You may be asking yourself “How do I know I need grief counseling?” It can be difficult to answer that question, but the truth is that support is usually a helpful thing overall. The experience of grief is different for every person. Some process their grief in isolation, while others rely on their friends and family for support through their difficult time. Some need a rest from their jobs while others bury themselves in work.
There is no roadmap or directions for processing grief, and often the feelings can be so overwhelming that they interfere with our daily lives. But how do we know when the guidance of a professional grief counselor is needed?
Here is a question: How can we tell the difference between the turmoil of grief that is being processed and understood, and that grief that causes long-term suffering?
At Simi Psychological Group we offer grief counseling in SImi Valley to support you in helping that grief be processed and understood for your healing journey.
If the below points feel true to you then the answer is likely yes when asking yourself “how do I know I need grief counseling?”
Moving On Feels Impossible
Grief is an inevitability for us, it is a natural reaction to loss. Grief processes on its own timeline, with some people moving on more quickly than others. The end goal of processing grief is to enter a state of acceptance and establish for ourselves a new sense of normalcy. If that “new normal” feels impossible to achieve, even after a significant amount of time after experiencing loss, seeking professional help may be needed.
It’s natural to want to be alone during times of grief. Extended grief, however, can draw someone into a state of isolation. It can convince you that spending time with friends and family can dredge up memories of your loss, and that forming new connections and relationships is a betrayal to those who passed.
Grief attempts to convince us that we either don’t deserve the company of others, or that somehow our presence will be a burden on others. Simi Valley Grief counseling can help understand the desire to isolate, while also affirming that despite your loss, you are worthy of connection and love.
Nothing is Fun Anymore:
One of grief’s largest components is the intense sadness provoked in those experiencing loss. When left unchecked, this sadness can develop into depression. Depression is a state of hopelessness where things that were once enjoyable and satisfying now seem hollow and meaningless.
This may feel like a kind of numbness, where other emotions feel unreachable or off-limits.
This depression could also affect your work, or opportunities in your work that you were looking forward to.
Depression is an anchor that keeps us stuck in a past where there is no hope for a better future. If you feel that the sadness inspired from loss is creeping towards an all-encompassing notion of hopelessness, some assistance from a counselor is warranted.
I Swear, Everything’s Fine
Sometimes, we rush our way through moving on. It feels productive, and we get to tell everybody that we’re doing fine, but underneath the surface is a backlog of emotion that struggles to be processed. This sign is particularly noteworthy because it is an attempt to convince the bereaved and those around them that things are okay, when in reality the one suffering from loss is filling their lives with distractions.
Whether they bury themselves in work, or fill their lives with casual social interactions, these distractions keep those with prolonged grief from confronting or dealing with intense and unpleasant emotions.
Conversely, they may also avoid engaging in activities or people that remind them of what was lost. Maybe they avoid going to restaurants that are special to them, or maybe they avoid engaging in shared hobbies.
Even though everything may appear to be “fine” on the surface, the person experiencing grief secretly lives in a state of fear that they will be reminded of what they lost. Professional help can assist in processing this avoidance and increase tolerance for discomfort.
It’s very typical to experience changes in mood while in the throes of grief, but when behaviors take a sudden turn in ways that feel completely out of pocket, that may be a sign that professional help is needed. You might find yourself in sudden irrational fits of anger, or engaging in riskier behavior than you would normally engage in. Maybe you are drinking more or experimenting with drugs you would normally never touch. You might find yourself being more sexually promiscuous. These sudden shifts in behavior could be a sign that you are avoiding the painful and difficult emotions attached to your loss.
Grief counseling can provide a nonjudgmental space to understand the function of these behaviors, and that addressing the underlying issue can reduce the need to distract yourself.
Do I need grief therapy? Are you having thoughts of hurting yourself?
Any notion that you would be better off not alive, or wishing that you would not wake up tomorrow is a serious cause for concern that should be worked through with an experienced professional. Thoughts of “It should have been me” or that you want to join those you lost are an attempt to hold on to the connection that has been severed, but when combined with depression, the inability to move on, or distracting behaviors, this can lead to a place where professional intervention is necessary and urgent.
Grief tries it hardest to convince you that you are alone and undeserving of a fulfilling future.
But Pleae know this; you are not alone, you are loved, you deserve to be here.
So in asking “how do I know I need grief counseling?” your intuition tells you the answer. It is important to keep in mind that there is nothing wrong with asking for help when you need it. It may feel uncomfortable, or painful, or awkward, but you are not weak for needing professional help.
An experienced grief counselor near Simi Valley will work with you to see vulnerability as a strength, one where you can call upon your inner strengths, as well as the strength of those that love you and wish to support you. Remember that processing grief is not a betrayal to the memory of what was lost, but rather a means to honor the time you had.
By seeking the help of a therapist, you can move forward into a “new normal,” one where you take the lessons and cherished memories of the past and craft them into the opportunity for growth and connection. The darkness you feel may never fully go away, but it is always possible to build light around the darkness.
Here we share an article on balancing grief and everyday life including work, relationships and self care. We are here to support you at Simi Psychological Group. Offering an array of services including anxiety therapy, trauma therapy, depression therapy and more. You are not alone. Contact us today for a free consultation (805) 842-1994
Joshua Duke, AMFT
Grief Therapist at Simi Psychological Group in Simi Valley, Ca