no specific process or framework that can dictate what you do or don’t feel. If your pain is overwhelmingly intense, has been there for over a year, and has been having adverse effects on your everyday life, then it may be time to schedule that session with a grief counsellor.

Ways to Deal With Loss and Grief

Ways to Deal With Loss and Grief

The feeling of losing someone we value deeply is a part of life in which no one can avoid. Loss has various forms and shapes. It could be an ending of a loving relationship, whenever a loved one passes away, a break up happens, kids leave, or any other kind of transition that makes about an experience of loss.

When that particular feeling of losing someone occurs, learning to look after oneself is crucial to be able to regain strength once again. Whenever we lose someone or something, we undergo a period of the grieving process. It can mostly commence with denial and then proceed to feelings of anger, bargaining, depression, and eventually, acceptance.

Awareness is necessary to make sure you’re not held captive in any of these steps. And so that you can process all and move on towards life. To know more about coping, mentioned below are some great ideas you may want to follow, especially when you are having a feeling of grief and loss:

Don’t condemn yourself or your loved ones

Remember not to blame yourself or others, because some of us blame almost anyone present in the said situation.

In the case of a loved one passing away, there is also a term called survivor’s grief. It says, “What potential reason could this world have for enabling me to stick around and permitting him/her to go?”

The blame game is quite familiar to us, although a fraction of it can prolong the grieving process and make the pain ten times more. Mainly if you don’t stop it early on and wait for it to linger for an extended period.

Depending on the type and cruelty of criticism a person passes, it can potentially cause serious harm to relationships.

Face the pain

Aside from having feelings of remorse and guilt, you might also be coping with feelings of anger, bitterness, anxiety, and absolute frustration at life. Enable yourself to face each one of these disturbances.

Your pain will require that you give it your sufficient attention. So it is best to face it by engaging yourself in concrete forms of release. Some examples are talking about your emotions with people you can trust, along with finding other positive reinforcements.

You may become frustrated that these emotions linger and take some time before it goes away. But remember that time is our universal healer. So the pain that you’re feeling will get better sooner or later.

Admit the new reality and let go of the past

A lot of times, tragedy breaks our very character, such as men who lose their wives swiftly become widowers or even single fathers. In the situation of a young widower, this condition is life-altering and puts a lot more obligation on the surviving spouse to perform the responsibilities alone.

In case you are encountering this particular situation, don’t be scared to call out for guidance from your friends and family members. Admitting your new life status also implies attempting to let go of your past and not sticking to an old character to keep on fitting-in with the very same company.

Opting to stick around with the past can often lead to denial. It goes along with a judgment that your new life situation is indeed becoming miserable. Bear in mind that you are the captain of your ship. And cruising to the right path is always your best option. Treasure your support systems such as your family and friends.

Maintain a healthy lifestyle and calmly regain your strength

Several experts certainly agree that the death of a parent, child, or spouse is one of the most painful and stressful situations in life. In addition to the ones mentioned, partner separation, divorce, as well as permanent job loss, are also up there.

Physically, it is quite effortless to proceed into a state of trauma, numbness, and shock. Your sleep pattern might also become affected in a lot of ways which leads to sleeplessness and more fatigue. It is only the time you care for yourself physically that you are capable of processing your losses spiritually and emotionally.

Also, frequent headaches, nausea, alterations in appetite, sudden weight loss, are some of the many ways your body might react to a loss and grief. So exercising and having a healthy eating habit can positively contribute to your well-being as a whole.

Allow your pain to become an impetus for self-growth

Grief and loss usually hit so hard that they open up opportunities to reflect upon ourselves and grow from the experience. Everyone can learn effectively from loss and grief because both are great teachers in life.

Whether from separation, divorce, or death, you now have the chance to decide as to how you would want yourself to move on. Let go of the past, and by all means, start living the most enjoyable life possible.

Think about that particular interest you never had the time for. Or remember your dream to move to another town or country that you are so willing to do if only you had the time.

Grief gives an adequate room for self-growth because it teaches us crucial lessons in life. Experiences are pivotal to successful transformation. Pain and sorrow will help bring out the best version of you because it allows you to face your destruction.

Related article: Individual Counseling Sessions


Everyone responds uniquely to a specific loss and exercises individual coping mechanisms for the pain or grief. It’s a highly personal experience, and there is no wrong or right approach to grieving. How you grieve relies on several factors, these determinants include your character and coping manner, your faith, your life experience, and how substantial the loss was to you.

Indeed, the process of grieving takes time. But healing happens slowly for it can’t be hurried or forced, and there is no standard time frame for grieving. Some people begin to feel better in months, or even weeks. But to others, the process may take years. Bear in mind that it’s essential to be patient with yourself and trust the grieving process to release naturally. Contact Addiction Rehab Toronto for your concerns today!