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What to Expect from Grief Counseling

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After experiencing the loss of a loved one, you may have difficulty coping with your emotions. You may even look into types of counseling that could help you manage your life after the loss. What exactly is grief counseling? Can it help? This post will help you understand what to expect from grief counseling.

What is Grief?

Grief is a response to the loss of someone or something. It includes a person’s emotional, physical, and spiritual responses to the death of a loved one. Grief is often thought of as a process rather than a one-time event, as people can, over time, go through various emotional states related to their loss. 

It is common for people to feel sad, angry, guilty, or even relieved after the death of a loved one. It can take time for people to learn how to continue living their lives without the person they lost. But, sometimes, people experience such strong emotions for an extended time after the loss that it impacts their daily life. 

Types of Grief

While each individual goes through grief in their own way, some commonalities allow mental health professionals to discern what kind of grief a person is experiencing. 

Complicated Grief

For some people, grief symptoms include depression, hopelessness, an inability to stop thinking about the person who died, avoiding things that remind them of the person who died, or a lack of pleasure in things they used to enjoy. Mental health professionals call this grief “complicated grief.”

Complicated grief can make the tasks of daily living seem impossible. These symptoms can last for a year or longer after the death of a loved one. If someone thinks they may be experiencing complicated grief, grief counseling can reduce these symptoms.

Traumatic Grief

Mental health professionals use the term “traumatic grief” to describe a situation where someone witnessed the death of a loved one or the loved one had an accident. Traumatic grief can also occur in the case of unexpected death. 

Grief counselors assist individuals in managing the symptoms of traumatic grief.

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How to Know When You Need Help

It is common to have overwhelming emotions after a loss, but how can you tell if you need more support? Anyone, at any time, can seek counseling for help on their mental health journey. But, there are clues you might notice after losing a loved one that suggest it is a good idea to reach out for help from a grief counselor. 

Consider grief counseling if you experience:

  • Depression. These feelings can include sadness, guilt and lack of motivation, pleasure, or interest in things that brought you joy. 
  • Suicidal Thoughts. Seek help immediately if you have thoughts of harming yourself, think about death, or have a plan as to how you would kill yourself. 
  • Blame. Guilt is a familiar feeling people have while grieving. If you cannot stop blaming yourself for the death, a professional can work with you to help manage these emotions.
  • Lack of Routine. Is your grief disrupting your daily routine? Grief counselors can help you find a new balance in your life after a loss.
  • Ongoing Distress. This distress could include persistent sadness or preoccupation with thoughts about your loved one or their death.
  • Avoiding Social Interaction. Have you noticed that you’re uncomfortable being around people you used to enjoy? This avoidance could be a result of grief.
  • Physical Symptoms. If you notice a change in your sleeping or eating habits, if your energy is low, or if you have digestive issues, these might be physical manifestations of your grief.

Anyone experiencing grief can benefit from counseling. But if you experience one or more of these symptoms, you may want to contact a counselor who specializes in grief.

What Happens in Grief Counseling?

Grief counseling is a specific form of therapy that can help people experiencing the grief process. At Integrative Life Center, patients learn to cope with the intense and confusing feelings grief can bring.

Because grief is different for everyone, your experience may be different from another person’s. Each grief counseling session is unique from the next. The counselors at Integrative Life Center train in grief counseling and many other types of therapy. Combining different treatments can be beneficial for people experiencing grief. 

Types of Therapy for Grief

Any type of counseling is beneficial for someone experiencing grief. But, a few therapeutic approaches facilitate healing in grief counseling: psychodrama, trauma-informed, and art therapy.


Psychodrama is an active group therapy that utilizes role-playing, creating scenes, doubling, and other guided drama exercises. This type of group therapy encourages catharsis, or a release of emotion, through these drama exercises.

A grief counselor might encourage a group member to role-play as their dead loved one. This dramatization, along with support from other group members, helps individuals process their emotions related to their loss. Being in a group setting can allow members to feel connections to other people going through the experience of grief.


Trauma-informed therapy is vital to effective grief counseling. People with past trauma could experience an elevated response to grief. Trauma-informed counseling ensures patients a safe space to process their emotions while considering their trauma experience. 

Art Therapy

Art therapy uses creativity and expression to allow patients to process their emotions. Emotions resulting from grief can be overwhelming. Creating art provides freedom of expression for people who have a difficult time talking about their feelings.  

Let ILC Help with Your Grief

A goal of grief counseling is to allow the person grieving space to heal. It also helps inspire hope so a person may continue on with their life while maintaining a connection to the person they lost. Integrative Life Center is ready to assist you in making a plan for your healing. Wherever you are on your grief journey, our team has the resources to support you. Contact us today.

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