Our grief counseling is available in Philadelphia and Pennsylvania to those who have experienced a loss and are affected. Grief counseling, provided by trained grief counselors who are aware of the impact of loss on people’s lives, can help you cope better and faster with your feelings. For those grieving, counseling can be helpful to express, analyze, and move on from difficult emotions and thoughts that may interfere with daily life.
Grief counseling can be provided to individuals, couples, family members, or support groups. Mental health professionals might work one-on-one with clients, or they might organize group sessions that allow for sharing between members experiencing similar losses. At The Better You Institute, you can choose between in-person or online sessions with any of our qualified mental health professional.
Do I need a professional grief counseling?
While grief counseling is often sought after the loss or death of a loved one, family member, close friend, or miscarriage, it can also be experienced by those who have lost a pet, job, income, or any other significant changes in life, including positive changes.
Yes! When you get married, you may experience a complicated grief over the loss of your single life, and you may experience grief over your life before being a parent when you have a child. While these changes are all good changes in your life, you may still experience complicated grief or significant loss, too.
We hold space for those who are experiencing ‘disenfranchised grief.’ That is grief that no one seems to want to talk about. The death of your ex-partner, the gender transition of your partner, loss of a coping mechanism (e.g., beating an addiction), or extreme weight loss and the person you once were are all examples of what some might say are taboo losses that people can’t understand or don’t want to talk about. These topics are essential to let yourself grieve.
You might feel like grief counseling is not for you, and many times after a loss, people avoid grieving and try to get back into their regular routines. If you avoid the sadness and pain, you may experience a more significant challenge in genuinely healing. You may also experience loneliness. Through our emotions, we have the power to curate connections. At The Better You Institute, we like to emphasize that everyone deserves adequate support and connection, especially those who experienced a loss that deeply affected them.
Perhaps you can benefit from professional grief counseling if:
- You continue to rehash a memory or bring up a topic related to your loss over and over again (loss of Self, loss of a loved one, loss of a job, loss of love, grief over not getting a promotion, complicated grief over infidelity, grief in your relationship with your child/parent)
- You have trouble sleeping after experimenting with a traumatic event or loss
- You feel an intense sadness, anxious, or depressed linked to a loss
- You are unable to function in your daily life due to the grief you feel (possibly manifested into anxiety, depression, PTSD, acute stress, sexual issues, relationship issues, lack of focus, anger management issues, loss of direction/purpose/drive/motivation)
- You get annoyed by other people’s comments about moving on or finding closure (i.e., you feel dismissed in the “help” others are providing you)
- You feel like no one can understand what you are going through (you feel alone in your pain)
- You think you can’t live without the person who died or thing you lost (you feel hopeless or helpless)
- You think you are experiencing grief
How long does grieving take?
The grieving process is different for everyone, and it doesn’t have a set timeframe. It can be a draining and difficult process. Some people may feel all right after a few weeks or months, while others can struggle for years before starting to heal from the loss. Grief counseling can help you identify your level of grief and find ways to cope with it. Therapy can also help you identify what type of griever you are. For instance, a
There are ups and downs that you may experience throughout your time grieving. Indeed, the grieving process might include times when you feel stuck in a particular stage and other times when you might suddenly feel like you have created a sense of peace. Professional grief counseling can be beneficial in those low moments and when things seem to be going great.
If you think you are still affected by your loss after 3-4 months, it might be time to seek counseling. It is a well-known fact that if you do not healthily address your pain, it can lead to other issues in life such as substance abuse, alcohol abuse, physical symptoms, anxiety, depressive symptoms, sexual functioning issues, or addiction.
The five stages typically found in a grievance procedure
According to Elisabeth Kubler-Ross, a Swiss-American psychiatrist, there are five universal stages in grieving. While the five stages are not necessarily distinct periods in which an individual goes complicated grief, many people have found these steps helpful to consider when coping with their loss. Additionally, these stages are not linear, and you may experience one after the other or together and then feel like you’ve moved past it just to start feeling it again later.
