Relationships: Signs That You May Need Grief Counselling

Young man next to a middle aged man in grief counseling in a group therapy session
Young man next to a middle aged man in grief counseling in a group therapy session Image from

Life is a lot of things, easy is not one of them. There are some good times for sure, but it’s also peppered with heartache and pain and grief. There is this assumption that because everyone goes through these tough seasons human beings have an intrinsic ability to handle it. This may not necessarily be the case, the fact that people everywhere deal with something does not then mean that we should be able to. Sometimes no matter how commonplace the issue, people may need help dealing with and processing it. Most people seek grief counselling as a result of losing a loved one. People also seek grief counselling for grief associated with a wide range of issues including:

  • The death of a loved one
  • The death of a pet
  • Divorce and separation, particularly if you will not be in each other’s lives again
  • Family trauma requiring you to let go of specific relationships
  • Heartbreak from a romantic relationship that you invested heavily in
  • Getting fired from a job that you loved
  • Loss of a home due to a natural disaster or manmade causes
  • Loss of a body part or ability due to illness, accident, or age

Signs you may need grief counselling

1. You have experienced a loss that feels overwhelming

Anyone who has undergone what they consider a significant loss can benefit from counselling. This is especially true for people who feel overwhelmed by the pain, anger, sadness, guilt, or other emotions related to the death of a loved one or loss.

2. You feel like you can’t move on

There is no getting over the death of a loved one. A part of you will never recover from the loss. There is no healing that will make you feel whole again. However, you can and should be able to live your life. Some people adjust to the new normal relatively quickly while others take longer. Everyone grieves in their own time.

If you’ve been grieving for more than a year and still feel like your life has ended, like there’s nothing to look forward to, like you’re stuck and see no way forward, then you stand to benefit from grief counselling.

3. You have buried your grief or moved on a little too well

Some people move on too well i.e. they bury their grief and avoid processing any of the emotions stemming from it. One sign that you may be doing this is constantly saying, “I’m fine” to others and/or to yourself. Likewise, people may try to minimize their loss by saying this like, “well, we all die sometime.”

One sign of grief avoidance is when you stop going to places or participating in experiences that remind you of your loved on. Others include:

  • When you find it too painful to look at pictures from the past
  • When you turn off the radio anytime a song comes on that reminds you of them

4. Grief interferes with your work

It goes without saying that you will be walking around in a fog for a while after losing someone close to you. It will take some time to get back to the rhythm of things, however, if a few months have passed and you can’t get back to a fairly regular level of functioning then it may be time to seek help from a grief counsellor or support group. This is especially needed if your schoolwork is suffering or you find yourself getting written up or even demoted at work for poor performance. Counselling will give you coping skills and techniques to help you get back on track as you process your grief and this new normal.

5. Social isolation/spending too much time alone

Needing some time alone to reflect on your loss is expected, important even. However, long-term and persistent isolation can be a red flag. If you find yourself turning down invitations, avoiding social interactions, and refusing to see or talk to family members, then it may be time to consider getting help. Even if it is painful to be around people right now, social support is a vital step in moving through grief.

6. Too busy, too many activities

Throwing yourself into work and activities like personal projects, volunteer opportunities, and sports is a good way to deal with your loss and not dwell on it. However, you need to reflect on your loss and not inadvertently practice grief avoidance. You also need downtime and that activity-packed calendar is not sustainable in the long term.

7. Substance Abuse

Heavy drinking and other forms of substance abuse are a sure sign someone is handling grief poorly. Seeking the numbing effect of drugs is a short-term, potentially damaging escape from the pain that must be faced.

4 Signs It’s Time To Seek Addiction Treatment

8. Depression

Grief and depression are different things and grief can turn into depression for many people. If it does, it is time to seek professional therapeutic help or counselling.

Grief can cause feelings of guilt but if there are persistent feelings of guilt, worthlessness, and low self-esteem, depression may be in play

Grief allows you every once in a while to feel things like pleasure, hope and interest while depression leave no room for them

While grieving, people find solace in spending time with loved ones while with depression the energy it takes to be around other people can feel debilitating

Grief can ebb with and flow day to day with different emotions experienced, with depression all someone feels is numb

Sometimes people grieving can wish for their own death in order to be with their loved ones again but contemplating suicide and no longer wanting to live may be a sign of depression.

There’s no right or wrong time to seek grief counselling when dealing with bereavement. You can seek it in the early stage of grief or anywhere along the way. The important thing is to seek help and support when you need it. There’s no shame in it, everyone needs help sometimes, it’s part of being human.

Check out: 7 common types of depression.

Here are The 5 Stages Of Grieving. 

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