Matus Laslofi/Flickr/CC by 2.0
Source: Matus Laslofi/Flickr/CC by 2.0

To live is to grieve. Death affects each of us at some point in our life. The way we grieve is determined by a number of factors, such as our relationship with the deceased, our religious beliefs, and our previous experiences with death. Our style of grief, whether it is Intuitive (emotional) or Instrumental (cognitive), is also a contributing factor. As we know, there is no one way to mourn a loved one. The pain and suffering we experience can be overwhelming at times. Suffering a loss and recovering from grief are some of the hardest things we may do in life. For most people, grief can run its course in an uncomplicated manner; however, some of us will need additional support. There are several types of grief that might require some professional intervention such as complicated grief, traumatic grief, or prolonged grief. These types of grief are associated with deaths that are sudden, violent, or traumatic events where multiple deaths occur. Therapy can be helpful in moving us forward in all types of grief.

You might need to see a therapist if you have…

  1. Suicidal thoughts
  2. Unrelenting depression
  3. Uncontrollable crying
  4. Loss of appetite
  5. Problems sleeping
  6. Panic attacks
  7. Feelings that your life is meaningless
  8. Trouble completing daily tasks
  9. Increased irritability and anger
  10. Feelings of hopelessness and helplessness
  11. Intensified longing for your loved one
  12. Gone to familiar places hoping to see your loved one
  13. Avoided people or places that remind you of the departed
  14. Addictive behaviors, drinking more or gambling
  15. Lack of self-care
  16. Trouble believing that your loved one is dead
  17. Loss of identity
  18. Worries about yourself
  19. Others expressing concern for you
  20. Been withdrawing from social interactions
  21. Multiple losses in a short period of time
  22. Feelings of worthlessness
  23. Persistent grief
  24. Frequent nightmares
  25. Intrusive thoughts
  26. A lack of a support system
  27. A constant reliving of the death
  28. Unexplained illnesses such as headaches or stomachaches
  29. Been hearing voices that frighten you
  30. Been feeling sad and unmotivated

Many of these signs may be normal in the early stages of grief, but as time progresses they become more problematic. You may become more disabled, have difficulty functioning and be consumed by grief. Our support system wearies of us talking about our loss and we begin to feel more isolated. Having social support is an important factor in coping with loss. When we are alone, a therapist can provide that support for us. There also may be things that you want to talk about that you might not want others to know, or you might be concerned that you would be judged. A therapist is the answer. While self-activities can be beneficial such as journaling or reading, it is also important to have someone to tell our story to and to validate our feelings. The more support and understanding we can get, the easier it is to cope.

If you feel that you have experienced a large number of the above signs, you may want to seek out a therapist. There is help all around for those who are grieving. In addition to seeing individual counselors, there are grief groups, religious organizations, family services, or hospices that offer these services. Reading grief blogs, searching the internet, or reading some of the many books that are available on grief can provide you with direction and assistance. Remember, there is help and you do not have to grieve alone.

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Understanding Grief