What is Grief?
Grief is a journey that affects people differently. It can affect your emotions, thoughts, behaviour, relationships, and physical wellbeing. Common feelings and emotional responses may include sadness, anger, shock and disbelief, denial, guilt and remorse, helplessness, blame and relief. Grief’s physical and behavioural responses may consist of fatigue, sleep issues, social withdrawal, changes in appetite, and avoidance of places or people who may remind you of your loss. Generally, the intensity of grief eases over time.
Grief has no set pattern. Some people like to express their emotions, while others like to keep their feelings to themselves. Some people find it difficult to do simple things or leave the house, while others may cope better by becoming more active. Some people grieve for weeks or months, while others can grieve for years.
People may experience grief due to the loss of:
- a loved one
- a beloved pet
- a relationship, e.g. separation or divorce
- work, e.g. redundancy or retrenchment
- a way of life
- good health, e.g. the diagnosis of a terminal illness, accident or disability
- pregnancy, miscarriage or infertility
- moving away or separating from family or friends, among others.
Complicated or Prolonged Grief Disorder
You may experience grief for longer or more intensely. Prolonged or complicated grief disorder is a persistent form of intense grief where you may find it challenging to live with the loss, and it can affect your ability to cope with everyday life. Some people describe complicated grief as being emotionally paralysed and unable to think past the grief and loss.
Research suggests that 7% to 10% of bereaved adults will experience persistent symptoms of prolonged or complicated grief . Additionally, approximately 5% to 10% of children and adolescents who have lost a loved one will experience depression, Post-traumatic Stress Disorder or PTSD, and/or prolonged grief disorder following bereavement .
Some people, including older adults and people with a history of bipolar disorder or depression, can be at greater risk of developing prolonged grief disorder. The risk of prolonged grief also increases when the death of the loved one happens suddenly or under traumatic circumstances .
When to Seek Grief Counselling
If you experience persistent feelings of sadness and your grief begins to disrupt your life, work and relationships significantly, it’s important to get support and professional help from your GP or a psychologist. Psychological evidence-based treatments are available for people experiencing complicated grief.
Grief Counselling and Treatment for Complicated Grief
Treatments based on Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, or CBT Therapy, can be effective in reducing the symptoms of prolonged or complicated grief disorder. Also, CBT Therapy can effectively treat co-occurring symptoms such as insomnia and sleep issues.
Psychological treatment for grief may also include other approaches to help you adapt to the loss. Generally, they focus on accepting the loss and working toward goals in a world without the loved one . For example, acceptance and Commitment Therapy or ACT Therapy can provide people with ways to “be with” their complex feelings and experiences in a more manageable and less overwhelming way. Mindfulness-based practices such as mindful breathing and meditation can also help.
Bereavement support groups can be very helpful in helping you develop social connections, feel less lonely, and avoid the isolation that often comes with prolonged grief disorder.
Finding a Grief Counselling Psychologist in Brisbane
Grief counselling is available in Brisbane and is offered by many qualified psychologists in private practice.
Grief counselling is generally delivered through individual counselling sessions and can be tailored to meet your needs. Many psychologists in Brisbane who offer grief counselling and also have experience working wivarious of other commonly presenting issues including depression.
You can find a grief counsellor online and call or send them an online booking request to learn about their experience, fees and availability. You can also ask for a referral from your GP. It essentialant to ensure that the psychologist you choose is trained and experienced in grief counselling and understands the condition well.