When we lose someone/something that we cherish, it is natural to feel a crushing weight of pain and sorrow. Much like the ocean, the depths of grief can be vast, and the feelings can come in waves–the water sometimes calm, sometimes overwhelming. Often we feel as though we are drowning in sorrow, at other times we may feel at peace (often leading to a sense of guilt for those moments of feeling better).
Loss and grief take many forms. There are the major losses (e.g. death of a loved one, miscarriage, or divorce, etc) that we usually think of as associated with grief, but subtle losses (such as role-change, sudden moves, loss of a friendship, pet, or even loss of a dream, etc) can produce many of the same painful feelings. There is no one right or wrong way to grieve really, but often we get so caught up in the sea of loss that we let go of other parts of ourselves and cope in maladaptive ways.
Symptoms of Grief
While loss affects people in different ways, many of us experience the following symptoms when we’re grieving. Know that just about anything that you experience in the early stages of grief is normal–including feeling like you’re going crazy, feeling like you’re in a nightmare, questioning your existence or the point of things, or questioning your spiritual beliefs. Here are some of the common symptoms of grief:
- Profound sadness: this is likely the symptom of grief most experienced and acknowledged after a loss. Emptiness, despair and deep loneliness are common feelings.
- Shock and disbelief: it is often difficult to wrap one’s head around the finality of some losses and it is hard to believe that our beloved is truly gone. You may even keep expecting a loved one to show up, months after the loss. Sometimes people here experience numbness and denial.
- Guilt: you may have lingering feelings over things you did or didn’t say or do before the loss. Even if it were impossible to do so, you may blame yourself for not preventing the loss. You might also be feeling guilty for any sense of relief you may feel (eg after losing someone to a long illness)
- Anger: you may be angry and resentful over the loss, even if it was nobody’s fault. If it is a dear person you lost, you may be angry at yourself, at god for failing to protect them, or even at the deceased for abandoning you.
- Fear: you might be feeling increased anxiety, helplessness and dread following the loss. Profound loss can leave you with fears related to your own mortality or that of others you love, and fears of facing life without the loved one you lost.
- Physical symptoms: emotional symptoms like those listed may also be accompanied by physical symptoms such as fatigue, nausea, weight loss or gain, bodily pain, lowered immunity and insomnia.
Therapy for Grief with Katie Plumb
Sometimes we are hesitant to seek treatment following a loss, for fear that we will lose our connection to that person or thing. You may fear that acceptance means approval, or that “moving on” will make you forget or feel even guiltier about the loss. In reality, however, therapy can help you move through your grief in such a way that you can achieve a greater sense of peace, gratitude, and an increased focus on what’s important to you. I have assisted clients honor their memories while facing grief in such a way that exploring pain and conflict feels safe and productive. The ocean of grief is deep and stormy, but you don’t need to suffer alone. Our work together can help you learn to swim until that time when peace settles. There is a beautiful life on the other side of this pain.
Begin Therapy for grief symptoms in Long Beach, CA or via Telehealth.
You may not ever replace what was lost, but you can learn to cope and build a new life worth living. Contact Katie Plumb, MA LCSW to begin your healing journey.
Other Therapy Services I offer
Grief and bereavement therapy is not the only service I offer. Other mental health services provided include Trauma and stressor-related disorder treatment, therapy for Borderline Personality Disorder, and mood and anxiety disorder treatment.