Our grief comes from areas of our lives where we feel loss. Some of the most recognized grief comes at the death of someone we love. Other times we experience grief when we feel loss over significant relationships, a change or elimination of our vocation, a transition in life, or the change in mental or physical health that alters the way in which we are someone we love are able to function in day to day life.
What does grief feel like?
The mystery of grief is that there is no one way that people experience grief. And grief itself does not follow a trajectory that is intuitive and easy to understand. What we do understand about grief are some of the major symptoms that are associated with grieving. The five most recognized stages of grief are: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. As we understand the visual below with the Kubler-Ross Grief Cycle, the ways in which people grieve are not linear and therefore do not follow a predictable pattern. What felt like anger can move into depression or acceptance and then back to denial. With that understanding the work of the therapist is to help the client learn ways of coping with their grief in a way that helps them to understand what it is that they are feeling and coping skills they can learn to better handle their grief.
Often times, the most challenging part of grief for people is the unpredictability and the loss of control that is felt as grief tends to take over various areas in people’s lives. To grieve is to acknowledge the loss of something significant in your life. It is possible to honor the significant parts of your life while also applying coping mechanisms that enables a feeling a greater control and understanding of the intense emotions that surround grief.
Grief work can be done in both an individual setting and in a group setting. There are benefits to both opportunities, and when possible it works well for people to participate in both individual and group opportunities during the most significant times of feelings of grief and loss in a person’s life.