In this phase, people aren’t able to believe their loss, and they might start denying the reality of what has happened and think that it is all a dream from which they will wake up soon. For example, someone who loses their job may pretend to go to work every day and not let on to their partner that they’ve lost their job. Others may keep a loved one’s phone number saved in their phone. Denial can come out in different ways for everyone.
This stage can be characterized by feelings of anger, rage, frustration with the world, or the system in which the person experienced loss. Other times, loss survivors can turn their anger onto themselves. They may feel guilty that they should have done more. Or a person may get angry with the person or thing they lost, often cursing or saying how stupid someone was.
The bargaining phase might appear similar to denial as it is also a time when people wonder what could have been done differently. This phase might include thinking in “what if” statements: what if they hadn’t gone to the movies that night (and got into a car crash), what if they showed up earlier to work (and didn’t get fired), what if they went to therapy sooner and got control of their anger faster (and didn’t get broken up with). They might start trying to live a perfect life, hoping that the thing or person they lost will return if they do so. They may plead with a higher power to take them instead.
The depression stage is usually more intense than the others. Feelings of emptiness or extreme sadness can be felt. It can be a time of internalizing the pain and focusing on all the negative emotions that go with the loss, seeming impossible to overcome. Sometimes it may feel like you can’t go on; a sense of hopelessness overcomes you. Other times the sadness won’t feel as bad, and you’ll be able to function, but nothing feels the same as it did before the loss.
In this stage, people realize that they have lost someone or something essential but start feeling ready to accept life again. Acceptance doesn’t mean forgetting or not missing the person or thing they lost, but simply moving on and learning to live without them. Even when you reach the acceptance stage, the other stages may peak their heads out, but the feelings of anger or sadness won’t feel as devastating or interruptive as they did before reaching the acceptance stage.
These emotions and experiences are part of the grieving process as you integrate the changes into your life. It is important to note that grief counseling can help you gradually move through these stages and cope with your traumatic loss. Talking about how you are feeling is the best thing that you can do to get through your traumatic grief. When you don’t talk about it, your feelings can haunt you for a long time. Suppose you feel like your grieving process has taken too much time, or you think you cannot continue without professional support. In that case, it might be a good idea to seek grief counseling in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, or wherever you are.
How does grief therapy help?
No matter how long you have been experiencing the loss, grief therapy can provide a safe environment where you can open up about all your thoughts and feelings. With a qualified mental health professional therapist, you can also learn new methods that help you cope with your emotions and deep sadness. There are many different therapeutic techniques, including cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), that your therapist can guide you through. Your therapist will also provide supportive counseling taken from the Eleven Tenets of Companioning the bereaved by Alan Wolfelt, Ph.D.
First, your therapist will help you identify what type of griever you are. According to a study by Doka and Martin, there are intuitive (outward) grievers, instrumental (inward) grievers, and there are those who are blended (on the spectrum between intuitive and instrumental grieving) grievers. Identifying which type of griever you are can feel empowered to continue to grieve in that way as there is no “right” way to grieve.
Often, counseling sessions might focus on learning how to accept your pain instead of forcing yourself to shake it off. This can be a challenging transition, which is why grief counselors are there to help you every step of the way. Grief counselors will let you lead the way by asking questions and getting a better understanding of what your experience with loss has been like.
Grief is unique to every person, and some people may not show their sorrow or pain, whereas others might do so by crying frequently or constantly talking about it. What matters is that you use whatever coping skills work best for you to get through this tough time.
Counselors understand the different ways people show their emotions and will guide you through your experiences in a way that resonates with you. While there isn’t a simple step-by-step, cut-and-dry method of grief counseling, your therapist will help you find a plan that suits your needs and responds to your emotions.
Grief Counseling in Philadelphia, PA
With the help of one of our professional Philadelphia-based therapists, it is possible to move through these natural feelings toward acceptance at a much faster rate and allow you to live a better life. You don’t have to manage grief alone. Take the first step towards your healing process and find support with The Better You Institute’s grief counseling center in Philadelphia, PA. Grief counseling sessions can take place in person, online, or over the phone, depending on what makes more sense for you.