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Grief and Loss

Grief counseling is a form of psychotherapy that aims to help people cope with grief and mourning following the death of loved ones, or with major life changes that trigger feelings of grief (e.g., divorce, or job loss). Grief counselors believe that everyone experiences and expresses grief in their own way, often shaped by culture. They believe that it is not uncommon for a person to withdraw from their friends and family and feel helpless; some might be angry and want to take action. Some may laugh. Grief counselors know that one can expect a wide range of emotion and behavior associated with grief. Some counselors believe that in all places and cultures, the grieving person benefits from the support of others.[2] Further, grief counselors believe that where such support is lacking, counseling may provide an avenue for healthy resolution. Grief counselors believe that grief is a process the goal of which is "resolution." Grief counselors also believe that where the process of grieving is interrupted, for example, by the one who is grieving having to simultaneously deal with practical issues of survival or by their having to be the strong one who is striving to hold their family together, grief can remain unresolved and later resurface as an issue for counseling.

Grief counseling becomes necessary when a person is so disabled by their grief; and, so overwhelmed by their loss that their normal coping processes are disabled or shut down.[3] Grief counseling facilitates expression of emotionand thought about the loss, including their feeling sad, anxious, angry, lonely, guilty, relieved, isolated, confused, or numb. It includes thinking creatively about the challenges that follow loss and coping with concurrent changes in their lives. Often people feel disorganized, tired, have trouble concentrating, sleep poorly and have vivid dreams, and they may experience change in appetite. These too are addressed in counseling. Grief counseling facilitates the process of resolution in the natural reactions to loss. It is appropriate for reaction to losses that have overwhelmed a person's coping ability. There are considerable resources online covering grief or loss counseling such as the Grief Counseling Resource Guide from the New York State Office of Mental Health.[4] Grief counseling may be called upon when a person suffers anticipatory grief, for example an intrusive and frequent worry about a loved one whose death is neither imminent nor likely. Anticipatory mourning also occurs when a loved one has a terminal illness. This can handicap that person's ability to stay present whilst simultaneously holding onto, letting go of, and drawing closer to the dying relative.

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