Grief counseling helps mourners with normal grief responses to work through the tasks of grieving.
Grief can include the loss of a special person but also losses of relationships, of dreams not fulfilled, loss of mental or physical health, career or job losses, etc.
There is also ANTICIPATORY grief. Though this is different than the grief that follows a death, anticipatory grief can carry many of the symptoms of regular grief – sadness, anger, isolation, forgetfulness, and depression. These complicated emotions are often coupled with the exhaustion that comes with being a caregiver or the stress of being left alone when someone goes to war or is battling addiction. We are aware of the looming death and accepting it will come, which can bring an overwhelming anxiety and dread. More than that, in advance of a death we grieve the loss of person’s abilities and independence, their loss of cognition, a loss of hope, loss of future dreams, loss of stability and security, loss of their identity and our own, and countless other losses. This grief is not just about accepting the future death, but of the many losses already occurring as an illness progresses.
The goals of grief/loss counseling can include:
1. Providing continuous support to get through the loss.
2. Describing normal grieving and the differences in what an individual experiences.
3. Helping the bereaved to accept the loss by talking about the loss and the steps of grieving.
4. Helping the bereaved to live without a loved one and to make decisions alone.
5. Identify coping mechanisms that may work for an individual.
6. Helping the bereaved to separate emotionally from the person lost and to begin new relationships.
7. Helping the bereaved to identify and express feelings related to the loss (such as guilt, anxiety, sadness, anger, and helplessness.